the state of the cruft

The Pretense of the State of the Union

There are no masters at the top who know what’s best for everyone

Some people hated it. Some people loved it. Just about everyone seems to miss the real point.

The most disturbing part of the annual “State of the Union” address by the US president does not concern the specifics of the content, or the policies – as wonderful or objectionable as they may be. The core problem is the very strange presumption that one man comprehends an entire nation and its meaning, embodies something like a guiding spirit of a people, and thereby earns the right to manage the entire collective from the top down through the judicious use of power.

In a time of leviathan in which an incomprehensibly immense government aspires to master and administer every aspect of life itself, the notion that one powerful man, having processed all relevant data and related causes and effects, can stand behind a podium and sum up a national spirit and agenda, the very State of the Union, plunges us into the realm of total fantasy.

We flatter ourselves to believe that this is not an age of faith but rather an age of reason. The purpose and ethos of the State of the Union address is not reasonable.

Maybe such a presumption of knowledge wouldn’t be such a terribly offensive idea in an age of liberalism, where the government had little to no power. If the government had such limited functioning, it would be more plausible for one person to report on the activities not of the nation but of the executive branch of the government itself.

If this were President Rutherford B. Hayes or President Grover Cleveland speaking about their jobs, the State of the Union address would not be as absurd. They ruled before the federal government could tax income, manage schools, regulate consumer products, arrest and jail people for their consumption choices, unleash a police state, or start wars without congressional approval — all before government consisted of hundreds of agencies, thousands of divisions staffed with millions of permanent and unaccountable lifetime employees enforcing an accumulated cruft of 150 years of legislation.

And, as a point of fact, every president from Thomas Jefferson through the 19th century delivered his address in the form of a humble letter. It was not the “State of the Union.” It was an annual accounting by the president to the Congress. It explained what the president was doing, more in the form of an annual employment review. The president was in the hot seat and the Congress was to be his judge.

This pattern was broken by Woodrow Wilson — the imperial president who gave us the income tax, the Fed, and World War I. Wilson forged the template for the rest of history. He shocked Congress by delivering his address in person, with the beginnings of the modern ritual attendant upon the event.

Thus was born the modern cult of the presidency, built under the leadership principle. And yet, even then, his address was largely limited to matters of state: what the government was doing and why. Wilson’s imperium was over government, not the nation as a whole, so his speech didn’t address how government would manage the whole of life itself.

Then came Franklin Roosevelt and the centralized economic planning of the New Deal. Nothing was outside the purview of Washington. Once the United States entered World War II, the annual report to Congress became the State of the Union, as if the presidential mind was capable of extracting all relevant information, sea to shining sea, putting it in poetic words, presenting a vision for this gigantic collective, and embodying the whole spirit of a people. Remember that this was epoch of the dictator and every statesmen in the world, in his heart of hearts, aspired to be that guy.

It was also the beginning of the media age, so the message to Congress became a message to the entire country, attempting to somehow capture and characterize the whole of our lives. The advent of the modern State of the Union address in 1942 really amounted to a nationalization of the whole population.

FDR said in this first State of the Union speech, implausibly, in the midst of massive death by conscription and material privation of war: “I am proud to say to you that the spirit of the American people was never higher than it is today — the Union was never more closely knit together — this country was never more deeply determined to face the solemn tasks before it.”

Just look at those words. Are we really being asked to believe that the American people as a whole have a spirit, and that the president is somehow magically ordained to know its height? That he knows all previous collective spirits in American history and can know for sure, based on his omniscient measuring skills, that it has never been higher? And can a country really be “determined” in the sense that it has a unified will, no different from an individual will, and it acts in history as an aggregate?

There is nothing about this sense that embodies the idea of freedom. “The American spirit” — or the spirit of any people — is not a singular entity but a social order in which millions and billions of individuals have rights and shape their own lives in cooperation with others based on their peaceful choices.

Freedom is about an infinite diversity of changing plans, aspirations, and circumstances of time and place. It is also about a future that unfolds unpredictably in light of human choice, learning, growing, and trial and error, one life at a time. Freedom has no master at the top who knows what’s best for everyone.

There is a reason that despotism has long been associated with an all-knowing Great Leader. And of course all good things that happen under the Great Leader’s watch are due to him. Every healing, every new job, every new industry, every calming of every civil strife, every broken family that found its way, every lost soul that found salvation — all credit is due to him who rules: so knowing, so benevolent, so generous and loving. All of us live in waiting for the next miracle from the hand that feeds us, clothes us, educates us, and makes us whole.

