Date ►►► October 31, 2009

Wow, That Was Quick: Scozzafava Drops Out of NY-23 Race

Hatched by Dafydd

I think my predictions for the special election in New York's 23rd district are pretty safe now:

Republican Dede Scozzafava has suspended her bid in next Tuesday’s NY 23 special election, a huge development that dramatically shakes up the race. She did not endorse either of her two opponents -- Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman or Democrat Bill Owens.

The decision to suspend her campaign is a boost for Hoffman, who already had the support of 50 percent of GOP voters, according to a newly-released Siena poll, and is now well-positioned to win over the 25 percent of Republicans who had been sticking with Scozzafava.

Heh. Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava must have been reading Big Lizards. In our previous post, I made my predictions quite explicit:

You may or may not have read it here first, but I think I might have been the first among all those blogs I personally follow -- that would be three, counting Big Lizards -- to flatly predict that:

  • The race will, in the next couple of days, come down to a two-way between Doug Hoffman and Bill Owens;
  • And that Hoffman will win -- and win convincingly. Perhaps not with an outright majority, unless Scozzafava sees the "mene mene" on the wall and drops out; but a solid victory of 5-8 points over Owens, with Scozzafava in third by double-digits.

As usual, when Big Lizards predicts, we invite everyone to track our predictions and see if we know what we're talking about... or whether we fall flat on our egg.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 31, 2009, at the time of 1:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 30, 2009

Health Insurance Question...

Hatched by Dafydd

I was reading a blogpost by my favorite blogger on my favorite blog, and what appears to be a revelation just bit me right in my damascus.

The most significant objection that the vast majority of Americans have anent health insurance involves how it treats people with pre-existing conditions, particularly those that are completely outside individual control. For example, people with genetic conditions, or who have had heart attacks, or who have severe allergies and asthma, and so forth. We rightly say there is something unAmerican about telling a child born with juvenile diabetes that he's just going to have to go without insurance -- and when he gets sick, he just has to die and decrease the surplus population. It sounds so... mediaeval.

But I just thought of what appears to be a much cheaper solution to that problem, one that does very little damage to the American capitalist system, comparatively speaking. I'd like to see what you all think.

The Pre-Existing Lizard Plan

The plan is of course a compromise between a completely free-market system -- in which we don't concern ourselves with what happens to those who, through no fault of their own, have prohibitively high medical-insurance premiums -- and a completely regulated system, à la mode d'ObamaCare.

Note, this plan does not apply to Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, or military health care or insurance, nor does it require any of these programs be looted for cash, as all versions of ObamaCare do:

  1. Require insurance companies to accept all applicants, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
  2. Allow insurance plans to charge any premium they want for such applicants. Bear in mind, they will be competing with other plans; so if they charge absurd premiums, they'll lose business to their competitors.
  3. Allow insurance companies to deny coverage for treatment of such pre-existing conditions for up to six months after the policy begins (such "exclusion periods" are fairly common in group plans). Insurers can, of course, start coverage earlier, if they think that will give them a competitive edge.
  4. Because it's good public policy for people to be insured, even if they already have medical problems, the federal government offers a defined-contribution subsidy for patients with pre-existing medical problems. The subsidy consists of a refundable tax credit in a specified amount, the same for everyone who has that particular pre-existing condition.
  5. Because it's bad public policy to encourage bad health habits, there is no subsidy for increased rates due to risky or damaging behavior -- such as smoking, drinking to excess, using drugs illegally, becoming a skyboarder or NASCAR driver -- or for patients who are not following their doctor's advice.
  6. The tax credit is entirely voluntary; nobody is obliged to file for it. If a person chooses to file for it, he must sign a waiver saying that he understands that his private medical information will be sent to the federal government for consideration in deciding to grant or withhold the tax credit.

Note several points:

  • The plan is completely separate from any other reform; we can do this in addition to allowing cross-state competition, tort reform, tax incentives for switching to a combination medical-savings account (MSA) and catastrophic care, prohibiting insurance companies from using DNA testing to set rates, or any other reform we ultimately decide to enact.
  • The plan adds no government mandate that anybody buy insurance. Any reforms to close the "free rider" loophole are separate from this plan.
  • The insurance companies are forced to accept bad-risk customers, but they can charge them extra to make up for it.
  • They can set their own rates, compete with each other, and administer their plans as they choose. They can offer discounts for healthy lifestyles, offer any kind of policy they want, and so forth. This is not creeping socialism.
  • Most employer health-care plans would be unaffected, since most are group plans... and most group plans don't charge individual members of the group extra money for pre-existing conditions anyway; that's one of the selling points for group plans.
  • Because the tax credit is calculated on the basis of the average premium increase for that particular pre-existing condition, everybody with that condition gets the same credit, regardless of how expensive his particular insurance is. Thus there is very little market distortion: Expensive insurance will still be more expensive and cheap insurance will still be cheaper, even with the subsidy.
  • The plan would be much cheaper and vastly less tyrannical than ObamaCare.

On that last, according to the census, as of 2005, the percent of Americans who had employer-sponsored health insurance was 59.5%, and the number with individually purchased health insurance was 9.1%. That adds to 68.6%.

Assuming we have about 300 million people, that would mean 205.8 million people are covered by private-company insurance. Let's get wild and suppose that 15% of those people have pre-existing conditions for which they sought treatment in the six months prior to enrollment, the usual standard; this is probably a gross overestimate. That would mean 30.9 million of the insured might have pre-existing conditions.

Assume every last one of these people is eligible for, and applies for the subsidy -- again an overestimate; many would not qualify for various reasons, and many would not apply. Assume the average premium increase is $100 per month per insured. That works out to a total premium increase for the whole kit and kaboodle of $37 billion per year. If the subsidy is calculated to cover 75% of that amount, the feds would be on the hook for considerably less than $28 billion per year.

And that would actually be the ceiling: There is no incentive for people trying to fake pre-existing conditions to get the subsidy, since it's less than 100% of the increased premium cost; and the market will prevent companies from declaring everything from slight overweight to breathing to be a "pre-existing condition."

Administrative costs would be very low, since it's just a tax credit you can apply for when you file your 1040, and decisions are fairly automatic based on data supplied by the insurers. Enforcement of the regulations is by the IRS. And some of that money would be recaptured by taxes paid by the insurance companies on the profits from the increased premiums.

Is this a workable substitute for the monstrosity of ObamaCare? Or is there some hidden trap that I have missed?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 30, 2009, at the time of 4:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Rerun of the Perotistas

Hatched by Dave Ross

All of the lovely energy and idealism expanded this summer by the national tea parties and the general angst that is building up against the ruling Democrats and President Obama will be for naught if the populist fervor gets sidetracked into a third party.

Remember that weird, ugly, loony, fruitcake that half of the country swooned over in 1992? Like drinking a particularly vile Thunderbird or Mad Dog 2020 and waking up in some strange bed, most people who voted for Ross Perot in 1992 would probably just as soon forget about it.

Half mad, completely self-absorbed, totally won over to his own messiah-hood from reading the adoring clippings about himself (goodness, this reads like today’s headlines!), Perot energized America’s populist core because he attracted conservatives and malcontents from both parties... and he ensured that Bill Clinton won two terms as president.

While the Democrats are busy blaming the Republicans for the hurricane of protests that they reaped over the summer and have convinced themselves that it was all orchestrated by the Republican National Committee (which couldn’t competently organize a sack race), it is becoming increasingly clear that the protesters are actually the Perotistas reincarnated. Which is appropriate, given the time of year.

This is both an opportunity for Republicans and a big train wreck waiting to happen to them.

As much fun as it is to see the Democrats walking into the mouth of a volcano and calling it a nice warm bath -- and as a much fun as it is to fantasize about how next year will be a replay of 1994 and that Obama is like Jimmy Carter, only even more hapless -- the fact is that the Republican hierarchy is made up of people who are embarrassed by true conservatism: the conservatism that wants a solid dollar backed by something other than someone’s promise; the conservatism that wants something like a balanced budget; and the conservatism that doesn’t want the government to run health care.

These country-club Republicans prefer to be “Obama light;” and if they get back into power, they would probably revert to the spending ways that got them kicked out of power in the first place.

But unless they purge that mind set, they are going to find that the Perotistas have formed a third party. And then we would be doomed to Democrat rule for many years to come.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, October 30, 2009, at the time of 9:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Repent, Bradlequin!" Said the Liz-Laz Man

Hatched by Dafydd

Our friend and worthy conspirator Brad Linaweaver publishes an annual magazine titled Mondo Cult; you've probably seen it around -- if you hang around the sorts of places where you'd see such a publication. The magazine now has a website and a forum, which is kind of like a blog only completely different.

In the forum, Brad has posted his thoughts on Roman Polanski. He wants us to link his article, and of course we're happy to do so.

He also wants a response -- and we're overjoyed to do that as well. (Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight.) He is well aware that our opinions differ, so this isn't a hit piece or ambuscade; we simply differ on a number of key points. First, however, I urge you to read Brad's entire piece. I'll wait...

You're back. To summarize, Brad postulates the following postulates:

  • From a practical perspective, it's absurd to go after an old man for a sexual transgression decades ago; there are far more pressing matters to be attended, including an economic collapse, the nationalization of banks and other industries, creeping socialism, and two wars in foreign countries... whether they're justified preemptive self-defense or imperialist overseas intervention, either way, these issues are of far more moment than what Roman Polanski did in 1977.
  • From a libertarian perspective, this is just another example of the tentacles of the State reaching out into the personal lives of individuals. In this case, the victim of Polanski's crime (her name is public, but there's no point in my bringing it up again) doesn't want him prosecuted.

    Since the victim is the girl herself, not "society," then society should not have a say in whether Polanski is prosecuted: He paid her off; she's satisfied with the reparations; the State should butt out.

  • From a justice perspective, it's absurd that this crime is prosecuted today, thirty years after the fact; even though the statute of limitations doesn't legally apply, the principle still stands: A man should not have to spend the rest of his life in fear that he will be prosecuted for a crime so many years in his past. It's not a murder, for goodness' sake! Both felon and victim have moved beyond the rape. Why reopen that can of monkeys?

At least, that is what I take as the essence of Brad's argument; if he wishes to correct any aspect of this, I will revise my response accordingly.

Rather than take the issues point by point, I want to respond philosophically -- with especial attention paid to analyzing the case under a (small-L) libertarian perspective, as that is both Brad's and my fundamental ideology. It should be easy to pick out the threads of individual response from the general argumentum.

In the process, I think we may get at something deeper than the fate of one creepy Polish-French film director.

One initial point I'd like to make in praise of Brad's article: I don't believe he ever makes the argument that Roman Polanski should not be prosecuted because (a) he was a victim of the Holocaust, (b) he made some great movies, or (c) he is a Hollywood aristo and therefore is owed a certain "droit du seigneur" -- the "right" of the lord to any woman he wants -- or "jus primae noctis," the "right" of a night with any young girl the lord fancies.

I am tremendously thankful that Brad avoided these paralogical traps, but I'm not particularly surprised: Brad is sharper than a serpent's tooth and deeper than a well, unlike 99% of the commentators on this case; and he knows very well that each of these ersatz arguments is pernicious nonsense that makes hash of the principles of Americanism.

What is Polanski's crime anyway?

The first task is not to fall into the error of most putative "libertarians" (though not Brad) who superficially "analyze" the Polanski case: Roman Polanski is not currently being prosecuted for having sex; nor is he being prosecuted today for the bogus charge (from a libertarian perspective) of having consensual sex with someone who happens to be below the legal age of consent, but who is mentally and emotionally capable of giving consent.

Nor is his current crime the oral, vaginal, and anal rape by use of force and controlled substances he was originally charged with; that accusation was (wrongly, in my opinion) plea-bargained down to simple unlawful sex with a minor (statutory rape)... probably because (a) he was a celebrity, and (b) his lawyer threatened to destroy his victim's life by essentially accusing her of being a thirteen year old whore. Frightened by the reaction after her grand-jury testimony, she evidently refused to testify at the trial; so Polanski pled to the lesser charge and was sentenced to 90 days psychiatric evaluation -- though there was always the option of the judge to give him prison time, as much as 50 years, as I recall (an option the judge did not exercise).

So what is Polanski's crime? After serving 42 days of his sentence, he was released by the psych ward with a probation-officer report recommending the rest of the sentence be canceled. But the judge rejected that evaluation and ordered Polanski back to prison for the remaining 48 days, to be followed by a voluntary deportation. Rather than face such a soul-searing, unjust sentence -- 48 more days, merely for multiply raping an adolescent! -- he fled the country.

So his current crime is actually breaking jail, just as if he'd climbed the wall at San Quentin, or wherever the heck he was being evaluated -- in layman's terms; I don't know if refusing to return to prison is a distinct legal charge.

Why does it matter? Why are the victim's wishes not being honored?

It matters very much what his crime was for two reasons. First, the victim of the current crime, escaping from prison, was not the victim of the rape; he was already "tried" for that crime (he pled guilty to the lesser charge, so there was no real trial) and sentenced. That ends the matter as far as the girl is concerned.

But when a convict escapes from prison, there is only one victim; or rather, there are hundreds of millions of victims: The entity which suffered from Polanski's cowardice or narcissism is society in general.

To deny that society can be a victim is to turn the entire concept of rule by law on its ear; it's like saying that if Barack H. Obama were to crown himself king and rule as a dictator, it would not be a crime, because you cannot point to one specific person and say "He is the victim!" We are all victims if we lose our freedom... just as we are all victims if the law is no longer applied equally to us all.

Let's assume we live in a libertarian world. Libertarianism is (or should be) based upon the fundamental axiom of maximal individual liberty -- though in the real world, too many self-defined libertarians are in fact merely libertines who care nothing about other people's liberty and even less about the common-law and legislative environment required to maintain a society based upon maximal individual liberty.

But "liberty" is not the only axiom on which libertarianism rests; there is an even more fundamental one, often forgotten in all the excitement about license and freedom: The most fundamental axiom of free government is in fact the rule of law.

This is the queer notion that there is not one lenient law for the hidalgo -- from "hijo dalgo," literally "son of something" -- and another, harsher law for the peon. This was a critical breakthough in modernity which I believe was gifted to the world by the Jews: What is wrong for the pauper is equally wrong for the prince.

It's quite a radical idea; libertarians should love it. At its base, it means that all men and women are treated equally under the law. It's enshrined in our Organic Law, both the Declaration of Independence ("that all men are created equal") and the Constitution ("No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.")

Here "due process" and "equal protection" mean equal treatment in all cases; no one is above the law. We don't always live up to it -- particularly given the cult of celebrity; but failure to perfectly realize a principle is not license to be indifferent to it.

Not Capitalism nor democracy nor individual liberty can endure when some animals are more equal than others. And without this holy trinity of rights and duties, "libertarianism" is utterly impossible.

Therefore, any libertarian should immediately recoil in disgust from an argument that says that Roman Polanski should be allowed to mock justice by fleeing the country, living in luxury while thumbing his nose at the responsibility he incurred by raping his victim -- then return to America and suffer no consequences for his perfidy. At its essence, it's no different from arguing that the cabinet of Dr. Obama should be allowed to skate on income-tax evasion, bribery, and other crimes merely because they're such important people nowadays.

Why prosecute today, after so many years?

The question almost answers itself: Because not to prosecute is to set up separate, parallel, but non-intersecting systems of putative "justice." Could we have gotten our mitts on Polanski earlier, we would have prosecuted him earlier. That we didn't capture him until last month was his own doing: He avoided countries that might extradite him.

We prosecute now, even 32 years after his escape, because we cannot allow people to use wealth and celebrity to urinate on justice. Whenever someone commits a serious crime then avoids punishment that the rest of us would have to endure, it hammers another nail in the coffin of freedom and liberty.

There are any number of despots and decadents, theorists and theocrats who argue that a "free society" is a contradiction; that there is no right to one's own conscience, no free choice, no individualism... that the individual matters nothing, and only the hive collective is important. When we fail to live up to our ideals, we give such monsters of tyranny ammunition to use in the ideological and propaganda war against liberty.

If we profess our creed that individualism, not the commune, is the fundamental unit of humanity, then we must accept the reverse of that same coin: The individual is also the fundamental unit of accountability.

That is why all decent individualists, Capitalists, and libertarians ban collective punishment: The only people who should be punished under law are those who actually commit the crime; and by corollary, all those who commit the crime should be punished under law.

Even if that requires punishment after thirty years time gone by, if there was good reason not to punish them earlier (such as flight and evasion). That doesn't mean we cannot act mercifully to those who have actually repented their crimes; but by the same token, it means we must be harsher on those who sat within a magic circle and smirked at justice.

So what should be done with Roman Polanski?

I honestly believe Polanski should suffer more punishment than simply having to serve the remaining 48 days of his original sentence; if not, wouldn't every convicted felon routinely flee?

Polanski's flight was far worse than and supercedes his original crime: The multiple rapes may have horribly damaged and distorted a young girl's life; but his escape and the decades he spent laughing at the American judicial system (and at his victim) helped destroy the very concept of a just and free society in many people's minds.

At the very least, in addition to the 48 days, Polanski should be prosecuted for escape and sentenced to more prison time than he originally faced. If he isn't, then what is the judicial incentive for any convict to fulfill his sentence? One of two things will apply:

  • Either we must allow, for consistency, all escapees we recapture to suffer no worse a fate than their original sentences -- an invitation to every convicted felon to take it on the lam instead of serving their time;
  • Else we must necessarily say that some criminals will be treated more harshly for escaping, while other, privileged criminals will be treated with royal consideration.

"Privilege," by the way, literally means "private law;" is that consistent with libertarian philosophy, that a handful of people get special protection under private law unavailable to anyone else?

Roman Polanski owes us, all of us, 48 more days in el calabozo. But beyond that debt, he owes additional penance, preferably prison time, for sloughing off his lawful and legitimate (perhaps even too lenient) punishment.

Polanski may think that's overly harsh; but that's because he thinks he's of an upper class that is "beyond good and evil," and which never has to say it's sorry. Or suffer any consequences. But bluntly, I don't give a tinker's ass what Roman Polanski thinks.

Note, 6 November 2009: Brad has responded to my reponse to his original Mondo Cult article... see here now!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 30, 2009, at the time of 2:41 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 29, 2009

NY-23: Hoffman Leads - and Now It Looks Like He Really Does!

Hatched by Dafydd

Politico now reports new polling in the NY-23 special election that shows that the previous poll by the Club for Growth, which we talked about in an earlier post, was no fluke: Even the Daily Kos's polling now sees a huge surge towards conservative candidate Doug Hoffman in the last week before Tuesday's vote.

And just as we predicted, DIABLO* (Democrat in all but label only) Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava, the liberal Republican hand-picked by eleven GOP committee apparatchiks, as we reported in More On Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava, has all but fallen off the radar. The race has come down to a face-off between Hoffman and Democratic candidate Bill Owens:

The latest round of polling gave evidence that Hoffman is on the rise and has pulled even with, or ahead of, Owens as Scozzafava has fallen into third place. In a newly-released poll commissioned by the liberal blog Daily Kos, Hoffman is within one point of Owens, 33 percent to 32 percent, with Scozzafava lagging well behind in third place with 21 percent....

Even more encouraging to Hoffman’s backers, the Daily Kos poll shows Hoffman is winning over more Republican voters than the GOP’s own nominee. He leads Scozzafava 41 to 34 percent among Republicans -- a sign that GOP voters are increasingly identifying with Hoffman as the true Republican candidate.

And he holds a 19-point lead among independents over Owens, 47 percent to 28 percent, suggesting that his outsider message is resonating, and that his support isn’t confined to the conservative base.

Evidence is mounting (a favorite liberal-stream media word) that far from making a "blunder," Sarah Palin had her finger on the crystal ball: Hoffman looks like a winner now, and Palin was the first Republican heavy-hitter to come out for him. (Fred Thompson was an earlier endorser; but Thompson is a spent force. As great a guy as he usually was, he is the GOP's past, not its future.)

And at last, Hoffman is getting some lovin' from "mainstream" (that is, more conservative) Republicans: Politico reports that National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX, 92%) is making it clear that the Republican conference would be very pleased if Hoffman is elected:

“He would be very welcome, with open arms,” Sessions told POLITICO in an interview off the House floor.

And former NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK, 88%) now supports Hoffman's insolent campaign against Democrat Owens and formal Republican candidate Scozzafava. Meanwhile, Hoffman's popularity is still growing among the rank and file:

Hoffman, whose campaign barely had a presence in the district as recently as two weeks ago, is getting help from a well-oiled conservative ground game, with hundreds of volunteers from tea party groups and leading conservative organizations working in upstate New York to help him get out the vote next Tuesday.

Hoffman’s campaign now has five campaign offices teeming with volunteers across the sprawling district. By contrast, Scozzafava’s campaign has just one office in her home base.

The anti-tax Club for Growth, pro-life Susan B. Anthony’s List, Eagle Forum and anti-illegal immigration Minuteman PAC all have staffers on the ground knocking on doors, making calls to Republican voters and delivering pro-Hoffman literature to churches.

You may or may not have read it here first, but I think I might have been the first among all those blogs I personally follow -- that would be three, counting Big Lizards -- to flatly predict that:

  • The race will, in the next couple of days, come down to a two-way between Doug Hoffman and Bill Owens;
  • And that Hoffman will win -- and win convincingly. Perhaps not with an outright majority, unless Scozzafava sees the "mene mene" on the wall and drops out; but a solid victory of 5-8 points over Owens, with Scozzafava in third by double-digits.

As usual, when Big Lizards predicts, we invite everyone to track our predictions and see if we know what we're talking about... or whether we fall flat on our egg.

 

* The term DIABLO does indeed appear to have been minted by Mark Steyn; Charles "the Sauerkraut" Krauthammer was merely the fence.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 29, 2009, at the time of 5:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why No "Celebration" of 1984's 60th Anniversary?

Hatched by Dave Ross

Calendar 2009 is the 25th anniversary of the year immortalized by George Orwell as 1984 and the 60th anniversary of the publication of the book Nineteen Eighty Four in Britain and America.

You would think that the Main Stream Media (MSM), which marks 25th anniversaries of almost every breakthrough, tragedy, and historical event -- 2009 is the 25th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and of the computer game Tetris -- would outdo itself reflecting on the accuracy of Orwell’s warning of a coming totalitarianism state in Britain and America. Millions of American school children have read the classic, which introduced such universal terms as “Big Brother,” “doublethink,” “thoughtcrime,” and “Newspeak” into the vernacular. Yet no such retrospective has appeared.

You can bet that if “W” were still president and the sinister Dick Cheney still in the White House basement -- whittling away at the Constitution in between waterboarding innocent Moslem bystanders and chortling to Luke Skywalker, “I am your father!” -- that the anniversary would be front-page news. Charlie Gibson and Keith Olbermann would be asking, “Is George Bush Big Brother?” (In fact, in 2004, a quasi-documentary titled Orwell Rolls in His Grave, directed by Robert Pappas and peopled with celebrities of the Left such as Michael Moore, made that very point.)

But on the book’s 60th anniversary, with a liberal president, the MSM would rather not dwell on whether nine tenths of Nineteen Eighty Four’s “predictions” have come true, or that many occurred under liberal presidents such as Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton (yeah, they happened under the other guys too!) Such is the opinion of futurist and neuroscientist Dr. David Goodman, a Southern California resident who has devoted much of his career to the study of "George Orwell," the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair.

Goodman has collected 137 “predictions” culled from Orwell’s masterpiece. Here’s one: “Forced metrification. The chap at the local pub chatting with Winston Smith complains that he is unable to get his pint. As his lament continues, it appears that the government declared for the metric system without consideration for the people and their wishes. Certainly Orwell writing in 1947 foresaw the continental system imposed on the Brits before calendar 1984,” says Goodman.

