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Jonah Goldberg on The Vital Importance of Saying “I Told You So.”

Normally, when a piece of legislation is flawed, the spirit of bipartisanship demands a responsible effort to fix it. In this way, both critics and proponents can work together democratically to best benefit their constitutents.

But not this time. This time, the Democrats can eat it. This time, they passed a law that every Republican voted against, that hordes of citizens rallied to stop. This time, they told us we were crazy, stupid, and racist for not bowing to the New Order. Now that the New Order is falling about their ears, we must savor the deliciousness of their tears. As Jonah Goldberg points out, this is Nemesis at work.

And Schadenfreude (or schadenboner, as Andy at Ace of Spades prefers) is the only appropriate response from the right. We said this wouldn’t work. We said that people would lose coverage. We said that giving one-sixth of the economy to the government was a bad idea. And now that we’re proven right, to point this out is a necessary act of truth-telling for the Republic.


If Obamacare had been a shining success from Day One, do you think the Democrats would be in the mood to share the credit? Then why should Republicans be in more of a mood to share the blame?

Chew each bite 25 times, proggies.

UPDATE: Pocket Full of Liberty puts this in starker terms: “Do nothing, GOP.

Kermit Gosnell and the Holy of Holies

Abortion is not new. It did not spring fully-formed from the head of the Supreme Court in 1973. It is as old as civilization itself, and the controversy surrounding it is just as old:

“Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? Where there are many efforts at abortion? Where there is murder before the birth? For even the harlot thou dost not let continue a mere harlot, but makest her a murderess also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevent its being born. Why then dost thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter?”

That’s St. John Chrysostom, one of the Doctors of the Church, writing in the 4th century AD, damning men for seducing women and abandoning them, forcing abortion upon them (just in case you thought that those old unmarried men had no idea what made babies happen). This argument has been going on for a very long time, and it’s going to keep going on. Nothing that has happened recently is going to change that.

It’s safe to say that the dam is bursting on the Kermit Gosnell story, as it inevitably must have. Nothing as lurid and horrifying as the prosecution alleges could have truly failed to escape the public consciousness, no matter how much certain circles would have preferred it.

I am late to this story, not because I didn’t know about it, and not because I haven’t been reading up on it (Stacy McCain in particular has been all over it from the beginning). I haven’t wanted to write about this for the same reason Megan McArdle didn’t: sheer revulsion and horror. What this bland, grandfatherly-looking man of 72 – a poster-boy for “the banality of evil” if ever one existed – created in his Philadelphia clinic amounts to an infant-sized Auschwitz, a crime against humanity. And even generically pro-life people like myself dont’ want to realize that it exists, for to do so would be to violate a polite taboo.

In ancient Israel, the sanctorum at the center of the Temple in Jerusalem was called the Holy of Holies. As the home of the Ark of the Covenant, it made incarnate the presence of God in Israel. Only one man – the High Priest – on only one day – Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement – could ever enter the Holy of Holies. Anyone else (such as the sons of Aaron in Leviticus 10) who entered died. The presence of God was not for the unworthy to look upon.

If modern feminism’s obsession with “reproductive freedom” has something of a religious character (and there are those that say so), then the birth control pill is its Eucharist, and abortion its Holy of Holies. It is Between a Woman and Her Doctor: mere mortals are not supposed to know what goes on. When anti-abortion activists take to the streets with pictures of mutilated fetuses, we are angry at the makers of the pictures, not the makers of the content. This is true even of pro-life people, such as myself. We don’t want to see this. We don’t want to know. Witness Roger Simon:

The trial of Dr. Gosnell is a potential time bomb exploding in the conventional liberal narrative on abortion itself.  This is about the A-word.

No feeling human being can read this story or watch it on TV without being confronted with the obvious conclusion — like it or not — that abortion is murder.

It may be murder with extenuating circumstances (rape, survival of the mother, etc.) but it is murder nonetheless.  Dr. Gosnell — monster though he is — has accidentally shoved that uncomfortable truth in our faces.

Pushing this case front and center in the media would change the national narrative on this subject.  (The current stats are here, via Rasmussen.)

I can give you two guinea pigs to prove this point — my wife Sheryl and me.  We were in the kitchen last night, preparing dinner, when we saw a short report of this story on the countertop TV.

