PowerLine -> The farce of Bill Clinton’s “reckoning” + The Liberal Cult in Action

PowerLine -> The farce of Bill Clinton’s “reckoning” + The Liberal Cult in Action

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest

  • History Is Bunk, Indeed
  • The Liberal Cult in Action
  • The farce of Bill Clinton’s “reckoning”
  • Minnesota man charged in mall stabbings
  • The blue slip variations: Grassley speaks
History Is Bunk, Indeed

Posted: 15 Nov 2017 01:40 PM PST

(Steven Hayward)

Henry Ford is reported to have once said, “History is bunk.” Upon Ford’s death, the eminent historian Arnold Toynbee remarked, “Henry Ford is history.” Touché!

But I wonder if Henry Ford isn’t having the last laugh on this question, at least when it comes to academic history. I’ve been making mischief for the last few years among academic historians by asking the simple question, “Why is it that nearly all of the best-selling histories and biographies these days are being written by journalists and other non-academic writers [i.e. Ron Chernow’s Hamilton, etc.]?” There is a huge demand among readers for narratives and biographies about America’s founders and especially our conflicts, both internal and external. Academic historians will sometimes candidly admit that writing a popular book will actually hurt your academic career. And then they wonder why student enrollment in history has been in a long-term decline.

For my sins this year I enrolled as an adjunct member of the American Historical Association, and just received the program for their annual meeting in Washington DC coming up in early January. The first thing I notice is how thin the program is compared to the annual program of the American Political Science Association. The next thing you notice is how narrow and politicized so much of the program is.

Herewith some panel titles:

The #NoDAPL and Water Is Life Movement and Historians [because the Dakota Access Pipeline, just barely completed, is an important historical subject already]

Teaching Queer Themes and Experiences in World History

Race, Sport, Spectatorship

Dancing Reformers or Reformed Dancers? Dance, Religion, and Gender in the Reformation

Sex, Gender, Intimacy, and Race and Lingering Questions of Justice in World War II’s Southwest Pacific Theater

Queer Contortions: New Directions in the History of Race, Sexuality, and the Body

Race and Empire in Global Music History, 1500-1800

Insects Histories: Contested Boundaries in Human-Insect Interfaces, 17002-1950s [Not sponsored by Terminix or Raid, for some reason]

Total War and the Genesis of Industrial-Scale Recycling

Here is it worth taking in some of the individual papers on this panel:

“Skimming Off the Fat: Industrial-Scale Recycling in Nazi-Occupied Europe,” by Anne Kristina Berg

“Toward a Zero Waste Economy: Scope and Impact of the Nazi ‘Recycling Regime,’” by Heike Weber, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Good to know the Nazis were concerned about sustainable warfare. Funny, though, how sensitive environmentalists are when you observe that the Nazis were the first 20th century environmentalists.

A few other individual papers deserve notice:

“Sex and the Colonial City: Mapping Masculinity, Whiteness, and Desire in French Hanoi,” by Michael Vann, California State University, Sacramento

“You Are What You Eat: The Gendered Politics of Francoist Nutrition,” by Suzanne Dunai, UC San Diego

Almost nothing on the entire program about history in any sensible way—almost nothing on presidents or the presidency, very little on war in any direct way, nothing on legal history, nothing on traditional literature in history, etc.—but strangely, there are several organizational meetings about what to do to increase enrollment in history courses. Here’s a novel idea: how about teaching history instead of trendy ideology?


The Liberal Cult in Action

Posted: 15 Nov 2017 09:55 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)

No sooner do I note yesterday that GQ magazine has consistently disgraced itself with its choice of cover honorees (culminating in naming Colin Kaepernick its “Citizen of the Year”) than Marie Claire decided to say “Hold my beer” and offer up this tweet:

Now, I do not follow Taylor Swift at all, and couldn’t pick one of her tunes out of a police lineup. But I know that she is phenomenally successful, and as such the Cult of Liberalism is demanding that she throw in with the rest of the celebrity mob on behalf of liberalism, or “explain” why she didn’t. I think conformity with liberalism is in all of their union contracts. I guess the left thinks if Swift had come out forcefully against Trump (which would give a whole new meaning to Swift-boating), it would have swayed some of those dumb white voters in Wisconsin or something.

