A form of grassroots activism. I observed something like what you see in the video in my garden, some years ago. I thought it an odd exception; however, there seems to be a general affinity potential between the two species:
Speaking about why his campaign website worked so well compared to the ACA site, Obama said:
You know, one of the lessons - learned from this whole process on the website - is that probably the biggest gap between the private sector and the federal government is when it comes to I.T. …
Well, the reason is is that when it comes to my campaign, I’m not constrained by a bunch of federal procurement rules, right?
He later added that:
When we buy I.T. services generally, it is so bureaucratic and so cumbersome that a whole bunch of it doesn’t work or it ends up being way over cost.
Obama seems to be acknowledging that his ideological opponents are right. Yet, he claims that these fundamental inefficiencies are easily fixed?
Ann Althouse comments:
we've been told we must buy a product, and things have been set up so we can only go through the government's market (the "exchange"), and the government has already demonstrated that its market doesn't work. But you can't walk away, you're forced to buy, and there's nowhere else to go. And yet, he wants us to feel bad about the cumbersome bureaucracy the government encountered trying to procure the wherewithal to set up the market it had already decided we would all need to use.
For the broader background, here is an interesting article about (a most timely book on) Obamacare's path to power:
The story of the Affordable Care Act is as twisted and bizarre as anything ever written by Stephenson, Kafka, or Orwell. It is an Act that saw the President oppose his signature legislation, before he supported it, and that saw the President’s challenger sire the Act, before he disowned it. The Act sparked conservative outrage around the country, though it was conceived in the heart of the conservative movement. It passed only through handouts to some States, but was partially stricken as violating the financial free will of all the States. And, of course, it is an Act that raised no taxes, but that survives as a valid exercise of the taxing power.
Remembering his time at the Fed, Andrew Huszar writes:
I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve
official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the
Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as
quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for
helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it
really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time. [...]
Having been at the Fed
for seven years, until early 2008, I was working on Wall Street in
spring 2009 when I got an unexpected phone call. Would I come back to
work on the Fed's trading floor? The job: managing what was at the heart
of QE's bond-buying spree—a wild attempt to buy $1.25 trillion in
mortgage bonds in 12 months. Incredibly, the Fed was calling to ask if I
wanted to quarterback the largest economic stimulus in U.S. history. [...]
What they are doing is riding on the back of a tiger. All those idiots
who voted for Obama to help the poor and the disadvantaged, what a bad
joke that is. If Goldman Sachs is your favourite charity then maybe you
have a point.
I was stunned by the dishonesty of the
professional climate alarmists again. Their moral defects are just
shocking. It seems completely obvious to me that they must know that
they are lying 24 hours a day.
This controversy is about the claim that the typhoon Haiyan was the
strongest tropical cyclone that ever made a landfall, and so on. You can
see this preposterous misinformation almost everywhere. For example,
start with the first sentence of the Wikipedia article on Typhoon Haiyan.
All the mistakes are completely obvious and demonstrable, as I will
argue below, but it is impossible to even fix basic errors on the
Wikipedia page, or elsewhere. Such pages are being controlled by
obsessed hardcore climate alarmist trolls and crackpots. They are just
completely blind and deaf to any evidence and they revert any edit that
would try to fix the basic mistakes.
So let's look at some real numbers and the origin of the flawed numbers.
In an article entitled "Global warming isn't to blame for the disaster in the Philippines," The Spectator quotes the eminent US-researcher Indur Goklany:
Currently many advocate spending trillions of dollars to reduce
anthropogenic greenhouse gases, in part to forestall hypothetical future
increases in mortality from global warming induced increases in extreme
weather events. Spending even a fraction of such sums on the numerous
higher priority health and safety problems plaguing humanity would
provide greater returns for human well-being.
[...T]he average annual deaths and death rates from all extreme weather
events has declined by more than 90 per cent since 1920. This decline
occurred despite a vast increase in the populations at risk and more
complete coverage of extreme weather events. Goklany also shows that,
globally, the number of deaths and death rates due to storms (including
hurricanes, cyclones, tornados, typhoons) have declined by 47 per cent
and 70 per cent respectively since the 1970s. [...]
