Date ►►► February 27, 2009
Samantha Power, Chas Freeman, and Now - Hillary?
First, Samantha Power -- the anti-Israel, antisemitic Palestinian supporter and former advisor to Barack H. Obama during his campaign (until she was exiled for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster") -- is resurrected from the political graveyard to serve the administration of Barack H. Obama as "senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council."
Then anti-Israel, antisemitic sock puppet of the House of Saud (and apologist for Palestinian terrorism and the Tiananmen Square massacre), Charles "Chas" Freeman, is tapped to be the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which takes the lead in crafting the National Intelligence Estimates that are presented directly to the President of the United States.
And now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, previously thought to be a supporter of Israel, is pressuring Israel to allow nearly $1 billion of "humanitarian aid" to flow to Hamas for Gaza "reconstruction."
I wonder what they'll do with their billion bucks? They might:
- Feed the starving refugees in Gaza;
- Eliminate the putative "refugee camps" and settle the residents in permanent locations throughout the PA;
- Open schools to teach literacy to girls;
- Construct courts of genuine justice that would prosecute parents for talking their children into being suicide bombers and fathers for murdering their daughters for being seen talking to a boy;
- Engage the Arab world to help the Palestinian economy enter the 21st century;
- Buy rockets, missiles, suicide belts, and explosively formed projectiles and use them to slaughter innocent Jewish children, women, and old men.
I wonder which choice they will pick?
Clinton has relayed messages to Israel about the aid issue in the past week, and senior aides have made it clear the question would be central to her visit to Israel on Tuesday. [I suppose that means the question of continual Hamas rocket fire into Israel will be peripheral -- if she raises it at all.]
Influential Senator John Kerry last week witnessed first-hand the difficulties involved in delivering key supplies to Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power in June 2007, and is struggling to recover from Israel's devastating 22-day war. [Recovering from Israel's war? Great leaping horny toads.]
So why are the Israelis being so hard hearted and mean spirited?
Israel insists it will not reopen its crossing points into Gaza until Hamas releases Gilad Shalit, a soldier captured by Palestinian militants in a deadly cross-border raid from Gaza in June 2006.
How petty. What is the value of a single Jew, when weighed against all those Palestinian victims of genocidal Israeli tyranny? Just ask Chas Freeman.
But we needn't worry; this is just another example of "Jewish leaders overreact[ing]," as Atlantic Monthly columnist Jeffrey Goldberg assures us.
Date ►►► February 25, 2009
The Louse of Saud
Foreign Policy magazine announced last week that a fellow named Chas W. Freeman, current (or former) president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), will be President Barack H. Obama's pick to chair the National Intelligence Council, the lead group in creating the National Intelligence Estimates that drive policy on intelligence issues. The NIC reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), currently Dennis Blair; it is not an inconsequential group within the intelligence community.
Who is Chas W. Freeman, jr.?
He is a former ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the Clinton presidency. He serves on the MEPC with such luminaries as George McGovern, top executives from Boeing, ExxonMobil, and the Carlyle Group -- all of which have multibillion-dollar investments in Saudi Arabia -- a CIA consultant, and a Palestinian immigrant named Talat Othman, who came to our attention most recently in 2002, when he vigorously protested against the FBI raids of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, created in 1981 by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Freeman may not be the best fit for this critical job, however:
- The MEPC, hence Freeman himself, is funded by the House of Saud to lobby on behalf of the Kingdom, which it does frequently in its journal, Middle East Policy.
Chas Freeman is of the opinion that China's real sin in dealing with the demonstators at Tiananmen Square was that they were too lenient and "overly cautious": "[T]he truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than -- as would have been both wise and efficacious -- to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China."
To put it bluntly, Freeman is an authoritarian crank who believes that "domestic tranquility" is more important that freedom of speech.
Freeman and the MEPC were the first in America to publish the anti-Israel and antisemitic screed "the Israel Lobby" by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer; even one of Freeman's supporters, David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy magazine, calls that paper "frail intellectual framework" and a "jihad" against American support of Israel.
Here is Freeman enthusing, crowing even, about his accomplishment in bringing this frail framework to American readers (from an interview with the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, SUSRIS): "Our Fall issue will contain a revised, updated, and unabridged version of the controversial paper by Professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt on "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it. So we continue to do important things that are not done by anybody else, which I think fill some gaps."
The inner Freeman
But it's not simply that Freeman sucks up to Red China and King Abdullah of the House of Saud and opposes American support for Israel; he opposes Israel itself, seeing it as the source of all problems in the Middle East.
The MEPC website posts a speech Freeman gave to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs in 2007; the spech concludes:
[T]he problem of terrorism that now bedevils us has its origins in one region -- the Middle East. To end this terrorism we must address the issues in the region that give rise to it.
Principal among these is the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending. Arab identification with Palestinian suffering, once variable in its intensity, is now total. American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans. This has had the effect of universalizing anti-Americanism, legitimizing radical Islamism, and gaining Iran a foothold among Sunni as well as Shiite Arabs. For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel's American backers as against Israel itself. Under the circumstances, such retaliation -- whatever form it takes -- will have the support or at least the sympathy of most people in the region and many outside it. This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture.
The Palestine problem cannot be solved by the use of force; it requires much more than the diplomacy-free foreign policy we have practiced since 9/11. Israel is not only not managing this problem; it is severely aggravating it. Denial born of political correctness will not cure this fact. Israel has shown -- not surprisingly -- that, if we offer nothing but unquestioning support and political protection for whatever it does, it will feel no incentive to pay attention to either our interests or our advice. Hamas is showing that if we offer it nothing but unreasoning hostility and condemnation, it will only stiffen its position and seek allies among our enemies. In both cases, we forfeit our influence for no gain.
There will be no negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians, no peace, and no reconciliation between them -- and there will be no reduction in anti-American terrorism -- until we have the courage to act on our interests. These are not the same as those of any party in the region, including Israel, and we must talk with all parties, whatever we think of them or their means of struggle. Refusal to reason with those whose actions threaten injury to oneself, one's friends, and one's interests is foolish, feckless, and self-defeating. That is why it is past time for an active and honest discussion with both Israel and the government Palestinians have elected, which -- in an irony that escapes few abroad -- is the only democratically elected government in the Arab world.
Remember, this speech was given in 2007 -- after several successive democratic elections in Iraq brought that government to power. Remember also that, while Hamas may have been elected, those elections were hardly fair and certainly not free... unless we imagine that gangland assassinations of one's political opponents creates no "fear factor" among those opponents' supporters.
So let's sum this up:
- Israel's "occupation" of Palestine is responsible for all the terrorism launched against the United States (which would be news to Osama bin Laden, who thought it was our presence on the holy soil of Saudi Arabia);
- Israel also controls American policy (Freeman has wholly absorbed the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis of the "Israel Lobby," through which the Jews pull the puppet strings of the world;
- That's why everybody hates America and cheers on Islamic terrorism;
- Israel is unreformable and must be destroyed;
- Hamas is Democratic, honest, and reasonable, and is only responding in a reasonable way to our "unreasoning hostility and condemnation," which is forced upon us by our Israeli puppeteers.
- (And by omission, Iraq is an undemocratic puppet government of the United States -- hence a grandpuppet of Israel.)
Mr. Freeman's Israel delenda est rant is not a one-shot; here he is in 2005, discussing (what else?) the "Israeli occupation":
[A]s long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis.
I certainly agree with that last point! But I draw my concurrance more from the nature of Palestinian and Arab mass psychosis than from the mad idea that Israel should commit national suicide so that people will think well of the Jews.
Freeman does not confine his hatred to Israel; he sees not only Israel's "American backers" as enemies to be reviled, but America itself; we, he says, are to blame for all the troubles in Iraq... Iraq was, one presumes, a calm and peaceful place -- before Americans mindlessly invaded:
In Iraq, the problem is not now – if it ever was – weapons of mass destruction, bad government, or even terrorism; it is the occupation. The occupation generates the very phenomena it was intended to cure. In that respect, the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq has come to have much in common with the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. In Iraq, as in Palestine, ending the occupation is the prerequisite for reversing the growth of terrorism and restoring peace.
Like Solla Sollew, there were no problems -- or at least very few -- in Iraq before we inexplicably invaded the peaceful Land of Two Rivers and overturned its democratically elected leader. On instructions from Israel, no doubt.
As to his perspicacity about events that are at the very core of his field of interest, here is Freeman's 2005 prediction of "the best outcome still possible in Iraq":
The best outcome still possible in Iraq, it now seems, is a Shia-dominated state with a largely autonomous southern region heavily influenced by Iran and a Kurdish region independent in all but name.
Or, perhaps, a stable democratic state with deep and widespread participation by every ethnic group and all tribes, firmly accepted by the people as representative of their interests. And with Muqtada Sadr driven into exile in (where is that again?) Iran. Oh, wait; that wasn't one of the buttons on Mr. Freeman's voicemail.
The two most vital duties of the chairman of the National Intelligence Council are presidential gatekeeping and unbiased analysis: controlling what intel the president sees and what he thinks about what he sees.
But Freeman is not unbiased; he has a dog in the fight. He has chosen up sides. Freeman supports Saudi Arabia, the Hamas-led government in the Palestinian Authority, and Iran's primary source of military equipment, the People's Republic of China; and he vehemently opposes Israel and a strong American presence in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. Freeman's biases have already led him to make frankly risible pronunciamentos that sound like something from CAIR's website.
These interests are not only ideological but financial as well: Freeman won't be in government service forever, and he has once and future patrons to placate.
And this is the man who will determine what intel gets to the desk of President Barack H. Obama -- who is himself already ambivalent about Israel, the Arabs, and America's role in that volatile region. Suppose the NIC comes across intelligence of a looming terrorist attack on the homeland by a bunch of Saudis or Palestinians (this is not exactly a far-fetched scenario); but suppose the intel comes from Mossad, and it's hotly denied by Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the head of the Saudi intelligence service. Would Freeman pass it on to the president? Or would he roll his eyes, give a Chris Matthews-like "oh God," and bury it in the "nothing to see here, time to MoveOn" file?
How can we ever be sure that Chairman Freeman is being guided by an unbiased evaluation of conflicting intelligence claims, rather than by the hand of King Abdullah the Munificent?
I realize this may be a rhetorical question, but is this really who America wants heading up the main intelligence evaluating committee advising both the president and the DNI?
But at least Samantha Power and Zbigniew Brzezinski will have congenial company at the Durban II antisemitism rally; they can all sit about and discuss Palestinian resistance with the representatives of Iran, the KSA, Hamas, and Hezbollah.
UPDATE: Two thoughts with but a single mind between them... (But I like my title better!)