Or this: “Speakwrite machine. Perhaps Orwell's most original prediction; Winston Smith in his cubicle at the Ministry of Truth pulls the microphone towards him and dictates his memoranda. The machine translates his spoken words into a typed message. Every time I enter my local computer store and see software converting words into type, I think of Orwell and his invention of speakwrite to eliminate secretaries who became aware through memos of black and white propaganda,” says Goodman.

There are the obvious ones: two-way television; face-recognition software; never-ending wars (such as the “war” on drugs, or the current unpleasantness formerly known as the War on Terror); and the Patriot Act, which authorized inquiries into the reading habits of library patrons. [Nb. Not everyone at Big Lizards agrees with the implication of nefariousness in this element of that act! -- DaH]

Plus citizens being under constant surveillance (think of traffic cameras in the U.S. and the U.K. and face-recognition software in casinos); technology for wireless lie-detectors; or government authorities using cell phones to track our every move.

Intriguingly, documents have surfaced in recent years -- a letter written by Orwell to Sidney Sheldon in 1949, and a poem called “End of the Century, 1984” by Orwell's first wife Eileen, written years before Nineteen Eighty Four -- that bolster the argument that it was written as a satire on the socialist Fabian Society; the book is set one-hundred years to the day after the founding of the Fabian Society in London in 1884... that is, the "end of the (Fabian) century."

For 30 years Dr. Goodman has written and been interviewed about Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four predictions. When the famous date approached, Goodman calculated that 100 of 137 predictions had come true. More have come true since then, he says.

Recently he found proof that Orwell’s book was a biting satire on political and literary figures of the day, such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw, and H.G. Wells, Fabians all. Most literary analyses of Nineteen Eighty Four and the publisher’s advertisement’s for the book emphasized that it was a satire on the Communist Russia of Stalin, but Goodman disputes that.

“Big Brother was supposedly Stalin and Goldstein, enemy of the people, was Trotsky and it was telling you what Russia would be thirty-five years ahead,” says Goodman. “That got me a little confused because Orwell had written Animal Farm, an obvious satire on Communist Russia -- then he got the idea for his next book. Why write two satires on Stalin?”

For many years the accepted interpretation was that Orwell was a Fabian socialist. The 1966 book Fabian Freeway: High Road to Socialism by Rose Martin lists Orwell as one of the conspirators of Fabian socialism in Britain. “I’ve read that citation all over the place, but I’ve also read several dozens of books about Orwell and found descriptions of terrible run-ins he had with influential Fabians, such as Beatrice and Sidney Webb.” Goodman believes that Goldstein in the book is fashioned after Sidney Webb. “The four ministries of Love, Peace, Plenty, and Truth, parody Fabian slogans of the 1920s. The book begins on April 4, 1984, the same date [plus a century] of the first pamphlet by the Fabian Society. When Orwell worked at the BBC during WWII he could look out his window at University College, where British Fabianism was at its strongest.”

Goodman isn’t the first to posit this type of connection. Walter Cronkite in his preface to the Signet Gold edition of Nineteen Eighty Four hypothesized that the book, “was a novelistic essay on power, how it is acquired and maintained, how those who seek it or seek to keep it tend to sacrifice anything and everything in its name.” That comment set Goodman off on his own 25 year search for the truth.

Since Fabian Freeway was published, documents have surfaced that support Goodman. One is the poem by Eileen Blair, a fierce Fabian Socialist who died in 1945. Goodman thinks it probable that references Martin found were of Orwell’s wife and not Orwell himself.

There is also a letter by author Sidney Sheldon, who wrote to Orwell shortly before the latter's death asking permission to do a play based on the book, and clarification on whether it was intended as an attack on Soviet Russia, as Sheldon had been told to stage it, or a prediction of what might happen if British socialism, which had come to power in 1945 under Clement Attlee’s Labor Party, were to continue on for another 35 years -- as Sheldon had originally proposed.

Orwell wrote him back: “Dear Mr. Sheldon, many thanks for your letter of August 9, I think your interpretation of the book’s political tendency is very close to what I meant… I was trying to chiefly imagine what communism would be like if it were firmly rooted in the English speaking countries and was no longer a mere extension of the Russian foreign office.”

Orwell’s hero, Winston Smith, was 39 in the book. That would have been about the age of Orwell’s adopted son, Richard (then aged 2), in 1984, along with an entire generation who would have grown up in a Socialist Britain.

Knowing that Orwell intended Nineteen Eighty Four as a warning against what might happen in a democracy if socialism is pursued to its ultimate goals should serve as a clear warning to the present generation in both the U.K. and the United States -- If only someone was listening to the warning!

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, October 29, 2009, at the time of 4:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 28, 2009

Barbara Boxer - Thank Goodness for National Poverty!

Hatched by Dafydd

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%) is of course shepherding the economy-killing energy bill, Cripple and Tax (sorry, I meant Cap and Trade) through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs. Her fellow committee member Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT, 80%) -- who just recently wrote his own Obamacare bill in the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs -- has decided to write his own energy bill as well; he came out swinging against the Boxer bill... but his objections are all to the specifics; Baucus has no problem with the basic concept of the Obama-Boxer bill:

  1. Regulate carbon emissions as if they were pollutants (so stop exhaling, you climate traitor!)
  2. Force industries, farms, utilities, and other businesses to buy "carbon credits" that allow them to pollute the planet -- i.e., feed the plants.
  3. Set a national carbon reduction goal of about 80% by 2050 (!). This is so draconian, it can only be achieved one of two ways: By absolutely crippling American industry to the point where we'd have trouble competing with Albania; or by embarking upon a massive program to build a hundred or more nuclear power plants.

    The Democrats have no interest in building a hundred nuclear power plants. Or even one.

  4. "Fine" businesses and utilities increasingly staggering amounts of money when they're unable to meet that absurdist goal... thus creating the most massive tax the United States has ever levied -- on the evil, unAmerican sin of producing energy.

Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX, 76%) and Kit Bond (R-MO, 75%) conducted a study that found the gasoline tax increase alone would carry a price tag of $3.6 trillion, a cost that would be borne by "families, small businesses, farmers, truckers, & air travelers." I don't believe that even includes energy taxes on other forms of fossil fuel besides gasoline, deisel and jet fuel, such as natural gas, ordinary coal, or clean-coal technology.

But all this is prolog; what really caught my eye was this astonishing suggestion from Boxer:

Mrs. Boxer said that Mr. Baucus told her Friday that he could not back the bill in its current form. Still, she expressed hope that recent declines in U.S. emission levels caused by the economic recession of as much as 8 percent since 2005 would make the 2020 target more palatable for Mr. Baucus and other bill critics.

And there you have it, the essential absurdity of Cripple and Tax: A United States senator hopes that the current recession continues plaguing America, because that would reduce emissions (by reducing industrial production, jobs, and GDP) -- and "make the 2020 [emissions reduction] target more palatable!"

In other words, we'll already be so impoverished by the recession, which Barack H. Obama now "owns" via his counter-economic policies that perpetuate it, that we'll hardly even notice when we become even poorer due to his equally risible energy policy.

At last I understand: It's not true that the One's economic plan is failing; it's succeeding beyond his wildest dreams. We just misunderstand its real goal.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 28, 2009, at the time of 1:18 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 27, 2009

Thomas Sowell: Obama Isn't UnAmerican, He's Anti-American

Hatched by Sachi

During the Bush administration, liberals relentlessly equated Bush and his administration with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. It was always a ridiculous comparison of course; liberals seem to think that Hitlerism simply means militarism or conservatism or being religious (which is a joke, as Hitler was an atheist) -- but that's par for the liberal course. Dafydd calls this tactic "Argument by Tendentious Redefinition": They expand the definition of a word to include so many other unrelated situations that the original meaning of the word disappears into a black hole.

So I do not make the comparison between the Barack H. Obama administration and actual fascism lightly. Please understand, Obama is not like Hitler; nobody is, nobody else ever was. Hitler was uniquely insane and evil: others like Stalin and Mao were as evil, but they didn't have the almost inhuman hatreds that drove der Führer.

Obama is neither crazy nor evil, not in the cosmic sense of the Nazis; so by "fascism," I do not mean "Naziism." The "brilliant genius" Obamacle may in reality be as thick as a brick, but he's not clinically insane.

With that disclaimer, I look at the policies and style coming out of his administration -- its thuggish behavior, the desperate need to control everyone and everything, the demonization of a huge laundry list of "enemies," and the constant demand that everybody (except the party leaders) sacrifice for the collective -- and I cannot help but compare it to the early stages of fascism. Not Naziism, a less demonic version of fascism... the fascism of Oogo Chavez, for example, or even the original fascism of Benito Mussolini.

And now I feel justified, because one of our greatest conservative intellects, Thomas Sowell feels the same way. In a column published in Jewish World Review titled Dismantling America, Sowell criticizes the Obama administration's dismantling of American values (all emphasis added):

Just one year ago, would you have believed that an unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate but simply one of the many "czars" appointed by the President, could arbitrarily cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent?

Did you think that another "czar" would be talking about restricting talk radio? That there would be plans afloat to subsidize newspapers -- that is, to create a situation where some newspapers' survival would depend on the government liking what they publish?

Did you imagine that anyone would even be talking about having a panel of so-called "experts" deciding who could and could not get life-saving medical treatments?

Does any of this sound like America...?

President Obama has already floated the idea of a national police force, something we have done without for more than two centuries.... What would be the role of a national police force created by Barack Obama, with all its leaders appointed by him? It would seem more like the brown shirts of dictators than like anything American.

Obama's repeated appointment of extremists is no accident, Sowell writes:

Nothing is more consistent with his lifelong patterns than putting such people in government -- people who reject American values, resent Americans in general and successful Americans in particular, as well as resenting America's influence in the world.

Sowell concludes with an indictment that has never been made so starkly by such a leading intellectual against a sitting president, particularly during a time of war; but I think Sowell is justified in making this accusation:

Nothing so epitomizes President Obama's own contempt for American values and traditions like trying to ram two bills through Congress in his first year -- each bill more than a thousand pages long -- too fast for either of them to be read, much less discussed. That he succeeded only the first time says that some people are starting to wake up. Whether enough people will wake up in time to keep America from being dismantled, piece by piece, is another question -- and the biggest question for this generation.

America must heed the fire alarm, get out of bed, and stop Obama from torching the America we know, so he can build on its ashes the America he and his liberal-fascist cronies long to see.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 27, 2009, at the time of 1:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 26, 2009

More On Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava

Hatched by Dafydd

In the comments on a previous Big Lizards post, a commenter found my use of the term "GOP congressional establishment" puzzling; I noted that they were "the same folks who cynically picked (in a back-room deal) a out and out liberal, who agrees with Democrat Owens right down the ideological line, to replace the previous RINO [John] McHugh."

The commenter wrote:

I'm getting quite tired of conservative Republicans talking about the Party as if they were somebody from the sinister mother ship....

That said, I can't fault Newt for backing the Republican, apparently for good reason. It isn't enough to stand on principle and lose, nor to forsake principle and win. If Hoffman can stand on principle and win, he's pulled off the perfect storm. If he splits the conservative vote and the Democrat wins, he has harmed the cause, albeit temporarily.

Leave aside the confounding fact that I'm not a "conservative Republican;" I'm a free-market, pro-liberty Republican... but I hold many positions that run contrary to religious and social conservatism.

Let's stick to the matter at hand. If we were talking about a moderate Republican with some doctrinal differences, I might be inclined to agree that party support is more important than picking nits. If we were talking about a fiscal conservative who was squishy on same-sex marriage, I would grit my teeth but still probably vote for him; he would be on our side fighting nearly all the elements of Obamunism.

But the candidate picked by the GOP nomenklatura, Dede Scozzafava, is neither of the above: She is a brazen liberal, on a par with the Maine twins, Olympia Snowe (R, 12%) and Susan Collins (R, 20%). Scozzafava was not chosen by the rank and file; there was no primary, no election, not even a caucus. How did she get the ballot slot?

State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava beat out a field of eight other Republicans on Wednesday to pick up the GOP endorsement for the 23rd Congressional District seat.

Scozzafava, R-Gouverneur, a moderate Republican who supports a woman's right to choose and gay marriage, has been willing to openly split with her party in Albany.

The six-term Assembly member picked up the endorsement Wednesday after a meeting of the 11 Republican county committee chairs, who had interviewed the candidates at a series of regional meetings over the past month.

That, gentle readers, is the GOP congressional establishment, the Republican nomenklatura, in action: Who cares what Republican voters in the district want? I've got eleven party chairs in my pocket; and after interviewing the job applicants, they decided to hire Dede. And why Dede? Because, although she may be a social liberal, at least she's a fiscal liberal as well?

Now party luminaries like Newt Gingrich are miffed that Republican and Conservative voters in New York-23rd, and even the rest of us elsewhere, dare to question why the loony liberal should be the GOP nominee. The nomenklatura demand that Doug Hoffman withdraw so that Scozzafava can have a clean shot; she is the default candidate, after all.

But it's curious that the "default" is always to feverishly support anyone picked by the party establishment, even if the candidate is a flaming liberal; we joke that we're the "party of orderly succession," and that's how we got Gerald Ford in 1976 and Blob Dole twenty years after.

But it never seems the default position for the party establishment -- the party bosses who put Dede Scozzafava on the ballot on the basis of a job interview -- to nominate someone who actually has the support and approval of the rank and file party members. They only care that she will play ball with them, or perhaps take orders, and above all else won't rock the boat.

Doesn't that seem odd to you?

Why didn't they poll their party members? They had plenty of time: McHugh was tapped for Secretary of the Army on June 2nd -- five months before the November 3rd election. That's more than enough time to spend at least a couple of months finding out who the Republican (and Conservative) voters wanted as their candidate (under normal circumstances, the same person runs on both slates).

Instead, they just rushed to put a safely liberal DIABLO onto the ballot, pillow-talked Newt Gingrich into endorsing her; and now they expect the rest of us to cheer their quiet efficiency. We're to link arms and support the liberal against the other liberal, presumably while singing Solidarity Forever. ("The union makes us strong!")

I am really fuming about this: I am convinced that Dierdre Scozzafava is a vote for ObamaCare, a vote for Energy Cripple and Tax, a vote to pull all the troops out of Afghanistan... possibly even a vote for Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) to return as Speaker of the House; look up Paul Horcher, Doris Allen, and Brian Setencich on Wikipedia.

It's entirely possible that if Scozzafava turns out to be too liberal for her party in a year, she may turn her coat and, like Arlen Specter, run as a Democrat in 2010.

Take a look at her website. You have to search high and low to find even a single position statement; a paltry handful may be found here, shuffled in among such "publications" (press releases) as "Scozzafava Offers Praise for Outgoing Fort Drum Commander" and "Legislation Mirroring Scozzafava Bill Passes Assembly; Residents to Be Notified Of Sex Offenders." But I can't find anything on the momentus decisions that face the United States Congress.

I have a hard time believing she has no opinion; the most charitable conclusion is that she does have positions, but she doesn't think revealing them would benefit her election chances.

Not only does Scozzafava seem indistinguishable from Bill Owens, the honest Democrat, she is an absolutely ghastly retail candidate: She's a terrible speaker; she hasn't reached out to hardly anyone in the district outside her liberal base; she seems to think that she has been anointed and will simply inherit the seat from the previous RINO, John McHugh (40% rating from the ACU -- probably more than Scozzafava would earn).

It almost looks to me as if the RINO GOP in that district would rather lose with Scozzafava than win with Hoffman. It's not that uncommon an attitude among an ensconced power elite; they're liberal, she's liberal, McHugh was liberal: If she wins, they're still sitting pretty.

Even if she runs and loses (narrowly) to Owens, they still keep their power; they can argue Scozzafava lost because she wasn't liberal enough!

But if, God forbid, Doug Hoffman wins... all the liberals in the permanent floating nominating and campaign committee in the 23rd District of New York could be ousted in favor of conservatives more to the new congressman's liking; it's not likely -- they probably have more power than a mere freshman congressman; but if he stays and is reelected a few times, he could completely change the character of the Republican Party in that district.

The same dynamic beset the Democratic Party in 1984, when Gary Hart came very close to beating Sir Walter Mondale for the nomination; the only reason Mondale won was the Carter-Mondale axis rigged the game by three power plays:

  • They forced a bunch of states to switch from primaries to caucuses, then the Mondale campaign took over the caucus structures... e.g., splitting the congressional and presidential nomination votes into two locations, then only telling Mondale supporters where the presidential one was to be held.
  • The Mondale camp controlled the party establishment in the various states; so that even when Hart won a primary, Mondale still received the majority of the delegates from that state!
  • And of course, through the very aggressive use of "superdelegates," which had pretty much been invented eight years earlier by Jimmy Carter to steal the 1976 nomination away from Jerry Brown and Scoop Jackson.

That is the power the party establishment can yield, particularly over the nomination process; it's made easier in the Scozzafava case by the circumstances: The nomenklatura simply met in a smoke-filled room and declared her the nominee.

Scozzafava is going to fade in the next week or so. The election will come down to Bill Owens versus Doug Hoffman, and Hoffman, I believe, will win. I wonder... when he does, will Republican leaders demand a recount?

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2009, at the time of 9:33 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Obama: "What Me Sexist?"

Hatched by Sachi

I read something in yesterday's New York Times that caused me to shed a tear -- in a laugh-out-loud kind of way: The Times story accuses Barak H. Obama of rampant sexism.

What? How? According to the story, B.O. surrounds himself with a pavillion of "testosterone-brimming personalities" and "fist-bumping young men who call each other 'dude'":

The suspicion flared in recent weeks -- and not for the first time -- after President Obama was criticized by women’s advocates and liberal bloggers for hosting a high-level basketball game with no female players.

Oh, come now (I hear you cry); you don't expect our president to play basket ball with women do you? But the Times builds its case; women, it says, are invisible in other areas as well, while key White House positions are mostly filled with men.

Yes, I know; the same objection occurred to me... what about Hillary? Valerie Jarrett? Antisemite Samantha Power? (All right, she's out; but she was there before.) What about Mickey Maoist Anita Dunn" (Yes, I know, she's leaving too.)

The Times does admit there are a few hens among the roosters; quoth senior advisor Jarrett:

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and six other cabinet-level officials; Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; the health care czar, Nancy-Ann DeParle; and the domestic policy adviser, Melody Barnes. According to figures provided by the administration, there is a 50-50 gender split among White House employees." [Sustained by a carefully administered formula: For every twenty senior policy makers (male), they make sure to hire twenty receptionists and secretaries (female). Fifty-fifty! -- DaH]

And we all know just how seriously the president treats Hillary Rodham Clinton, secretary of the Congo.

But the Times is not mollified. The highest profile positions are filled with men who "exude an unmistakable male vibe," the story says. So who are the "six other [female] cabinet-level officials" that Jarrett references?

  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
  • Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
  • United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice
  • Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer

First, the secretaries of labor and HHS and the EPA director are all traditional "girly" positions; they have little policy-making role and are mostly trotted out for signing ceremonies or to appear on Sunday talk shows to soften the president's "good old boy" image.

The other four positions are traditionally more important; ordinarily, Secretary of State and Homeland Security, U.N. ambassador, and Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors would all be major positions. But with the czars in Obama's eyes -- an Afghanistan czar, a border czar, a Central Region czar, an ecnomic czar, a Guantanamo closure czar, an intelligence czar, a manufacturing czar, a Mideast peace czar, a pay czar, a regulatory czar, a stimulus accountability czar, a Sudan czar, a TARP czar, a terrorism czar, an urban affairs czar, a weapons czar, and a WMD policy czar -- all of them males -- these four cabinet-level women have all been emasculated.

In fact, of all thirty-three known Obamic czars, only three -- 9% -- are women: Lynn Rosenthall, the domestic violence czar; Carol Browner, the energy and environment czar; and Nancy-Ann DeParle, health czar. All three are traditionally female positions. All the czars with actual policy-making power are males. So much for the "50-50 gender split!"

Where I work, the male to female ratio is about 9 to 1. It's hard for many men to understand, but sports-fan male bonding is very real. I suppose I could learn to like basketball and football, just to join the conversation; but I can't spend my free time watching guy sports when I have Dancing with the Stars to watch!

One Democratic media strategist says that while Mr. Obama does place women in important roles, his comfort level with staff members is not always perceived as equal.

“There is a sense that Obama has a certain jocular familiarity with the men that he doesn’t have with the women,” said Tracy Sefl, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign who speaks regularly to some female aides in the administration.

George W. Bush was very different; many of his most trusted policy advisors (not just political aids) were women, such as Karen Hughes; and when he put women into important roles like National Security Advisor or secretary of state, he not only didn't undercut them by handing their portfolios to (male) czars, he enhanced their power; think of Condoleezza Rice. Even Bill Clinton gave a tremendous policy role to Janet Reno, allowing her to initiate many investigations of her boss; randy Bill was less sexist than the post-partisan, post-modern, community organizer who sits in the White House today! (Clinton later spiked the investigations; but he would have done the same even if his Attorney General was a man.)

It's completely natural that men and women socialize separately; I certainly wouldn't want to hang around a bunch of men in a sports bar (or Hooters), even if I were single. But a workplace gathering is not the same as some friends getting together for a backyard barbeque. When was golfing with the boss a personal activity?

Like it or not, that such "socializing" between boss and employees is how connections and camaraderie are forged that result in promotions, juicy assignments, and presidential access:

One junior aide, who like the other women spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about appearing publicly critical, said that the “sports-fan thing at the White House” could become “annoying” and that her relative indifference to athletics could be mildly alienating. And while this is not uncommon in any workplace, sports bonding can afford a point of entree with the boss.

Ben Finkenbinder, a junior press aide and scratch golfer, was recently invited into a foursome with Mr. Obama. (In records kept by Mark Knoller of CBS, the president has played 23 rounds of golf since taking office, none of which have included women, though Mr. Knoller allows that the press office does not always release the names of every player. A White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said Friday that Mr. Obama planned to play this weekend with Ms. [Melody] Barnes.)

Obama is not the first athletic president. Geroge W. Bush was famous for jogging and later mountain biking. But he often invited women to join the entourage.

President Obama and the White House dismiss this charge; but realizing the perception of sexism can hurt him in the future, Obama decided to hold some high-powered events to balance out the pick-up basketball games with "the boys" (Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, and Robert Gibbs): Baking cookies and holding baby showers:

In the same week as the basketball game, Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, hosted a group of women reporters for an off-the-record meeting with Ms. Jarrett over chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies....

Ms. Dunn said that she recently hosted a baby shower for an administration official and that no men from the office were invited.

Oatmeal cookies and baby showers; some actual feminists might call that patronizing. But how could it be? Being liberal means never having to live by the rules you enforce on others.

How does our Ms. Dunn feel about being relegated to the girly events, where "no men" are invited -- including Barack Obama himself -- while "the boys" get direct access to the president?

She is comfortable with that -- just as she is fine with never playing basketball with the president.

“That is just part of the culture here that I am excluded from,” she said. “And I don’t care.”

Well we don't care much either; she's probably as terrible at shooting hoops as she is at picking favorite philosophers. While Obama's at it, he can exclude from the inner circle Hillary, Napolitano, Jarrett, and all those other female groupies who get the vapors at the sight of the One and hurl their unmentionables onto the stage... so long as he also excludes the weirdest, most radical, and most corrupt of "the boys," like Emanuel, and other males (tax cheat Timothy Geithner comes to mind).

