Good Friday Morning! Every journalist’s favorite Gen-X politician announced he’s jumping into the Democratic Primaries – Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, whose lone claim to fame is losing to Ted Cruz in Texas, during a blue wave when the Democratic logo won you a 5-10 point headstart. Beto kicked off his campaign with a full spread in Vanity Fair (his dog looks terrified), appealing to his core demographic of rich white journalists in the DC metro area.
Betomania is one of the more annoying phenomena in recent memory. It’s almost as irritating as Bernie Bros, except Bernie Sanders has actual living breathing voters. Beto has journalists fawning over him. It’s also annoying because it’s a distortion of the Democratic primaries. Right now Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are dividing up around 50-55% of the total field of potential voters, the other 10,000 people running for President split the remainder of the voters.
Of those two, I give the edge to Bernie Sanders for three reasons. 1) Bernie has a core set of supporters who won’t leave him. 2) Biden’s best day in the race will be the day he announces, after that his mouth and the media will tear him apart. 3) Bernie has an air of untouchability about him that Biden doesn’t; people will attack Biden, they’re scared of Bernie. Noah Rothman over at Commentary Magazine and I both have the same analysis on this but disagree on issues. We both think a third candidate will use a wedge issue, currently underutilized and underserved by the candidates, to break into the lead of the race. Noah believes that issue is race, and I think it is impeachment. I say impeachment because Bernie won’t care about it (similar to Clinton’s emails), and Biden will follow Pelosi’s lead, which provides an opening to anyone willing to exploit it.
But we shall see. In case you missed the biggest story of the week, Marvel’s Avengers Endgame official trailer dropped. And it’s fantastic. This week I’m covering some comments made by everyone’s favorite NY socialist and some thoughts on watching icons and idols get torn down. Links follow.
Where you can find me this week
Make sure to sign up for the Conservative Institute’s daily newsletter. You can also go to their Facebook page. You can join Ricochet here. And I do recommend their ever-growing network of podcasts, which you can find on all popular podcast platforms. They have a show for every topic you can imagine, and the list continues to grow.
The “anti-hate” resolution was a joke as passed by Democrats. When presented with the opportunity to condemn an anti-semite in their caucus, they backpedaled and bowed to intersectionality interests in the party. Democrats ruled by the Ilhan Omar’s of the world make them no different than the Jeremy Corbyn led UK Labour Party.
A new argument on the has popped up lately, spurred on by a new biography of Chief Justice John Roberts. Legal scholars on the left are saying Roberts should vote against his conservative beliefs because the institution of the court is at stake. It is an issue raised in the biography, and at Federalist Society events, and I deconstruct it here.
Capitalism and Redeemability
I’m so glad the South by Southwest (SXSW) convention is finally over. I used to enjoy hearing stories of the event. Now it’s another political convention where the flavor of the month Democrats show up to advertise they’re the hot item. That brings us to the hottest politician of the moment, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The socialist getting force-fed down everyone’s throats, whether she knows anything about the topic she’s talking about or not. But I found her SXSW comments somewhat revealing:
She directed some of her sharpest comments at an economic system that she said values profit over people.
“Capitalism is an ideology of capital –- the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit,” Ocasio-Cortez said. And that comes at any cost to people and to the environment, she said, “so to me capitalism is irredeemable.”
Though she said she doesn’t think all parts of capitalism should be abandoned, “we’re reckoning with the consequences of putting profit above everything else in society. And what that means is people can’t afford to live. For me, it’s a question of priorities and right now I don’t think our model is sustainable.”
Instead of conservative politicians scaring people that socialism means the government is going to take over their business, “we should be scared right now because corporations have taken over our government,” she said.
Capitalism being “irredeemable” is an interesting way to phrase it, especially in her context. She’s implying sometime in the distant past that capitalism was a redeemable system. Or at some point that capitalism worked adequately, that you could point somewhere in history when perfect capitalism was in play and everything was fine.
And I know, instinctively, that she couldn’t name a single point in history when she’d say capitalism was fine as a system.
One of my favorite websites is Our World in Data. If you’ve never visited it, you should. Pick any category and glance at the incredible advancements we’ve made since the world let capitalism take over more and more aspects of our lives. We’ve eradicated diseases that once destroyed entire continents of humanity, we’ve blunted the impact of famine on our lives, and changed the very definition of what it means to be poor.