A Travis-ty of Comedy
I've been sort of vaguely fooling about with Twitter, posting occasionally (I think you can "follow" me by going here, unless I've mixed things up); and I've noticed a distinct problem: There are a number of random thoughts I have that are too small-ball for a full blogpost, but just a little too big to fit into Twitter's hard limit of 140 characters (including punctuation and spaces).
So I hereby inaugurate, if that's not a four-letter word since January 20th, a new category here for "Ubertweets," or Übertweets, if there were some way of fitting a U-umlaut into the category list. When I have two or three of them, I'll put them in a single post and have done with the madcap notations that clutter up my mental attic.
Here is the first pair...
Kow-tow to the mau-mau
Rubert Murdoch has apologized for the "Travis the Chimp" cartoon that ran in the New York Post some days ago; but he apologized without admitting any wrongdoing.
What the hell is he saying -- that he's "sorry" some of his readers are jackasses?
A Tale of Two Hysterias
I haven't seen anyone yet point out that Democrats reacted to that same chimp-toon almost exactly the same way (albeit with a little less intensity) that Moslems reacted to the "Mohammed" cartoons. And for exactly the same reason, sez I.
Date ►►► February 24, 2009
Michael Medved: Still Liberal After All These Years
(But of course, I think most of us already knew that.)
I was listening to Mr. M. today; in his first segment, he examined the phenomenon of blacks as monkeys... well, to be fair, the phenomenon of blacks claiming that any reference to monkeys or apes -- no matter how far removed from racial considerations -- is actually a racist reference to blacks as monkeys, and therefore requires an abject, belly-crawling apology, contrition, and a healthy financial donation to Al Sharpton.
All right; fair topic. But in the middle of his intro, he noted that Charles Darwin, "who we honored the same day as Lincoln's birthday" -- possibly because they were, in fact, born on exactly the same day: February 12th, 1809 -- was a racist who believed that blacks were closer to monkeys and apes than were whites.
Again, fair point: But the proper conclusion to draw is that, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many great men and women were flaming racists... not that Darwin in particular was a more egregious racist than his peers (he wasn't).
The second time Medved noted that point, I was a bit puzzled; why harp on poor Charles Darwin? Literature from this period is replete with such casually racist observations and portrayals, from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Rudyard Kipling to Booth Tarkington... and they're even found in such notably anti-racist works as Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn: The character of "Nigger Jim," while depicted as the most kind and decent person in the work, is nevertheless painted as a shuffling Stepin Fetchit, not a visionary like Frederick Douglass or Booker T. Washington (throughout the book, until the very end, Jim thoroughly accepts his inferiority compared to whites, for example).
So why Darwin specifically?
I didn't realize Medved's real purpose, however, until the third time in the same hour that Medved brought out that "startling" fact (in case anyone had missed all but he final ten minutes of the segment) -- this time in response to a black caller who said the New York Post cartoon of the bullet-riddled corpse of Travis the Chimp, with the caption "They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," clearly played to the latent racism of American society: Medved believes the nineteenth-century racism of Darwin completely discredits evolutionary theory.
How could he think that? What would Darwin's racism have to do with the validity of modern evolutionary theory? We all agree that William Shockley supported eugenics (he doesn't appear to have been a racist, but eugenics is bad enough); does that mean transistors don't really work?
I believe the problem is that Medved either doesn't understand the scientific method, or more dastardly, understands it but hopes to confuse his listeners for purely tendentious reasons. He never discusses "evolutionary theory," "biological evolution," or even just evolution; he invariably refers to that entire subject as "Darwinism," and he conflates biological evolution with "social Darwinism," generally, though somewhat inaccurately, identified with eugenics. Medved doesn't see "Darwinism" as a scientific theory but rather a cult of personality, like Scientology, the Branch Davidians, or Jim Jones' People's Temple in Guyana. Thus to Medved, the best way to "discredit" evolutionary theory is to smear Charles Darwin. There, that'll put paid to all this nonsense!
This tactic is a dangerous tendency alike of conservatives like Ben Stein and pseudoconservative former leftist radicals such as Michael Medved; we've discussed it a number of times before, going all the way back to the dim mists of antiquity (2005):
- Evolution, ID, and Science
- I appear to have become a Nazi...
- Expelled: No Intelligence Offered - part 1 (Win Ben Stein's Monkey Trial!)
- Expelled: No Intelligence Offered - part 2 (Ben in the Dock)
- Semi-Intelligent Design
(The last is a rare post by Big Lizards co-founder Brad Linaweaver.)
This particular rhetorical trick is quintessentially liberal, though sadly, it's used by all sides: It's "Fruit of the Forbidden Tree" Reductionism (FFTR). The Left uses it almost to the exclusion of all other arguments. It consists in first reducing an entire argument, school of thought, philosophy, or movement to a single "founding" individual... then personally smearing that individual, thus "discrediting" the entire movement. Thus:
- American Democracy was invented by Thomas Jefferson in his Declaration of Independence; but Jefferson the hypocrite clearly did not believe that "all men are created equal" or were "endowed" with "liberty," because he himself kept slaves; therefore, Jeffersonianism is irretrievably racist, regressive, and belongs in the dustbin of history.
- Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who started the anti-Communist hysteria, was a bigot, a racist, and a drunkard; it's no wonder that many decades of McCarthyism have failed to uncover any Commies hiding under our beds.
- Ronald Reagan was one of those rich and privileged Hollywood elites who betrayed their own fellow union members by denouncing them to McCarthyite witch-hunts; this explains Reaganism's later betrayal of the whole country by slashing taxes on the rich and crushing the poor.
And here's another one from the other side, besides "Darwinism":
- In 1938, the cowardly, pacifist appeaser Neville Chamberlain gave Adolf Hitler everything he wanted as part of the European "peace process," imagining this would satisfy Hitler and prevent war; now, seventy years later, we're supposed to give Mahmoud Ahmadijejad everything he wants in the new Iranian "peace process"... which will have the same effect as last time.
Let's dissect that last. First, note that it's not necessary actually to use an eponym like "Chamberlainism;" the sin is in the identification itself, however expressed. Second, I agree with the underlying conclusion... but finally, FFTR is not about the conclusion, it's about the rhetorical road by which one arrives there. Its essence is:
- Identify the enemy philosophy with a single individual;
- Villify that individual, especially if one does so unfairly;
- Conclude, by the mother of all non-sequiturs, that the enemy philosophy is thereby refuted.
In the last example above, (a) the philosophy of appeasement is identified with Neville Chamberlain, as if he had invented it; (b) Chamberlain is ludicrously caricatured as a coward, a pacifist, and a blind fool who believed that the Munich Agreement would permanently prevent war with Nazi Germany, none of which is accurate; and (c) the arguer uses the identification and denunciation to shortcut the heavy lifting of really analyzing appeasement to see where it works and where it doesn't.
In fact, appeasement does sometimes work. For one example, in 1978, Israel returned the Sinai back to Egypt in exchange for the promise that Egypt -- which had taken the lead in all three previous major wars against Israel, in 1948, 1967, and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, just five years before the Accords -- would normalize relations with Israel. This is classic appeasement... land for the promise of peace. But in fact, it has worked. Since 1978, and the Egypt-Israel peace treaty of the next year, Egypt has kept the peace with Israel and even fought against Hamas in Gaza (to some extent). Hey, appeasement worked for more than half of Israel's existence; we can't deny that stubborn fact.
Thus, those of us who oppose appeasement anent Iran (which is a horse for another day) must analyze and explain why it wouldn't work and would be a catastrophe, despite the positive example of Egypt. That complicates the argument, though not unduly; it is, however, an argument of some subtlety and the polar opposite of FFTR.
FFTR flattens all distinction, subtlety, and nuance into one big smear of fire-engine red. A good analogy increases understanding of an issue by removing the structure of an argument from the emotion-laden specifics; but a rhetorical trick like FFTR reduces understanding of the issue by conflating unlike things as if they were one and the same.
And that surely is true with Medved's and Stein's full-throated employment of FFTR to "refute" modern evolutionary theory (ET): They flatten all distinctions between ET and religion, between ET and "social Darwinism," between logic and sincerity, and between legitimate and ideological personnel decisions; they leave behind only a raw, "four legs good, two legs bad" bleat designed to prevent rational discussion, trying to silence science.
And in yet another rhetorical trick filtched from liberals, Medved and Stein then project their own thuggishness onto their victims -- Expelled is the poster-child of such role reversal!
It's disgusting when a former left-liberal radical war protester, like Michael Medved or David Horowitz, reverts to form, seizing upon the rhetorical tricks familiar to his misspent youth; but it's utterly vile when a lifelong conservative like Ben Stein appropriates alien, leftist tactics to his own cause. Buckley never did this, nor did Goldwater; in fact, not even liberal-turned-conservative-icon Ronald Reagan did it.
When those identified as conservative use Carville-like tricks to bamboozle the audience, they discredit not only themselves but the rest of us as well, handing open leftists the perfect ammunition to use for their own adventures in "Fruit of the Forbidden Tree" Reductionism.
Thanks again, guys. I truly enjoy being forced to swim upstream through your rhetorical sewers, undoing the damage you cause, before I can even get to my actual point.
Date ►►► February 21, 2009
Steven Crowder: Rants 4 Big Fun
Nothing to see here, just move along...
Rants from Steven Crowder: Collect the whole set, kids!
Date ►►► February 20, 2009
Gitmo Litella-ville Blues: Obama Report Says... 'Never Mind!'
Oh, please read this story in the New York Times titled "Guantánamo Meets Geneva Rules, Study Finds":
A Pentagon report requested by President Obama on the conditions at the Guantánamo Bay detention center concluded that the prison complies with the humane-treatment requirements of the Geneva Conventions.
All right; then what in bloody blue blazes were the skirt-hiking, chair-jumping Democrats shrieking about all these years?
Now that the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility is Barack H. Obama's baby, it's anybody's game: The Pentagon can issue the same sort of report it routinely issued during the Bush administration; but that was then, this is now. Back during the tyranny of the chimp, such reports were routinely savaged, mocked, and made into exhibits in federal human-rights lawsuits. Today, they're simply accepted as more evidence of the fantastic job that the One is doing... look, he's only been president for a month, and already Gitmo is Geneva-clean!
As the great Emily Litella would say...
Date ►►► February 19, 2009
When the Levee Barack
The economic stimulus signed by President Barack Obama will spread billions of dollars across the country to spruce up aging roads and bridges. But there's not a dime specifically dedicated to fixing leftover damage from Hurricane Katrina.
And there's no outrage about it.
Democrats who routinely criticized President George W. Bush for not sending more money to the Gulf Coast appear to be giving Obama the benefit of the doubt in his first major spending initiative. Even the Gulf's fiercest advocates say they're happy with the stimulus package, and their states have enough money for now to address their needs.