Still it's illuminating to shine a spotlight on a dark corner of liberalism: that typically, at the highest levels of leftist circles, skirts need not apply.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 26, 2009, at the time of 5:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NY-23: Hoffman Leads - Unless He Doesn't

Hatched by Dafydd

In the special election in New York's 23rd district to replace Rep. John McHugh (RINO-NY, 40%), who just accepted Barack H. Obama's appointment to be Secretary of the Army, a new poll for the first time finds Conservative Doug Hoffman winning with 31%; Democrat Bill Owens comes in second with 27%, while DIABLO (Democrat in all but label only) Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava trails badly with a scant 20% -- even less than the undecided response of 22%. (Sarah Palin endorsed Hoffman last week, leading to an additional $116,000+ in fundraising.)

All right, that's the good news; the skepticism-inducing news is that the poll was conducted by the Club for Growth, the pro-Capitalism group that has backed Hoffman to the tune of $600,000; thus the poll was conducted by the very people who recruited Hoffman and desperately want to see him doing better than Dede Scozzafava, which would bolster their argument that Republicans should coalesce around him, not her. (It's like the poll commissioned by Daily Kos that showed Bill Owens winning and Hoffman in third place.)

Too, the poll of 300 likely voters has a margin of error of 5.66%... which means that Owens is as likely to be ahead of Hoffman as the reverse (though that would still leave Dede -- does "DD" stand for Democratic Decoy? -- out of the running).

Take it for what you will; I think the poll is probably accurate, and I believe the race, in the end, will come down to Hoffman versus Owens. Scozzafava will fade as she comes to be seen, over the next eight days, as nothing but a stalking-horse for the Democrats: Her only function is to split the Republican vote.

I believe that on November 3rd, in a head to head race, Hoffman will overwhelm Owens, and the seat will go to the conservative -- for a year. What happens in 2010, however, will depend entirely on how well Hoffman serves. So it's a good shot for another fiscally conservative representative in Congress, but it's not part of a permanent "revolution" unless we can sustain the gain next year.

Oh, one other unintended consequence: I see this election as completing the marginalization of the famous endorser... but I don't mean Sarah Palin. At the eleventh hour, former Speaker, guru, revolutionary, conservative, whatever Newt Gingrich announced his endorsement -- of the stalking-horse!

Newt used to represent the cutting edge of a conservative revolution; today, he represents the failed policies of the GOP congressional establishment prior to 2006 -- the same folks who cynically picked (in a back-room deal) a out and out liberal, who agrees with Democrat Owens right down the ideological line, to replace the previous RINO McHugh.

The Gingrich endorsement of Scozzafava is just the last nail in the coffin of Newt's reputation. What a shame... I really liked and respected him in the 1990s.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2009, at the time of 12:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 24, 2009

Three Cheers for Palin's Latest "Blunder"!

Hatched by Dafydd

This last June 2nd, Barack H. Obama decided he felt so comfortable and compatible with "Republican" Rep. John McHugh (RINO-NY, 40%) that he named him Secretary of the Army. This leaves New York's 23rd congressional district with an open seat; a special election is scheduled there for November 3rd, I believe, the same day the Republicans are set to win the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races.

In this hotly contested election, we have already noted that instead of a single Republican nominee, there is a very liberal Republican, Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava, and a much more traditional conservative accountant running on the Conservative Party line, Doug Hoffman. (Scozzafava is the woman for whom Charles "the Sauerkraut" Krauthammer coined the acronym DIABLO -- Democrat in all but label only. Actually I don't know for sure Krauthammer personally made that up, but he is the one I heard say it.)

To her everlasting credit, Sarah Palin has become, I believe, the first major Republican Party heavy-hitter to come out swinging on behalf of Hoffman, the conservative, in despite of the New York GOP establishment's favorite-daughter selection of Scozzafava. Palin made her endorsement via her Facebook page (I hope that link works; it might require the reader have a Facebook account):

Our nation is at a crossroads, and this is once again a "time for choosing."

The federal government borrows, spends, and prints too much money, while our national debt hits a record high. Government is growing while the private sector is shrinking, and unemployment is on the rise. Doug Hoffman is committed to ending the reckless spending in Washington, D.C. and the massive increase in the size and scope of the federal government. He is also fully committed to supporting our men and women in uniform as they seek to honorably complete their missions overseas.

And best of all, Doug Hoffman has not been anointed by any political machine.

Doug Hoffman stands for the principles that all Republicans should share: smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty.

(As this is a political endorsement, and she clearly wants as widespread a distribution as she can get, I will cross my fingers and put her entire Facebook entry into the "Slither on" extended section of this post. If she or someone else with authority objects, I will remove it; but I think this does not violate any copyrights.)

In response to Palin's endorsement (and the $116,000+ in cash it helped raise for Mr. Hoffman), a peevish blogger at the Washington Post, Stephen Stromberg, has declared it "Sarah Palin's latest blunder." He "reasons" that she will only alienate the GOP establishment and disrupt their vital mission of moving the Republican Party further to the left, so that they can finally win... not that such a pyrrhic victory would matter:

If Hoffman -- somehow -- wins with her help, she will have alienated a GOP establishment desperate to reconstruct past majority coalitions that included moderates, both because she will have hurt their cause and because they will fear her influence among true believers. In return, she might continue to appeal to some far-right primary voters in 2012, but that only gets you so far (a possible victory in Iowa, owing to the heavy social conservative vote in the caucuses there, and perhaps respectable showings in the South). In other words, in this best-case scenario, she will have begun to lay the groundwork to be the Mike Huckabee of 2012. Except in 2012, she will probably be running against, well, Mike Huckabee....

More than anything, though, Palin’s endorsement probably makes an Owens victory more likely. That would not just be a humiliation for Palin. It would be a notable loss for her party as it is trying to shake off years of electoral debacle.

Heh. I always love it when liberal Democrats give Republicans and conservatives helpful advice on getting our mojo back. (For further amusement, the blog Stromboli, or whatever his name is, writes for is titled "PostPartisan"!)

I suspect that if Palin draws the ire of liberals by endorsing Hoffman, she's on the right track. In any event, she is already alienated from the moderate-liberal, neocon, GOP-establishment leadership. But this was also true of Ronald Reagan (cf. Don Regan, George Schultz, et al): The Realists (the establishmentarians of the 1980s) hated Reagan, and some made it clear that they would rather see Carter or Mondale win than Reagan.

But at least Palin is holding the line on at least some traditional Republican principles, something beyond political calculation and Realpolitik; from her Facebook post:

Political parties must stand for something. When Republicans were in the wilderness in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of "blurring the lines" between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections. Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate who more than blurs the lines, and there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race. This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party's ticket.

I think this is something we need, and I highly doubt that such a stance will hurt her political future in the party; most rank and file Republicans appear to believe we need much more principle and a lot less accomodation of the hard Left, whether Democratic radicals or Republican establishmentarians.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Here is Sarah Palin's entire endorsement of Doug Hoffman from her Facebook page (open Facebook, search in the upper-right for Sarah Palin, click her name, then click the "Notes" tab):

The people of the 23rd Congressional District of New York are ready to shake things up, and Doug Hoffman is coming on strong as Election Day approaches! He needs our help now.

The votes of every member of Congress affect every American, so it's important for all of us to pay attention to this important Congressional campaign in upstate New York. I am very pleased to announce my support for Doug Hoffman in his fight to be the next Representative from New York's 23rd Congressional district. It's my honor to endorse Doug and to do what I can to help him win, including having my political action committee, SarahPAC, donate to his campaign the maximum contribution allowed by law.

Our nation is at a crossroads, and this is once again a "time for choosing."

The federal government borrows, spends, and prints too much money, while our national debt hits a record high. Government is growing while the private sector is shrinking, and unemployment is on the rise. Doug Hoffman is committed to ending the reckless spending in Washington, D.C. and the massive increase in the size and scope of the federal government. He is also fully committed to supporting our men and women in uniform as they seek to honorably complete their missions overseas.

And best of all, Doug Hoffman has not been anointed by any political machine.

Doug Hoffman stands for the principles that all Republicans should share: smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty.

Political parties must stand for something. When Republicans were in the wilderness in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of "blurring the lines" between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections. Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate who more than blurs the lines, and there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race. This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party's ticket.

Republicans and conservatives around the country are sending an important message to the Republican establishment in their outstanding grassroots support for Doug Hoffman: no more politics as usual.

You can help Doug by visiting his official website below and joining me in supporting his campaign:
http://www.doughoffmanforcongress.com/donate3.html.

- Sarah Palin

As the young, exciting candidates used to say back in the 1960s, Right on, baby!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 24, 2009, at the time of 9:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 23, 2009

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Sanity Clause

Hatched by Dafydd

From the Washington Post -- which seems to be edging ever so gingerly away from the One They Have Been Pining For:

Sensing that victory in the race for Virginia governor is slipping away, Democrats at the national level are laying the groundwork to blame a loss in a key swing state on a weak candidate who ran a poor campaign that failed to fully embrace President Obama until days before the election.

Wait, you sure it's not George Bush's fault?

Okay... so Virginia voters are upset that R. Creigh Deeds didn't climb into Barack H. Obama's lap and let him stick his hand up Deeds'... well, you get the sock-puppetry picture: Voters are angry at Deeds and less willing to support him because he's not singing the Obamalujah chorus.

So that's why they're voting for the Republican, Robert McDonnell. Hey, makes sense to me!

But why is it so important to blame everything on Mr. Deeds? That's easily explained:

A loss for Deeds in Virginia -- which for the first time in decades supported the Democratic presidential candidate in last year's race -- would likely be seen as a sign that Obama's popularity is weakening in critical areas of the country. But the unusual preelection criticism could be an attempt to shield Obama from that narrative by ensuring that Deeds is blamed personally for the loss, particularly given the state's three-decade pattern of backing candidates from the party out of power in the White House.

Whoosh! Mr. Deeds goes under the bus. "That's not the R. Creigh Deeds I knew."

But national Democrats are contrasting Deeds with New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine and New York congressional candidate Bill Owens, who they say have more actively sought the White House's help and more vigorously and publicly backed its agenda. Polls show Corzine in a competitive position in New Jersey and Owens ahead, while Deeds has turned aggressively to Obama voters in recent days in an effort to overcome a significant deficit in the polls.

Let's un-vague-ify those WaPo weasel words:

  • By "polls show Corzine in a competitive position," the Post means that John Corzine was being walloped by Chris Christie until mid-September, when "independent" Chris Daggett entered the race and began sucking votes away from Christie... in the polls, that is. Now Corzine and Christie are tied.
  • And by "[Bill] Owens ahead" in the special election for New York's 23rd congressional district, they actually mean that Democrat Owens has a slight plurality over his two opponents, liberal Republican Dierdre Scozzafava -- whom Charles Krauthammer says is not even a RINO; she's a DIABLO, a Democrat in all but label only -- and Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman; the two split the un-Democratic vote, allowing Owens to sneak ahead with 33%-35% support.

    But if the Republicans and Conservatives can coalesce on a single candidate, that candidate would crush Owens like a bongo drum, winning by eighteen or nineteen points... even on the Daily Kos poll!

In the real world of the voting booth, I believe all three of these races will go to the Republican -- or in New York, to the Conservative Party nominee, who will, I believe, suck a huge chunk of votes away from the soft-hearted, soft-headed Dierdre "Hillary" Scozzafava. (Since the GOP establishment backs Scozzafava, a lot of more conservative Republicans tell the pollsters that they're doing the same. But once they're in the privacy of the curtained room of democracy, it will be a different story.)

In any event, regarding the pathetic Mr. Deeds of Virginia... put a sock on him, he's done. As Queen might have sung, "another one bites the bus!"

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 23, 2009, at the time of 11:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

How George W. Bush "Neglected" Afghanistan

Hatched by Sachi

Responding to former Vice President Dick Cheney's charge that President Barack H. Obama is "dithering" over Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Robert "Dilbert" Gibbs said something very peculiar. It was so astonishing (in a ignorant sort of way) that I almost forgot to feel offended.

Gibbs said Cheney was in no position to fault Obama, saying he had ignored a previous request for more troops, lodged with the Bush administration and only met by Obama in March, soon after he came to office.

"The vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan. [Classy syntax, Dilbert! -- DaH] Even more curious given the fact that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's for more than eight months," Gibbs said.

"I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously."

"Not focused on Afghanistan" for seven years? Does Gibbs know how many battles we, American and NATO forces, fought and won against overwhelming numbers of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces? Can Gibbs name even a single operation during the seven years of engagement? I seem to recall many such battles. (The link is to all the Big Lizards posts on Afghanistan, going all the way back to May of 2006.)

Does Gibbs, the Mouth of Obama, remember this?

May 23, 2006: “Up to 80 Taliban Dead in U.S.- Led Strike.”

A U.S.-led nighttime airstrike against Taliban rebels in southern Afghanistan killed up to 80 suspected militants, the coalition said Monday. The local governor said 16 civilians were killed and 16 wounded....

In a statement, the coalition said it had confirmed 20 Taliban killed in the attack on the village in Kandahar province late Sunday and early Monday, while there were "an unconfirmed 60 additional Taliban casualties...."

"The Taliban has suffered extraordinary losses in the last three or four weeks -- several hundred Taliban killed in the field," [Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry] said. "We're the ones that are moving. They're the ones who are trying to hold."

Consider the fact that every major assault by the Taliban failed dramatically and was repulsed by American and NATO counterattack, resulting in more than 3000 Talibani killed in 2006-2007 alone. By the end of 2007, al-Qaeda forces were by and large kicked out Afghanistan to neighboring Pakistan.

Do President Obama and his henchmen know that Bush increased the number of troops in Afghanistan numerous times between 2001 and 2008? Here is Dafydd in April of 2008:

We currently have 31,000 troops in Afghanistan as our component of the NATO mission (the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF); we have already pledged an additional 3,000 Marines for fighting and training purposes (to improve the Afghan National Army). Our ISAF allies have collectively sent an additional 28,000 forces, some of whom fight, while others only participate in nation-building efforts, bringing the total current NATO commitment to 59,000 troops.

The former Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, wants this overall figure to increase by 7,500 soldiers and 3,000 military trainers; outgoing ISAF commander Gen. Dan McNeill wants to increase by two combat brigades (3,000-8,000 soldiers or Marines) and one training brigade (1,500-4000 soldiers or Marines)....

Marines don't use brigades as a normal organizational force; they prefer the regiment. Gen. McNeill is Army, much of our ISAF committment are Marines... so I'm not sure exactly how many troops he calls for. Let's just split the difference between small brigades and big: 5,500 incoming combat troops and 2,750 incoming trainers.

This would mean that we expect our ISAF partners -- all of whom have pledged more troops (France alone will up their committment by at least 700) -- to pony up an additional 3,500 combat troops and 1,750 trainers... unless the next president plans to increase our own committment by more than President Bush has proposed. As noted above, it's unlikely that we can get the full complement from our allies, whose military budgets are woefully small compared to ours (as ours is woefully small, as percent of GDP, compared even to the average of the last 45 years).

However we reach the goal, that would bring the NATO forces in Afghanistan to a total of more than 67,000 combined combat forces and training forces. That, by the way, is all the force that the top commander of ISAF says he needs; he has not called for additional tens of thousands of men.

So what about the Afghan National Army? We have been training them just as we have trained the Iraqi army. As of December 2007, the Afghan army comprised 57,000 soldiers, or about as large as the current ISAF force level. Presumably they are still recruiting, so we can expect tha tnumber to rise along with the NATO forces. But even as they are now, that makes a total integrated army of 116,000 today, rising to about 125,000 over the next year.

This is not an administration that was "not focused on Afghanistan;" rather it looks like an administration that was aggressively engaging facts on the ground, as they constantly shifted. President Bush and his military team were focused on Afghanistan back when all we knew about Barack Obama was that he was present.

I have a question for Mr. Gibbs: President Obama said several times that we should have been focusing on Afghanistan -- that was "the war we should have been fighting" (I suppose compared to Iraq, which was "the wrong war"). If the Obamacle was that interested in Afghanistan, then surely he must had studied the situation carefully all the years we were fighting there.

By the time he took office, the One must have had a firm idea what he wanted to do. So why does he seem so reluctant to try out his new strategy? Especially given that he has his own hand-picked general, Stanley McChrystal, calling the shots on the ground. McChrystal requests a more aggressive approach; isn't this the perfect opportunity to show the world how focused Obama is compare to Bush?

Yet he sits and sits, and dithers and frets. And he can't make up his mind.

Of course, the alternative is that Obama had no clue what was happening in Afghanistan before he became president; he got all his news -- and all his opinions and military strategies -- from the left-stream media; and it was they, not Bush, who failed to "focus" on the war in Afghanistan.

All, that is, except Fox News; and we all know how Obama feels about them.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 23, 2009, at the time of 6:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Could See This Coming!

Hatched by Dafydd

In the companion piece to this post, Couldn't See That Coming!, we noted that the United States Department of the Treasury, run by tax evader Timothy Geithner, has decided to institute wage controls at those companies that accepted large amounts of TARP money; TARP is the Troubled Asset Relief Program... that is, the Wall Street (and Motown) bailout.

We ended that post with the by now familiar bleat (which I shamelessly stole from Patterico, though I added the adverb, which Patterico began copying -- God, how incestuous the two of us are!) the pathetic bleat of "What could possibly go wrong?" Now, with a tip of the hat to Rich "Mullings" Galen, we learn exactly what can possibly go wrong:

At Treasury, President Obama's pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, announced sharp cuts in pay for 175 top executives at seven big banks and automakers that received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal bailout money during the financial crisis. The new structures reduced the cash salary paid to some executives by 90 percent and tied more compensation to long-term stock awards....

At the Federal Reserve, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke proposed a broader but less proscribed plan to restrict pay at banks. The aim is to prevent them from rewarding employees for actions that could endanger the firms' long-term financial health. Unlike Feinberg's more limited plan, the Fed's guidance would cover all banks it regulates -- even those that never received a bailout -- as well as U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies.

But hey, it's not like the federal government is, like, you know, taking over the private sector; they're not actually setting wages for all banks -- they merely get the final say on what those wages will be:

However, the Fed's proposed rules have wiggle room: The guidelines would let banks set their own compensation but give the Fed veto power over pay practices that it determines could threaten the safety and soundness of a bank. They would extend the regulators' reach into pay practices affecting tens of thousands of bank employees, from senior executives to traders of complex securities.

Thank goodness the government of Barack H. Obama dodged the temptation to allow the Party -- sorry, I mean the State -- to own all industries; that would be Marxism (which would presumably thrill Anita Dunce). Instead, the banks and industries will all be privately owned -- but the owners will take orders directly from the Party.

State, whatever.

Such an arrangement is not Marxism; it's fascism, as classically defined. But with the Obamacle, it's liberal fascism, fascism with a smiley face.

Galen takes us by the hand and leads us to the threatened land:

Putting aside defense firms -- which exist on government funds -- there are thousands and thousands of companies which get local, county, state or federal contracts. Does every executive of each of those companies fall under the same rule?

Should the Governor of Missouri decide how much the owner of the company which provides the janitorial services in the State House in Jefferson City can earn because he takes State money? Or, the executives of airlines on which government employees fly?

We have marched down this road before, with the wage and price controls imposed by Richard Nixon in 1971, ostensibly for only 90 days but in reality for nearly three years. The dreadful policy was finally abandoned as a colossal failure in April, 1974, just before Nixon's impeachment hearings began. This brief squib from the Econ Review is a succinct summary of the catastrophic Nixonian policy that Barack Obama seems determined to replay:

August 15, 1971. In a move widely applauded by the public and a fair number of (but by no means all) economists, President Nixon imposed wage and price controls. The 90 day freeze was unprecedented in peacetime, but such drastic measures were thought necessary. Inflation had been raging, exceeding 6% briefly in 1970 and persisting above 4% in 1971. By the prevailing historical standards, such inflation rates were thought to be completely intolerable.

The 90 day freeze turned into nearly 1,000 days of measures known as Phases One, Two, Three, and Four. The initial attempt to dampen inflation by calming inflationary expectations was a monumental failure....

While there were skeptics in August, 1971, there were a great many who thought "temporary" wage and price controls could cure inflation. By 1974, this notion was thoroughly discredited, and attention gradually turned toward a monetary approach to inflation.

Funnily enough, ObamaCare is also a reenactment of Nixon's own attempt to take over health care. For these two policies and many others (such as his "enemies list" and frequent attempts to control the press), I insist that Richard Nixon -- like Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson -- was also a liberal fascist. Barack Obama clings to the coattails of a well-established (albeit perverse and unAmerican) tradition.

Obama has a different, meaner purpose for wage controls than trying to beat down inflation; at least Nixon thought (wrongly) that his plan would benefit the country. By contrast, Obama wants to dictate the compensation packages of bank officers far above his pay grade for two equally discreditable reasons:

  • He simply believes in his own omniscience and generally wants to command every aspect of the American economy and culture;
  • He is a vindictive SOB and wants to punish those who made so much more money than he, even though he is the one with "the Vision of the anointed." How dare they!

Nixon's motive for liberal fascism was public; Obama's is deeply and disturbingly personal.

But the effect will be the same: the collapse of those companies "blessed" by the invisible foot of government, swiftly followed by the collapse of confidence in the ability of the federal government to do anything right.

To quote that infamous right winger, Pete Seeger*, who turned 90 this year:

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

 

* For the irony impaired, Seeger is a Communist folk singer, pardon the redundancy. The quoted line is the chorus from what is likely Seeger's best-known pacifist song, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 23, 2009, at the time of 2:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 22, 2009

At Last, Just What We Need...

Hatched by Dafydd

Let us take inventory of the last nine months (only as long as it takes to bring a baby into the world):

  • Our president is driving the Crazy Train to national bankruptcy.
  • He's hunting high and low for a way to lose two wars.
  • He's appeasing our enemies and alienating our allies.
  • He has as much as accepted Iran and North Korea building nuclear arsenals.
  • Russia may be on the brink of resurrecting the Soviet Union, reconquering many of the countries whose liberty was the hard-fought victory of Ronald Reagan.
  • Our Congress is scheming to take over the entire health-care system and ultimately transform it to single payer, using the British National Health Service as its model.
  • Liberal Democrats are desperately trying to enact a stealth $3.6 trillion tax on all energy use, hoping to cripple American industry and the economy.
  • The entire Left is trying to sneak gay marriage in through the back door.
  • They're poised to grant full-blown amnesty -- not a plea bargain, as Bush proposed, but actual amnesty -- to millions and millions of illegal aliens.
  • We may be about to see the American dollar dropped as the world's reserve currency.

But at least Democrats have found the key to everything, the most important thing they can do to restore the greatness of America, in the face of the imminent collapse of everything unique and wonderful about our country:

The House Financial Services Committee voted Thursday to create a federal agency devoted to protecting consumers from predatory lending, abusive overdraft fees and unfair rate hikes....

The legislation has been the target of an aggressive multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign by the financial industry, which contends that the agency would have dangerously broad reach.

Thursday's vote indicates that Democrats were willing to shrug off those concerns and are likely to pass the bill on the floor by the end of the year.

President Barack Obama said the vote "sends an important signal to the American people that we will not stand by and allow big financial firms and their lobbyists to mobilize against change."

Well thank goodness for the return of sanity! Everyone knows that when trouble threatens and the future seems dim, there is always a solution: Create a new federal agency.

Why didn't I think of that?

I wasn't going to cross-post this on Hot Air's rogues' gallery; but then I thought, Why not give hoi polloi the gift of my genius to brighten up their otherwise dreary lives...?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 22, 2009, at the time of 1:24 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 21, 2009

Couldn't See That Coming!

Hatched by Dafydd

In a previous post -- long previous -- I warned that if the federal government began trading ownership of companies for TARP funds, it would open the door to full-blow wage and price controls.

Well guess what the Treasury Department announced today:

Under the plan, which will be announced in the next few days by the Treasury Department, the seven companies that received the most assistance will have to cut the cash payouts to their 25 best-paid executives by an average of about 90 percent from last year. For many of the executives, the cash they would have received will be replaced by stock that they will be restricted from selling immediately.