Both lifelong “pro-choice” people, after watching only seconds, we embarked in an immediate discussion of whether it was time to reconsider that view.  (Didn’t human life really begin at the moment of conception?  What other time?) Neither of us was comfortable as a “pro-choice” advocate in the face of these horrifying revelations.  How could we be?

Yes, Dr. Gosnell was exceptional (thank God for that!), but a dead fetus was a dead fetus, even if incinerated in some supposedly humane fashion rather than left crying out in blind agony on the operating room floor, as was reportedly the case with one of Gosnell’s victims. I say blind because this second-trimester fetus did not yet have fully formed eyes. (Think about that one.)

So I don’t think I’m “pro-choice” anymore, but I’m not really “pro-life” either.  I would feel like a hypocrite. I don’t want to pretend to ideals I have serious doubts I would be able to uphold in a real-world situation.  If a woman in my family, or a close friend, were (Heaven forbid) impregnated through rape, I would undoubtedly support her right to abortion.  I might even advocate it.  I also have no idea how I would react if confronted by having to make a choice between the life of a fetus and his/her mother.  Just the thought makes my head spin.

And there it is. We are compromised. We see murder and we pretend not to. We call it something else. We treat it as magic, as though a first-trimester abortion mystically removes the unwanted-abstraction-which-is-not-alive-shut-up, transubstantiates the woman from “pregnant” to “not pregnant” and sends her heroically on her way. The death, the blood, the humanity-reduced-to-laboratory-specimens (I have seen them), we doublethink these messy realities away. And we tell our young (and ourselves, truth be told) that they may fornicate freely, without consequence, because “protection” exists, and if “protection” fails (or they fail “protection”) we have this Serious And Important Issue to Pontificate and Philosophize About, which will unmake the the consequence.

We call this “Love”. We call it “Modern.” We call it “Necessary.” We call it “Woman Retaking her Power from the Patriarchy.” We call it “Free of Medieval Moralizing.” We call it “Rational”. We don’t call it “Infant Girl Decapitated With Scissors.

We don’t want to see it. We don’t want to know.

Ace Excorciates The White Republic

Apparently The New Republic that insists that everyone else should “diversify” would like to be free to make up its own mind about putting any of those filthy minorities on staff.

Apparently diversity-efforts are things Other People must do — never people who Dylan Byers works for, or may work for at some point down the road. They have a special dispensation.

Just Because They Said So.

I hear that TNR is losing money. Mayhaps re-branding would help. I have a few suggestions:

  • The New Republic — Because White People Need Jobs, Too
  • The New Republic — The Old Republic Was Full of the Mud Races
  • The New Republic — Your Hypocritical Stormfront on the Potomac
  • The New Republic — Are Black People Even That Cool?
  • The New Republic — Our Journalism is Restricted . . . to the Truth. Yeah, the Truth.
  • The New Republic — Our Property Values are Solid
  • The New Republic — The Only Chocolate Around Here Comes in Packages, and is Also White
"There must be a way..."
“There must be a way…”

The Union and the Confederacy: the Ongoing Civil War in the GOP

The time has come for honesty. We cannot continue as we are, pretending to party unity. The schisms are too obvious. We talk of “establishments” and “purists” as though we all want different things. Let me suggest that this is in fact, because we want different things.

Let us first talk of the Union. The Union is the Washington GOP, the New York GOP, the PAC bundlers and the white-paper policy writers. The crew that ran K Street and runs Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and National Review. The opposition from the old days, when conservatism was drowning in a sea of rad-libs and fellow travelers, and keeping the faith alive from one defeat to the next was the order of business.

The Union are Hamiltonian men, for whom the business of government is management. The economy is to be managed; the welfare state is to be managed. Sure, we can make sound argument that these things should not exist, that they are poisonous to the body politic. But we will not unmake these things, because the insanity of the Left is something we must also manage to. If we push too hard, the left will turn the Eye of Sauron on us, and the mushy middle will betray us, and we will get Goldwatered. We must manage the progressive rot of our liberties, because the alternative is progressively worse.

