Archive for ‘Rush Limbaugh’

May 27, 2009

Chris Matthews — and Allah? — bash Rush

“The reason the White House goes after Rush, Newt, and Cheney isn’t because they’re out of power, it’s because they’re unpopular, something Matthews knows (or should know) better than anyone given his network’s obsession with trumpeting Limbaugh’s pronouncements as a foil to Obama.”
Allahpundit

May 26, 2009

Hayekian, Reaganite or Texan?Essay on the Arrogance of the Elite

“It is just mind-boggling how some people think that an M.A. or a Ph.D. is somehow a bestowal of omniscience. . . . So why is it that so many academics believe that their word is final when it comes to anything and everything under the sun? As an academic myself, I can answer that question with one word: arrogance.”
Mike LaRoche, May 23, 2009

“The typical intellectual . . . need not possess special knowledge of anything in particular, nor need he even be particularly intelligent, to perform his role as intermediary in the spreading of ideas. What qualifies him for his job is the wide range of subjects on which he can readily talk and write, and a position or habits through which he becomes acquainted with new ideas sooner than those to whom he addresses himself.”
Friedrich Hayek, 1949

When I use “intellectual” and “elite” as putdowns, it is a Hayek’s conception of modern intellectuals as “secondhand dealers in ideas” that informs my disdain. The arrogance of their presumed omniscience, as Mike LaRoche says, is what renders them obnoxious.

Thomas Sowell (who far outranks me as a “top Hayekian public intellectual”) describes the liberal worldview as The Vision of the Anointed, a book that every conservative ought to read, re-read, and continue re-reading until it is thoroughly understood, if not indeed memorized.

When speaking about liberal bias in the media, I sometimes explain to conservative audiences what should need no explaining: The media elite hate you.

They hate you with a thoroughgoing contempt you cannot begin to comprehend. They hate everything you believe in and everything you stand for, and until you understand why they hate you, no defense against their hatred is possible.

The reason the elite hate you is because of your failure to acknowledge their superiority. What the elite cherish, above all else, is prestige. By questioning the truth of the elite’s belief, you deny their superiority and deprive them of prestige.

Have you ever wondered why evolutionists are so vehement in denouncing creationists? Among the elite, one cannot gain prestige by advocating biblical truth, creation ex nihilo as an expression of the transcendent soveignty of the Almighty.

If the Bible is true, then the elite are fools. To admit the possibility that “in the beginning was the Word,” is to suggest that Richard Dawkins is the intellectual inferior of the holy roller shouting hallelujahs at the Pentacostal revival in the hollows of eastern Kentucky.

Your Christian faith therefore is an insult to the elite, an attack upon their precious prestige, an invitation to whatever evil word or deed the elite employ against you. Creationism is a threat to the elite in the same way that the Ukrainian kulak was a threat to the Soviet revolution, or as Albert Einstein’s genius was a threat to Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy.

As the Marxist would say, those analogies are no accident, comrade.

“[E]very scholar can probably name several instances from his field of men who have undeservedly achieved a popular reputation as great scientists solely because they hold what the intellectuals regard as ‘progressive’ political views; but I have yet to come across a single instance where such a scientific pseudo-reputation has been bestowed for political reason on a scholar of more conservative leanings.”
Friedrich Hayek, 1949

For all that we are told about the need for conservatives to come up with “new ideas,” it is amazing how little the situation has changed in the six decades since Hayek wrote “Socialism and the Intellectuals.” Even the Nobel Prize (which Hayek won in 1974) has been tainted by being recently awarded to Al Gore and Paul Krugman.

The prestige enjoyed by Dawkins, Gore and Krugman is denied to Michael Behe, to Steven Hayward, to Thomas Sowell. To protect their status, the elite must deny prestige to their critics and it is this monopolization of prestige — not the pursuit or dissemination of sturdy truth — that eventually becomes the chief occupation as they seek to defend their supremacy against rivals.

You need not be an intellectual to understand this. Anyone who has ever worked in a dysfunctional office under an incompetent manager knows how this game is played. The manager has attained his position by deceiving his superiors into believing he is competent, and the object of the manager’s manipulations is to prevent the discovery that he doesn’t know how to do his job.

In this situation, the incompetent manager will:

  • Routinely take credit for the achievements of others;
  • Identify as enemies the most intelligent and competent of his underlings, since they are most aware of his ineptitude and most likely to benefit from his downfall;
  • Attempt by favoritism toward sycophants to create a Praetorian Guard to defend himself against criticism; and
  • Attribute all failures to scapegoats or circumstances beyond his control.

