In Defense Of Apathy And Cynicism

There was a, uh, slightly disturbing portion of a Michelle Obama speech last week. Here is the portion:

Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

This sounds like a call for a cabinet-level Department of Cynicism Reduction. Either that or a loose cannon of a woman who doesn’t have a clue about the way that government works. There is a reason why people are cynical of politicians: because they ought to be. The political sphere, by its very nature, is a realm of horse-trading and less-than-appealing compromise. Why is this the case? Because you’re talking about several hundred Congressmen representing 300 million vastly different people, combined into many different and sometimes-overlapping interests. Even if every Congressman were entirely clean, without a trace of corruption, the end result would still leave plenty of scope for cynicism as the activists want to do more and blame “entrenched interests” for not getting their way; meanwhile, the inactivists kvetch about how things are going to pot because the government has infringed on this or that liberty and there are only so many left.

If you take her at her word, Mrs. Obama sounds like she is calling for the arrest of anybody who doesn’t vote or who has better things to do than talk about politics. Unfortunately, she seems to be of that group which believes that everything important originates from Washington DC and nobody could possibly do anything meaningful or valuable without some kind of political effort. Not only is this almost entirely backwards, but it is an early warning of what kind of problems an Obama presidency would indicate: a bigger, more powerful, and more intrusive government. And then, when that bigger government fails to amount to what its supporters imagined, it will be the fault of those who just didn’t believe hard enough, those who failed to shed their cynicism, those nasty business interests who gummed up the works*. In fact, you can say that I’m quite cynical about their cynicism-reducing techniques.

Now, if you take her at her word, that’s kind of a scary proposition, once you start thinking about the enforcement mechanisms necessary to pull something like that off, and I’m not talking about going around and giving fluffy speeches about hope and change.

* – For a note on this mentality, read My Favorite Quotation From Liberal Fascism.

The Passing Of A Great

William F. Buckley died today.  I was young enough that my first knowledge of Buckley’s existence came from William F. Buckley, III—the cat from Clarissa Explains It All.  Thankfully, even though I was too young to watch Firing Line or see him at his best, I still had the opportunity to learn through his magazine, and his magazine it shall remain even in death.

For some heartfelt condolences and memories, scroll through The Corner.

Did I call it? Find out in a month!

I decided I’m going to call the WrestleMania card. Read it if you want to (most people don’t). You can find out in a month if I was right or not, when I update the post. Without further ado:

24 MAN BATTLE ROYAL TO FACE CHAVO GUERRERO FOR ECW TITLE

A whole bunch of people are in this; I think Kane will win, simply because he hasn’t gotten a title shot in a long time and a face needs to get the title off of Chavo. This will give CM Punk something better to do.

ECW TITLE: KANE VS CHAVO GUERRERO (C)

See above.

WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES: SANTINO & CARLITO VS HARDCORE HOLLY & CODY RHODES (C)

This is a shot in the dark; I’m not even sure either tag belts will be defended, but this is the only real match they’ve had any build to. Given that we’ll see four other title changes (if I’m right), I pick Holly and Rhodes to retain.

Update: Carlito is now part of MITB, so this match won’t happen.

ECW TITLE MATCH: CM PUNK VS CHAVO GUERRERO JR. (C)

Given that Punk has totally owned Chavo at every turn, I expect this match (as yet unannounced) to be a Punk victory. The only way Punk would lose is if he’s going to Smackdown, and I think even then he won’t lose. Punk is way too popular and Chavo is a stopgap champion at best.

UPDATE: They’re going with the whole 24 man battle royal thing, and since CM Punk is in Money in the Bank, this match can’t happen. Unless Punk wins and cashes in the chance. Which he won’t.

US TITLE MATCH: MVP (C) VS MATT HARDY

Another unannounced match I fully anticipate happening. Hardy has to win the match or this feud, as awesome as it has been, will be completely deflated. We need a payoff, and provided Hardy is healthy, I think we’ll see at WM. Could be the scene stealer of the night.

UPDATE: MVP’s in MITB, too. Matt Hardy is currently not on the card; some suggest he’ll be the unannounced 8th man. Who knows?

BUNNYMANIA: CANDICE MICHELLE ASHLEY & MARIA VS VICTORIA MELINA AND BETH PHOENIX

I don’t even remember who’s in this match and it has been announced; that’s how little I care. Maria will win because she’s in Playboy.

Updated: It’s Melina, not Victoria.

Update to the update: Candice got hurt, so Ashley’s taking her place.

BRAND SUPERIORITY: BATISTA VS UMAGA

This will be an awesome match, if I’ve guessed right on who Smackdown has picked. Batista currently has nothing to do, and I highly doubt he’ll be in Money in the Bank. I really, really hope they’re kidding about Paul Burchill taking Umaga’s spot. He’s been on RAW for like two weeks. Anyway, Batista wins this match, but it’ll be a hell of a fight.

Updated: In the words of Stephen Colbert, nailed it!

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. VS BIG SHOW

Big Show will win. I love the build but I’m uncertain about the match.

