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  • Reality Bites.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on November 5th, 2015 (All posts by )

    Bevin

    The sobering reality of the 2015 election is slowly sinking in. How could this happen to a party “on the right side of history ?”

    Richard Fernandez, as usual, has some good ideas.

    Perhaps the greatest damage that “progressives” inflicted on civilization was to make people doubt the reality of the facts, when it is of the ends that we are uncertain. It may be that progress actually consists not of following the verities of the Party Line but in doing the best we can at every instant of our lives. Free men are content to endure the mystery of what happens when they do their best. Only the progressives must have a worthless guarantee of success for incompetence.

    The Progressives cheered a book about “false consciousness” by one Thomas Frank, called What’s the Matter with Kansas?

    The New York Times bestseller, praised as “hilariously funny . . . the only way to understand why so many Americans have decided to vote against their own economic and political interests” (Molly Ivins)

    Hailed as “dazzlingly insightful and wonderfully sardonic” (Chicago Tribune), “very funny and very painful” (San Francisco Chronicle), and “in a different league from most political books” (The New York Observer), What’s the Matter with Kansas? unravels the great political mystery of our day: Why do so many Americans vote against their economic and social interests? With his acclaimed wit and acuity, Thomas Frank answers the riddle by examining his home state, Kansas-a place once famous for its radicalism that now ranks among the nation’s most eager participants in the culture wars. Charting what he calls the “thirty-year backlash”-the popular revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment-Frank reveals how conservatism, once a marker of class privilege, became the creed of millions of ordinary Americans.

    The Wall Street Journal even gave him a column for a while but nobody read it. The reaction to the election in Houston at HuffPo is illustrative.

    A long list of local and national figures publicly came out in support of Prop. 1, including President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The measure also had the backing of companies like Apple and GE, as well as local businesses that wanted to avoid a backlash similar to what Indiana experienced when Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed an anti-gay “religious freedom” law earlier this year.

    But these heavy hitters weren’t able to get past the catchy, fear-mongering slogans and images used by their opponents.

    Yes, those stupid voters !

    When China decided to reverse it’s “one child policy” to avoid a demographic catastrophe, as Bret Stephens explains, it did more than repeal a Politburo decision, it admitted that the most advanced idea of the day was a crock of s**t. It is such a disappointment to progressives.

    They loved it, in part, because it had been their idea to begin with. Paul Ehrlich helped get the ball rolling with his 1968 blockbuster “The Population Bomb,” which begins with the words: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Mr. Ehrlich, a biologist at Stanford, had no scholarly credentials as a demographer or an economist. But that didn’t keep him from putting a scientific gloss on a personal prejudice.

    The problem was that it didn’t happen. We are now living through the “Global Warming” fiasco. The War on Fossil Fuels got going early. Nuclear power did not occur to the left as a solution for the carbon catastrophe, why ?

    Wikipedia has a fairly good discussion of nuclear power. The KGB started much of the anti-nuclear hysteria in Europe in the 1950s but it is hard to find links without a long search. The battle over Yucca Mountain has been an example of the intransigence of the left on this issue.

    Greenpeace advocates a reduction of fossil fuels by 50% by 2050 as well as phasing out nuclear power, contending that innovative technologies can increase energy efficiency, and suggests that by 2050 most electricity will come from renewable sources.[84] The International Energy Agency estimates that nearly 50% of global electricity supplies will need to come from renewable energy sources in order to halve carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and minimise climate change impacts.

    Here again, reality intrudes on the fantasies of the left. Wind and Solar are proving to be disappointing, in spite of fantasies of “50% increase in energy from wind” when the truth is 50% increase over 1% of the total produced by “alternative energy.”

    Governments around the world have watched Europe as it has moved to implement generous subsidy schemes like Porter’s to meet ambitious green energy goals and race towards a future free of fossil fuels.

    But with skyrocketing costs, major infrastructure challenges and biting austerity measures brought on by the debt crisis, some wonder why Europe has gone through the trouble of promising so much green so soon.

    Across the English Channel, Germans consumers are waking up to the costs of going green: As of Jan. 1, they are paying 11% more for electricity than they did last year thanks to government plans to replace nuclear plants with wind and solar power that requires significant and constant public money to be made cost effective.

    Solar energy seemed lunatic in cloudy Germany but they went ahead. Just as Merkel has invited millions of Muslims to Germany and its welfare state.

    Modern liberalism is best understood as a movement of would-be believers in search of true faith. For much of the 20th century it was faith in History, especially in its Marxist interpretation. Now it’s faith in the environment. Each is a comprehensive belief system, an instruction sheet on how to live, eat and reproduce, a story of how man fell and how he might be redeemed, a tale of impending crisis that’s also a moral crucible.

