Date ►►► March 31, 2008
Elites vs. Roggio - the Split Widens
The elite media, rather than trying to reel in their unsourced and increasingly risible claims of a great patriotic victory by Muqtada Sadr in the battle for Basra and Baghdad, is doubling down. From the Associated Press:
The peace deal between al-Sadr and Iraqi government forces - said to have been brokered in Iran - calmed the violence but left the cleric's Mahdi Army intact and Iraq's U.S.-backed prime minister politically battered and humbled within his own Shiite power base.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had promised to crush the militias that have effectively ruled Basra for nearly three years. The U.S. military launched air strikes in the city to back the Iraqi effort.
But the ferocious response by the Mahdi Army, including rocket fire on the U.S.-controlled Green Zone and attacks throughout the Shiite south, caught the government by surprise and sent officials scrambling for a way out of the crisis.
The confrontation enabled al-Sadr to show that he remains a powerful force capable of challenging the Iraqi government, the Americans and mainstream Shiite parties that have sought for years to marginalize him. And the outcome cast doubt on President Bush's assessment that the Basra battle was "a defining moment" in the history "of a free Iraq."
Bill Roggio's take on the exact, same story from the Long War Journal:
One day after Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, called for his fighters to abandon combat, the fighting in Basrah has come to a near-halt and the Iraqi security forces are patrolling the streets. While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr's terms for the ceasefire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said the security forces will continue operations in Basrah in the south. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in Basrah, Nasiriyah, Babil, and Baghdad over the weekend, despite Sadr's call for the end of fighting.
Maliki was clear that operations would continue in the South. "The armed groups who refuse al Sadr's announcement and the pardon we offered will be targets, especially those in possession of heavy weapons," Maliki said, referring to the 10 day amnesty period for militias to turn in heavy and medium weapons. "Security operations in Basra will continue to stop all the terrorist and criminal activities along with the organized gangs targeting people...."
The reasons behind Sadr's call for a cessation in fighting remain unknown, but reports indicate the Mahdi Army was having a difficult time sustaining its operations and has taken heavy casualties. "Whatever gains [the Mahdi Army] has made in the field [in Basrah], they were running short of ammunition, food, and water," an anonymous US military officer serving in South told The Long War Journal. "In short [the Mahdi Army] had no ability to sustain the effort.
TIME's sources in Basrah paint a similar picture. "There has been a large-scale retreat of the Mahdi Army in the oil-rich Iraqi port city because of low morale and because ammunition is low due to the closure of the Iranian border," the magazine reported.
I notice that AP writer Robert H. Reed is aided by three AP writers in Baghdad: Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Bushra Juhi and Sinan Salaheddin. I wonder what part of Baghdad they're from and what are their own positions on the Mahdi Militia... if they come from Sadr City and voted for the Sadr Bloc, what would that tell us about the contribution they may have provided to this AP story?
This is why I reject as nonsense the traditional journalistic claim that their own beliefs and political positions have no bearing on the stories they write; we are all to some extent captive of our own pasts. If the question is who "won" a complex factional struggle between Iranian-backed Shia like Muqtada Sadr and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- formerly a protege of Sadr himself, but now backed by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (even though Maliki is from the Dawa Party) -- then it sure as shootin' does matter whether the observer is a supporter or opponent of Muqtada Sadr. How could it not?
Bill Roggio is completely open about his background and his many embedded deployments. But we know nothing at all about Mr. Reed or his various Iraqi (and one American) collaborators.
It's time for staff writers and especially local stringers in the elite media to start outing themselves, as we bloggers routinely do -- even without benefit of those "multiple layers of editing" that make AP and the New York Times and such so unbiased and nonpartisan.
Date ►►► March 30, 2008
You Be the Jug
Here's Bill Roggio's take on the possible capitulation by Muqtada Sadr:
Six days after the Iraqi government launched Operation Knights’ Charge in Basrah against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Muqtada al Sadr, the Leader of the Mahdi Army, has called for his fighters to lay down their weapons and cooperate with Iraqi security forces. Sadr’s call for an end to the fighting comes as his Mahdi Army has taken serious losses since the operation began.
"Sadr has sent a message to his loyalists urging them to end all armed activities," the Al Iraqiya television channel reported. Sadr "disowned anyone attacking the state institutions or parties' offices and headquarters...."
Sadr’s call for an end to fighting by his followers comes as his Mahdi Army has taken high casualties over the past six days. Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.
From March 25-29 the Mahdi Army had an average of 71 of its fighters killed per day. Sixty-nine fighters have been captured per day, and another 160 have been reported wounded per day during the fighting. The US and Iraqi military never came close to inflicting [such] casualties during the height of major combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq during the summer and fall of 2007.
Here is the New York Times' version of today's events:
The Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr on Sunday took a step toward ending six days of intense combat between his militia allies and Iraqi and American forces in Basra and Baghdad, saying in a statement that his followers would lay down their arms providing the Iraqi government met a series of demands.
The substance of the nine-point statement, released by Mr. Sadr on Sunday afternoon, was hammered out in elaborate negotiations over the past few days with senior Iraqi officials, some of whom traveled to Iran to meet with Mr. Sadr, according to several officials involved in the negotiations....
Iraqi forces, backed up by American war planes and ground troops, have been in a stalemate with Shiite militias affiliated with Mr. Sadr in Basra for the past six days, in a military operation that has stirred harsh criticism of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Mr. Maliki’s campaign to take back militia-controlled parts of the southern city has met with far more resistance than was expected from militia fighters, Iraq’s defense minister, Abdul Kadir al-Obeidi, conceded last week.
Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the campaign and that he is now in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival and now his opponent in battle, for a solution to the crisis....
The move by Mr. Sadr stood in stark contrast to his actions in 2004, when he ordered his militia to fight to the death in the old city of Najaf, suggesting that Mr. Sadr’s political sophistication and skill at military strategizing has grown in the past few years.
So according to Roggio, a beaten Sadr is desperately seeking a face-saving way out of a war he is losing badly. But according to the Times (reporting by Erica Goode), a triumphant Sadr has trapped American forces and feeble, helpless Iraqi lickspittles and lapdogs in a quagmire; and now we are begging Sadr to give us (following our acquiescence to a series of "demands") a face-saving opportunity to run away with our tails between our legs.
I draw two conclusions: First, Bill Roggio, with his infantry background and current military connections (he has embedded with the Army, Marines, the Iraqi army, and the Iraqi National Police many times during the last four years), is far more likely to understand the situation on the ground in Iraq. Therefore, I trust his take on Sadr's surrender more than I trust the Times.
Second, based on the elite-media coverage of Operation Knights' Charge against the Mahdi Militia over the past week, I can only conclude that it must be an election year.
I believe Ayn Rand was correct in her constant admonition that one should always define ones' terms. I have used the phrase "liberal fascism" several times on this blog, so it's high time I told you what I mean by it. The purpose of this post is to provoke discussion, so feel free to chime in on the comments; I am of course open to rewriting and modifying this definition based upon input from our insightful readers.
In this case, "liberal" means doing something to help people "for their own good," as opposed to doing it for direct personal power and aggrandizement. I believe that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sincerely believe that their leadership -- not their policies, as they really have none beyond collectivism and pragmatism; everything else is spur of the moment and temporary until they think of the next policy -- their leadership will bring about world peace, brotherhood, and a loving village (à la "the Prisoner") in which no one will ever hurt again.
(By contrast, I doubt the Nazis gave a rip who got hurt, brutalized, maimed, or slain out of hand in implementing their demonic vision of utopia.)
The tough word, however, is fascism. Thanks to the Left, the word has come to mean "anything I intensely dislike, especially if it comes from my right." But I'd like a more precise definition than that.
As I use the term, fascism is defined as a political system whose...
- Aim is utopian;
- Creed derives from Sorelian mythology and social militarism;
- Metaphysics is secular (or pagan) and materialistic;
- Epistemology is the movement;
- Ethics is pragmatism;
- Methods are authoritarian and totalitarian;
- Leadership is Führerism (the Great Man);
- Orientation is socialist;
- Politics is populist/Progressive;
- Economics is corporatism;
- Scope is nationalist;
- Organization is collectivist.
The aim is to create a brave, new world that is paradise on earth by first burning away the old and then building the new Fascist Man. Methods may range from the nagging nanny state, hectoring us into evolving into homo novus -- to the Nazis, who simply killed all "defectives" and "degenerates" and enslaved the "inferior races" to the master race of Aryans.
Fascists want to imminitize the eschaton -- bring about the Millennium right here and now.
Mythology and militarism
Fascism creates a new social mythology to replace the old (monarchism, democracy, religion, rugged individualism, Marxism, Capitalism); the new mythology extols and exemplifies the fascist philosophy or attacks and villifies the old mythology. Think of Horst Wessel, Joe Hill, Joseph McCarthy, Kent State, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, John Kennedy... not the historical personages or events but the way they have been mythologized by various fascist and quasi-fascist groups.
Think of how the Left pushed the My Lai massacre until it was the controlling myth that defined the entire Vietnam war -- or the way their contemporary brethren do the same with Abu Ghraib. On the positive side, the assassination of Che Guevara turned him into a leftist martyr who exemplifies all that is holy about the State religion of Socialism. He has become the most iconic t-shirt figure in human history.
We live in a secular, material world, and there is nothing beyond the grave. Thus, everything must come in this life, not the next, because there isn't one. "Imagine there's no heaven; it's easy if you try; no hell below us; above us only sky."
This quickly metamorphoses into cultural narcissism, greed, and crassness -- which is then gleefully projected onto fascism's enemies, such as democracy and Capitalism.
The fascist movement defines truth, right, and good: That which furthers the movement is true, while that which runs counter to the movement is false.
Thus, among the elite media, that which reaffirms "the vision of the anointed" is true, while that which calls it into question is a lie that must be suppressed, or if it gets out, denounced as villainy.
Fascists care nothing for fixed ideology or policy; what matters is getting things done. Action, action, action! If you're not moving forward, you're slipping back. What is "ethical" is whatever works, and the great end justifies any means necessary.
Authoritarianism, statism, and totalitarianism
Democracy is an abomination, because individuals are weak and corrupt. There are two kinds of people: Those who lead and those who are driven. The masses need to be properly led and told what to do; then we can all pull together, rather than having to fight against dissident opinions.
"Everything inside the State. Nothing outside the State. Nothing against the State."
"The personal is political;" the government regulates every facet of life to ensure fairness and equality -- a "level playing field," which means privileging the underprivileged and deprivileging the overprivileged (in the opinion of the State, of course), mandating equality of outcomes. Everything not compulsory is forbidden, everything not forbidden is compulsory.
Homework: Read "Harrison Bergeron," by Kurt Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House.
The Great Man (or Woman)
The religion of the State needs a maximum leader who can rally the people, serve as the focus for all of society, and become the nation's divine.
Socialism (aristos vs. proletarians vs. bourgeoisie)
All of history can be reduced to the class struggle; the workers will control the means of production -- through their agent, the State. The aristos must be removed from power by transferring their authority to the State. The bourgeoisie must be eliminated, either by overwhelming and total reeducation -- or liquidation, their choice.
The scream of the mob is the vox populi; reform is our goal, reform of every institution and of Man himself... prohibition, vegetarianism, anti-smoking, anti-obesity, moral purity, eugenics, and most important, futurism: The past is hereby abolished. The old paradigm is shattered. We begin with the Year 1. All that matters is the future.
Capitalism is wasteful competition; choice is upsetting to the people. We need nothing but cooperation, organized along the business model. Wherever possible, all businesses will be monopolies; and without exception, all business will be controlled by the State. Individuals may profit, but profits will be set by the State at a reasonable level.
Business is the private arm of the public-private partnership that is fascism. It is no more independent of the State than the fleshly arm is independent of the brain.
The primary myth shall be that of the nation: The nation is the People, the People (as a single entity) is the nation. The nation is expansionist and will eventually encompass the whole globe.
The nation may be defined by race, language, religion, or culture... but however defined, it separates the world into Us and the Auslanders. The latter are dangerous and unpredictable, which is why the nation must expand to fill all available space (including territory already occupied by other countries).
The symbol of the nation is the fasces:
Fasces (L), dime with fasces (R)
Each individual stick is weak, but the bundle is unbreakable. The bundle is bound to an axe to symbolize the force and power of the people acting in concert to cut down the dissident, the disrupter, the slacker, the individualist, the iconoclast.
"Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer." "Solidarity forever." "The people united shall never be divided."
The fascist infestation
Every nation is fascist to some degree. The United States is one of the least fascist nations on the planet; but even here, elements of fascism have burrowed deep into the neuronal tissue of the American psyche. Just look supra and think how many laws, regulations, presidential directives, and policies we have -- emanating from both Left and Right -- that further several of the elements of fascism above -- though generally not the ones pointed at by hysterical leftists, who constantly want to "define fascism rightwards."
But consider abortion absolutism, state-run schools, heavy regulation of business practices, OSHA, gun-control laws, mandatory health-insurance proposals, hate-speech codes and hate-crime laws, racial preferences, de facto national speed limits, zoning laws that prescribe specific paint schemes for "private" houses, the ADA, "economic rights" legislation, judicial activism, class-action suits to ban cigarettes, guns, and trans-fats, the EPA, the Endangered Species Act, global-warming legislation, and so forth.
Within each nation, there are fascists and anti-fascists; the latter includes internationalist totalitarians (e.g., Marxists) -- rivals of fascism, in other words -- but also those who espouse freedom, individualism, Capitalism, democracy, continuity with the past, the essential imperfection of people, and a power higher than humanity.
Modern-day American conservativism is the political philosophy most associated with the latter camp of anti-fascists; this is also called classical liberalism, libertarian Republicanism, and Americanism. (Definitely not to be confused with Woodrow Wilson's "100% Amnericanism.")
Agree or disagree, I hope this at least gives us a basis for discussion. In future, when I use the word, picture what I have limned above.
Date ►►► March 29, 2008
Elite Media: Never Let Your Right Hand Know What Your Left Hand Is Washing
A sample platter of silly contradictions and absurdities in the AP's confusticated account of the Battle of Basra... thank goodness for those "multiple layers of editing" that separate the professional media from blogs!
Take me to your leader
British ground troops, who controlled the city until handing it over to the Iraqis last December, also joined the battle for Basra, firing artillery Saturday for the first time in support of Iraqi forces....
The fight for Basra is crucial for al-Maliki, who flew to Basra earlier this week and is staking his credibility on gaining control of Iraq's second-largest city, which has essentially been held by armed groups for nearly three years.
Who was that masked man?
With the Shiite militiamen defiant, a group of police in Sadr City abandoned their posts and handed over their weapons to al-Sadr's local office. Police forces in Baghdad are believed to be heavily influenced or infiltrated by Mahdi militiamen.
"We can't fight our brothers in the Mahdi Army, so we came here to submit our weapons," one policeman said on condition of anonymity for security reasons....
Iraqi police said that earlier in the day a U.S. warplane strafed a house and killed eight civilians, including two women and one child. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.
Wait -- does the claim we killed women and children come from the same anonymous Iraqi police who defected to Sadr? Or does AP have rival, unfriendly anonymous sources?
Depends on what the meaning of "civilian" is...
Iraq's Health Ministry, which is close to the Sadrist movement, on Saturday reported at least 75 civilians have been killed and at least 500 others injured in a week of clashes and airstrikes in Sadr City and other eastern Baghdad neighborhoods.
The U.S. military sharply disputes the claims, having said that most of those killed were militia members.
Well actually, Dude, except for those Mahdi Militia members who also happen to be in the Iraqi Army...
'Ere now, what's all this then?
If you're interested in what's really "goin' down" down south in Mesopotamia, try Bill Roggio instead of the Associated Press. Roggio sums up his post thus:
Fighting in Basrah and Baghdad and throughout much of the South continues as Iraqi security forces and Multinational Forces Iraq press the fight against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed terror groups. The Iraqi Army has moved additional forces to Basrah as the US and Iraqi military have conducted significant engagements in Shia areas of Baghdad. The Mahdi Army has taken significant casualties. The US military has denied the Mahdi Army has taken control of checkpoints in Baghdad.
You won't read this in the elite media; it just doesn't fit "the story."
The Missing Piece
See if you can guess what is missing from this brief news squib about the movie Stop Loss. By "missing," I mean a vital contextual element missing from Nikki Finke's analysis of why Stop Loss and other "Iraq war movies" are doing so badly at the box office:
I'm told #7 Stop-Loss opened to only $1.6 million Friday from just 1,291 plays and should eke out $4+M. Although the drama from MTV Films was the best-reviewed movie opening this weekend, Paramount wasn't expecting much because no Iraq war-themed movie has yet to perform at the box office. "It's not looking good," a studio source told me before the weekend. "No one wants to see Iraq war movies. No matter what we put out there in terms of great cast or trailers, people were completely turned off. It's a function of the marketplace not being ready to address this conflict in a dramatic way because the war itself is something that's unresolved yet. It's a shame because it's a good movie that's just ahead of its time."
Please post a comment that includes a one-sentence observation of what major point Ms. Finke may be missing. (Ignore the poor grammar; she's from the elite media.)
Date ►►► March 28, 2008
Newsflash: NYT Misunderstands Modern Warfare!
This may be quite a shocking story with the potential to shake the worldview of readers of this blog; if there are children reading over your shoulder, they should be sent to bed without their suppers immediately, before you read another line. (Of course, if your kids read faster than you, perhaps they should send you to bed without din-dins.)
Forwarned is four-horned. I don't want to judge before all the facts are in, but it appears from available evidence that the New York Times has only a dim idea of how we conduct modern warfare. And by "modern," I mean all warfare since the introduction of the airplane. First, the factual content:
American warplanes struck targets in the southern port city of Basra late Thursday, joining for the first time an onslaught by Iraqi security forces intended to oust Shiite militias there, according to British and American military officials.
I realize some of you reading this, those with military experience or an interest in military history, may be nodding heads and saying, "yeah, yeah, so what's your point?" After all, we've been using close air support since the Great War... which coincidentally was the first significant war for the United States after the development of heavier-than-air flying machines in December, 1902. (Europeans had a bit of a jump on us here, as they had more wars.)
First, let's introduce one more fascinating fact into the mix:
The strikes by American warplanes in Basra, one on a militia stronghold and a second on a mortar team that was attacking Iraqi forces, were made at the request of the Iraqi Army, said Maj. Tom Holloway, a spokesman for the British Army in Basra.
Major Holloway said that the Americans conducted the air attack because the Iraqi security forces did not have aircraft capable of making such strikes. American and British forces have been flying surveillance runs over Basra since the latest fighting in the city began this week.
“I think the point here is actually that the Iraqis are capable, they are strong and they have been engaging successfully,” Major Holloway said.
All right; so in Basra, Iraqi forces are calling in airstrikes against stubborn targets of Mahdi Militia. Again, what's the point of this post? Isn't that SOP for modern warfare? Of course... and this brings us to the crux of the Times and its "understanding" of that subject. Read on:
But the airstrikes by coalition forces after a four-day stalemate in Basra suggested that the Iraqi military has not, on its own, been able to rout the militias, despite repeated statements by American and Iraqi officials that its fighting capabilities have vastly improved.
In other words, the Times hears that Iraqi army units routinely call in airstrikes during combat, which are supplied by American helicopters and fixed-wing attack aircraft -- and the Times pronounces that a failure of the Iraqi military. Have I missed something vital here?
Let's rephrase the sentence above. Suppose some reporter heard about an American action in which soldiers on the ground called in an airstrike against an enemy position:
Do you see why this statement is absurd? It's not a failure of the Infantry when they call for airstrikes from the Air Force, the Marines, the Navy, or even an Army aviation unit; that's how modern warfare has been conducted for decades. It's what distinguishes a modern army from a pre-modern one... coordination between different branches.
The extremely close operational relationship between ground and air forces, which coordinate so well nowadays that they fight as if they were a single unit, is one of the most significant developments of contemporary warfare. And that is exactly what happened in Basra... except in this case, the operational relationship was forged not just between different branches (infantry and aviation) of the same military, but between different branches of two different militaries, Iraq's and America's.
Far from constituting a failure on the Iraqis' part, this is exactly what "success" looks like: the coordination of all branches of allied militaries to achieve victory over the joint enemy.
But the Times doesn't get it; nobody has ever before suggested, so far as I recall, that every time we supply close air support to Iraqi units, that's a black mark against the latter. In reality, this is precisely the relationship we expect and need to see anent the New Iraqi army:
- When violence arises, the Iraqis make the initial response;
- They evaluate whether the situation can be handled by police or requires military force;
- If they decide upon the latter, they build up their own forces and make contact with the enemy, while we ready ourselves in case they need support;
- If the Iraqis decide they need support -- close air support, strategic bombing, aerial surveillance, or satellite intelligence -- and they don't have their own helos, fixed-wing aircraft, bombers, drones, or satellites available (they will probably never have MilSats), then they call on us... but it's the Iraqis who coordinate the attack, not the United States.
When all engagements proceed as the one in Basra has, then we can honestly say we have stood up a modern, effective, and independent Iraqi army. At that point, we can withdraw to well-defended bases in Iraq, whence we can sally forth not just to help keep Iraq free -- but also to fight anywhere in the Middle East where American national security requires our military presence.
That's not failure, "Pinch" Sulzberger; that is the face of victory.
Brave Sir Robin vs. the Mosque of England
In recent years, Moslems in the United Kingdom have gotten bolder. Not only do they commit more violent crime against ordinary British citizens, they demand special treatment from the British government ("All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others"). Yet I am now convinced that the core of the problem in Great Britain is not the Moslems but the Church of England itself.