And for the 25 best-paid executives, the total compensation, which includes bonuses, will drop, on average, by about 50 percent.

Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight.

Say... I wonder what will be the response of the top executives at "Citigroup, Bank of America, the American International Group, General Motors, Chrysler and the financing arms of the two automakers" to getting a 90% pay cut and a 50% compensation cut. Any possibility they might simply resign -- and take an equivalent job at Ford, IBM, Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin -- or Toyota, Samsung, or PDVSA (Venezuela's state-owned oil company)?

Any executive seeking more than $25,000 in special perks -- like country club memberships, private planes, limousines or company issued cars -- will have to apply to the government for permission.

This sort of "progressive" jackassery is the signature mode of "thought" found among ex-Yippie wannabe-revolutionaries -- those who cite Chairman Mao as one of their two favorite philosophers: It's facile, simplistic, superficial, symbolic, and pumped to the gills with unintended, unanticipated consequences. Then when the Left gets its wish -- and everything goes to hell in high water so quickly, Democrats are still in office and vulnerable to the vote -- they blink and stare, lose their majorities, and whine that bad things always happen to them. (It's all Bush's fault -- and Fox News.)

To quote the one good line from an otherwise wretched television show, "Son... bad things happen to you because you're a dumbass."

The pay restrictions illustrate the humbling downfall of the once-proud giants, now wards of the state whose leaders’ compensation is being set by a Washington paymaster. They also show how Washington in the last year has become increasingly powerful in setting corporate policies as more companies turned to the government for money to survive.

The compensation schedules set by Kenneth R. Feinberg, the special master at Treasury handling compensation issues, comes as many other banks that received smaller but significant taxpayer assistance in the last year have been reporting huge year-end bonuses, setting off a new round of recrimination in Washington about the bailout of Wall Street.

Hm. What if -- now I know this is a wild and crazy thought -- what if some of these companies hired new people to fix the mess created by the earlier team? What if those "huge year-end bonsuses" were paid to the new guys, after they turned around the companies and led them back to profitiability?

I guess it doesn't matter: No matter what the new guys were promised for giving up safe jobs elsewhere to come to the rescue of a shaky company, I reckon the government will nevertheless slash those bonuses or eliminate them entirely, chop the salary down to far less than those turn-around heroes made at the jobs they left... and in general, scare away any other genius who might save some tottering financial giant in the future.

It seems the administration of Barack H. Obama passionately believes in that age-old adage: No good deed goes unpunished.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 21, 2009, at the time of 4:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

All Over but the Outing

Hatched by Dafydd

This is one of those posts where I'm reading a lot of subtext packed into a soupçon of text. In such cases, it's always possible that I'm reading more than the authors and actors intended; but on the other hand, that doesn't mean my read is wrong.

We retort, you deride!

The passion play begins thus: Over the past several years, the legislature of the state of Washington has enacted three succeeding domestic partnership (DP) laws, each moving DP closer to same-sex marriage (SSM); with the last iteration, lawmakers gave all marriage rights to domestic partners... literally everything but the word "marriage":

Lawmakers in Washington state have taken an incremental approach to increasing gay rights without actually taking on the state's marriage ban, which was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2006. The following year, lawmakers passed the state's first domestic partnership law granting a handful of rights, like hospital visitation, to gay and lesbian couples.

In 2008, that law was expanded to add more rights, and this year the latest law added such partnerships to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are mentioned. The statutes range from labor and employment rights to pensions and other public employee benefits.

Nobody, of course, has troubled to ask the citizens of Washington state whether they're down with this. Why give ignorant peons who lack "the vision of the anointed" any say in such an important institution as DP?

Nobody until now:

Conservative Christians rallied to get Referendum 71 on the November ballot, arguing that Washington state's latest move is the last step before full civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples in the state.

Referendum 71 would of course repeal some of these grants of rights; it's the equivalent of California's Proposition 8, which overturned a state supreme-court ruling mandating full SSM. As in California, voters will now actually have the opportunity to overturn the offending actions of their own arrogant legislature.

(Note: I am not a hypocrite; I would absolutely oppose state or federal courts overturning the DP law by judicial decree -- absent a specific prohibition the state constitution -- just as I oppose courts rewriting the marriage definition to force SSM down citizens' throats. This is a purely political question. But the people themselves are the "best evidence" of what they want, rather than the proxy of a state legislature; thus I always accept a referendum on such basic issues as more binding and dispositive than a mere vote in the state lege.)

But here is where things get creepy: In response to the petition that put Referendum 71 on the ballot, gay activists have become obsessed with "outing" everybody who signed it -- publicly printing not just their names but their addresses as well. They even wanted to put all the personal information on the internet, so it would easily be searchable by anybody who suspected his neighbor might be insufficiently tolerant.

Activists claim they are only trying to exercise the state's "public records disclosure law;" but it's hard not to come away with the sick feeling that SSM proponents are hoping that friends and neighbors of the petition signers will punish them for their apostasy, especially if they live in a liberal (or gay) neighborhood. That is, I believe the legal fight to release the signers' names and addresses is a transparent attempt to intimidate and frighten them into not signing any future petitions.

So far, the legal fight has see-sawed between a District Court judge, the notoriously left-liberal 9th Circus Court of Appeals, and one Supreme Court Justice:

In September, U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle temporarily barred state officials from releasing the identities of those who signed the referendum petitions. Settle held that releasing the names could chill the First Amendment rights of petition signers.

Gay rights supporters and open-government groups sought to disclose the names, saying that signers should be identified so the public knows who is behind Referendum 71.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Settle's decision last week. The appeals court said Washington's secretary of state can release the names and addresses of people who signed petitions calling for a public vote.

In appealing to [Justice Anthony] Kennedy to intervene, Protect Marriage Washington argued that state officials had suddenly changed a long-standing practice of keeping confidential the identities of those who signed referendum petitions. The group said signers of the petition fear hostile confrontations from gay rights supporters and noted that their campaign manager had received death threats.

Justice Kennedy issued a temporary restraining order on the ruling of the 9th Circuit; and just today, the full Court ruled on the TRO:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an order preventing Washington State from releasing the names of more than 120,000 people who signed petitions seeking a voter referendum on whether to give same-sex couples most of the same rights as married couples.

The 8-to-1 decision, with Justice John Paul Stevens dissenting, upheld a recent ruling in Federal District Court in Washington that was overturned last week by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The order by the Supreme Court said the injunction against releasing the names would remain in place at least until parties involved filed new motions. That process could take months and essentially assures that the names will remain anonymous through the Nov. 3 referendum.

This was an obvious attempt to harass and intimidate voters whose only sin was to exercise their First Amendment right to petition government for a redress of grievances, and it went far beyond mere political hardball. "Hardball" is falsely accusing Rush Limbaugh of being a racist... a man who has one of the largest megaphones in the world to announce his innocence.

Rather, the activists' targets were free elections and the vote. The campaign to "out" the signers of the Referendum 71 petition is the vilest abuse of "action directe" I've seen in ages: The gay Left is trying to corrupt the very fabric of democracy itself.

The core of democracy is legislative representation coupled with public participation -- not legislative usurpation enabled by public passivity and poltroonery. By trying to frighten voters into shunning the political marketplace, the anti-71 mob orders the citizens of Washington to sit quietly in the dark and wait for instructions.

That's despicable. It's unAmerican. It's French.

The role of the government anent petitions, as the Supreme Court has pretty clearly held (though it was only reinstating a TRO), begins and ends with verifying the petition signatures to ensure they are all registered voters and that they petition circulators have met the numeric threshold. There is no valid reason to release the names and addresses, thus holding the signers hostage to any gay-rights thug who wants to go straight-bashing.

(By the same token, I would fight to protect the privacy of anyone who signed a petition to implement SSM in Washington or any other state. But then, I'm not a leftist activist: I actually believe in all that hooey about freedom of speech and the right to petition.)

I'm going to stick my limb out: The attempt to publish dangerous and threatening information about the signers will be Washington's "Paul Wellstone funeral," a defining moment that triggers a number of citizens to turn out and vote for Referendum 71 who, absent the blatant intimidation tactics, would have just stood in bed. Referendum 71 will not only pass, it will pass with a much larger majority than it would ordinarily have done.

When all is said and much is done, we are all still Americans, with a deep respect for the sacred traditions and creeds of our unique country. The inability of the Left -- including our illustrative president and his henchmen -- to understand that much about the United States of America is our greatest weapon against them.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 21, 2009, at the time of 12:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 20, 2009

California's Putting Its Foot in the Sand

Hatched by Dafydd

I just read that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill, passed by the state legislature, to issue an "environmental exemption." Why? So that investors can build a new football stadium in Los Angeles, allowing L.A. to once again have an NFL team.

But nobody is willing to issue an "environmental exemption" so that the western San Joaquin Valley, the soon to be dried-up "breadbasket" of California and much of the West, can get enough water from northern Cal to avoid destroying scores of farms -- and farmers' lives, plus thousands of farm workers who will soon be out of a job and probably on welfare (and I don't mean illegals). Not to mention the economic hit all across the United States, as produce prices rise steeply (supply and demand).

And all this to "protect" the delta smelt, a small fish in San Francisco Bay that some say is endangered.

So environmental exemptions for a football stadium but not for farmers who see their multi-generational investment being wiped out by state decree. But hey, you gotta draw the line somewhere!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 20, 2009, at the time of 4:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 19, 2009

Pluck the Huck

Hatched by Dafydd

A Friday Rasmussen survey finds former Arkansas Gov. Mike "Lose weight -- ask me how!" Huckabee the frontrunner (barely) against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin:

Choice among five candidates for 2012 GOP primary
Candidate Percent support
Mike Huckabee 29%
Mitt Romney 24
Sarah Palin 18
Newt Gingrich 14
Undecided 7
Other candidate 6
Tim Pawlenty 4

A follow-up today shows that Palin runs a "distant second" in head-to-heads with both Huckabee and Romney -- 55% to 35 and 52% to 37, respectively.

So does this mean Huck's our man for 2012? I don't think so, and here's why:

Sarah Palin is still smarting from her decision to resign as Alaska governor before the end of her first term; yet she remains in the running, coming in third and well ahead of Gingrich and Pawlenty, perennials invariably offered up by what Ronald Reagan used to call the "Great Mentioner." Even though she's twenty points behind Huckabee in a heads-up, the fact is that he barely gets a majority himself; were he really solidifying himself as the "obvious" choice, it would be more of a blowout.

In fact, in the open-choice poll, as opposed to the head-to-head polls, Huckabee is only five points ahead of Mitt Romney, his rival for "first loser" in the 2008 Republican primary race. Huckabee's lead is just slightly outside the margin of error of the poll, +/- 4%.

The fact is that Mike Huckabee has a group of cheerleaders who would follow him no matter what he said or where he went politically; they passionately support the man, accepting both his social conservatism and his big-government, quasi-liberal economic policies -- particularly his support for a highly regressive national sales tax (the inaptly named "Fair Tax") instead of an income tax.

Huck's ducks are unconcerned that he increased Arkansas taxes numerous times and expanded the size and reach of the state government, or that he is opposed by the Club for Growth and Grover Norquist. He sits firmly on the side of big-government conservatism; not as extreme as, say, Pat Buchanan, but in the same ballpark. But his supporters like the man himself, I believe, and would stick with him even if he changed some of his positions; the flock of ducks is small but consistent.

However, I think that both Romney and Palin have a lot more upside potential: Neither is limited to a single subgroup of Republicans, and both have much greater potential to reach into the vital Independent and even moderate Democrat ranks -- Mitt Romney because of his acclaimed economic expertise, Palin for her powerful charisma and "common folk" identification. This was Reagan's key to substantial victories in 1980 and especially 1984.

I highly doubt that Huckabee will ever expand significantly beyond his ceiling of about 30% support; assuming he runs again in 2012, I expect him to create a lot of sound and fury (as he did last year)... but in the end, signify nothing.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 19, 2009, at the time of 3:26 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 18, 2009

Have You Stopped Beating Your Climate Science Yet?

Hatched by Dafydd

I always love it when the "sophisticated" side of the aisle demands an immediate "yes or no" answer to a complex, multifaceted question; and when the Right can't give it and won't fake it, the Left brays that we're dodging the question!

I stumbled across this crock of globaloney that occurred in the Virginia governor's race, between Republican candidate Robert F. McDonnell and surrogates for Democratic candidate R. Creigh Deeds:

The issue had simmered since a debate Monday with Democratic rival R. Creigh Deeds, in which Mr. McDonnell never definitively answered a question about whether he thinks man-made climate change is a serious threat [wow, that's specific! -- DaH]. It flared Friday after former vice president and climate change watchdog Al Gore held a fundraiser for Mr. Deeds, and Virginia Republicans said it proved Mr. Deeds supports cap-and-trade legislation that they claim will increase energy costs and worsen unemployment. They dismissed the Nobel laureate as "the Goracle."

Virginia Democrats fired back by calling Mr. McDonnell and the Republican ticket he heads "the most backward, anti-science" ever in Virginia.

"For the better part of a week, Bob McDonnell has had the opportunity to answer the straightforward question, 'Do you believe in the science of global warming,' and he still refuses. It's not a hard question," said Deeds strategist Mo Elleithee.

Oh isn't it? Phrased the way they phrase it here -- does McDonnell "believe in the science of global warming?" -- it's not hard, it's impossible to answer Yes or No. Which science does Elleithee mean?

  • The badly conducted or mendacious "science" that produced, e.g., the infamous "hockey stick" diagram?
  • The pseudoscience of Al Gore's boneheaded movie, which has the oceans rising by twenty or more feet in the next few decades?
  • The science that tells us the Earth warmed for a long period but now may be entering a cooling phase, neither era being particularly affected by human activity?
  • The science that suggests the real danger is not global warming but global cooling, even a new ice age? That would be far more catastrophic than warming... and if we really can affect the temperature, and we try to lower it when it's already poised to plummet, we would be slitting our own throats out of sheer ignorance and hubris.
  • Or -- what about the science that correctly states that we just don't know what the climate will do over the next twenty years, let alone the next century, nor to what extent the change will turn out to be anthropogenic?

On that last, who alive today could possibly prophecy what power humans will possess in a hundred years to fine-tune the Earth's temperature and other elements of climate? Maybe we'll be able to dial in any climate conditions we want... or maybe we'll be as helpless as we are today.

At the very least, I hope we'll have general circulation climate models that actually work -- replacing the current models, on which all global-warming hysteria rests, that fail miserably even to predict past climate changes we already know about.

The question hurled by the Deeds campaign is, quite frankly, one of the stupidest I've ever seen -- scientifically. Politically, it may be very astute, as I don't like McDonnell's answer. Here's a compilation of McDonnell's greatest climate hits:

"I think it's a real concern, and we need to find ways to be able to reduce [carbon dioxide] emissions," Mr. McDonnell said in advocating development of technology to eliminate pollutants from coal-fired energy plants...."

"Well, there's some debate that various scientists are going on in that," he said. "I think the temperature of the earth, from the science I've seen, is going up...."

"Look, it's not going to affect my policy decisions. What the policy decision needs to be is to find ways that are creative to be able to reduce CO2."

"I am going to accept the science that's out there, and the science is that we need to do everything that we can to reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, and that will help," he said.

This projects weakness, vacillation, and evasion.

Here is what I would have advised him to say when the inevitable bubbled up in debate. This isn't a real quote, more's the pity; this is what I wish McDonnell had said, which would have been much more forceful and senatorial than what he actually mumbled:

DEEDS: Do you believe in the science of global warming, Mr. McDonnell?

MCDONNELL: Science is not something you believe in, like I believe in God. Science is a process. If it's done right, we usually get good answers. If it's done wrong, we get nonsense answers -- garbage in, garbage out.

DEEDS: Stop dancing around the bush! Do you accept the consensus of nearly all scientists that the Earth is warming due to human carbon pollution, and we'll have a worldwide catastrophe if we don't immediately cut energy use by 90%?

MCDONNELL: How many things are wrong in that one sentence? First, science isn't decided by voice vote; a scientific "consensus" would require every reputable scientist in the field to agree with what you just said -- and they don't. There are thousands of highly respected, well-credentialed climate scientists who dispute both the warming -- there hasn't been any global warming in eleven years, since 1998 -- and they also dispute that human activity caused the warming in the two centuries before 1998. Some even say we're headed for a period of serious global cooling; maybe we need more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not less!

I don't know which group of scientists is correct. And you know what? Neither do you, and neither does Guru Gore. None of us is qualified to answer that question, because none of us is a climatologist or an atmospheric scientist. And the folks who are qualified to answer are fighting a scientific civil war among themselves.

I passionately believe in the scientific process -- all of it, not just when it fits Al Gore's agenda. And the science is very much in flux right now. Many scientists believe we're somewhat responsible for global warming -- though none believes that as a religion, as your mentor, Al Gore, does. But many scientists believe we're not responsible and there's nothing we can do to stop it.

We can, however, cripple our own economy trying to hold back the tides. And I will flatly tell you right now that I am not willing to crash the entire American economy in a futile and arrogant attempt to play God with our atmosphere. I'm focused on creating new jobs, not taxing energy production out of existence. I'm very happy to vote for greatly increased funding in basic climate research, but only if it's equally available to scientists on all sides of this controversial issue... not if it's restricted only to those who support the politically correct, convenient conclusion of the anti-energy, anti-business Left.

Dang, how I wish a candidate would respond forcefully and unapologetically on this issue! There is a great, great argument for doing exactly nothing... nothing but pure research for another twenty, thirty years until we have a tremendously better understanding of the basic science than we have now. Who knows? Maybe by 2030 or 2040 there will actually be a real scientific "consensus."

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 18, 2009, at the time of 1:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 17, 2009

General Jones Flipped Here

Hatched by Dafydd

Consider this post an addendum to our last, Gen. Jones Scoffs at Afghanistan "Surge" - Just Like Failed Iraq "Surge!".

Scott Johnson at Power Line points us to a Michael Goldfarb post on the Weekly Standard blog revealing an astonishing decision by our ancient enemy, President Barack H. Obama's National Security Advisor, Gen. Jim Jones.

As a tiny handful of you may recall, towards the end of our previous post, we noted a disturbing tendency of the top brass in all branches of the military; this trend may become determinative in Jones' final decision whether to support or oppose the recommendation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal that we switch to a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan, which would require adding 40,000 troops. We wrote:

It's not clear whether Jones is himself an anti-war leftist, but it's not uncommon for top generals to drift left as they progress up the heirarchy. It often seems that the bigger the command, the more the commandant "grows in office;" cf. Eric Shinseki, Anthony Zinni, and of course the ultimate recent example, Colin Powell. It's not hard to explain; at the highest levels of command, a general or admiral is less like a military leader and more like a cabinet secretary. Those who head up gargantuan bureaucracies tend to believe in big-bureaucracy solutions to all problems... witness Powell insisting that we could not depose Saddam Hussein without a buildup of half a million troops.

Powell must have known that was impossible; thus, had his advice been accepted, we could not have invaded Iraq at all -- which would have suited Powell (and Shinseki and Zinni, and probably Jones) just fine.

Then we asked and partially answered the critical question:

Does that make such a general a leftist? In the limited sense of having a more Eurocentric (or even more European) viewpoint, yes it does. The reason that European armies typically refuse to fight is that they can't risk their soldiers' lives on anything smaller than the tank battles of the North-Africa campaign. This fits well with the so-called Powell Doctrine: Never send troops unless it's worth refighting World War II... which of course it never seems to be.

In addition to the other strands of evidence we presented, we now have a new piece of the puzzle, via the Weekly Standard blogpost linked above.

There exists a group that calls itself "J Street;" J Street claims to be pro-peace and pro-Israel but is easily demonstrated to be just the opposite: It's pro-Palestinian and very, very anti-Israel, to the point of being antisemitic, in my opinion -- notwithstanding the fact that most members are ethnically Jewish and many are religious Jews as well.

(How can that be? In my worldview, one kind of antisemitism is to insist that of all the peoples in the world, only the Jews have no right to a homeland and must remain nervous, barely tolerated guests in other people's countries. This definition holds no matter the cultural or religious affiliation of the bigot doing the insisting. There are self-hating Jews, just as there are self-hating blacks, gays, and conservatives.)

As Power Line reported, J Street is holding its first annual feast and gabfest soon, and a great many Democratic senators and representatives have signed aboard as "hosts." Alas, so did a couple of Republicans; but it was clear from the outset that many of these sponsors, even many of the Democrats, were fooled by the seemingly pro-Israel rhetoric of J Street: These hosts weren't Israel or Jew haters; they were just useful idiots.

In the last few days, as word hit the street about J Street, their "Gala Dinner" has been shedding sponsors like my old Alaskan Husky used to shed fleas. From the Weekly Standard blogpost:

The anti-Israel organization J Street has been hemorraghing sponsors for its conference as Senators and Congressmen learned of its true agenda. Just in the last few hours, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Leonard Boswell (D-IA), have asked to have their names removed from the host committee. [Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS, 68%, demanded yesterday that J Street withdraw his name as well. -- DaH]

And then comes the kicker, which is the point of this post that you are reading now...

So J Street has played its hole card: Obama national security advisor Jim Jones has accepted an invitation to participate.

And we now have not just a squabble over J Street. We now have a "teachable moment" about the Obama White House.

To tote up some of the positions of J Street, I must combine information dug up by Michael Goldfarb, Paul Mirengoff, and Scott Johnson:

  • Avrum Burg, former speaker of Israel's Knesset (parliament), is closely associated with J Street; he declared that "to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end," then went on to compare Israel to "pre-Nazi Germany."
  • Prominent J Street member Henry Siegman compared Israel to South Africa under apartheid; he also appears to support the Walt and Mearsheimer conspiracy theory about a "Jewish lobby" that controls the American government (search on Power Line for many posts about this offensive and antisemitic absurdity -- enthusiastically and monetarily endorsed by Israel's great friend, former President Jimmy Carter);
  • J Street receives much of its funding from Arab-American and Moslem-American organizations, as well as from Palestinian and Iranian lobbying groups;
  • J Street is "bitterly hostile to the democratically-elected government of Israel" (especially now, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu);
  • Another luminary invited to speak at the Gala Dinner is "poet" Josh Healey, who suggests that Israel is at least metaphorically "writing numbers on the wrists of babies born in the ghetto called Gaza," yet another equation of Israel to the Nazis; Healy extols a march he joined for "Palestinian solidarity."

With the notable exception of the Obamacle's high priest, Chief of Staff Rahm Israel Emanuel (yes that's his full name), the most consistently leftist members of Obama's cabinet and administration have adopted anti-Israelism as a core element of their leftist foreign policy: That is, they blame Israel, not Iran, for nearly all the violence in the Middle East and demand "concessions" that would, in fact, be an Israeli suicide pact.

Gen. Jones eagerness to participate in the Gala Dinner of such a group as J Street is a very strong indicator that, at least with regard to foreign policy, he is indeed a leftist, aligning himself much more with antisemites Samantha Power, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Jimmy Carter than with Israel supporters like Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% liberal) or Charles "Chuck" Schumer (D-NY, 100%).

Is it too hard to believe that if Jones is in bed with Power -- policywise, I mean; get your rmind out of the gutter! -- on the demonization of Israel, that he's likely to agree with her position, and that of the others in Obama's leftist bloc (including the One Himself), on Afghanistan?

Asked and answered.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 17, 2009, at the time of 2:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 16, 2009

Gen. Jones Scoffs at Afghanistan "Surge" - Just Like Failed Iraq "Surge!"