If anybody is larding out "benefit of doubt," it's the Associated Press accepting at face value the claims by various "silent Dems" that they're no longer shrieking about Hurricane Katrina because they're simply "granting Obama leniency due to the magnitude of the country's current economic challenges."
I suspect the reason is at once more corrupt and more prosaic; two important circumstances have changed since the shameful scandalmongering of Katrina past:
- The President of the United States is now a Democrat, Barack H. Obama;
- The Governor of Louisiana is now a Republican, Bobby Jindal.
Between them, this change gives us hope that we won't have to listen to future whining about $175 billion for rebuilding -- mostly earmarked for New Orleans -- being just not enough.
Even panhandler-in-chief Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA, 80%) didn't bother asking for more money:
"I'm not saying there won't be a need in the future, but right now the focus is not on more money, it's on using what we have," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who has criticized Democrats and Republicans alike over Katrina funding.
Evidently, federal money for rebuilding New Orleans has suddenly become less important to her than full funding of ACORN's voter-fraud programs.
What amuses me, besides the childish faith Democrats in Congress have in the One, is the contempt with which they hold the rest of us; they really do think we're extraordinarily stupid:
"Any new president is going to have a little honeymoon," said [former Republican Rep. Jim McCrery of Louisiana], who is now a lobbyist [thus snuggling up to the Obama administration and congressional Democrats]. "I'd like to think that the tone would have been the same with any new president...."!
"Hopefully they've gotten some promises behind the scenes about longer-term commitments," [Thomas] Langston said [Langston is a political scientist, whatever that means, at Tulane University in New Orleans]...
"I think people looked at how generous Congress has been in the past," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. "(The states) have to demonstrate that they can be good custodians of the money."
Did any Democrat ever fret whether former Louisiana Democratic Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco was a "good custodian of the money" she demanded and by and large received? I may be confabulating, but I'm certain I recall Democrats excoriating President George W. Bush and the congressional Republicans for even questioning the smallest jot and tittle of Katrina money for Louisiana... and even accusing the GOP of "racism," because (as we all know) New Orleans is a "chocolate city." Even when the Katrina funding was shoehorned into an urgently needed emergency defense appropriations bill for funding troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats insisted every nickle was sacrosanct:
Just last summer, Democrats accused Bush of putting Iraq before New Orleans when he sought to block Gulf Coast reconstruction money from a $162 billion war spending bill. Bush was pilloried for not mentioning the disaster in back-to-back State of the Union addresses.
Clearly Bush opposed Katrina terabucks in a vital war-funding bill because he just doesn't like black people and wants to see them suffer and die. I can't think of any other possible explanation... can you?
AP repeats, without question or comment, the self-serving justifications by Democrats for their silence today, with a new president and governor... after wailing like banshees with snow up their kilts during the old regimes; but at least AP reports the incongruity at all -- a vast improvement over their risible performance during the campaign, when it really mattered.
Perhaps after a few more years of waste, fraud, abuse, neglect, incompetence, ideological fanaticism, and vague doubletalk, the elite media will finally get round to showing a bit of skepticism about the One They Had Been Waiting For.
Oh, wait; we'll be smack in the middle of another presidential election then.
Date ►►► February 18, 2009
Eric Holder's "Race" to the Bottom
According to the Black Attorney General -- I would have simply written Attorney General, but every story in the elite media makes a big point of his blackitude, so I presume we're under orders to take note -- the biggest problem facing America today is that we just don't talk enough about race.
In a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives.
"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," Holder said.
Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but "we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."
I suppose Mr. Holder (did you know he is a black man?) hasn't considered the possibility that we average Americans don't talk much about race because we don't think about race... because we are not racists.
(Or even "racialists," which I'll temporarily define in this post as being obsessed with race to the point that virtually every issue, from the economy to globaloney to opposition to the "stimulus" porkapalooza, is fundamentally about race.)
Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but "we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."
When President Barack H. Obama (the first African-American president) unveils his race initiative, I suppose it's inevitable that he will lean heavily on Gen. Holder... and that means we'll likely have a stunningly new and innovative project: a nation-wide conversation about race!
I know, I know; Bill Clinton (the first African-American president) already had a national conversation about race. But this one will be totally different, because this one will be conducted by an actual African-American black man, rather than a lilly-white "black" man who only got that appellation because he grew up in a broken home, his father deserted him, and he grew up poor and on welfare.
(Is it just me -- or does it seem a little, well, racist to imply that anyone from a socially deprived background is therefore an honorary African American?)
So we'll have yet another national conversation about race, this one focusing on affirmative action for weekends and personal friendships. If that doesn't work, Congress will just have to pass a law, a new "title" for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that makes it an offense to socialize with overly homogenous groups that do not include the correct quota of blacks, Mexicans, Native Americans, Hmong, and other federally protected (that is, reliably Democratic) ethnic groups. (Japanese, overly religious South Americans, Poles, and especially those Cuban "hystericos" in Miami don't count as minorities.)
I've annotated this next bit from the black Mr. H.; one of those "what he said" vs. "what he's thinking" pieces that makes it easier to understand the new way and what's expected of us in future:
Race, Holder said, "is an issue we have never been at ease with [except, of course, in the South, where everyone has a much higher NTF than in Manhattan, New England, San Francisco, and Hollywood, none of which allow blacks to live there] and, given our nation's history [as the most viciously racist country on the planet], this is in some ways understandable... If we are to make progress [enact racial quotas that reach into every nook and cranny of human interaction, from friendship to dating to marriage to mindless one-night stands] in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other [except for conservatives, of course, and anybody else who insists who insists upon judging people by the content of their character, rather than by the color of their skin] to have frank conversations [finger-wagging lectures] about the racial matters that continue to divide us [Democrat from Republican]."
So all you white people (who aren't black), and all you black and Hispanic conservatives (who aren't authentic), should begin practicing your public self-criticism confessions; you're going to need them. Probably by law.
In a country founded by slave owners, race has bedeviled the nation throughout its history, with blacks denied the right to vote just a few decades ago. Obama's triumph last November as well as the nomination of Holder stand as historic achievements of two black Americans.
Did I neglect to mention that Obama and Holder are black? My bad.
Even when people mix at the workplace or afterwork social events, Holder argued, many Americans in their free time are still segregated inside what he called "race-protected cocoons."
Gen. Holder is bemoaning the lack of mixed-race marriages, I suppose. I'll have to ask Sachi about it.
"Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not in some ways differ significantly from the country that existed almost 50 years ago. This is truly sad," said Holder.
You know, I think Eric Holder (he's black, you know) has a point here: I've noticed that all the restaurants in my neighborhood segregate their bathrooms on the week-end; and on Saturday and Sunday, non-whites must sit at the back of the bus.
I suppose the new new national conversation about race is just the extension of Obamic diplomacy to the domestic sphere: All it takes is a nice talking out, and everything will be all right. And now, having resolved America's festering race problem -- on week-ends, we're just like the South under Jim Crow! -- he's off to Gitmo to resolve that dilemma will equal facility:
Holder is headed to Guantanamo Bay early next week to inspect the terrorist detention facility there. Obama has assigned Holder to lead a special task force aimed at closing the site within a year.
Holder's Justice Department will have to decide which suspects to bring to U.S. courts for trial, which to prosecute through the military justice system, and which to send back to their home countries.
See, there's this really simple solution that Republicans are just too blind to see; a few well-spoken words in the right ears will cause Egypt and Jordan and China and Saudi Arabia to take back their al-Qaeda prisoners, talk with them, sing and laugh, and persuade them that it's wrong to take out their understandable and righteous anger by beheading random Western men, women and children.
And Holder -- after holding a national conversation about classified intelligence information -- will then be able to proceed to trials of terrorist detainees in ordinary civilian courts, without fear of technical acquittals because the intelligence community refuses produce all its top-secret intel in court for the al-Qaeda lawyers to pore over. (Of course, CIA Director Leon Panetta -- he's not black, unless he has become black recently -- will probably just hand it all over anyway. Without preconditions.)
Golly, but I'm glad we elected a change-agent lightbringer who brings new hope for a world without conflict, war, or totalitarianism... or at least no totalitarianism of the Right.
Date ►►► February 17, 2009
Say, Let's Nuclearize the Taliban!
Yesterday was a wonderful day in Pakistan... if you're a militant Islamist terrorist, that is. If you're a fan of civilization, however, it's a day of somber reflection for some -- and atonement for others.
Yesterday, the craven, new government of Pakistan signed a deal with the Taliban and al-Qaeda... this time handing Malakand over to them; the region includes the Swat Valley area of Pakistan, which used to be one of the nicest, calmest, and least violent tourist areas of that very troubled country:
Pakistan agreed Monday to suspend military offensives and impose Islamic law in part of the restive northwest, making a gesture it hopes will help calm the Taliban insurgency while rejecting Washington's call for tougher measures against militants.
A U.S. defense official called the deal "a negative development," and some Pakistani experts expressed skepticism the truce would decrease violence. One human rights activist said the accord was "a great surrender" to militants.
It has become increasingly clear that the endpoint of the current government's pathetic "war" against the Taliban -- which seems to be fought primarily using Obamic principles of defensive apology punctuated by frequent concession -- will be complete surrender to Mullah Omar, allowing the Taliban, having been kicked out of power in Afghanistan, to take over Pakistan instead... a nation that possesses actual functioning nuclear weapons.
It also possesses an actual functioning mad scientist: A.Q. Khan was just released from house arrest by the Islamabad High Court this month; Khan confessed to helping Libya, Iran, and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs by sending them centrifuges and other components for building nuclear bombs (he later recanted his confession, saying he misspoke). Khan is now free to travel about Pakistan or out of the country, and even to take control of the Pakistan nuclear program again, should the government decide to invite him back, either before or after they hand Pakistan over to the Taliban.
Why would Pakistan commit such a devastating act of appeasement against a group that is trying to violently seize control of the country itself? Because the government of Pakistan is increasingly afraid to fight for the country. As bad as Pervez Musharraf was, the new tag-team of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, both of the Pakistan Peoples Party (formerly led by Benazir Bhutto), and behind-the-scenes khan-maker Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) -- the "N" is for Nawaz -- is staggeringly worse. At least Musharraf actually fought against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, in between occasional "cease fires" allowing both sides to recover; the current government for the most part simply retreats.
And what did Pakistan get in return? They got a ten-day cease fire:
The Swat Taliban, which had said Sunday it would observe a 10-day cease-fire in support of the government's initiative, welcomed the deal.
"Our whole struggle is for the enforcement of Shariah law," Swat Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said. "If this really brings us the implementation of Shariah, we will fully cooperate with it."
Pakistan officials hasten to add that the form of sharia they offer isn't quite as extreme or cartoonish as what the same Taliban enforced in Afghanistan:
Hoti said the main changes to the legal system promised by the accord already are included in existing laws stipulating Islamic justice. But he said they would be implemented only after peace was restored in the valley. [Aha, hence the "10-day cease-fire"!]
