A Tale of Two Sergeants

Do the media even remember the Army Sgt. Bo Bergdahl swap?  The sudden urgency that necessitated yet another bypass of congress and the Constitution?  The uniquely focused, efficacy of the project?  The tin-eared, ditzy casting for the tone-deaf, desperately triumphalist press conference? The inexplicable exchange of multiple, committed, leadership-level Islamic-jihadists for one American deserter?  The silence of the Obama White House and its now-characteristic, completed-but-not-to-be-released-until-after-the-elections’ ‘full investigation’ of Bergdahl’s involvement with the Taliban and of his oppositional ‘service’?

Juxtapose this with the case of another serviceman in foreign captivity.  This one a decorated, two-tour, PTSD veteran of the same Afghan conflict.  Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi has now been festering in our ‘ally’, Mexico’s jails since March 31. Save for one begrudging, delayed form-letter response from John Kerry’s staff, Tahmooreesi’s case generated nary a smidgen of perceived urgency from President Obama and certainly neither stick nor carrot of effective intervention by him or his administration.

We are likely hear little of Sgt. Tahmooressi before the elections. In his unhappy case,as with the results of the Bergdahl investigation, disdainfully sealed White House lips and the ever-on-demand silent treatment by our committed media, who will do loyally whatever is needed to protect and shield their President, will yet again suffice to help Democrats keep Americans a bit more in the dark until after the elections

Peter di Lorenzi

Obama Confused? Think twice

In the light of an avalanche of recent unhappy events, the Obama administration is regularly being brought to task for a confused, unfathomable, dithering, and — my word — misopportunistic Middle East policy. What, the analysts ask and debate, are the goals, the foundational principles guiding the administration’s action or inaction in the region?

Or is the administration merely relying, ad seriatum, on its default response to any difficulty:  say and do whatever appears most likely to mitigate short-term political damage while involving the least political effort and long-term political risk

As I see it, the latter explanation is generally true, but it is informed by two consistent, peculiarly passive-aggressive imperatives. Neither imperative is rooted in any greater vision of foreign policy; rather — and unsurprisingly — both arise from considerations about domestic politics.

The first imperative is the determined, clinging propagation and defense of the clearly false claim that Al Qaeda has been defeated. This claim, based on the killing of Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, sustains that deceit — to an easily hoodwinked electorate and to a mainstream media all too eager to collude in that hoodwinking — that the Democrat Party, and Hilary as likely bearer of the progressive torch, is uncharacteristically ‘strong on terror’ and that Obama’s America is still ‘the’ respected world power in the face of abounding, metastasizing evidence to the contrary.

The second imperative is the tantrumesque refusal to do anything positive in and for the Iraqi Republic — and soon for the Afghani state despite the fact that Obama claimed that this, as opposed to the Iraq conflict, was the ‘right’ war for the U.S. to pursue. [Never, never, never, never — feet stomping, arms waving, face grimacing — take any step to uphold, to build upon the efforts and achievements of the illegitimate, loathsome Bush administration!!!]. This adolescent exhortation reverberates to a cheering, wall-shaking swell with the university/media/government employee/grant-feeder base of the Democrat left.

So, take heart all you worried lefties. Once again, our great president’s right-wing, visible-only-on-Fox critics are demonstrably and transparently — to use an unhappy but somehow apt term — as wrong as, say, guns, or Christianity….or even butter.

Alinskyite Cattle Fodder 1: The Khattala Capture

On the night of Sunday, June 15, only 642 days after the 9/11/2012 Benghazi embassy killings of four Americans, including our ambassador, Chris Stevens, a small force of Special Forces troops and one FBI agent capture Ansar al-Sharia commander Ahmed Abu Khattala in Libya.

The capture comes two days after the revelation that Lois Lerner’s and others’ IRS emails had been over two years ago.; after ever-expanding revelations after the VA scandal; after a difficult rollout of Hilary’s book; and the takeover of much of Iraq by an offshoot of Al Qaeda, which the administration had proclaimed ‘defeated’ after the killing of Osama bin Laden and several other leaders.

Khattala had been spending much of the post-attack time in deep hiding — mostly in cafés, giving boastful interviews to reporters.

This regime has been the most blatant ever in its utter condescension to and disdain for the non-progressive, non-‘enlightened’ mass of the American people. In stalwart means-justify-ends Alinskyist style, they do and say whatever serves their immediate, needs and reluctantly dribble out small, long-deferred actions and much-belated admissions when things become critical. They see themselves as gnostic keepers-of-the-true-knowledge of what America should become.  They speak to the unenlightened, fly-over people in whichever manner they believe will sustain them in power to implement their vision to reality.  Truth, transparency do not enter into it.