Hatched by Dafydd

I had forgotten this, but President Barack H. Obama's National Security Advisor, former Marine Corps Gen. Jim Jones, in Fall, 2007, called for an early abandonment of Gen. David Petraeus' counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Iraq -- just before it began to show significant progress that led, less than a year later, to a widely acknowledged victory:

In September 2007, Mr. Jones led a study that called for withdrawing forces, effectively ending President Bush's troop surge. "Significant reductions, consolidations, and realignments would appear to be possible and prudent," that report concluded.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat Nevada, cited the Jones report as evidence that the troop surge had failed.

"It is discouraging that the president stubbornly claims his failed policy is working even as this latest report describes many Iraqi security forces as focused more on fostering civil war than on suppressing it," he said.

Jones was doing the bidding of the anti-war Left then, and he appears to be doing the same now; in fact, like other lefties, he dismisses Gen. Stanley McChrystal's own COIN recommendation for Afghanistan as nothing more than a troop increase, as opposed to a complete change of strategy:

In an interview with The Washington Times, the former Marine general and NATO commander acknowledged his views on Afghanistan have soured in the three years since he left the military. He said security in Afghanistan had deteriorated "because of the [U.S.] failure to see the interaction of security, development, and governance and rule of law." [Darn that previous administration!]

"I think that is coming clear in spades now, that the failure -- the tendency to focus so much on troop strength and not enough on the other factors, the development of the national Afghan police, for example which was on life support for so many years, the development of the Afghan National Army, which has never really gone fast enough - those are things that as we developed a strategy that was released in March were clearly highlighted. And now everybody is turning full-scale attention to them," Mr. Jones said....

Mr. Jones told CNN on Sunday, "I think the end is much more complex than just about adding 'X' number of troops. Afghanistan is a country that's quite large and that swallows up a lot of people."

Despite his earlier study group's warning that the war effort was in danger of faltering, he said on CNN, " I don't foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling."

In 2006-7, the cry from the Left was that Iraq was unwinnable. It was the wrong war anyway; we should just declare defeat and yank out the troops, let Iraq go to hell in a handmaiden, and shift all those troops to Afghanistan -- the war we should be fighting! As many have noted, to a liberal, whichever war we're currently fighting is the wrong war; the only good war is the one we're not fighting yet, or which ranks lower on the threat table.

Jones led a war-study group then that concluded the Afghanistan war (the one we should be fighting) was in danger of "faltering" and required many more troops; he opined that the Iraq "surge" had clearly failed, and we should pull troops out of Iraq and send them to Afghanistan... just what then Sen. Obama was saying, among many other liberal Democrats.

But now the Left (except for Cindy Sheehan) has largely abandoned opposition to the Iraq war -- since we inconveniently won it -- and instead focused its ire on Afghanistan... which has become the new "wrong war;" we should be focusing on Pakistan! Behold, Gen. Jones turns on a dime and clearly signals that we thinks we should not "surge" 40,000 troops, we should not switch to the previously successful COIN strategy, and we should not accept Gen. McChrystal's recommendation.

Gone is "the interaction of security, development, and governance and rule of law;" it's time to abandon the failed Afghanistan war and MoveOn.

Do we detect a pattern here?

It's not clear whether Jones is himself an anti-war leftist, but it's not uncommon for top generals to drift left as they progress up the heirarchy. It often seems that the bigger the command, the more the commandant "grows in office;" cf. Eric Shinseki, Anthony Zinni, and of course the ultimate recent example, Colin Powell. It's not hard to explain; at the highest levels of command, a general or admiral is less like a military leader and more like a cabinet secretary. Those who head up gargantuan bureaucracies tend to believe in big-bureaucracy solutions to all problems... witness Powell insisting that we could not depose Saddam Hussein without a buildup of half a million troops.

Powell must have known that was impossible; thus, had his advice been accepted, we could not have invaded Iraq at all -- which would have suited Powell (and Shinseki and Zinni, and probably Jones) just fine.

Does that make such a general a leftist? In the limited sense of having a more Eurocentric (or even more European) viewpoint, yes it does. The reason that European armies typically refuse to fight is that they can't risk their soldiers' lives on anything smaller than the tank battles of the North-Africa campaign. This fits well with the so-called Powell Doctrine: Never send troops unless it's worth refighting World War II... which of course it never seems to be.

Too, James Jones became quite chummy with two senators in 2007: Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 82%). Both follow the liberal line on war; Graham, for example, is further to the left on questions of terrorism intelligence than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 63%) (Graham's higher ACU rating comes from policies unrelated to the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis). And of course, he twice refused Condoleezza Rice's offer to become Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush administration but appears to have jumped at the chance to be National Security Advisor in the Obama Administration. Perhaps he just found being NSA more attractive than being a deputy secretary... but it's hard not to conclude he found the current administration more congenial politically, as well.

I believe that the One chose Jim Jones as National Security Advisor precisely because of his willingness to accomodate the anti-war Left's party line, no matter how many knots he must tie himself into; and if Jones wants to keep his job, he knows his duty: Rather than advise the president, he must echo whatever flippant argument Obama invokes against the war we're actually fighting, preferring some hypothetical martial struggle somewhere else, at some future time (and preferably on some other president's watch).

I believe Gen. Jones has already decided to keep his job.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 16, 2009, at the time of 6:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 15, 2009

Quid Lo Mein

Hatched by Dafydd

Doesn't President Barack H. Obama have enough bad ideas on his own? Must he also recapitulate every horrific blunder of every Democratic president who came before him?

It's not enough that he adopted Jimmy Carter's Middle-East catastrophe of a foreign policy; now he's kow-towing to the Chinese the same way Bill Clinton did, by sharing our most vital missile technology with Red China:

President Obama recently shifted authority for approving sales to China of missile and space technology from the White House to the Commerce Department -- a move critics say will loosen export controls and potentially benefit Chinese missile development.

We are assured this will not result in any decrease in the rigor with which we guard our most sensitive missile secrets. But if it did, how would we know? A key element Obama altered is the requirement that Congress be notified of any missile-technology transfers:

The presidential notice alters a key provision of the 1999 Defense Authorization Act that required that the president notify Congress whether a transfer of missile and space technology to China would harm the U.S. space-launch industry or help China's missile programs.

The law was passed after a late-1990s scandal involving the U.S. companies Space Systems/Loral and Hughes Electronics Corp.

Both companies improperly shared technology with China and were fined $20 million and $32 million, respectively, by the State Department after a U.S. government investigation concluded that their know-how was used to improve China's long-range nuclear missiles.

Bill Clinton famously accepted $3 million in campaign cash that came (through an easily exposed cut-out) from the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China. And that was just a drop in the bucket of millions of campaign dollars from suspicious sources related to China and Indonesia.

Shortly thereafter, Clinton made several policy changes that China had been demanding for decades. Besides relaxing the rules on technology-sharing, allowing Loral and Hughes to sell extremely sensitive hardware and software to Red China -- for example, allowing them to better simulate nuclear test blasts via software -- Clinton also made clear we would not intervene if China attacked Taiwan and several other concessions.

I highly doubt that the Obamacle will accept any campaign contributions from the PLA -- at least knowingly; considering how seriously the campaign relaxed standards on credit-card donations, he may well accept such donations willy-nilly, perhaps not even knowingly.

But he has his own soft spot that the mandarins can hit with their eyes closed: I don't know for sure whether the Chinese government quietly hinted that, if Obama failed to meet their demand that technology transfers be approved by Commerce, not the White House, then perhaps they would severely cut back on the number of United States Treasury bills they would buy... a multi-hundred billion dollar "loan" that is the only thing currently standing between us and total economic collapse. Maybe Chinese negotiators made no such threat; maybe they thought it would be too "unfair" a bargaining chip, too much like extortion, skulduggery to which Red China would surely never stoop.

Perhaps we can rely upon Barack Obama's word that he will faithfully defend the United States from Chinese hegemony, even if it means the utter ruin of our economy on his watch. Or maybe we can rely upon the Secretary of State to have a completely different and much tougher approach to China than she does to Russia -- or than she and her husband had, as "co-presidents," in the 1990s.

But should we bet our national security on it?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 15, 2009, at the time of 5:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Free the Gitmo 220!

Hatched by Dafydd

Say -- let's bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the United States to be tried in a civilian court! What could go wrong?

The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to allow foreign terrorism suspects from the Guantanamo Bay prison into the United States to face trial.

The 307 to 114 vote removes one of many roadblocks the Obama administration faces as it tries to empty the internationally condemned prison by January.

Hm, here's a plausible scenario:

  1. KSM (you may pick the vicious terrorist mass-murderer wannabe of your choice) is brought to the United States for a criminal trial in civilian court.
  2. Since he would then be granted all the rights normally allowed defendants accused of carjacking or check kiting, he gets the attorney of his choice and full access to discovery.
  3. CAIR and the Muslim American Society find him an attorney recently moved here from Pakistan, Abdul al-Yazid.
  4. Mr. al-Yazid immediately demands tens of thousands of highly classified documents related to the capture, detention, and interrogation of Mr. Mohammed, including all intelligence that led to his capture in the first place, sources and methods included.
  5. The Department of Defense and the White House balk, refusing to hand over such sensitive intelligence to an attorney who has disturbing ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
  6. The liberal judge rules that without all this intelligence, Mr. Mohammed cannot receive a fair trial. Surely he must have access to all evidence that led to his capture, just as the man arrested for receiving stolen goods has the right to see the evidence that led to the search warrant that led to his arrest.
  7. The Executive is adamant: No vital intelligence will be given to the al-Qaeda lawyer.
  8. The Judge dismisses the case, releasing the innocent back to Pakistan, whence he had been captured in 2003. (Assuming Pakistan would even take him, which is doubtful; more likely, he would have to be released here in the United States, there being nowhere else that would accept him.)
  9. KSM rejoins al-Qaeda -- I've heard rumors there may be some terrorists in Pakistan -- as a top general; jubilation among jihadi around the world.
  10. The Pakistan government ends up giving the Taliban its own territory, to join with the Taliban tribal territory in Afghanistan that the Barack H. Obama administration reportedly is mulling.
  11. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed becomes the first Sultan of Talibanistan.

What could possibly go wrong?

There are approximately 220 likely terrorists currently held in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. The One wants to close the facility. We can't possibly find "friendly" countries to take all those detainees, especially since most come from countries that even President B.O. would admit are not exactly cheerleaders for America.

Ergo, the only option eventually will be for the president to release some significant portion of those 220 right here in America... or else admit that he cannot do what he ordered done his second day in office -- even before being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!

Barack Obama must pick one of two choices:

  • Put American security at catastrophic risk;
  • Admit something personally embarassing that makes him look an utter fool.

What could go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 15, 2009, at the time of 3:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 14, 2009

ObamaCare in a Nuthouse

Hatched by Dafydd

Since I hope that a few more people think about this point than read my Twitter feed (I have seventeen follows*, ooh-rah!), here's my latest tweet:

ObamaCare: Mandates every health plan cover everything -- then taxes the hell out of all those "gold-plated" policies. Kill it at cloture.

I live in California, so this will be an intensely personal issue with me: The state and federal governments between them mandate that our health-care plans cover everything you can imagine; and there are other states even more demanding. I reckon that means that all of us "wealthy" people will be paying a hefty tax for the privilege of obeying the stupid legal mandates.

Thank you, mask man.

 

 

* My previous tweet was two months ago. Perhaps I would have more followers if I tweetied -- twitted -- tooted? -- a bit more frequently. Of course, if I actually tooted more often, it might not affect my readers, but I bet I'd have fewer face-to-face conversations!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 14, 2009, at the time of 6:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

From CAIR's Congressman to CAIR's Interns

Hatched by Dafydd

Power Line (my fave blog) has kept close tabs on Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN, 100%), who they dubbed "CAIR's congressman" for his deep and suspicious connection with groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim American Society (a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood), and Hamas. For the most recent example, see this post.

It's bad enough to have an openly radical Moslem in the House of Representatives... but what's flying under the radar might be even worse; four Republican representatives charge that CAIR is trying to sneak its own operatives into the vast population of aides and interns who really run Congress, analyzing and often even writing the bills that eventually become the law:

Republican members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus said the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have tried to plant “spies” within key national-security committees in order to shape legislative policy.

Reps. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), citing the book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that's Conspiring to Islamize America, called for the House sergeant at arms to investigate whether CAIR had been successful in placing interns on key panels. The lawmakers are specifically focused on the House Homeland Security Committee, Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee.

Surprisingly enough, CAIR denies the charge:

“God forbid American Muslims take part in the political process and exercise their rights,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman, in a telephone interview. “I suppose they’re going to investigate the Muslim Staffers Association next.

Hm. Not a bad idea, Mr. Hooper.

“If these people weren’t so hate-filled, it would be laughable, but unfortunately they have an audience and, given their positions, it’s going to get picked up by the hate blogs.”

I hope our readers don't cease reading our hate blog; I know there are an awful lot of other hate blogs out there, but please continue supporting this particular hate blog with your eyeballs and attention!

Hooper said that CAIR is in full federal compliance with its status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit group, and that the group devotes less in terms of resources than the maximum legal limit allowed.

“We’ve always stayed within our legal limits,” he said. “If anything, we don’t have enough staff to lobby as much as we legally can.”

CAIR was, of course, named an unindicted co-conspirator with the Holy Land Foundation, in a trial where the latter was convicted of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas; the HLF's two founders were sentenced to life in prison.

But the Capitol Hill newspaper the Hill is right on the job, having found the perfect way to discredit one of the authors of the book on which these four members of Congress rely. P.David Gaubatz, "a former federal agent, is a U.S. State Department-trained Arabic linguist and counterterrorism specialist who has held the U.S. government's highest security clearances," according to the Amazon.com page for Muslim Mafia. This would appear to be some hefty credentials; but the Hill isn't fooled, and it reports this crushing retort to its readers:

Gaubatz, the co-author of Muslim Mafia, could not be reached at press time. On his website, daveg.us, he asks supporters for money to “legally destroy CAIR....”

“Please support me in these eforts [sic] to help shut this terror supporting organization down. donate all weekend. We need to raise $25,000 to put more research in the field and to bring more intelligence agianst [sic] them … If you want to protect your children and America, then help me now.”

See? Not one but two typos on his website! How can we possibly take such a man -- or his charges -- seriously if he writes "eforts" and "agianst" and doesn't even use spellcheck? (The Hill even missed one: Gaubatz forgot to capitalize the letter "d" in "donate.") If there is any reason to quote this particular post on Gaubatz's website other than "impeachment by typo," I hope some enlightened reader can explain it to me.

Of course, in the Hill's article, it first treats CAIR as a plural noun -- "Republican members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus said the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have tried to plant 'spies' within key national-security committees in order to shape legislative policy" -- but later treats the same noun as singular: "While the Republicans said they did not know of specific legislation that CAIR had affected, Franks said he wouldn’t be surprised if it was trying to amend the Patriot Act." I hope this doesn't discredit the Hill!

(I'm actually more concerned that reporter Jordy Yager -- I rib you not, that's how the byline reads -- appears uncertain whether Hamas, which routinely engages in suicide bombings of Jews in Israel, is actually a terrorist organization; cautious Yager is willing only to go as far as writing "Hamas, which the U.S. has labeled a terrorist organization.")

Of course, Gaubatz is only the co-author of the book; the other author, Paul Sperry, "a media fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is former Washington bureau chief for Investor's Business Daily, and author of Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington;" this would appear to bring an even more powerful set of credentials to the book. But perhaps we can find a typo on Sperry's website as well.

Is CAIR's steady infiltration of Congress part of the change we should believe in?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 14, 2009, at the time of 4:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Barack the Magic Statesman

Hatched by Dafydd

Thank goodness we have such an eloquent spokesman for America's foreign policy! At last, we see the brave new world of hope and change wrought by Barack H. Obama. (And it has such people in it.)

Now that he has, for all practical purposes, taken off the table any military action against Iran -- which all now agree is indeed developing nuclear weapons, along with long- and medium-range ballistic missiles to deliver them anywhere in the world -- Russia is finally coming around to the sort of broad, sweeping sanctions that could produce a meaningful change in Iran's behavior:

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned major powers on Wednesday against intimidating Iran and said talk of sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme was "premature".

Via the brilliance of the One and his mind-numbing rhetorical ability, his charm, his willingness to throw the goal of spreading democracy and liberty around the world into the dustbin of Obamunism, and his rejection of American exceptionalism, he has achieved what eluded two previous administrations -- one Republican, one Democratic... clear, specific, harsh, and biting sanctions that can only shake the nuke-loving mullahs to their very cores:

"There is no need to frighten the Iranians," Putin told reporters in Beijing after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

"We need to look for a compromise. If a compromise is not found, and the discussions end in a fiasco, then we will see."

"And if now, before making any steps (towards holding talks) we start announcing some sanctions, then we won't be creating favourable conditions for them (talks) to end positively. This is why it is premature to talk about this now."

It turns out Obama's choice of Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham as secretary of state, a.k.a. the Mouth of Obama, was absolutely inspired; she has turned out to be a gem, a diamond. (A diamond who throws the occasional lamp; but you can't expect the superintelligent and supercompetent to abide by rules of decorum written for We the little people.) Her tough, no-nonsense negotiating skills and pleasant, sunny demeanor have blessed the One We Have Been Longing For, leading to a Russia that now listens to America and shows tremendous respect for our needs and desires (and for our top government officials):

Putin, who many diplomats, analysts, and Russian citizens believe is still Russia's paramount leader despite stepping down as president last year, was speaking after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Moscow for two days of talks....

Clinton failed to secure any specific assurances from Russia on Iran during her visit, leaving her open to criticism at home that she had not received anything from Moscow after earlier U.S. concessions on missile defence....

Clinton said she would have liked to have seen Putin but that their agendas did not coincide. Putin left for a trip to the Russian Far East and China before her arrival in Moscow.

She has given him the tool he needs to excavate mountains of ill will left behind by the previous regime, anger, misunderstanding, and hopelessness that soured Russia on working hand in hand with us on sanctions. Now that the dross has been cleared away by change we can believe in, and the Millennium of Revelations has finally commenced, everything is falling into place.

It's no wonder that the One received the Nobel Peace Prize -- it was perhaps the most justly earned such award ever! (Only those given to Woodrow Wilson, Le Duc Tho, Yassir Arafat, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore are even in the running.)

The world (outside the United States) loves him unconditionally, just as they loved the greatest figures of American history, from Michael Jackson to Mickey Mouse. What a change from the ogre we used to have, who the rest of the world merely feared and respected:

On the contentious issue of missile defence, which has divided Russia and the United States in the past, Putin said he hoped the United States would not renege on its promise to scrap plans for an anti-missile system in central Europe....

Putin said however Moscow "feels no euphoria" about Bush's successor Barack Obama's promise to roll back the shield plans.

"We treated this decision with reserve, calmly," he said. "In any case, the country's leadership accepted it with understanding and gratitude. We believe this was Obama's right and courageous decision."

I can only feel profound gratitude that so many conservatives and Republicans were big-hearted enough in 2008 either to vote for Barack Obama directly, or at least to throw away their vote by pulling the lever for Babar or writing in Ron Paul. If it hadn't been for them, who knows? We might have been deprived of the most transformative figure in all of American history.

Bless you, Christopher Buckley and Colin Powell! We could never have accomplished all this without your help.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 14, 2009, at the time of 1:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Su Gaza es Mi Gaza

Hatched by Dafydd

In a new wrinkle -- at least, I haven't heard of it before -- several European and Moslem countries are attempting to use the "universal jurisdiction" clause of so-called international law to arrest top Israeli government officials who unwisely travel in Europe or the Middle East.

On what charge? Why, for "targeting civilians" in the Gaza war of last December and January -- as claimed in the thoroughly biased (to the point of being antisemitic) Goldstone Report, commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council:

One of the report's recommendations is that countries that have signed the Geneva Conventions "start criminal investigations in national courts, using universal jurisdiction, where there is sufficient evidence of the commission of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Where so warranted following investigation, alleged perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with internationally recognized standards of justice."

This concept was tested last month when 16 Palestinians in Britain asked a London court to issue an arrest warrant for Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister who also served in that position during the Gaza war in December and January. Deputy District Judge Daphne Wickham ruled that Mr. Barak had diplomatic immunity.

Nevertheless, Mr. Ya'alon last month "decided not to go to Britain because he learned that there was an attempt in the United Kingdom to try to press charges against him for war crimes following the attempt with Defense Minister Ehud Barak a week earlier," Mr. Peled said.

The practical upshot of such prosecutions is to criminalize self-defense -- but only when practiced by Israel, not when practiced by any other country, no matter how brutal, how violent, or how steeped in depraved indifference to human life (or death). The members of the United Nations Human Rights Council can be found here; not a single friend of Israel in the bunch but more than a few vicious enemies -- including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia -- along with several rogue states, including Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua, Angola, and Pakistan.

If the only Jewish state in the world is singled out for a special denial of the right of self-defense, this is antisemitic by definition... no matter what the religion of Richard Goldstone.

This is the sort of nuttery that arises from the grotesque concept of "universal jurisdiction," by which an ordinary person can simply walk into court in Spain or the United Kingdome or many other venues -- and charge some other person halfway 'round the globe with "human-rights" violations committed against someone else!

That's like a court in Vermont issuing an arrest warrant for some guy in California, charging him with turning back the odometer on a car he sold to some other California resident. The insanity boggles the mind.

According to the Washington Times story linked above, the U.N. Security Council is supposed to meet Wednesday to "discuss the [Goldstone] report." If President Barack H. Obama does not instruct our ambassador to the U.N. to firmly and unequivocally support Israel's right to self defense, then that will be the clearest signal yet that the One plots to throw the entire nation of Israel under the bullet-riddled Obamnibus.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 14, 2009, at the time of 2:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 13, 2009

"Enemies" List Redux

Hatched by Dafydd

President Barack H. Obama, continuing his relentless quest to emulate and even surpass all the worst tendencies of Richard Nixon, has resuscitated the presidential (or perhaps unpresidential) enemies list. Topping Obama's version is the Fox News Channel; one gets the impression that if Obama could somehow revoke their broadcast licence, he would hesitate only as long as it took to find his favorite ballpoint.

Recently, the One and his acolytes have escalated their hate speech against news organizations that fail to fawn over him and his glorious crusade; his spokesmen increasingly make bizarre and unfocused attacks on the world's most popular cable news channel -- as reported by Fox News itself, of course, but very well sourced (as are most Fox News stories):

"What I think is fair to say about Fox -- and certainly it's the way we view it -- is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party," said Anita Dunn, White House communications director, on CNN. "They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is."

One is hard pressed to find a single political player who thinks it benefits the White House to single out one very popular news channel for repeated denunciation, denial of interviews, and smear campaigns. As professor, lawyer, journalist, and former presidential advisor -- to Republican presidents and also to Bill Clinton -- David Gergen notes, "The press always has the last barrel of ink." Or phosphors, in this case.

I wonder how far the Obamatons will take this war of choice against Fox News. Will they prevent the channel from sending reporters to White House press conferences? Threaten analysts with a loss of White House credentials if they appear on any Fox News show? Will they extend their rage to other news organizations seen as insufficiently compliant, such as the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, and Politico?

In a similar vein, attempts by Obamic allies to punish conservative talk show hosts, Rush Limbaugh in particular, have mounted to absurd heights. Recently, Limbaugh's attempts to purchase the St. Louis Rams football team (as part of a consortium of investors) has provoked first Al Sharpton and now Jesse Jackson to write angry, denunciatory letters to the National Football League, demanding that the league intervene and prevent the talk-show host's bid from being accepted by the team's current owners. Notwithstanding what Jackson once said about Barack Obama's testicles, both reverends are strong supporters of the president.

