BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: Progressivism (Page 1 of 3)

The Paradox of Silicon Valley Progressivism on Display in Compelling New Film ‘General Magic’

Tribeca Film ‘General Magic’ Shows How Capitalism Pulls Big Success Out Of Big Failures
One of the great paradoxes of Silicon Valley is that while its denizens are monolithically progressive, its creatives and entrepreneurs illustrate in their own lives the virtues of the free enterprise system that progressives loathe.

While the propensity for risk-taking is in part cultural, the ability to create and bring new goods and services to the public requires favorable social, political and economic conditions. This is why a communist nation like China resorts to stealing intellectual property to compete. It’s why innovation in progressive Europe pales in comparison to what we see in America.

Innovation requires the protection of individual liberty, private property rights and free markets. But Silicon Valley’s progressive political allies are often hostile to these principles.

A compelling new film featured at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival reflects this tension. While the liberal audience at the world premiere for “General Magic” — a new documentary about the “failed” tech company of that name — might not have realized it, the movie is an exceptional story about capitalism that viewers of all stripes will appreciate.

I recently reviewed this documentary at The Federalist.

Here’s a taste from the piece:

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My Interview with Lord Conrad Black on Trump and Populism

Check out my Encounter Books Podcast interview with the always provocative Lord Conrad Black on the history of American populism and President Donald Trump’s place in it, an assessment of Trump’s populist political agenda, the poisonous legacy of Watergate, The Resistance, the 2018 midterm elections and much more.

I thought the below exchange towards the end of our conversation was particularly compelling:

Ben Weingarten: The ultimate goal of the litany of charges against the President, as we all know, but which is left unsaid frequently, is to, as you said, undermine his legitimacy, and ultimately, from the Democratic perspective, to try to remove him from office — to create, kind of build the case, real or imagined, and then be able to apply high crimes and misdemeanors, and seek to impeach him. All of the signs look fairly ominous for what will happen at the very least in the House, in the midterm elections, for the Republican Party. What do you anticipate happening if Republicans do, in fact, lose the House?

Lord Conrad Black: Well, I agree. I think they’re trying to either remove him…First of all, sort of taint him and plant this generalized view that there’s something illegitimate about him, and therefore, he shouldn’t receive the respect normally offered to a [president]…Secondly, if they can’t push him out altogether, to distract him so much that he can’t perform properly, so they can then accuse him of being a do-nothing president and a mere controversialist, and have him as a sort of…immobilized president sitting in the White House, awaiting the end of his term.

On your specific question, if the Democrats got control of the House of Representatives, certainly there would be a much greater danger that they would try and put an impeachment bill through. I doubt that…On anything we can see at this point, there would be no really serious reason to do it, other than their own partisanship. And there are some sane people in that party and in their House of Representatives delegation. I think Trump would have to do something that the media could successfully represent as really seriously outrageous before they could get a positive vote. I don’t think they…unless Trump actually committed a crime, which he’s not going to do, has not done and will not do, but unless he did that, they would have less chance of actually getting a vote to remove him in the Senate, a two-thirds vote, than the Republicans had when they tried it with Clinton.

So I think the price we paid essentially for the terrible overreaction to Watergate, accompanied by the fact that Mr. Nixon didn’t handle the investigation properly — I don’t think there is any evidence even now that Nixon himself committed illegalities in Watergate, but some people in his entourage did — but the price we paid for that is the routinization of the criminalization of policy differences. “I don’t agree with this person. We’re imaginative and adaptive Americans. Let’s see if we can avoid this policy option we don’t like, and as a bonus, get rid of this President we don’t like ’cause he’s in the other party” — like accusing him of crimes, as if it was just a confidence vote in a parliamentary system like Britain or Canada. And that is not what the authors of the Constitution intended.

Mr. Nixon was a patriotic man who, in fact, was convinced himself that he did not commit crimes; and if he was judged fairly, would be judged not to have committed crimes. But as a patriot, since impeachment had not been mentioned in the presidential context for over a century, for a president, he just didn’t want to put the country to such a demeaning process. And Bill Clinton had no such reservations, but he did achieve something by showing that it wasn’t a process that would necessarily be very successful. They had not even got that far with Reagan and the Iran-Contra nonsense.

But what should happen at some point soon is both parties, and the powers that be politically in the country generally, should realize that impeachment of a president is something that should be regarded as an absolutely extreme measure, as it was intended to be, in the case of utterly profoundly unconstitutional conduct. It was really designed to prevent a domestic George III coming in. Not that he was that bad a king either, but…he wasn’t. He wasn’t that good either. And he was mad half the time, but he was not a madman…I mean, a mad despot, an autocrat, as he was accused of being. But again, that’s beside the point.