    In short, a religion without God. I sometimes wonder whether the journalists now writing about the failure of the one-child policy ever note the similarities with today’s climate “crisis.” That the fears are largely the same. And the political prescriptions are almost identical.

    Once the smoke of doubt enters the temple it is not so easily expunged.

    There have been some serious discussions of why leftism seems to be similar to Calvinist religion,and to the Puritans of New England. There is even a pretty well regarded book about it. It’s called “An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America.”

    We live in a profoundly spiritual age–but in a very strange way, different from every other moment of our history. Huge swaths of American culture are driven by manic spiritual anxiety and relentless supernatural worry. Radicals and traditionalists, liberals and conservatives, together with politicians, artists, environmentalists, followers of food fads, and the chattering classes of television commentators: America is filled with people frantically seeking confirmation of their own essential goodness. We are a nation desperate to stand on the side of morality–to know that we are righteous and dwell in the light.

    I think this corresponds to “The Right Side of History” according to Obama.

    Some of this agrees with my own theory that we are in an early repetition of the French Revolution.

    President Obama was right when he said that the coming years would be about fundamentally transforming things. Ironically Trump both understands and fails to articulate it. He claims people prefer him because he is “more competent” than his rivals. But he’s wrong. They are supporting him because he’s leading, however indirectly and uncertainly, a kind of rebellion against the status quo. The source of his appeal lies in his revolutionary aspects rather than his public administration qualities.

    The question to me is where is Robespierre?

    Meanwhile, the left tries to explain any tiny reversal. Dave Weigel thinks he knows what happened in Kentucky this week.

    On Tuesday night, it was the Democrats eating dust. Attorney General Jack Conway, who was expected to replace Beshear, lost in a rout to Tea Party activist Matt Bevin. Conway defended KYnect; Bevin called it a disaster. While his prescription for changing it shifted, he ended the race with a promise to undo Kentucky’s successful experiment.

    It must be some mistake.

    Bevin’s win, and the Republican victories in neighboring Virginia, were body blows to Democratic hopes of enforcing the Affordable Care Act. Virginia voters rejected a chance to hand the state Senate back to a party that would expand Medicaid; some Kentucky voters who had benefited from the expansion surely voted against the candidate who’d keep it as is. Bevin pulled some of his best numbers in Kentucky’s impoverished eastern counties, where enrollment had been highest. As the polls closed, the situation reminded author Thomas Frank of his thesis in “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” of voters striking out against their interests.

    Of course ! What else could it be ?

    They must be crazy, why else should you vote against the god of progress? How can you reject Obamacare? One possible answer, which no progressive likes to hear, is uppercase God gave the lowercase gods the word: it don’t work. ”God”, for those who don’t mind the term, is a synonym for consequences. What forced the rollback of China’s One Child Policy? As Chinese author Mei Fong explains in an interview with the New Yorker, it was consequences.

    Q: Some scholars have suggested that the one-child policy was as big as catastrophe as the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. Do you agree?

    A: In terms of long-term effect, yes. The Great Leap Forward lasted three years, the Cultural Revolution, a decade. What we call the one-child policy—a set of regulations governing childbirth in China—is now thirty-five years old and still going on. Even though Beijing’s shifting to a nationwide two-child policy, the state is still regulating the womb. The side effects—a huge gender imbalance, a coming tsunami of old people with relatively few young to take care of them—are going to linger for at least a generation, if not longer. …

    If, contrary to all “right side of history” rhetoric, the GOP elects a president next year, even Trump, I may have to reconsider my dark pessimism about this country. If China can learn about reality, maybe we can.

     

    11 Responses to “Reality Bites.”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      I think most Americans understand reality. Some of our elites do not, or benefit from the old system and thus keep trying to jam unworkable dirigiste bullshit down our throats as they continue to benefit from it. King Louis Obama is Exhibit A.

      The main question is how long it will take to start getting workable reforms and to sweep away the drags imposed by the elites and their entrenched constituencies. Let’s hope it’s five years rather than multiple generations, but who knows.

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      The other night I pulled into my street and a young deer stood splay-legged in front of my car, frozen. It’s companion stood off the side, crouched and ready to bound away, but also unable to move. I’m reminded of young people confronting the current state of the world.

    3. Trent Telenko Says:

      The Houston Transgender “rights” law was in fact a “Decriminalizing lewd behavior by male pervs looking at lady bits in women’s potty” law.

      Any guy going into a lady’s potty to look under the stall door’s at women on the can could claim being “transgender” and sue the cops for “transgender discrimination”.

      The LGBT activist would not put a registered transgender identification clause into the law to prevent this for reasons amounting to political identity.

      This set them up to be successfully painted by the law’s Houston area opponents as pro-predatory criminal lewdness against women supporters.