Maybe you can say Oh this posturing doesn’t really matter. It’s just political rhetoric. And that is true, but we should not be so dismissive about it. If this type of language were coming from a pompous local pastor, or a bloviating businessperson at a Rotary luncheon, we would be free to ignore it. But it’s different when it comes from the head of state with the power to do unthinkable things whether we like it or not.

Since the time of FDR, this speech has been designed to perpetuate an all-encompassing political program, and, also, to marginalize the disgruntled, to treat dissidents like non-persons, to disregard and dismiss anyone who doesn’t fall in line with its plans. This is why these speeches can so often make your skin crawl.

There are fact checkers and commentators who oppose the specific points of the State of the Union. Of course, there are plenty of bad policy ideas pushed through this venue. And those are easy to refute. Government cannot and does not create jobs. Government cannot bring health and wealth to a country. Government cannot make people smarter. It cannot cause incomes to rise by taxing some people more and transferring the proceeds to a bureaucracy. The best thing that government can do is get out of the way so that people can begin to build their own security and prosperity.

But the specifics of the policies proposed in these addresses are not the worst part. The most objectionable aspect of the annual State of the Union is its epistemological conceit. The president has no access to the information he would need in order to know what he claims to know. He is a mere mortal who lives in real time, like the rest of us. He does not know the State of the Union.

The single hardest part of life as we know it is understanding the state of our own individual lives. Parents with teeenagers know that it is a full-time job just to keep up with what their own kids are doing. Owners of small businesses scramble every day just to know what is going on in their shops. Managers of medium-sized companies quickly discover that the only way forward is to trust others to know and manage the best they can. CEOs start their jobs with the presumption that their best hope for success is to outsource as much of their job as they can.

And yet, with the US president, we are being asked to believe that this one man can know not just the whole of the affairs of state but also the business of 316 million people: all our hopes, frustrations, and aspirations, collect them all into a big bundle and characterize them in total, and know the best possible means to get us all from here to there.

In order to convince us all of this ridiculous idea — that he knows both the here and the there and all that falls between — the speeches have become increasingly personalized, constantly referring to archetypes within the social fabric. This is not an easy trick. The speech itself is produced not by magic fairies whispering truth in the presidential ear but rather through the much more mundane task of hiring professional ghostwriters who have heavy training in the political arts.

Speechwriter Cody Keenan is the man who did it for President Obama this year. Keenan is from Chicago, grew up privileged in Connecticut, attended Northwestern University, and had a long stint as a DC fixer and wordsmith for Senator Teddy Kennedy. Now at the top of his game, his task is to bamboozle the public into believing that one man with massive power has their interests at heart and that his awesome knowledge and compassion will somehow translate into wondrous programs that will improve everyones lives.

It’s a charade. Those close to power know this. They know that the entire scene is artificial, designed to pump up power and influence for its own sake. They figure it’s dirty business, but someone has to do it.

Down deep this is cynicism and all of it is wrapped in spectacle. We are right to fear for the souls of people involved in such a hoax. A real idealist would not hope for ever-better ways of manufacturing myths through high-profile media events that disguise the true nature of government. A real idealist would hope for a world in which political leaders elicit massive public suspicion and opposition, not just when they are technically wrong on matters of policy but also because they pretend to possess knowledge and competence that no mortal can possibly have.

“If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order,” wrote F.A. Hayek in “The Pretence of Knowledge,” he will first need to recognize the “insuperable limits to his knowledge.” He will need to discover a “lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society — a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.”

But let’s say that there absolutely must be a State of the Union address. What would a moral and honest speech say?

It’s your life. I am a person just like you, with no greater insight or wisdom than you, and no magical powers to create wealth or happiness. I can only get out of your way and wish you all the best as you, in cooperation with whomever you choose, make the most of this life, come what may. 



Jeffrey Tucker is a distinguished fellow at FEE, CLO of the startup, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events.  His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.

“Saying anything to push their agenda”

The glaring misrepresentation that the evidently buzzed hive-mind of Elbert County leftists who will “say anything to push their agenda,” used to justify their latest assault on Elbert County conservative voters, is that BOCC officials represent a “very small minority of Elbert County voters.”