But if the United States — and Alan Dershowitz speaks very well about this, he’s a liberal Democrat who supported Clinton — if the U.S. is going to criminalize in an accelerated and unjust way, or purport to criminalize the conduct of people who are just doing what they said they would do when they ran for election, and then psychiatrize them too, and claim that they’re mentally unbalanced and so forth, you’re going to get chaos in the country. The whole system will break down.

What should happen as a result of all this talk is, have an all-party, nonpartisan resolution and agreement, not legislation, but just a state of mind that is agreed upon, that discussion of the impeachment or removal from office of a president should only be entertained in the event of high crimes and misdemeanors on which there’s real evidence, and not in a routine and frivolous and dangerously irresponsible way, which is what we’ve got now.

[Additionally] I don’t think the Democrats will win the House. I think what will happen is that the President will carefully assemble his healthcare reform that the Republican Party is pretty much agreed upon, and an immigration reform that it’s pretty much agreed upon, put those out very firmly to the voters, stand on his high economic growth and continuing excellent economic numbers, and order the release by the Justice Department, relatively close to the midterm elections, of everything to do with the collusion investigation, to reveal in its ghastly infirmity the absolute vacuity of that argument, the falsity, the malice and the defamatory destructiveness of the entire argument that he or anyone closely associated with him ever colluded with a foreign power to rig an American election. Just administer a bone-crushing defeat to the Democrats, and their echo chamber in the national media. And do it right…just coming into the midterm election campaign. And I think he will gain seats in both the House and the Senate.

My Interview with British MEP Daniel Hannan on Populism, Brexit and the EU and the Long Financial Crisis Hangover

In connection with the release of Encounter Books’ Vox Populi: The Perils and Promises of Populism, I interviewed one of its exceptional contributors, the always-eloquent and erudite British MEP Daniel Hannan.

During our discussion we touch on among other things:

  • The anti-progressive character of modern populism
  • The failure of the elite political establishment
  • Brexit and the future of the EU
  • The death of classical liberalism in Europe
  • The underappreciated impact on the financial crisis on the Western body politic
  • The imperative to defend free market capitalism

You can listen to our interview in full here, and read a transcript of our discussion here.

The 10 Richest Ironies of the Trump Age

Beyond the noise of controversies real and invented, a 24-hour news cycle demanding perpetual outrage and hyperbole and partisan polarization on grounds more stylistic than substantive and cultural than ideological, the Trump Age has provided a signal that is incredibly clarifying.

To wit, the Trump presidency has exposed the American political elite by illuminating the internal contradictions, deep-seated biases and core hypocrisies of its players. At heart, what his presidency has revealed — due to equal parts Trump Derangement Syndrome, stylistic disdain and genuine fear that his agenda poses a threat to their livelihood — is that power is the political class’s single unifying principle.

I’ve catalogued the greatest ironies of the Trump era in a new piece at PJ Media titled “The 10 Richest Ironies of the Trump Age.”

And I’ve summarized my piece in a shareable Twitter thread that begins below:

PragerU’s Free Speech Lawsuit Challenges Silicon Valley’s Anti-Conservative Bias

On the heels of my comprehensive Gatestone Institute analysis on Big Tech’s jihad against counterjihadist speech, PragerU, the purveyor of educational videos on topics ranging from national security to private property rights — which itself has seen its counterjihadist content censored — filed suit against Google/YouTube.

The charge? Alleged ideological discrimination in restricting/disadvantaging PragerU’s content on the basis of PragerU’s conservative bent, in violation of its First Amendment rights.

I analyze PragerU’s case, and argue that lawfare is but one tool among many we must be using to preserve free speech in cyberspace.

Read the whole thing here.

Israel’s Temple Mount Policy is a Microcosm of What Ails the West

In a new piece for the Claremont Review of Books, I argue that Israel’s Temple Mount policy from its reclamation in 1967 to today — intended to appease Arab aggressors — is a microcosm of what ails the West. In fact, it reflects the perfect symbol of our civilization’s lack of confidence in its moral legitimacy, sovereignty, and the right to defend against aggression.

Here’s a taste:

Israel does not err alone. The Temple Mount, which is core to the Judeo-Christian world generally, and to Israel—which is the first line of defense of Western civilization against Islamic supremacism—is symbolic of the West’s broader ideological maladies. Leftism sees the West as an evil, oppressive, occupying force. The hysterical reaction to President Trump’s Poland speech in defense of Western civilization—which was read by the Left with scare quotes as a defense of racism and colonialism—is the product of such “progressive” brainwashing.

The West has deemed itself morally illegitimate, the decadent and depraved creation of dead European white males. To make up for real and imagined historic injustices, the West has frequently repudiated its fundamental principles, and actively undermined its institutions. Its crisis of moral legitimacy is revealed in virulently anti-religious secularism, and in attacks on the natural rights to life, liberty, and property by an administrative state operating without the consent of the people.