Here’s how rich we are in America: we have an obesity epidemic. We’re so rich that everyone struggles with being fat and we have to visit buildings full of exercise equipment to simulate activities we once had to do for survival. A health report noted:
The U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and accordingly has high obesity rates; one-third of the population has obesity plus another third is overweight. The situation is predicted to worsen; rising childhood obesity rates forewarn of worsening statistics. While it is agreed that both individual factors such as genetic susceptibility and behavior are important in life-long weight gain, evidence is ill-defined with respect to the nature of the environmental influences that impact obesity.
In 2010, 15.1% of Americans lived in poverty based upon family income census data. With the economic downturn, the number of people in the U.S. living in poverty rose to 46 million people—the greatest number in more than 50 years.
Are poverty and obesity associated? Poverty rates and obesity were reviewed across 3,139 counties in the U.S. In contrast to international trends, people in America who live in the most poverty-dense counties are those most prone to obesity.
Think about that for a second: two-thirds of Americans are too fat. And if you’re poor — you’re more likely to be fat in this country. Take a step back and think about that concept in the full scope of human history. Poverty used to mean you were the exact opposite of fat. Typically poverty meant you lived a shorter life for a variety of reasons. We’ve flipped that concept on its head.
One of the latest trends on the left is to attack retail stores like Dollar General and Dollar Tree. They’re worried that poor people don’t have access to higher-end grocery stores like Whole Foods.
Another societal trend right now is minimalism. Marie Kondo’s book and Netflix show “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” (currently headed towards 15k five star reviews) is a push towards minimalism. And that only works in a country like America where consumerism has pushed us towards buying boatloads of stuff. We are so rich we’re getting rid of stuff to live “better lives.”
We’re so rich we have multiple delivery apps to bring us food and groceries at any point in time. We’re mad if Amazon doesn’t get a package to us in two days or less, whenever we order it. We have any form of entertainment available to us at the tap of a finger.
And AOC wants to sit there and say capitalism is irredeemable?
Jonah Goldberg has a brilliant point on socialism when you listen to his podcast or dig through his excellent books. On socialism, he observes that it is more of a left-wing reactionaryism. Socialists envision a past where everyone was united in some grand fashion, like during the Great Depression or WWII. They mythologize those eras, wanting to return to those moments of solidarity. They attack the decades of wealth and plenty, the 1920s and 1950s.
They want a return to old solidarity despite evidence that FDR’s New Deal policies are estimated to have prolonged the Great Depression by seven years. The effectiveness of the plans isn’t the point: solidarity and tribes are the points. Socialists want a time when all class and difference get erased, and everyone unites behind state power. That’s why socialism resembles religion. They’re trying to take all the trappings of religion, remove God and tradition, and replace it with the state.
Goldberg’s analogy is one of the families vs. society. In our families, we’re entirely socialist. Most families don’t treat each other in a capitalist way, where if you don’t work you don’t get anything. We help each other. Parents help their children. Socialists try to recreate that on a national scale — which is why it fails so badly because it’s impossible to plan out and direct every single person’s life like they’re a child.
Socialists are, then, reactionary to the capitalist age we’ve entered. That makes them similar to the nationalists you look around and see. Nationalists and socialists are reacting to the same events and responding differently. Nationalists wrap themselves up in either nation or race, and socialists run for the security of the state.
Socialists like AOC are reacting to the explosion of goods and plenty that capitalism has brought the world and they feel Marx’s concept of alienation. As such, they’re trying to bring back solidarity, unions, and an expansive state that forces everyone together. That’s why they’re okay with forcing people to give things up like burgers and any other “luxury,” it’s to regain that solidarity at the cost of all other freedoms.
Unity and solidarity are natural impulses, and I don’t fault them for wanting it. But the reason socialism fails at every single juncture is that individuality can’t get hindered — everyone eventually wants to do their own thing. Capitalism and federalism allow for this freedom.
Traditional conservatism and federalism, in protecting institutions and morality, ironically help advance and protect the disruptive systems of capitalism. And if we want to continue advancing as a society, we need that continual disruptive renewal.
How are we choosing which idols to tear down?
How are we choosing who and what to tear down in society? I ask because every week seems to bring with it some new controversy where we’re supposed to remove a person, thing, or object from society because of transgressions. To wit:
- Leaving Neverland: The Michael Jackson Netflix documentary. This film is causing massive waves, getting people to talk about Jackson and his dealings with young boys. Since the documentary aired in January, Jackson’s music has fallen out of favor with radio stations, he got removed out of a Simpsons episode, and people have called for Jackson to get removed from pop culture.