Great Britain has a state religion, and many British subjects look to the established church for moral guidance. The house of God should be an unwavering, unchanging, and uncompromising spiritual core of the people. Even though we humans often cannot meet God's expectations, we're at least supposed to learn through the churches and clergy what He expects of us.
Isn’t that why people are willing to risk their lives for their fellow men, for what's right, or for their faith? Isn’t that why ordinary people will rise up to fight against evil? People should know what is good and what is evil.
But what if the church tells you that the most important thing is to be "tolerant of the intolerant" and instructs its faithful to be "sensitive" to a rogue culture -- one that demands human sacrifice, no less -- simply to avoid "conflict?"
As unbelievable as it sounds, that is just what is happening in the UK, per Tony Blankley:
Two weeks ago, the story came from a town with a college that has been a leading force in the advancement of Christian civilization for 900 years: Oxford, England. Once again, something more than bluebirds threatens English skies. It seems that authorities at the Oxford Central Mosque have requested permission to use loudspeakers to blast the call to prayer five times a day from atop their minaret across the town that has heard for the past 900 summers, falls, winters and springs only the bells of the local churches.
Unsurprisingly, the Church of England's bishop for Oxford, the Right Rev. John Pritchard, has announced his support, calling on his congregation to "enjoy community diversity." He would be a likely successor to the current archbishop of Canterbury, who called for Shariah law for England recently.
It is not so much the attempt by European Muslims to alter their adopted homeland to fit their faith that's troubling as it is the willingness of Europeans to accommodate them. Sharia creep will continue as long as it meets no resistance.
If Christianity's teachings are now to include “diversity” of faith, then why should it even be a separate religion? A broken moral compass points nowhere, and cultural sensitivity to the violent will not buy peace; all you will get is more confusion, more violence, and fewer Christians.
We have long known that the "Moslem Mafia" has been running drugs and coercing underaged girls into prostitution. When parents seek help from the local authorities, British police often refuse to pursue the criminals for fear of being insufficiently sensitive to minority cultures or even provoking racial violence:
Last night Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the police were differentiating between criminals on the basis of race.
He claimed, driven by fear of race riots in places like Blackburn and Oldham, officers were "overtly sensitive" and not clamping down on the sordid practice.
His controversial comments in this week's Panorama reignite a massively controversial issue which exploded over a Channel 4 documentary in 2004.
That programme which claimed Asian men in Bradford were grooming under age white girls for prostitution was pulled from C4's schedules.
This was because police claimed at the time that it could provoke racial violence during the local election campaign.
(Hat tip to Lionheart.)
But it's not just "tolerance" that Moslems demand in Great Britain; some Moslem "youths" are beginning to act more like Hitler Youths, with the children of Pakistani immigrants physically attacking Christian and Jewish worshippers and clergymen:
Canon Ainsworth, 57, who was wearing his clerical collar, was punched and kicked by two Asian youths while another shouted religious abuse outside St George’s on March 5. He suffered cuts, bruises and two black eyes. He was discharged from St Bartholomew’s hospital but later readmitted following complications to an injury.
But British authority does nothing, and church authority coos and placates the aggressors. Actually, that is not entirely true; the rozzers have done something: They've arrested a blogger, Lionheart, for the "crime" of exposing the Moslem crimes above. He was arrested for "stirring up racial hatred" against Moslems.
[Dafydd adds: Thank God the UK has such strong freedom of speech protections...]
Evidently, the UK is less interested in stopping the gradual, frog-boiling takeover of their country by Moslem militants than they are in stopping the mouths of those who speak out against it. When the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali complained about Moslem violence against non-Moslems, he was severly criticized -- even by the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party:
The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, blamed multiculturalism for segregating religious groups and said non-Muslims faced a hostile reception in places dominated by the ideology of Islamic radicals.
He wrote that the integration agenda pursued by the government lacked "a moral and spiritual vision", and he condemned the failure to give priority to the established church [the Church of England], which he believes has led to a "multi-faith mish-mash".
He also questioned whether elements of sharia law were applicable in the UK, particularly the use of loudspeakers on mosques to spread the call to prayer.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, said the bishop had not produced any evidence of "no-go areas" for non-Muslims, a notion he described as "an extraordinarily inflammatory way of putting it".
Mr. Clegg could perhaps have had a little sensitivity himself, realizing how dangerous it was for an Anglican bishop born in Pakistan to blow the whistle on militant Islam, which might well see him as an "apostate," despite the fact that he was born into a Christian family. Not all Islamist radicals stop to consider the niceties of religious freedom. Coming from a Moslem culture, the bishop evidently understands better than many pure-British clergy the fundamental incompatibility between liberal Christianity and militant Salafism from the land of the Taliban.
So what has the head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to say about these outrageous attacks against men of Christian faith? Well, recently he called for incorporating Sharia in England; then he turned about and equated Moslem extremists and their victims.
It doesn't take much imagination to see how internally divided societies find brief moments of unity when they have successfully identified some other group as the real source of their own insecurity. Look at any major conflict in the world at the moment and the mechanism is clear enough. Repressive and insecure states in the Islamic world demonise a mythical Christian 'West', and culturally confused, sceptical and frightened European and North American societies cling to the picture of a global militant Islam, determined to 'destroy our way of life.' Two fragile and intensely quarrelsome societies in the Holy Land find some security in at least knowing that there is an enemy they can all hate on the other side of the wall.
So is it any wonder that Moslems in the UK are emboldened in direct proportion to the rate of dismay and disheartening of British Anglicans? Not that the Cathlic Church is much better; if they have stepped forward to provide moral guidance to Brits confused by the easy acquiescence of government and religious officials to Islamic bullying, they've been awfully quiet about it.
Recently, the marriage rate in the UK has dropped to a record low. As Moslem worshippers grow, the number of churchgoers diminishes; as politicians turn a blind eye to rampaging "Asian youths" and take seriously demands for polygamy under sharia, and as churches abandon their historic role of enunciating God's eternal law in favor of politicaly correct "tolerance" and "sensitivity" to what looks a lot like evil -- sex-slavery of teenaged girls, violence against priests, threats and intimidation -- it's hardly surprising that the British lose respect for the church, for priests and bishops, and even for God.
The voices of Archbishop Rowen Williams and the Right Rev. John Pritchard are heard throughout the United Kingdom loud and clear. The real danger these people create is not emboldening Islamist extremists but driving Christians away from faith. If British Christians cannot rely on the moral authority of the Church of England, where can they seek it? If the church says there is no difference between Moslem terrorists and Christian faithful, why should anyone go to church, pray, obey the laws of the Bible, or even get married before God? And certainly, why risk life and limb fighting back against violent religious zealots?
I am not a Christian, so take this advice for what it's worth. I think what Britain desperately needs is to purge all these multicultural bishops, these "men without chests," as C.S. Lewis called them... "cerebral men" who are pure thought with no courage, no stability, no magnanimity. Just as the Catholic Church had finally to purge child molesters and practicing homosexual priests, no matter what the cost, the Church of England mast rid itself of forever-compromising, socialist, chestless non-believers who pretend to represent faith.
The survival of Christianity in Great Britain depends on purging the clergy; the survival of the United Kingdom in any recognizable form depends upon the survival of Christianity there.
It's hard to watch Great Britain go down without a fight. I cannot believe there isn't a regiment of English yeomen left to stand against this evil, longbows in hand. Of course there are some, such as Lionheart, Melanie, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali; and lets not forget the British troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are ill-served by their Labour PM Gordon Brown (he's no Tony Blair).
But they are too far and too few between. If the Church of England cannot cover the heroes' backs, how can the flock face the enemy front?
Date ►►► March 27, 2008
Iran's Pawn Squirms Under Knights' Assault
All right, we've got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?
Why am I asking you?
The good news is that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is proving steadfast at taking the initiative and maintaining operational tempo (like the military-sounding buzz phrases?) against the Iranian puppet Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Militia, ensconced in Basra, thanks to our British allies, and in the Sadr City slum of Baghdad. Basra is the second-largest city in Iraq and the center of its oil industry, according to Bill Roggio.
The bad news is that the elite news media still doesn't get it.
In the AP story, good and bad news crowd together like fans and hooligans jostling each other at a soccer match:
The Iraqi leader made his pledge to tribal leaders in the Basra area as military operations persisted for a fourth day with stiff resistance.
"We have made up our minds to enter this battle and we will continue until the end. No retreat," al-Maliki said in a speech broadcast on Iraqi state TV.
The events threatened to unravel a Mahdi Army cease-fire and lead to a dramatic escalation in violence after a period of relative calm that had lasted for months.
Let's get to the good stuff first... a line whose significance not even the reporter, Kim Gamel, realizes: "The Iraqi leader made his pledge to tribal leaders in the Basra area..."
What's significant about Maliki's audience is that he is talking to Shiite tribal leaders in Basra... the very people who would have been Sadr's strongest supporters just a year or so before. I highly doubt he would give a speech to his enemies; in Iraq, that's tantamount to suicide (without martyrdom). Thus the logical conclusion is that "salvation councils," by whatever names, are sweeping Shiite Iraq as they did Sunni Iraq, causing the Shia to reject Muqtada Sadr and his Iranian masters just as the Sunni turned on al-Qaeda this year.
Neither in the AP story nor the New York Times version do we find any recognition of this major breakthrough. Nevertheless, it presages a complete defeat of the Shiite insurgents; just as al-Qaeda in Iraq has been driven from pillar to pooch, to the point where they have but a single stronghold left, in Mosul... and in a few months, they will have none.
I anticipate the same fate for Iran's insurgents in Iraq; but the elite media doesn't understand that this is the real lede, not the fact that 5,000 Sadrites paraded around Sadr City with balloons and banners, protesting the crackdown.
Here is a naturally arising example, by the way, of the Argument by Tendentious Redefinition so beloved of the Left:
The demonstrating Sadrists are angry over recent raids and detentions, saying U.S. and Iraqi forces have taken advantage of the August cease-fire to crack down on the movement.
They have accused rival Shiite parties, which control Iraqi security forces, of engineering the arrests to prevent them from mounting an effective campaign after the Iraqi parliament agreed in February to hold provincial elections by the fall.
U.S. commanders have insisted the fight is being led by the Iraqi government and was not against al-Sadr's movement but breakaway factions believed to be funded and trained by Iran, which has denied the allegations.
The word "cease-fire" has two definitions: the order to stop shooting, or a negotiated truce between warring parties. Clearly this putative cease-fire was not the latter sort; neither we nor the Iraqis engaged in any negotiations to craft a truce with the Mahdi Militia.
But if all AP means is that the leader of the militia ordered his people to stop resisting, then what is the problem with "taking advantage" of that partial surrender to go after the holdouts who refuse to lay down their arms? That's a perfectly normal response -- not just here but in the Middle East, as well. Yet the protesters react as if Sadr's declaration of a unilateral cease-fire created a bilateral truce, which the Iraqis have violated.
It seems clear to me that this is the take-away AP pushes: Those dastardly, Bush-backed Iraqis took "advantage" of the trusting Sadrites to violate the cease-fire in a surprise attack!
But of course, a unilateral cease-fire is just that: one-sided. It imposes no moral or ethical obligation on anybody else, so long as a state of hostilities still exists (as clearly it does).
And of course, it's not as if even the Mahdi Militia itself were keeping this so-called "cease-fire." From Bill Roggio's post:
Basrah has seen an uptick in Iranian-backed terror activity since the British withdrew from the city late last year. Political assassinations and intimidation campaigns have been on the rise as the Iranians work to extend their influence in the oil-rich city....
Sadr's Mahdi Army has been formed by Iran's Qods Force along the lines of Lebanese Hezbollah. Imad Mugniyah, the senior Hezbollah military commander who was killed in Syria in February, was among those behind the formation and training of the Mahdi Army. Iran established the Ramazan Corps to run weapons, fighters, and support to the Special Groups, which include significant elements of Sadr's Mahdi Army.
With Sadr himself having, in his own words (per Roggio), "isolat[ed] myself in protest" of his own failure to conquer Iraq, drive out the Americans, and Islamicize the Iraqis, many of his former commanders have left Sadr behind and led their own attacks against the Iraq government and against the Coalition. Maliki had ample reason to go after them hammer and tooth.
Back to the protesters. The Times has more detail on their complaints, since that -- not the successful extension of the counterinsurgency by the Iraq army to Iran's proxies -- is the focus of the story:
In Baghdad, close-packed crowds numbering perhaps 5,000 demonstrated in Sadr City, the focal point of the capital’s protests, taking over the main street, chanting, dancing, holding up banners, and declaring their readiness to continue to oppose the Iraqi Army’s attempt to wrest control of Basra from Mr. Sadr’s Shiite militiamen, a major onslaught that began on Tuesday....
Some of the protesters criticized the United States -- Mr. Sadr considers the Americans occupiers -- but most of their criticism was aimed at Mr. Maliki and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Mr. Hakim leads the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which has emerged as a rival political force to Mr. Sadr’s Mahdi Army and also commands a rival militia, the Badr Organization. [Which, however, has not been attacking anyone lately.]
The protesters criticized what they said was a strengthening alliance between Mr. Hakim’s political group and the Iraqi government to squeeze Mr. Sadr from power. Mr. Maliki’s government depends on support from Mr. Hakim’s party, reducing the need for alliances with the Mahdi Army and making it easier for Mr. Maliki to move against it.
(That shift in support from Muqtada Sadr -- Maliki's original patron -- to Hakim is a direct result of the Mahdi-Militia bloc boycotting the Iraqi parliament for several months last year. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.)
The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on; the Times disgorges the self-description by the protesters themselves, then makes no further comment. My sense is that they side (as usual) with the protesters but are cagey enough to realize that wouldn't go down well with most Americans; so they stand, silent and smug.
But let's ask ourselves: Don't we want "the Iraqi government to squeeze Mr. Sadr from power?" Isn't this the answer to exactly what war critics have decried, that radical Shia would turn Iraq into a theocracy? The Iraq army's Operation Knights' Assault, which (per Roggio) follows a troop buildup that began last August, is precisely aimed at the Iran-backed theocrats in the Mahdi Militia; what more could the Left ask for?
Oh, I forgot; they're only against theocracy and sharia where its allied with America, such as the UAE... where they're the wrong kind of theocrats. When theocracy is anti-American, as in Iran, then the Times is all for it.
Everything the protesters say should make a real American more supportive of Iraq, Maliki, and Operation Knights' Assault; yet by their refusal to take sides between Iran-controlled terrorists and ordinary Iraqis who just want to live their lives, the elite media in fact side with the Sadrites.
Finally, although they're forced to admit it's going fairly well so far, the media wants to assure us that it will all end in tears and defeat. Again from the Times:
American officials have presented the attempts by the Iraqi Army to secure Basra as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation on its own. But a failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own.
During a briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday, a British military official said that of the nearly 30,000 Iraqi security forces involved in the assault, almost 16,000 were Basra police forces, which have long been suspected of being infiltrated by the same militias the assault was intended to root out.
I'm not sure I can take seriously such denigration coming from an official of our allies... who sadly failed in their task in Basra, even while we were succeeding in the rest of Iraq. Rather than switch to a counterinsurgency strategy and finish the job, as soon as Tony Blair passed the torch to Gordon Brown, the new prime minister pulled all the British troops back to the Basra airport. From the Guardian in September 2007:
The Iraqi flag flew over Basra Palace today as British troops completed their withdrawal from the city in a move Gordon Brown said was "pre-planned and organised" and not a defeat.
The removal of 550 British troops to the city's airport leaves Basra largely under the control of Iranian-backed Shia militias.
The move came as the US president, George Bush, made a surprise visit to Iraq in an attempt to win support from an increasingly sceptical US public for his "surge" of troops....
The 550 soldiers began handing over control of the palace, the last British stronghold in downtown Basra, to the Iraqi army shortly before 1am local time (2200 BST yesterday), the army said. They then joined the 5,000 other British troops based at an airfield 13 miles away on the fringes of the port city.
And now Basra has become the last redoubt of the mighty Mahdi Militia... and some British bloke sniffs that the operation to clean up the mess the Brits left won't work, because the Basra police are fatally compromised. Thanks, mate.
The hidden assumption is that all members of the Mahdi Militia are true believers who actually declare Muqtada Sadr to be the Mahdi Himself. But as we all know (or ought), a hallmark of powerful political movements is that they force everyone to join the party, literally.
Oskar Schindler likely joined the Nazi Party because it was the only way to do business in Nazi Germany. He obviously had no serious objections to Adolf Hitler -- at first; but by the same token, he was no Horst Wessel either.
The same is likely true for many Shia in Basra or Sadr City who "joined" the militias (Mahdi Militia or the Badr Brigades -- now the Badr Organization). There is no doubt that many members are fanatical fighters; but in addition, a great many are "fair-weather" members. The significance is that the latter can be turned.
Erstwhile "members" of AQI, tribal leaders who supported Musab Zarqawi in 2006, turned against the terrorist leader and against al-Qaeda in general in 2008, once they had a lingering, dyspeptic taste of the caliphate. So too can many "members" of the Mahdi Militia who have "infiltrated" the Basra police forces (alternatively, people who want jobs as policemen in Basra who discover that one of the de facto job requirements is to swear fealty to Muqtada Sadr) will turn, once they see that the federal government really is a government for all Iraqis, as Maliki and George W. Bush have been saying... and not under the leash of the Americans, as Sadr has said (from under the leash of Iran).
That is what counterinsurgency is all about; and that's what our eternal friends the Brits should have been doing in 2007 and 2008, instead of fleeing to the airport and prematurely handing over the province to "the Iraqis," without first inquiring exactly which Iraqis were reaching for it.
But better late than not at all. Let Operation Knights' Assault continue and the good news roll!
Date ►►► March 26, 2008
Given that when she was just out of college (sometime after being named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who conquered Mount Everest a few years after she was born), Hillary Clinton in 1974 was on the impeachment inquiry staff advising the House Committee on the Judiciary during Watergate, the senator must know the implications of the phrase “he misspoke.”
This was a term first used by Richard Nixon’s press secretary Ron Ziegler about some issue over which the president lied and then attempted to retract what he had said after somebody uncovered the lie.
Given its history, it amazes me that someone as savvy as the former First Lady would employ this term. Yet she did, when her big fish story about being under fire in Tuzla when she visited as First Lady in 1996 caught up with her this week; CBS news unearthed the video that showed that, while not a picnic with tea and crumpets, it wasn’t the Apocalypse Now moment she recounted.
One wonders if the Clintons don’t realize that the technology exists to verify just about any story they fabricate. Perhaps because for many years the press didn’t vet Clintonian tall tales, they still operate under the delusion that no one will. Perhaps the first Clintonation is to escalate one’s experience until the envelope shreds. So, “I visited Tuzla as First Lady,” becomes, “I visited Tuzla and came under fire,” which becomes, “I led a combat mission in Tuzla,” which becomes, “I was appointed NATO Supreme Commander while visiting Tuzla,” which becomes, “I should be answering the Red Phone at 3 a.m.” When confronted with this latest exaggeration, Senator Clinton responded with, “Well, I’m human.” Hummph! That’s a stretch!
Date ►►► March 25, 2008
Justice vs. Justices
So today, the Supreme Court -- by a somewhat surprising 6-3 vote, with Justice John Paul Stevens in the majority (!) -- held that the President of the United States (that would be George W. Bush for a few more months) has no authority to order states to comply with elements of international treaties... in this case, with a ruling by the International Court of Justice at the Hague, a.k.a. the "World Court":
In a death-penalty case that has become an international issue, the Supreme Court declared on Tuesday that President Bush had no power to tell the State of Texas to reopen the case of a Mexican who has been condemned for murder and rape.
By 6 to 3, the court ruled that the president went too far in 2005, when he decreed that the states had to abide by a 2004 decision by the World Court. That decision found that several dozen Mexican citizens who had been sentenced to death in the United States had not been given the assistance from Mexican diplomats that they were entitled to receive under an international treaty.
It's interesting that nobody appears to be arguing that Jose E. Medellin and his fellow bangers might be innocent of kidnapping two teenaged girls -- Elizabeth Pena, 16, and Jennifer Ertman, 14 -- gang-raping them repeatedly, then murdering them so they couldn't identify their assailants; they just complain that Texas didn't tell him he had to right to chat with someone from the Mexican diplomatic mission, which is required by some treaty we signed.
From the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation:
Following the rapes, the men dragged the bleeding girls to a wooded area as they begged for their lives. Two men initially tried to strangle Jennifer with a belt wrapped around her neck with one pulling at each end. When the belt broke, they strangled her to death with a shoelace. Medellin later complained, “the bitch wouldn’t die,” and it would have been “easier with a gun.” Elizabeth was also strangled to death with her shoelaces. The murderers then divided money and jewelry taken from the girls and several joined Medellin at the home of one of the men’s brother and sister-in-law. There, they bragged about the rapes and murders. Medellin explained to the sister-in-law that the girls had been killed to prevent them from identifying him and his accomplices. A few days later, the couple reported the crime to police.
The Justices held that the president has only two sources for his power:
- Legislation from Congress, which he is allowed (required) to enforce;
- Plenary powers inherent in the office, according to the Constitution.
Since neither gave Bush authority to tell Texas to hold a new trial in this case, his order, which Texas ignored anyway, was null and void.
Naturally, I agree with this ruling; I thought Bush's original order was a craven surrender to the forces of leftism. But the real reason for this post is that I am truly anxious to see how liberals are going to turn this into an attack on President Bush.