In the left’s Merlinesque reverse reality, the winners of BOCC elections don’t actually represent the majority of voters. Enter the appointed leftist leaders of Elbert County – career bureaucrats who insinuate themselves into citizen advisory committees to represent “grass roots involvement” without harmful [non-leftist] “ideologies.” And the more of these “imminently qualified” self-serving public-servants we have to control the free citizens of Elbert County, the better.

But how come these obviously qualified leftist individuals never win an election? That’s easy. We, the voters, are all stupid – so stupid we don’t even understand basic words like hypocrisy.

Thank goodness local leftists exist to abjectly demonstrate how hypocrisy works – how election losers are really winners, how a minority of leftists really represent a majority of grass roots voters, and how self-anointed government-obsessed totalitarians are really the voice of Elbert County people.

Perhaps leftist “grass” roots hypocrites should lay off the grass before presuming to dictate more truth to Colorado.


morality doesn’t reconcile

One can argue there ought to be a universal morality. But moral sense is a demographic expression that comes out of a group such as a society, culture, or nationality. It’s not the other way around.

Proponents of a moral code may argue the primacy of their moral sense. They may even have ancient texts to bolster their argument. But their positions only hold true for themselves, notwithstanding how fervently or violently they defend them.

On some level, they make a choice to defend their morality. Blaming that defense on a god is merely a cop out.

Therefore, the crossing of national and cultural boundaries where people uphold different moral standards leads to a foreseeable expectation that behaviors will change at the border to comport with local values.

It is foolish and dangerous to ignore how this construct in human nature works. Moreover, it is foolish and dangerous to take down the borders between morally disparate cultures and expect harmony to ensue.

Many centuries have passed in recorded human history where hundreds of thousands of intelligent peace-seeking men on all sides have attempted to reconcile the alternate moral codes of Islam and Western Civilization.

So it’s reasonable to accept that if our radically different moral codes could have been reconciled with each other into a common moral sense, they would have been by now.

Our modern technological prowess provides no guarantee that modern men have any better insight to this moral conundrum that intellectuals have struggled to resolve for centuries.

To write off violent terrorism as an aberration not reflective of deep alternate moral standards – as Obama does in many of his speeches – reflects the same blind hubris that infects much of the Left’s political, economic and historical thinking, and results in unpredictable reckless consequences.

A sober assessment of real history leads to the inescapable conclusion that Islamic morality and Judeo Christian morality are not reconcilable.

This must be the starting assumption in our international affairs. We cannot hope to discover an appropriate response to terrorist provocations by ignoring the true natures motivating the conflicts.

It’s well past time our leadership put aside wishful thinking.

(as) If

The hubris shown by the New Plains Democrats who changed their web site domain to Truth Colorado blows my mind.

Truth – an objective concept – can only potentially mean something as an observation by other people. And even then the concept requires substantiation. Truth, subjectively announced about oneself, amounts to the puffing of carnival barkers and snake oil salesmen.

Content from the new truth site is no different than that of the old plains site with its maundering innuendo against anyone not liberal, and long-winded leftist positions on various agenda projects.

The local loopy left have gone far beyond the point of reasonable forbearance. The harm they steadfastly continue to inflict on this community is expensive. Preventing an economy from developing – promoting the impoverishment of a population – holding out regulatory strangulation and job prevention with one hand while promoting social services with the other – these should be chargeable offenses.

And they shamelessly call themselves the truth.

They don’t deserve this place.


By Rudyard Kipling

(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

move on . West

The only way Islamic fundamentalism can defeat the West is by getting the West to defeat itself. But the West controls its own destiny.

People in the West may continue to learn, create, innovate, invest, advance, grow, prosper, and guiltlessly affirm their constructive way of life, by simply choosing to do so.

Barbarians and leftists try to keep the West obsessed with barbarianism and leftism by manipulating Western media to keep the focus on barbarians and leftists.

Westerners, however, may minimize propaganda exposure by making better media choices in the media market. Westerners may use market forces to reward media that upholds the West, and starve media that does not. Every time we turn on a TV or click a mouse, we make media market choices.

By not rewarding barbarians and leftists with media attention – i.e. money – they will eventually starve from lack of attention, and fade away.