If you’ve ever been in the kind of toxic work environment where office politics is a bloodsport, then you understand how ambitious frauds can ascend to dominance, especially in environments where quantitative and qualitative measures of individual output are difficult to obtain.

This is one reason every bright, industrious student abhors the “group project” method that became vogue among progressive educators in the 1970s. Five students are assigned to the project, one or two do all the real work, sharing their grade with the slugs and dullards.

Students of Nicco Machiavelli, Antonio Gramsci or James Burnham equally understand how the organizational structure of institutions favor or disfavor various types of personalities and various means of advancement within those institutions.

Again, to borrow the Marxist’s maxim, it is no accident that incompetent backstabbers flock toward careers in academia. Who is to say whether one professor of women’s studies is superior to another? What are the criteria by which a dean chooses a new chairman for the sociology department? Now that Ph.D.’s in history, psychology and similar disciplines so vastly exceed the number of available tenure-track positions, the business of hiring and promoting in those fields has become notoriously arbitrary and politicized.

Academia is remote from the direct input of markets, and such is the prestige of elite institutions (e.g., the Ivy League schools) that the hiring process at Columbia or Yale can never affect the success and prosperity of those institutions unless — as in the notable case of Lawrence Summers at Harvard — they accidentally hire someone with the effrontery to criticize the elite’s belief system.

Yet it is a mistake to suppose that this sort of elitism exists only in academia or that elitism is only a problem among liberals.

“This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
Ronald Reagan, 1964

As with Hayek, so with Reagan, one of Hayek’s most successful admirers. Isn’t it amazing how little things have changed? Truth is a sturdy thing and human nature is a constant factor in the equation, so that the elite always strive to impose their will, and the free man always struggles to resist.

If Reagan sneered at the elite, was he a “populist”? If he used “intellectual” as an epithet, did this make him “anti-intellectual”? No, he was merely expressing the Hayekian insight: Knowledge is so scattered among the population that, in the universe of facts, no one — no professor, no pundit, no politician — can ever have all the facts or claim such a superiority of knowledge that he qualifies to be an “expert” dictating the ordinary affairs of others.

That such arrogant presumptions of expertise are common among intellectuals is as obvious to me and Mike LaRoche as it was to Reagan and Hayek. And that those we might broadly descibe as the ruling class in Washington constitute an elite is self-evident. Reagan was therefore speaking of a real problem in American political life.

Having dealt with this intellectual elite in Washington for more than a decade, I know their habits and attitudes quite well. They habitually presume to know things they do not know, and react with hostility to anyone who questions their presumptions.

Ross Douthat, whose father is a successful attorney, grew up in New Haven, Conn., attended Hamden Hall Country Day School (tuition: $26K/yr.), graduated from Harvard University (tuition $32K/yr.), and married one of his Harvard classmates.

And the title of Douthat’s most recent book? Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.

Douthat might be competent to suggest how Republicans can win the alumni of Hamden Hall and save the Harvard dream, but his only qualification to speak for the working class is the ubiquitous arrogance of the intellectual elite.

“You look back in the earlier times, there were no opportunities, so there were no opportunists. . . . Later on, you have all these people who figure it’s probably a pretty good political thing to do. And so they start talking about being conservative when they’re running [for office], but they really aren’t. So when they get to Congress or wherever they go, they’re pretty easily dissuaded.”
Al Regnery, The American Spectator

Douthat is the answer to a question that has long puzzled conservatives. When I abandoned the Democratic Party in the mid-1990s (hint: “From My Cold Dead Hands!”), one of the first things I discovered was that grassroots conservatives were perpetually peeved by the ineffectiveness of Republicans in Washington.

Living in northwest Georgia (Bob Barr’s district 1995-2003) this grassroots discontent was palpable. After I moved to Washington, I’d sometimes see people roll their eyes at any mention of Barr, whom even most conservatives in D.C. considered a reckless firebrand. I’d always tell them, “Man, if you think Bob’s an extremist, you ought to meet his constituents!”

The guy in charge of IT at the newspaper I worked for in Georgia was a federal licensed firearms dealer who used to tell me, “Hey, if you ever want to shoot a machine gun, just let me know.” Another grassroots leader among Republicans, the wife of a county judge, was also the head of the local Eagle Forum and an activist for the John Birch Society.

Bob Barr never could have been elected without the support of people like that, and if you believe in representative government, then it was Bob’s job to represent those people.

And that was my job, too. In 1997, I left Georgia to join the staff of the Washington Times, but not before all my conservative friends down home had thoroughly warned me not to forget where I came from. So it was that I came to Washington with a two-fold mission.