People around the world who are exposed to natural hazards are
increasingly relying on the effectiveness of warning systems. Disaster
warning systems are most effective for natural catastrophes that develop
gradually and relatively slowly, such as floods or tropical cyclones.
Only two months ago, a fierce cyclone ripped along India’s east coast.
It only killed 25 people as millions of people were evacuated in advance
of the tropical cyclone, thus minimising the number of fatalities. 14
years earlier, over 10,000 people were killed in a similar cyclone that
arrived without much warning.
Even poor countries such as Bangladesh, which is especially
vulnerable to cyclones, have learnt how to prepare for the recurrent
threat of cyclones and have succeeded in significantly reducing
cyclone-related deaths. The two deadliest cyclones in Bangladesh’s
history occurred in 1970 and 1991, killing 500,000 and almost 140,000
people respectively. In the last two decades, Bangladesh has introduced
better warning systems that have helped to reduce deaths and injuries
from cyclones significantly. A severe cyclone in 2007, for instance,
caused 4,234 deaths, a 100-fold reduction compared with the devastating
cyclone of 1970.
Quick reminder to those who have not had an opportunity to read the first part of the post: in the present context, faith does not refer to religious faith but to a style of politics that looks at and tries to instrumentalise politics as if it were capable of keeping the redeeming promise of a religious faith. Faith basically stands for statism, and scepticism roughly stands for (classical) liberalism.
Michael Oakeshott explains in his work something that has become exceedingly dear to my liberal heart:
For I believe, liberty consists of contributions to an open system, a system that is permeated with elements other than those constituting liberty, including elements contrary to and destructive of liberty. The progress of liberty is not driven by an absolute decrease in unfreedom and a corresponding absolute increase in liberty, it is rather brought about by the ongoing tug-of-war between these two extreme opposites, both of which can never exist in pure form. Unfortunately (classically) liberal and libertarian attitudes and (classically) liberal and libertarian literature, including some of the venerable and classic works, are not devoid of assumptions contrary to this fundamental aspect of freedom. Part of this is the perennial ambition to come up with some sort of infallible mathematics of the good society by dint of which it is deemed possible to calculate with unequivocal precision the type of conclusions that alone are in conformity with freedom.
But rather than the occasional triumphs of scepticism, what reveals the character of this type of politics more fully is its failures; not its periodic displacement by the politics of faith, but the occasions when it has behaved out of character. The chief of these, in modern times, was its mésalliance with the politics of Natural Rights [...]
It was, perhaps, unavoidable that a style of governing in which the office of government is understood as the maintenance of appropriate order, the preservation of rights and duties and the redress of wrongs should be ambitious to establish itself on a firm foundation. The impulse to assure ourselves that our arrangements and authorized manners of behaviour represent not merely fact and habit, but 'justice' and 'truth', and that they have a 'certainty' which is out of reach of the vicissitudes of time and place, has always been strong.
But it is an impulse which belongs properly to faith. Historically, so far as scepticism is concerned, it must be regarded as an infection caught from faith, a temporary desertion of its own character induced by the plausible triumph of faith. And that such a foundation should be sought in the notion that the rights and duties to be protected are 'natural' and to be defended on account of their naturalness was an enterprise given in the climate of the seventeenth-century opinion.
The writer who led Europe in this respect was John Locke, the most ambiguous of all political writers of modern times; a political sceptic who inadvertently imposed the idiom of faith upon the sceptical understanding of government.
But how out of character this enterprise was soon became apparent. To turn 'rights' and 'duties' which were known as historic achievements, elicited by patient and judicial inquest from the manner in which men were accustomed to behave, into 'natural' rights and duties was to deny them just that contingency of character which was the heart of the sceptical interpretation, and was to attribute to them an absoluteness and a permanence which in the sceptical understanding of them they could not possess.