Thus spake Alinsky: “An organizer working in and for an open society is in an ideological dilemma to begin with, he does not have a fixed truth — truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing…. To the extent that he is free from the shackles of dogma, he can respond to the realities of the widely different situations….” pp.10-11.

Thus spake Holder: “Our nation’s memory is long and our reach is far,” Holder said in a statement, adding: “Even as we begin the process of putting [Khattala] on trial and seeking his conviction before a jury, our investigation will remain ongoing as we work [for another 642 days, perhaps?  Or until Hillary or the President needs another distraction?] to identify and arrest any co-conspirators.”

And thus spake Obama: “No matter how long it takes [642 days for this one], we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice… [and he thanked the] “painstaking efforts of our military, law enforcement and intelligence personnel,” and said the suspect would “now face the full weight of the American justice system.”

The administration is currently debating exactly when to read Katallah, a lifelong Libyan resident, his Miranda rights.

A Focus on PCEES

‘The Politics of Privilege and Disdain’ explores the nature, mindset, politics, and impact of PCEES:

  • Privileged
  • Connectedd
  • Enlighteneded
  • Exempted
  • Statists

PCEES  constitute a powerful, self-interested political/economic/lifestyle stratum whose members benefit to an overwhelming  —  and utterly unacknowledged  —  extent  from the ‘progressive’ values, educations, policies, and positions that characterize them. This blog exists to describe and explain how this most successful of all interest groups has thrived in the analytical shadows, avoiding the normal scrutinies — academic, journalistic, and administrative — to which every other effective group is regularly and properly subjected. As a child, I didn’t know any people who would fall into the Privileged stratum as I use that term in this publication.  Except for our family doctor, whom we knew only professionally, our family and neighborhood friends and acquaintances were solidly working class with a scattering in white-collar-clerical and sales occupations, and even fewer with very small businesses [corner stores, dry cleaners, etc.]. I did meet a few at my summer jobs at the hotel where my father worked and in high school, where kids from wealthier areas of town and from ‘College Hill’ were included in the system-wide enrollment. During my undergraduate years at the University of Michigan, it became clear to me that very few among the student body came from economic backgrounds as lowly as mine. I interpreted these contacts with more affluent, privileged students positively:  as fortuitous exposures to people from better secondary schools, classmates more broadly experienced than I;  and linked to higher strata of learning, influence, involvement, power, and societal aspiration than those of my upbringing. I saw things this way until my early involvement in civil rights, SDS, and anti-Vietnam activism in the early-mid 1960’s.  If anything, immersion in this new world brought me into contact with even more privileged, comfortable social types.  It instilled sense that to be an academically-based leftist was a noble, courageous, and desperately needed calling if we were to create a more just America. [Academic leftism nurtures this kind of blindered, ironic self-congratulation. This was, after all, also the campus generation many of whose solidly middle-of-the-road achievers were inspired by JFK to become very well remunerated federal career bureaucrats.] The impact of the pre-draft ‘60’s on campus was to develop, mainly among liberal arts students, a generational profile of emotional disaffection and facile political self-righteousness, seldom grounded in serious analysis but more commonly inhaled, as it were, from  the ambient campus air and/or its congratulatory portrayal in the 1960′s  major media. And it is this atmosphere — understood, by those whom it then enveloped,  as the irrepressible tide of history — that continues to besmog the elite and ‘better’ campuses, the affluent metropolitan enclaves of the ‘creative’ class, and the citadels of progressive activism.  Today, it underpins the values, beliefs, and commitments of PEEPS.  Given free rein, it leads, corrosively, to a debilitating, anomic, dependent statism of benefit chiefly to PEEPS themselves, who feed — by salary, grant, government contract, hiring bias [legislated or regulatory; imposed or tacit;], or ‘pension-indexed-against-inflation’-type  arrangements — at the various taxpayer-funded public troughs. The fact that the values and attitudes of our academic, media, publishing, artistic,  entertainment, and judicial elites were formed in this same campus atmosphere [if not by ‘red diaper’ generational continuity] goes far in explaining why  ‘The Politics of Privilege and Disdain’ should be needed at all — and why I shall pursue my inquiries into the nature and impact of this, our least researched,  most successful parasitic elite stratum. Peter di Lorenzi

Vomit, Spit, and Screams

This title might well have referred to a few appropriate responses to most of Hollywood’s output in the last half-decade or so; or to similarly apt responses to our popular ‘arts’ in general.