Then there is the Confederacy. People who have been paying attention to the Tea Parties from the beginning know that hostility to Bush-brand bailouts and “compassionate conservatism” was also part of their fury. They felt betrayed by the conservatives they had sent to Washington, who had suckled on pork and given us Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind. What was the point of electing Republicans, if this was what they got?

The Confederacy – Tea Parties, Breitbart, and Reason-reading, Hayek-quoting kindred spirts of that ilk – don’t want to manage the erosion of our liberties. They want to roll it back. They’re tired of having to defend a constantly shrinking circle of redoubts, which the progressives may attack at their leisure. They don’t want to fix Social Security; they want to break it in two. They don’t want to increase federal education spending; they want to end it. Because that word – liberty – which I hardly heard in the 80’s and 90’s, has suddenly returned to vogue. The conservative base has had it with diluted conservatism, with begging the Priests of Leviathan to please not change everything right this minute.

This divergence is at the root of all the strife amid Republicans, not just now, not just during the election, or during the primaries, or even during the first Tea Party primaries in 2010 (O’Donnell vs. Castle et. al), but further and yet further back. Yesterday Stacy McCain reminded us that Rush Limbaugh backed Pat Buchanan’s quixotic attempt to unseat Bush the Elder in the 1992 primaries.

Limbaugh knew that Bush was doomed to defeat in 1992, and that the key was to give conservatives a cause worth fighting for. After Bush lost, Limbaugh’s show became the focal point for the Republican opposition that triumphed in 1994.

We cannot win if we do not fight, if we do not risk defeat. Ace spoke on this yesterday:

Yes, taking the Strong, Uncompromising Position has a chance of moving the Overton Window in your direction, which the Weak-Tea Fudge Position does not.

But then, taking the Strong, Uncompromising Position can also move the Overton Window away from you, too.

It’s a high-risk strategy. As in investing, high-risk plays are the only ones that can generate high value rewards… but then they can also bankrupt you. You can make high-risk investments, but not too many of them, and you have to make such decisions only with great care and deliberation.

He thinks that Paul Ryan took the Strong, Uncompromising Position last year and that it blew up in our faces. People were terrified of messing with the government gravy train and so fell into the soft embrace of Obama’s orotund evasions. Perhaps, perhaps. But was this not instructive? Did we not learn something about the work that is before us? About the extent to which we are outflanked culturally and demographically? Did we not all, Establishment and Tea Party, come away with the understanding that we have to try harder, and in new ways, if we want to win again?

Perhaps not. Perhaps all the Union men came away with was the fact that we just got pummeled and that we should give the Beast whatever he wants so that he will eat us last. And Perhaps the Confederates learned only to Let it Burn, so that they can rebuild on the ashes.

But no election is ever the last one. We will have another chance, and soon. The question is, what will we use that chance to do? To maintain and manage, or to resist? Do we want to trim Leviathan’s claws, or do we want to kill the beast?

We need to make up our minds. Our enemies already have.

One of the Many Reasons Prometheus, and Prequels, don’t work.

At Ace, the failure of putting Space Swashbucklers in a Military Bureaucracy:

Space travel in fiction has two major tropes in its depiction. I’m calling these the Institutional Phase, and the Commercial Phase.

The beginning of space travel — and this is the same for any previous mode of difficult transportation — is the Institutional Phase. This is the period in which only rich governments or the sci-fi standby of the Large Evil Corporation Which Has Some Governmental-Like Powers and Attributes can build and launch a spacecraft.

The Commercial Phase comes later in science fiction, as it has in the past, and as it would actually unfold in the future. The Commercial Phase comes when the technology has matured enough to make it practical for small private owners. In the Commercial Phase, space travel is relatively common, almost mundane. It might be a bit expensive, but you can still cross a good part of the galaxy in exchange for a down payment equal to the cost of an old, beat-up Landspeeder. It’s not cheap, but you generally expect that if you have a few thousand credits you can hire yourself a flight to almost anywhere.

The Institutional Phase is Star Trek; the Commercial Phase is Star Wars.

Apparently Prometheus makes (among others) the mistake of putting Commercial-Phase Rogues on board an Institutional-Phase Spaceship. I didn’t see it, because the whole experience of the Star Wars Prequels soured me on prequels altogether (yes, officially Prometheus isn’t an alien prequel, but it was clearly written as one), and I didn’t hear enough positive word-of-mouth to counteract this. The word I did get was mixed at best.