Hoti said the laws, which allow for Muslim clerics to advise judges when hearing cases and the setting up of an Islamic appeals court, would ensure a much speedier and fairer justice system than the current system, which dates back to British colonial times.
The rules do not ban female education or contain other strict interpretations of Shariah that have been demanded by many members of the Taliban in Pakistan -- restrictions imposed by Afghanistan's Taliban regime that was ousted by the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.
The rules do, however, strengthen "Islamic justice," where secular judges are "advised" by "Muslim clerics," and where such harsh penalties can also be decided by "Islamic appeals court" judges; thus, while the rules do not explicitly call for, e.g., stoning "adulterers" (including rape victims) and homosexuals to death, allowing "honor" killings, and banning music and dancing, they likely would allow individual judges to impose such sentences themselves. Certainly nobody has gone on record saying they wouldn't allow such grotesqueries.
There is a certain "the biter bitten" irony to this; Pakistan helped create the Taliban in the first place, hoping a fundamentalist Islamist Afghanistan would support Pakistan's struggle to seize the part of Kashmir that is still controlled by India, to join it to the part already controlled by Pakistan.
In fact, it was Benazir Bhutto herself who initiated that policy when she was prime minister in the 1990s. She was later assassinated by the Taliban's ally al-Qaeda. Today, the government that appeases the Taliban is led by her widower husband (and partner in corruption) President Zardari; by the party she used to lead, the Pakistan Peoples Party; and by her former ally in bringing down Musharraf (and later rival for the presidency), Nawaz Sharif. Thus the gratitude of the Taliban.
Perhaps this should give Pakistan a clue of how satisfied the Taliban and al-Qaeda will be by controlling but a few regions of that country and imposing only partial sharia law. I think it just barely possible that they will instead see Malakand and the Federally Administrered Tribal Areas as safe havens from which to launch increasingly savage and successful attacks on the rest of the country, until all of nuclear-armed Pakistan is in the hands of those terrorist groups.
Well, President Barack H. Obama -- what is your plan; do you still plan to launch a ground invasion of Pakistan?
"When I am president, we will wage the war that has to be won," he told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center in the District. He added, "The first step must be to get off the wrong battlefield in Iraq and take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
Do you have any specifics? Will you settle upon the Colin Powell approach, taking six months to build up a huge invasion force in the Indian portion of Kashmir? Have you any serious thoughts about the following issues:
- Where we are to get those forces in the first place?
- How we are to get India to allow them to march across their country to threaten all-out war with Pakistan?
- Do you anticipate India will eagerly join the expedition to launch Armageddon between the two unfriendly neighbors?
- How we are to support and supply them in the field?
- What is the goal -- to conquer Pakistan?
- What then... nation rebuilding? Do you have a plan for that?
- How we should respond if the Islamists drop a nuke, which we know Pakistan has, on our expeditionary force? Should we nuke Islamabad in retaliation, a city with a population of 1.5 million, 4.5 million in the metro area?
- Have you consulted with Gen. David Petraeus, who is the commander of CENTCOM? Or even offered him cookies?
- Have you figured out how to sell to the American people a war that would utterly dwarf the Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined?
Afghanistan has 33 million people, Iraq has 25-30 million. Pakistan has a population of 173 million, three times the GDP of Afghanistan and Iraq combined, 1.4 million men in its military forces (including paramilitary and reserves, which would surely be activated in such a war), an air force of 523 combat aircraft (the entire United States has but 2,604)... and those pesky nukes.
If President Obama no longer wants to invade Pakistan, then is he willing to accept a nuclear nation controlled by al-Qaeda and the Taliban? If not -- then what is his plan? He doesn't seem to have commented. Or noticed.
In the meanwhile, Pakistani immigrants living in America -- some of them American citizens -- are being threatened, both directly and by proxy attacks against their families, into sending ransom and tribute to the Taliban and to cease protesting or organizing against terrorists... even to cease speaking about the subject right here in America.
But Zardari, Gilani, and Sharif are hoping the Islamist terrorists will be satisfied with sharia-lite in some areas of Pakistan, that the agreement will bring peace in our time. Well, perhaps; but if so, they would be the first fanatics ever to be bought off by partial appeasement. I think others are more foresighted (from the AP article above):
Critics asked why authorities were responding to the demands of a militant group that has waged a reign of terror [and has specifically fought to overthrow the Pakistan government, both under Musharraf and under Zardari, Gilani, and Sharif].
"This is simply a great surrender, a surrender to a handful of forces who work through rough justice and brute force," said Athar Minallah, a lawyer and civil rights activist. "Who will be accountable for those hundreds of people who have been massacred in Swat? And they go and recognize these forces as a political force. This is pathetic."
President Obama has proven himself an adept at Bush bashing, al-Arabiya kowtowing, and Ahmadinejad fawning. Now let's see him in action in the real world. We'll see if, like his hero Franklin Roosevelt, he excoriates his predecessor... then apes every one of his major policies -- but on steroids.
Date ►►► February 14, 2009
To All Our Beloved Readers...
Date ►►► February 12, 2009
Censusation: a Democratic Sampler
We have delved the eldrich horror of the Democratic culture of corruption and discovered the deep and dark secret behind the attempted emasculation of Sen. Judd Gregg (RINO-NH, 72%), once incoming, now outgoing Secretary-designate of Commerce. Sen. Gregg has finally seen the light, realized what's coming down the tunnel, and has withdrawn his nomination; read on to find out why!
The most startling element of this ill-fated nomination happened just a few days ago. After naming Gregg as his pick for Commerce, President Barack H. Obama almost immediately capitulated to the infantile yowlings of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEAO); he announced that he was removing from the Commerce Department one of their major responsibilities: conducting the decennial census.
Was this mere cravenness? No, it was worse, much worse. Gregg was to have been stripped of his responsibility for the census because of what liberals considered high crimes and misdemeanors against the Vision. To understand what's really going on sub-rosa, we must take a quick trip in Mr. Peabody's Wayback machine.
Back in 1998, President Clinton tried again and again to force the census takers to "correct" their population count by using polling or "sampling" to estimate the number of (primarily black, Hispanic, immigrant, and homeless) people who had been missed in the count (that is, a bunch of Democrats). The Clinton administration and congressional Dems argued that this would make the count "more accurate" by including historically undercounted groups.
The reality, of course, is that an actual count is always more accurate than a poll-driven estimate; you judge the validity of the poll by comparing it to the count, not the other way 'round. But it's far easier to manipulate a poll, as we see every even-numbered year, than to manipulate a nosecount. The census is used to determine the number of representatives each state gets, to draw congressional districts, and to allocate appropriations; so the temptation for corrupt-by-nature Democrats to abuse such "sampling" to rig the census in their favor is almost irresistable.
In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled (Department of Commerce v. U.S. House of Representatives, 525 U.S. 316, 1999) that sampling could not be used to reapportion the total number of representatives for each state, but the justices left the door open for its use in other functions of the census. Thus Democrats might be allowed to use sampling (polling) to fabricate population for use in gerrymandering congressional districts, thus corruptly locking themselves in power for a generation or more, and for determining how to allocate funds from congressional appropriations.
Responding to this threat to honest democracy, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY, 92% in 1998), the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary -- which funds the census -- attached a proviso that none of the money could be used to fund poll-sampling techniques.
He also added an extra $27 million over and above the department's request; liberals loved that part, but they hated the restriction against using sampling. In particular, the Congressional Black Caucus and several Hispanic pressure groups went postal; they demanded that the Senate strip this proviso out of the final bill (but keep the extra funding)... and the first person in their crosshairs was then-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Sen. Judd Gregg.
Gregg disappointed them, and they have never forgiven him. What was Gregg's great crime, for which the CBC and NALEAO continue the hatefest even today? It wasn't that he joined his more conservative counterpart across the rotunda, for he did not. Gregg's crime was that he refused to kill the House proviso; he simply ignored the issue entirely, focusing on budget-control instead. From the piece by CivilRights.org, which of course strongly supports sampling:
The Senate appropriations subcommittee, chaired by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), allocated $354.8 million, the precise amount requested by the Bureau. The Senate subcommittee included no funding restrictions comparable to those of the House bill choosing instead to include a prohibition against making "irreversible" plans for sampling.
Gregg made it plain that he would not go to the mat to fight against the Rogers provision; but he did signal he would fight vigorously against the extra money that Rogers added.
What do liberals say today about why they so despise Gregg? Let's -- may I use the word? -- sample a few opinions. From the Los Angeles Times piece charmingly subtltled "Latinos versus Republicans":
For the last few cycles, Latinos, blacks and other minorities have protested that language barriers and fear of government officials have resulted in an under-counting of their numbers. Since Latino voters voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in November, Latino groups expressed delight when President Obama selected New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Hispanic American, as secretary of the Commerce Department, which handles the Census.
Not so fast.
After Richardson withdrew his name over a pay-for-play scandal investigation, Obama selected New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg, a fiscal conservative, to lead the department. Latino groups protested, noting Gregg battled efforts to increase the Census budget the last time a Democrat lived in the White House.
California Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, said Gregg's record of voting to abolish the Commerce Department and to block President Clinton's campaign for Census funding in 2000 "raise troubling concerns regarding his commitment to the department’s core missions."
Notice the word that was not used: Sampling. In fact, the word does not appear anywhere in the piece; the closest they come is "politicize" and "manipulate" -- both directly quoting Republicans. Instead, Barbara Lee talks only about funding.
From the Associated Press:
The Congressional Black Caucus and a group representing Latino elected officials have raised questions about Gregg, noting that as chairman of the Senate panel overseeing the Census Bureau budget he frequently sought to cut funding that they believe led to an undercount of minorities.
To allay concerns over Gregg, the White House initially indicated that it might take greater control over the Census Bureau. But amid GOP criticism it has since clarified that the White House will "work closely with the census director," and that the Census Bureau would not be removed from the Commerce Department....
"Achieving a census that counts all Americans will not be possible without the necessary funding, the right personnel and a secretary of commerce who shares that vision," [NALEAO] said.
In this case, "that vision" almost certainly includes sampling; but once again, the word itself never sullies the page. It's all about the funding, you see.
But funding for what? Had Gregg assumed the position of Commerce Secretary, I doubt he would have submitted a zeroed-out budget to try to eliminate his own job. Nor would he be likely to lowball the census; and even if he did, the same Congress that is set to enact a trillion-dollar deficit (or perhaps more) wouldn't balk at adding some money over and above Gregg's request.
The only explanation that makes sense to me is that these liberal Democrats are speaking in code... and "necessary funding" is actually a nod-and-wink cipher for "funding sampling techniques to jimmy the 2010 census in our favor." Per the Supreme Court, they can't add seats to blue states; but they can push red states purple and purple states blue by clever gerrymandering.
