Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more bizarre. Hilliary publicly excoriates Trump for using his Presidency to “enrich himself” and lowering the ethical standards of the Presidency. She manages this (a) without tripping and falling and (b) with a straight face. Chutzpah on steroids! She of cattle futures fame, the Benghazi video, Craig Livingstone and the pay to play Clinton Foundation. Criticism from the poster child for greed and corruption!
Not to be outdone Eric Holder, the only Attorney General in US history to be held in contempt of Congress, lectures Jeff Sessions on the need to “tell the President NO” every once in a while. This is a man who knows of what he speaks. Obama asks: “”Are you going to produce the subpoenaed documents on Fast and Furious?” Holder says “NO” Mr. President. Obama wonders if the AG will be investigating the criminal activities of Lois Lerner, serial abuser of IRS power for political purposes. Holder boldly says “NO”. Obama inquires as to the possibility of an investigation into the intimidation of Philadelphia voters by the New Black Panther Party in 2008. Holder stands tall and tells the Chief Executive “NO”. Take that Jeff Sessions! JFK’s ghostwriter would have to add another chapter to the Kennedy book because Eric Holder is clearly a “profile in courage”.
Ignorance compounded by arrogance! Remember one of Reagan’s greatest observations: It is not what liberals don’t know, it is what they know that is wrong. Obama pulled the curtain back on the Progressive mindset when he lamented the uncontrolled growth of an uncontrolled media. He was concerned that we were not all bound by the same “facts”. This may the scariest thing the former President has ever said. Yet this mindless stupidity is reflected across America, California being the illogical extension of progressive thought.
One of the readers of this blog asked how one can counter the ignorance and bad information that marks “conventional wisdom” (oxymoron alert). Where can one go to better understand the roots conservative philosophy? What follows is my journey from liberal to conservative and the readings that fueled that awakening.
In 1964 I carried an LBJ sign at a Goldwater political rally. It was confirmation that I was blissfully ignorant and ignorantly blissful. The media at that time was dominated by the big three networks and their blindly trusted dispensers of the conventional wisdom: Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley and John Chancellor. We were spoon fed the same “facts” and there was little or no deviation from the world view of those four men. They defined the zeitgeist. There was little debate in the home or the schools to challenge the belief that power was best exercised by our leaders in Washington.
Between my sophomore and junior college years I painted houses for the summer with a friend who was, to put it gently, a wild eyed right winger. Everyday we debated politics and history for ten hours and after work we headed to a local bar to continue the discussion of the sometimes violent disagreements of the day over a few beers. At his urging I read the book the changed my life: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It was a rite of passage for many young people of that era. Ayn Rand embraced a philosophy she called “Objectivism”. She was an immigrant from Communist Russia and she was a strong advocate of individual freedom and responsibility and abhorred any sort of centralized decision making. To better understand her arguments you should read Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It seems Orwell just got the year wrong.
While working after graduation a man whose name I cannot remember (such that I cannot thank him) dropped off a box of old National Review magazines. The first thing that I learned from the sesquipedealian William Buckley was that I had a fourth grade vocabulary. I read each magazine with a dictionary and a box of index cards at my right elbow. Reading Buckley was challenging but his presentation of conservative principles was a wonderful GPS for my intellectual hegira from left to right. Then everything went on hold.
During the following decade I graduated from law school (unlike Hilliary I passed a bar exam in one try) and began a family and a career. But the ideas espoused by Ms. Rand and Mr. Buckley (who, by the way, hated Rand, a hatred that was enthusiastically returned) were fermenting in my maturing mind.
Then in 1980 I encountered Milton Friedman and his PBS series Free to Choose. As an economic theorist Friedman stands alone and he was the first intellectual Libertarian I had ever encountered. The show was incredibly stimulating with Friedman, in his quiet way, teaching his viewers how to think critically. Thomas Sowell appeared on two episodes of the show and he was compelling as he eviscerated the hapless liberal playing the role of pinata to his broomstick. After the show finished Friedman published his book Free to Choose which expanded on the ideas that he had presented on the program. Shortly thereafter George Gilder published what is a wonderful companion piece to Friedman entitled Wealth and Poverty. Both Friedman and Sowell had suggested that F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom should be on everyone’s reading list. This trilogy provides a solid education on economic theory and any person who reads them will likely embrace conservative/Libertarian arguments. You might also try Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith but the writing style of an 18th Century Scottish philosopher can be daunting if not unintelligible.
The writings of Thomas Sowell were a significant part of my intellectual development and you will be rewarded if you take on the range of his published works. His Basic Economics is a simple tutorial on the dark science. I strongly recommend The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes which destroys the myth that Franklin Ponzi Roosevelt had any positive impact on the Great Depression and makes it clear that what he did actually made it worse. Burton Folsom has also written several books attacking the liberal myths about the evils of capitalism.
As a history major in college I studied the American and French Revolutions, one the greatest positive event in history and the other one of the most negative. I recommend the best book I have ever found on the destructive humanist philosophy that triggered the French Revolution: Citizens by Simon Schama. It describes the chaos unleashed when government is divorced from any moral structure. After you read that you must read The Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail. This book was actually banned in the EU for several decades because it was considered politically incorrect. Sort of like Donald Trump in print…destabilizing to the left. It applies to the worldwide debate on immigration.
If this sort of post appeals to readers of this blog there will be other similar reading suggestions to follow. Please comment!