(M. Oakeshott, The Politics of Faith and the Politics of Scepticism, p. 82/83)
The work of Michael Oakeshott is a real treasure for anyone interested in the history and the meaning of freedom.
Oakeshott draws a distinction between the politics of faith and the politics of scepticism which is roughly analogous to the perhaps cruder dichotomy of statism and (classical) liberalism.
The word faith in "politics of faith" does not refer to any particular religious faith but rather to the practice of looking at and trying to instrumentalise politics as if it were capable of keeping the redeeming promise of a religious faith. What the politics of scepticism is sceptical about is the hubris of the grand meddler, the totalitarian system builder, and hence it stands for
a rejection of the belief that governing is the imposition of a comprehensive pattern of activity upon a community and a consequent suspicion of government invested with overwhelming power, and a recognition of the contingency of every political arrangement and the unavoidable arbitrariness of most. (The Politics of Faith and the Politics of Scepticism, p. 80).
Most interestingly Oakeshott relates (the fundamental attitude inherent in) the politics of scepticism to the Augustinian interpretation of Christianity (whose theological vision places original sin at its centre), while speaking of the politics of faith as political Pelagianism.
Very roughly, Pelagius, in contradistinction to Augustine, believed that human beings are capable of redemption by virtue of leading a holy life, a life agreeable to God. Thus they were capable of redemption of their own accord, which notion was utterly anathema to Augustine.
Referring to the second coming of Christ not having taken place as soon as originally expected, Oakeshott says of Pelagianism that
there appeared a doctrine that the current course of historical happenings and the current strivings of human beings (so far from being merely filling in time before the redemption of mankind) should be understood as themselves the events and the strivings in which that redemption was being achieved. In its simplest form this was the doctrine of Pelagius; in a more complicated form, in which human history was understood as human beings gradually acquiring the ultimate truth about the universe, it was the belief of a set of Christian heretics known as the Gnostics. (Lectures in the History of Political Thought, p.325)
In his lectures, Oakeshott beautifully traces the medieval roots of liberalism, which in turn are strongly influenced by the image of man inherent in Augustinian Christianity. From this standpoint, men, including men of power, cannot possibly be conceived as being capable of achieving redemption of their own accord and building their own paradise. All this implies a strong scepeticism inherited by liberalism with respect to man as a self-creating being, a builder of his own fate.
With the rise of the incomparably powerful nation state, however, Pelagianism takes a political turn and begins to override the humility that is proper for man according to the Augustinian vision.
The earliest triumph of the politics of scepticism was the recognition of the distinction between politics and religion. This distinction was, of course, implicit in early Christianity, and it had been theorized with profound insight by St. Augustine. But circumstances made it necessary to reestablish it both in theory and practice in the modern world, where the politics of faith had removed the boundary. [...] The politics of faith is, from one point of view, the continuous reassertion of the unity of politics and religion; and from this point of view it is the comprehensive task of scepticism perpetually to be recalling political activity from the frontier of religion, and to be always drawing attention to the values of civil order and tranquillitas whenever the vision of a total pattern of activity, imposed because it is believed to represent 'truth' and 'justice', threatens to obliterate everything else. (The Politics of Faith ..., p.81)
Via the 5th century of Augustinian humility and the 16th century when the formation of the modern national state and its attendant politics of faith begin in earnest, we arrive at the heyday of liberalism along one consecutive train of political scepticism:
In England during some part of the eighteenth century the political style of scepticism my be said, for that moment, both to have won a great victory and to have revealed itself for the first time in modern dress [...]. It was the achievement of Whig politicians and of writers such as Halifax, Hume and Burke to have modernized its political devices and restated its principles in a manner appropriate to the times. What had hitherto remained an inheritance from the Middle Ages became a style and understanding of political activity practiced and expressed in a modern idiom. (The Politics of Faith ..., p.81/82)
Continued at Politics of Faith and Scpeticism (2/2), where we will see that modern libertarianism, in so far as it follows the anarcho-capitalist path, does not belong to the politics of scepticism, i.e. the liberal tradition, but to the politics of faith, the realm of grand total visions of society.