I just know that somehow, his attempt to enforce "international law" at the expense of American sovereignty and of states' rights -- the rights of one of the original Confederate states, yet, his home state! -- will be twisted by some arcane mechanism into an indictment of Bush himself, not so much of the Court (that decision is given good blocking by the presence of Stevens in the majority).
We're currently accepting entries demonstrating how the liberal Left will use this as a stick to bash Bush. No lucicrous theories, please; give us realistic scenarios by which Democrats can argue that this really proves that Chimpy McBushitler is a racist, sexist, homophobe, or other kind of bigot.
Here is our own entry:
Please post your own entries in the comments section.
Watcher Countdown - Blast-off!
Positively the last ever Big Lizards post as a member of the Council of Watchers of Weasels of Councils. And finally, we can exit the Council with all duties discharged!
(I will restrain myself from the obvious quotation.)
Our number-one choice came in first, which is always nice; but in this case, it did so by beating out our own nominee -- and by the slimmest possible margin! A nice kick in the trousers on our way out the door... thanks, Mr. or Ms. Howling.
- Change & The Cessation of British History, by Wolf Howling.
Wolf Howling howls about the dirty and underhanded way that the Labour Party of Great Britain backdoored ratification of th enew European Union constitution. In other news, Labour's popularity has sunk to new lows seen here only in the "popularity" of Congress. The two news items may be related.
(Our own nominee, Californichusetts, relating how the California Supreme Court may be poised to cram same-sex marriage up our -- er -- noses, polled second... by only 1/3 of a vote! That means that one extra person voted for the Wolf Howling piece... as his or her second-place vote. Yeesh!)
For our second place vote, we picked another fine post by Bookworm Room. (And what do you want to bet she was the one whose second-placer relegated us to landing behind Wolf Howling? Where's the gratitude!)
- Biology Will Have Its Way *UPDATE*, by Bookworm Room.
Bookworm relates the increasing raunchiness of American culture, and especially of "female chauvinist pigs," as one book calls the rise of raunchy chicks, to the new study that shows that 25% of all teenaged girls in America have had a venereal disease.
The winner among non-Council ("Nouncil") entries was (wait for it) yet another Yon:
- Guitar Heroes, by Michael Yon.
Now, I have nothing against Michael Yon, and his reporting scratches a niche that is large and important. But really, they contain no analysis beyond the immediate; his articles are fascinating, but in the same way one can be fascinated by watching the show Cops.
Granted, it's a view through a window that few other reporters open; he embeds for months at a time with different units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I hope he continues doing so (so long as his family permits). But I think one win is enough... not virtually every time someone nominates his newest story.
Does this sound snarky? It's not in the sense you might mean it: I think Yon is doing a brilliant and essential job. But I believe awards such as this, particularly in the Nouncil category, should highlight posts that give us a new way of looking at the world that we might miss without the Council nominations and wins.
We voted for two posts that do just that:
- The Tragedy of the Democratic Party, by American Thinker;
- Amid Charges of Spitzer Tryst, Embattled Prostitute "Kristen" Expected to Resign, by Iowahawk.
In the first, Thomas Lifson and Richard Baehr note that the predicament the Democratic Party finds itself in is entirely of its own doing, mostly by switching from winner-take-all primaries to proportional primaries; the former would have selected a nominee by now.
The Iowahawk post is one of the most hilarious parodies of news obsession I have ever read; you must read it instanter!
The backward look
Here is the Watcher's result post listing every nominee who received at least one vote; but I urge you to bookmark the Watcher's main page... because you will want to glance at it at least once a week to see what wonderful posts have been nominated.
And with that last commercial message (just leave the bag o'swag on my doorstep, Watcher), I bid a fond adieu to the coven of cronies who gave me equal parts war, peace, pride, prejudice, night, day, black, white, the best of times, the worst of times, sickness, health, triumph, and tsouris. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the -- ah, heck with it.
Guys, it's been a slice.
Date ►►► March 24, 2008
Did the Times Just Argue What I Think It Just Argued?
A triumphant "gotcha" story in today's New York Times:
Senator John McCain never fails to call himself a conservative Republican as he campaigns as his party’s presumptive presidential nominee. He often adds that he was a “foot soldier” in the Reagan revolution and that he believes in the bedrock conservative principles of small government, low taxes and the rights of the unborn. [None of which even the reddest of conservatives denies, by the way.]
What Mr. McCain almost never mentions are two extraordinary moments in his political past that are at odds with the candidate of the present: His discussions in 2001 with Democrats about leaving the Republican Party, and his conversations in 2004 with Senator John Kerry about becoming Mr. Kerry’s running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.
First of all, the story itself is a big, fat nothing: Both sides agree that John McCain himself was never the prime mover; the Democrats say it was a McCain staffer, all the McCain staffers say the Democrats made the first approach both times, while both sides agree that the Democrats persistently courted (or hounded) him. (Both also agree that McCain said No both times.)
But the fascinating part of this story, and one I doubt the Times intended to convey (oh what a tangled web they weave...!) is the desperation on the part of Democrats to get hold of John McCain. They were frantic, even by their own recounting; here is the Democratic version of the time they tried to get McCain to switch parties:
Democrats were stunned one Saturday in late March when, by their account, John Weaver, Mr. McCain’s longtime political strategist, reached out to Thomas J. Downey, a former Democratic congressman from Long Island who had become a lobbyist with powerful connections on Capitol Hill. In Mr. Downey’s telling, Mr. Weaver posed a question to him over lunch that left him stunned.
“He says, ‘John McCain is wondering why nobody’s ever approached him about switching parties, or becoming an independent and allying himself with the Democrats,’ ” Mr. Downey said in a recent interview. “My reaction was, ‘When I leave this lunch, your boss will be called by anybody you want him to be called by in the United States Senate.’ ”
Mr. Weaver recalls the conversation differently. He said that Mr. Downey had told him that Democrats, eager to find a Republican who would switch sides and give them control of the evenly divided Senate, had approached some Republican senators about making the jump. “I stated they couldn’t be so desperate as they hadn’t reached out to McCain,” Mr. Weaver said in an e-mail message last week.
Whatever transpired, Mr. Downey raced home and immediately called Mr. Daschle. It was the first step in what became weeks of conversations that April between Mr. McCain and the leading Democrats, among them Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and John Edwards, then a senator from North Carolina, about the possibility of Mr. McCain’s leaving his party.
Downey sounds like he ran home with his hair on fire, told Daschle, and then Daschle, Kennedy, Edwards, and goodness knows who else called and called and called, begging McCain to come over to the dark side. Heavens, but they must have a level of respect for John McCain bordering on reverence!
The John Kerry story is even more of a stunner:
But less than three years later, Mr. McCain was once again in talks with the Democrats, this time over whether he would be Mr. Kerry’s running mate. In an interview with a blog last year, Mr. Kerry said that the initial idea had come from Mr. McCain’s side, as had happened in 2001.
Mr. Kerry, reacting to reports in The Hill newspaper last year about Mr. Weaver’s 2001 approach to Mr. Downey, said he saw a pattern. "It doesn’t surprise me completely because his people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket as vice president," Mr. Kerry told Jonathan Singer of MyDD.com, a prominent liberal blog, in remarks that are available in an audio version online and that Mr. Kerry’s staff said last week were accurate. "So his people were active -- let’s put it that way."
Two former Kerry strategists said last week that Mr. Weaver went to Mr. Kerry’s house in Georgetown a short time after Mr. Kerry won the Democratic nomination in March and asked that Mr. Kerry consider Mr. McCain as his running mate. (Mr. Weaver said in his e-mail message that the idea had come from Mr. Kerry.) Whatever the case, both sides say that Mr. Kerry was so enthusiastic about the notion that he relentlessly pursued Mr. McCain, even to the point of offering him a large part of the president’s national security responsibilities.
John Kerry, while publicly portraying himself as the clear favorite against President George W. Bush in 2004, was privately so desperate to get John McCain that, even by his own account, he was willing to peel off the most essential part of the job of President of the United States -- protecting American national security -- and give it (extra-constitutionally) to the vice president. How deferential must have been Kerry's regard for McCain's leadership on national-security issues.
So even the Democrats themselves esteem John McCain far beyond what one would imagine, given how the two Democratic candidates trashtalk McCain morning, noon, and night. And in particular, the last Democratic presidential nominee, who came within 3% of defeating the recumbent GOP president, believed that John McCain was a better military leader than any Democrat Kerry could think of... else why would Kerry have bent over backwards to offer the vice presidency to a Republican?
Somehow I don't think that was the point the New York Times intended to convey.
There is, however, an even deeper level at which this story is staggeringly stupid. Clearly, the Times is trying to alienate conservative Republicans from John McCain: "Well, if Democrats liked him, he must be just awful!"
Leave aside the obvious implication that there is something unsavory about the Democratic Party that should repel voters; forget that this story is old, old news -- as oxymoronic as that phrase must be. We already know that the great majority of the Republican Party has enormous respect for John McCain, because he easily won the nomination -- even when the race dropped down to McCain vs. an economic conservative and a social conservative.
So if, as the Times admits -- heck, as the Times trumpets! -- Democrats also yearn deeply for a man of John McCain's stature among their own ranks, or even just as the running mate to the Democratic candidate... doesn't that mean that McCain, not Barack Obama, is the true crossover candidate who fills both parties with awe?
This story is almost wistful, a melancholy musing on what might have been: If only, I hear the Left say, if only we had a man like John McCain on our side...!
Fortunately for us, we do have a man like McCain on our side. And a laurel and hearty handshake to the Times for reminding us of his transcendent greatness.
Date ►►► March 23, 2008
Two Sundays ago I started watching a series so good, so compelling, so necessary, that if I didn’t already have HBO I would be forced to buy it just to watch this series.
The series is John Adams, and no, it’s not about the beer -- That’s Samuel Adams, anyway. But it is about his cousin, America’s second president, and one of the few people in history about whom it can be said that if he had not lived the United States might not have been born.
The series is in seven parts, and the first two parts were shown on Sunday. Don’t worry, HBO will show them again endlessly. If you want to see this series, you will be able to see it. And I urge you to do so.
It is based on David McCullough’s remarkable book of the same name, for which he won a Pulitzer in 2002. McCullough is probably our greatest living historian. He has certainly done more to popularize history than many historians, and he is particularly great at bringing alive the era of the birth of our nation, a time that many of us are rediscovering to our great delight and profit.
The series stars Paul Giamatti, one of America’s most talented actors, as Adams, and Laura Linney, equally talented, as his devoted wife, partner and confidant, Abigail Adams. It brings to life a Founding Father who, unlike Washington, wasn’t a god, who, unlike Jefferson, wasn’t a stone sphinx, and unlike Benjamin Franklin, wasn’t a walking book of aphorisms. He was completely lovable, completely irascible, and for a time, completely indispensable. We owe our freedom to him. Watch the series.
Date ►►► March 22, 2008
Democrat: War Without Fascism... What's the Point?
No, that's not what freshman senator and longtime congressman Robert Menendez (D-NJ, 90%) intended to say; but if he knew anything about either economics, military strategy, or history, he would have realized what his actual point was:
With U.S. troops entering their sixth year of combat in Iraq, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez demanded Saturday that President Bush give an honest assessment of the costs of the conflict.
You keep using that word, "honest." I do not think it means what you think it means.
Menendez responded, "President Bush should tell us the truth -- that after thousands of lives lost and perhaps [he's not sure?] trillions of American taxpayer dollars, Iraq remains crippled by violence and corruption, still light-years [sic] from building a stable government or a lasting peace." [Does Menendez think a light year is a measure of time?]
"Crippled" should be a comparative term, because what Menendez really means is that Iraq is not as stable or peaceful as the United States, or Great Britain, or Canada. But what about compared to Pakistan, where the Musharaff government is about to fall, the president himself will likely be prosecuted, and civil war may erupt -- where one of the sides will be the Taliban?
Or how about compared to Iran, where internal violence against the Iranian people is endemic, thought crime can be punished with death by stoning, the state employs a terrorist group (Hezbollah) as internal police, and the ruling mullahs are so despised that the government only survives by tyranny and the simulation of elections?
For that matter, Iraq doesn't even look that bad compared to Israel right now: The violence is definitely higher, but at least Iraq is actively fighting against it -- and at least the government more or less accurately represents the desires of the Iraqi people (defeat the terrorists and live in peace).
But I suspect the real explanation of Sen. Menendez's absurdist claim is that he hasn't actually reexamined the condition of Iraq and the progress of the war since he was appointed to replace Jon Corzine in January of 2006. He's completely ignorant of the counterinsurgency and everything that has happened since July of 2007.
The senator argued that the war "has severely depleted the resources and morale of our armed forces" and said Bush should acknowledge "that because of Iraq, we haven't finished the job in Afghanistan, al-Qaida is regrouping and our hunt for America's No. 1 enemy -- Osama bin Laden -- has been compromised."
So Menendez is vexed that we've been so busy nation-building in Iraq that we haven't had time to nation-build in Afghanistan?
The Democrats have a fetish with "finding Osama." I think they envision a human chain of soldiers who would join hands and sweep Afghanistan from one end to the other, eventually netting Mr. Big... a very cooperative Mr. Big who wouldn't, for example, slip across the border into Pakistan or hide out in a cave in the Tora Bora Mountains, laughing at the blundering efforts to find him where he is not.
Although I would love for us to find bin Laden, that is not the central focus of the war against global caliphism. The purpose of the long war is to protect the peace and security of the United States of America; that means defeating the global caliphists, not dropping everything to throw our entire Army into finding one long-disempowered monster.
Bin Laden, far as we can tell, no longer has any operational control over what we loosely call "al-Qaeda." He still has spiritual value, but he will continue to have it even after being captured or killed (caliphism is very big on martyrs). It's far more important that we booted the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan, that they're rising in Pakistan, that we obliterated al-Qaeda in Iraq and turned the Iraqi Sunnis against them and many of the Shia away from Muqtada Sadr and his Iranian masters, and that Europe is succumbing to the temptation to be tolerant of the radically intolerant.
It's important to build a modern, civilized nation in Afghanistan; but that is going to be a much more extensive project than doing the same in Iraq. Afghanistan is far more primitive and barbarous a country; it's civilized than Pakistan, which had the benefit of a couple of centuries of rule by the British Empire.
"New Left" Democrats have the attention span of mayflies. If the war is not all neatly wrapped up after 43 minutes of actual plot (not counting commercials and end credits), like Kosovo, they lose interest and wander away. What does Robert Menendez imagine would happen, if only we pulled 150,000 troops out of Iraq and sent them into Afghanistan?
- We would quickly capture bin Laden (who probably isn't even in Afghanistan);
- This would cause the collapse of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, so we could all go back to "situation normal, nothing has changed?"
This vision of the long war is frankly childish. It's not too much to ask that in time of war, we elect grownups to the United States Senate.
Finally, we get to the meat of Menendez's complaint, and indeed that of virtually every Democrat in Congress:
Menendez also linked the cost of the war to the United States' faltering economy. "Instead of building barracks in Iraq, we could be helping millions of Americans avoid losing their homes to foreclosure," he said. "Instead of policing the streets of Baghdad, we could be investing in universal health care and a better education system."
There you go: Were it not for the Iraq war, the federal government could take over even more of the nation's economy! Were it not for the money spent on the Iraq war, we could seize control of the housing market; we could offer socialist health care for (rather, force it upon) all American residents, both legal and illegal; and we could finally get rid of those infuriating private schools, which insist upon rowing against the current, countering our vital reeducation efforts in the public schools.
George W. Bush invaded two countries; but he forgot to use that "crisis" to circumvent the normal democratic procecures and reorganize all of society along military lines. The latter is classical fascism... and it is Democrats, not Republicans, who generally practice it (Wilson, FDR, Johnson). If either Obama or Hillary is elected this November, don't imagine for a moment that we'll withdraw from the war against global caliphism; the new Democratic president will simply use the global "crisis" to institute public and private "cooperation and coordination" and eliminate all that wasteful competition of the free market.
We may pull out of Iraq; but when it subsequently collapses, we'll have to go back in; and that will become yet another crisis du jour, to go along with global militant Islamism, global economic collapse (Democrats create the very crises they then exploit), and global warming:
- To institute socialized medical "alliances" between government and private health-care experts eerily similar to Benito Mussolini's business alliances;
- To seize control of industry in the name of the environment;
- To draft "hate-speech" laws and create an American Human Rights Commission that will finally outlaw all that pesky dissent;
- To reinstate Woodrow Wilson's sedition laws, criminalizing non-cooperation with the Progressivist agenda;
- To seize more and more national resources through confiscatory taxation and onerous regulation;
- To use that vast, new revenue stream to reeducate and reform Americans' health and morals -- from what we are allowed to eat, drink, and smoke to what we are allowed to watch, read, and think -- along the lines of It Takes a Village (and Nineteen Eighty-Four);
- And always, always, to do an end-run around normal democracy, Capitalism, and individual choice... because, during this emergency, there's no time to waste on debate or disputation. The time for selfish indulgence is past; we need action, action, action!
That is what Menendez wants, as does Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%), Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%), and the entire Democratic congressional leadership and the gaggle of committee chairs. This is the core of Progressivism, and has been for more than a century: They long for a terrifying intermarriage between Maximilien Robespierre and Otto von Bismarck, between Jacobite France and totalitarian Prussia.
Had they the opportunity -- under either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama -- they would cast off all restraint and simply implement what they "know" is necessary. After all, they have the vision; how could they allow mere voters to elect the wrong person?
At core, Robert Menendez's great complaint is that we have our war, but we haven't exploited it to get our fascism. Bush has failed to grasp that war is the health of the fascist state... he's completely missed the point of going to war in the first place.
We've squandered the opportunity to abuse the crisis of the moment to implement eternal tyranny over the mind of Man... for our own good, of course. And all for the want of a Democratic president!
Thanks, Senator Menendez, for letting the mask slip. Once again, the choice come November is clear.
Failing to Fight the War Machine
Here is a rare (too rare!) post from our co-conspirator, Brad Linaweaver.
Brad began his political life at the age of four, during the Spanish-American war; he was a conservative then, but the 1960s made him a libertarian, and he burned his AARP card in protest. Then, after viewing the horrors of 9/11, he rose from his walker to become, for the first time, a spry, robust, athletic supporter of what he termed (with pride) "American imperialism."
But he became disenchanted with the war in recent days. Still sharp as a hammer at 114 years young, Brad has now reverted back to libertarianism, going so far as to brazenly, nakedly support Ron Paul for president (it is indeed a blight for sour eyes). He put his clothes back on to be interviewed by Ron Garmon for City Beat's "The Great Hollywood Peace Parade"... yet another left-wing magazine covering Tinseltown as the center of the universe.
(Oddly enough, these progressive corporate dupes have cleverly designed their website so that it's only readable when using Microsoft Internet Explorer; if you use Netscape or Firefox, the text comes up black on black, which is rather hard to read. You must select all the text in order to peruse the article. I'm sorry, but I just find it hilariously ironic that an über-left film rag plays lickspittle to Bill Gates!)
Here -- extracted for your viewing pleasure from endless ramblings about self-immolating musicians, Code Pinko ANSWERistas, and the inevitable fake coffins, puppets, and inflatable beavers -- is Brad's contribution to this magnum gropus. Without führer adieu, heeeeeeeeere's Bradford...!
The Republican Party should not pretend to spread democracy to the benighted regions of the world. That is not in the Republican party's job description. Bush is in the wrong comic book. Bill Buckley thought his Iraq policy “un-conservative,” a fact noted by Fox News in his obituary, which I thought unusually fair and balanced of them.
The left is completely failing to fight the war machine. They won in '06 and have failed ever since. They don’t understand even now how the corporate power-elite runs both parties. George W. Bush is such a happy man these days. Why? He’s done his job, serving his masters well, giving us a foothold in Iraq forever. We will never leave. McCain is being unduly optimistic when he said we’d be there a hundred years. We’ll be in Iraq as long as the American Empire exists. Bush went there for one reason -- to stay there.
They’d rather kill people than develop alternative energy.
Back to Dafydd. Needless to say, I'll put up a post relatively soon responding to Brad's post, with which I, ahem, take some issue.
Date ►►► March 20, 2008
"Right Wing" White Preacher Decries Aborting of Black Babies
People for the (Liberal) American Way are touting this video as part of their "Right Wing Watch" program to identify, one presumes, incipient fascists and Nazis within the conservative community. (At least that is generally what is meant when an organization funds a program called "~ Watch" -- Klan Watch, Theocracy Watch, etc.) Here is Pastor Rod Parsley:
Never mind that fascism and Naziism are both leftist philosophies, variants of socialism; whispering such heresies to PAW is itself more evidence of Republofascism. Let's just accept the kooky liberal idea that fascists and Nazis are some form of extreme right-wingery.
But shouldn't even "brain-dead liberals" (I quote David Mamet) find it passing odd that such vehement right-wingers should be so considerate of the lives of black babies?
The issue comes up because a website called "The Truth About Trinity United Church of Christ" -- which may have some hidden connection to the Barack Obama campaign -- claims that Rod Parsley is "Senator McCain's Pastor," and directly equates Pastor Parsley to Pastor Jeremiah Wright:
Senator McCains Pastor Believes There's a Genocidal Plot against African Americas Too!
It looks like my Pastor isn't the only one who believes that the government has been complicit in plots against blacks in America too. I wonder why this doesn't get as much play. If you closed your eyes they almost sound alike!
(John McCain says that Parsley is a "spiritual guide," but I can't find any corroboration that Parsley is "McCain's pastor.")