You don’t defeat evil by incorporating it into your life. How much more Islamism and leftism does it take to understand these social pathologies? Neither have changed their nature. They both, always, invariably, predictably, foreseeably, lead to death and destruction.

It’s best to leave folks captivated by these cults alone. You can’t save them, and they certainly aren’t interested in saving you.

the utopia of panacea

Let 2015 be the year the Elbert County Left get over their groundless expectation that Elbert County government exists to perfect their utopian dream.

“The government having stepped into the place of Divine Providence in France, it was but natural that everyone, when in difficulties, invoked its aid. We find a vast number of petitions which, though the writers professed to be speaking on behalf of the public, were in reality intended to further their small private interests. The files in which they figure are perhaps the only places in which all the various classes of prerevolutionary France rub shoulders, so to speak. They make depressing reading. We find peasants applying for compensation for the loss of their cattle or their homes; wealthy landowners asking for financial aid for the improvement of their estates; manufacturers petitioning the Intendant for monopolies protecting them from competition. Often, too, businessmen report to the Intendant confidentially that their affairs are in a bad way and request him to approach the Controller-General for a loan to tide them over this emergency. (It would seem, in fact, that special funds were earmarked for such eventualities.) Sometimes even members of the nobility did not disdain to play the part of suppliants, the only difference being that their letters were more grandiloquently phrased than those of the common herd.

. . .

In times of dearth-and these were frequent in the eighteenth century-everyone expected the Intendant to come to the rescue as a matter of course. For the government was held responsible for all the misfortunes befalling the community; even when these were “acts of God,” such as floods or droughts, the powers·that·be were blamed for them.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, 1858. Stuart Gilbert translation, 1978, pp. 70-71.


Hey Obama, It’s All Been Done.

“In the long period of rankling unrest and rising discontent preceding the Revolution all sorts of schemes were worked up for the establishment of a new social order and a new method of government. The ends proposed by the reformers varied greatly, but the means were always the same. They wished to make use of the central power, as it stood, for shattering the whole social structure.and rebuilding it on lines that seemed to them desirable. For, to their thinking, only the central authority could bring this “ideal State” into being, and there should be no limit to its might, as there was none to its right. The one thing needed was to persuade it to exercise its power in the right direction.
. . .
Such notions were not confined. to books; they had taken root in people’s minds and were implicit in their ways of living; in fact, they entered into the very texture of everyday life throughout the country. It never occurred to anyone that any large-scale enterprise could be put through successfully without the intervention of the State.
. . .
To the mind of the great majority of people only the government was capable of maintaining order in the land. The populace had a salutary dread of the mounted police, and of them alone, while the landed proprietors regarded them as the only force in which they could feel some confidence. The mounted policeman was, in fact, the embodiment of law and order, not merely its chief defender. “No one,” we read in the minutes of the Provincial Assembly of Guienne, “can have failed to notice how the mere sight of a mounted policeman is enough to bring to heel even the most truculent disturbers of the peace.” For this reason every man of property wanted to have a detachment of mounted police posted at his door, and the records of the intendancies are full of such requests. No one seemed to have had the faintest inkling that the protector might one day become the master.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, 1858. Stuart Gilbert translation, 1978, pp. 68-69.

hands up don’t shoot

For 4 years Boehner sent up bills from the House that he knew would languish and die in Harry Reid’s inbox. He was free to make symbolic gestures without consequences, and he made hundreds of them. You’d think there was some conservative grit inside the man. Almost.

But now, on the brink of substantial Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, Boehner’s parting Christmas gift to America is legislation that funds Obamacare, funds the President’s immigration plans, and funds 1800 pages of pork spending — a bill that will sail through the lame Democrat Senate and get signed by Obama.

You’d think that a national tide already having receded from the Democrats, and the American people already having spoken with their votes in favor of conservatism, would have emboldened Boehner to provide one more symbolic gesture, and defund some of the nasty Democrat programs the voters elected the next Congress to take down.

But no. He wants to go out in capitulation to the other side, and completely undermine all of that inconsequential symbolism he parlayed about over the past 4 years.

In pleasing Senate Democrats and Obama, Boehner did the Republican brand no favors yesterday. And he rolled out the big middle finger to American taxpayers.