Chris Wallace, son of famed 60 Minutes founding correspondent Mike Wallace and host of Fox News Sunday, succinctly summed up Team Obama's approach to news organs that are not in Barack Obama's pocket:

Still, Obama refused to appear on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on Sept. 20, the day he appeared on five other Sunday shows. At the time, the White House characterized the snub as payback for the Fox Broadcast Network's decision not to air an Obama prime time appearance. But last weekend, Dunn blamed Fox News Channel's coverage of the administration for Obama's snub of Fox News Sunday.

"Is this why he did not appear?" Dunn said. "The answer is yes."

Wallace has called White House officials "the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington."

The Obama administration has never understood that it should no longer be in campaign mode, nine months into the president's term, but rather in governing mode; in the latter, presidents must interact not only with rabid supporters but the rest of the country as well. It's astonishing that Obama is more willing, even eager, to talk with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuelan dictator Oogo Chavez, and Russian puppeteer Vladimir Putin than to talk with the one American television news agency that critically examines both sides equally.

By contrast, George W. Bush gave many interviews to CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and NPR. But then, Republicans have never had a problem accepting the reality that even those who disagree with them still have First Amendment rights.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 13, 2009, at the time of 10:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Are You Being Searched?

Hatched by Dafydd

Perennial ghost blogger DRJ on Patterico's Pontifications (my second favorite blog) raised a fascinating issue yesterday. Quoth she:

The FBI is using facial recognition software to scan driver’s licenses in an effort to locate fugitives[.]

In a nuttery, the Fibbies take mug shots of wanted suspects, run them through facial-recognition software (FRS), and compare them to digitized drivers-license photos -- assuming they have some idea where the suspect might be hiding. They check potential matches by normal legwork; and if they find an actual match, they haul the blackguard in for questioning.

In the Houston Comical newspaper story DRJ quotes, the technique has already yielded at least one murder suspect:

Earlier this year, investigators learned that a double-homicide suspect named Rodolfo Corrales had moved to North Carolina. The FBI took a 1991 booking photo from California and compared it with 30 million photos stored by the motor vehicle agency in Raleigh. [Thirty million? The entire population of North Carolina is only 9.2 million! How far back do these records stretch?]

In seconds, the search returned dozens of drivers who resembled Corrales, and an FBI analyst reviewed a gallery of images before zeroing in on a man who called himself Jose Solis.

A week later, after corroborating Corrales' identity, agents arrested him in High Point, southwest of Greensboro, where they believe he had built a new life under the assumed name. Corrales is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles later this month.

Civil libertarians are outraged, not surprisingly:

The project in North Carolina has already helped nab at least one suspect. Agents are eager to look for more criminals and possibly to expand the effort nationwide. But privacy advocates worry that the method allows authorities to track people who have done nothing wrong.

I'm trying to logically analyze the liberty issues involved here. There are several purposes for limiting the power of the government to investigate citizens:

  1. Foremost is the danger that the State might use its investigatory power to harass and intimidate political enemies or dissidents.
  2. Next is the risk of the peelers leaping to a conclusion and putting a perfectly innocent person through the living hell of a prosecution for a crime he didn't commit.
  3. Finally, there is the danger of lazy police just sifting through reports and Google-type searches to try to find people guilty of a crime nobody has reported, and which nobody -- not even the police -- even knows occurred.

Let's take 'em one by one.

First, I don't see how this technique can be used to intimidate protesters and other dissidents whose only crime is injudicious use of the First Amendment, as my old teacher Timothy Leary used to put it. The odds of finding some thug who resembled a political enemy closely enough to pass the laugh test seem remote. So much for liberty threat no. 1.

Second, threat no. 2 seems to be of very small concern with the FRS technique: Obviously, those who don't score any "hit" in the software are not affected at all; they don't even know their photos were scanned (along with everybody else in the system, so the comparison doesn't even cast aspersions).

The same holds for those who do score an initial hit, but are knocked out by the second phase, where actual humans look at the photos. The officer shrugs, says "Not him," and there's an end to it. No suspicion attaches to the citizen in the photo.

The only threat is to an innocent person who looks enough like the suspect that he's brought into the station and quesioned. I can see an argument that this is a frightening and intrusive event, which is visited upon a completely innocent individual (by definition) on no greater "evidence" than facial similarities. But the odds are that nothing else is going to match, no other evidence; and he'll be let go after questioning. It's really no different than if a citizen saw the real gangster's picture on America's Most Wanted, then saw the innocent doppelganger, and called the cops. Regrettable but not very damning, and few would argue we should refuse to cooperate with such TV shows. We dismiss no. 2.

Thus remains only threat no. 3: That somebody will have committed a crime that is not even on the cops' radar, but will be detected via the FRS. For the record, I note that I do consider this a serious question; while there is no general right to get away with criminal activity, I'm uneasy at the prospect of every last trivial crime -- from once hiring a prostitute, to a girl steaming open mail from her boyfriend to her female roommate, to pilfering some petty cash from an employer who routinely screws you out of earned overtime -- being prosecuted because a computer dug it up.

But in this case, the FRS only works when a dangerous suspect is sought, and his mug shot (or other photo of him) is run through the system. Defintionally, this can only occur when the police are already aware of the crime -- so threat no. 3, while a valid worry, is not relevant in this case.

Thus logic compels me to give it my ethical blessing, no matter how personally creepy I find it.

It's weird, this logic thing: I took my first class in the propositional calculus (formal logic for systems not large enough to include the counting numbers) in junior high school (nowadays called "middle school"). My math/science/logic teacher's name was William "Fitz" Fitzgibbon, and he gave us a test before we had our first lecture. It included a number of word problems in formal logic specifically calculated to seem false on the basis of mere intuition.

I don't recall specifics, but here's something similar I just made up: True or false -- If you could flap your arms and fly to the Moon, you'd be made of green cheese.

Answer: True!

Proof:

  1. Given "If A then B" and "not-A." (We're given the conditional, and it's self-evident that I cannot flap my arms and fly to the Moon.)
  2. "If A then B" is logically equal to "B or not-A." (That is, they have the same truth table.)
  3. "B or not-A" is true if either part is true. (This is the definition of the "or" statement.)
  4. "Not-A" is given.
  5. Thus "B or not-A" is true.
  6. Therefore, "if A then B" is true: If I could flap my arms and fly to the Moon, I would be made of green cheese. QED.

It seems absurd; but by the rules of the propositional calculus, it's true.

I feel the same way about my conclusion that there is no threat to liberty combining facial-recognition software and drivers-license photos to catch crooks: I know in my head it's true, but I can't help feeling in my glandular secretions that there's something fishy about the whole thing. Being a natural Spockian, I must vote for the cerebral cortex over the endocrine system every time.

But I don't have to like it.

Fresh-roasted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 13, 2009, at the time of 3:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 12, 2009

Another Noble Obamic Musing - Obamic Options 003

Hatched by Dafydd

So now I see that Lanny Davis joins the chorus of lefties chastising us anti-liberals for not leaping to our feet to cheer President Barack H. Obama "winning" the Nobel Peace Prize for -- for -- well, I'll get back to you about that part. David writes:

The strident Republican right filled with Obama-haters shamed themselves - and embarrassed fair-thinking conservatives - with churlish and venomous attacks on the Nobel Prize committee and Mr. Obama. The hypocrisy and irony were apparent. The same conservative partisans who cheered when Chicago lost its bid for the Olympics now booed when a U.S. president won the Nobel Peace Prize.

I suspect that Davis completely understands that what we're angry about is that the award was simply handed to Obama for partisan political reasons, to give him some ammunition to use against Republicans, so he can continue driving the country further and further left with his magic cattle prod. It's a dishonest award... and our American sense of justice and decency trumps any reflexive emotional chauvinism towards our country. Davis even titles his polemic "Obama's Nobel Achievement;" it's no achievement to be given something unearned as a political statement -- or a bribe.

Similarly, we would never cheer an American victory in the Olympics engineered by some cunning interpretation of the rules to disqualify the actual winner, even if he was Chinese or Russian. For God's sake, Davis, aren't you American enough to be embarassed by "winning" unfairly?

Were this an honest Peace Prize award -- when is the last time we had one? -- we would have cheered. Suppose he accepts Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendation to fight a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan; suppose it succeeds. Then if the Norwegians were to award him the Peace Prize for helping bring democracy and peace to that corner of the globe (hah!), yes, I would applaud him. (Though I would wonder how a globe can have "corners.")

But when they just bung it at him after nine months in office, during which he has done nothing to advance either world peace or a foreign policy that benefits the United States of America... Sorry, Lanny Davis, I'm not a mindless partisan automaton, creaking to its hind legs to clap metallic hands whenever the unAmerican Left holds up the sign reading "applesauce."

Davis knows all this, but he bears false witness against us anyway. And why not? Look where he got his training, as Special White House Counsel for Bill Clinton, smearing every witness who truthfully testified about Clinton's many crimes and felonies; Lanny Davis was weened on such polarizing and conscienceless lies.

So I have a new Obamic thought experiment -- this one for both Lanny Davis and the One Himself:

  1. Mr. Davis, suppose that the Swedish Academy were to announce in 2010 that Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics -- a prize that nobody in the entire world could possibly argue he deserves. Should we stand and cheer that, too? Must we cheer any "honor" bestowed upon the One, even if it is clearly unearned, thus dishonorable?
  2. Given that the Obamacle himself expressed grave doubts that he had earned such a prize, then signaled strongly that he would nevertheless accept it... if the Nobel Committee indeed handed him the Nobel in Physics -- would Obama actually accept it?

The answers to these two questions would tell us a lot about not just the Americanness of the Left but its sanity as well. Alas, the questions will never be asked outside this blog; and the principals would refuse to answer them if they were -- which itself tells us much more about the Left than some may realize.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 12, 2009, at the time of 1:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Extree, Extree, Getcher Your DMV Health Care!

Hatched by Dafydd

This is an utterly brilliant parody advert, lampooning the asinine Will Ferrell ad. (Which itself was meant to be a parody; so this ad is a parody of a parody -- of the original parody, ObamaCare itself!)

The difference between these two offerings is manifest:

  • The advert below attacks government-run health care, while the Will Ferrell ad applauds it;
  • The Will Ferrell ad was supposed to be funny; this one actually is...

 

 

For reference (and exercise in eye-rolling), here's the original propaganda piece for your perusal...

 

 

Yawn.

Just another clear indication that the primary ingredient for a joke to be funny -- is that it actually have a grain or more of truth at its core. Hence, Hollywood lefty "parody" adverts, Michael Moore movies, and anything done or said by Al Franken in the last few decades is un-funny, because it's about as truthful as any statement from Barack H. Obama that begins with the words "In all sincerity..."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 12, 2009, at the time of 2:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 11, 2009

This Burns Me Up

Hatched by Dafydd

According to Reuters, a truck driver was just fined about three hundred dollars for smoking in his "enclosed workplace"... which happened to be his own truck. There is no indication anyone was riding with him; he appears to have been alone in the cab.

This outrage occurred (of course!) in Canada, home of the knave and land of the "free" (health care, that is):

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, adopted in 2006, prohibits smoking in an enclosed workplace or enclosed public area, and that extends to work vehicles, said Constable Shawna Coulter of the Ontario Provincial Police in Essex County.

"We enforce the legislation and this truck driver was in violation of that," she said.

I don't know whether he owned the truck, but I don't think it would matter to enforcers of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act of 2006. What does matter, according to the (Toronto) Globe and Mail, is whether the company or person that owns the truck operates it entirely within Ontario, or whether it crosses the border into other provinces; if the latter, it's governed under federal (Canadian) law, and evidently can allow smoking in some trucks:

Companies doing cross-border business are federally regulated and can designate some trucks as smoke-friendly, leaving Ontario-only firms as the law's lone targets. And liability for a driver who owns the truck and is its sole operator is hazy.

The editor of the Globe and Mail has another pertinent question to ask:

What about those who work at home? If police find someone running a business from a sofa, enjoying a good puff, will they have the gall to write up a ticket?

I cannot vouch for the accuracy or even the veracity of Reuters-Canada... but I do know one thing: This is our future under ObamaCare. Once the government has a monetary interest in the health of each individual citizen, it develops an irresistable desire to control eveyr aspect of that person's life. After all, the government must protect its investment.

Think. Then vent. Then vote.

(Hat tip to Scott Gilbert, who uses the Big Lizards tip e-mail address to excellent effect.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 11, 2009, at the time of 11:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 9, 2009

Obamic Options 002: The Limits of Tolerance of Pinkos

Hatched by Dafydd

Five months ago, in the heady days of Barack H. Obama's spring fling, I noted that he (along with most other liberals) was far more interested in destroying traditional marriage, by foisting same-sex marriage (SSM) on Americans, than he was in extending actual liberty to U.S. servicemen who happen to be gay.

That is, while Obama is wild to enact SSM nationwide, if he can ever figure out how to do it, he nods off when anyone starts talking about repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy (DADT) of President Bill Clinton and actually doing what Clinton and Obama both only talked about -- letting gays serve openly in the military, instead of serving in secret.

Five months later, we have this dramatic and unexpected statement from National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones:

President Obama will focus "at the right time" on how to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military, his national security adviser said Sunday.

"I don't think it's going to be -- it's not years, but I think it will be teed up appropriately," James L. Jones said.

Like every policy that "earned" Obama his Nobel Peace Prize, this one is a great big ol' fifty-gallon hat, but neither hide nor hoof of any cattle. He talks a really good fight; he's still promising that he'll deliver on this one, any day now:

The Democrat-led Congress is considering repealing the 1993 law. Action isn't expected on the issue until early next year.

Right. Congress is going to take up gays in the military -- in an election year.

Later, Jones clarified the timetable with great precision:

Mr. Jones, appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," said Mr. Obama "has an awful lot on his desk. I know this is an issue that he intends to take on at the appropriate time. And he has already signaled that to the Defense Department. The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare, but at the right time, I'm sure the president will take it on."

The great thing is that this statement can never be a lie; in fact, it can never even be wrong! If Obama isn't "taking on" DADT, then clearly it's not the "appropriate time." What could be simpler?

So... any bets on whether Barack Obama will have moved to repeal DADT -- by time his 2012 reelection campaign gets underway?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 9, 2009, at the time of 7:38 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The Nobel Cheese Prize

Hatched by Dafydd

The Norwegian Nobel Committee insists that the Nobel Peace Prize is not "politicized," even in the wake of today's award to President Barack H. Obama, essentially for having the "potential" to be the most internationalist, anti-American, defeat-and-retreat president in history. The chairman of the committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, actually admitted the pick this year was intended to bring about a desired political result:

“It’s important for the committee to recognize people who are struggling and idealistic,” Mr. Jagland said in an interview, “but we cannot do that every year. We must from time to time go into the realm of realpolitik.

But liberals and lefties still insist the prize is meaningful, that it's not hopelessly debased and discredited because of its extraordinary embrace of leftism. They especially insist it's not partisan.

All right, so let's investigate the winners' political leanings; to trim the field to something manageable, let's restrict inquiry to American winners who were politicians, or who won the award for primarily political activity (as opposed to, say, Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, winners in 1997): Among all American politicians who have won the Nobel Peace Prize, how many were Republicans and how many Democrats?

At first blush, it appears fairly even: six Republicans and nine Democrats. But what fascinates is the distribution of those wins.

Here is a table of American political recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. To make things easier, I have colored the Republican recipients' rows reddish and the Democrats' bluish:

 


American political Nobel Peace Prize recipients
Recipient: Red for Republican, blue for Democrat Year
President Theodore Roosevelt 1906
Secretary of State Elihu Root 1912
President Woodrow Wilson 1919
Vice President Charles G. Dawes 1925
Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg 1929
Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Nicholas M. Butler 1931
Secretary of State Cordell Hull 1945
Diplomat Ralph Bunche 1950
Secretary of State, Defense George Marshall 1953
Chemist Linus Pauling (won for campaign against nuclear testing) 1962
Rev. Martin Luther King, jr (won for campaign against Jim Crow laws) 1964
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger 1973
President Jimmy Carter 2002
Vice President Al Gore 2007
President Barack H. Obama 2009

 

The point that jumps right out is the divide -- the chasm -- between those prizes awarded to American politicos up through 1931 and those from 1945 onward... which is to say, before the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (early prizes) and after World War II ended (late prizes).

There were six early prizes, and all but one went to Republicans. But this perfectly matches the party affiliation of the presidency -- six presidents during that period, only one (Wilson) a Democrat.

The early prizes simply reflect the fact that political Nobel Peace Prizes during this period were typically awarded for administrative initiatives. For example, TR received his for negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth, ending the Russo-Japanese war; while Elihu Root got his for a series of negotiations, arbitrations, and treaties while serving as Roosevelt's Secretary of State. Thus it's no surprise that a recipient's political party would correspond to that of the president who appointed him.

But look at what happened after World War II: Among the nine late prizes, only one went to a Republican, Henry Kissinger -- in stark contrast to the presidencies during the post-war period, six Republicans and six Democrats. And the only Republican to receive the award during that time had to share it with Vietnamese Communist Party mass murderer Le Duc Tho.

More telling, Kissinger won the prize for brokering a "peace treaty" that overthew the spectacular victory in Vietnam, won by Gen. Creighton Abrams after he replaced Gen. William Westmoreland, and substituted an even more stunning and inexplicable defeat, which owed more to Richard Nixon's domestic troubles than any military losses. Thus the lone award to a Republican was for betraying the conservative principle of peace through strength.

Since the end of WWII, conservatives have been utterly shut out of the Peace Prize sweepstakes:

  • Eisenhower did not win for winning the war against totalitarian fascism and Naziism;
  • Ronald Reagan did not win for winning the Cold war and liberating tens of millions from Communist tyranny (neither did Pope John Paul II, but I'm still talking about Americans);
  • George W. Bush did not win it for removing two of the three most violent, sexist, and repressive regimes in the ummah.

But Jimmy Carter (!) won the Prize for relentlessly wandering the globe, preaching appeasement of evil and bullying beleaguered Israel into signing fraudulent "peace accords" with the Palestinians, who never had any intention of honoring them.

And now Barack H. Obama has won it for... well, to be perfectly blunt, for being the first black President of the United States. He certainly had accomplished nothing else when he was nominated for the Prize, less than two weeks after being sworn in as president; and arguably, he hasn't done anything more since then to bring about actual peace anywhere. Militarily, he has continued the (victorious) Bush policy in Iraq -- and now advocates continuing the (failing) Bush strategy in Afghanistan. Some peacemaker!

I believe the point is made: Prior to the Great Depression and the huge boost it gave to the stature of international socialism, the Nobel Peace Prize was a meaningful recognition of attempts to bring about world peace -- even misguided attempts, such as Woodrow Wilson's establishment of the League of Nations (which the United States never even joined, so flawed was the design).

But after global depression and war, the Prize became a political football awarded to whomever seemed to best articulate the leftist view of politics and the advance of world socialism... whether or not his accomplishments had anything to do with fostering peace; indeed, whether or not he had any accomplishments at all. That it has remained, as today's announcement makes clear. It's unlikely that anyone associated with conservative principles will ever again win -- and certainly not for upholding those principles.

The record screams for itself.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 9, 2009, at the time of 5:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Imagine There's No Peace Prize, It's Easy If You Try

Hatched by Dafydd

So at the very moment that President Barack H. Obama convenes his "war council" to decide whether to accept Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendation to expand operations in Afghanistan -- changing to a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy and adding 40,000 additional troops to the war effort -- the Norwegian Nobel Committee announces that the president, who has fewer peace-related accomplishments (or accomplishments of any sort) and done less for the advancement of peace than possibly any previous recipient, has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

Could the two be connected? Is the committee attempting to nudge Obama towards rejecting McChrystal's strategy in favor of withdrawal and appeasement of the Taliban? It could even be a direct bribe, since it includes more than a million dollars in prize money.

Nah; I'm sure there's no connection and no bribery. It's just another one of those amazing coincidences that seem to swirl around liberals and leftists.

(A reporter at the White House press briefing noted that Obama was nominated twelve days after being inaugurated. Now there's an accomplishment!)

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 9, 2009, at the time of 12:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 8, 2009

Obamalemma

Hatched by Dafydd

Why, oh why is President Barack H. Obama taking so blasted long deciding what to do about Gen. Stanley McChrystal's strategy and troop request in Afghanistan?

The Commander in Chief let it languish at the Pentagon for a month before even requesting it. Obviously, he already knew what was in it; the Pentagon leaked it, and its major components were widely reported: Switch to a counterinsurgency strategy and send more troops, structurally very like the strategy Gen. David Petraeus used so successfully in Iraq.

But the Obamacle sat and sat, squirmed and squirmed, unable to decide what to do about it (which is why he didn't request it be sent over to la Casa Blanca, because that formally "starts the clock"). Why? Why does he fiddle while Afghanistan burns? Our Marines and soldiers are dying.

The first is that Obama is congenitally incapable of making up his mind, of course. He has always been far more comfortable issuing lofty and vague encyclicals, then voting "present."

But he seems more torn that usual this time... and I believe there is a deeper reason why this particular decision is such an Obamic dilemma. This is the biggest, most consequential military decision he has ever had to make in his life... and it is the first entirely lose-lose choice of his immature administration.

Other crossroads have always offered Obama at least one option that was a win. What makes this one lose-lose?

The One likes to claim there is a "third way" between accepting the recommendation and rejecting it. He thinks he can get away with "counterinsurgency lite," which it pleases him to call a "counter-terrorist" strategy, whatever that means.

But in the end, no matter what alternative he picks, it will be seen by everyone as rejecting Stanley McChrystal's strategy... which is odd, because McChrystal is Obama's hand-picked choice to head up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) commands -- after he fired the previous commander, Gen. David D. McKiernan. And McChrystal's report was the first and most urgent task Barack Obama was ordered to perform. Rejecting it would make Obama himself look weak... either he can't pick a good general, or else he's afraid of the course his general charted.

No matter, Obama has only two choices: accept McChrystal's request or reject it.

If he rejects the proposal, then Barack Obama owns Afghanistan: If it goes south on us -- which it likely will; it's hard to believe that even President B.O. thinks Joe Biden is a better military strategist than a four-star general who has actually fought -- if we end up retreating, if the Taliban makes great gains there and in Pakistan, if al-Qaeda returns to the Taliban-held territory... then everybody in the country blames Obama for losing the war.

We're not likely to reelect a president who inflicted another unnecessary defeat on us, especially in a war so closely tied to the 9/11 attacks -- "the war we should be fighting," as everyone on the left said, including Obama himself as recently as August. Americans have experienced insufficient pain to be eager to accept defeat as the only way out, as we became anent Vietnam.

He's already struggling because of his radical domestic agenda, which the American people have decisively rejected: government-controlled health care, massive bailouts, nationalizing banks and now even the automobile industry, and staggering tax increases coupled with an orgy of new spending. If we add "lost the war against al-Qaeda and screwed up the national security of the United States for decades to come" to the list of obstacles he must surmount to continue working at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., I think even the narcissism of the Obamas (B and M) would quail.

So the obvious choice is to accept McChrystal's recommendation. Ah, but this is the other horn of the dilemma... because he promised his radical-left base an American military defeat; and they may fully and finally reject his presidency (and himself) if he betrays that promise.

The defeat was supposed to be in Iraq, of course; that was the unpopular war in 2008, while Afghanistan was the forgotten war. There was enough pain associated with Iraq (our threshhold of pain has dropped markedly in recent decades) that inflicting a military defeat upon us in Iraq would probably have been acceptable to the American people, if --

  • If the war in Iraq were going as badly in 2009 as it was in 2006-7, when he made the promise...
  • If the economy had come roaring back shortly after Obama was elected, so he could claim credit (even if he had nothing to do with it)...
  • If his radical agenda had proved as popular as he convinced himself before the election that it would be.