Needless to say, this ham-handedness unleashed a torrent of sarcastic abuse directed at Marie Claire and the Cult of the Left:


Beyond this well-deserved mockery is a deeper and more serious lesson, only hinted at by calling liberalism a secular cult. The very first book I ever bought from Liberty Fund, way back as an undergraduate, was a reader entitled The Politicization of Society, edited by Kenneth Templeton. (Still in print, and highly recommended.) The introduction to the volume by Max Hartwell (whom I later had the chance to meet over dinner at a Mont Pelerin Society conference) lays out the problem with admirable clarity:

[A]lmost all social phenomena have become politicized, and almost all social problems are assumed to have only political solutions. . . Where once individuals saw their problems as private and sought private solutions for them, now they seek political solutions. Where once private initiative dominated, for example, in areas like cultural entertainment, now political initiatives dominate. Where once the private investigation of social problems was important, public inquiry now dominates, and with public inquiry there is almost inevitably public solution (remedial legislation and the establishment of a bureaucracy of enforcement and control.

Politicization thus takes the manifest form of increasing the power of the state, of increasing political power as against all other forms of power in society, of increasing the power of the politicians and the bureaucrats as against the power of individuals, private institutions, and voluntary associations. For the individual this has meant increasing political dependence and awareness, along with increasing political ineffectiveness and frustration.

This last sentence goes a long way toward explaining the appeal of Trump and populism more generally in the western democracies right now.

To be continued. . .

Meanwhile: Stop Swift-boating Taylor!


The farce of Bill Clinton’s “reckoning”

Posted: 15 Nov 2017 08:37 AM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)

Is there anything in the news more farcical than liberals and feminists saying it’s time for “a reckoning with Bill Clinton”? Clinton was credibly accused of severe sexual misconduct by several women. One of them, Juanita Broaddrick, alleged that Clinton raped her. Her claim was highly credible, inasmuch as she complained contemporaneously to five people.

Clinton also admitted, after brazenly lying about it, to having sex with Monica Lewinsky. The White House intern was barely out of her teens at the time.

If Roy Moore, against whom no allegation of sexual misconduct has been conclusively established, is unfit to occupy one of 100 Senate seats, then surely Bill Clinton was unfit to serve as our president. Yet Democrats and feminists rallied to Clinton’s defense while shrugging off, if not applauding the fact that the Clinton machine — spearheaded by Hillary Clinton — demonized Clinton’s female victims.

Did any Democrat or liberal media type say “I believe the women”? If so, I don’t recall it.

During Clinton’s post-presidency, Democrats and feminists continued to ignore his predatory sexual history. Even now, when that behavior is mentioned some (like Ruth Marcus) accuse those who bring it up of “what-about-ism.”

Let’s be clear. Responding to the allegations against Roy Moore by citing Clinton isn’t a defense of Moore. It’s an indictment of Clinton defenders for intellectual dishonesty. Unless the Ruth Marcus will admit to intellectual dishonesty, she needs a substantive answer to the “what about” question.

Some on the left realize this. That’s why they call for a Bill Clinton “reckoning.”

But such a reckoning two decades after the fact won’t cut it. Does anyone believe there would be such a reckoning if Hillary Clinton had won in 2016? I don’t. Bill Clinton can be “reckoned with” now because the Clintons are a long way from power and many on the left want to keep it that way.

Does anyone believe there would be a Bill Clinton reckoning if Roy Moore hadn’t credibly been accused of serious sexual misconduct? Given the timing of most of the reckoning talk, I don’t.

It’s true that Harvey Weinstein had his reckoning before Moore was accused (but only after major obstacles to it were overcome). But Weinstein isn’t Bill Clinton. Sure, he served the left, but others in Hollywood can provide that service. Surely, there are one or two male tycoons, or potential tycoons, in Hollywood who haven’t sexually harassed anyone. Or, here’s a thought — how about a female Hollywood tycoon?

Bill Clinton, by contrast, was indispensable until recently and his legacy is still of marginal interest to many liberals.

I’ve heard it said that if the Clinton sex saga of the 1990s were to occur in 2017, it would play out very differently. Nonsense. Sexual harassment was a major issue in the 1990s and feminists had already staked out the “I believe the women” position. Or have you forgotten the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill drama of 1991?