But, however called-for such responses might be in both cases, the title actually refers to growing content trends in Hollywood films, and, in the case of screaming, to a particularly odious increase in the number of TV commercials featuring full-throated, protracted screaming.

These latter are no-doubt the result of well-credentialed survey research on the effectiveness of high volume annoyance in product recognition and subsequent consumption thereof.  They needn’t have bothered.  Our popular music, the most grotesquely loud and ugly in history, has demonstrated the market value of grating noise for just about fifty years now.

[Is it really possible that we still lack the technological wherewithal to put volume-level monitors on televisions???]

There have always been scenes in film in which actors appear to vomit or to spit on other actors to convey high levels of stress, rage, and emotions of similar intensity.  But in recent years both, but especially vomiting, seem to be written into a far higher percentage of scripts than ever in the past. This makes perfect sense in an age lacking an attention span, moral consensus, and any interest in edification.  How much easier?  How much more comprehensible?  How much more concise are lovingly photographed vomit and spit than boring plot and character development?

This is due, of course, to the accelerated demise of reticence in almost any form in our broader ‘creative arts, and in our culture in general.   Violence is endemic; the frequency of explosions multiplies and intensifies; special effects for their own sake besmear the content landscape — and their incidence varies directly with the mindlessness quotient of the ‘work’ involved.

We have lived with obligatory sex scenes and protracted kissing for four decades now — ah, for the days of tasteful fade-outs or closing doors, when actors were not required in every script to re-enact the same silly soft-porn motifs!  Hollywood’s fancy has always been tickled by men in women’s attire, but this favorite, delicious ‘transgression’ is being worked into far more scripts, and TV ads, in recent years — and same-sex kissing and, well, sex is cropping up ever more regularly.  Sex, in general dominates everything on film or TV — what we watch; what we listen to; what comedians joke about [unless they involve non-persons such as rednecks, yahoos, white ethnics, or Sarah Palin].

Our very progressive creative class labors mightily to produce all this art for a hungry populace inured by forty years of abortions, preoccupation with self-realization, teen sex, noise/sex music fatherless children, weak parents without authority, ubiquitous sex, and equally ubiquitous money-to-buy-drugs muggings, burglaries, assaults, and murders.  How fond are your memories of the Glorious Sexual Revolution?  Of our revolutionary motto:  Drugs, Sex, Rock and Roll?

Yes, ideas do have consequences; so live with it, dear reader.  Tocqueville’s phrase, “We get the government we deserve” has often been applied to art and culture, and in that vein, how about “Vomit, Spit, and Screaming”  as a righteous motto for our cultural age?

What “…is…is…” Is

[Fear not. This article is not about Bill Clinton’s infamous, dissembling musing.  Whatever you may think of it, that obfuscatory use of the language made at least syntactical and logical, if not moral, sense.]

No, this is about the ever-more-commonplace usage in which the speaker attempts to insert or assert a point by saying “The thing is…is that….” or some similar construction.  Our President, for example, prefers “The point is..is….

Now we all have been exposed to numerous annoying repetitious insertions into personal and public speech.  Terms such as ‘uh’, ‘you know’, ‘like’, ‘whatever’, ‘to me’, ‘I feel/think’, have been around a long time and seem to constitute a higher percentage of American discourse every year. Most are well-acknowledged and well-decried by those concerned with the clarity and tolerability of colloquial speech.

But ‘…is…is…’ is a relative newcomer to the oral-crutch world and goes largely unperceived; certainly less so than are the aforementioned culprits.

All these familiar crutches are attempts to buy time to come up with something to say when the speaker cannot do so in conversational continuity; or when, more likely — depending on the demographic/subcultural milieu of the speaker — she or he has nothing remotely worthwhile to say at all.  In these cases, the ‘the thing is is that, you know…whatever’ does very nicely indeed.  Eventually, they have come to permeate the speech of millions for whom they serve no functional purpose at all save mindless conformity, imitation, style, and habit.

The ‘is…is…’ construction, however, serves an even more specific, instrumental, and perhaps traceable purpose than mere stalling. It is the contemporary formulation of preference for:

  • taking over a discussion so as to deliver one’s point
  • elevating one’s simple opinion or preference to the status of a relevant and important contribution to a discussion.

