Aug 4, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 44 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
On July 16-19, the online progressive community held its annual “Netroots Nation” conference in Detroit. The irony of holding such an event in a desiccated husk of a formerly great metropolis undone by unionism and unfettered liberal governance was mostly lost on the crowd, and the gathering made no real news until it was over.
Matthew Stoller, one of the founders of the OpenLeft website, which many credit with organizing Democratic activists to shove the party in its current leftward direction, posted a searching and anguished message to Facebook explaining his absence from this year’s Netroots conference:
I know people at Netroots Nation love Elizabeth Warren, but would be satisfied with Hillary Clinton. This is because Warren and Clinton, and Obama, and most political leaders at this point just basically have agreed to not argue about the big stuff. . . . Anyway, I feel very, very alone. . . . But professionally, it seems like there has been a total and utter abandonment of the idealism and optimism that got us started. The movement of which I thought I was a part is now just a mostly uninteresting trade show. Maybe I should have known it would always come down to that. But I don’t really believe that it had to happen this way. That’s what it means to be an optimist. We’ll get another shot, eventually. I believe that. But right now, I am not part of that throng, and it’s very alienating.
Naturally, Eric Hoffer’s old saw that “every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket” is as true as ever. And only the most delusional utopians among us, i.e., those who thought Barack Obama and progressive ideology were ever capable of hope and change, could be surprised at the current state of the Democratic party. After five years of catastrophic policy failures and an even bigger mess in the Middle East, the party is now perfectly willing to shrug off Hillary’s packed itinerary of Goldman Sachs fundraisers and say, “Screw it, let’s nominate another Clinton.” Stoller’s lamentations seem distinctly quaint.
Lest we make Stoller shed more tears into his summer gazpacho, The Scrapbook would like to point out just how much of a racket the progressive movement has in fact become. Last week BuzzFeed reported, “Two top veterans of President Obama’s campaigns are asking political campaigners to pay $5,000 per person for the chance to learn their secrets and then work for five weeks in an unpaid campaign job somewhere in America.” These are undoubtedly the same kind of jobs that campaigns normally bribe idealistic college kids to do with free pizza. Only this time you get to pay for the privilege of spending over a month licking envelopes and occasionally touching the hem of former Obama campaign staffers’ garments. Surely that’s worth $5,000.
Considering the Obama Labor Department has tried to stamp out unpaid internships and the Democratic party is currently demagoguing minimum wage increases in an extremely soft job market, this attempt by Obama campaign staffers to monetize their association with “The One” is pretty rich. BuzzFeed quoted a number of activists criticizing this supposed campaign training program as going against “progressive values.” No doubt it’s another data point for Stoller and others who think the -progressive movement and the president it spawned have lost their way. But it turns out that it’s really easy for a movement to lose its way when that movement is founded on the naïve belief that “progressive” is in any way a synonym for progress.
1:05 PM, Jun 27, 2014 • By NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY
The City University of New York must really be rolling in dough. The school’s administration recently turned down a $10 million grant from the Koch brothers to establish a new financial center at Brooklyn College. The business dean explained that he would have to focus on the school’s accreditation process instead. As if receiving a large donation has ever stood in the way of accreditation.
May 19, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 34 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Democrats habitually congratulate themselves on being the brainy party. They’re rational and rely on empirical evidence for their views. Or so they insist. And they strongly believe in science and are quick to accuse Republicans of being antiscience—that is, dopey and inclined to fall for pseudoscientific notions like astrology. Indeed, some supposedly scientific researchers regard belief in astrology as a measure of how conservative you are.
Obamacare is inimical to their values, tooDec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By CHRISTOPHER DEMUTH
Obamacare may or may not survive its inauspicious beginnings. It has become dangerously unpopular and accident-prone and faces a minefield of difficulties. Still, the Obama administration has a plausible strategy: to titrate the program’s numerous taxes, subsidies, mandates, and restrictions so as to forestall immediate legislative or electoral reversal, thereby entrenching its basic structure for tightening as future circumstances permit.
Meet Tony Abbott, the likely next prime minister of AustraliaSep 2, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 48 • By FRED BARNES
Absent a stunning reversal of fortune, Tony Abbott is a good bet to be the next prime minister of Australia. He’s the head of the Liberal party, which is expected to capture Parliament from the Labor party in the national election on September 7. In today’s politics, Liberals are misnamed. They’re actually the conservative party in Australia. So if all goes well, Abbott will become one of the world’s leading conservatives.
4:19 PM, Jul 23, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll indicates that the only group of Americans who remain strongly supportive of Obamacare are self-described “liberal Democrats.” Even “moderate or conservative” Democrats have started to jump ship en masse — as they’re now more likely to oppose Obamacare than to support it. Given that most Democrats (57 percent, according to the poll) claim to be either “moderate” or “conservative,” this poses a major problem for the Obama administration’s centerpiece legislation.
Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center, scaring donors since 1971 Apr 15, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 29 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
Last August a 28-year-old gay-rights volunteer named Floyd Corkins entered the office lobby of the Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian traditional-values group headquartered in Washington that condemns homosexual conduct and opposes same-sex marriage. Corkins took a gun from his backpack and fired three shots at building manager Leo Johnson, one of them wounding the unarmed Johnson in the arm before he wrested the gun from Corkins.
Mar 25, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 27 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
"With Obama-care entrenched, Democrats feel free to gripe,” read the headline in Politico. And gripe is the word. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington gripes that the administration won’t subsidize Americans “just above the poverty level.” Senator Bill Nelson of Florida gripes that the administration “negotiated away” funding for insurance co-ops. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland gripes that Obama-care doesn’t address the national crisis in pediatric dentistry.
3:48 PM, Sep 5, 2012 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a funny piece about political mixed marriages. It opened with an anecdote about a husband and wife who belong to different parties and the dilemma they faced during a presidential election. The husband was going to be traveling on Election Day, so he gave his absentee ballot to his wife and asked her to mail it.
So long as they are ideas and not partisan talking points. May 21, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 34 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
"Reality has a well-known liberal bias,” Stephen Colbert said at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Won't reduce litter, only jobs. 3:01 PM, May 7, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
This month, the Los Angeles city council is expected to ban single-use plastic bags. “[T]he ban is an attempt by the city to reduce litter,” says the Los Angeles Daily News. But it is likely to reduce something else: jobs.
Feb 6, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 20 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Why are America’s political, media, and intellectual classes engaged in a head-spinning debate over inequality? Beats us. The difference in incomes between rich and poor is neither the most important issue facing the country nor even a pressing one. Certainly the public doesn’t think so. Recent surveys by Gallup and Pew show that the electorate’s top priorities are the economy and jobs.
The liberals’ dirty little secret.Jan 30, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 19 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
On January 1, 2012, Maine became the first state to ban smoking in all low-income public housing. Twelve thousand poor people faced their New Year’s Day hangover without the solace of a Marlboro to accompany their aspirin and coffee.