How do you ensure that you won’t be ostracized, denounced, or fired if you are a media celebrity, captain of industry, or high public official?
For some, sexist banter is certainly no problem. Stand-up comedian Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a c–t and a tw-t, but suffered no ill
consequences. David Letterman joked on air that Sarah Palin’s 14-year-old daughter had had sex with Alex Rodriguez during a New York Yankees game. There was no downside to that either. President Obama tosses around “sweetie” as he wishes. No problem with that. No one believes Barack could be condescending to women.
It is not just that sloppy speech can, with the right ideological insurance, become irrelevant. Inconvenient truths can be insured against too. Barack Obama’s female staffers make far less than do their male counterparts, at least by the quirky sort of standards that the president himself applies to others to win petty victories in his vaunted war against the war against women. Bill Clinton had sexual relations with a young staffer, in what feminists would call a classic exploitative situation of disparate power. Most such bosses would be fired for hitting on their young assistants. If Woody Allen were not insured as a left-wing filmmaker, he would have been ostracized out of Hollywood.
Racism is not necessarily a job killer either. How could it be, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed during the 2008 campaign that a “light-skinned” Barack Obama spoke with “no Negro dialect.” Joe Biden, himself a candidate in that election, said of Obama that he was the “first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.” Despite such racist drivel, a fully ideologically insured Biden was rewarded with the nomination for vice president. Continue reading “Progressive Insurance”→
Transparency and truth are the fuels that run sophisticated civilizations. Without
them, the state grinds to a halt. Lack of trust — not barbarians on the frontier, global warming or cooling, or even epidemics — doomed civilizations of the past, from imperial Rome to the former Soviet Union.
The United States can withstand the untruth of a particular presidential administration if the permanent government itself is honest. Dwight Eisenhower lied about the downed U-2 spy plane inside the Soviet Union. Almost nothing Richard Nixon said about Watergate was true. Intelligence reports of vast stockpiles of WMD in Iraq proved as accurate as Bill Clinton’s assertion that he never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.
Presidents fib. The nation gets outraged. The independent media dig out the truth. And so the system of trust repairs itself.
Of all the advice to Obama to reverse his brand of Carterism, the best might simply be to shut his eyes, and every time he gets angry and is about to say something about Israel, stop, and think first to substitute the reset vocabulary he has used with Putin in the past. And vice versa: Imagine Russia is “Israel!” and Putin “Netanyahu” each time he wants to see red and reset reset. Continue reading “A Modest Proposal on Ukraine”→
Don’t step over the line and re-militarize the Rhineland. Absorbing Austria would cross a red line. Breaking up Czechoslovakia is
unacceptable. Get out of Poland by the announced deadline. The rest was history.
Don’t dare blow up another American military barracks overseas. Don’t even consider another attack on the World Trade Center. Don’t even try blowing up one more American embassy in East Africa. Don’t ever put a hole in a U.S. warship again. The rest was history.
President Obama issued yet another one of those sorts of warnings to stop the violence to Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych just before protesters drove Yanukovych out of office. “There will be consequences if people step over the line,” Obama threatened.
Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national-security adviser, amplified that veiled warning. He called the Ukrainian government’s repression “completely outrageous” — as opposed to just outrageous or completely, completely outrageous. Continue reading “Ukraine and Our Useless Outrage”→
The nightmare societies portrayed in the George Orwell novels 1984 and Animal Farm gave
us the word “Orwellian.” That adjective reflects a vast government’s efforts not just to deceive and control the people, but also to do so by reinventing the meaning of ordinary words while rewriting the past itself.
America, of all places, is becoming Orwellian. The president repeatedly reminds the American people that under his leadership, the U.S. has produced a record level of new oil and natural gas. But didn’t Obama radically curtail leases for just such new energy production on federal lands? Have the edicts on the barn wall ofAnimal Farm been changed again, with the production of new oil and gas suddenly going from bad to good?
Does anyone remember that the Affordable Care Act was sold on the premise that it would guarantee retention of existing health plans and doctors, create 4 million new jobs, and save families $2,500 a year in premiums, all while extending expanded coverage to more people at a lower cost?