But are they really alike? Are the two pastors even slightly similar?
Apart from both having an irritatingly melodramatic speaking style, I see no similarity at all. And striking deeper to the point, I see absolutely nothing in the video of Pastor Parsley that would even raise my eyebrow -- despite the fact that I am pro-choice (up to a specific gestational point) and do not call myself conservative. Or liberal, either.
I cannot for the life of me figure out why PAW considers Parsley to be worthy of being "watched" by Right Wing Watch. We can certainly note that his condemnation of abortion is (dare I say it?) post-racial: In this particular sermon, he is appalled because a much larger percentage of black babies are aborted than white babies, and he blames Planned Parenthood.
In addition, Parsley also condemns public financing of abortions and the lack of outrage by people at the former.
Well, do abortions disproportionately kill black babies? In fact, yes they do... and nobody even denies it. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute's detailed survey of pregnancy and abortion in the United States (reported on BNet Business Network):
The abortion rates of black teenagers are also extremely variable compared with those of non-Hispanic whites. Nationally, abortions occur at a rate of 63 per 1,000 black teenagers-3.3 times the rate among non-Hispanic whites (19). Twenty-four states have data for both groups: In two of these, Arizona and South Carolina, the abortion rate among black teenagers is only 1.1-1.2 times that among non-Hispanic whites. In several other states, however, the differential is greater: New Jersey (8.6), Pennsylvania (5.5) and Minnesota (4.0).
This trend tends to be unremarked but not unnoticed on the liberal left: In 2005, University of Chicago economist and leftist Steven Levitt published Freakonomics, in which he noted the following (among other facts and factoids, some interesting and some very misleading):
What he didn't tell readers is the real reason for the correlation, which is rather less savory than the sanitized version in his book. Try this (warning! PC-violation alert)...
- Black babies are legally aborted far more often than whites -- more than three times as often nationwide.
- Blacks commit crime at a far higher rate than whites.
- The increased abortion rate for blacks, therefore, leads to less crime.
Yet despite the utilitarian argument for more abortions (especially those subsidized by the government, which I suspect also go disproportionately to black abortions), anti-liberals (and now I do include myself) are utterly appalled that any sane person could celebrate crime reduction by pre-natal eugenics, as Professor Levitt does, though he conceals the fact.
But most astonishing of all is that the liberal press, which routinely accuses the Right of being inherently racist, also condemns the Right for opposing the aborting of black babies -- on grounds that wanting more black babies to be born, and opposing a procedure that steadily diminishes the number of blacks in comparison to whites, evidently makes conservatives "racist!"
Bill Bennett found this out very directly, as recounted by Jonah Goldberg in his must-read book Liberal Fascism, pp. 274-275: When Bennett decried Levitt's call for reducing crime by exterminating black babies, Bennett himself was accused of wanting to exterminate black babies. (No, I can't explain the "logic.")
And now a long rant by Pastor Parsley expressing his outrage that so many black babies are being aborted is offered as evidence that Parsley is just as racist as Jeremiah Wright. Who knew? "If you shut off your brain, they almost sound alike!"
It is true that Parsley calls the lopsided abortion of black babies "genocide," and he accuses Planned Parenthood of "systematically" engaging in it; but he never accuses the government of deliberately doing so... he just condemns them for giving tax money to those who do.
In his accusation against Planned Parenthood, however, he at least has historical accuracy on his side -- another great difference between Parsley and Wright. Planned Parenthood is the successor organization to the American Birth Control League, founded by Margaret Sanger; and Margaret Sanger -- the mother of birth control -- was an enthusiastic eugenicist. In particular, "she sought to ban reproduction of the unfit and regulate reproduction for everybody else," according to Goldberg, where Sanger's ranks of the "unfit" unabashedly included blacks:
Goldberg goes on to note that "it is possible that Sanger didn't really want to 'exterminate' the Negro population so much as merely limit its growth." That is, that the last quotation might mean "we don't want people to mistake our purpose." Still, the desire to limit the population of blacks fits disturbingly well into Planned Parenthood's enthusiasm for abortions today that disproportionately reduce the black population. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
In the end, I simply can find nothing objectionable in this entire clip -- other than the bombast, which is a speaking style I just don't like. In particular, I see no similarity whatsoever between Rod Parsley, who treats all races equally, and Jeremiah Wright, who elevates his own race above all others... and believes that whites run everything; that the white-run government makes repeated attempts to commit genocide against blacks (crack cocaine, AIDS); and that a "typical white person" automatically feels fear when she sees a black man.
Oh, wait; that last is a belief expressed by Barack Obama, not Jeremiah Wright!
Date ►►► March 19, 2008
Watcher Countdown - One! And Out With a Bang!
We're quite relieved, actually, that we got one, last win before checking out; that way, we don't quite feel as if we're slinking out the back door, suitcase in hand, skipping out on the rent...
We really liked this post, so we're doubly glad it was this one that grabbed a final victory... instead of the worthless trash we usually publish on Big Lizards!
- Chicago Rules, by Big Lizards.
This was the piece about Barack Obama's astonishing run of good luck: Every time he runs for public office, it seems that something -- happens -- to his opponent; thus he managed to run virtually unopposed both for state senator and then for U.S. senator.
Then we connected this curious history to the wonderful piece by Wolf Howling that we voted for last week, in which we learnt that Obama's guardian angel is trying it yet again: There is a scheme being hatched that might force John McCain to accept public financing, thus shutting off his money spigot for months and months, virtually dooming his candidacy.
(And not only that, some Democrat actually did file a lawsuit asking that McCain be removed from all ballots... because, having been born on a Naval base in the Panama Canal Zone, the suit claims he's not a "natural born citizen" of the United States!)
If either angle bears fruit, then once again, Obama can run virtually unopposed (in the general election, at least!)... this time, for President of the United States.
To make our own win even more savory, our number 1 and 2 votes came in numbers 3 and 2 on the hit parade... a clean sweep of Lizardian splendor in the Council round!
- The Dershowitz Questions, by Wolf Howling;
- The Rape of Rape On American Campuses, by Cheat Seeking Missiles.
We're suckers for historical overviews on the existential war of our age, the war against global caliphism (I'm trying that phrase out instead of "global hirabah," since nobody outside our little circle knows what the heck hirabah means; I hope "caliphism" is self explanatory). This one by Wolf Howling is excellent, well deserving our number-one vote.
There were two posts on the moral and political implications of a brand new topic: "grey rape," where a girl voluntarily gets plastered at a party, goes home with a guy, has sex with him... and then later charges him with rape because (she proclaims) she was too drunk to give consent. (Of course, he was too drunk to notice; but somehow that doesn't exonerate his behavior, as it sanctifies hers.)
One of the posts was by Cheat Seeking Missiles, while the other came from the creative keyboard of Bookworm Room. We dithered a long time before finally voting for Laer's... but it was a close call.
We did quite well in the Nouncil round too, as it happens. For once, our own nomination -- which was also our number-one pick -- and also happened to be Power Line, which never wins (I think members are jealous)... won anyway. Hip hip, chin chin!
- Dissecting the 60 Minutes Scandal, by John Hinderaker at Power Line.
John writes about the 60 Minutes story that (falsely) claims Karl Rove orchestrated the arrest, indictment, and conviction of Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama. The entire conspiracy appears to have been fabricated by 60 Minutes' only witness... one Jill Simpson, who claimed to have been a long-time Republican operative working for Rove (but whom nobody in the GOP has ever heard of, mysteriously enough).
Too bad Dan Rather is no longer working on the show; this would have been a natural.
Our number-two pick went nowhere; but it's a great post nonetheless:
- Not to Complicate Matters, But..., by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Russell Jacoby writing at the Chronicle of Higher Education writes a hilarious pastiche of eduspeak, that content-free bureaucratic buzz whose only purpose is to confuse listeners who haven't been admitted to "the club" and received their secret decoder rings.
Watch your Hottentot
The Watcher watches all; and here be his watchings.
Bad Break for Barack, Wonderful Win for World
In a stunning disappointment to the Barack Obama candidacy, the Iraq presidential council did a U-turn today and approved parliament's plan for provincial elections in the fall. Alas, the news is even worse than that: All sides agree that the determinant factor in the reversal was the undiplomatic behavior of Vice President Dick Cheney, who reportedly sternly argued the council into withdrawing its objection.
A confusticated Obama may now have to revamp his line that "[John McCain] completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America's enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades," unless the audacious change-agent intends to argue that a successful, stable democracy itself emboldens our enemies.
From the AP story:
Under strong U.S. pressure, Iraq's presidential council signed off Wednesday on a measure paving the way for provincial elections by the fall, a major step toward easing sectarian rifts as the nation marks the fifth anniversary of the war.
The decision by the council, made up of the country's president and two vice presidents, lays the groundwork for voters to choose new leaders of Iraq's 18 provinces. The elections open the door to greater Sunni representation in regional administrations.
And on the Cheney connection:
The decision by the council came two days after Vice President Dick Cheney visited Baghdad to press Iraqi leaders to overcome their differences and take advantage of a lull in violence to make progress in power-sharing deals to heal sectarian and ethnic divisions.
A spokesman for the biggest Sunni bloc, Saleem Abdullah, said Cheney pushed hard for progress on the provincial elections as well as a long-stalled measure to share the country's oil wealth.
This is one of the four major political "litmus tests" of the success of the counterinsurgency that began last July. The Iraq government must enact:
Elections are now completely signed off at the federal level; it's up to the provinces to design the specifics of each provincial election, much as our own states set up the specifics of gubernatorial and state legislative elections.
A "long-term security arrangement" with the United States to allow us to keep troops there for regional stability.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Cheney obtained endorsements from the two most powerful Shiite leaders in Iraq (not counting Muqtada Sadr, who is probably still in Iran) for a continued security agreement that would allow us to remain at bases in Iraq. Both Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Sayyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (formerly the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq), the largest party in parliament, urged us to stay and gave personal assurances that we would have long-term bases in Iraq for American troops.
An oil-revenue sharing bill.
According to the same WSJ article --
There is some reason for hope there too, despite the seemingly endless negotiations that have already taken place over the oil law. After the breakdown in negotiations last year, Kurdistan moved ahead with production agreements with some international oil companies. But Baghdad has responded by essentially freezing those companies out of negotiations for its central government contracts, diminishing their interest.
And U.S. officials in Iraq say the central government is consolidating its power over oil in other ways. They note privately that the Iraqi central government soon will begin awarding contracts to major multinational oil companies to improve production on the country's giant existing fields, as a likely prelude to contracts for new exploration and production. Kurdistan, meanwhile, has to worry about an eventual cutoff of the revenue sharing that it's now receiving from the central government.
Iraq's proven oil reserves are so big that only Saudi Arabia's and Iran's are thought to be larger... and Iraq's reserves have barely been tapped so far.
Anti-debaathification laws to allow former members of the Baath Party -- who do not have blood on their hands -- to return to civic life in Iraq.
When the parliament approved the provincial elections law last month, it was bundled with a general amnesty law that would release all Baathists from prison except for two classes:
Those held in U.S. custody;
Those who are charged with or were convicted of specific charges: "terrorism, kidnapping, rape, antiquities smuggling, adultery and homosexuality."
This was the most important anti-de-Baathification law to pass; the same law also allowed former Baathists (except the above) to once again take jobs in the public sector. Anti-de-Baathification has by most measures been resolved, leading to greater reconciliation.
Given such sweeping, positive political changes since the counterinsurgency produced such a huge drop in killings and al-Qaeda presence in Iraq, the elite media find it ever harder to maintain both party solidarity with the Democrats and also their own credibility. Still, the Democrats been banging the drum and pronouncing that there's no need to worry... all is still lost! (Evidently, the tape loop from 2006 is still running through the heads of the heads of the elite media.)
For real people living in the real world, however, Iraq has turned around and is now a victory at a level it would have been difficult to imagine just eighteen months ago. It appears that even when al-Qaeda and allied terrorists celebrate a historic, holy conquest, it's as ephemeral as Democratic-Party unity.
Date ►►► March 18, 2008
"The Speech": Obama Still Ducks the Most Urgent Question
In what is now being hyped as "the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime" -- that last from Andrew Sullivan -- Barack Obama manages to meander through nearly five thousand words... yet he still evades answering the most important linked pair of questions: What did Obama know about Rev. Wright's despicable views, and when did he know it?
Read on to find out what I really think!
The transcript is now available, and in it we find the same lawyerly -- even Clintonian -- parsing of language anent what Obama knew about the bizarre rantings, the anti-Americanism, the virulent hatred of Whitey that permeates Jeremiah Wright's sermons. Here is what Obama says about what he did and didn't know:
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely -- just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
For heaven's sake, I "make remarks that could be considered controversial," and God knows I am "an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy." But I have never said anything remotely like "God damn America," or say we had it coming to us on 9/11, or accuse the government of creating AIDS in a laboratory to commit genocide against anyone, or cheer on the Palestinian terrorist murderers against the Israeli "war criminals," or say that America wants to put blacks into concentration camps, or any of the other poisonous slanders and creepy conspiracies that seem to flow so effortlessly from Jeremiah Wright's lips.
Can we please hear a little more about whether you heard or heard about those things, Senator Obama?
A few days ago, he made another Clintonian non-denial denial on that point:
In his Friday night [March 14th] cable mea culpas on the incendiary comments made by his spiritual adviser Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., repeatedly said, "I wasn't in church during the time that these statement were made. I did not hear such incendiary language myself, personally. Either in conversations with him or when I was in the pew, he always preached the social gospel. [And what, exactly, is the "social gospel" according to Jeremiah Wright anyway?] ... If I had heard them repeated, I would have quit. ... If I thought that was the repeated tenor of the church, then I wouldn’t feel comfortable there."
The "social gospel," a.k.a. Christian socialism, typically means the post-millennialist Protestant version of Catholic liberation theology; both sat at the core of American progressivism (what Jonah Goldberg calls one version of liberal fascism): It's the idea that the alleviation of poverty -- typically by socialist redistribution of wealth -- is actually a holy duty of Christians. As a great many preachers of the social gospel were themselves white racists, there is no reason why "preach[ing] the social gospel" would preclude preaching black racism. So again, Obama is ambiguous about what he actually heard.
It's like saying, "Either in conversations with him or when I was in the pew, Father Coughlin always preached the social gospel" -- as if that innoculated the Jew-hating priest against the charge of antisemitism!
Obama told CNN that he "didn't know about all these statements. I knew about one or two of these statements that had been made. One or two statements would not lead me to distance myself from either my church or my pastor. ... If I had thought that was the tenor or tone on an ongoing basis, then yes, I don't think it would have been reflective of my values." [But would you have done anything about being a member of a church that was not "reflective of [your] values?"]
And Bill Clinton was never alone with Monica Lewinsky... after all, there were always other people somewhere in the White House.
Obama goes on to condemn the remarks, now that they have become a problem for his campaign:
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country -- a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems -- two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
But he still won't tell us whether he already knew about them before the roof fell in! Without knowing even that much, how can we possibly judge whether or not such repugnant views outraged the candidate, or even made him squirm?
Why can't Barack Obama just answer a simple question: Did you know about these statements and beliefs, by any means at all, prior to March, 2008?
- Did you know -- whether you heard it "personally" while "in the pews" or somewhere else -- that he said America deserved to get attacked on 9/11?
- Did you know -- even if you had to see it on video or hear it from a friend -- that Wright believes that America deliberately released both crack cocaine and the human immunodeficiency virus into the black community to kill off the entire black race?
- Did you know about his hatred and rejection of the very concept of middle-class blacks? Did you learn, by any means at all, that Wright called upon his congregation -- of which you are a member, even if you were absent that day -- to chant "God damn America?" Or that he considered Louis Farrakhan worthy of a lifetime achievement award for all the "good" he has done for the black community?
- And if you really didn't know any of this, if you knew so little about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright... then how dare you call him your "spiritual advisor" and put him on a campaign advisory committee? If you are unable to spot a black racist, separatist, and America-hater even after twenty years of close contact, doesn't that indicate that you have truly appalling judgment?
- Or did you know and just not care... until it suddenly erupted into the body politic?
Excuse me for doubting Obama's sincerity when he earnestly tries to persuade us -- without actually coming out and saying it in so many words -- that he had absolutely no idea that Wright was such a racialist. And, one presumes, absolutely no idea where his wife Michelle got her visceral dislike of America and the huge chip on her overprivileged shoulder.
Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect.
Every denial is qualified, hedged about with terms of limitation and narrowness of scope. Did he ever hear Wright derrogate an ethnic group in a situation other than a private conversation? Did Wright treat badly whites with whom he didn't interact?
But even more troubling than Obama's carefully parsed and skillful bobbing and weaving to avoid answering the real question -- is the way he casually equates the vile and pernicious hysteria of Wright with ordinary observations and non-incendiary comments by whites. Here is one example that really troubles me:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
The ABC piece above quoted from a Rolling Stone profile of Rev. Wright; Wright, speaking about the United States, said, "We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. ... We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. ... We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means!"
Evidently, Obama equates that to his grandmother being afraid when "black men passed by her on the street." You mean mean-looking black guys who act like gang bangers? I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of black grandmothers are equally afraid of young, black hooligans. How can any sane person believe this is the same as what Wright bellows during his sermons?
We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
Goodness knows I have no love for Mrs. Ferraro; but what she said was not evidence of a "deep-seated racial bias." It was the simple -- and true, if clumsily expressed -- recognition that the only thing Barack Obama has going for him is his persona as our first "post-racial candidate." Yes, he's a poseur; clearly, he is not post-racial; but that is his pose.
A candidate cannot pose as post-racial unless he or she is, in fact, a racial minority.
John McCain cannot call himself a post-racial candidate; the Obama camp (including his spiritual advisor and mentor) would be first in line, even ahead of Jesse and Al, to say that by "post racial," McCain means he wants to lock in "white privilege." Therefore, were it not for Obama being black, he would not be the Democratic frontrunner.
That is hardly the same thing as the separatist, paranoid drivel that spews from Jeremiah Wright like a fire hose that's lost its nozzle.
These completely unsupportable comparisons pave the path for Obama's main argument, where he tries to wrench the discussion away from the racist anti-Americanism of his spiritual advisor for the last two decades and onto more familiar ground: the endemic racism of America (so much for being post-racial!)
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through -- a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
There you go... Barack Obama's "post-racial" position is that the problems blacks suffer are just legacies of America's racism, which "we've never really worked through" and "have yet to perfect."
He goes on to cite school segregation as being the cause of black underachievement in schools today. What was his position on Ward Connerly's incredibly successful efforts to make "affirmative action" illegal?
Obama cites Jim Crow laws that, he claims, cause "the wealth and income gap between black and white" today, which leads directly to "the erosion of black families." But why look back to the 1950s and early 1960s? Plenty of poor immigrants have managed to start from nothing and build great prosperity... even with the terrible disadvantage of not speaking English. Why have so many fewer blacks done so?
And why were black families more intact at the beginning of the century, within living memory of slavery and in the full blooming of the deadly flower of Jim Crow, and more blacks living middle-class lifestyles, than today? How does Obama's racism explanation explain that?
If you're less than 44 years old, then you never lived under legal segregation; what's your excuse for underachieving economically today, or fathering children today with various women to whom you're not married?
To Obama, as to W.E.B. DuBois, it all traces back to racist America. All the problems of black culture (not race), from out of wedlock birth to a destructive rejection of education to poor work habits, are caused by slavery (which ended 143 years ago) and Jim Crow (which ended 44 years ago):
But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it -- those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations -- those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future.
When he turns to solutions, Obama manages, at last, to rise above racialism; he finds a very effective voice as a populist demagogue, dividing us by class instead of race:
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience -- as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense.
So what's the solution? As is common on the Left, the most urgent task our "change agent" is to find a group of people to demonize:
Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze -- a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.
This is pure populism, unadulterated by a love of liberty, respect for Capitalist economics, or the slightest comprehension that property rights are human rights. This is the same line the Left has peddled here since the early nineteenth century... in fact, it was imported directly from the French revolution of 1789 and the anti-Capitalist, mob rule of the Terror that ran rampant until crushed under the heel of Bonapartism.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances -- for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs -- to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family.
Obama demands bread and medicine for the masses. But where is the call for freedom, liberty, and personal responsibility? Where is support for the free market, or even the recognition that it is not the responsibility of government to supply all necessities to all people?
That last is a workable definition of socialism, whether international -- Marxism, Communism -- or national socialism; I have no idea which of the two Obama embraces, but one of them is his sweetheart. Here is the closest he comes to recognizing that individuals have the right and responsiblity to run their own lives; but this one throw-away line strikes me as simple lip-service:
And it means taking full responsibility for own lives -- by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Vapid, ambiguous, generalized and unspecific... there's the Barack Obama we've all grown to know and expect! Then for nine long paragraphs, we hear about the "crumbling schools," "the lines in the Emergency Room," the "shuttered mills" and "homes for sale" (wait -- what's wrong with selling your house?)... the corporations that ship your job overseas, bringing all the soldiers home from a war "that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged," and "show[ing] our patriotism" by giving these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines government benefits instead.
One almost expects a peroration about a poor little match girl who hasn't even a warm winter coat. I had to flip up top to make sure I wasn't reading a speech by John "Two Americas" Edwards. (Instead, he closes with a pointless anecdote about a young lady who joined his campaign because she had to eat mustard and relish sandwiches as a poor kid. Don't ask.)
Meet the new Left, same as the old Left.