Boehner does not deserve to speak for a conservative House in the next term. He’s shown his true color when more than symbolism was on the table.
Boehner I give up

Reduce number of planning commissioners

The Elbert County Planning Commission [ECPC] has been a tool for Leftists to dominate growth and development in Elbert County for too long. The fiascoes over oil & gas development, planned unit development, zoning subdivision, density bonus, water rights, special use districts, and the country-in-county feel of Elbert County, have all been public stages for the Left to impose un-voted-for control over citizens of Elbert County.

The ECPC has hosted mouthy liberal majorities for as long as I can remember. But these folks never win an actual election in Elbert County. Every time one of them steps out on to an electoral stage, they lose big time. Voters obviously don’t want them dictating the future of the county.

Yet they haunt the county administration building like ghosts, unable to leave the place, moaning about until they get themselves appointed to another volunteer bureaucratic position – on the apparent qualification that they just won’t stay home.

Alexis de Tocqueville described [at least] one of the main problems 156 years ago as follows:

‘Long before the [French] Revolution, Ministers of State had made a point of keeping a watchful eye on everything that was happening in the country and of issuing orders from Paris on every conceivable subject. […like modern zoning…] As time went on and with the increasing efficiency of administrative technique, this habit of surveillance became almost an obsession with the central government. […like modern planning…] Towards the close of the eighteenth century it was impossible to arrange for poor-relief work in the humblest village of a province hundreds of miles from the capital without the Controller-General’s insisting on having his say about the exact sum to be expended, the site of the workhouse, and the way it was to be managed. When an almshouse was established, he insisted on being supplied with the names of the paupers using it, the dates of their arrival and departure. In 1733 M. d’Argenson observed that “the amount of office work imposed on our heads of departments is quite appalling. […like modern bureaucracy…] Everything passes through their hands, they alone decide what is to be done, and when their knowledge is not as wide as their authority, they have to leave things to subordinate members of their staffs, with the result that the latter have become the true rulers of the country.”‘

Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, 1858. Stuart Gilbert translation, 1978, p. 61.

Think about it. Do we go through all of the time and expense to elect Board of County Commissioner [BOCC] members only to have unelected bureaucrats govern us? The question answers itself.

Electing BOCC members is the only means voters have to control Elbert County government. Additional layers of governors underneath the BOCC should be limited only to non-discretionary functions.

Reducing the number of unelected planning commissioners is, without question, a step in the right direction.

Look around at the absence of economic opportunity in Elbert County. The Left have done enough damage here.


Sunday, December 07, 2014

Fat Class Warfare

There was a time when fat was in and thin was out. Obesity was the privilege of wealth and being thin meant being poor. In simpler societies, before slumming became a romantic pose, there was nothing attractive about not having enough to eat.

To be fat was to be part of the leisure class. Thin meant you were on the road to the poorhouse or to consumption, which meant your body was being consumed, not that you were the one doing the consuming.

Then agriculture was revolutionized and the values flipped. No one in the West was starving to death and the poorest man could still grow fat. By the time the social programs kicked in, weight no longer meant leisure.

With packaged foods widely available and jobs shifting from the factory to the desk, it was entirely possible to work hard and get fat.

On the other side of the aisle, exercise meant leisure time. The standard was set by movie stars who struggled to meet unrealistic standards because they had the time and disposable income to do it.

Fat no longer meant upper class gentry. Instead it meant lower class peasant. As with art, the widespread availability turned minimalism, and eventually the worthless and overpriced, into class signifiers. Conspicuous consumption of that which was widely available was lower class.

The overflowing table made way for micro portions and exotic but barely edible foods. Thin was in on the plate and the waistline.
In many Third World countries where feudalism never ended, the values never flipped. Instead of anorexia, teenage girls suffer from being force fed to make them more marriageable. The wealthy are fat and the feasts at the top never end.

In the West, weight stands in for class, at a time when explicit classism has become politically incorrect. When Europeans sneer at how fat Americans are, and American coastal elites sneer at the rest of the country for being fat, it’s a class putdown.

And no one traffics in class putdowns like the left. [Read more…]

Article V of the Constitution

The Constitution of the United States
* * * * * * * * * *
Article V
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Revolution persists

Recent events in Ferguson, other American cities, not to mention Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine, all host to rampage and destruction, have affirmed the enduring nature of the French Revolution.