The West’s lack of confidence in its sovereignty is revealed in open-borders policies that result in endless migrant floods, regardless of whether the migrants will or can enhance economic or social development. Progressive activists go so far as to imply that every migrant—legal or not—has an inherent right to citizenship, or at least to the rights guaranteed by citizenship. The multicultural credo that holds all cultures to be equal and inherently valuable is thought to obviate the need for borders.

The West’s unwillingness to defend itself against Islamic aggression reveals itself in Europe’s “no-go zones.” In America, it reveals itself through our see-no-Islam national security and foreign policy, and in the pervasive belief that we must appease our enemies with bribery (Iran Deal), sacrifice our rights (anti-free speech measures so as not to offend), or remove our defenses through politically correct policies chiefly oriented towards concession rather than victory (“Countering Violent Extremism”). At the heart of these policies is a belief that the West is the aggressor, and our enemies are the aggrieved.

The West’s lack of confidence ultimately extends to its right to survive. If one of the least abashed Western nations won’t assert itself at Temple Mount, it is hard to be sure where other nations will draw lines they are prepared to defend without yielding.

Read the whole thing here.

CPAC Media Hits: Politics With Glenn Beck, National Security With Frank Gaffney and Academia With Sandy Rios

During my time at CPAC 2016, I had the opportunity to go on-air with several personalities. Below you can find my appearances:

With My Old Boss Glenn Beck Talking a Republican Contested Convention, Rule 40B and More [Begins at 1:36:55]

With the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney Talking Progressive Foreign Policy, Counterjihadism and the 2016 Presidential Election

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‘Inequality’ Does Not Cause ISIS, Or How Our Western Materialist Worldview is Killing Us

Recently, world-renowned French socialist economist Thomas Piketty proffered the argument that “inequality” is the cause of ISIS.

While it may not be surprising given that Piketty’s life work has been dedicated to studying inequality (and arguing that to eradicate it we ought to tear down the capitalist system), Piketty revealed a critical insight about the Western elite: It believes global jihadism is attributable to materialist factors.

I challenge this thesis in my latest piece over at the indispensable City Journal titled Did Inequality Cause ISIS?, and argue that in order to effectively combat the global jihad, we must look at the world through the same prism as Islamic supremacists, not the materialist one apparently subscribed to by our entire foreign policy Establishment, including but not limited to the Obama administration (see “jobs for jihadis”).

Also, the great Dan Bongino spoke about my piece during his Conservative Review podcast. Listen starting at 21:13 below:

 

Featured Image Source: LiveLeak screengrab.

The Massive Tower that Donald Trump is Building in Jeb Bush’s Head

On Monday 10/26, I sat in as a guest again on Newsmax TV’s “The Daily Wrap.”

During the episode, we had the chance to discuss a variety of issues including the travesty that is the IRS scandal and the lack of recourse for its victims, staggering new numbers about the perilous state of our economy as reflected in the percentage of Americans making under $30,000 per year, Donald Trump’s recent attack on Ben Carson, and Trump’s persistent needling of Jeb Bush and the massive Trump tower he is currently constructing in Bush’s head.

You can watch the show in full, along with some particularly pertinent clips below.

Full Episode

The Massive Trump Tower that “The Donald” is Constructing in Jeb Bush’s Head

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When Progressive Policies Cause Creative Destruction

Be sure to check out my latest article over at The Federalist, where I examine the collision course we are on between technological advancement/automation and progressive policies that are ironically causing technological advancement/automation to accelerate, low-skill progressive voters be damned.

Here’s a taste:

For years now, we have seen headlines foretelling a doomsday scenario in which mass numbers of Americans are thrown out of work, replaced by computers, robots, and other time-saving, liability-minimizing machines. Human capital is not static, and not all process changes will happen all at once. Different industries evolve at different speeds, and human beings are adaptive. Yet it is only natural that businesses need continually seek ways to lower costs to profit and survive, and automation is a key means by which to do so.

In an age in which the “deadweight loss” attributable to taxes, compliance, and hyper-regulation is massive, automation will become far cheaper than having to hire, train, and pay severance to human beings. Since regulation is the mother of innovation, so artificially high costs from other forms of government intervention will force businesses to innovate by first replacing full-time workers with temporary ones, and eventually with cost-effective machines that do not require health and welfare benefits and pensions.

This presents an interesting conundrum for a Progressive coalition that relies in part upon the very poor. To the degree to which large-scale Progressive reforms like Obamacare and the recently popular $15 minimum wage raises the cost of doing business, the move to automate will only accelerate, hurting most those lower-skilled, generally poorer constituencies, which happen to be politically Progressive. This “creative destruction” will be an unwelcome development to many manual laborers, a betrayal to the Progressive political class.

Read the whole thing here.

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