Prequels — the attempt to tell a story’s backstory — are rarely worth telling, because they aren’t stories. A story has protagonists and conflicts. Backstories don’t; they’re the things that happen before the real conflict occurs. Dracula sleeping in his coffin for four hundred years before Johnathan Harker comes to see him isn’t part of the story of Dracula, because there’s no protagonist, nor even any real conflict. One of the few things that I liked about Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the way they showed us Dracula’s Fall From Grace. But then they cut to the actual beginning of the story, because Dracula is not the protagonist. Harker is, and there is no story without him.

So when you make a prequel, you have to invent a story in another story’s backstory. And since the themes and the conflicts are likely to be similar, this has the effect of undercutting the story that happens later. Because if Dracula has been defeated before, it’s not as big a deal to defeat him later. Do it often enough, and Dracula becomes as much of a surprise, and as much of a problem, as a silverfish infestation or clogged toilet: It’s happened before, and you know what to do about it.

Now, in the case of the Star Wars Prequels, they did have a story all their own: Anakin Skywalker’s Fall and the Clone Wars. So we’re just going to have to chalk that up to George Lucas’ consummate failures as a director and writer. But anyone familiar with the Alien movies could guess as to what would happen in Prometheus:

  1. The Ship Lands on the Planet To Investigate the Mysterious Something
  2. The People Poke Around Until they Unleash Evil
  3. ?????????
  4. PROFIT!
And somewhere, a deep dark secret is revealed, right?

Final Gratuitous Shot at George Lucas: From the Ace Piece:

Star Wars is commercial phase, and also comical. They’re funny movies. They have a comedic spirit. (The originals, I mean.)

How Many Rapes Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?: Feminism in Its Decadent Phase

Ace has a nice good long post (which are always the best posts at Ace) on the staggering inanity of deciding that this:

is sexual assault. His response, appropriately, is to troll the trollers:

Many movements or eras — most, probably — enter a decadent phase at some point. I don’t know of a textbook definition of a decadent phase, but my off-the-cuff attempt is this:

a period marked by extremely minor variations on art or thought that has gone before, of recycling, of re-using old tropes rather than creating new ideas;

a period marked not by accumulation or creation of capital, whether monetary capital or capital of another kind, such as intellectual or influential or philosophical, but instead marked by the use/spending of previously acquired capital without replenishing same;

a period of sloth, whether sloth in intellect or sloth in industriousness, and a concomitant lowering of standards so that what little new work is done can be credited as good, important, or noble, albeit by a greatly reduced standard;

It is one thing to argue that a woman can and must enjoy the same public rights as a man, to vote, to engage in business, to work in trades and corporations, to pursue scholarly research. It is another to go around naming as rape or assault things which meet no known definition of these terms.

Rape is, as feminists tell us, and act of violence. In order for violence to be violence, it must be well, violent. Surprise is not violence. Spontaneity is not violence. Violence requires that harm should occur. No harm, no foul.

Claiming “sexual assault” is not “rape” as some do, doesn’t save the classification. Sexual Assault serves as the misdemeanor to Rape’s felony. It’s a way of making a rape accusation without actual rape occurring (or, dealing with a sexual crime other than rape). The nature of the accusation is the same. And an assault, to be an assault, requires violence, and violence requires harm. This did not happen.

Obviously, under normal circumstances a man who went about kissing random women on the street, without their consentwould find himself in trouble. But there are circumstances, certain exponentially joyful occasions, when such activities are seen as a natural irruption of said joy. It takes a particular kind of inhuman joylessness to insist upon malicious intent, absent any evidence, and in the face of the actual woman’s remembrance of the event.

And that’s the point. This is not the attempt to rescue an give voice to a silent victim. The “victim” in this case is studiously ignored, encased in a bubble of “rape culture” so that nothing she says needs be given any credence. The point is for we, the Modern, to invent New and Exciting Understandings, Attack Archaic Formulations, Provoke Significant Dialogue. It is a parlor game for parlor stakes, which exists to prick the vanity of its participants, and no other reason. What was actually going on in Times Square on V-J Day matters not at all; what matters is how We Conceptualize it According to Our Own Dogma.

Which is what you do when you’ve run out of ideas.