Barack Obama has given us absolutely nothing new in this speech, the transcript of which I suffered through from beginning to end. He still hasn't told us how much of these bizarre Wrightian rants he knew about in previous years or why he remained so close to the man.
He still hasn't gotten specific about how he will bring us all together; nor has he talked about anything that hasn't been Democratic Party boilerplate since Andrew Jackson.
I'm sure that Obamaniacs will continue to swoon when he speaks and throw their underwear up onto the stage; but I don't believe anybody else is going to be blown away by this lengthy exercise in vacuity. But we shall shortly find out.
Watcher Countdown - Two! Just Around the Corner...
Yep, we're winding our way down. By the time you read this, we will already have voted on our last Watcher's Council vote. But we don't consider ourselves truly alumni until we finish the last three results posts... a tad late, but heck, you should be used to that by now.
In fact, the work involved in writing these posts is one of the reasons we're calling it a year after just a year (that didn't come out right, but you know what we meant.) It's not required to discuss each winning post and each post we voted for; all we need do to abide by the letter of the Council is list the winners and link to the results on the Watcher of Weasels' web site. (And, I think, link to the nominees; but I never noticed that requirement until a couple of weeks ago, and it's too late to teach the early worm a new trick.)
But the posts offered by the Council members and those others (the "Nouncil," or non-Council) they nominate are just too damned good to let slide by with a single sentence or a bare link. We feel compelled to discuss them, quote from them, betimes even argue with them. Hence these long, annoying Watcher's Council results posts... which, by the way, nobody has shown any sign of enjoying but we ourselves.
So without further ado -- or further mawkish self-pity -- we give you the winners, the also-rans... and the total losers who write Big Lizards!
The winner is Laer at Cheat Seeking Missiles for this poli-sci piece on the upcoming presidential campaign:
- In A PC Nation, How Will The GOP Run?, by Cheat Seeking Missiles.
I love technical politics... the nuts and bolts of how one actually runs a political campaign, either at the micro level (how Whatchamacallem should run his campaign against Thingamajig) or the macro (how should the GOP run against the Democrats). I never studied any of this at university (I frittered my time away on math and creative writing), so I appreciate any help a blogger can give me by his blogpost.
In this case, Laer takes issue with folks like Jack Kemp, urging John McCain not to run a cautious campaign:
The fact of the matter is, the GOP effort cannot be about, as Politico said, protecting the GOP from charges of racism or sexism. Those charges will come no matter what, so while it's important to prep messaging in order to avoid or reduce charges of racism in the campaign ahead, it's more important to develop a strategy for responding to those inevitable charges.
But I do take a little issue, though I am only an egg, with Laer's prescription for what McCain should do:
Race-card playing race-baiters (or sex-card playing fem-baiters) cannot be allowed to enjoy the immunity that's been extended to Jesse Jackson, the Irreverent Sharpton, or the flock of feminists. Perpetrators of such baiting need to be shut down in language that appeals to GOP and independent voters; forget appeasing the Dems. Here's a first take on such a message:"This is a defining moment for [race/women] in America, and we all must stand up to those who are playing the tired and empty [race/feminism] card, trying desperately to cling to an America that simply is no more. I am sick of people who want to shame America and embarrass it globally for the sake of their selfish power. I will not allow them to redirect this campaign to the past when I am looking to the future, and neither should you. Tell them you're done with the dirty politics of division."
To be clearer, I support the preamble -- don't let race-baiters get away with it -- but dispute the tactic advised. In fact, I would advist McCain to attack exactly as he would were Obama white or Clinton a man, and not make any big deal out of the first-ness of it all.
I think most people would be refreshed to hear a truly post-racial campaign of white vs. black. And if the race-baiters whine that McCain isn't giving Obama sufficient deference for being the first black presidential nominee of either major party... then McCain asks them to make up their minds: Does this campaign transcend race, or is it about nothing but Barack Obama's race? Let them simmer in their own juice.
Still, it's a great post; we voted it number two, but it's a perfectly reasonable overall winner.
Our number-one vote went to Wolf Howling -- which (as you'll see) appears to be a pattern:
- Obama (with links) & McCain's Petard, by Wolf Howling;
Mr. (or Mrs.) Howling notes a very ironical Catch-22 that John McCain finds himself in, though there is an easy out. We already discussed this in one of our own posts, Chicago Rules; so no need to go into it here as well.
But you'll be hearing about Chicago Rules in our next post...
The winner here was Gila Weiss, who writes an open letter to a radical filmmaker whose movie equated the victim of a suicide bombing to the murderous bitch who killed her... and Weiss tears the filmmaker a new pineal gland:
- To Die in Jerusalem, Part II, by My Shrapnel.
Can't do any better than to quote the money graf:
You boldly proclaim your identification with Ayat. How much time have you spent trying to identify with Rachel? Where is Rachel in this story? Is she important because she was, because of the person she was…or because she was a particularly interesting victim of terror--a victim the same age as and with a striking resemblance to her murderer? This is how I see it: the only reason that you care about Rachel at all is because she makes the story of your darling, tormented suicide bomber that much more dramatic. She is a foil for the blade to play against. If she were blonde, if she were ten years older, if she were, say, the downright heroic security guard, she would not have mattered to you at all. She would have been just another sad, but rather dull, statistic.
This short, little missive is lethal.
We voted for a couple other brilliant pieces:
- Validating AGW Skepticism, by The QandO Blog;
- The Democrats' Collective Cognitive Catatonia, by Dr. Sanity.
The first presents several points that shake the foundations of anthropogenic globaloney a bit, and you already know we're obsessed about that subject! And in the second, Ma Sanity really puts the casual perfidy and narcissistic preening of the Democrats in the House under the microscope, anent their failure to enact (or even allow a vote on) a bill to restore and permanize the Protect America Act of 2007, which fixed some gaping holes in our intelligence gathering.
Read 'em and weep
Check here for all the latest gossip about alien abductions, Bigfoot, liver pills, and a windy singer they call Mariah.
Date ►►► March 15, 2008
Persistence of (the) Vision and the Crisis-Myths of the Fascist Left
I am always amazed by the curious immunity the Left has to truth, no matter how well established, if it doesn't fit what Thomas Sowell calls "the vision of the anointed." A factoid that seems to fit the preexisting story persists forever, regardless of how often debunked... just as creationists cite the same "failures" of evolutionary theory over and over, without regard to lengthy -- sometimes even book-length -- debunking:
- The "stupidity and illiteracy" of George W. Bush (and Ronald W. Reagan), 1999-2008 (1979-2008);
- The Mohammed al-Dura "murder by Israelis" in 2000;
- The Bush "suppression" of the black vote in Florida in the 2000 election;
- The Florida vote in 2000 that Al Gore would have won if "all the votes" were counted;
- The "specific warning" from the CIA before the 9/11 attacks of 2001;
- Our Afghan allies who "deliberately allowed bin Laden to escape" from Tora Bora in 2001;
- The "Jenin massacre" of 2002;
- The Bush administration "lying us into war" in 2003;
- The Iraqi "wedding party" massacre in 2004;
- Police Captain Jamil "Lt. Kyje" Hussein, 2004-2006;
- "Murders" in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina in 2005;
- The "Iraqi civil war" of 2006-2007;
But one has persisted above all others: The ludicrous Johns Hopkins "survey" that found more than 600,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed by the Iraq war. It persists to this day, despite repeated, highly credible debunkings by everyone from statisticians to the military to the Associated Press to the Iraqi government itself. And here it bubbles up again from AP -- an unquestioned bit of lore that has become part of the Left's Iraq-war catechism:
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, 3,987 American soldiers and at least 128 journalists have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led war began. But to me, they were all just numbers until last year.
The best estimate actually available is on a website called Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, which is updated from all reports filed by the international and American elite media, the United States and coalition militaries, and by the Iraq government. As of March 13th, they estimate total Iraqi civilian deaths to be 40,765 plus some unknown number killed before 2005; but civilian casualties were low in the early days of the war (prior to the destruction of the al Askiriya "Golden Dome" mosque in Samarra in 2006).
Thus, the best evidence that comes from actually counting bodies finds only 7% of the original "estimate" from Johns Hopkins, and only 4.7% of their later, upgraded guess of more than a million deaths. But the myth persists and probably will continue to be misreported as fact a hundred years from now, when government-mandated history books will use it to teach the "history" of our imperialist, oil-stealing warmongering in Iraq.
The myth of the 600,000 (or one million) dead Iraqis is successful precisely because it feeds into the general "crisis-myth" of the Left: That America is being led to economic and political disaster (recession, tyranny, loss of rights) by a ruinous war started by the Capitalists to steal Iraq's oil and make billions of dollars for their fat-cat cronies. But really, all the myths above tend to the same overarching story... the imperialist warmongering and crimes against humanity of America and Israel, and the concommitent victimhood of the Left and the ummah.
Before fascism can really take hold, the fascists must discover (or create) an enduring myth of a great crisis that will serve to unify the country under the banner of national socialism; for the Nazis, the myths they finally settled upon were the perfidy of the Jewish "race" (of course) -- and the "martyrdom" of Horst Wessel, a National Socialist street fighter who was killed by a Communist (perhaps even a Jewish Communist!) in 1930.
The triple-crisis comprised the clinging vestiges of Capitalism (which had brought Germany to the disasterous Great War and the Treaty of Versailles, the Nazis preached), the rise of Communism (which threatened to erase national boundaries and put Russians and Slavs above Aryan Germans), and naturally, the mindless genius of the Jews -- who, despite being inferior to Aryans in every way (physically, intellectually, and morally), had managed to foil the rightful ambitions of the master race again and again. Against all three crises stood the bulwark of the Nazi Party.
Wessel came originally from the radical monarchist German National People's Party, but he left them and joined the Nazi Party (and its militant core, the SA "stormtroopers") in 1926. He was an amateur poet as well as a brownshirt, and his poem "Die Fahne hoch" ("Raise the Flag High") became the official Nazi anthem, which today we call the Horst Wessel song.
Although Wessel was a minor player of little account during his lifetime, after he was slain, Josef Goebbels seized upon the "martyr" and turned him into the great, unifying myth-figure of the Nazi movement, according to Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. Calling him the "Socialist Christ," Goebbels churned out hundreds of thousands of words of "hagiography" about Wessel and his heroic combat against Capitalists, Communists, and Jews.
The fascist crisis-myth is vital to the movement, whether in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s or America in the 21st century, because of its ability to unify the people (Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!), to crush dissent (stop the mouths of seditionists!), and to rally die Volk behind a leader who will make quick decisions to save them (no time for democracy in such an emergency!).
Fascism's great goal is always the complete unity of the people, the land, and the leader. In practice, of course, eine Reich must become Lebensraum: Socialist states are by nature contraeconomic and can only survive by relentless expansion and conquest; when they run out of land to conquer, they collapse under the bloat of their own unworkable economic policies... as the Soviet Union did in 1991.
They are also by nature totalitarian; and the first step in seizing power is generally to take control of the nation's news sources. By controlling the newspapers and airwaves, they get to write the mythic "first draft of history" without pesky debate or dispute from the peanut gallery. Hence the continued rush of modern American liberals into journalism for the entire twentieth century and what we've experienced of the twenty-first... as well as into other information-hoarding and -controlling fields, such as publishing, teaching, the law, the federal and state bureaucracies, and Hollywood.
This has given the Left command of news and opinion (propaganda mongering), popular novels and histories, children's education and indoctrination, legal interpretation and regulatory regimes, and the great American mass-art forms, television and the movies. Thus they hope to control the totality of information that passes before the eyes, ears, and ultimately the minds of the American people:
The American fascist moment came (and went) in the teens, under President Woodrow Wilson; it came and went again in the 1930s and 40s, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It came and went a third time in the 1960s and 70s, with the rise of the fascist New Left and the riots, takeovers, demands, and murders of the SDS and Weathermen, NOW, the Black Panthers, the gay-rights movement, and finally the Symbionese Liberation Army. The Left lives eternally with the audacity of hope that a facist utopia is just around the corner.
The unifying crisis-myth of the first fascist moment was the purification of morals by Prohibition, of the national soul by the Great War, and of the white race by "scientific eugenics." This was summed up by Woodrow Wilson's slogan "100% Americanism," and resulted in mass arrest of "seditionists," press censorship, and rule by presidential decree and executive committee.
The unifying myth of the second fascist moment was first the Great Depression that was "caused by Laissez-Faire Capitalism;" and later by the war against the Nazis and their Japanese allies. These crises resulted in the New Deal, which again allowed the president to bypass all normal democratic channels in the rush to remake the entire country according to a "progressive" (fascist) model -- complete with yet another scapegoat race. (First the Jews, then the blacks, now the Japanese; it's not coincidental that FDR was Wilson's Assistant Secretary of the Navy.)
And the unifying myths of the third American fascist moment were:
- Consciousness raising via psychedelic drugs, music, street theater, puppets, teach-ins, and protests to produce the new, psychedelicized, socialist man;
- The rise of feminism against patriarchial oppression;
- The rise of Black Power against the institutionalized racism of "the system;"
- The rise of countless other protest movements (parodied by Allan Sherman's "the 'Let's All Call Up AT&T and Protest to the President' March," decrying "all-digit dialing" of telephone numbers). The real, underlying purpose of all these "movements" was to level the entire American establishment ("the Man"), so a radical, Stalinist society could be installed in its place. (Hillary Clinton, the man who would be queen, was deeply enmeshed in this radical movement.)
This "consciousness raising" resulted in the entire panoply of Great Society programs: the civil rights movement, the "war on poverty," the Department of Education, the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Medicare and Medicaid, the National Endowment for the Arts and for the Humanities, and modern radical environmentalism (the Endangered Species Act, the Clear Air, Water Quality and Clean Water Restoration Acts, and so forth). All had the same purpose: the complete nationalization of American life and the end of Federalism.
The last fascist moment was not as successful or totalitarian as the first two, to a large extent because the unifying myths didn't really unify. There was never any national front; the radicals forgot about what the Nazis called the "forgotten man," or what Richard Nixon dubbed at the time the "silent majority."
Thus, the radicals were undercut by "reformers," more moderate in ideology but no less obsessed with power, including the national leader, President Lyndon Baines Johnson. The radical leftists turned on Johnson (and against the Vietnam War, where we clearly were on "the wrong side," they -- including John Kerry -- decided) even during his presidency -- "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" -- forcing him to withdraw from his reelection campaign in 1968. To this day, leftists hate and despise Johnson.
So far, we have not reached any fascist moment today; the forces of liberal fascism -- many of them youths, as the usual pattern has it, but also quite a few aging hippies, Yippies, and other moldy, 60s leftovers -- have been singularly unsuccessful in their quest for a unifying myth... but as we see, it's certainly not for lack of trying.
The problem is still, as it was four decades ago, that the crisis-myths the radicals put forward (see the top of this post) exclude ordinary people; they still have not learned the lesson that you cannot foment a fascist revolution by appealing only to the fringes. Populism, a necessary element of fascism, only works when one appeals to the center of the population.
The radical revolutionary also cannot attack the military itself; he must co-opt it. In the end, all civilian society must be militarized; thus the successful radical must champion and extol martial virtues, such as courage, sacrifice, obedience, and dehumanization of the enemy. Jingoistic chants of "question authority" (or more strongly, "f--- authority") actually undermine the stated goal of revolutionary transformation: The very system the Left wants to impose on the American people is even more authoritarian than what we have now; and the same slogans they sling with such wild abandon are sent stampeding, like Hannibal's elephants, back through the ranks of the attackers.
To produce another fascist moment, the Left will have to abandon its anti-authoritarian rhetoric and refocus on pure, unabashed, and unstinting populism, where the masses have the "right" to whatever material possessions they think will make them happy... money, cars, consumer electronics, food, drugs, free health care, and free sex; but they must combine this with a censorious control of all aspects of Americans' lives, from drinking alcohol to smoking cigarettes to driving recreational vehicles to (naturally) what they can read, watch, or listen to. You have a right to satisfaction of all your material needs -- but only as we specify.
And they will need an all-purpose scapegoat; that is just as essential as populism -- someone to blame for the inevitable crises intentionally provoked and created by the leader.
We're just beginning to see exactly that progression in the alliance of the New Left and the Global Caliphists, which really began with the 1979 Islamist revolution in Iran; say what you will about Wahhabis, Salafis, and Khomeiniites... they know how to unify a people through mass-media propaganda, and they know how to fight. The Left can learn a lot from their new mentors; the rise of extreme antisemitism among American and especially European "Progressives" indicates they've become good students.
Keep your eyes on the liberal crisis-myths. The time to worry is when they start to "make sense" to regular Americans; that is when they become truly dangerous.
Date ►►► March 14, 2008
The profligate ways of the Democratic legislature in Sacramento and the RINO in Sacramento (the governor) have finally reaped the economic whirlwind -- a $16 billion plus deficit. Unfortunately those that are left to inherit that wind are local school boards who are forced to issue pink slips to employees.
The legislature and Gov. Schwarzenegger made a devil’s bargain the last few years that they finally could not sustain in 2008. Each year they have jacked up the budget, including the education budget, even though the state has seen declining enrollment for the past three years. What law of the universe says that you must increase your budget when you are educating fewer children?
Each year the governor and Democratic leadership claim that they are required by “mandates” to increase funding. To help pay for this toga party the state has floated more and more bonds, putting it all on future taxpayers to bear. But as Senator Tom McClintock, one of a few honest politicians in Sacramento points out, most of those mandates can be suspended by a two-thirds vote of the legislature, just as the budget itself requires a two-thirds vote each year.
The governor and the lawmakers at any time could rein in spending. They just don’t want to. The Democrats in particular don’t want to make any significant cuts.
Now that this spending has finally caught up with them, the Democrat leaders are predictably calling for more taxes.
We must not let them get away with it.
When you see teachers losing their jobs because of irresponsible “leaders” your heart aches and you want to do something to help. But the worst thing we could do is signal the Democrat leadership that it is OK to start their mouths writing checks that their constituents, i.e. you and me, must cash.
They need to cut back on a budget that has been growing out of control for several years to the point where we are actually worse off than when we recalled Governor Gray Davis and put Arnold in his place to supposedly control spending!
Don’t let your empathy for our teachers prod you into doing something stupid, like supporting higher taxes.
Date ►►► March 13, 2008
Democrats Reject "Slashing" Medicare Down to a Scant 5% Increase
Here's a fun party game: Google the following phrase: budget 2009 slash
I got 135,000 hits... how about you?
Now, there are some false hits there -- "Lawmakers vote to slash Florida budget," for example. But if you just keep clicking Next, you'll see page after page of links with titles like "Bush Budget Slashes Women's Health Funding | Reproductive Health" and "Bush's 2009 Budget Calls For Slashing Public TV Funding"... but especially ones like "Bush budget would slash Medicaid, Medicare budgets."
If they don't say "slashes," nearly all these pieces generally include some equivalent; here's a typical example, from the Associated Press today, that talks about "huge cuts" rather than "slashes":
A Republican alternative that largely mirrored a plan by McCain to permanently extend Bush's tax cuts and eliminate the alternative minimum tax was expected to fail badly, with party moderates distancing themselves from the GOP plan's huge cuts in popular programs like Medicare, housing, community development, and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled. Such cuts were needed to make room for big tax cuts and still project a balanced budget.
So why the obsession with how President Bush's budget or John McCain's budget "slashes" (or inflicts "huge cuts" -- get a bandage, ow!) in "popular programs like" [fill in a series of "entitlement" programs that Americans now rely upon, after decades of "liberal fascism" under both Democratic and Republican administrations]? Why is any cut -- rather, any reduction in the rate of increase -- denounced as draconian, ruinous, and thuggish? Read on to find out...
Pay no attention to that budgetary black hole behind the curtain!
Quite simply, the inflammatory rhetoric is designed to take our minds off of the real story:
- Democrats fully intend to vastly raise taxes -- by stealth. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of 2010 will jack up income taxes by $683 billion over five years, or $137 billion per year. Yet even so, Democrats propose even more spending increases than the tax increases, so the deficit will explode as well, probably triggering a real, live recession (and lowering tax receipts even further).
- Democrats have no intention whatsoever of doing anything to restrain the growth of putative "entitlement" programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They will allow the programs to rise at more than double the inflation rate until the cows come home to roost.
- Therefore, in fewer years than most folks realize, either Congress must enact tax increases on the level of trillions of dollars... or else the "entitlement" programs will grow to the point where they literally gobble up the entire rest of the budget. All revenues will go for entitlements, leaving nothing left over for anything else -- no more national defense, education, NASA, scientific research, or any other discretionary spending.
The Bush budget (unveiled last month) will at least "slash" the Medicare growth rate from 7.2% per year to 5% -- which is still more than inflation: Inflation has averaged 2.69% per year during Bush's presidency, but will probably rise to around 3.5% this year. This "huge cut" -- which still leaves the programs advancing more than retreating, even in constant dollars -- would trim about $10 trillion, about a third, off the unfunded liability of the program, currently estimated at $34 trillion.
But that still leaves the unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicaid, and other "entitlement" programs. Estimates vary, but a figure I've often seen is that all of them add up to about $75 trillion dollars... a staggering amount that equals the entire gross domestic product of the United States for 5.7 years. In budgetary terms, it represents the entire annual federal budget for a quarter century.
Unfunded liability stems from the fact that the cost of the programs rises so much faster than the inflation rate; this will only get worse as baby boomers begin to retire in mass numbers in 2011, just three years from now, and as retirees live longer and collect benefits for many more years.