“The pagan religions of antiquity were always more or less linked up with the political institutions and the social order of their environment, and their dogmas were conditioned to some extent by the interests of the nations, or even the cities, where they flourished. A pagan religion functioned within the limits of a given country and rarely spread beyond its frontiers. It sometimes sponsored intolerance and persecutions, but very seldom embarked on missionary enterprises. This is why there were no great religious revolutions in the Western World before the Christian era. Christianity, however, made light of all the barriers which had prevented the pagan religions from spreading, and very soon won to itself a large part of the human race. I trust I shall not be regarded as lacking in respect for this inspired religion if I say it partly owed its triumph to the fact that, far more than any other religion, it was catholic in the exact sense, having no links with any specific form of government, social order, period, or nation.

The French Revolution’s approach to the problems of man’s existence here on earth was exactly similar to that of the religious revolutions as regards his afterlife. It viewed the “citizen” from an abstract angle, that is to say as an entity independent of any particular social order, just as religions view the individual, without regard to nationality or the age he lives in. It did not aim merely at defining the rights of the French citizen, but sought also to determine the rights and duties of men in general towards each other and as members of a body politic.

It was because the Revolution always harked back to universal, not particular, values and to what was the most “natural” form of government and the most “natural” social system that it had so wide an appeal and could be imitated in so many places simultaneously.

No previous political upheaval, however violent, had aroused such passionate enthusiasm, for the ideal the French Revolution set before it was not merely a change in the French social system but nothing short of a regeneration of the whole human race. It created an atmosphere of missionary fervor and, indeed, assumed all the aspects of a religious revival–much to the consternation of contemporary observers. It would perhaps be truer to say that it developed into a species of religion, if a singularly imperfect one, since it was without a God, without a ritual or promise of a future life. Nevertheless, this strange religion has, like Islam, overrun the whole world with its apostles, militants, and martyrs.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Régime and the French Revolution, 1858.
Translated by Stuart Gilbert, 1978, pp. 12-13.

How it’s done

In may 2011, the Obama White House chooses Schultz, to be paid with your tax dollars, to handle press on Fast and Furious.

Our relationship is courteous enough. As far as I’m concerned, it largely consists of Schultz trying to discredit those who could harm the administration, and advancing story lines and ideas to help his boss. He seems to have a pretty well-organized network of support. For example, Schultz might suggest to his media contacts that they do a story dissecting controversies in Issa’s background. It could be an editorial or blog written by party loyalists, an article penned by a like-minded reporter, or a favorable piece in the left-wing propaganda blog Media Matters. Schultz then circulates the resulting “story” to the rest of us in the media, sprinkled with his commentary. The strategy counts on the tendency of many bloggers and reporters to copy and codify each other’s work. If things go according to plan, the story is regurgitated and excerpted by so many outlets that it appears, to the uninitiated, to be prevailing thought. It’s self-fulfilling and self-legitimizing. Pretty soon, the theme bleeds into real news organizations and the cycle is complete. The message being delivered, of course, is that there’s no real story behind Fast and Furious. Just a Republican vendetta.

. . .

It’s a propaganda campaign to divert from the damaging facts: controversialize critics to try to turn the focus on personalities instead of the evidence.

Sharyl Attkisson, Stonewalled, 2014, pp. 107-108.

To write, publish, blog, or facebook ideas contrary to the zeitgeist of Leftist orthodoxy is to routinely endure all manner of insult and ad hominem from the reverse barometers of truth and justice trying to saturate “prevailing thought” with their politics.

If the people taking down society are against you, however, one has to treat such attacks as compliments.

Hans-Ulrich Klose

Hans-Ulrich Klose is an Advisor to the Robert Bosch Foundation and former Member of the German Parliament. He is the former Chairman of the German-American Parliamentary Group and a former Member of the German Bundestag (MdB). Prior to that position, he was Coordinator of German-American Cooperation in the Federal Foreign Office. He has also served as Vice Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the German Bundestag since October 2002. His previous positions include Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the German Bundestag, Vice President of the German Bundestag, Chairman of the SPD Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag, and Treasurer of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. A former Governing Mayor of the City of Hamburg, Mr. Klose was first elected to the Bundestag in 1983. Mr. Klose was also the Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation in the Field of Intersocietal Relations, Culture and Information Policy at the Federal Foreign Office from 2010 to 2011.

Mr. Klose spoke on “German Foreign Policy Perspectives on Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the Middle East: Impact on the Transatlantic Partnership.”  Presented by The Denver Eric M. Warburg Chapter of the American Council on Germany.