- The Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. Combined with the Southern Baptist Church sex abuse scandals. What should remain of these institutions?
- John Wayne: The internet “unearthed” a 1971 interview with Playboy that caused some people to call for his name to get removed from the airport named after him.
- Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and everyone else from the #MeToo movement. Should people lose jobs and have awards and honors stripped from them?
- Tucker Carlson and Media Matters. This week Media Matters for America (leftwing) released audio recordings of Tucker Carlson on a shock jock radio station from around a decade ago, Bubba the Love Sponge, where Tucker said gross and bad things. Tucker responded by dropping grossly racist statements that the Media Matters author said in the past.
- Bill Cosby and his legacy
- Kevin Hart getting kicked from the Oscars
- The continual drumbeat for removing Civil War statues honoring Confederates
The list of these events is long and getting longer. And it’s worth noting, Virginia’s Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General all refused to resign for blackface, KKK outfit, and #MeToo allegations.
To borrow an Old Testament analogy, our society wants to tear down “alters and high places,” for a variety of people and groups. For the most part, I suppose I don’t mind. Our culture is overly secularized from an evangelical perspective, but I also don’t see much in the way of rhyme or reason to any of these movements.
We’re also swinging between destroying people and their careers for these events (The Justine Sacco treatment), or we move on, and nothing happens (Virginia government).
If the moral is: we’re tearing down anyone and everything that has ever done or said anything “problematic,” then the irony is no one can cast the first stone. No one is without sin under progressive morality, and everyone is a hypocrite.
I don’t have any answers to these questions and observations this week. I just started jotting everything down and looking at the larger whole trying to detect a pattern, and I don’t see one. Is that good or bad?
I’ll leave that to you.
Links of the week
Sen. Lee Introduces ARTICLE ONE Act to Reclaim Congressional Power – Senator Mike Lee (Acronym game on this one is legendary)
The Aristocracy of Victimhood: If anti-Semitism is wrong, it’s no less wrong no matter how bad Ilhan Omar’s childhood was. – Jonah Goldberg, National Review
The Myth of Joe Biden’s Working-Class Support: Beyond two failed presidential campaigns, the former vice president has never run a race on his own outside Delaware. – Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic
Ilhan Communication: Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the collapse of the center-left – Matthew Continetti, The Washington Free Beacon
What Pelosi Knows about Impeachment – Matthew Continetti, National Review
What Isn’t Missing from the Abortion Debate – Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review
Implications of Today’s Senate Vote Against Trump’s Border Wall “Emergency” Declaration: How the overwhelming vote against Trump’s position could potentially affect the lawsuits challenging the legality of the declaration. – Ilya Somin, Volokh Conspiracy
Madison Wept: And the senators said to the president, “pretty please?” – Keith E. Whittington, Volokh Conspiracy
Don’t Laugh, Bernie Can Win – Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review
Jonah Goldberg is ‘ideologically grounded, but I feel politically homeless – Columbia Journalism Review
From ‘Ghostbusters’ to ‘Captain Marvel,’ culture warriors get box-office results all wrong – Sonny Bunch, The Washington Post
No one loses a debate over anti-Semitism. Except Jews. – Seth Mandel, The Washington Post
When Google Fiber Abandons Your City as a Failed Experiment – Adam K. Raymond, Gizmodo
The Aldi effect: how one discount supermarket transformed the way Britain shops: When Aldi arrived in Britain, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were sure they had nothing to worry about. Three decades later, they know better. – Xan Rice, The Guardian
Satire piece of the week
EL PASO, TX — Revealing plans to “put his own spin” on beloved stump speeches and talking points, Beto O’Rourke announced Thursday that he was starting a Barack Obama cover campaign. “I’ve always loved Barack’s early stuff from back in ’08, even ’04, and I think diehard fans will go crazy when I cover all his greatest hits,” said the 46-year-old White House hopeful, clarifying that he and his campaign aides had spent several months “just going through Barack’s catalog” to memorize the former president’s platform. “Obama’s style always really resonated with me, and honestly, what’s the point in struggling to come up with something new when you can just give people what they want. I’m going to cover some of Barack’s most well-known campaign speeches, putting my own small twists on prison reform and healthcare—they’ll be way heavier, faster, and louder.” At press time, O’Rourke revealed that he had just finished working on a stripped-down version of “Change We Can Believe In” that went directly into a fiery rendition of “Yes, We Can!”
Thanks for reading!