When political power is in the picture, Democrats and feminist “believe the women” only when they accuse political enemies. This was true in the 1990s and it’s true today.


Minnesota man charged in mall stabbings

Posted: 15 Nov 2017 06:48 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)

Last night the Star Tribune reported that Minnesota man Mahad A. Abdiraham was charged with first-degree assault in connection with the stabbings at the Mall of America’s Macy’s store on Sunday evening. The charges were filed yesterday afternoon.

Despite the intense local interest in the story, I can’t find it on the Star Tribune’s home page. If it’s there it isn’t featured. Rather, the Star Tribune has been featuring a critical story on James Wood’s mocking tweet about an assemblage of Somali Muslims at the Mall (story here).

The stabbing victims are brothers Alexander Sanchez (19 years old) and John Sanchez (25): “The younger brother suffered injuries to his head that will leave scars, and cuts to his arms that went ‘to the bone,’ according to the charges. His brother needed dozens of stitches, the court filing revealed.”

The Star Tribune article notes that no motive for the stabbings was offered in the complaint, but that “it did suggest Abdiraham has had psychological difficulties. Last year, he was arrested on suspicion of stabbing two staff members with a pen at an inpatient psychiatric unit.” That case apparently went nowhere.

The article summarizes the criminal complaint filed against Abdiraham yesterday:

Alexander Sanchez had come to Macy’s with eight family members and exited the dressing room to show the others a pair of pants.

Mahad A. Abdiraham - The Slasher

Mahad A. Abdiraham – The Slasher

He returned to the dressing room as Abdiraham was standing nearby and “looking as if he thought about going inside.”

After Alexander Sanchez “tried to push past” Abdiraham upon exiting the room, Abdiraham started slashing him with a knife, which had an 8-inch blade. Alexander Sanchez suffered cuts across his face and head and deep gashes to the back of his arms. Some cuts to his back made it to the bone.

John Sanchez came to his brother’s rescue, as did another family member. The older brother grabbed at the knife and was cut on his hands, and suffered slashes to his back that required 42 stitches. The brothers and others subdued and disarmed Abdiraham.

Alexander Sanchez needed a blood transfusion.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s online listing of the charges against Abdirahman is posted here. The sheriff’s listing indicates that the complaint states two felony counts against Abdirahman and that he is held with bail set at $750,000. Here’s hoping he doesn’t make bail.


The blue slip variations: Grassley speaks

Posted: 15 Nov 2017 05:38 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)

On early Monday morning, I wrote about the November 2 memorandum to news media disseminated by the Senate Judiciary Committee Majority. I wrote that the memo would probably not have been disseminated without Senator Grassley’s blessing as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and that the memo read like a backgrounder for reporters explaining a course of action that is about to be taken (and should be).

Later that day Senator Grassley took to the floor of the Senate to make a statement on the “History of the Blue Slip Courtesy for Judicial Nominees” (video below).

In his statement, Senator Grassley reiterated the memorandum in his own voice. He decried “the danger of allowing one or two senators to veto a nominee for political or ideological reasons.” Drawing on his own experience as an Iowa Senator with Eighth Circuit nominations, Senator Grassley concluded:

[T]he blue slip isn’t supposed to allow the unilateral veto of a nominee….a senator can’t [properly] use a blue slip to block a nominee simply because he or she doesn’t like the nominee’s politics or ideology.

A senator can’t use a blue slip to block a nominee because it’s not the person the senator would’ve picked. The president gets to nominate judges.

The White House should consult home-state senators and it’s important that they do so in a meaningful way. But the White House may disagree with senators and may determine that a different individual is more suited to serve on the circuit court. So long as there is consultation, the President generally gets to make that call.

So, I won’t let senators abuse the blue slip to block qualified nominees for political or ideological reasons.

As I have noted a time or two before, the unfunniest senator — that would be Al Franken (you can Google it) — has withheld his blue slip to block the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit. Franken’s statement opposing Justice Stras amounts to nothing more than glorified pique. I think that Franken’s statement takes it far beyond the lines of the “blue slip courtesy” Senator Grassley intends to honor.

Justice Stras’s nomination has now been in limbo for over six months. Senator Grassley continues to hold his cards close to his vest, but I read his floor statement in part as A Message To Al that Justice Stras will have his day before the Judiciary Committee.


Leave a Reply