Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reckless Endangerment

More piling onto our unfortunate “elites”:

Now comes MSM “conservative” columnist for the New York Times David Brooks to preview and comment on the new book Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson, also of the Times, and the financial analyst Joshua Rosner.  Endangerment tells the story of the role played by the Federal National Mortgage Association, aka Fannie Mae, in the recent mortgage bubble collapse.  The story has been told elsewhere and in great detail, but strangely it has been ignored by the MSM until the publication of this book (although it remains to be seen how thoroughly the MSM will pick up on it—coverage equal to that of Anthony Weiner’s carelessness should be the minimum).

The angle that Brooks plays is telling.  “[T]he most devastating scandal in recent history,” he writes, “involved dozens of the most respected members of the Washington establishment. Their behavior was not out of the ordinary by any means.”  Morgenson and Rosner’s narrative of the “cancer that helped spread risky behavior and low standards across the housing industry” is a surprise only to those who have no capacity for self-reflection.

It is, as Walter Russell Mead also noted just last week, a prime example of how the “fierce commitment of progressive lobbies today to dysfunctional institutions and programs has brought matters to a crisis stage; the progressive legacy is morphing from white elephant to shark.” 

Mead takes a broader—and much more sobering—view of these matters than does Brooks.  He recognizes that human endeavors, like humans ourselves, have lifecycles.  His writings over the past six months have been an extensive and in-depth analysis of the lifecycle of what he calls “Liberalism 4.0”—the mindset and resultant governing structures and programs that began over a hundred years ago with the Progressive Movement and culminated in the Great Society of Lyndon Baines Johnson in the 1960s. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Intellectual Rot from Our "Elites"

There has been a lot of comment in the blogosphere lately about the decline of the intellectual and moral vitality of America’s “elites.”  From the continuing mass hysteria about a One World Government fiat to end global warming to the blind faith in endless government programs to ameliorate the misery of the human condition, our elites have run out of both ideas and energy.

And despair about the decadence of our elites is not limited to one wing of our political spectrum.  On the Left, commentators like Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein cluck about the disappearance of adult leadership among conservatives, while on the Right analysts like Walter Russell Meade and Craig Comstock write about the collapse of the New York-based liberal elites.

Ironically, it is the liberal Left political/cultural elites that are behaving like the conservatives they disdain.  The New York-Hollywood axis is frantically trying to stave off the inevitable new world order that, by rejecting the Church of the State, supports and encourages the individual choice and initiative that are the basis of America's founding principles.  It is instructive to watch President Obama, as the lead spokesman for this latter-day “l’etat c’est nous” faction, govern as if the verities of the Old Liberal Order haven’t thoroughly and soundly gone bankrupt.

And yet facts have a certain inexorability—not to mention disinterestedness—about themselves, and do not yield to whim or fantasy.  Although King Canute taught us this immutable truth eleven hundred years ago when his command to the tides to “halt and not wet his feet and robes” went unheeded, we still seem to need to learn this lesson over and over again.