      It also helped that the Lesbian mayor pulled every dirty trick in the book to intimidate the law’s opponents — to include most evangelical preachers of all races in the Houston trying to keep the initiative off the ballot — who had collected 55,000 signatures against a requirement of 18,000.

      This ticked off the law’s opponents even more and they went to court to get their initiative on the ballot.

      They won.

      Game over.

    4. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      >>It also helped that the Lesbian mayor pulled every dirty trick in the book

      The primary reason leftists are always accusing others of underhanded behavior, corruption, dirty deeds, AstroTurf, taking bribes, lying, intimidation and fascism is because, well, as soon they’re in power that’s how they behave. I wish I was joking about that.

    5. Whitehall Says:

      Thank you for describing how the Greens, the progressives, and the Communists have libeled, slandered, and demagogued nuclear power for decades.

      One of the first “tells” against global warming was the absence of support for the only viable remedy for their “crisis” – more nuclear power.

      Now, when can I have my lovely, warm, and inviting incandescent light bulbs back?

    6. TMLutas Says:

      I think the american voter understands that sometimes you have to climb down the short leg of a “J” curve in order to climb up the long leg. They’re not voting against their interests at all, if they see something that gets them out of their dead end public policy even if the short run might be rougher. The american liberal is not quite so enlightened.

    7. David Foster Says:

      TML…”I think the american voter understands that sometimes you have to climb down the short leg of a “J” curve in order to climb up the long leg. They’re not voting against their interests at all, if they see something that gets them out of their dead end public policy even if the short run might be rougher”

      That’s part of it…another part is that many of these voters..in Kansas, let’s say….can detect the level of contempt directed toward them by the “progressives.” And people really don’t tend to vote for those who display obvious contempt toward them.

      Although the contempt has clearly been there with Obama, it’s been generally masked. The Republicans should have done a better job of bringing it out and putting it on display for all to see and contemplated.

    8. Oppressed in Crook County IL Says:

      An old Barron’s article.

      But there is still a problem created 30 years ago when President Jimmy Carter forbade the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, establishing the once-through fuel cycle and effectively killing active development of commercial nuclear power. This wrong-headed decision was prompted by concern about the spread of nuclear weapons. Carter expected that the rest of the world would follow our lead, but no other countries have so limited their application of nuclear technology.

      http://www.barrons.com/articles/SB116380973825826907

    9. Mike K Says:

      “President Jimmy Carter forbade the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel,”

      Some of this was the undeserved Carter reputation asa nuclear engineer. He was never nuclear qualified.

      One myth correction, however. President Carter was a submarine officer, but he was not a nuclear engineer.
      He graduated from the US Naval Academy in June 1946 (he entered in 1943 with the class of 1947, but his class was in a war-driven accelerated 3 year program) with an undesignated bachelor of science degree. Even if the Naval Academy had offered a majors program for his class, it is unlikely that it would have included Nuclear Engineering as a option – after all, the Manhattan Project was a dark secret for most of his time at Annapolis.
      After graduation, Jimmy Carter served as a surface warfare officer for a two years and then volunteered for the submarine force. He served in a variety of billets, including engineer officer of diesel submarines and qualified to command submarines.
      In November 1952, he began a three month temporary duty assignment at the Naval Reactor branch. He started nuclear power school (a six month course of study that leads to operator training) in March, 1953. In July 1953, his father passed away and he resigned his commission to run the family peanut farm. He was discharged from active duty on 9 October, 1953. According to an old friend of mine who served as Rickover’s personnel officer at Naval Reactors, LT Carter did not complete nuclear power school because of the need to take care of business at home.

    10. JNorth Says:

      Mike K, even before resigning his commission he had already failed the most important test for prospective Naval Nuclear Officers; the interview with Admiral Rickover. From everything I’ve read and heard Admiral Rickover was not impressed with the peanut farmer and the Admiral did not let anyone work on his reactors who he didn’t feel meet his technical AND ethical standards. Admiral Rickover was one of the more amazing people in this country’s history, serving 63 years in the Navy under 13 presidents, from 1918 to 1982.

    11. Joe Wooten Says:

      Trent, the game is over for a while, but I can guarantee they will be back with another one, and the cycle will start all over again. The lesbian mayor has promised she will try again.

      Oppressed, Carter killed it by pulling the government operating subsidies for reprocessing. Without those, it just does not pay, as it is cheaper to mine and process uranium to make new fuel than it is to re-process used fuel to make new fuel bundles. When it becomes cheaper to re-process, I guarantee it will happen. The subsides necessary to make re-processed fuel competitive dwarf the windmill/solar subsidies. All of Carter’s talk about proliferation and keeping plutonium out of the hands of terrorists was pure unadulterated BS.