I believe it inevitable that the Democrats will revive the sampling controversy in order to "correct" (dramatically increase) the count of blacks, Hispanics, resident aliens, and homeless guys across the nation for determining congressional and legislative districts and siphoning more money into Democrat areas than GOP areas. John Fund agrees:
Mr. Chapman worries about a revival of the effort led by minority groups after the 2000 Census to adjust the totals for states and cities using statistical sampling and computer models. In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Department of Commerce v. U.S. House that sampling could not be used to reapportion congressional seats. But it left open the possibility that sampling could be used to redraw political boundaries within the states.
Such a move would prove controversial. "Sampling potentially has the kind of margin of error an opinion poll has and the same subjectivity a voter-intent standard in a recount has," says Mr. Chapman. [Bruce Chapman, census director in the 1980s]
Judd Gregg was useful to Obama's pretense that he was the first "post-partisan" president; but he was a threat to the Democrats' plan to slip sampling into the census. Therefore, Obama announced that he was stripping the census from Commerce.
That provoked such a firestorm that Obama lurched backwards, claiming he never said any such thing. But now Gregg is departing; I wonder whether the administration told him he would have to play ball with hyperpartisan Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel anyway, even if they left the census where it was? I suspect the next nominee for the post will be a reliable, partisan, Democratic yes-man or yes-woman who won't cavil over any order Chief Emanuel gives him anent the census and sampling.
Brace yourselves; sampling manipulation is coming soon to a census near you.
Date ►►► February 11, 2009
Climate Change Derangement Syndrome
A new malady has presented itself to the medical community. They haven't yet taken the obvious step of dubbing it "Climate Change Derangement Syndrome," but surely that's mere oversight.
By CCDS, I don't mean the increasing delusion that anthropogenic global climate change (AGCG) has been proven beyond all doubt and beyond all permitted debate, though that is an essential element of CCDS. Rather, I mean the increasing number of cases of anxiety, paranoia, and hysteria verging on psychosis in people who have become convinced that AGCC is going to destroy the world. Viz.:
Last year, an anxious, depressed 17-year-old boy was admitted to the psychiatric unit at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. He was refusing to drink water. Worried about drought related to climate change, the young man was convinced that if he drank, millions of people would die. The Australian doctors wrote the case up as the first known instance of "climate change delusion."
Robert Salo, the psychiatrist who runs the inpatient unit where the boy was treated, has now seen several more patients with psychosis or anxiety disorders focused on climate change, as well as children who are having nightmares about global-warming-related natural disasters.
This can be considered "collateral damage" in the war against science waged by the politicians -- both inside and outside the scientific community (I include NASA scientist James Hansen) -- pushing the leftist agenda implicit in the "consensus view" of AGCC. ("Can't make an omlet without breaking a few legs.") But the victims of such hypnotic hypochondria could also be considered "useful idiots" in the socialist march towards totalitarianism; in this view, AGCC is simply one more tool to dismantle the sovereignty of the United States and institute an international regime in its place.
Whatever their motivation, AGCC hoaxsters have busied themselves raising terror of global warming to a fever pitch:
- By dismissing all questions about the validity of those predictions (based, as they are, entirely on general circulation climate models that do not, in fact, model anything in the real world);
- By using political power within the government and the academy to squash any dissent and ruin the lives of dissenters;
- By floating nightmare scenarios that even the hoaxters themselves know are cartoonish and overblown;
By mocking the very idea that increased CO2 in the atmosphere might have some positive effect on, e.g., plant growth and resistance to pests;
- By attaching supposedly scientific conclusions to bills in parliaments, legislatures, and congresses, thus "legislating" science (as Adolf Hitler did by mandating so-called "race science," and as Josef Stalin did by mandating Lamarckian theories under Trofim Denisovich Lysenko);
- And by signalling that governments will look very favorably on any evidence of AGCC -- even the "evidence" that the fear of AGCC is already wreaking havoc -- and will reward such "evidence" with money and prestige.
I call that last point the AIDS Inflation Theory: In Africa, if a person is diagnosed with cholera or syphilis or meningitis, he's more or less on his own; but if he is diagnosed with AIDS, a vast network of international aid pours resources onto the patient and into the village whence he came. Thus, compassionate doctors, seeing the unalleviated suffering throughout the "dark continent," tend to report any serious illness in Africa as AIDS: AIDS-related cholera, AIDS-related meningitis, AIDS-related machete wounds, and so forth. Thus the number of reported cases of AIDS in Africa is many, many times higher than the reality.
I believe the same thing happens with AGCC: Every unpleasant weather event, from hurricanes to monsoons to icy chills to hot weather in August, is declared to be due to global climate change. This causes the ponderous machinery of international aid to chug into motion; it causes papers to be accepted at prestigious scientific journals; it causes grant money to gush from the government teat.
Now that "climate change delusion" (or as I call it, Climate Change Derangement Syndrome) has been discovered (or fabricated), is there any doubt that millions of dollars will flood the grant empires of psychiatrists and scientists who study it?
Such anxiety over current events is not a new phenomenon. Worries about contemporary threats, such as nuclear war or AIDS, have historically been woven into the mental illnesses of each generation. But global warming could have a broader and deeper effect on mental health, even if indirectly.
"Climate change could have a real impact on our psyches," says Paul Epstein, the associate director for the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.
...As well as a real impact on the bottom line of the Center for Health and the Global Environment. The Center was created in 1996 -- eight years after the U.N. birthed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988 and a scant four years after the infamous Rio conference, from which the Kyoto Accord or Protocol eventually flowed the year after the Harvard Center was established.
The Boston Globe includes the obligatory prognostications of what the climate future holds, offered by the anonymous experts who are the greatest prognosticators since Nostradamus:
Over this century, the average global temperature is expected to rise between 1 degrees [sic] and 6 degrees Celsius. Glaciers will melt, seas will rise, extremes in precipitation will occur, according to scientists' predictions....
Climate change is expected to create about 200 million environmental refugees [!] by 2050, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international body established within the United Nations to evaluate causes and consequences of global warming.
They can't show any such correlation in the past; but as they say about the stock market, past performance does not predict future results. Clearly the lack of previous examples of an uncontrolled greenhouse effect on this plant is proof positive that just such a catastrophe looms, complete with an entire nation of "environmental refugees," who will, quite naturally, be the target population for a pandemic of Climate Change Derangement Syndrome.
Do something, quick! Perhaps Democrats in Congress can roll a few tens of billions of dollars for funding CCDS research into the "stimulus" bill.
The Globe admits that there really is no evidence for any part of this theory:
The links between mental illness and the weather can be tenuous or even downright contradictory. Depending on which studies you read, suicide is more common, less common, or equally common in hot weather. Ditto dry weather.
But it instantly follows with a tenuous, link-laden litany of woes that will sear our psyches:
Indeed, climate change may eventually deplete natural resources, make it more difficult for people to live off the land, and disrupt the global food supply.
"That will mean declining socioeconomic status and quality of life across the world," North said, and "depression, demoralization, disillusionment...."
On the other side of the globe, the changing Arctic climate is expected to make hunting and fishing far more difficult for the people who live there....
"Climate change is a massive driver of change in people's home environment," Albrecht said. "These changes become sources of chronic stress."
Fortunately, we needn't strain our brains trying to figure out what to do; the "anointed" will tell us:
In the long term, we may also derive some psychological benefit from banding together with other citizens to mitigate the effects of global warming. Taking action might not only give us back a sense of our own sense of efficacy [sic] against a powerful outside force, but also help us build community and social ties that offset stress, said Epstein and other specialists.
"Getting involved can be an antidote to the depression that can come from the overwhelming realizations that we have to face...," Epstein said. "It can be empowering to realize that what you do is effective."
Break out another package of community organizers! I suppose it's not very likely that Paul Epstein would accept "advocating free-market solutions to environmental problems" as an example of an "empowering" method of "getting involved." The position -- and I believe the underlying purpose -- of AGCC advocacy from the beginning has been creeping socialism and the destruction of Capitalism, the market, and national sovereignty, each of which would be swallowed up by the internationalist environmental treaty-archy (now there's a mouthful!)
Climate Change Derangement Syndrome is just the latest manifestation of the medicalization of public policy: People are going crazy from fear of global warming, so smash the looms! Other examples include:
- Anti-smoking zealots abusing research on "second-hand smoke" to force a total ban on smoking;
- Attempts by vegan activists to ban all trans fats, which turn polyunsaturated vegetable fats into the equivalent of saturated fats found in animal products like butter;
- Leftist-feminists banning breast implants for ideological reasons by citing nonexistent illnesses (e.g. "silicone disease" or "connective tissue disorder") or real illnesses or conditions whose causes are unrelated to silicone breast implants (breast cancer, miscarriage, fibromyalgia);
- Attempts to ban power lines (no offence, John, Paul, and Scott!) by claiming they cause cancer;
- Anti-punishment hysterics trying to classify all crimes as "mental disorders" in order to shut down the prisons;
- The use of bogus claims of toxic threats to prohibit military training, and so forth.
In short, AGCC in general, and Climate Change Derangement Syndrome in particular, is just another front in the global war against the individual, the family, and the nation-state. Couple that with the Democratic Congress' and the Obama administration's staggering economic assault on the market, and I believe our way of life and our freedom is under greater threat than anytime since the peak years of the Cold War.
Date ►►► February 10, 2009
Al Qaeda's Army of Darkness
Bill Roggio has a chilling report up at the Long War Journal about the resurgence of the "Shadow Army," comprising elements from al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and numerous other terrorist and paramilitary units. It has been allowed to fester not only in Pakistan but in Afghanistan as well; clearly we blundered in trusting NATO units to take on the fight in the latter country:
The Shadow Army is active primarily in Pakistan's tribal areas, the Northwest Frontier Province, and in eastern and southern Afghanistan, several US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.
The paramilitary force is well trained and equipped, and has successfully defeated the Pakistani Army in multiple engagements. Inside Pakistan, the Shadow Army has been active in successful Taliban campaigns in North and South Waziristan, Bajaur, Peshawar, Khyber, and Swat.
In Afghanistan, the Shadow Army has conducted operations against Coalition and Afghan forces in Kunar, Nuristan, Nangahar, Kabul, Logar, Wardak, Khost, Paktika, Paktia, Zabul, Ghazni, and Kandahar provinces.
"The Shadow Army has been instrumental in the Taliban's consolidation of power in Pakistan's tribal areas and in the Northwest Frontier Province," a senior intelligence official said. "They are also behind the Taliban's successes in eastern and southern Afghanistan. They are helping to pinch Kabul."