John McCain has not yet proposed a serious solution to the problem, but there are quite a few very good ideas out there. I expect he will make entitlement reform the centerpiece of the domestic part of his campaign... because he has no choice. The retirement time-bomb is ticking, ticking, ticking; and neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton has made -- or will make -- any serious proposal.
There are two serious problems; eventually, Congress must fix both in order to make the program sustainable into the future:
The return on investment (ROI) for an individual's payroll-tax contribution to Social Security varies due to a number of factors, including lifespan, how much he contributed while working, when he retired, and so forth. But the Heritage Foundation calculates that the ROI for a person born in 2006 is no more than 1%... and it can even be negative, meaning you literally pay more than you ever receive. (This is especially true for men, who tend to have shorter life expectecies than women.)
In other words, the Social Security Trust Fund is a terrible, miserable investment. Your retirement money would do better in virtually any private investment imaginable.
The ROI may go up if lifespan increases significantly, as I expect it will; but that means the cost of the program will again become unsustainable, since it does not generate any wealth, as a real investment would, thus cannot pay for itself over the long run.
Even the pittance we earn on our "investment" (not much better than stuffing the money into a mattress) has been systematically raided by past Congresses, Democratic and Republican, to finance current expenses.
There is no trust fund. There is no "lockbox." There is no money; there is only a wad of hand-scribbled IOUs.
Social Security is a pay-as-you-go program. We paid as we went... but we also spent that money on a vast array of other "popular programs" besides Social Security, and it's all gone. C'est la vie.
Both problems can be solved by a single change... but it's going to hurt. Social Security must be fully privatized. Not the namby-pamby partial privatization proposed by President Bush (and shot down in a green-eyeshade second by the Republican Congress), but the whole kit and kaboodle. We do it like this:
Each payroll taxpayer gets an individual Social Security Retirement Account; the SSRA can be maintained by any brokerage firm, which sets up any number of SEC-approved investment funds... divided into three tiers of investment: 1 - Safe, 2 - Moderately Aggressive, and 3 - Aggressive.
All Social-Security "contributions" by a taxpayer are poured into his own personal SSRA. The taxpayer picks the tiers and the funds to invest in; when he retires, that's his own money -- to spend, to reinvest, or to pass along to his children.
And there you have it:
- The ROI is the same as for a 401K, so the SSRAs will be self-sustaining;
- And since they're in the name of the taxpayer, the government cannot raid them.
That's about the only way to permanently solve the problem -- as numerous countries have already discovered, including Argentina, Australia, El Salvadore, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Sweden, and many others.
The feds will have to skim off the top to partially subsidize the program for those folks who, for whatever reason, have SSRAs deemed too small to live... and also to pay the transition cost of all the past contributions by taxpayers into the current system, spread over some period of time to avoid bankrupting the country. Alas, the transition costs will be very, very high; payroll taxes will have to rise, though hopefully not damagingly so.
Such a fix would be market-positive, since it would increase America's "net worth." It's like paying to put a new roof on your house: The money you pay now will increase the value of the house for later resale by more than you put into it.
Will John McCain have the guts to propose it? I hope so; but I know for a fact that neither Hillary nor Obama will.
Medicare is basically health insurance for senior citizens of any income level. Medicaid is a group of needs-based state-run (under federal guidelines) medical welfare programs for the poor, which is currently gnawing away at state economies, gobbling up 20% to 30% of state budgets.
With these entitlement programs, the real problem is the rising cost of health care itself. But the cost is being driven to a large extent by factors external to medical care:
- Medical malpractice lawsuits, which force doctors and hospitals to practice "defensive medicine," ordering unnecessary tests for the purpose of covering themselves in the event of a lawsuit.
The vile practice in other countries (especially Canada) of legally requiring prescription drugs to be sold to their citizens below manufacturer's cost... forcing Big Drug to jack up the price here to avoid going out of business.
(Were we to follow suit -- an idea that McCain has flirted with in the past, alas -- we would likely lose many pharmaceutical manufacturers... and all the lifesaving and life-enhancing drugs they would have produced.)
- Increasing lifespan: Just as with Social Security, when people live longer -- as they have been, due to medical advances, the decreased rate of smoking, and so forth -- the government must pay more money per person. Thus, if the taxes paid by future recipients don't rise as fast as the increased payments due to living longer, any system will eventually become insolvent.
The solution has several components. First, we need major tort reform, especially in the area of medical malpractice. The reforms must include loser pays; barring "expert witnesses" hired by the plaintiffs' attorneys (let them come from a pool hired by the court, with no financial incentive to lie); and ending the practice of expanding liability further and further outward until one finally reaches a parent company with enough money to satisfy the trial lawyer's greed.
Second, patients are just going to have to be responsible for more of their own medical costs; this will force them to budget their medical dollars more wisely. A very, very good first step is to introduce medical savings accounts (MSAs) into the Medicare system in a big way, particularly for affluent seniors. Getting fiscal responsibility into Medicaid is harder, because it is by definition a program for the poor; but we should put some thought into it.
Third, rather than pay doctors and hospitals directly, perhaps Medicare and Medicaid should pay the patient -- then let him pay the bills. If doctors charge more than the government pays, they will have to get the rest from the patient himself.
This gives patients a huge incentive to shop around and think twice about going to the doctor for minor problems; and it likewise gives doctors a huge incentive to reduce costs by bringing the free market into the equation. At the moment, they simply get paid according to a government "schedule"... which encourages medical professionals to spend money on lobbyists to increase the scheduled payment rates, rather than on finding ways to contain their own costs and remain competitive, as every other business must do.
If Republicans want to regain control of Congress someday -- and if John McCain wants to get elected president -- then both must offer bold, permanent solutions to the entitlement crisis. There is no more time for tepid "can-kicking."
Even if the Democrats shoot down the GOP proposals, that will give us a vital and future-oriented issue to run on, buttressing our claim to be the party of great new ideas. And this issue will be one that clearly differentiates between the European-style socialism of the Left and the American tradition of personal responsibility on the Right.
Let's hope that if the GOP can ride this issue back into power (this election or the next), that this time, the reality of Republican governance will actually live up to the stirring rhetoric of personal responsibility.
Stating the Obvious
It seems as though an awful lot of folks are paying the price during this election silliness for saying things that are not only true, they are glaringly obvious!
Geraldine Ferraro, a now former adviser to Hillary Clinton, has fallen on her knitting needle in ritual seppuku for stating what should be so obvious that the only way to keep it from becoming part of Wikipedia is to kill off people who say it: The only reason that Barack Obama is a viable presidential candidate today is because he’s black!
There’s plenty of people who have the charisma, there’s thousands of people who have served as state legislators, there’s even quite a few people who opposed the war in Iraq, and there’s quite a number of people who are capable for running for political office without ever stating exactly what domestic programs they plan to adopt if elected. Barack has generated the excitement that he has among the people that he has energized because he is black and also a very capable candidate.
The number of people who have met their ends or nearly so because they have stated the obvious about Hillary is starting to pile up like a Serbian mass grave. The one who comes most readily to mind is TV pundiot Chris Matthews, who pointed out with no particular flash of wisdom, but to universal disdain, that Hillary was a viable candidate because of her husband, especially his penchant for playing around on her.
Despite her protestations to the contrary, Hillary has done nothing especially noteworthy in life that is not connected to the fact that she was married to Bill. When she claimed to have helped broker peace in Ireland, someone who was actually there said that her role was more of a “cheerleader.”
As a small town community newspaper editor, I know from personal experience that cheerleaders often try to claim that they are as important as the players on the field, but usually no one takes them seriously. Only Hillary has been able to gin up success as a cheerleader into being a serious candidate for quarterback.
Hillary, who sounds stupider and more desperate ever time she comes up with one of these things, last week claimed, when speaking of a trip she took to Bosnia in the 1990s: "We used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady."
Comedian Sinbad, who, along with singer Sheryl Crow was on that trip that she claims was so harrowing and dangerous, was quick to mock her: "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife... oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'"
Well, actually the part about Bill Clinton sending his wife on a mission too dangerous for himself does sound entirely in character.
Date ►►► March 12, 2008
"Ness" Caught Tippling
The modern day Eliot Ness, Eliot Spitzer, ex-governor of New York, was caught drinking out of the whiskey barrel, so to speak.
Perhaps the biggest question is, if CEOs make too much money, where’s the moral outrage at prostitutes bringing in $5,000 a night? Aren’t those obscene (in more ways than one) profits? How can we look at ourselves in the mirror knowing that, while kids working at 7-11s can’t afford college, high-class hookers can cash checks for five large ones from johns like the former moral crusader from the state of New York?
Like Chris Matthews at an Barack Obama rally, I’m getting tingles up and down my leg at the sight of this Elmer Gantry getting his public stoning at the hands of all those that he tried or succeeded in bringing down when he was an all powerful prosecutor.
Lots of people are enjoying the spectacle. The DOW leaped 500 points on Tuesday. Some will tell you it’s because the Fed announced a $200 billion stimulus. But the cognoscenti know that the real reason is that Wall Street is celebrating Spitzer’s political death by self-inflicted wound. Too many CEOs are walking around with smiles on their faces for that not to be translated into some bull movement.
Transformative Elections vs. Kicking the Can: a Sermon
(Follow-up to "Romney: My Fave for the Nomination, But a Mistake for VP")
Picking up on our last post, let me clarify the philosophy behind our call for a "flamboyant," "galvanizing running mate," rather than one of the "usual suspects," like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty. I don't know whether John McCain understands this; I hope he does, or that he figures it out before selecting his running mate.
Simply put, if Republicans care about the future of the party, we cannot afford yet another narrow presidential victory. Of course it's better than a narrow loss; but it does nothing to build the brand. People are drifting away, because there is no longer anything exciting or daring about being Republican -- as there was in the 1980s.
We're losing the vision edge to the Democrats in the twenty-first century. You always must bear in mind that the Left has an automatic edge on "vision," because they're entirely defined by their vision of utopia and bringing about heaven on earth, right here and now.
This is a huge draw, especially to the young, as Jonah Goldberg argues in Liberal Fascism: Yutes always want to believe there is something sui generis about them that makes them uniquely qualified to rule the world. We on the anti-liberal side must first batter down this autogenerated conceit before showing them why our philosophy is more exciting.
Narrow victories like 2000 and 2004 do little to awaken people to the implicit failure of progressivism, and to the alternative philosophies out there... Capitalism, conservatism, and individual and family responsibility, as opposed to statism and "it takes a village (or a nation) to raise a child." With an unorthodox candidate like John McCain, we have the opportunity to wrench this election out of the normal mode on the Republican side... and we're fools if we don't roll those dice.
This can either be an ordinary election -- or a transformative one. We can choose to just kick the can down the road, or we can establish what Republicanism will mean for the next several decades. McCain is the gateway to 21st-century Republicanism; but like Moses, he can see but not enter the promised land. To make this election transformative, we need someone who exemplifies the future of the party... and the vice presidency is one good way to highlight such a person.
The last transformative election was 1980. Reagan galvanized America and flipped eight decades of progressivism and liberal fascism on its head. Alas, however, George H.W. Bush certainly did not exemplify Reaganism... which was precisely the reason he lost in 1992. The transformation of 1980 continued under Clinton in some areas (economic, for example); but in other significant ways, notably national security and individualism, it petered out over eight years of mudpacking by a follower of Huey Long and a disciple of Saul Alinsky.
Imagine how the last four elections would have gone had Reagan eschewed the normal political calculus (name your nearest rival as running mate) -- and instead reached deeper into the well to draw out somebody young, exciting, and a thoroughgoing Reaganite; someone who could truly have carried the torch in 1988 and 1992, perhaps founding a party dynasty.
In an ordinary election, political calculus should prevail; the nominee should pick a Republican whose turn it is, or someone who can bring one or two specific states over to the GOP side. But this is not an ordinary election; and I don't believe for one second that there is any specific state that Mitt Romney, or any other VP pick from the usual suspects, can bring to McCain.
To put it another way, McCain himself, by his very nature, is already transformative; he already does the job, as much as it can be done, of bringing in traditionally knife-edge states -- those that went for Kerry by less than 5 points in 2004: Michigan (17 ev), Minnesota (10 ev), New Hampshire (4 ev), Oregon (7 ev), Pennsylvania (21 ev), and Wisconsin (10 ev). McCain also will do a better job holding narrowly held red states, like Iowa (7 ev), Ohio (20 ev), and (nowadays) Virginia (13 ev), than would a Southern conservative nominee. I believe McCain will hold all the reds except Virginia (I think the Ohio hemorrhage is over); and he'll get some of the blues; but no possible running mate will make him get more of those.
Take Mitt Romney, for example. Despite having a father who was a very popular governor of Michigan, Romney wouldn't help McCain win Michigan. Now, if the nominee had been Fred Thompson, then Romney might help; Thompson is just a mainstream conservative Southerner. But McCain will either win or lose Michigan all on his own; Romney won't help.
But much more interesting to me, in crafting a transformative election, are what I call the Nine-Pointers: blue states that aren't razor-close, but also are not deep, double-digit azure. States like Delaware (7.5 points, 3 ev), Hawaii (9 points, 4 ev), Maine (9 points, 4 ev), New Jersey (6 points, 15 ev), and Washington (7 points, 11 ev). Maybe even Connecticut (10 points, 7 ev) and Illinois (10 points, 21 ev). And of course, the granddaddy of all Nine-Pointers, California (9 points, 55 ev).
The bluish purples add up to 69 electoral votes; but the Nine-Pointers add up to 65 evs, not counting California; add in the Golden State, and that's 120 evs. Put both purple groups together, and you have a potential haul of 189 electoral votes.
If the ticket of McCain-[fill in the blank] can grab any substantial portion of those, then we're talking blow-out. Not a total wipe-out, like Reagan/Mondale in 1984, Nixon/McGovern in 1972, or Roosevelt/Landon in 1936; but a substantial enough victory that only the most froth-at-the-mouth left-liberals can try to claim the presidency is "illegitimate," or that McCain is the "commander in thief."
This is the kind of win that cows Congress; this is the kind of win that can have coattails; this is the kind of win -- if the new president represents a break from the norm -- that actually brings new, young voters to the GOP... similar to Reagan, though not quite that substantial, I would expect. This is big enough to be a transformative election, if the winning ticket calls the young to follow... and I believe McCain does that, to some extent.
But a younger, more exciting, more futurist running mate would magnify that call tenfold.
Bill Clinton's back to back minority victories didn't move the masses, and neither did Bush-43's back to back narrow (spread less than 4%) wins. 9/11 was a screaming smoke-detector for many Americans, including many young Americans; but there was no solid, ideological follow-through by George W. Bush to counteract the Democrats' droning cry of, "Nothing to see here, let's just MoveOn."
That lack of communication and a coherent, post-9/11 ideology is Bush's biggest failing as president; but realistically, he never meant to be a transformer; he ran as a technocrat administrator. It was America's ill-luck the attack happened when it did, and not a year earlier, when it could have helped John McCain in 2000.
(I voted for Bush in the 2000 primary. Though I'd been warning about the danger of militant Islamism since 1990 -- in print! -- I had no idea what was just around the corner when I voted. I now believe McCain would have made a better post-9/11 president than Bush.)
But a Nine-Pointer victory with a transformative ticket will actually move people, those who ordinarily would just vote the faith of their fathers, to switch to the other team -- our team.
So we should search for a running mate who can compliment and augment McCain and help drive this election into a Nine-Pointer win in the popular vote, thus winning a substantial number of the Nine-Pointer states. There's no rush to name one; McCain has months. In fact, if he makes no decision but drops hints of these criteria, that would generate much more interest than quickly naming a yawner.
I don't just want a narrow victory, where we squeak past Obama; I want Obama (or Hillary) crushed... and crushed badly enough that the socialist hydra is driven deep underground, perhaps even freeing the Democratic Party itself from enthrallment by the philosophies of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, and Saul Alinsky.
So that's the kind of running mate we should be looking for: One who can magnify McCain's voice, then follow McCain as president and be a bellwether for the future of the Grand Old Party.
Romney: My Fave for the Nomination, But a Mistake for VP
Fred Barnes is talking up Mitt Romney as John McCain's running mate; and of course Romney -- a loyal party man -- has already said he is willing, should the phone call come.
Here's Barnes' reasoning:
When John McCain begins his search for a vice presidential running mate, he'll quickly come upon a sad fact. He wants a candidate who will be seen as a plausible president. That's criterion number one. He also wants someone who won't subtract from his campaign in any serious way. That's criterion number two. The unfortunate truth is that few Republicans meet these simple criteria. McCain doesn't have much of a pool to choose from.
Barnes thinks the pool is small because he has an appalling lack of imagination; he believes the only valid VP is -- let's face it -- some Republican stalwart whose turn it is. He can't think outside the lockbox. This is the kind of genius that gave us Blob Dole as the 1996 presidential nominee!
That leads to Romney. He has run a vigorous national campaign and been vetted by the press and his opponents for the Republican nomination. These are very strong pluses. A pick who produces unhelpful surprises, as Geraldine Ferraro did in 1984 (her husband's business deals) and Dan Quayle did in 1988 (his National Guard duty), is exactly what McCain doesn't need. Romney is a known quantity.
Alas, "a known quantity" perfectly describes Mitt Romney. And that's exactly what McCain doesn't need: a dull, pedestrian, obvious, no-brainer pick for the downticket. He would thus squander his one chance to really shake up this race if he selected Mitt Romney, or any of the other gray eminences that Mr. Beltway Boy suggests.
Not that there's any specific thing wrong with Romney per se, other than general dullness; he certainly has the experience and gravitas to be president, and he would do no harm and might even bring in a state or two in the general election. But contrary to Barnes' thesis, those are not the only two criteria.
This year, there is a third: McCain should make a surprising, even shocking pick... but one who makes perfect sense -- in retrospect. He cannot simply poke one of the "usual suspects" -- a blah governor, senator, or cabinet member (so forget about Condi Rice, even if conservatives could tolerate her).
And even a fourth criterion: The veep must be a conservative Republican. That rules out Joe Lieberman, Zell Miller, Rudy Giuliani, or Ahnold, even were he a natural-born American citizen.
I'll tell you who my pick would be, even though he would never accept (and we couldn't afford to have him accept anyway); that way, you'll see what I mean. It would be almost perfect if McCain were to tap Gen. David Petraeus as his running mate.
It's impossible, of course; he won't leave Iraq until it's stable, and we can't afford to let him leave now even if he wanted to (which he doesn't). But you see what I mean: Petraeus isn't a politician, but he has tremendous administrative experience. As a four-star general commanding troops in the field -- and achieving victory -- he's as qualified to be president as Dwight D. Eisenhower (pretty good), Useless S. Grunt (pretty bad), or George Washington (spectacular).
And such a choice would shake the hell out of the campaign; it would be all anyone talks about for weeks! Nobody would see it coming, but in retrospect, it would make perfect sense.
So absent Petraeus, who could we get with star power, but who isn't one of the normal yatta-yatta agents of ennui? Forget Romney, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Liddy Dole (so transparently sexist), or even Jeb Bush (that would make nine presidential elections in a row with either a Bush or a Dole on the ticket, top or bottom). Probably steer clear of anyone from the Senate; too much of that already.
Romney would be interesting if he were flamboyant, if he could mesmerize audiences. But he proved on the campaign trail that he just isn't. He's like mashed potatoes... yeah, you can live on it, if you have to. But wouldn't you rather have a really good risotto?
For goodness' sake, can't we think of an exciting, galvanizing running mate? Certainly the last thing John McCain has to worry about is his VP upstaging him, even if it were Chuck Norris. (Not qualified: no significant administrative experience.)
Maybe somebody like T.J. Rodgers, founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor and passionate capitalist... but I don't know his positions on foreign policy; it would have to mesh with McCain's. If Steve Forbes had the same personality and dynamism as his father Malcolm, he would be a good pick; but he doesn't, so he isn't.
What are we looking for? Maybe someone a little bit dangerous, a man or woman who sometimes is the story, just as McCain often is the story. A William Jennings Bryan, a George S. Patton. But young enough that he or she could plausibly follow McCain as president in four or eight years -- so nix on Bud Selig, who is actually older than McCain.
Let's all put on our thinking socks and come up with someone really unexpected -- but really, really good. Come on, laddies and lassies, this is your chance to shine!
Date ►►► March 11, 2008
Hillary at 3 a.m.
The phone rings at 3 a.m. in the White House and Hillary rolls over in bed and answers.
HILLARY: This is the President of the United States. I’m tested and ready.
She listens to the speaker on the other end.
HILLARY: Where did they find him?
HILLARY: Amsterdam? The red light district? Uh huh. Uh huh. Did he inhale?
HILLARY: I know that I sent him as a good will ambassador to the world, but I specifically asked the Secret Service to keep him from spreading good will to that particularly part of the Netherlands. Do you know if they spread any to him? Well, I know they get their shots regularly and that the Dutch government is very proud of their health record, but you can’t be too careful.
HILLARY: Can I speak to him?
HILLARY: So, what do you have to say for yourself this time? Do you know that it’s 3 a.m. and the White House phone is ringing and I’m answering it?
HILLARY: I don’t care if she has big hair.
HILLARY: Bill, you need to control yourself. Do you know that I’ve already issued three pardons for solicitation and pandering, and the Washington police have been very cooperative, but you know that I can’t get away with it forever. Eventually the press corps might notice. If that photo of you dancing naked in the Tidal Basin ever got out onto YouTube I’d have to do something neither of us wants to see, like let Limbaugh or Samantha Power out of prison to distract everybody.