CAREER THREATENING MATCH: SHAWN MICHAELS VS RIC FLAIR

Flair will either win and retire or lose and retire. I wish they’d built this match a bit more; have HBK pretend he won’t do it, let him draw a little heat, then decide the week before he’ll do it. I think Orton v. Flair would have been better, but HBK is money at Wrestlemania and I think he’ll do well. My gut says Flair loses, but puts on a hell of a fight. This is the toughest call of the night; it could easily end with a double count out or DQ.

Update: HBK did an AWESOME job on 3/24 RAW turning heel. Will he stay that way or is this a one match thing? We’ll find out!

MONEY IN THE BANK: MR KENNEDY VS JEFF HARDY MVP VS JERICHO VS SHELTON BENJAMIN VS CARLITO VS CM PUNK VS JOHN MORRISON

I don’t care if the last two are RVD and Kane (although I would mark like a little bitch if it were RVD and Kane); Jeff Hardy needs to win a big match and this is where he’ll do it. Kennedy’s a dark horse.

UPDATE: There is a chance Matt Hardy will show up; I doubt he will win, though. I’m going to do a column on this later; suffice it to say, I think Punk will win and take his step forward.

FINLAY VS JBL

Finlay. He’s way too over with the fans and given how JBL treated Hornswaggle, there’s no way Finlay will lose.

WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: UNDERTAKER VS EDGE (C)

Edge would become a legend in one night if he beat Taker cleanly; ending The Streak would permanently put him over. I’m not sure Edge needs the rub, but if he gets it, he’ll be even more insufferable. I’m going out on a limb; there are too many other obvious title changes, and somebody needs to retain a major title; I think Edge will do so here. Maybe he’ll win by DQ, preserving his title and the streak. I’d be thrilled if Taker won, but he’s not going to be around forever and I’m not sure there’s another superstar would benefit more from the rub than Edge. Edge wins, either by DQ or cleanly, but he wins.

WWE TITLE MATCH: JOHN CENA VS TRIPLE H VS RANDY ORTON (C)

I really, really, REALLY wish Orton had a snowball’s chance in hell at retaining, but he doesn’t. Orton has been built well, but not well enough that he could win between Cena AND HHH. Weirdly, the champ is by far the underdog. I don’t think they’ll put the title back on Cena so soon; it’s going to HHH, probably by pinning Orton. Although if Taker beats Edge, Orton’s chances go from 0% to 1%.

I don’t think I’ve missed anything. I really hope they don’t go with a Celebrity Battle Royal. It’s possible Miz & Morrison could put the Tag Team Titles on the line too, likely against Jesse & Festus. I think, if Edge retains, the Edgeheads will get the gold, but not for a while yet. I reserve the right to make updates for additional matches and if the matches I have called don’t happen, but I will not change my predictions.

My Favorite Quotation From Liberal Fascism

I finished up Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism the other day. I noticed that the last chapter or so became a bit more polemic than the earlier chapters, but all in all, it was a detailed and serious look at the topic. The parts I had known about before-hand matched up with what he said, and the remainder seemed, for the most part, a reasonable argument.

Here is my favorite portion from the book, discussing the nature of interaction between politicians and businesses.

Most businesses are like beehives. If government doesn’t bother them, they don’t bother government. If government meddles with business, the bees swarm Washington. Yet time and time again, the liberal “remedy” for the bee problem is to smack the hive with a bigger stick. There are hundreds of medical industry lobbies, for specific diseases, specialties, and forms of treatment, each of which spends a fortune in direct and indirect lobbying and advertising. Do you know which medical profession spends almost nothing? Veterinary care. Why? Because Congress spends almost no time regulating it. Why do pharmaceutical industries spend so much money lobbying politicians and regulators? Because they are so heavily regulated that they cannot make major decisions without a by-your-leave from Washington.

This is, as they say, both obvious and true. When John Marshall wrote that “the power to tax is the power to destroy,” he could just have easily as said that the power to regulate is the power to destroy. The more power Congress has to regulate specific industries or—even more clearly—firms, the more you will see firms and organizations representing (generally the largest firms of) industries lobbying Congress.

What Goldberg and I are saying does not mean that Congress should never regulate industries. Instead, I like to defer to FA Hayek and the Freiburg school on these cases: a government strictly limited in its scope but with a lot of power within that scope is the best feasible form of government. The problem is that Congress and executive bureaucracies have gone well beyond that level, and one of the signs of this is that, in the last 50 or so years, a lot of companies now have fully-staffed political offices in Washington in an attempt to shape Congressional and executive regulations.

Missile Defense Works

There was a rather successful test of the US anti-ballistic missile system late last week, in which a Navy cruiser was able, on the first shot (or so they say), to intercept a satellite in a decaying orbit. The link says that the satellite was as big as a school bus, but it was actually 7′ long and about 4′ wide, making it an even better test.

Perhaps the best part about this is that it also gives the US anti-satellite technology. Certain countries—China, Russia, and North Korea to name three examples that I know about—have teams of people who attempt to compromise foreign computers and relays. This, as a Belmont Club poster notes, may be a signal that we have additional ways of succeeding, ways which they don’t have.