First, I would attempt to represent accurately the essential decency of the good folks I’d left behind — hard-working, God-fearing, patriotic and self-sufficient. If there is one belief that the elite never doubt for a minute, it is that the average citizen of Floyd County, Georgia, is demonstrably inferior to the average citizen of Chicago, Boston or San Francisco.

Bullshit. Want to argue, Harvard boy?

My second mission in Washington was to discover why the Republican Party failed so miserably to advance the kind of agenda that grassroots conservatives believed they were voting for. It took me many years to understand this, and the answer is complex, but it is also as simple as two words: Ross Douthat.

Well, the liberals had their intellectual elite, you see, and so conservatives decided they needed to get them one, too. Given the natural assumption that the finest minds in America had all been scooped up by the elite schools, there soon developed an intellectual superstructure in Washington of think-tank wonks, policy analysts, political advisers and journalists who came from the same elite background, and had attended the same elite institutions, as the liberal elite.

OK, fine. Let us match Ph.D. to Ph.D., expert to expert, in a sort of intellectual equivalent of the Harvard-Yale game. But while the liberal elite were directly and constantly associating with the liberals whose beliefs it was their job to translate into policy, the conservative elite were generally isolated from the kind of people whose beliefs they were representing.

The Democrat in Brooklyn may resent the arrogance of the Columbia University graduate who specializes in urban policy for the Brookings Institute, but the Brookings specialist is not immersed in an environment where that Brooklyn Democrat is sneered at contemptuously, the way a policy wonk at the American Enterprise Institute sneers as the constituents of the typical Republican congressman.

Whatever their differences in terms of policy, the Brookings wonk and the AEI wonk share the elite belief that the typical Brooklyn Democrat is somehow superior to the typical Georgia Republican. And from that shared belief — which I assure you is well-nigh universal among the intellectual elite in Washington — emanates the great divide between the Republican elite in Washington and the rank-and-file of the GOP.

The Republican elite is ashamed of its constituents in a way that the Democratic elite is not. Therefore, Democrats fight ferociously for their agenda in a way that Republicans seldom do.

The Republican elite in Washington crave prestige, you see, and they cannot gain prestige by sticking up for the typical GOP voter in Tucson, Tulsa, Tampa or Tulllahoma. You cannot become one of The Republicans Who Really Matter by defending Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh. No one can impress his friends at a Georgetown cocktail party by saying nice things about Sarah Palin or Joe the Plumber. No one in the D.C. elite — whether Republican or Democrat — can ever advance his career by quoting Michelle Malkin or Mark Levin.

You see why not only do Republican elites fail to defend their own party’s constituents, but they viciously attack anyone who attempts to represent the core beliefs of the conservative grassroots. Because if Michelle Malkin is a conservative, then David Brooks is not, and it is only his status as token “conservative” that assures Brooks of membership in the elite. If Brooks were just another liberal Democrat, after all, the New York Times already has plenty of those from which to choose.

So when you see some “conservative” sneering at Rush Limbaugh or mocking the Tea Party movement — what you are witnessing is the effort of elitists to signal to their fellow elitists that they are in on the joke, that they don’t take seriously the core values of grassroots types like Joe the Plumber.

“Even where the direction of policy is in the hands of men of affairs of different views, the execution of policy will in general be in the hands of intellectuals, and it is frequently the decision on the detail which determines the net effect. We find this illustrated in almost all fields of contemporary society. Newspapers in ‘capitalist’ ownership, universities presided over by ‘reactionary’ governing bodies, broadcasting systems owned by conservative governments, have all been known to influence public opinion in the direction of socialism, because this was the conviction of the personnel.”
Friedrich Hayek, 1949

What Hayek says here can be applied equally, you see, to the Republican Party and the various institutions of the conservative movement. If the think-tank wonks, the congressional staffers and the writers for conservative journals believe in same-sex marriage, global warming or universal health care, efforts to employ those institutions on behalf of contrary opinions will not be as effective as if those efforts were conducted by personnel who actually shared the beliefs they were paid to advance.

The elite cadre of the GOP and the official conservative movement constitute a bureaucracy, and the critique of bureaucracy are equally valid. The beliefs of the Heritage Foundation bureaucrat are in many ways more important in the operations of that institution than the beliefs of Ed Feulner or Ed Meese. The enemy within the camp is always the most to be feared.

Why, after all, does John Cornyn not hesitate to urinate all over the Republican rank-and-file in Florida by endorsing Charlie Crist more than a year before the primary? Because no one at NRSC headquarters, nor any member of Cornyn’s Senate staff, has any interest in the concerns of the conservative grassroots nor any incentive to represent those concerns.