But by the time Obama took command, the war had been won -- and won so obviously that to turn it around then would have been too, too obviously anti-American. It's not like in 1974; back then nearly everybody got his national news from one of three television networks or one of a small number of print sources, all linked together by a couple-three wire services. The political establishment could actually manage the news, feeding the American people what the powers that be thought they needed to know.

Too, the heavily Democratic Congress could blame the hated Republican president. Richard Nixon was already embattled, widely (and probably wrongfully) seen as corrupt, an easy target. His paranoia had all come true, and he barely even fought back. The 1972 reelection was his last hurrah; it was all downhill after that. With his resignation, to be replaced by his anti-war Vice President, Gerald Ford, there was nothing standing in the way of blaming Nixon for "losing the Vietnam war."

None of that obtains today. The news comes from too many sources now and cannot be managed by a small cabal of center-left establishment kingmakers. The turn-around in Iraq was too widely covered to be covered-up. Gen. Petraeus is far too articulate and beloved to be spat upon by snatching Obamic defeat from the jaws of Petraeus' victory.

Ergo, President Obama was forced to bless the Bush-Petraeus strategy; he was overtaken by events. But the Left exploded in rage anyway, unwilling to give him running slack; Cindy Sheehan is busily getting herself arrested outside the White House, a certain barometer of leftist Obamania dropping to a very stormy low.

Barack Obama promised the Left a defeat in Iraq if it supported him. When Obama defaulted, lefties came bawling at the White House gates, promissory notes in hand, demanding immediate payment.

The Left has always hated America more than any other country, for the obvious reason: We're the world's greatest bulwark of liberty, individualism, and Capitalism against international socialism. The revolution would eventually have to go through us before it could gain world domination; so leftists decided long ago that one of their strategies had to be to inflict military defeat on the United States whenever and wherever they could.

The Left needs us to be decisively and thoroughly bested by Jihadist terror organizations; it's desperate for America to be crushed under the sandals of al-Qaeda, Iran, or the Taliban; and it wants the whole world to see it!

Then the Left can crow that America's century has ended. It can encourage the spread of anti-Americanism, defeatism, despair, and fear -- especially fear, their favorite tool for mass manipulation. It can begin to advance a "national front," an alternative governing paradigm that can gain mass acceptance in this country, eventually allowing the Left to overthrow the American system and install internationalist socialism in its place. More than anyone else, the Left understands that to create a new governing paradigm, you first must utterly discredit the current one.

And historically, the best way to do that is to take advantage of a humiliating military defeat: in Vietnam/Indochina after the French occupation; in China right after World War II; in Germany after World War I; and of course in Russia itself during World War I.

Don't panic. I don't for one moment imagine it can actually pull off such an agenda. I argue only that it has exactly that agenda, and that it will pursue it with courage and vigor -- forever. We -- must -- lose one of our wars.

So what's left for us to lose? What other "funds of defeat" does Obama have to make good that promissory note to his natural base, the hard Left? He certainly can't start his own war for the sole purpose of losing it!

The only actual war left over from the "previous regime" is Afghanistan. If Obama accepts the recommendation of Gen. McChrystal, and if Afghanistan turns around as Iraq did, and we're seen to have won the war... then Obama may get a boost from the victory from real Americans; but that would probably come too late, after the 2010 congressional elections. It takes time to recreate a strategy: First one must design it, then select the leaders, transport the troops, order them, reorganize the supply lines, implement the new strategy -- and then you must execute it for many months before you see the fruits of your labor. I predict it would be eighteen months or more from making the decision to seeing undeniable signs of victory.

But the tangible hit from the Left would be immediate and catastrophic. When the mid-term elections roll around, the Left -- the most powerful engine of the Democratic Party -- will idle defiantly, driven by anger to punish the president who first trod upon one foot then stomped even harder on the other. 2010 will go from very bad for the Democrats to a tidal wave that could even wash them from power; it has happened before, and not just in 1994.

So the president is in a quandry, better yet, a quagmire of his own making. He himself created this Slough of Despond by agreeing to this deal with the Devil in the first place: Elect me and I promise you an American military defeat! Now he balances precariously on the bull's horns; and no matter which way Obama turns, he's likely to topple the moment the bull begins to run, and he may even be gored or trodden underhoof.

And that, I believe, is why the One We Have Been Waiting, Waiting, and Waiting For is in such a lather about what to do, and why he lashes out, furious but impotent, at his own general, who put him in such a pickle. My heart bleeds for Barack Obama, abandoned child of the Left.

The president must decide between betraying the American people but satisfying the Left, or the other way 'round. In the final cut, I cannot believe that he could ever cut loose from the ideology that has suckled and comforted him since childhood; I think he will land on the side of paying off that massive political debt: He will reject the recommendation and just hope to high heaven that Afghanistan just magically turns around on its own.

Or that unemployment miraculously drops to 4%, the economy roars back, and Obama gets to press the reset button on reaction to his entire domestic agenda. Then he can pray that the American voter has the memory of a mayfly, and the Democratic Party retains a strong majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate... because Barack Obama is incapable of doing what Bill Clinton did after 1994; it takes brains and courage to "triangulate," and I sincerely doubt the current fellow has either.

But such a fortuitous (to B.O.) sequence of events seems delusional to me.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 8, 2009, at the time of 4:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 7, 2009

ACORN: Not Quite Firemen, but Definitely Hosers

Hatched by Dafydd

I'm glad I'm not a professional satirist; I could never top the Democrats' self parody.

What do you think is the best use of a million-dollar grant from the Department of Homeland Security (specifically from FEMA) earmarked for firefighting?

Yep, that's the first organization that popped into my mind, too: ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now:

The Monroe Fire Department was the only squad in Louisiana to receive a grant and will be awarded $192,000. The Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office will receive $62,000.

ACORN received $997,402, slightly less than the maximum allowable grant of $1 million. A total of $35 million was available for the grants project to fire districts across the country this year.

(Say, isn't that just about the same amount ACORN alleges was embezzled by its founder's brother, Dale Rathke, in 1999-2000? That amount was $948,507, according to ACORN; but prosecutors in Louisiana, ACORN's corporate headquarters, speculate it may have been as much as $5 million.)

Granted, ACORN received a similar grant last year, for half that amount; but we hadn't seen the full extent of ACORN's depravity then, had we?

Shockingly enough, this ain't sitting well with -- well, actual firefighting organizations in Louisiana. They seem to have this old-fashioned idea that money earmarked for firefighting shouldn't be sent to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and Firefighting Too, Sometimes, When We're Not Busy Rigging Elections:

"I have no problem with not getting a grant, I've lost grants before," said Chief [Charles] Flynn, one of the fire officials who complained to [Sen. David] Vitter in a letter.

"My issue is ACORN in New Orleans. Their mission statement says nothing about fire safety or fire prevention. It bothered me that ACORN got $1 million and there are so many smaller and bigger departments that have a need for that money."

For that matter, their mission statement also says nothing about voter fraud and financing whorehouses stocked with underaged girls from El Salvadore. What prudes, demanding that federal funding for a leftist organization be restricted to its published mission!

So... as the Democrat-dominated Congress and the Democrat-controlled IRS and Census Bureau defund ACORN left and right, the Department of Homeland Security -- headed up by well-known defense expert Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona (I think she said she can see Iran from her house) -- scurries to take up the slack and ensure that the nation's most powerful whoremonger don't have to close the doors of its string of brothels.

I declare, the blood of an Obamanista is icy enough to freeze the brass off a bald monkey.

When asked by Sen. Vitter (R-LA, %) to explain exactly how they planned to spend the money on firefighting, ACORN responded:

Senator Vitter knows a lot more about prostitution rings than anyone here does, so we'll defer to him on any matters pertaining to the videos attacking ACORN.

Thanks; good to know.

Janet Napolitano wants to put ACORN in charge of fighting fires in Louisiana. What could possibly go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 7, 2009, at the time of 6:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Confusticated Conservatives in Congress

Hatched by Dafydd

Why is it that Republicans and conservatives in Congress are so easy to bamboozle with Candyland promises of government largess? Honestly, it drives me nuts (which may not be that far of a trip).

Here, riddle me this: How many things are wrong in this picture?

The idea of a tax credit for companies that create new jobs, something the federal government has not tried since the 1970s, is gaining support among economists and Washington officials grappling with the highest unemployment in a generation.

The proposal has some bipartisan appeal among politicians eager both to help their unemployed constituents and to encourage small-business development. Legislators on Capitol Hill and President Obama’s economic team have been quietly researching the policy for several weeks.

“There is a lot of traction for this kind of idea,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican whip. “If the White House will take the lead on this, I’m fairly positive it would be welcomed in a bipartisan fashion.”

You see, this is why I'm loathe to support a congressman running for president: Even when he's (relatively) conservative, as is Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA, 92%), Washington D.C. exudes a magical corruption field that sucks him into the Big Government maw... and like the Borg, assimilates him. Resistance is futile.

Here's the syllogism in a nutbag:

  1. Jack up business taxes to be the highest in the civilized world. (Republicans will cheerfully help if you tell them it will "reduce the deficit!")
  2. Announce highly selective tax credits for businesses who toe the federal line.
  3. Bully putative "conservatives" into supporting these temporary selective tax credits -- hey, it's almost like a tax cut! -- by threatening to tell on them to their constituents. (Note: Some conservatives are already so corrupted or senile that they don't need any bullying; they bully themselves, like good "citizens of the world.")
  4. Use the credits (and the threat of cutting them off) to manipulate businesses, thwart the workings of the market, and cripple Capitalism.
  5. When the scheme explodes in America's face like a trick cigar, blame the Republicans in Congress who voted against it (they voted for high taxes!), the ones who voted for it (they offered amendments to the bill!), and the "previous administration." Laugh all the way to the polls.

How long do the tax credits last? Guess what: That's how long the jobs last, too. Since they're fake jobs -- by definition, a job created by a tax credit is a job that would be uneconomic without the credit -- as soon as the distorting factor (the credit) disappears, so too does the job.

You really want to create jobs, permanent jobs? Try this approach instead:

  1. Dramatically reduce business income tax.
  2. Repeal the capital-gains tax: We want to encourage investment, not discourage it by taxation.
  3. Repeal the estate tax -- at all levels. There is no moral reason why the government should get a cut when a parent leaves money or property to a child, or an uncle to a niece or nephew, or anybody to anbody else; that money has already been taxed.
  4. Meaningfully reform the tort system.

We already know that reforming the medical malpractice tort system would save the medical industry between $60 billion and $200 billion per year; taking the mean average, that's $1.3 trillion savings over ten years -- more than enough to subsidize medical insurance for the deserving poor. And that doesn't even count how much would be saved by the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries.

(Don't be misled; the big savings don't come from reducing medical malpractice judgments and settlements; that's only a small portion of the cost of "jackpot justice." The real savings come from eliminating ludicrously wasteful "defensive medicine" practices, whose only purpose is to cover the backsides of doctors in case they get sued by John Edwards.)

Now magnify that savings across the other 7/8ths of the American economy; let's say that non-medical businesses would only reap half the savings of doctors and hospitals. Even at that, a real and significant tort reform for all cases would likely save our private sector more than half a trillion dollars each and every year. That's over $5,000,000,000,000.00 in that same ten-year window. And it would still protect consumers and innocent (or not so innocent) victims.

Sorry for the digression; back to the plan.

  1. Reduce government business regulation; much of it (not all of it) is really designed to drive small competitors out of competition with big corporations -- since the latter have full-time legal-compliance staff.
  2. For banks and other financial corporations, get rid of mark-to-market accounting to increase reserves and free up credit; I think this may already be easing, but let's kill it off entirely.
  3. Strangle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac like Hercules throttled the twin serpents in his cradle.
  4. Refrain from passing any health-care bill that includes mandates, government options, or any other intrusive government meddling.
  5. Refrain from passing a huge tax on energy.
  6. While you're at it, make the personal income tax completely flat -- and set it fairly low. This gives consumers more money to spend buying products. Which, you know, helps businesses that sell those products.

I guarantee this will improve the economy, get credit flowing to businesses again, ramp up consumer spending, and cause a much greater increase in hiring than would some targeted, temporary tax credits from the feds... especially since the latter will be accompanied by the hammer of massive tax increases on those same businesses.

Yeesh; why can't Eric Cantor suss this one out? This is Economics 101, for heaven's sake.

Post-Toasteed to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 7, 2009, at the time of 5:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 6, 2009

Explaining Polanskiites

Hatched by Dafydd

In Dennis Prager's Townhall column today, he asks the most obvious and urgent question about the Roman Polanski crisis, the same point noted by Movie Badger in a previous Lizardian post:

How is one to explain the film world's conscience?

He refers not to Polanski himself; as Movie Badger noted, the existence of evil people is not hard to accept, even if it's hard for some to understand, believing, as many of the religious do, in a God Who is absolutely good. Rather, the more fascinating question, and the more important for society, is why people who themselves would never even imagine orally, vaginally, and anally raping a little girl... will nevertheless passionately defend a man who did exactly that.

(I do believe some of the people defending Polanski, such as Woody Allen, are disturbingly close to understanding Polanski's desire to rape a thirteen year old -- not just Polanski's ephebophilia. But the vast majority of Polanski's vociferous defenders do not share his violent, sadistic, and torturous impulses towards the helpless.)

Prager finds two explanations for the adultatory support (which is also condemnatory -- of everyone except the criminal):

  • Hollywood elites see themselves as Nietzschean Übermenschen, "overmen" who "transcend the boundaries of classes, creeds, and nationalities... overcome human nature itself, and maintain a lordly superiority to the normal shackles and conventions of social life." (The quotation is from the online philosophy dictionary at Answers.com.) Thus, Polanski represents the aristocratic warrior-artist who is "beyond good and evil," and cannot be judged by mere humans wallowing in egalitarian modernity.
  • Second, "Hollywood specifically, like the film world generally, is a cocoon." That is, Polanski's elite defenders don't even know how out of touch they are with the rest of humanity. They defend Roman Polanski because all their friends do.

Each of these explanations has merit; but collectively, I think it only explains a tiny fraction of those demanding that Polanski be released. The first may explain Harvey Weinstein, who refered to Polanski's multiple rapes of a terrified (and drugged) thirteen year old girl as a "so-called crime;" it's also possible that Weinstein lives so much in a bubble he literally has never heard any of his Hollywood friends mention that the rape was not merely statutory rape; if you believe the victim, it was forcible rape.

I think the second explanation is the best one for Whoopi Goldberg, who claimed it wasn't a "rape-rape;" she doesn't listen to anyone but liberals, and liberals have all got it in their minds that the sex was consensual -- the girl was just a little too young. I suspect she still believes this... and believes that everyone on the right who claims it was more is simply lying to hurt a liberal icon. [This paragraph is corrected; I mistakenly wrote Oprah Winfrey instead. Thanks to an e-mailer!]

But neither explanation really satisfies me. Why are Hollywood personalities so unwilling to believe that one of their own may have done something horrible?

I know this will startle you all, but I have my own theory about what really drives support for Roman Polanski; alas, it's a logical fallacy that affects nearly everyone to some extent, myself included, no matter how carefully I try to avoid it. Every day, I see similar defenses -- albeit of less egregious crimes -- by ordinary, non-Hollywood people who do not see themselves as "beyond good and evil," and who do not live in a cocoon.

A friend of mine defined it most succinctly:

"It can't be true, because that would be too dreadful!"

In other words, most Polanski defenders support him not because they have a broken moral compass; they support and defend him because they simply cannot believe he really did it -- despite the evidence, the testimony, and even Polanski's own confession (to a lesser edition of his crime). They cannot believe it because they refuse to allow themselves to believe it; the truth would do such damage to their worldview that they just can't handle it.

A great many people (mostly liberals) believe the following syllogism:

  1. To produce great art, a person needs a great soul (or spirit, for the atheists);
  2. A great soul cannot be associated with the basest and most despicable of carnal crime; it's impossible by definition;
  3. Therefore, a great artist is incapable of child rape, no matter what anybody says. Who you gonna believe, the manifest truth of liberal logic, or your own lyin' eyes?

The illogic of this is easily spotted; since a "great soul" is never defined, it ends up being defined post-hoc as the inability to do whatever it is the great artist is accused of doing -- which makes the argument completely circular.

But lest we feel too superior, consider this variation:

  1. Man is more than just an animal; he has a soul.
  2. The soul is of the spirit, not of the flesh.
  3. Flesh cannot transform into spirit; it's impossible by definition.
  4. Thus, a human being cannot evolve from non-human animals.
  5. But it seems absurd that evolution could explain the creation of all species on the planet but one.
  6. Therefore, evolution from one species to another is a complete fraud, no matter what those lefty, atheist eggheads claim.

Here we have the same complaint: The creationist begins with a premise that is logically equivalent to the conclusion he seeks.

Or this one:

  1. Capitalism is the greatest engine of wealth creation ever invented; it's also the most just system of distribution of wealth.
  2. Any government attempt to control Capitalism is doomed to failure, because it subsitutes the decision of a single mind or small group of minds for the godlike decisions of all minds linked in a collective called the Market.
  3. So any and all constraints on the Market are wrongheaded and should be abolished.
  4. Therefore, governments must never aid individuals or even entire regions stricken by devastating natural disasters or calamitous attacks, because that violates the precepts of Capitalism, no matter what those statist, redistributing Benthemites say.

Each of these syllogisms is paralogical and invalid, and each has the same fundamental fallacy: Assuming the conclusion, then finding some path to it, no matter how tortuous:

"It would be too dreadful if government intervention in the market actually worked; therefore, it cannot work."

"It would be too dreadful if evolution by natural selection actually occurred; therefore it didn't."

"It would be too dreadful to imagine that a man could direct a masterpiece like Chinatown, or a man who could write an opera like Götterdämmerung, or a man who could play brilliant football, yet could also be capable of committing rape, engaging in despicable Jew hatred, or killing two people in cold blood; therefore, none of those things really happened... it was all just some awful misunderstanding."

Have you ever tried to find some argument to explain away the fact that the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence was a life-long slave owner, as was the father of our country? How many people rail against socialized medicine, then turn around and castigate Obama for threatening Medicare?

I don't think either of these is an example of hypocrisy; nobody actually defends Thomas Jefferson's or George Washington's slave ownership -- "It's okay for them, because they were so great; but it's not okay for lesser mortals." Rather, they try to weasel out of condemning them for it; they claim extenuating circumstances.

Rather, they simply cannot accept the idea that one of the greatest apostles of liberty and America's first president could also engage in chattel slavery on the basis of race; it's too dreadful to imagine such greatness of spirit containing such carnal ignominy. It can't be true -- so it must not be true! There must be some other explanation, like... like Jefferson and Washington were just keeping slaves to -- to protect them; yeah, that must be it.

(This non-defense defense naturally implies that the defender accepts the evil of slavery. If he didn't, why bother claiming Jefferson wasn't "really" a slave owner?)

So how does this work in the present case?

  1. The violent drugging and multiple raping of a thirteen year old girl was really some strange (but perfectly understandable) version of consensual sex.
  2. This means the victim must have been a willing, even enthusiastic participant. Which means she must have been a huge fan of Roman Polanski, and probably on the make for a star "scalp."
  3. Thus her testimony at the grand jury proceeding was obviously perjured; after having her fun, she wanted to soak Polanski for as much money as she could. She's the real criminal, not the director. Is giving pleasure a crime?
  4. Since we all agree she was thirteen, and the law says that thirteen year olds cannot consent to sex, that implies the very concept of "age of consent" must be screwy (all right, bad word choice). The girl must have been very advanced for her age; she must have seduced Polanski; it was all her doing anyway.
  5. Therefore, Polanski did nothing wrong; the D.A. and the judge were just been out to get him, to put another notch on their prosecutorial gunbarrel. They were doubtless smug, anti-art, conservative Philistines.
  6. Which means that... Roman Polanski had every right to flee to France! Anybody else would have done the same thing.

It's a crazy, convoluted way of looking at such a simple crime of violence, control, and sexual brutality. But its very complexity tells us that his defenders are struggling to harmonize what they know would be degrading and violent behavior with what they know simply cannot be the case. They're not hypocrites; they're lying to themselves to prevent their heads from exploding.

Happily, it's simply not the case, in my mind, that America includes hundreds of thousands of people who believe that great artists are allowed to commit heinous crimes, as some vile version of "jus primae noctis;" instead, a huge number simply refuse to accept the possibilty that a person could be so sensitive in one case and such a brute in another.

Sadly, America contains tens of millions who believe some corollary of that last point.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 6, 2009, at the time of 6:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 5, 2009

Obamunism: See No Wisdom, Hear No Wisdom, Speak No Wisdom

Hatched by Dafydd

And in the meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Barack H. Obama (or one of his minions) has muzzled Gen. David Petraeus, who remains Commander of CENTCOM but appears unappetizing to the powers that be in the D. of C.:

General Petraeus’s aides now privately call him “Dave the Dull,” and say he has largely muzzled himself from the fierce public debate about the war to avoid antagonizing the White House, which does not want pressure from military superstars and is wary of the general’s ambitions in particular.

The sticky wicket between the general and B.O. appears to be very specific -- and so bizarre it's almost a knee-slapper; Barack Obama, or his acolytes, fear that David Petraeus may run for president in 2012:

“General Petraeus has not hinted to anyone that he is interested in political life, and in fact has said on many occasions that he’s not,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel and professor of military history at Ohio State University who was the executive officer to General Petraeus when he was the top American commander in Iraq.

“It is other people who are looking at his popularity and saying that he would be a good presidential candidate, and I think rightly that makes the administration a little suspicious of him.”

(One notes with rye amusement, if not sourdough, that Obama appears to be a lot more suspicious of David Petraeus than of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)

The prospect of a campaign clash of the titans -- or a titan and a midget -- terrifies campaign officials and governing aides alike (who are actually the same people). Petraeus has demonstrated success in the face of repeated attack, both physical (the enemy) and verbal (the president, when he was but a senator)... while Obama has only demonstrated incompetence in the face of reality.

Obama himself denies it (through a worshipper). But it truly fits: What could be more likely to elicit a freeze-out, even of our most important military commander, than the president's fear that he could be overshadowed by a mere soldier? How rude!

So until Obama either gets reelected or boots Petraeus out in an abundance of pre-emptive damage control, it's yet another Obamic six-pack of "Shut up," he explained.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 5, 2009, at the time of 5:31 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Baron Barone Gives the King His Drubbing

Hatched by Dafydd

Michael Barone has just given President Barack H. Obama the thumping of his administration so far -- in his own low-key, quiet, but factually stubborn way. The charge is fecklessness, and the substance of the charge is the president's sudden lack of interest in pursuing what he himself dubbed "a war of necessity" that was "fundamental to the defense of our people" just a month and a half ago:

"This is not a war of choice," Barack Obama told the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Aug. 17. "This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9-11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaida would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people."

But that was nearly seven weeks ago. Now, it appears that Obama is about to ignore the advice of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whom he installed as commander in Afghanistan in May, after relieving his predecessor ahead of schedule. McChrystal, who came up as a Special Forces officer, is an expert in counterinsurgency. Not surprisingly, in his Aug. 30 report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he recommended a course that seems certain to require a substantial number of additional troops.

Barone notes how little time Obama spent meeting with his military and security advisors anent the Afghanistan war; he only met once in September, the very time that Gen. Stanley McChrystal was compiling the final version of his report and sending it to the Commander in Chief.

When it landed on the Oval Office desk, Obama held a major, three-hour White House meeting with his senior advisors, including Slow Joe Biden. The president chose to hold the meeting when Gen. McChrystal was scheduled to be out of the country; and of course, McChrystal was not invited to confuse matters by participating in the discussion in person, where he could make sure he was heard, but only by easily ignored "videolink." (I wonder how many times senior White House officials hit the Mute button?)