I leave it to researchers to trace the origins of ‘…is…is…’.   I first, and until its recent explosion of use, encountered it most frequently in the pre-Weathermen SDS meeting/publicspeak drawl of the 1960’s:

  • “The thing iiiiiiiiiiiiisssss  [upward lilt/long pause]”
  • “ I wanna taaaaaaalk [upward lilt/long pause]”

At least in SDS’s earlier years, a number of the speakers actually had something to say, so the repetitive second ‘is’ came into play less frequently.  To my ear, ‘…is…is…’ usage increased throughout the decade as campus leftism became an elite countercultural style and SDS/Weatherman became the Billy Ayers privileged Marxist destruction show.

My guess at the origins [or perhaps rebirth] of ‘…is…is…’ would, if correct, explain why it seems to be so common among those who talk for a living; those who attend meetings and conferences for a living; and, in the highest frequency, among politicians and upper-level, public sector bureaucrats.

The really critical, overarching, seminal, and , you know, hitherto unperceived point is…is that it is, in sum, a device for like interjecting one’s opinion, ready, worthy, or not.

Why Spending Cuts Alone?

The Democratic party is presenting a united front in the intensifying national confrontation about cutting the deficit.   They admit some judicious cuts will be necessary, but focus most stridently on repealing the Bush tax cuts for ‘millionaires and billionaires’  [actually those with more than $250,000 incomes] as their primary deficit reduction strategy.

For our purposes here, we may set aside the instructive facts that some $3 trillion of the $3.7 trillion Bush cuts were for those NOT in the top tax brackets, and that [using 2007 figures] the top 1% bracket is made up by those with a $266,800 average income — a few very rich and a lot more much less so.  But I would argue that we should strongly oppose even the small actual sums that would be recouped by repeal of the Bush cuts.

Why?  ‘Tax cuts’ are actually limits on the amount of money governments are allowed to extract from the economy in order to fund their programs. And far too many of those extracted funds go to support a massive, super-class of educated, privileged, public-monies-dependent elites, who have rejected private-sector career paths. Their choice was made easy by the assumption of an endless flow of appropriations and an ever-expanding state apparatus to provide them with  opportunities to advance their careers and build new administrative empires within its labyrinthine structure.

They are, in fact, entirely dependent on the Democratic Party to enact the funding that will sustain them in their privileged lifestyle.   Their bloated ranks include bureaucrats, ‘experts’, regulators, administrators, publicists, grant recipients, contractors, consultants, researchers, and more explicitly politically employed or motivated technocrats of various stripes.

Some of these people perform necessary, even essential, functions.  Far too many do not. These latter inhabit a world of effort-constraining agencies created and expanded by failed policy initiatives critical to the  Democratic Party’s need to expand its sprawling coalition of dependent voters.

It is the members of this parasitic class of agency apparatchiks who would be the most deservingly affected by meaningful budget reductions, even in spite of the predictable, histrionic efforts of their employing agencies to pursue their always-top-priority goal of continued or increased funding. And it is, accordingly and depressingly, they who will continue and thrive if the Democrats get their hands on more money via repeal of the Bush cuts.

To me, this feeding of the technocratic elite at the public trough is reason enough to insist that our deficit reduction be done by cutting spending until there isn’t anything really useful to cut.


Wisdom from a Less Rapacious and Cynical Era

Wise and rational words, indeed, from a voice ignored by JFK in 1962. And now: Behold the tantrum !

“My dear Mr. Steward:

As I am unable to accept your kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the Twentieth Jubilee Convention of the National Federation of Federal Employees, I am taking this method of sending greetings and a message.

Reading your letter of July 14, 1937, I was especially interested in the timeliness of your remark that the manner in which the activities of your organization have been carried on during the past two decades “has been in complete consonance with the best traditions of public employee relationships.” Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.

The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.” successful.

I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding and trust that the convention will, in every way, be successful.

Very Sincerely Yours,”

(FDR)  1937

The Media’s Odd Witch Amnesia

Have you noticed how oblivious our liberal media anchors and commentators appear to be about the socio-cultural phenomenon of witchcraft, Wicca, and related practices.

This astonishing and sudden lapse of all memory was prompted by the release of an old (1999) videotape by Bill Maher in which Delaware Republican Senate nominee, Christine O’Donnell, laughingly related her high school flirtation with a student or witchcraft group.

To a person [sic] the pro-Democrat media have responded to this ‘revelation’ as if, to the best of their knowledge, O’Donnell must have been utterly insane:  learning to cast more effective spells, perfecting her cauldron skills, assembling a suitable black robe-and-pointy-hat wardrobe, and mastering the complexity of broom aeronautics.

Now, by my rough calculation, O’Donnell’s exploration of a witchcraft group occurred in the later mid-1980s.  And it was around that very period that the leftish media discovered approvingly the pagan, feminist, earth-worshipping, new-agey, anti-Christian, Dionysian/sexual phenomenon of Wicca.

Somehow, however, the flurry of films, the coverage of religious freedom cases, the intrigued feature articles, the references in TV series, and the talk-show appearances — not to mention the launching of the annual Wiccan fairs in the 1980’s —  have fallen completely out of the normally  well-archived memory of the national media.  Case in point:  Maher’s timely release of those selfsame O’Donnel tapes from 1999.

Eugene McCarthy & the Birth of Privileged Disdain

There have always been privileged elites. There have always been elites who hold the ‘common folk’ in disdain. Less common have been privileged elites who deny their privilege and justify it, nonetheless, on the elimination of privilege, on the redistribution of wealth, and, simultaneously, on the possession of vastly superior knowledge of what their society and culture really needs to achieve that seemingly self-destructive goal. This is the position of the Privileged Left in the USA in 2010.

Here is one of the points of origin of that mindset. It began four decades ago…..

Eventually, in the late, unlamented 1960’s, most campus baby-boomers not in the hard or applied sciences came to the stinging realization that life and outlooks based on:

• Drugs
• Sex
• Rock & roll
• The politics of affluent self-righteousness
• And down-the-line cushy inheritances from those depression-era parents and relatives

— righteous and love-based though they might be, were not going to suffice in getting on in the personal/financial here and now!

For some, there were de rigeur rites of passage spent in civil rights, anti-war, or poverty politics, organizing, the Peace Corps, etc.; but sooner rather than later in most cases, the time came when even they must needs assume their proper places in the professional, technical, academic, or similar elite worlds for which they had been atraining — — but never, Gaia forbid, in the putrescent soul-rotting profit-grubbing private sector.

One remembers the inevitable retreats and papers of the ‘Radicals in the Professions’ option of the late 60’s [but those ‘strategies’ are shards for a later excavation].

More telling for the non-SDS mainstream was the obnoxious Eugene McCarthy presidential primary campaign vs. Robert Kennedy of 1968, in which the campus proto-yuppies found their perfectly-pitched political vehicle.

“At least our supporters can read.”[or something very similar, I can only find references to the utterance,; not an exact quote.], he intoned in Oregon, in contrast to Kennedy’s more working-class, “less intelligent” electoral base. And the unenlightened Indiana electorate that had given Kennedy a primary victory had “produced no poet” of the stature of McCarthy’s pal, Robert Lowell.

How resonant, how very contemporary was that lamented Pied-Piper of the privileged! I mean, really! How many politician-poets do you know who could make poor Bobby Kennedy sound like a pre-incarnation of the MSNBC version of Sarah Palin?

And so, began the left/liberal stations of the occupational/economic cross — basically from campus to commitment to campaign to certification to career. In time, the raging flames of youth dwindled to mildly- sputtering embers: always voting democratic, hating ‘hatred’, avoiding ‘judgementalism’ [the ideologically condemned varieties only], and always [at least when the like-minded might overhear] paying due obeisance to ‘victim’ groups, multiculturalism, ‘diversity’ [of the right kind], and environmentalism.

Only now, some forty years later, do we reap the fully-ripened fruit of this process of generational self-actualization. A nice, very consistent world in which the enlightened, interpartnered disciples of Gene McCarthy, the red diaper babies, and John Lennon control, along with their younger appointees, the majority of posts in all levels of education, foundations, mainline Protestantism, public sector bureaucracies, the upper-administrative levels of the helping professions, the law, the media, publishing, the arts, ‘entertainment’, union bureaucracies, corporate diversity programs, and on and on..

And somehow — despite the very best of intentions and the combined effort and planning of the best, most well-equipped minds, most progress-committed minds that federal and institutional grants can produce — all those enlightened, progressive, positions they hold pay salaries that place them and their interpartnered ‘domestic arrangements’ easily in the top 20% of domestic income and the top 1% of world income.

Sometimes, real change comes slowly. No doubt, we need a lot more funding for research, pilot programs, and awareness-raising programs in order to achieve the true transformative redistribution we all seek………