Only in Orwell’s world of doublespeak could raising taxes, while the costs of millions of health plans soars, be called “affordable.” Is losing your existing plan and doctor a way of retaining them? Continue reading “Obama’s Newspeak”→
The anemic retread speech was mostly another yearly pep-talk version of the original “summer of recovery”/“millions of new green jobs” boilerplate, “big bank accounts” bad -ich-guy stuff, and “we’re out of Iraq”/close Guantanamo again.” Been there, done that. Continue reading “Hope and Change: Take VI”→
Tuesday night President Obama will deliver another campaign speech, this one marketed as the State of the Union address. As such, we can expect to hear, through the usual white noise of “I,” “me,” and “my,” vacuous bromides like “moving America forward,” and empty promises “to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join it,” as White House flack Dan Pfeiffer said. So after token references to economic growth, we can expect to be served heaping helpings of “income inequality” and “economic mobility,” the redistributionist chum for his hungry progressive base. Continue reading “Fight the Next War, Not the Last One”→
In the past there have been all sorts of presidential fibbing. Some chief executives make promises that they know they probably cannot or will not keep. Before his reelection for his third term in the midst of a world war, Franklin Roosevelt swore that he would never send American boys to fight in a foreign war. In just a little over a year, he did just that. Lyndon Johnson likewise before the 1964 election said he would not send troops to Vietnam. But once reelected, he sent nearly 200,000 troops to fight the North Vietnamese; by the time he left office, over a half-million Americans were deployed in Vietnam.
In 1988 presidential candidate George H. W. Bush pledged that he would not raise taxes and did so emphatically: “Read my lips — no new taxes!” But in 1990 he flipped and agreed to tax hikes.
Barack Obama has offered all sorts of similar empty pledges, like promising to close the federal detention center at Guantanamo Bay within a year of taking office. It is still open. Obama also promised to halve the deficit by the end of his first term. Instead he doubled it. Ditto Obama’s promises on the good things to follow Cash for Clunkers, on the shovel-ready jobs that would follow the stimulus, and on the summer of recovery to be spawned by massive borrowing. At your own job, if you promise the boss that you will do something and then don’t, you’re likely to get fired; when presidents do the same, it’s called politics. Continue reading “How Presidents Lie”→
The Obama administration once gave us “man-caused disasters” for acts of terrorism and “workplace violence” for the Fort Hood shootings. Now it has trumped those past linguistic contortions by changing words to mask the Obamacare disaster.
The president and his advisers apparently knew long ago that millions of the insured would face cancellations or premium hikes once Obamacare was fully implemented. Yet to get the 906-page bill passed, they had to convince the public of the very opposite scenario. So they repeated ironclad guarantees that no one would lose their coverage or doctors — “period!”
Now the administration explains the deception by going after both the ethics of the insurers and the intelligence of the previously insured. That task required language to be altered. The newly canceled health plans are suddenly rebranded by the administration as “subpar.” Only in autumn 2013 is the supposedly unaware public told that, years ago, “bad apple” insurance companies sold them “substandard” plans. Continue reading “Obamacare-Speak”→
What is the common denominator of the Obama administration’s serial scandals — the Justice Department’s spying on AP, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the NSA surveillance, the lies about Benghazi and the ACA — and much of the White House damage-control rhetoric? In a word: the advancement of postmodern notions of justice at the expense of traditional truth.
By the 1980s, in law schools, university social-science departments, and the humanities in general, the old relativist idea of Plato’s noble lies was given a new French facelift. Traditional morality and ethics were dismissed as arbitrary constructs, predicated on privileged notions of race, class, and gender. The new moral architecture did not rely on archaic abidance by the niceties of “truth,” which simply reinforced traditional oppressive hierarchies.
Instead, social justice by definition transcended the sham of traditional ideas of truth and falsity. The true became the advocacy of fairness, while the real lie was the reactionary adherence to a set of oppressive norms. All this was faculty-lounge fluff, but soon it filtered out into the larger culture.
In this regard, it was understandable that the New York Times characterized the president’s not telling the truth on over 20 occasions as cases of “misspeaking.” Continue reading “Obama’s Noble Lies”→