HILLARY: No, Bill, you can’t have a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich. I know you’re on vacation and outside of the U.S. and that National Health Insurance can’t monitor what you eat, but I’m still looking out for you.
HILLARY: No, you can’t rent out the Lincoln bedroom to Britney Spears when you get home, and especially not on a night when you’re going to be staying there. Which you’ll be doing for about a month after you get home. Unless you prefer the couch.
HILLARY: Good night, Bill.
She hangs up the phone, thinks about it for a minute, and then picks it up again and punches in several numbers.
HILLARY: Chief Justice Roberts. Yes, I know it’s 3:10 a.m., but I wanted to let you know that a little bird told me that the court is about ready to vote that it’s unconstitutional for me to put people who have refused to sign up for universal health care in Guantanamo as terrorist detainees. Well, we need to have a conversation about that, John. Unless you and the rest of the court don’t want to join those malcontents, along with Brit Hume and Sean Hannity, I suggest you reconsider your vote. Good morning.
She hangs up the phone.
HILLARY: As I said, I’m tested and ready, with the experience that only eight years in the White House as Bill’s first lady could give me.
Another Great Issue for McCain to Seize From the Left
If there is any issue that epitomizes John McCain's dispute with the conservative wing of the Republican Party, it would be immigration policy. While they differ over several other issues -- notably the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a.k.a. McCain-Feingold, and the putative "Gang of 14," which prevented the GOP from enacting the Byrd option in the Senate to rule it against Senate rules to filibuster judicial nominees -- it is immigation over which the Republican Party split the most widely and violently. And certainly it is immigration that many consider to be the "third rail" of the party... thus the one McCain should most steer clear of, right?
Wrong. In fact, I believe that John McCain should grab the elephant by the tail and look the facts in the face: He should jump into the current immigration donnybrook in Congress with both feet and with fists swinging... because this time, he will be squarely on the side of conservatives; and parachuting in to help the conservatives enact a border-security bill is exactly what McCain needs to be doing right now.
It all started when several moderate Democrats in both House and Senate and one Republican senator introduced a "get tough" bill on immigration and border enforcement. It included a big increase in the Border Patrol (8,000 new agents), more money for building the fence, and most especially, a major crackdown on employers who hire illegal aliens.
The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act was introduced in November 2007 by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC, not yet rated) in the House, and by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AK, 75%), Mary Landrieu (D-LA, 65%) and David Vitter (R-LA, 92%) in the Senate. Nearly all Republicans -- from Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 36%) on the left to Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-CO, 92%) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA, 94%) on the right -- signed aboard the act, along with 48 Democrats in the House and three in the Senate. Many anti-illegal immigation groups applauded the bill, led by NumbersUSA, who called it "enforcement by attrition" for its strict, new immigration-status reporting requirements for business.
But a funny thing happened on the way to a floor vote...
Despite clear majority support in both House and Senate, the Democratic leadership under Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) and Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%) -- stop me if you've heard this before -- threw a fit and vowed to bury the bill, squashing the revolt of the moderates like stomping on a banana slug. And bury it they did, refusing to bring it up even for discussion, let alone a vote.
For three months, it languished in committee hell. But now, Republicans are insisting that the Democratic leadership finally allow a vote on the Democratic-written border-enforcement bill... and supporters of SAVE say they have the votes to force it to the floor via a House discharge petition, a rarely used process whereby a majority of Congress (218 representatives) can vote to "discharge" a bill from consideration by a committee, whose chair is simply sitting on it, and bring it to the floor of the House for debate and vote:
Leaders are expected as early as Tuesday to use a parliamentary tactic that would eventually force a vote on the measure if 218 lawmakers - a majority of the House - demand it. Republicans are pressuring Democratic backers of the measure - including several first-termers and dozens from swing districts, all facing tough re-election fights - to defy their leaders and sign the petition.
"Lots of Republicans and lots of Democrats would like to see something done," Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the No. 2 whip, said Friday.
The House Republican leadership filed the petition today, and all Republicans are expected to sign it; they need about twenty Democrats to sign as well. With 48 Democrats signed aboard as of November, it looks good for being discharged and floored.
Republicans in the Senate are also trying to force Reid to bring it up there... though its fate there is less certain; liberal Democrats can filibuster it, even if moderate Democrats support it. Reid can lose up to ten Democrats and still prevent the SAVE Act from being considered.
But as a political issue, there is nothing Democrats can do to stop it entering the campaign. And enter it John McCain should -- with hobnailed boots!
Oddly even the liberals want McCain to join the fray... but on their side, not the Republican side. I think they're nuts and don't understand McCain at all; but they demand that he speak out against the Republican push to enact the border-security bills in the House and Senate:
Democrats are trying to turn the tables, hoping that Republicans' efforts to push get-tough immigration measures will hurt McCain with Hispanic voters and independents, two groups that have supported him in the past.
In a letter to McCain last week, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., called on the Arizonan to reject the GOP leaders' plans, calling them "draconian and divisive."
"Such a rejection will let this nation's 44 million Latinos know that demonizing them for political purposes will not be tolerated and that the more hateful rhetoric in the immigration debate has no place in our country's civic discourse," Menendez wrote.
Note that suggesting that illegal immigrants shouldn't be allowed into the country and that employers shouldn't employ them is now dubbed demonic hate speech. (I think Sen. Menendez (D-NJ, 90%) is auditioning for a leadership position -- in La Raza.)
What John McCain really ought to do is precisely the opposite of what Democrats demand, shockingly enough; he should jump into the fight but add his voice to those Senate colleagues and fellow congressmen in the House of Representatives, calling for a vote on the SAVE Act.
And it wouldn't be a flip-flop, either. Despite the angry denunciations of McCain by conservatives, he has never favored "open borders" or "immigration for all."
McCain supported comprehensive reform that included border-security measires, and it's fair to say he didn't think much of the border security fence. But when his bill died in 2006, he accepted the verdict of the people: He stated in no uncertain terms that henceforth, he would push for a more secure border first; and only after the stick was enacted would he return to the carrots of the bill.
This was widely seen by Republicans as McCain admitting his comprehensive approach had failed, and that he was joining the "enforcement first" ranks as the only route to immigration reform and regularization. While I still support a comprehensive bill, I understand why McCain -- who must, at the end of the day, actually get something enacted after all -- would give up on comprehensive and go for a one-two approach, security then regularization.
In any event, that was long before the presidential campaign really kicked off; through all of 2007 and into 2008, McCain has pushed to secure the border first, then address the other issues surrounding illegal immigration last. Thus, he already took his lumps on the issue and has come round... not in a stealthy way, but by openly admitting his mistake. I find that rather refreshing in a politician.
Here is what John McCain needs to say on the floor of the Senate to turn this entire issue from being a net negative for him to being a huge positive... in my never very humble (but generally correct) opinion:
My friends, I said before that I got the message sent by the American people; got it loud and clear. I said I wouldn't support bringing up the issue of regularization again until after we had first enacted real border enforcement and security. That's what I said, and that's exactly what I mean to do.
So for that very reason, let's get a vote, a straight up or down vote, on the SAVE Act. Because I think it will pass, and pass with a bipartisan majority in both chambers; and it's time for this train to start moving. Once that is done, and we have a bill to toughen border enforcement, make sure a real, physical wall gets built, and hold employers to the highest standard of making sure their workers are legally allowed to work... then and only then will it be time to come back to the other side of the issue. And I don't just mean just regularization of those already here, but also real reform of the whole system of legal immigration.
We must welcome with open arms those immigrants who come here because they love America, which is the great majority of them... but keep out those very few who try to come here not out of love of liberty, but out of greed, envy, hatred, or to commit sectarian violence and terrorism.
Let's secure the border first; let's have this vote and pass this bill! Then we can turn to the other matters, and I know my fellow conservatives will live up to their word and allow a vote on a path to citizenship and a comprehensive reform of the legal immigration system in this great country.
I think this would delight conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats alike; and most particularly, it would excite independents, who really want to see a bipartisan solution to intractable problems, such as sealing (to the extent possible in a free country) our porous borders.
And most important, it would be one more opportunity for McCain to poke a finger in the eye of the Überleft; I'm certain that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama totally oppose the Pryor-Landrieu-Vitters bill in the Senate... though it's unclear whether Obama can find any voting button on his Senate console except "Present."
If McCain jumps on this issue, it would be the second excellent domestic issue for him to capture this month. But on the other hand, I still haven't heard him chime in on the earmarks issue yet; so he'd better get his Asterix in gear. Time and presidential campaigns wait for no man.
Date ►►► March 10, 2008
The Power of the Big Idea: O'Billery Reduced to "Me Too!"
Previous posts in our series about Congress, the Democrats, the Republicans, and earmarks:
- The Missing Earpiece
- Has Nancy Pelosi Changed Her Mind About Ears?
- The Democrats Are All Ears
- Earmarks? No No... Phonemarks!
- They're All Ears... Again
If Barack Obama represents the New Left and "youth" vote, while Hillary Clinton represents the Paleo-Left and gender-feminist vote, how can John McCain possibly compete? Simple, though not easy: He must lock up the "big idea" vote.
Between now and the election, I want to see two big ideas per month come bubbling up out of the McCain campaign -- both foreign policy and domestic. Let the Democrats hog the headlines with an increasingly nasty and personal slugfest; McCain will slide into public consciousness with a high-minded campaign of real ideas to solve real, everyday problems bedeviling ordinary people... such as congressional corruption.
And McCain's off to a grand start. Today, both Obama and Hillary were forced to chime in with a hearty "what he said" on the issue of congressional earmarks, those nasty bits of business where members of Congress steer federal money to specific home-district companies -- usually after said companies donate mucho dinero to the senator or congressman. (No, that certainly doesn't create any suspicion of bribery!)
Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday joined Republican presidential candidate John McCain and a small band of GOP senators in making a run this week against the billions of dollars in home-state pet projects Congress funds each year.
Obama, locked in a head-to-head battle with Clinton for the Democratic nomination, was the first to declare through a spokesman Monday that he would support a one-year moratorium on so-called earmarks when it comes up for a vote later this week. Clinton followed shortly afterward through a spokesman....
South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint, a first-term McCain ally in the fight against pork, is the main sponsor of a one-year ban on earmarks, the term lawmakers use for the pet projects they slip into must-pass legislation.
A vote is coming this week as the Senate debates its annual budget plan. McCain is expected to give a floor speech to rally Republicans behind the idea and to make time in his busy campaign schedule to cast a rare vote.
But the power of the big idea goes even further, for McCain not only supports the one-year moratorium -- which many legislators might climb aboard, assuming that after the year is up, it will be business as usual again; John McCain is also campaigning on a stern and readily testable anti-pork policy: He vows as president not to sign any bill that contains earmarks.
This goes far beyond what either Obama or Hillary would ever agree to do... which puts them into the self-defeating position of agreeing with McCain that earmarks are a corrupt scourge -- but being unwilling actually to eliminate them entirely. Why? As Jimmy used to say on the Mickey Mouse Club, "because we like you!" Viz.:
McCain is among only six members of the Senate who don't ask for pet projects. Obama does, though his requests are generally modest when compared to more senior senators like Illinois colleague Dick Durbin, a fellow Democrat.
As for Hillary, the magazine The Hill provides a clue:
Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has secured more earmarks in the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill than any other Democrat except for panel Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)....
Clinton received 26 earmarks worth about $148.4 million total, most of which were also sought by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Clinton and Schumer agreed several years ago to go after projects together, according to several sources....
According to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, Clinton has secured 360 earmarks worth a combined $2.2 billion from 2002 to 2006 in all spending and authorization bills.
Back to the Assocated Press article:
Old-school senior Republicans such as former Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran of Mississippi have long teamed with Democrats to block moves by McCain to cut earmarks, typically by margins of 2-to-1 or so....
"[The moratorium] sounds like a bad idea to me," said Cochran. "I don't think that's very wise, to give up a constitutional responsibility that is given to Congress."
Congress has a constitutional responsibility to appropriate money for necessary spending... but it most certainly does not have a mandate to funnel billions of dollars to favorite-son companies as a form of corporate welfare, gleefully picking the winners and losers of what should be a market-based process; while Democrats whine about "no-bid contracts" going to Halliburton (Halliburton! Don't you understand? It's -- it's Halliburton!), they're beavering away at directing megabucks to specific companies -- no other bids accepted -- that just happen to have plants or headquarters located in the legislator's home district... and just happen to send some of that same money right back to the member as campaign cash.
Ah, but at least Obama and Hillary are willing to go as far as a one-year moratorium; so they have innoculated themselves against charges of being willing accomplices to corruption and the selling of the Congress -- right? Well, not quite; they may have a bit of an ulterior motive:
Pelosi also has many stalwart defenders of earmarks in her party, particularly among freshmen who this year received a disproportionate share of them to tout to voters in what, for many will be tough re-election campaigns.
But she's helped by the fact that no one expects many spending bills to pass before Election Day anyway, so accepting a temporary ban isn't much of a sacrifice.
When penance is barely felt, grace barely shines. They can pretend to support an end to ears without actually inconveniencing themselves one bit. And I expect John McCain to be positively scathing in his remarks about Democratic candidates who do not join him in the larger pledge, not to sign any bill that contains earmarks.
The GOP's failure in the 109th Congress to rein in excess spending, and especially the corruption of earmarks, was probably the single greatest cause of their loss in the 2006 elections. There is no indication that voters will give Democrats a pass on the same issue; if they did, I suspect Congress' approval rating would be significantly higher than 25%.
It's high time we had a candidate who would stick the eventual Democrat nominee between the Devil and Charybdis, leaving him in a quandry where he has to cut off his ears to fight his race.
Date ►►► March 9, 2008
Imagine, if you will, Josef Stalin talking about one of his “elections” in which 95 percent of the adult populace participated. The other 5 percent was either on their deathbeds (and they had better damn well die, or else!) or in the gulag.
If someone were to suggest that the election was fraudulent because only one candidate or slate of candidates was the on the ballot and that the election shouldn’t count Uncle Joe’s talk might go something like this: “I think it would be a grave disservice to the voters of Georgia and the Ukraine to adopt any process that would disenfranchise anyone.”
He might also say, "They clearly believed that their votes would count, and I think that there has to be a way to make them count.” Or even, “The desires of thirty million people who trudged through the snow to vote should not be ignored.”
Well, you’ve probably guessed by now that when I say Stalin, I really mean Hillary Clinton. Can’t fool you, can I?
Only the Clintons could pull off hypocrisy of this magnitude and not be hounded to the water’s edge by a righteous press. Just think about it for a moment: an election that she agreed not to participate in, and then duplicitously decided to compete in, including one primary election where her name was the ONLY one on the ballot. How about the people who wanted to vote for Obama but weren’t allowed to because his name was not on the ballot? Weren’t they disenfranchised? Guess not.
Hillary has a little more in common with Stalin than just that. Stalin, and other 20th century dictators, was able to demonstrate that the bigger the lie, the more likely you are to get away with it. I’m waiting for Hillary Clinton to murder someone on national television and then, holding the smoking gun, deny that it just happened. Personally, I think she’d be able to get away with it.
One really good thing about this pig’s breakfast of an election season: When it’s done, whether Obama wins or Hillary manages to steal it, I think we’ve buried for good any more Democrat talk about hanky panky elections. These guys shouldn’t be able to raise their heads above the edge of the gutter -- but they will, because Democrats and liberals are without shame. You have to admire them for that.
Which brings up another delicious irony, the way this primary has devolved into which group is the biggest, and therefore the most worthy victim. Maureen Dowd describes the current unpleasantness between Hillary and Obama this way:
With Obama saying the hour is upon us to elect a black man and Hillary saying the hour is upon us to elect a woman, the Democratic primary has become the ultimate nightmare of liberal identity politics. All the victimizations go tripping over each other and colliding, a competition of historical guilts.
People will have to choose which of America’s sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?
For those of us who feel no sense of guilt about history and have always been annoyed about the propensity of liberals to label people who stand in their way as racists and misogynists, it is delicious indeed to see the seeds of this sort of gender and race politics grow into a forest of weeds that can’t be cut without making either feminists or race politicians bleed.
Date ►►► March 8, 2008
The Audacity of Gratitude
This is one of the best, most moving, most articulate and clean and bright viral campaign videos I've ever seen. I have a feeling that John McCain will turn out to be a 100% improvement over George W. Bush as a communicator.
See what you think:
McCain rams headfirst into the rock of Obama, and I think I'm seeing that mighty, messianic facade cracking and crumbling. McCain isn't one inch afraid of Mr. Agent of Change: Obama seems to be saying there's nothing really good about America, and we need a total transformation of society in order to finally feel proud of our country
But McCain responds that there is goodness and greatness in this country, and he's here to remind us of what is worth preserving -- and what's worth fighting for. It's like Reagan's first and second campaigns rolled together into one unstoppable force. This kind of campaign is going to excite young people just as much as, maybe more than Obama's preaching from the pulpit of progressivism.
Timing the clip of Winnie saying "never give in, never yield, never surrender" to shots of McCain in the Hanoi Hilton is just a brilliant, brilliant way to highlight how many trials by fire he has endured and triumphed over... compared to how little we even know about the pragmatist socialist Hillary Clinton and the liberal fascist Barack Obama.
I think I'm really going to enjoy this campaign season.
Date ►►► March 7, 2008
Another FARCing Rebel Taken Single-Handedly
Ivan Rios, yet another high-ranking leader of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was evidently just killed, in this case by his own bodyguard:
A top rebel leader was killed by his own chief of security, who gave Colombian troops the leader's severed hand as proof, the defense minister said Friday. Ivan Rios was the second top rebel killed in a week, a major setback for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country's largest rebel force.
Just a few days ago, as we reported, FARC number two Raul Reyes was slain, slightly inside Ecuador, by Colombian forces in a cross-border airstrike.
Ivan Rios was the first high-ranking, articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking FARC terrorist Colombia has gotten, and only the second top leader period:
The 46-year-old Rios became known across Colombia as one of the rebels' main negotiators in failed peace talks that ended in 2002. Unlike the FARC's mostly peasant leadership, he was a former university student who engaged journalists and foreign envoys in political and economic discussions.
"He was the youngest member of the secretariat. He was very important to the rebels," said Alfredo Rangel of the Bogota-based think tank Security and Democracy. "This shows the army is capable of taking down the rebels' most important pillars and that any of the leaders can fall at any time...."
[Rios] commanded the FARC's central bloc, which operates throughout Colombia's northwestern coffee region. [No wonder they had a hard time handling Rios... he was too jittery to stay in one spot too long.] Security forces say he frequently accompanied the FARC's senior leader, Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, in recent years.
No, I didn't make up that nickname.
They're dropping like thieves. Sure as shootin', some Colombian special forces sniper will shortly sureshoot Sureshot Marulanda.
I don't know why "Rojas" -- Rios' bodyguard -- killed him; there are many possible reasons:
Thursday night, [Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos] said, a guerrilla known as Rojas came to the troops with Rios' severed right hand, laptop computer and ID, saying he had killed his boss three days earlier. [Was the severed right hand clutching the ID card, or what it still busily typing away at the laptop?]
It was unclear what motivated the killing, but Santos said it was to "relieve the military pressure" because the rebels were "surrounded, without supplies and without communication."
The U.S. State Department has a bounty of $5 million for Rios' capture.
Maybe for the money, maybe to appease Colombia and get them to back away from the rest of the frightened "rebels." But whatever Red's motivation, I think we should all give him a big -- round of applause.
(Yeah, I know what you thought I was about to say, you morbid creatures!)
McCain at 3 a.m.
I think I’ve seen at least three spots this week that highlight a highly dangerous aspect of John McCain’s personality, one that might very well cost him the election if it becomes too noticeable, and which, if he gets into the White House, should make for some interesting moments during those foreign policy moments such as what Hillary refers to in her now famous “when the phone rings at 3 a.m.”
Suppose the phone rings at 3 a.m. and President McCain answers?
MCCAIN: Hello! What the hell do you want? Do you want a piece of me? If you’re not careful I’ll come down there and kick your ass! If you don’t think I can do it, then you don’t know what six years in the Hanoi Hilton can do to a man! I’ve had bamboo shoots stuck up my fingernails, so I’m sure I can find a find a bamboo pole that will fit you!
MRS. MCCAIN: Who is it, John?
MCCAIN: What! I don’t care if it does cause a damn nuclear war! I’m sick to death of people giving me microphones that don’t work, bumping into me with TV cameras, asking me about my relationship with John Kerry and bringing up my bad temper. That really pisses me off, and if it happens one more time, I’m pushing the red button, and you’ll all be radioactive!
MRS. McCAIN: John, John!
MCCAIN: OK, that’s it. I’m killing everybody! [JUMPS OUT OF BED, KNOCKING OVER THE BED STAND] Major! Where’s the football!
MRS. MCCAIN: John, what’s the matter, dear?
MCCAIN: Nothing’s wrong. That was the night chef. My hot chocolate is ready.
THE SECRET SERVICE ENTERS IN A PANIC RUN, WITH GUNS DRAWN
SECRET SERVICE: Are you OK, Mr. President?
MCCAIN: Yeah, I’m fine. I just don’t like to drink alone.
Homescuttled: California Educational Establishment Squashes Homeschoolers
In a ruling almost certain to ignite a chalkboard revolution, a California appellate court unanimously (3 to 0 in In re Rachel L., et al.) held, in essence, that parents cannot homeschool their kids unless the parents have a valid teaching credential for the appropriate grades.
And of course, in order to get a valid teaching credential, you must attend a "multiple subject teacher preparation program." This requirement is only satisfied by getting a BA in Education, or else taking a post-graduate course of study for at least one year; and it must include student teaching.