We first encountered the Shadow Army, then called Brigade 055, during the 2001 invasion; we destroyed it then, but aQ and the Taliban have resurrected and rebuilt the army until it is at least as good as it was pre-invasion (probably better):
The effectiveness of the Shadow Army can be seen in a video taken by an Al Jazeera reporter during an operation in Loisam in the Bajaur tribal agency in the fall of 2008 [see video at the Long War Journal blogpost]. The Taliban forces drive off a battalion-sized assault from regular Pakistani Army troops that are supported by at least a platoon of tanks. The Pakistani tanks are seen racing away from the fighting, and the Pakistani infantry moving in behind them does the same after taking fire. The reporter describes the Pakistani tank commander as "quite shaken." The tank commander calls for airstrikes to take out the Taliban positions, but the infantry and tanks go into full retreat and return to base after the Taliban counterattacks.
Will our new president have the guts to send those "30,000 American troops" into Afghanistan to fight? Or will they simply mill about to make it appear as though Barack H. Obama is "doing something," but in reality will be about as effective as we were during the hunt for Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Somalia?
I know Obama once talked about invading Pakistan, but that was when it was still our ally. I'm not at all convinced that he would be willing to invade Pakistan if it were taken over by the al-Qaeda/Taliban axis and became our enemy again.
Date ►►► February 9, 2009
Yet Another Obama "Sovereignty" Test
A federal lawsuit filed by sixteen illegal immigrants, seeking damages from a rancher for the "tort" of keeping them off his land by making a citizen's arrest and handing them over to the Border Patrol, offers a determinative test for our new president: Will the Justice Department file a friend of the court brief? And if so, which side will President Barack H. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder support?
An Arizona man [rancher and former sheriff's deputy Roger Barnett] who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border.
(Violating their civil rights? They must have meant violating their civil liberties. Either that, or sixteen illegal aliens are suing Barnett for preventing them from voting in the next Arizona election.)
His Cross Rail Ranch near Douglas, Ariz., is known by federal and county law enforcement authorities as "the avenue of choice" for immigrants seeking to enter the United States illegally.
Trial continues Monday in the federal lawsuit, which seeks $32 million [!] in actual and punitive damages for civil rights violations, the infliction of emotional distress [oh please] and other crimes. Also named are Mr. Barnett's wife, Barbara, his brother, Donald, and Larry Dever, sheriff in Cochise County, Ariz., where the Barnetts live. The civil trial is expected to continue until Friday.
I don't know for sure whether Arizona has citizen's arrest, but I believe it does. If so, then what exactly is Barnett accused of doing? Does the act of citizen's arrest violate the "right" of foreign nationals to cross into the United States illegally? What other rights could they mean?
The lawsuit is based on a March 7, 2004, incident in a dry wash on the 22,000-acre ranch, when he approached a group of illegal immigrants while carrying a gun and accompanied by a large dog.
Attorneys for the immigrants - five women and 11 men who were trying to cross illegally into the United States - have accused Mr. Barnett of holding the group captive at gunpoint, threatening to turn his dog loose on them and saying he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.
Well, yeah; that's why it's called a citizen's "arrest," not a citizen's polite request to stay and wait for the peelers. This sounds pretty normal to me; if the Border Patrol, rather than a private citizen, had done exactly this, would any federal judge allow such a lawsuit to go forward?
Plaintiffs do not accuse Barnett of shooting anyone or even firing a shot, of siccing his dog on anyone (though he warned them that the dog can bite). The illegals retained MALDEF to press their case -- or more likely, MALDEF recruited them to sue Barnett, hoping to get a federal court ruling that Mexican nationals have the "civil right" to:
- Enter the United States without documentation;
- Trespass on private property;
- Rustle cattle;
- Burglarize houses;
- And threaten American citizens who resist any of the above.
MALDEF does claim that Barnett kicked one woman, but I suspect that's an embelishment. In any event, I find it passing strange that a group called the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund is now representing sixteen Mexican Mexicans suing an American American; but I suppose they know which side of the bed is buttered. Evidently, even MALDEF is really all about "la raza."
I have a big question in mind to ask; but before I get to that, I must answer the big question that I know is in the minds of many of you: Has the lizard flipped? Am I reversing myself and turning into a Tancredoite?
Not guilty on both charges. First, my position today is exactly the same as it was a year, even two years ago. I never argued that anyone has the "right" to trespass, commit crimes, or evade arrest, even arrest for illegal entry. What I did argue is twofold: First, that the crime of illegal entry, all by itself, is a minor offense; even buying fraudulent documentation is, in and of itself, a minor crime.
But there are other crimes often committed by illegals that are much more serious, and I have no quarrel with punishing those more severely. Such other crimes include identity theft of a living person (as opposed to getting a false birth certificate in the name of a person who died in infancy), burglary, car theft, and yes, trespassing. I have always agreed that illegals who are convicted of such crimes should be deported -- but only after serving their sentences.
Second, I argued that a fine and payment of back taxes (plus interest and penalties), plus having to start the residency paperwork all over from the beginning, is an acceptable plea bargain (not "amnesty") for illegals who turn themselves in; they shouldn't need to return to their former country. You may disagree; I'm not arguing the point. But it doesn't contradict anything I said above. (And of course I argue we need to fundamentally reform our legal immigration system to make it more rational, predictable, and just; but that's a different topic.)
So no, I haven't joined the ranks of those who savaged the comprehensive immigration bill; neither have I changed my position on what to do about immigration, "guest" workers, and those already here illegally.
Now to the question that interests me: Barack Obama did not campaign on a promise to throw open the borders, nor on the supposition that illegals have any "right" to enter or trespass. In fact, he reassured us that he opposed illegal immigration. And of course he never said he favored eliminating the right of citizens to arrest criminals apprehended in the act and hold them until the police arrive and take the prisoners into custody. So if Obama comes out now in favor of MALDEF and their patsies, it would be a stunning betrayal of the American people -- and catastrophic to his presidency.
But on the other hand, suppose the plaintiffs prevail at this stage on the theory enunciated by MALDEF; and supposed that, although Obama and Holder don't file an amicus curae brief supporting the MALDEF position, the administration also fails to file a brief in defense of an American citizen (and former cop) who has done nothing more than protect his own property and family by apprehending (so he claims) more than 12,000 (!!) illegal aliens and turning them over to the Border Patrol. Even if the administration doesn't throw in with the illegals, if Obama nevertheless abandons Barnett to his fate, I believe the president would have willfully failed to discharge his oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
If the trial results in a defense verdict and MALDEF does not appeal (unlikely), then Obama is off the hook. But if this ends up in federal circuit court -- as I'm certain it will, no matter what the verdict in district court -- and if Obama (a) ducks the issue or (b) backs MALDEF and the illegals, then the GOP should ride this issue into the 2010 election.
And I would then predict they would, in event (a) -- Obama administration ducks the issue -- recapture one or the other chamber of Congress. And in event (b) -- Obama administration sides with the illegal aliens against they American citizen they tried to victimize -- the GOP will win the whole ruddy thing.
Even if Obama arrives at the same calculation, I just don't know whether he has the cojones to buck the open-borders statelessness of the New Left.
Date ►►► February 6, 2009
More Obama Drama As Zinni Gets Spinnied
The Mack Sennett presidency strikes again, this time ensnaring Anthony Zinni, the media's favorite general -- at least while he was bashing the Iraq war (he wasn't so popular when he came out in support of the counterinsurgency strategy of President George W. Bush, Gen. David Petraeus, and the AEI).
After Gen. Jim Jones was tapped to be President Barack H. Obama's National Security Advisor, he called Zinni and asked if he would be willing to take Ryan Crocker's place as ambassador to Iraq. Zinni jumped at the offer, and Jones started the eight-ball rolling. The most competent presidency in the history of the United States swung ponderously into action:
About two weeks later, General Zinni said, General Jones called back with a formal offer for the Baghdad job, and an appointment with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Jan. 26.
General Zinni said he met for more than an hour with Mrs. Clinton, discussing a wide range of Iraq issues with her; James B. Steinberg, one of her two appointed deputy secretaries; and William J. Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs.
"She thanked me for taking this, and we went over what needed to be done," General Zinni said. "She turned to Steinberg and Burns and said: 'Let’s get the paperwork moving. We’ve got to move on this.'"
The next day, General Zinni said, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called to thank him for taking the job.
But that was the last word on Iraq that General Zinni said he heard from the administration.
William Burns started ducking Zinni's calls; when they did talk, Zinni reports Burns was "increasingly vague" (!) about the appointment. Finally, Zinni heard from Gen. Jones, who had started the whole process; Jones told Zinni that Obama had decide to pick Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, instead of Zinni... but evidently, like little kids afraid to report the vase they broke playing ball in the house, nobody wanted to tell Zinni.
(Christopher Hill is best known for his lengthy and apparently fruitless negotiations with North Korea, which so preoccupied George W. Bush's second term... that whole farce, when the DPRK claimed it had shut down its breeder reactor at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center -- and then a year later, the North Koreans threatened to reactivate it if they didn't get more fuel and money from the U.S.)
So Zinni is out, Hill is in, and the general to this day has no idea what happened, why he was left spinning like a character from Scanners.
But at least Obama isn't weighed down by all that old-style thinking -- like managerial experience, proper planning, inter-office communication, and common courtesy -- that made the Bush administration the object of scorn and ridicule to the new elites. Now is not the time for thinking ahead or making sure the right hand knows what the left hand is washing. Now is the time for action, action, action!
So what was Zinni's reaction?
"As a sorry offer to placate me, they offered ambassador to Saudi," he said in a separate e-mail message, referring to Saudi Arabia. "I told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine."
Sounds like sound advice. Like Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH, 72%), Gen. Anthony Zinni got his first chance for second thoughts about joining Team Obama.
Date ►►► February 5, 2009
Snips 'n Snails 'n Media Tales
From the Associated Press, quoting Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin:
"If I were giving advice to myself back on the day my candidacy was announced, I'd say, 'Tell the campaign that you'll be callin' some of the shots. Don't just assume that they know you well enough to make all your decisions for ya," Palin said....
"I don't know if you can get it [mooseburger chilli] commercially in New York," Palin said. "Come up here to my home, and I'll prepare it for ya."
So AP is reduced to transcribing Palin's accent in the attempt to make her sound like an Alaskan hillbilly.
Now imagine they began doing that for Rep. Charles Rangel, Jesse Jackson, Jeremiah Wright, or even, God forbid, Barack Obama, transcribing their accents -- but making them read like dialog from Gone With the Wind. What exactly would the rest of the elite media say?
Interrogations without straw
The Obama administration will not conduct the kind of "extraordinary rendition" that the Bush administration allowed, CIA Director nominee Leon Panetta assured senators on Thursday.
Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee that President Barack Obama forbids what Panetta called "that kind of extraordinary rendition -- when we send someone for the purpose of torture or actions by another country that violate our human values."