Is David Brooks going to speak up for Marco Rubio? Will Kathleen Parker defend the rights of Florida Republicans to choose their own candidates? Do you expect Rod Dreher to tear himself away from the important work of defaming Mark Levin in order to tell his readers in Dallas what Cornyn has done?

“This is the arrogance of the intellectual elite, to imagine that their particular specialty — the expression of abstract ideals via the written word — is the only ability that matters, qualifying them as experts on anything and everything they choose to write about.”
Robert Stacy McCain, May 22, 2009

Michelle Malkin went to Oberlin, Mark Levin went to Temple and Ann Coulter went to Dartmouth. These are all elite institutions, and all three of these individuals engage in endeavors that qualify them as “intellectuals” in the sense that their work involves “shaping public opinion.” Why, then, are they at odds with, and scorned by, the people you think of as the “intellectual elite”? Chiefly because they do not look down at The Ordinary American, nor do they ever entertain the notion that their readers are morons incapable of thinking for themselves.

The greatest example of this respect for the grassroots, of course, is Rush Limbaugh. If you listen to Rush regularly, you know that sometimes he’ll get a caller who’ll say, “Rush, how can you say such-and-so? Everybody in the MSM is saying the opposite. The people will believe the MSM, not you!” And Limbaugh will calmly reply, “Look, you figured it out on your own. I figured it out. Don’t you think that other people see the same thing and can figure it out for themselves? Give people some credit.”

What makes Rush angry is the evident belief of so many Republican “leaders” that the American people can’t handle the truth. Among these truths is that the economic agenda of today’s Democrats is the exact same agenda that Hayek warned was being advanced by the intellectuals of 1949.

Begins with an “s,” ends with an “m,” and I don’t mean “sarcasm.” But don’t say it out loud, or Rod Dreher will call you a “crackpot.”

May 14, 2009

Conor Friedersdorf vs. Rush Limbaugh

“At his core [Rush Limbaugh] is an opportunistic rhetorician: if an opportunity to skewer a liberal arises he’ll take it, never mind the underlying principles, or even whether he defended a conservative for a similar sin two months prior; when loyalty to the GOP conflicts with adherence to conservative principles (e.g., 2000 to 2008) he generally sides with his party; he prefers capitalistic ‘creative destruction’ to community preservation, which is fine and defensible but isn’t particularly conservative; often when he flouts political correctness, his purpose isn’t to speak unpopular truths . . . but to rile his critics and make himself seem daring to an adolescent segment of his listeners.”
Conor Friedersdorf

Rush Limbaugh has an audience of 20 million. He has been the No. 1 national talk radio host for 20 years and, for his efforts, was recognized as an honorary member of the freshman class of the 104th Congress.

Friedersdorf’s biggest contribution to the conservative cause? “A Case for Gay Marriage.”

Sorry, Conor: I’m with Rush, and Carrie Prejean, and Sarah Palin, and Ann Coulter . . . Nothing personal, but good luck with that Perez Hilton Coalition idea.

(H/T: Hot Air Headlines.)

May 13, 2009

Is Rush racist?

Every conservative discovers, sooner or later, that to criticize liberal ideas is to be adjudged guilty of some “-ism” or diagnosed with a “phobia.” Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of race.

Steve Benen has one of those “a-ha!” moments with a segment of a recent Rush Limbaugh monologue:

“The [economic] deterioration reflects lower tax revenues and higher costs for bank failures, unemployment benefits and food stamps. But in the Oval Office of the White House none of this is a problem. This is the objective. The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state. And the objective is to take the nation’s wealth and return to it to the nation’s quote, ‘rightful owners.’ Think reparations. Think forced reparations here if you want to understand what actually is going on.”

RAAAAACISM! (Remember, bloggers, there are five A’s in “RAAAAACISM!” Some of you have been slacking off and trying to get by with four.) Benen pronounces Limbaugh’s suggestion “nauseating,” but as always, we must ask the question, “Is Rush right?”

Would any honest “progressive” deny that the aims of their redistributionist economic program — to tax the evil “rich” for the benefit of the sainted “poor,” in Robin Hood fashion — are motivated by notions of “social justice”?

Is it not a fundamental tenet of this “social justice” ideology that the wealthy gain their riches by the exploitation and oppression of the poor? And is it not furthermore true that, vis-a-vis the racial aspect of “social justice,” progressives believe that black people have been especially victimized by capitalist greed?