In other words, for all intents and purposes, the court has ruled that only credentialed teachers can teach their own kids at home. Others who want their kids taught at home must hire a tutor with a state teaching credential, as above. This is a full-blown assault on parents who don't want their kids indoctrinated in the latest leftist fads in the public schools, but who haven't enough money for private tutoring or a private school, and who cannot find a low-cost religious school near enough for their kids to attend.
At this point, it appears the only option for parents who don't like what their kids are taught in the public schools is to form their own private school -- and then get the state to certify that school. This may be difficult, as it's in the vested interest of school districts to have as large an enrollment as possible in the public schools, since that is the basis of the school's budget as set by the state. In addition, the California Department of Education is in thrall to the California Teachers Association, and the CTA hates and despises homeschooling... because the moms and dads who teach their own kids obviously have no reason to join the union.
Tthus, there is little incentive for a school district to certify any private school that is not a big corporation who can take the district to court to force certification.
I'm not a lawyer, but I sometimes play one online, to my own amusement. (And to the hysterical consternation of real lawyers, such as Patterico, Beldar, and the lads at Power Line, who seem to believe that graduating from law school, passing the bar exam, and practicing as attorneys for decades gives them some sort of superior "knowledge" about the law. Faugh! Bourgeois credentialing fetishists.) Reading through the In re Rachel L. decision, it looks like the appellate court is on fairly firm legal ground... which only shows that "the law is a ass, a idiot," as Beadle Bumble observed in Dickens' Oliver Twist.
The mandatory schooling laws were enacted at a time when many parents saw no purpose in their kids learning anything beyond a 2nd or 3rd grade reading ability and "sums." And the law was also passed in the progressive/"liberal fascist" era, when those running the country firmly believed that it didn't take parents to raise a child... it took the entire nation, and parents were merely unhelpful roadblocks to statist indoctrination. It took... trained and credentialed "experts."
Nowadays, parents pulling their kids out of school almost never do so because they don't want them to be educated; they pull their kids out because they do want them educated, and they don't believe their pathetic public school system is up to the job. It's long overdue to revisit those laws and make some very significant changes... while we still can.
The court in the current case relied much on In re Shinn, 195 Cal.App.2nd. 683, decided in 1961; but part of that ruling found:
To qualify as a bona fide school, a place of learning must have competent teachers capable of teaching. The evidence indicates that appellants, in conducting their self-education program, failed to fully comply with Education Code, section 7901, setting forth the courses required to be taught at a private school. Dr. Shinn admitted that the children did not receive any instruction in civics or in California history. Home education, regardless of its worth, is not the legal equivalent of attendance in school in the absence of instruction by qualified private tutors. Accordingly, the juvenile court had evidence to support its finding that the Shinn children were not being instructed in a private fulltime day school by persons capable of teaching. It was justified in concluding that appellants violated the compulsory education law.
In the current case (In re Rachel L., et al), the appellate court noted the following:
The attorney representing the younger two children asked the juvenile court to order that the children be enrolled in a public or private school. The dependency court declined to make such an order despite the court’s opinion that the home schooling the children were receiving was “lousy,” “meager,” and “bad,” and despite the court’s opinion that keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children’s lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ “cloistered” setting.
Note that in both Shinn and Rachel L., courts found specifically that the homeschooling was academically inadequate. In addition, in the current case, the dependency court also found that the kids were kept in a "cloistered" environment and didn't interact sufficiently with kids outside the family.
So it's possible a better case could be made for homeschoolers being considered a "private school" if they did actually teach all subjects required in public school -- and also enrolled more than just the kids of one family. Thus, if a group of parents got together and created a private school, they might have a better case, even if they were not able to get the local school district to certify them. (They could perhaps appeal on the basis of bias, if they could show that their education skills were demonstrably as good as those of credentialed teachers at the local public school.)
But a much better case can be made for what I consider the real answer to the question of homeschooling: The California state legislature should add a new teaching credential for non-institutional teachers.
This credential should not require attending Ed school or engaging in a year of student teaching... which would be beyond the resources of most mothers or fathers. But it should require the potential homeschooling parents to take a test to ensure they know the required subjects well enough to teach them, plus some standardized testing of the kids to ensure that the kids are not just "learning the Bible" (or the Koran) and nothing more.
With such a credential, parents would of course legally be allowed to teach their own children, even without having to turn themselves into a private school (a kludgey work-around for the obvious animosity of the Department of Education towards homeschoolers).
The same new teaching credential should cover another kind of teacher as well, one with relevant of "life experience" to take the place of the "multiple subject teacher preparation program" and student teaching. It's unconscionable that, for example, a military instructor with years of experience training officers and enlisted men can't teach high school; but a sheltered 21 year old with a BA in Education from Cal State and a year of student teaching -- even with only the bare minimum subject-matter knowledge -- is qualified to teach any subject in any public school, except foreign language.
Naturally, the majority Democrats in the legislature will kill such a bill in committee; but that's fine... because that will give Republicans challenging the Democratic incumbents a real issue to use to fight their way into the state Assembly or Senate... an issue that appeals across the board from left to right, and especially among black, Hispanic, and other minority parents whose children are stuck in dreadful school districts -- as well as suburban soccer moms who are increasingly unhappy with the local district's NOW, NARAL, GLADD-written curriculum on sex education; their AIM and La Raza-written curriculum on California history (Aztlan!); the AMA's push to distribute condoms and teach kids how to use them in middle school; and the American Psychiatric Association recommendations on drugging kids in classrooms without even parental notification, let alone consent.
California is a liberal state; there is no doubt about it. But it's not as liberal as New York or Massachusetts... obviously, seeing how the vote runs here -- not just for the Governator but for president, too. In 2004, John Kerry won California by only 9 points, compared to 19 points in New York and a whopping 25 points in Kerry's home state. It's absurd that Democrats utterly dominate both chambers of the legislature. But one reason is that Republicans haven't been able to articulate any solid reason why they should oust incumbent Democrats.
Well, now they can. If, that is, the GOP can get off the stick and on the hump and start proposing popular, party-line crossing legislation... like making it easier for parents who want to homeschool and retired professionals to get credentialed, without having to drop everything and go back to college all over again.
There are some fields where you only want trained experts to participate. But when it comes to educating kids, having a knowledgeable and caring teacher and a disciplined environment (where kids can be actually punished for acting out, for example), is far more important than "expert" credentialing.
Date ►►► March 6, 2008
Obama, Power, and Obama Power; Letters to a Blogger
I sent this as e-mail to one of the great bloggers of our time. But upon reflection, I think it brilliant and witty enough to post on Big Lizards (thus sloughing off writing another monumental post like the last one). Egad, betimes my own eloquence astonishes even me.
Dear Mystery Blogger;
Have you read Jonah Goldberg's tour de force Liberal Fascism? If he's right -- and he certainly knows more about the subject than I -- then the purpose of Samantha Power's major foreign-policy proposals -- to send American forces to carve up Israel and hand over choice pieces to the Palestinians, and to precipitously flee Iraq while ethnically cleansing the inhabitants -- is not to achieve any particular result.
The purpose of them is simply to do them. "Action, action, action!", that is the watchword: simply to do something... anything!
Liberal fascists abhor the status quo more than anything else; the driving force behind this detestation may well be simple boredom, as Goldberg suggests (see previous post); they're filled with ennui when things stay the same and only feel alive -- and can only flex their power -- when they're actively changing things around.
It really doesn't matter how they change them; being pure pragmatists, they have no coherent ideology anyway. But when they're moving pieces around the chessboard, they experience the godlike high of pure power. They're shaking things up; they're on the move; they're taking action directe.
As I've been reading your chronicles of Power, I've applied this gloss... and suddenly it all makes sense. Obama is stunningly unspecific about what "change" he wants, because all he really wants is change -- any kind of change at all. The results are unimportant, so he's not fazed if the few changes he deigns to specify have already been tried before, and failed before.
Obama sees and describes himself as an astonishment to the world: the audacity of hope; an agent of change; the total transformation of the world; a blissful warrior against arrogance. He speaks in a messianic preacher-voice, because he sees himself as the Minister of the New (liberal fascist) World Order.
The aptly named Samantha Power plays Wormtongue to Obama's Saruman.
All that matters is to install a government led by a Great Man (Obama) who will quickly and decisively "solve our problems" by acting, rather than thinking or debating. Democracy is just too darn slow; all Congress ever does is talk and talk. We need rule by emergency decree to keep up with the changing times!
The people will simply have to jettison their quaint, old-fashioned ideas about individual liberty; the individual must be prepared to subordinate himself to the needs of the many. "Everything inside the state; outside the state, nothing." Private ownership of property is acceptable -- so long as all property is controlled by the state.
Hillary Clinton is also a liberal fascist (in the mold of Woodrow Wilson or FDR), hence the similarity of their plans. But Hillary has the misfortune of not being a charismatic, cultic leader... so her only chance at power is to use the bureaucracy to snatch the nomination from the Great Man himself (though I strongly suspect she will lose that fight).
These are dangerous times we live in, Mystery Man; but not for the reasons that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton enunciate. The best thing about John McCain is that he may be a great American, but he's not a Great Man!
McCain has no interest in ruling by emergency decree, and the democratic process is plenty fast enough for him.
Date ►►► March 3, 2008
They're Both Right
“She’s testy and ready.” If the primary election has demonstrated anything this year, it is why Hillary Clinton should not be president. If she were to run the nation as incompetently and on the fly as her supposed “inevitable” candidacy has been run, it would fall on the rocks on Day One.
Leon Panetta, President Clinton’s chief of staff, and without doubt a Clinton loyalist, complained bitterly this week that the incompetence of the campaign owed much to top strategist Mark Penn, who he compared to Karl Rove. He said Penn hadn’t planned for the long haul.
Just like Hitler in 1939 and Donald Rumsfeld in 2002, the Clintons didn’t prepare for a long war (there, dear reader, I have done the nearly impossible, compared both Bush and Clinton to Hitler!). They thought it would be over by Christmas. One reason that they didn’t take the long view was the deep down feeling by the Clintons that they were “owed” the presidency again and that their progress towards that goal should be something more in the nature of a coronation than a battle.
I’ve always thought that Hillary was the Democrats’ Richard Nixon, and now here’s a new Nixonian riff: The press wants her to lose. One Hillary stooge suggested that every time Obama levels a personal attack against her (i.e. confronts her with her actual record) “the press has largely applauded him.” Another said the press is following Hillary’s fall with “glee.”
If, as seems increasingly likely, Mrs. Clinton loses, we may yet see a repeat of “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around any more.”
I’ve thought for awhile that most Democrats, who might have been in love with Bill, never really could see the charm of his wife, who is variously described as “Wicked Witch of the West, Nurse Ratched,” and “either your first wife or your current mother-in-law.”
You would think that the same crowd that went weak kneed about Bill 16-years ago would also be motivated by the “You go, girl!” dream. Now they are going weak-kneed for Obama.
FARCing Follow-Up: Oogo Is Funding the Narco-Terrorist Group
By way of a follow-up to our previous post, The King of France Marched Up the Hill With Thirty Thousand Men...
According to the International Herald Tribune, after a Colombian air strike killed top FARC leader Raul Reyes and sixteen of his terrorist cohorts, the Colombians recovered Reyes' laptop (hat tip to commenter MTF). From that laptop, they extracted data that indicates that Venezuelan President Oogo Chavez has been funding the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia -- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC -- the Marxist narco-terrorists who have been trying to destroy the democratic, America-friendly Colombian government for decades.
Colombia's police chief said Monday that documents recovered from a slain rebel leader's computer reveal financial ties between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Colombia's largest guerrilla group, including a recent message that mentions US$300 million in Venezuelan support for the rebels.
The official, Gen. Oscar Naranjo, didn't say if there was any indication in the Feb. 14 message that Venezuela actually delivered this money to the rebels.
This may well explain why Chavez was so devastated by FARC's loss during that raid: It might have been less mourning the passing of Reyes as nervously wondering what evidence Reyes may have had with him when he went.
Bloomberg has a more detailed story; evidently, it wasn't just one laptop the Colombians found, but three. And included among the FARC data recovered is news that the terrorist group has recently attempted to purchase 50 kilos of uranium:
Naranjo said the computer files, which will be subjected to outside analysis, also provided details on the drug-funded group's plans to obtain 50 kilograms of uranium to make bombs as part of a bid to branch into international terrorism. He didn't provide details about the alleged plot.
Buried within the Bloomberg story is this amusing tidbit that puts the whole story in a nutbag:
Among Latin American countries that called for explanation from Colombia on the cross-border raid were Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Argentina and Peru.
So why would those particular countries rush to object to the incursion, while other Latin American countries did not? Well, let's take a look at them:
- Brazil's president is the socialist head of the Worker's Party, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has close ties to Oogo Chavez.
- Chile is run by President Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria, of the Socialist Party of Chile. While she is not personally connected to Oogo, it is revealing that, when the UN Security Council needed to fill the Latin American seat, and when the vote among Latin American member states was deadlocked between Venezuela and Guatemala, Chile's vote became a major "litmus test" for support of Oogo Chavez; Bachelet's initial impulse was to vote for Chavez, according to the Chilean ambassador to Venezuela... but eventually, worried about the political implications, Chile abstained from any vote at all. It's not hard to guess where Bachelet's sympathies lie.
- Nicaragua is now run (again!) by President Daniel Ortega, head of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (Sandinista National Liberation Front), now allied with the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (Constitutional Liberal Party). According to the Beeb, Fidel Castro sent Ortega a congratulatory note after his 2006 election, and Ortega is very close to Oogo Chavez.
- Argentina is headed by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (wife of former President Néstor Carlos Kirchner), a lifelong member of the leftist branch of the Justicialist Party, founded by Juan Perón. Oogo Chavez stands accused of trying to funnel $800,000 (in cash) into Christina de Kirchner's campaign. Chavez and Kirchner angrily deny it happened; but just today, Carlos Kauffman became the second man to plead guilty in a plot to smuggle a suitcase full of American cash into Argentina from Caracas, Venezuela -- stupidly passing through Miami, where the courier, Guido Antonini, was nabbed.
And finally, Peru is bossed by President Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez, a member of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance, APRA), a hard-left socialist party; APRA acts as a "gateway drug" to Marxist revolutionary movements in Latin America. Curiously, not only was Garcia not supported by Oogo, Chavez actively campaigned for Garcia's opponent, revolutionary leftist Ollanta Humala. In fact, Chavez's involvement almost certainly scared Peruvian voters into voting for Garcia.
However, since his election, Garcia has sucked up to Chavez big time.
We haven't heard protests yet from Bolivia, run by President Evo Morales, another hard-core leftist and Oogophant; but I'm sure we will soon.
But we also haven't heard from -- and likely won't -- countries such as El Salvadore, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Uruguay, or even Mexico... some Left, some Right, but none with any close connection to Oogo Chavez. While it may come as a shock to Americans that Chavez is closely associated with the FARC terrorists, evidently both Oogo's friends and his enemies were well aware of this connection, and they have already chosen up sides.
Finally, one more quotation that I find perversely amusing for some reason, this one from the Earth Times, of all places:
"In the same way that there is information compromising Ecuadorian Security Minister Gustavo Larrea (in dealings with FARC), there is information compromising [Venezuelan Interior Minister] Rodriguez Chacin. We have found photographs of people who met with the rebels," Naranjo said....
However, the Ecuadorian government denied the allegations and claimed that Colombia is only seeking to distract attention from the gravity of the violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty that it incurred in to kill Reyes.
I think I understand: Ecuador is incensed that Colombia violated Ecuador's sovereignty by crossing one mile into Ecuador to kill Raul Reyes... who was operating with impugnity in Ecuador -- a mile from the Colombian border and with full knowledge of Ecuador -- in an attempt to overthrow the Colombian government and usher in a revolutionary Marxist narcostate.
Yes, I can see Ecuador's point. How dare Colombia violate Ecuador's sovereignty to violate Colombia's sovereignty. I can see why a country would get upset when its neighbor violently interferes with its attempts to violently interfere with its neighbor... and not only do I no idea what that means, I'll lay you 2 to 5 I couldn't even repeat it!
The King of France Marched Up the Hill With Thirty Thousand Men
Who drove off in his Yugo,
The revolution to go,
Boogo, bloogo, blew...
Today, pudgy Venezuelan strongman Oogo Chavez warned that Colombia was about to start a war... and so saying, he ordered six thousand troops, tanks, artillery, and cinematographers up to the Colombian border.
This was in response to the jaw-droppingly warlike act on the part of Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe, ordering Colombian troops to follow the narco-terrorist guerillas of FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia -- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) across the Ecuadorean border... where they fell upon the Communist drug lords and killed seventeen of the murderers, including top butcher Paul Reyes.
It's not exactly clear what connection Oogo has with FARC, other than the obvious: Colombia is an American ally; therefore, any enemy to Colombia is brother to Oogo.
Corrupt and in disorder,
And steenkin' just like Mordor,
The Oogo went where few go,
And stepped into the ordure --
Blowder, glowder glow!
But here's where the fun begins. Oogo, you see, has an ego the size of a planet (and not just a little rockball like Venus or Mars; I mean a gas giant... Saturn, at least). He truly believes that he is a god... or perhaps the God, to the extent to which he believes in any god at all. And he quite evidently believes that he (and his ally Ecuador) can simply brush aside the Colombian military -- and any military aid America sends -- like so much cotton candy. He believes the hype of his MoveOn friends that he can conquer Colombia and add it to Venezuela as the twenty-fourth state without consequence because America is "bogged down" in Iraq:
"This is something very serious. This could be the start of a war in South America," Chavez said. He warned Colombian President Alvaro Uribe: "If it occurs to you to do this in Venezuela, President Uribe, I'll send some Sukhois" -- Russian warplanes recently bought by Venezuela.
He called Uribe "a criminal" accusing him of being a "lapdog" of Washington saying "Dracula's fangs (are) are covered in blood."
The slaying of Reyes and 16 other guerrillas, Chavez said, "wasn't any combat. It was a cowardly murder, all of it coldly calculated."
One begins to believe that Oogo has imbibed a bit too much caliphate liquor from his pals the Iranians, and he begins to believe that with Allah (and R. Castro) on his side, he can conquer the entire continent of South America. The influence of the caliphatists is evident, as Oogo adds:
"The Colombian government has become the Israel of Latin America," an agitated Chavez said, mentioning another country that he has criticized for its military strikes. "We aren't going to permit Colombia to become the Israel of these lands. ... Uribe, we aren't going to permit you."
"Someday Colombia will be freed from the hand of the (U.S.) empire," Chavez said. "We have to liberate Colombia," he added, saying Colombia's people will eventually do away with its government.
This doesn't sound to me like a world leader issuing veiled threats of unnamed diplomatic sanctions, but rather like a belligerent drunkard tossed out of a bar, working himself up to bringing his shotgun back and taking out everybody what ever done him wrong -- in reality or in a whiskey delerium.
A snub and slight recorder,
This Oogo with his brujo
And military nouveau;
This larder overlorder
And terrorist resorter
Said "Uribe, now you go,
And that's a FARCing order!"
Oogo snoogo snew...
Believe it or not, if Oogo decides to make good his threat and invade Colombia in support of FARC, it may be the best thing that could ever happen to the bumptious Bolivarian bumpkin... from our perspective. It's hard to imagine that President George W. Bush would pass up the opportunity to crush Oogo's army... legitimately, no "pre-emptive" strike required, and without violating the troop cap put in place in 2000 and 2004.
All we need do is shift some of our SOUTHCOM Naval air forces and special forces from Florida to Colombia, but make it clear this has nothing to do with the drug-eradication program "Plan Colombia," thus is not subject to the 800-troop cap put in place by Congress in 2004. Of course, the American troops already present -- including quite a few special forces -- can function as the anvil against which the hammer of the new forces strikes, pulverizing the Venezuelan army in between them
And the best part is... what are the Democrats going to say, that we should simply let Oogo Chavez annex an entire nation and American ally to boot? The obvious analogy would not be to the Iraq war of 2003 but the Gulf war of 1990-1991; it would be virtually impossible for the Left to argue either that this was a war of American aggression (driving Oogo out of Colombia) or that it was too far away to matter to us -- since it's right in our own backyard.
And the upshot could well be that a defeated, mockable Chavez slinks back to Caracas and is promptly deposed by the dissenters, who currently number at least as many as his supporters. Who knows? He may even have to flee to his new best friend, Raul Castro -- if not to his traditional best friends, the mullahs of Iran.
Of course, he could just be bluffing. Perhaps he's only trying to whip his people into a patriotic, bloodthirsty fervor, the better to militarize Venezuelan society even more than it already is. He could stand at the Colombian border and shake his fist at the running-dog imperialist lackeys of the Great Satan, then lead the troops home in a glorious victory parade. Sure, nobody will quite be able to articulate what, exactly, was won; but when has that ever stopped demagogues?
Sadly, I suspect this is the more likely scenario. But perhaps a stern warning or two might so inflame the Oogo that he flings caution to the winds, hops on his horse, and gallups madly off in all directions.
We can only hope.
Like pirates from Tortugo,
Across the magic border,
Snorder, snooder snoo...
The border in short order
Is filled with bloody morder,
And Oogo's armored Yugos
Become taquito to-gos.
Caracas sues for quarter,
And Oogo's now a porter
(Hauls your bags where you go,
Trujillo up to Juneau)
No mullah more may through go
Our border thanks to Oogo;
The hydra's one head shorter --
Florder, flewder flew!
© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved