Posts Tagged ‘Jonah Goldberg’
July 11th, 2013 at 6:33 pm
Jonah Goldberg on the Inconsistencies of Liberal Paranoia
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The reliably great Johan Goldberg’s newest column considers liberal outrage over the NSA surveillance scandal and comes to what strikes me as an utterly reasonable conclusion: if you’re a leftist who’s bothered by this sort of invasiveness, there’s a whole world of outrages awaiting you upon inspection of President Obama’s domestic record:

What I have a hard time understanding, however, is how one can get worked up into a near panic about an overreaching national-security apparatus while also celebrating other government expansions into our lives, chief among them the hydra-headed leviathan of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). The 2009 stimulus created a health database that will store all your health records. The Federal Data Services Hub will record everything bureaucrats deem useful, from your incarceration record and immigration status to whether or not you had an abortion or were treated for depression or erectile dysfunction.

In other words, while the NSA can tell if you searched the Web for “Viagra,” the Hub will know if you were actually prescribed the medication and for how long. Yes, there are rules for keeping that information private, but you don’t need security clearance or a warrant to get it.

Then there’s the IRS. We already have evidence of abuse there. For instance, the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, had its tax returns and private donor information leaked to the news media last year, presumably in order to embarrass Mitt Romney (he gave the group $10,000) and others during the presidential election.

And yet, worrying about NSA abuse is cast as high-minded, while worrying about Obamacare or the IRS is seen as paranoid. Why?

The answer, it seems to me, lies in the ideological priors of those doing the complaining. Unlike conservatives, liberals default to an essentially benevolent view of government and those that populate it — unless they happen to work in fields concerned with public safety, such as the military, intelligence, or law enforcement.

For my money, they all deserve scrutiny. But the track record also shows that the government officials who give the left night terrors are the ones that tend, on balance, to be the most responsible. Why? Well, I’d argue because they’re the only ones who retain a sense of that abstract virtue known as duty.

October 2nd, 2012 at 2:32 pm
Why Do Romneyites Always Telegraph Their Punches?

Robert Costa at NRO has a great column out today about what the Romney insiders hope their candidate accomplishes in tomorrow’s debate. Excellent reporting, interesting content.

But I am moved to make the same point Jonah Goldberg of NRO made a few days ago:

[T]he Romney campaign is shaping up to be something special. It seems to be part of their strategy never to miss a chance to tell the press why they’re doing what they’re doing. … The Romney campaign is so careful not to distract the voters with actual ideas and arguments — or, heaven forbid, ideology — that it seems at times determined to run on stage directions alone.

Why is anybody inside or close to the campaign coming anywhere near telling outsiders what they hope Romney accomplishes in the debate and how he intends to do it? Unless this is all a clever misdirection play (which I seriously doubt), this lets the Obama team know exactly what to prepare for. It’s as if a head football coach did an interview before a big game and said: “Well, we really want to blitz a lot on defense, because we aren’t really satisfied with our pass rush without the blitz; and on offense, you can expect to see a lot of play-action passes because we want them to think we’re running when we’re really gonna throw the ball…. Oh, and by the way, we’ve also been practicing lots of screen passes.”

Imagine if Ronald Reagan’s team had said in advance of the second Mondale debate that everybody should be looking for a good one-liner to deal with the “age issue.” How stupid would that have been?

If I were Romney, I would send an edict to his entire team that they are no longer allowed to discuss anything about campaign strategy, tactics, “positioning,” or the like. Problem is, once he put out such an edict, the next report leaked through “friendly” media outlets would be about how bold a step Romney just took by ordering all of his advisors not to talk about campaign tactics, and about how they expect the no-tactics strategy to bolster the campaign’s standing with part-time self-employed Hispanics in Colorado……

December 10th, 2010 at 6:00 pm
It Must Be Friday

Who knew that a week beginning with liberal howling about President Barack Obama’s “tax deal” with congressional Republicans would end with bitter disagreements between conservative stalwarts about whether the deal is actually good?  Charles Krauthammer thinks it’s the biggest Keynesian stimulus in American history.  Jonah Goldberg disagrees.  So does Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), arguing that pro-growth tax policy is the key first step towards jumpstarting the economy (spending cuts are next).

For his part, President Obama prefers to outsource his public communications duties to predecessor Bill Clinton.  After Clinton started taking questions at a joint press conference, Obama excused himself to attend the White House Christmas party; as if the sight of him leaving Clinton to speak on behalf of the administration didn’t matter.  Either Obama doesn’t care that he looked like the impatient junior partner to Clinton’s elder, me-first statesman, or he failed to appreciate the optics of his televised abdication.

Hopefully, we can chalk up all this confusion to it being a Friday at the end of a long congressional session.  Otherwise…

September 11th, 2010 at 2:20 pm
Obama More Hoover Than Carter?

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg makes a good case that the real analogue to President Barack Obama’s increasingly inept tenure in office is Herbert Hoover.  As political scientist Gordon Lloyd makes clear in his anthology, The Two Faces of Liberalism, Hoover was not the ‘market fundamentalist’ FDR and other liberals like to claim.  He, like Obama, meddled relentlessly in the market causing it to stagnate.  When FDR’s frenetic policymaking was mistaken for good economics, Hoover got the blame while his successor got the credit.

Goldberg sees a similarity in the offing:

For reasons fair and unfair, the Great Depression discredited laissez-faire economics for a generation or more. Hoover, who was hardly the “market fundamentalist” FDR made him out to be, suffered largely from the (bad) luck of the draw, giving Democrats a chance to argue for a new deal of the cards. For reasons fair and unfair, Obama, who inherited a bad recession and made it worse, every day looks more like a modern-day Hoover, whining about his problems, rather than an FDR cheerily getting things done. Inadequate to the task, Obama is discrediting the statism he was elected to restore.

The punch line? When the economy finally rebounds, it might be just in time for Obama’s replacement to get all the credit.

September 3rd, 2010 at 1:02 pm
Somebody Call Joe Klein’s Pharmacist
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Regular readers may know that Time Magazine’s Joe Klein has become something of a white whale to your humble blogger. He is to me what Tom Friedman is to Jonah Goldberg.

When Klein isn’t busy singing in the Obama gospel choir (along with Jon Meacham, Ezra Klein, Eugene Robinson, and everyone else who thinks Obama is failing because Americans are too base to grasp his transcendence), he’s usually nursing exceptionally dumb ideas for political reform. You know, the type that would grind a sophomore political science seminar to a halt?

At the moment, Klein’s problem du jour is that the American system of government doesn’t work effectively — by which he means it doesn’t provide the outcomes he likes. What does Klein propose as a tonic? A system that blends the worst aspects of populism and progressivism and then marinates with a throwback to the ancient Greeks. Behold:

But what if there were a machine, a magical contraption that could take the process of making tough decisions in a democracy, shake it up, dramatize it and make it both credible and conclusive? As it happens, the ancient Athenians had one. It was called the kleroterion, and it worked something like a bingo-ball selector. Each citizen — free males only, of course — had an identity token; several hundred were picked randomly every day and delegated to make major decisions for the polis. But that couldn’t happen now, could it? Most of our decisions are too complicated and technical for mere civilians to make, aren’t they?
Well, with tough questions like that Klein certainly couldn’t have a response. Or could he???
Actually, the Chinese coastal district of Zeguo (pop. 120,000) has its very own kleroterion, which makes all its budget decisions. The technology has been updated: the kleroterion is a team led by Stanford professor James Fishkin. Each year, 175 people are scientifically selected to reflect the general population. They are polled once on the major decisions they’ll be facing. Then they are given a briefing on those issues, prepared by experts with conflicting views. Then they meet in small groups and come up with questions for the experts — issues they want further clarified. Then they meet together in plenary session to listen to the experts’ response and have a more general discussion. The process of small meetings and plenary is repeated once more. A final poll is taken, and the budget priorities of the assembly are made known and adopted by the local government. It takes three days to do this. The process has grown over five years, from a deliberation over public works (new sewage-treatment plants were favored over road-building) to the whole budget shebang. By most accounts it has succeeded brilliantly, even though the participants are not very sophisticated: 60% are farmers. The Chinese government is moving toward expanding it into other districts.
So, to review:
  • The U.S. should be taking lessons on democracy from the People’s Republic of China.
  • The system obviously works because the Chinese chose to expand sewage treatment over roads — in a country that just had an 11-day, 74-mile traffic jam.
  • All farmers are apparently idiots.
  • We ought to replicate the particulars of the Greek system that executed Socrates and routinely put losing military commanders to death.
  • The Federalist Papers’ explicit recognition of the supremacy of a republican form of government over a democracy was only meant to hold until things got really hard.
  • Joe Klein thinks the ideal form of organizing a free people is modeled off of a game of Bingo — which one imagines is perhaps how he got his column.
January 22nd, 2010 at 5:45 pm
Heads Obama Wins, Tails Obama Doesn’t Lose
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In a sparkling column today, Jonah Goldberg does a rigorous job of deconstructing the Obama machine’s narrative that every single act in American political life — even the election of a Republican senator in Massachusetts — is proof of the president’s virtues.

My favorite section:

In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, the president offered his nuanced analysis of the Bay State Götterdämmerung and his first year in office.

In short: “I did nothing wrong.”

Well, with one caveat: “One thing I regret this year is that we were so busy just getting stuff done . . . that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people. . . . I think the assumption was, if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on the, you know, this provision, or that law, or are we making a good, rational decision here, that people will get it.”

Is the President beginning to remind anyone else of the guy who, when asked about his worst quality during his job interview, says “I care too much”?

October 21st, 2009 at 11:12 pm
A Pox on Both Their Houses
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Jonah Goldberg has a great op-ed today about the populist mood currently gripping the nation’s electorate. The money passage:

The tea-party protesters are in large part the heirs of Perotism, and they are being subjected to the same insults. Liberal commentators are deaf to the tea partiers’ disdain for both political parties, preferring to cast the protesters as a deranged band of birthers and racists or hired guns of a Republican “AstroTurf” campaign.

If the media had any interest in listening to the Tea Party crowd rather than just mocking them, this would be obvious. Look at the New Jersey governor’s race and the special election for the House seat in New York’s 23rd district and you’ll see that Republicans are underperforming not because of Democrats but because of perceptions that they’re insufficiently conservative (NY-23) or insufficiently reformist (New Jersey). The new zeitgeist is libertarian, populist, and reform-minded. It’s also extremely angry (there’s a reason that the Boston Tea Party is the symbol of choice).

Republicans (many of whom deeply disappointed the tea party crowd during the Bush years) can’t win back this disaffected crowd just by being the second-ugliest girl in the room. Until there’s a party that’s legitimately committed to smaller government and more freedom, the ranks of unaffiliated and irascible voters will only swell.