From such a chain of premises, it follows that a policy that purposefully hinders the private free-market economy and expands government entitlement programs — the “Cloward-Piven Strategy,” as it has been called — is to some degree intended by the authors of the policy as “forced reparations,” just like Rush says.

In other words, is Limbaugh being denounced as a racist merely for describing this policy accurately?

In The Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell describes how liberals employ “mascots” and “targets” to advance their policy aims. By positioning themselves as defenders of “mascots,” liberals set a rhetorical trap whereby any attack on their policies is denounced as an attack on the (allegedly) victimized and downtrodden people whom those policies are supposed to benefit. Ergo, anyone who criticizes the cost of Medicare is accused of wishing to deprive the elderly of health care, and anyone who criticizes affirmative action is accused of hating women and minorities.

The problem, of course, is that this prevents rational discussion of policy. Limbaugh would surely argue that black people would benefit more from a flourishing private-sector economy — which offers them jobs — than they would benefit from an expanding program of entitlements, which offers them only government handouts.

Furthermore, we have seen that the “Cloward-Pivens Strategy” brings disastrous results for the poor people its architects claim to care so much about. Go read Fred Siegel’s The Future Once Happened Here if you want to see how this kind of liberal policy has devastated America’s great cities and brought misery to the urban poor.

If liberal policy is demonstrably bad for black people — as Limbaugh, Sowell and Siegel would argue — then in what sense is it “racist” to oppose liberalism? In fact, given the clearly evident socio-economic disaster inflicted on the black community by decades of liberal policy, is it not liberals themselves who ought to be attempting to defend themselves against such accusations?

The real problem with modern liberalism is the concept of “social justice.” As Friedrich Hayek explained, “social justice” is a mirage, a will-o’-th’-wisp that, however enthusiastically pursued, can never be achieved. And “social justice” harms those it aims to help, in part because it destroys the only legal and economic system — free-market capitalism — wherein the downtrodden have ever been able to improve their fortunes to any great degree.

The great irony of all this is that, even if you favor government aid to the poor — or perhaps, especially if you favor such aid — the health of the free-market economy should be paramount in your considerations.

After all, government can’t conjure money out of thin air. Ultimately, government can only spend on aid to the poor what it takes from the private economy in taxes. So if liberals pursue policies that harm the private economy, they’re killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. (Anybody tried applying for food stamps, health care or student loans in Zimbabwe lately?)

So the accusation of “racism” against Rush Limbaugh is transparently false, its entire rhetorical basis being the liberal conceit that only mala fides (bad faith) can motivate opposition to liberalism.

May 9, 2009

Tax the Poor!

One of the things that originally made Rush Limbaugh notorious back in the day was his proposal to tax the poor. The idea being that if you want to discourage something, like cigarette smoking, you tax it. Well, why not a poverty tax?

The Swiftian satire wasn’t appreciated when Rush did it, but now look what New York City is doing:

The Bloomberg administration has quietly begun charging rent to homeless families who live in publicly run shelters but have income from jobs.
The new policy is based on a 1997 state law that was not enforced until last week, when shelter operators across the city began requiring residents to pay a certain portion of their income. The amount varies based on factors that include family size and what shelter is being used, but should not exceed 50 percent of a family’s income, a state official said.
Vanessa Dacosta, who earns $8.40 an hour as a cashier at Sbarro, received a notice under her door several weeks ago informing her that she had to give $336 of her approximately $800 per month in wages to the Clinton Family Inn, a shelter in Hell’s Kitchen where she has lived since March.
“It’s not right,” said Ms. Dacosta, a single mother of a 2-year-old who said she spends nearly $100 a week on child care. “I pay my baby sitter, I buy diapers, and I’m trying to save money so I can get out of here. I don’t want to be in the shelter forever.”

(Via Memeorandum.) Hey, Vanessa, why don’t you explain this problem to the father of your child? It’s like Ann Coulter says in Guilty: Nobody is allowed to criticize single mothers. Single mothers have a right to screw around, have babies out of wedlock and stick taxpayers with the bill.

Say this for the gays, at least they’re not trying to bill me for their lifestyle. Beware the hobo menace!

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! It’s Mother’s Day and Rule 5 Sunday, plus we’re also trying to learn the lessons of Dijon Gate and commemorating the fifth anniversary of same-sex Harvard marriage, so please have a look around. And if you feel the overwhelming urge to hit the tip jar, don’t fight the feeling!

UPDATE II: The Rhetorican:

You know an economic system whose central conceit is to promote equality by transferring wealth from the have-more’s to the have-not’s has failed when it seeks to transfer wealth from the poor to government.