Ah. More maunderings from the most ethical administration in the entire history of the United States of America: Our "human values" (?) are so refined, so principled, so cosmically just, that we refuse to send terrorist detainees to any country -- even their own! -- that might interrogate them more harshly than do we. But of course, we'll be similarly schoolmarmish with our own interrogations:
"Having said that, if we capture a high-value prisoner, I believe we have the right to hold that individual temporarily, to debrief that individual, and to make sure that individual is properly incarcerated so we can maintain control over that individual," he said....
Panetta is not expected to face major opposition in the Senate. If confirmed, he would assume control of the CIA just weeks after Obama made dramatic changes in the agency's interrogation and detention program, directing that secret prisons be closed and interrogations held to methods approved by the military.
Panetta is a strong supporter of Obama's rules.
"We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle ground," he wrote last year.
Lyin' Joe Wilson was "debriefed" by the CIA when he returned from drinking sweet mint tea in Niger; I suppose that's about as harsh as we're going to get with current and future (if any) detainees in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis. (We note in passing that Panetta evidently does not understand the difference between a prison sentence, which is punishment for a crime and subject to the "cruel and unusual" clause of the Constitution, and enemy interrogation, which, whatever else one may say of it, is not intended to punish but to elicit information and intelligence vital to preserving the national security.)
But just as President Barack H. Obama is going to "create or save" four million jobs -- just ask him! -- Director Leon Panetta will still get all the intelligence we need:
Panetta said he would come to the job with a list a questions he wants the CIA to be able to answer, including the location of Osama bin Laden, and when and where al-Qaida will next try to attack the United States.
"Our first responsibility is to prevent surprise," he said.
Of course, the only way to determine "when and where al-Qaida will next try to attack the United States" (as well as "the location of Osama bin Laden") is to extract intelligence; that intelligence resides inside the heads of captured terrorists; and captured terrorists have every incentive to withhold such intelligence from infidel interrogators. So we will very likely have to use something a bit stronger than a "debriefing" to get at it. Surprise!
So how can Mr. Panetta reconcile the urgent need for information to protect American lives and our freedom, democracy, and our national character with his and his boss's fastidiousness about the methods used to gather that information? Very simple:
The former White House chief of staff under President Clinton and ex-congressman from California has much experience in government but little in intelligence gathering or analysis.
What's that expression about somebody or other rushing in where angels fear to tread?
First chance for second thoughts
President Obama has nominated nominally Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (NH, 72%) to be Secretary of Commerce. Today we learn:
The director of the Census Bureau will report directly to the White House and not the secretary of Commerce, according to a senior White House official.
The decision came after black and Hispanic leaders raised questions about Commerce Secretary nominee Judd Gregg ’s commitment to funding the census....
The selection of the Republican Gregg for Commerce -- a plum often given out to a big fundraiser or personal friend in the president’s own party -- left many Democrats scratching their heads and others fearful that Gregg might not defend favored agencies and programs with the department....
It was not immediately clear whether the White House plan to circumvent Gregg on Census Bureau matters would assuage lawmakers who raised questions about his nomination.
If it doesn't, the president can always snip off a few more responsibilities from the Commerce Secretary. Then a few more, and a few more. More Obamic "post-partisanship" in action!
I wonder what Sen. Judd Gregg thinks about his decision to join Team Obama now?
Al Franken's impractical joke: count every vote -- on the Minnesota Supreme Court
Lawyers for Democrat Al Franken told Minnesota's highest court Thursday that he should be certified as the winner of his tight Senate race with Republican Norm Coleman without waiting for the outcome of his rival's legal challenge.
Given that a three-judge panel (appointed by Justice Alan Page, the football guy, of the Minnesota Supreme Court) is at this very moment hearing that "legal challenge," called an election contest, how can Franken hope to prevail? He has a cunning plan:
Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and Justice G. Barry Anderson recused themselves. Both men sat on the State Canvassing Board that ruled on disputed ballots and certified the recount numbers.
Both justices are Republicans appointed by Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty (ordinarily, justices run for election to the state supreme court, but the governor can appoint a justice if a vacancy occurs during the term). Both would likely be skeptical of Franken's demand that he be seated whether or not he really got the most votes. With them sitting out the hearing, the odds shift slightly towards Franken... though it appears the remaining justices are likewise skeptical.
So it appears that Al Franken can count every vote after all.
Date ►►► February 4, 2009
The Cookie Monster
President Barack H. Obama wants to be "different" from George W. Bush. Obama is the lightbringer, the agent of change, the avatar of hope. He is post-partisan, and he demands that the entire "old way" of Washington D.C. be defenstrated in favor of his new way.
And he is indeed "reaching out" to Republicans:
Can the shrill tone of Washington be changed through a presidential act of contrition? Or, perhaps, an enticing platter of oatmeal raisin cookies?
This week, President Obama has already served up both at the White House.
To one set of visitors, a gathering of Democratic and Republican members of Congress whom he invited to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, he carried around the freshly baked cookies as he mingled with his guests. To another set of visitors, the five broadcast and cable television anchors he invited to the Oval Office on Tuesday, he extended a blunt mea culpa and said he took responsibility for nominating aides with tax troubles.
By golly, that'll bring those recalcitrant Republican nay-sayers around!
At the same time, he is convinced that if we just sit down, without preconditions, and talk to the mullahs of Iran and to Mahmoud Achmadinejad, we can sort out our pesky misunderstandings and come to a concensus on how to fix all the problems of the Middle East (such as the existence of Israel). Group hug!
(In a geyser of irony that cannot have escaped even the One Himself, the Iranians rebuffed Obama's call with the blunt demands that Iran will only come to the table if the American president (a) gets on his knees, confesses America's criminality and apostasy, and apologizes for all the cruel and unjust attacks, verbal and military, we've made on Iran since 1979, and (b) that we defer to Iran -- that is, take orders from the Ayatollah -- when constructing our future Middle-East policy. The mountain may be willing to come immediately to Mohammed, but Mohammed insists upon some pretty hefty preconditions to meet the mountain halfway!)
What links these two policies? The oatmeal cookies are the perfect emblem: President Obama offers symbolic post-partisanship only in style, never in substance. He invites Republicans to his pad to watch the Superbowl; but he doesn't invite them into the process of crafting the misleadingly labeled "stimulus" package. No, that minor trillion-dollar boondoggle will be written entirely by the Democrats, of the Democrats, and for the Democrats.
And it's stuffed to the gunwales with weird spending -- billions to ACORN! taxpayer-funded foreign abortions! hundreds of millions for the SEIU, the UAW, and Hollywood's Democratic donors! -- that has nothing to do with helping the economy, the housing market, the credit market, or ordinary Americans... but everything to do with funneling gigabucks to reliable liberal Democratic constituencies which will perpetuate Democratic power for the next two generations.
This is "post-partisanship," Obama style:
President Obama warned Wednesday that failure to act immediately on his economic aid plan "will turn crisis into a catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession."
"Millions more jobs will be lost. More businesses will be shuttered. More dreams will be deferred," Obama said, as Senate debate continued on amendments to the stimulus package.
And so he hopes to buffalo the GOP into buying this pork in a poke, so that when it fails (as it inevitably will, given what's in it), he can spread the blame around: Don't stop, don't think, don't debate, don't amend, don't caucus, don't consult, don't talk to your constituents, don't read the bill, don't ask questions... just do something! We don't need talk -- we need action, action, action!
But please -- have a cookie.
Date ►►► February 3, 2009
Putin Bootin' Obama Piñata
One good thing about an entry-level president, a "citizen of the world" with no experience whatsoever, is that America gets smacked around like a tetherball by wilier players on the foreign stage, leaving the most powerful leader in the free world stunned and gobsmacked. Or maybe it's not a good thing... but it's entertaining, at least -- in a morbid, triumphalist, I-told-you-so sort of way:
Kyrgyzstan is ending U.S. use of a key airbase that supports military operations in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan's president was quoted as saying Tuesday.
Wha -- ? Huh? Where'd this come from?
Interfax and RIA-Novosti quoted Kurmanbek Bakiyev as making the statement just minutes after Russia announced it was providing the poor ex-Soviet country with billions of dollars in aid.
The amount in question is $150 million in direct payments to Kyrgyzstan plus $2 billion dollars of loan guarantees, dwarfing the $150 million we send to Kyrgyzstan annually (that figure includes the $63 million rent we pay for the airbase itself).
But what's the connection? What would hooking up with the
Soviet Union Russia have to do with Kyrgyzstan booting American forces out of a base there?
A Kyrgyz decision to end the U.S. use of Manas, just outside the Central Asian nation's capital of Bishkek, could have potentially far-reaching consequences for U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, said during a trip to Central Asia last month that Manas air base would be key to plans to boost U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan by up to 30,000 soldiers in the coming months....
The United States set up the Manas base in Kyrgyzstan and a base in neighboring Uzbekistan after the September 2001 terror attacks, to back operations in Afghanistan....
Russia has long been suspicious of the U.S. presence in what it considers its strategic backyard.
Kyrgyzstan is the squiggly, little green country just to the left of China (speaking geographically, not politically); Uzbekistan is the equally squiggly but somewhat larger yellow country that pokes into Kyrgyzstan. Directly below those two are Turkmenistan (teal), Tajikistan (purple), and of course Afghanistan (brown). Russia is the big, orange blob at the top of the map.
Let's recall the sequence here:
2001: That 9/11 thing happens. President George W. Bush somehow persuades the notoriously isolationist and authoritarian Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to let U.S. attack and figher aircraft operate from airbases in those two Islamic former Soviet subect nations, providing air support for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, helping to crush and expel the Islamist militancy of al-Qaeda and expunge the sharia tyranny of the Taliban.
2005: A government trial in April of Moslem businessmen (or Islamist extremists, depending who is describing them) in Uzbekistan sparks large protests in the city of Andijan. (Uzbekistan routinely cites Islamic militancy as the reason for their repression of freedom and civil liberties.) Armed insurgents eventually break into the prison and free the defendants, take government officials hostage, and set some fires. In retaliation, the Uzbek troops open fire on the protesters; estimates of deaths range from 400 to 5,000 (Uzbekistan insists it only slew 187).
Most of the West utterly condemns the killings, but the Bush administration calls for a more balanced investigation, noting that the incident had begun with an armed insurrection against the Uzbek government that included killing, hostage taking, and the forcible release of many prisoners, including members of known Islamic terrorist organizations.
At this point, four moderate Republicans (John McCain, AZ, 80% in 2005; Lindsey Graham, SC, 96%; John Sununu, NH, 83%; and Mike DeWine, OH, 56%) join with two hardline partisan Democrats, Patrick Leahy, VT, 100% in 2005 and Joseph Biden, DE, 100% -- now Vice President of the United States -- demanding that Bush immediately break off all negotiations with Uzbekistan to make our airbase there permanent. In response to this pressure, Uzbekistan expels all U.S. forces; this leaves the airbase in Kyrgyzstan as Air Force's only home base for close-air support in Afghanistan.