Ditto! BTW, just in case Rush Limbaugh should happen to read this: I am The Other McCain for a reason, so please don’t hate me because of Crazy Cousin John. Or, as I sometimes feel obliged to point out: Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Bob Barr!

Just to clarify this distinction, check out these articles I wrote for The American Spectator:

So please don’t confuse me with my distant kinsman, Rush. I’m a lot more like that Dittohead taxi driver Wally Onakoya. I’m a bona fide right-wing extremist. (And if you need an extra hand editing your monthly newsletter, I can provide excellent references. Get in touch. They tell me Palm Beach is lovely this time of year.)

April 10, 2009

Rush Limbaugh on Friedrich Hayek

Weird concidences keep happening. Via Greg Ransom, here’s Rush Limbaugh from Thursday:

RUSH: We have a junior from the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Vols. This is Jordan on the phone. Hi, Jordan. It’s great to have you here. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Rush. It’s an honor to speak with you.
RUSH: Thank you very much, sir.
CALLER: I just have a quick question. I am in a macroeconomics class. My minor is economics, and my professor drones on and on and on about the supply-side economics and how it does not work. And constantly in my test and even an essay, we had to talk about why supply-side economics does not work and why it’s not fair to the poor and why it increases income inequality. I just want to know the truth, I guess. I’m just tired of this. . . .

OK, “supply side” is one particular understanding of economic policy — the Laffer Curve and all that — a catch-phrase that became popular in the 1980s, and we can discuss that elsewhere. But after some back and forth on the history of the Reagan adminstration, look what Rush says:

RUSH: They never had to work a day in their lives. They just get up. But that’s wonderful because they talk about the things your professor talks about, but you don’t see Ted Kennedy or any other liberal walking neighborhoods giving money away — unless he’s taken it from somebody else first. I implore you, Jordan, my man, to investigate independently the economist Friedrich Von Hayek (H-a-y-e-k) from the University of Chicago. He’s long dead. I urge you to. Does your professor ever talk about Milton Friedman?
CALLER: Uhhh, no, sir.
RUSH: He does?
CALLER: No, he hasn’t.
RUSH: Oh, he doesn’t. I’m not surprised. Milton Friedman. There’s a videotape, DVD series that Milton Friedman did that explains everything you want to know here in a classical economics sense. He’s written many books. He was brilliant, Milton Friedman. So is Thomas Sowell, who is at the Hoover Institution on campus at Stanford. But read Friedrich Von Hayek, read The Constitution of Liberty, and read The Road to Serfdom. They’re tough reads. These are intellectual treatises, but you will not be disappointed.

As Greg Ransom notes, a link by Instapundit (coincidentally run by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds) had already sent The Road to Serfdom to #283 on Amazon, and the mention by Rush was enough to boost it to #179.

Coincidence or conspiracy? Vainglorious ego makes me wonder if Rush is reading this blog, because he mentioned Hayek on the same day that I — in discussing “kooks” — wrote several paragraphs about Hayek and how The Road to Serfdom had influenced Reagan. This certainly isn’t the first time Rush has mentioned Hayek or Friedman or Sowell on his program but . . . well, I question the timing!

“You can accomplish much if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Ronald Reagan

It was Hayek himself who described intellectuals as “secondhand dealers in ideas” and — even though I’ve been named a leading Hayekian public intellectual (bwahahaha) — I’m just driving a forklift in the regional distribution center. And there’s a big “Help Wanted” sign out front. The more the merrier.

Let Jane Hamsher whine that she’s not getting paid enough to push the Democratic Party agenda. The No. 1 radio show in America is pushing Hayek, Friedman and Sowell — and making Obscene Profits along the way — so I don’t care whether it’s a coincidence or a conspiracy. Megadittos, Rush.

BTW, Hayek’s book, The Constitution of Liberty, is now #665 at Amazon. I question the timing!

March 21, 2009

Patterico: ‘The Final Word’?

“Conservatives believe that Americans understand that freedom is the foundation of this country. Too many in America started down the wrong path in the last election. But we can’t hold these people in contempt, and we can’t discount how they will hear the message we preach. Americans are fundamentally reasonable people. And ultimately, our message will win them over — if we preach it in a proud, confident, and positive way.”
Patterico

This, as he says on the Tweet deck, is what he means to be “the final word” in his long-running dispute with Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom over Rush Limbaugh and the whole question of conservative “messaging” in general.

My opinion? I’m not sure that the entire Socratic dialogue, amounting to however many tens of thousands of words over the past two weeks, is as important as any 15-minute segment of the Limbaugh show.

What makes Rush different from any other conservative spokesman is that Rush has an independent platform from which he reaches something like 20 million people weekly. There is no network CEO or programming director who can influence Limbaugh. He can’t be fired or threatened by some little pencil-necked geek: “Don’t say that again, or we’ll put you on 90-day probation — and you know you’re coming up on your annual evaluation . . .” blah, blah, blah.

To quote Wally Onakoya, “He is a man, you know.”

By virtue of his “talent on loan from God,” Limbaugh has utter independence. No radio station that carries him is going to pull him off the air because of a single ill-phrased comment. Having Rush means carrying the No. 1 radio program in America. To pull Rush out of your program lineup means automatically to surrender the lead in your local market.

Therefore, what is remarkable about Limbaugh is not that he occasionally says something like, “I want [Obama] to fail,” which can be taken out of context and portrayed as something unseemly. Rather, what is remarkable is that, in 15 hours of live programming weekly over the span of 20 years, Limbaugh has never uttered that one career-destroying gaffe. This suggests to me that Rush is a thoughtful person who fully understands the enormous responsibility that weighs on his shoulders, and who is determined to make his spectacular success a force for good in America.

There is an entire mini-industry of Limbaugh monitors, vile little left-wing worms who spend three hours a day recording and transcribing his broadcasts in hope of catching that one “gotcha” quote. (Pathetic, isn’t it?) These nests of vermin specialize in the Ransom-Note Method of partial quotation, claiming to be “fact-checking” Limbaugh’s monologues when in fact they’re just partisan smearmongers. And then there is the standing offer of a handsome fee for a Newsweek cover story available to any Republican who will denounce Rush. So the man is always a target, always the object of the withering gaze of critical scrutiny.

Do I agree with everything Rush Limbaugh has ever said? What kind of question is that? The point is that Rush “is a man, you know,” as the driver of Fairway Cab No. 1 so succinctly put it at CPAC. Whatever Limbaugh’s faults, he has that one redeeming value: Courage to speak out, even when speaking out makes him the target of vicious personal smears.

One of the basic principles of military strategy is to reinforce success. If you see a man who fights and wins, give him reinforcements, and bid others to emulate his success. It’s like the time when Abraham Lincoln was urged to relieve U.S. Grant of command because Grant was accused of having been drunk on duty. Lincoln answered bluntly: “I can’t spare this man. He fights.” It’s also like the time when Robert E. Lee, confronted at Richmond with George McClellan’s much larger Union force, decided to send a division of his little army to the Shenandoah Valley to reinforce Stonewall Jackson. Lee said, “We must aid a gallant man if we perish.”

That’s why when I see somebody like Kathy Shaidle — who is to Canada what the Tasmanian devil is to Tasmania — my instinct is to yell, “Hell, yeah! Give it to ’em, girl! Hit ’em where it hurts and force the cowardly bastards to defend themselves!” Reinforce success.

Tell you what: You find yourself a thousand David Brookses and a thousand Kathleen Parkers, and you give me one Rush Limbaugh and one Kathy Shaidle and, buddy, we’ll whup your ass before sundown.

They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty . . .
Psalms 69:4 (KJV)

The other day on the phone, I was telling Cynthia Yockey about my admiration for George S. Patton. He was a proud, profane and hot-tempered man. His faults were many, but Patton had two saving graces: Faith in God and a determination to fight.

He believed himself destined for victory, and when he was sidelined after slapping a soldier he considered a malingering coward, Patton felt unfairly cheated of command in the Normandy invasion. He was in a low place, that dark valley that David spoke of in the Psalms, but he was steadfast in his faith.

When the Allies finally broke out of the beachhead at St. Lo, it was Patton who spearheaded the assault. He pushed all the way through to liberate the Brittany peninsula, then turned around and raced southward to crush the German forces around Paris — a campaign that ranks among the greatest achievements in the history of American arms.

What happened next? Over Patton’s vehement objections, Eisenhower reinforced failure, diverting resources for Montgomery’s ill-conceived and ill-executed Operation Market Garden, which sacrificed gallant men for minor gains (a tragedy captured in Cornelius Ryan’s classic A Bridge Too Far, the film of which I highly recommend.) As a result of this blunder, Hitler was able to regroup and launch the final desperate winter assault that became famous as the Battle of the Bulge. And when the 101st Airborne was besieged at Bastogne, who was it that punched through the encircling enemy to rescue them? Patton, of course.

Constitutional liberty and a free economy, the true principles that conservatives should always aim to defend, are in deep peril. We are in that dark valley. Talk to veteran Republican operatives, and you will find them profoundly concerned about the apparent disorganization at RNC-HQ. If the conservatives are going to prevail in this crisis, it will be up to the grassroots troops in the field.

A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi — a precipice in front, wolves behind. Yet we see the wheels falling off the wobbly bandwagon of Hope, and we are certain of one thing about Obamanomics: It Won’t Work. If truth can get a fair hearing, there is still hope against Hope.

What we need most in this crisis is courage for the fight. We must not take counsel of our fears (click that link to read what is probably my best effort at an in-depth analysis of the current situation). If we heed the voices of defeatism and despair, if we allow ourselves to be distracted by carping criticisms from The Dogs Who Bark While the Caravan Moves On, if we start endlessly second-guessing our gut instincts because we’re afraid of offending the sensibilities of the editors at Newsweek — well, that way lies disaster.

Patterico speaks of the American people as “fundamentally reasonable,” and I believe this to be true. When I refer to The Ordinary American, it is this basic decency and the common sense of common people I mean to praise, in contrast to the viciousness and folly of the Establishment elite. (David Brooks being the most salient example of how elitism is a bipartisan problem.) The people may sometimes be misled or deceived, but they cannot be deceived forever.

As the incompetence and corruption of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid regime become increasingly evident, the Ordinary American seeks an alternative. The task of conservatives in this time of peril is to raise a banner around which the good and true will rally. We need a fighting creed, and courageous hearts with strong voices to shout it: WOLVERINES!

March 8, 2009

Blame Limbaugh First

“This is all a White House distraction tactic, and it’s being executed by friendly media taking directions. The left online, naturally, jumped on board faster than a Democrat on a filmmaker. It’s simple to understand, really. They don’t want you to think about Obama’s broken campaign promises and inept first month. So they need a distraction.”
Caleb at Red State

March 6, 2009

You’re welcome, Rush

“I’m going to leave some others out, but there have been a lot of people stepping up here, and I just want all of you who have to know I noted it and I appreciate it, and I thank you more than you could possibly ever know.”
Rush Limbaugh

Sorry I couldn’t have been in the green room with you and Erick Erickson, but I was busy hanging out with your man in Fairway No. 1. Ronald Reagan once said that you can accomplish anything, so long as you don’t care who gets the credit. I’m no T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII, but I do what I can.

March 4, 2009

‘Ed, you’re a butt boy’

Yesterday, I was driving from the Heritage Foundation over to my current part-time day gig as a video editor and listened to the second hour of Rush Limbaugh’s show, in which he was talking about a particularly idiotic question that CNN’s Ed Henry asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs:

The question is from Ed Henry, CNN, of Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman: “The president has spoken a lot about bringing the country together. . . .”
Ed, you’re a butt boy.

That caused me to laugh out loud. You have to hear the audio to appreciate the way Rush delivered that line. He started to read the entire question from Henry, preparatory to playing a sound-bite of Gibbs’s response. As he began to do so, however, he halted, evidently struck by the total tee-ball nature of the question, which had zero to do with White House policy or the real work of the governing process.

That set Rush off on a memorable monologue, and understandably so. Henry was simply giving Gibbs an easy shot at Limbaugh. Here’s the complete question:

“Bob, the president has spoken a lot about bringing the country together. And after the stimulus fight, there was a lot of pandering in both parties about bipartisanship. What’s the White House’s reaction to Rush Limbaugh saying again that he wants the president to fail, specifically on his economic plans, and how does that bode for bipartisanship in the future working with the Republicans?”

Henry asked Gibbs to give “the White House’s reaction” not to any legislation in Congress or economic development on Wall Street, but rather to something said by a radio talk-show host. Imagine Ed Henry asking a White House spokesman to something said by, inter alia, Keith Olbermann or Chris Matthews. Never gonna happen.

Butt Boy Ed is not engaged in journalism. Rather, he is promoting a Democratic Party propaganda objective, to set up this “controversial” statement by Limbaugh in order to use Rush as a proxy for the Republican Party. It’s a little game for Butt Boy Ed, to get the White House to officially condemn Limbaugh, so that Republican leaders in Congress can in turn be asked whether they side with the now-denounced radio host.

Butt Boy Ed is doing hammer-and-wedge work intended to divide and/or discredit the GOP, to render the conservative movement’s most influential spokesman persona non grata among Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Butt Boy Ed thinks ordinary Americans are too stupid to see what it is he is doing, and that he is not engaged in genuine news reporting, but is in fact a partisan political operative propagandizing CNN viewers on behalf of the Democratic Party.

If Butt Boy Ed quit his job at CNN and went to work for the Obama administration, the first thing he’d do is collect back pay.