The senators also urged the Bush administration to consider the repercussions of building a permanent base in Uzbekistan, and asked whether the US is exploring alternative military facilities in neighbouring countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in order to provide the US with more flexibility to alter its relationship with Uzbekistan.
"We appreciate that these are difficult questions that cut to the heart of our relationship with the government in this strategically important region," the senators wrote. "But we also believe that, in the aftermath of the Andijan massacre, America's relationship with Uzbekistan cannot remain unchanged."
2005: Meanwhile, despite the "Tulip revolution" in March, through all the changes of government, Kyrgyzstan continues to allow us to use the Manas Air Base so long as George W. Bush is president.
2005-2008: Russian President (until 2008) and Prime Minister (2008- ) Vladimir Putin grows increasingly aggressive and antagonistic towards the West while simultaneously buddying up to the Iranian mullahs and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Putin also begins a much more proprietary policy towards the huge reserves of natural gas and oil in the Caspian Sea... which happens to be the nearest sea to the 'Stans; the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which flows through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea, begins at the Caspian, as do the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, the Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline, and the proposed Trans-Caspian natural-gas pipeline, which would pump natural gas under the Caspian to Turkmenistan, giving the 'Stans their own source of energy not under the control of Russia.
Hydrocarbon pipelines originating at the Caspian Sea
This is all basic geopolitical common knowledge -- or it should be -- which Bush understands, as do Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her puppetmaster husband and even many senators and representatives in Congress (the brigher ones).
2009: Evidently, however, it all comes as a complete shock to President Barack H. Obama that the price of Russian financial aid might be to close the Manas Air Base and kick the Americans out of the country... which also has the side-benefit of isolating our forces in Afghanistan from the air support that is an indispensible component of contemporary American warfare.
I don't believe that Vladimir Putin has ever reconciled himself to the Soviet Union's loss in Afghanistan; I suspect he still sees that country as a natural part of the new Russian empire he is trying to recreate in the 'Stans, in Georgia and Ukraine, and in Poland and the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Worse for us, it appears that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is not as comfortable in his relationship to Obama as he was with Bush. From the AP article linked above:
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has made increasing overtures to Russia in recent weeks. His office released correspondence between the two countries saying Russia is ready to cooperate on defense matters.
"Recent weeks" appears to be a euphemism for "since November 4th," which was thirteen weeks ago today.
During his visit last month, Petraeus said that Manas would be key to plans to boost the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. He also said the United States pumps $150 million into Kyrgyzstan's economy annually, including $63 million in rent for Manas.
Russia agreed Tuesday to provide Kyrgyzstan with $2 billion in loans plus another $150 million in financial aid.
...And then Kyrgyzstan immediately announced -- "just minutes" later -- that they were kicking us out. Gen. David Petraeus and Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell are acting as if this were nothing more than an attempt to extort more money out of the United States:
[Top U.S. Military spokesman in Afghanistan Col. Greg Julian] also dismissed Kyrgyzstan's threat to close access to the Manas air base as nothing but "political positioning." Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, met with officials in Kyrgyzstan last month and "came away with the sense that everything was fine," Julian said.
"We have a standing contract, and they're making millions off our presence there. There are no plans to shut down access to it anytime soon," Julian told The Associated Press.
But what if they do? So what if we have a "standing contract?" The Russians are offering them far more money than we ever have or than the Congress would enact or the public tolerate. What are we going to do if Kyrgyzstan jumps ship, sue that country in the International Court of Justice for not allowing U.S. military forces on their soil? That would drive them even deeper into Putin's pocket, along with the rest of the 'Stans, including the biggie: Afghanistan. Per above, Karzai seems already to be trying to insinuate his nose into Putin's tent pocket.
Yes, I certainly am glad that Obama is going to throw out all the old agreements and instead start treating Iran and al-Qaeda with respect, unlike the 600 times that George W. Bush reassured Moslems that we were not at war with all of Islam, which he routinely called "the religion of peace."
I'm ecstatic that Obama won't bully the world, as we've evidently been doing for eight years, but will start cooperating with Syria, Pakistan, and Russia, and with North Korea and Red China.
And thank goodness he won't go it alone, as Bush and 40 allied countries did, but will instead sign treaties and security agreements; Obama must have meant signing agreements with militant Islamists and resurgent Communists, since those were the only entities left out of the Bush administration's direct diplomatic efforts.
Maybe I should think it wonderful to have an inexperienced president who has never run anything before in his life, who is not locked into all that negative thinking -- you know, war, force, killing; maybe I should be more euphoric about the "courage" shown by Obama in eschewing all that doddering "experience" and the obsessive pursuit of America's selfish "interests;" maybe I should believe in miracles, all this hopey changitude, internationalism, and a visionary, high-minded concern for the world's interests, instead.
An awful lot of conservative Republicans didn't believe it when many of us said it was vital to bestir ourselves to vote... and to vote for the lesser evil (John S. McCain), not for Ron Paul or that supposed libertarian Babar, both of whom reassured third-party voters that it didn't matter whether McCain or Obama won, because theey were just Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber, representing Republicrats and Demoblicans.
But you know -- I told you so.
Date ►►► February 2, 2009
Nanny's in Your Kitchen: the Spice Wars Begin
"Republican" Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City -- he was a Democrat until he decided the Democratic ticket was too crowded for his mayoral run, so he switched to have the nomination to himself -- now presides over a staggering budget deficit:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially announced Friday the city's $4 billion budget gap and unveiled a new budget filled with painful cutbacks that will impact every New Yorker.
Wall Street got sick and now New York City residents have to take their medicine, and Bloomberg's budget solution will probably be hard for most of us to swallow. New taxes, a smaller workforce, and reduced city services -- all the ingredients of Friday's "Doomsday" budget plan.
"This is a very tough time for our city and nation," Bloomberg said. "We have a $4 billion budget gap. It is serious, I think it is manageable."
Facing this Bloomsday budget plan, Mr. Mayor has thought and thought and thought and thought... and all that ratiocination has done to him what too much reading of chivalric fiction did to Alonso Quixano, about whom Cervantes wrote in the Quixote:
In short, he became so absorbed in his books that he spent his nights from sunset to sunrise, and his days from dawn to dark, poring over them; and what with little sleep and much reading his brains got so dry that he lost his wits. His fancy grew full of what he used to read about in his books, enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, wooings, loves, agonies, and all sorts of impossible nonsense; and it so possessed his mind that the whole fabric of invention and fancy he read of was true, that to him no history in the world had more reality in it.
And a few days ago, Michael, Princeps of Novus York, had a divine revelation: The specific enchantment that would serve to rescue his beloved principality from the economic fiery furnace is "sal salis deleda est!" Now we know how he'll "manage" the $4 billion deficit; sic semper tyrannis.
Clearly, the rabble are simply too ignorant to know how much salt they're eating. They cannot be trusted to make such urgent decisions, which affect the principality as a whole, all by themselves, the selfish villains.
So he has decided to do something about it: He is gearing up to order food manufacturers to "voluntarily" cut the amount of salt in the food they prepare by 50%; and if they don't voluntarily comply, the next step will be to ban any dissenters from selling their food products in New York City.
As New York is America's largest urban market, and it's too expensive to have two different versions of every product -- one for New York, the other for Everywhere Else -- the upshot will be that manufacturers will be forced to undersalt their food across the entire United States. Even the Pace Picante Sauce sold in Amarillo and Taos will have to conform to the tastes of "New York City!"
"Salt, when it's high in the diet, increases the blood pressure and high blood pressure is a major factor for heart disease and stroke," said Dr. Sonia Angell of NYC's Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program.
This is just Mayor Bloomberg's latest health initiative, following on the heels of a smoking ban, a ban on trans fats and forcing restaurants to post the calorie contents.
But many New Yorkers peppered the mayor with boos for his latest idea.
The inaptly named Dr. Sonia Angell might want to reinterview her cherubim sources; evidence that a high salt intake causes medical problems in otherwise healthy people is scant. Instead, most studies show only that people who already have problems -- cardio-vascular, exercise-induced asthma, stomach problems -- can significantly benefit from decreasing their salt intake. And in any event, do we really want a government that tells us what amount of an ordinary, even necessary mineral we are allowed to eat? "Deadly NaCl" has become the new millennium's "poisonous CO2".
Anyone who wants to reduce salt in his diet has a plethora of options available; there are health-food stores in nearly every reasonably large city, and probably hundreds in America's largest city. These stores carry many products that are low-sodium or even sodium-free. You can also simply make food from fresh, non-processed ingredients, thereby controlling how much salt your dishes contain.
With a city teetering on the edge of financial ruin, should Mr. Mayor be frittering away his energy and his budget forcing everyone to conform to an NYC "health Nazi" committee? (Adolf Hitler was a fanatic vegetarian and anti-smoking zealot, making Hitler the world's first "health Nazi.") It's hard not to suspect that Bloomberg's real objection to salt is not that it damages some people's health but that it makes food taste good, when we should be tightening our belts. (The mayor's political allies in the Center for Science in the Public Interest are even more overt, verging on brazen, in their war on flavor.)
This knee-jerk wildly inapropos response proves (if that were still needed) that Michael Bloomberg is still a liberal Democrat at core, no matter what letter he puts after his name now. A liberal is never more than two hysterias away from reverting to liberal fascism, in which every problem is a social problem -- and every social problem requires a collectivist, totalitarian solution. If some people's poor health is exacerbated by excess salt, then nobody should be allowed to eat too much salt... where "too much" is of course coterminous with "more than Mayor Bloomberg likes."
Liberals simply become impatient when one raises the liberty issue; in their hearts, no matter the rhetoric they espouse or claim to accept, right back to the days of the Progressive Party and the Fabian Society, they have always believed that liberty is overrated... that there are only two kinds of men: those who are meant to drive -- the "vanguard," or as Thomas Sowell dubbed them, the "Anointed" who have "the Vision" -- and those who are fit only to be driven (the lumpenproletariat).
The line of totalitarian succession stretches unbroken from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson to Jimmy "the Sweater" Carter -- to the Pelosi, Reid, Obama axis today, thence to all the little Obamoids orbiting the One like teeny, tiny moons. This includes Mr. Mayor of the cosmic center, New York City -- Bloomberg, rationer of prandial pleasure and arbiter of the new American asceticism... We the People sacrifice all so that They the Anointed may feast, swill, chain-smoke, and wallow in hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars (tax-free for cabinet appointees!) showered upon them because they are who they are.
Meet the new nanny; same as the old nanny. (Pass the salt, please.)
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