Later, these wise old men (and, one presumes, two wise old woman: nagging Secretary of State Hillary "Can We Tawk?" Clinton and shrill Secretary of Homeland Security "Dammit" Janet Napolitano) concluded that McChrystals assumptions were just next door to being "myths," which the Obamic advisors "exposed to the light of day"... including the myth that "the return to power of the Taliban would automatically mean a new sanctuary for al-Qaida," as the Washington Post put it.

That WaPo article gives us a stunning insight into BarackThink:

Senior White House officials asked some of the sharpest questions, according to participants and others who have been briefed on the meeting, while the uniformed military, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, did not take issue with McChrystal's assessment.

According to White House officials involved in the meeting, Vice President Biden offered some of the more pointed challenges to McChrystal, who attended the session by video link from Kabul. One official said Biden played the role of "skeptic in chief," while other top officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, were muted in their comments.

Notice what's missing? Where is a single White-House staffer who supports McChrystal's recommendations -- as evidently Gen. Petraeus and other "uniformed military" do -- and is willing to argue for them?

We appear to have an appeasement of White House officials -- La-Z-Boy leaders who are highly skeptical, led by Joe "Skeptic in Chief" Biden (with his vast military experience) -- arrayed against a gaggle of apathetic, close-mouthed chair-warmers with window seats, led by Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham. But nobody to speak for the Afghanistan campaign except some guy on closed-circuit TV who can't even get a table at the Willard Room without a closely reasoned debate with the maître d'.

Who are you going to believe anyway? Vice President of the Whole United States Joe "Divide We Stand" Biden, who was so prescient on the futility and failure of the counterinsurgency "surge" strategy of the previous regime? Or Stanley McChyrstal, David Petraeus, and your own lyin' eyes?

At the end of the WaPo article, several administration officials -- speaking anonymously -- blamed everything on George W. Bush. I actually found this very surprising; after all, they're usually so quick to claim credit by name while they blame everything on Bush.

Let's give the last word to Michael Barone:

It's not clear yet that the "senior advisers" who were mocking McChrystal's assumptions will prevail. In his 25 minutes on Air Force One, McChrystal may have used his knowledge and experience to convince Obama that his judgment was better than that of the armchair generals that the president had listened to for three hours the day before. Maybe Obama will choose to wage his "war of necessity" in the way the general he selected believes is necessary for us to succeed.

But I wouldn't bet heavily on it -- not any more, in fact, than I would have bet on Chicago's chances of hosting the 2016 Olympic games.

To liberals, and especially to this president, reality is infintely malleable if you but close your eyes and wish really hard. I think Barack Obama truly believes that you don't have to "navigate from where you are," as McChrystal said; you can simply start from "where you wish to be" instead. All you must do is forcefully declare that that's where you're starting from, and the world will rearrange itself to make it so.

Obama is going to reject Gen. McChrystal's report -- though likely he'll announce that he's accepting it, while he issues orders that unambiguously countermand its every particular. Thus will he have the best of both cakes... until the power falls upon us like an avalanche.

Close-roasted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 5, 2009, at the time of 2:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Roman Polanski's Defenders

Hatched by Movie Badger

Lately I've been obsessively reading about people's reactions to Roman Polanski.

Not about Polanski himself; I could never understand how someone could say, "I think I'll rape a child now." But I also know that as a decent human being, I'll never understand it, so it's not worthwhile to try.* I've known for a long time that evil people will do evil things, and I don't consider that interesting so much as a sad fact of reality that I'm powerless to change. I try not to think too much about such things because, well, I'm powerless to change them and they make me sad.

But what I am interested in are his apologists. Now, raping a child is one of the least defensible things imaginable, so it's fascinating to see the tortured rationalizations people will come up with to defend it. Of course any possible defense is trumped by pointing out that he raped a child, and is so obviously trumped by this that it's baffling to see people offering defenses at all:

  • "The judge was going to give him a harsher sentence than he originally expected." It still would have been far too lenient for a child rapist.
  • "But his wife was murdered and his mother died in the Holocaust." So you're saying anyone who's gone through tragedy gets free license to rape children?
  • "That was 30 years ago." So child rape is okay as long as the pedophile rapist can evade justice long enough?
  • "He's been punished enough." So 30 years of living like a king in Europe is a reasonable punishment for raping a child?
  • "The victim wants to move on with her life." I'm sure she does, after all the horrific psychological effects of being raped as a child. Are you saying that makes raping a child okay?

Of course all his defenders are carefully tip-toeing to avoid saying the obvious reason why they're defending him: They don't believe that either laws or standards of human decency should apply to the rich and famous. Do you really think they'd be trotting out these pathetic excuses if Roman Polanski was, say, a Catholic priest instead of an Academy Award winning director?

Scumbags like Whoopi Goldberg, Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, and Alexander Payne see themselves as a modern aristocracy, and believe that laws and morality are for the little people. When a feudal lord abuses a serf/peasant/slave, it might be seen as mildly distasteful, but certainly not worth making a big deal out of. I mean, it's not like the child he raped was someone important.

And that's the essence of their point of view. Normal humans aren't worth anything. Only the glitterati matter. Keep that in mind if you ever consider giving any of these terrible people** any of your money.

On the bright side, there aren't a whole lot of names on that list. There are few that I recognize, and even fewer that I respect. (Or more accurately, there are zero that I respect, since I can't respect anyone who condones child-rape. But there aren't a whole lot I respected before finding out that they're pedophile-apologists.) Certainly a sense of entitlement is rampant among celebrities. But at least it's nice to know that for the overwhelming majority, it doesn't extend to believing it's okay for celebrities to rape children.

* I know there are some decent people who are capable of understanding what makes monsters tick. I'm glad those people exist so they can advance the sciences of abnormal psychology and law enforcement. But I'm not one of them.

** If anyone knows of a more updated list, please link to it.

Hatched by Movie Badger on this day, October 5, 2009, at the time of 12:07 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 3, 2009

Obamic Options 001

Hatched by Dafydd

The first in a sporatic but unbounded series of questions about how our current president might respond to sundry stimuli, whether plausible or peculiar.

Note that I don't ask these questions to elicit an attack on Barack H. Obama but rather to probe the possibilities -- what might he actually do in each situation, given various constraints?

  1. Obama is not suicidal;
  2. He may not be particularly bright, but he's certainly not mentally retarded;
  3. He is not a Twelver;
  4. He is not a James Bond villain;
  5. He is not a fatalist;
  6. He believes he is a good guy doing right for the world, if not this particular country;
  7. He has several aides who are very knowledgeable and skillful in their fields who can make suggestions or help with strategic planning.

Today's question 001:

Suppose Iran has a working nuclear bomb in the near future (less than five years from now). Suppose that against all sanity, it uses the bomb against Israel in a way that clearly points back to Iran. Suppose Israel launches a sustained retaliatory air attack on Iran (not using nuclear weapons) which continues for many days.

What would Obama do and why?

  1. Join Israel's reprisal attacks, or at least aid them;
  2. Remain neutral, neither helping nor hindering Israel;
  3. Condemn Israel's reprisals, but make no move to stop them physically;
  4. Attempt to militarily interdict or even shoot down Israeli jets crossing Iraq to attack Iran;
  5. Some other response (specify).

Today's corollary 001a:

The same scenario as above, except Iran does a much better job disguising its own complicity in the nuclear attack on Israel; we all believe that Iran did it, but they managed to wipe off all the fingerprints.

What would Obama do and why? Does it make a difference that we can't prove Iran's guilt in an international tribunal?

For both questions, please be as realistic as possible, taking into account our current capabilities and how Congress, the American people, and the rest of the world might respond, and how that could affect how President Obama responds.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 3, 2009, at the time of 11:06 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Infamous Dave's

Hatched by Dafydd

Just a question: Now that David Letterman has admitted to sleeping with multiple women who work for him -- will any feminist organization rise to denounce him as a serial sexual harasser?

Or does his steadfast support for abortion rights and a raft of left-liberal policy positions give him absolute moral immunity from such charges?

After the wild attacks in 2006 on any Republican who dared even smile at a staffer, consistent, non-hypocritical minds want to know.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 3, 2009, at the time of 11:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 2, 2009

Join the Senate and Don't See the World

Hatched by Dafydd

From the very day (June 28th, 2009) that José Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales was impeached and removed from office by the Honduran supreme court and arrested by the military -- the organization tasked with removing presidents under the Honduran constitution -- the Barack H. Obama administration cast their lot with the so-called "Bolivarist." Zelaya was impeached, arrested for treason, and exiled to Costa Rica.

Like many who claim the appellation "Bolivarist," Zelaya is actually a Chavezista. Far from being a liberator from foreign domination, like Simón Bolívar, Zelaya is a pure fascist, just like his old pal (and Obama's), Oogo Chavez. (Chavez gave Obama a copy of his own book as a present; I wonder if the One is still poring over it, highlighting relevant passages and adding triple exclamation points?)

The Obamatons, aided and abetted by the congressional Democrats, insist that Zelaya was removed by a coup d'état, which is a military takeover of the civilian government; as such, they have cut off all sorts of financial aid and have leaned heavily on de-facto President Roberto Micheletti to resign and somehow reinstate the would-be dictator-for-life Zelaya. This would allow Z-Mel to continue his quest to become the Oogo of Honduras, regardless of any crybaby objections by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Honduras government.

(Micheletti is a civilian and happens to be of the same political party of Zelaya himself. Some coup! Perhaps the Honduran "coup-mongers" need to reread Edward Luttwak's operations manual on the subject.)

But this is all prologue for a different point. Anybody who travels to Honduras and honestly investigates the current situation will see that there is no military dictatorship, hence no "coup d'état." Honduras has an elected civilian government, a functioning supreme court, and it's headed for presidential elections next month. One would think that before our own Congress acts to overturn this putative "coup," they would at least send a few people there to check things out.

One would be wrong. I don't know of any congressional delegation that has journeyed to that nation to check on the claims made by Obama or his Number Two, Hillary Clinton. But of course, if a senator is unwilling even to read a bill prior to voting for it, it's ridiculous to expect him actually to look at on-site evidence before making up his mind about events in a foreign country.

But in fact, a very good senator, Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%), wants to do just that: fly down to Honduras with three Republican representatives -- Doug Lamborn (CO, 100%), Peter Roskam (IL, 96%), and Aaron Schock (IL, not yet rated) -- on a fact-finding tour.

DeMint is a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which has oversight over President Obama's foreign policy... including, of course, the president's attempt to withhold funding to Honduras -- in the hope, one can only presume, that Honduras will use its military to overturn its entire civilian government. (Say, isn't that just what the One accused Honduras of doing in the first place?) Since the committee might be voting on the issue, it makes some prima facie sense for members of that committee to take a look-see for themselves.

But the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee is none other than our ancient enemy, Sen. JFK (D-MA, 95%); Kerry is angry at DeMint for holding up confirmation hearings on a couple of Obamic appointees; DeMint wants an impartial investigation of the Honduras brouhaha before he'll cooperate on confirmation hearings -- a time-honored position most recently employed by, let's see if I can recall, by the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate during the Bush administration. I seem to recall quite a lot of blocked appointments; evidently, it's not such an outre maneuver, as far as Democrats should be concerned.

But it seems to have infuriated Sen. Kerry, for he canceled all funding of DeMint's trip and even ordered our armed forces not to fly DeMint to Honduras:

A simmering feud over U.S. policy toward Latin America burst into the open Thursday when Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) tried to prevent a fact-finding trip to Honduras by a Republican senator who is blocking two important diplomatic appointments....

As head of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry can withhold committee funds for travel and deny permission for the use of military aircraft. But he had never before used that power to block another senator's travel, his aides said.

Kerry makes no bones that he's abusing his authority in order to extort DeMint into lifting his hold:

"These bullying tactics by the Obama administration and Senator Kerry must stop, and we must be allowed to get to the truth in Honduras," DeMint said in a statement. His spokesman, Wesley Denton, called Kerry's action "unprecedented."

Kerry fired back in a news release: "Senator DeMint's statement wins an A for 'audacity.' Thanks to his intransigence, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee can't even hold hearings on our policy in Central and South America."

The statement, issued by Kerry's spokesman, Frederick Jones, added that when DeMint allows a vote on the appointment of the two diplomats, "the Committee will approve his travel to Honduras."

Kerry did not explain how blocking two executive appointments would prevent his committee from "hold[ing] hearings on our policy in Central and South America." It would seem the senior senator from Massachusetts could hold hearings anytime he chose.

Perhaps what JFK really means is that DeMint's refusal to rubber-stamp the Obamacle's oracular decree (that the legal impeachment of a president is the same thing as a coup d'état) threatens to force the committee actually to examine the issue, when all they really want to do is applaud the president and MoveOn.

This is turning into a huge and unexpectedly rancorous argument:

The administration, along with all other governments in the hemisphere, branded the action a "coup." It also cut off millions of dollars in aid and suspended the U.S. visas of Honduran officials....

DeMint and a handful of other conservative Republicans have said Zelaya's removal was legal because he had violated a constitutional ban by trying to extend his presidential term. They have protested that the Obama administration is supporting a politician with close ties to Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez.

By "a handful of other conservative Republicans," the Post means to include, without note, a certain fellow named Miguel Estrada. Estrada was nominated by President George W. Bush to the D.C. Circuit Court -- his appointment was blocked by Democrats, who didn't want a conservative Hispanic on that court, whence he might rise to become the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court; thus he never got an up-or-down vote -- say, there seems to be a lot of that going around!

Prior to his nomination, Miguel Estrada was an Assistant to the Solicitor General during the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is also a Honduran immigrant, born in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

He published an excellent legal analysis of Zelaya's removal in the Los Angeles Times, of all places; we covered it, of course; see "The Curious Case of Tegucigalpa's Traveling Traitor," linked below. (The "traveling traitor" in question is Zelaya, not Estrada.) Estrada concluded:

As noted, Article 239 states clearly that one who behaves as Zelaya did in attempting to change presidential succession ceases immediately to be president. If there were any doubt on that score, the Congress removed it by convening immediately after Zelaya's arrest, condemning his illegal conduct and overwhelmingly voting (122 to 6) to remove him from office. The Congress is led by Zelaya's own Liberal Party (although it is true that Zelaya and his party have grown apart as he has moved left). Because Zelaya's vice president had earlier quit to run in the November elections, the next person in the line of succession was Micheletti, the Liberal leader of Congress. He was named to complete the remaining months of Zelaya's term.

It cannot be right to call this a "coup." Micheletti was lawfully made president by the country's elected Congress. The president is a civilian. The Honduran Congress and courts continue to function as before. The armed forces are under civilian control. The elections scheduled for November are still scheduled for November. Indeed, after reviewing the Constitution and consulting with the Supreme Court, the Congress and the electoral tribunal, respected Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga recently stated that the only possible conclusion is that Zelaya had lawfully been ousted under Article 239 before he was arrested, and that democracy in Honduras continues fully to operate in accordance with law. All Honduran bishops joined Rodriguez in this pronouncement.

But Miguel Estrada is just part of that rag-tag gaggle of conservative carpers against hopey-changitude.

Finally, Jim DeMint appealed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 80%); McConnell pulled some strings and got DeMint his Air Force plane. Thus was the Kerry gambit thwarted.

But this begs the question: What the heck is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee doing, preventing a member from traveling to a political hot spot on a fact-finding mission, about an issue that is certain to come up before the committee, if it's not there already?

Remember this arrogant attempt by John Kerry well: When minority members of the United States Senate are prevented from traveling to see the world -- when seeing the world might turn them against the policy of the majority -- that's just part of the "hope and change" and the "new era" of "civility" and "post-partisanship" that President Obama has promised us.

Seeing as it's not unlikely that the Democrats will find themselves in the minority in either 2011 or 2013, it's good to bear in mind the new powers that the GOP may soon enjoy.

Here are the earlier chapters of this continuing soap opera:

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 2, 2009, at the time of 6:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Texas State Judge Overturns Texas State Constitution

Hatched by Dafydd

Perhaps one of the legal beagles in the 'sphere can explain this to me, for I am only an egg in legal matters:

A Dallas judge ruled Thursday that Texas' ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional as she cleared the way for two gay men to divorce, the Dallas Morning News reported.

State District Judge Tena Callahan said the state’s bans on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law....

Attorney General Greg Abbott released a statement saying that he will appeal the ruling.

“The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman. Today's ruling purports to strike down that constitutional definition -- despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 percent of Texas voters,” he said.

Can Texas state judges strike down elements of the Texas state constitution on grounds that the constituiton is unconstitutional? I'm pretty sure that state judges in California cannot, but perhaps I'm mistaken even in that.

I was under the (perhaps naive) apprehension that state judges can strike down statutes for violating provisions of the state constitution; and of course a federal judge can strike down both a state statute and parts of a state constitution for violating the United States Constitution -- for example, a federal judge could strike down a clause of a state constitution, enacted by referendum (even by 75% of the voters), that restricted voting to whites.

But I didn't think state judges could strike down the state constitution, any more than a federal judge can simply rule a clause of the U.S. Constitution "unconstitutional." If a later clause contradicts an earlier one, then I have always assumed that the latter triumphs -- the most obvious case being the 12th Amendment in 1804, which directly contradicted parts of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, dealing with how we elect a president.

I have always been taught in school that the 12 Amendment changed the Constitution; but under the reasoning of State District Judge Tena Callahan, any federal judge could simply have ruled the 12th Amendment unconstitutional -- because it contradicted the section it was designed to alter! Similarly, any federal judge could have struck down the 13th Amendment (ending slavery), the 14th Amendment (due process and equal protection for all races), the 16th Amendment (income tax -- all right, maybe judges can kill off that one), or even the 21st Amendment repealing the 18th Amendment, thus reinstating alcohol prohibition across the land.

Clearly then, it seems to me, if federal judges cannot rule the U.S. Constitution unconstitutional, then state judges cannot rule the state constitution unconstitutional. Or am I simply ignorant of the niceties of law?

I suppose Callahan would argue that the state constitution violates the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. But does a state judge have jurisdiction to consider that question? If so, then couldn't a state judge overrule a federal judge who may have already decided the opposite way? I thought the whole purpose of jurisdictional rules was to prevent such collisions in the first place.

And there is another point worth considering: The voters of Texas enacted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage; but if a single liberal state judge can simply wave her hands and consign that vote to the dustbin of history, then Texas no longer as a "republican form of government"... which, by the way, appears -- at least to my non-law-schooled eyes -- to be guaranteed to each state by Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution.

At the very least, a "republican form of government" must ultimately be ordained and established by "we the people," not by judges; a judge should never be allowed to throw out pieces of her own constitution to suit her political ideology. That must be what is guaranteed by Article IV, section 4, for it to have any meaning or purpose whatsoever.

Unless some state judge somewhere has overturned it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 2, 2009, at the time of 12:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► October 1, 2009

The Shape of Things to Come?

Hatched by Dafydd

In the absence of a discernable trajectory of purpose, a person's actions may seem random, unpredictable, and inexplicable. Why did he do that? Why not this? What's he going to do next? We haven't a clue.

But sometimes, in a great flash, you finally see the pattern; and all previous actions make sense. You can not only explain what he's done in the past, you can predict what he'll do in the future. This is, of course, why finding the appropriate pattern is so important: knowing what's to come.

Of course, more than one pattern can be constructed to "explain" a person's actions; it's tempting just to grab at the first pattern you invent... then start shoehorning every previous action into the pattern you've picked, willy nilly, no matter how badly it fits. After a while, the pattern begins to determine which facts you can see -- and which become invisible to you. We see this pattern of "pattern-worship" among true believers in any ideology.

So to avoid that trap, it's best to make numerous specific predictions and use them to test, and when necessary, correct our pattern-hypothesis. The predictions must be:

  • Specific: This rather than that.
  • Testable: This and that lie within our power to check, both in theory and in practice.
  • Dispositive: If that happens instead of this, then our pattern-hypothesis is wrong.

So let's test our newfound prediction regimen by observing our president, Barack H. Obama, at work -- and trying to find a pattern-hypothesis that explains his actions to date and predicts what he'll do next. First, let's grab a set of facts that beg for an explanation:

  • Obama is elected on a promise to fix the economy with a stimulus package, but then he backloads all the spending.
  • He tries every possible way to raise taxes during a serious recession.
  • He sells his bank take-over by saying they'll pay back all the bailout money with interest, then rejects their money when they try.
  • He pushes a health-care "reform" plan that will add immeasurably to the deficit, will force millions out of private insurance and onto a public plan, and even after all that, will only insure a small fraction of those previous uninsured (the ostensible reason for ObamaCare in the first place).
  • He insists that the plan must be bipartisan, then he leaves it up to the utterly partisan Congress to write it.
  • He insists all through the campaign that we're "fighting the wrong war," so we should pull troops out of Iraq and send them to Afghanistan, "the war we should be fighting;" but once in power, he sabotages the Afghanistan war effort.
  • He supports "balance of power" defense strategies such as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), but he opposes purely defensive strategies for protecting us from ballistic missile attack.
  • He announces he wants to be the president who finally resolves the Israeli-Palestinian "crisis," then turns America into a mindless advocate for the latter against the former.
  • He criticizes President George W. Bush for not engaging in tough negotiations with Iran, then he cedes all negotiating points to the Iranians without asking anything in return.
  • He accuses Bush of unilateralism; then Obama himself insults, belittles, ignores, betrays, and arrogantly commands our allies -- while cajoling, jollying, bribing, and appeasing our enemies.
  • He lectures us on energy conservation, implying we haven't enough to live the American lifestyle; but he also terminates any method of generating energy that actually works (nuclear, hydroelectric, or just drilling in ANWR, the Gulf of Mexico, and so forth), while promoting numerous goofy methods (solar, geothermal, biomass) that could not possibly generate enough energy to make a difference.

All right, we can probably think of more such weird, seemingly mad policies of the Obama administration; but I think this is enough of a fact base to study.

Taken independently, none of these policies seems to make any sense; taken together but without finding an overarching pattern, they seem inconsistent and contradictory: Why rush to pass a stimulus package but slow-walk the spending? Why raise taxes to lower the deficit but push health-care reform that will spend all the new taxes and more? Why push for negotiations with Iran and abandon Afghanistan, which borders Iran and can put pressure on them during the negotiations?

So let's take our first cut at pattern matching:

Hypothetical Pattern 1 -- Obama is secretly a radical Moslem, and he wants to destroy America from within to pave the way for a sharia-state.

Now it's true that this pattern-hypothesis could explain some of the facts:

  • His actions on the economy are designed to destroy it, so an Islamic revolution can arise from the ashes.
  • He kow-tows to Iran because he's secretly working for them. Same with al-Qaeda and the other Sunni terrorist groups.
  • He sabotages the Afghanistan war because he's on the Taliban's side.
  • He hates Israel because Islam considers Jews the original heretics.

But for the other facts, we discover ourselves banging square pegs into round holes:

  • He pushes ObamaCare because he wants lots of Christians to die, so that the 1% of the country that are Moslem will eventually outnumber them... in about three hundred years.
  • He doesn't want to drill for oil in the United States because he wants to send more money to support Moslem countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran... all but the last of which oppose and fight against jihadism.
  • He opposes missile defense against possible Russian missiles because if we have it, we might sell it to Israel, and then they can defend against a Iranian attack. Oh, please.

When we find ourselves tap dancing like this, it's a sure sign that we've picked the wrong pattern-hypothesis. So let's drop Pattern 1 and try a new one:

Hypothetical Pattern 2 -- Obama has always hated individualism, believing in the greatest good for the greatest number; he has always hated federalism, because states used that to justify segregation; he wants all power vested in the highest level of national government and all governance from the top down (with him at the top).

Well, this pattern might explain the economic and health-care policies, but how does it explain diminishing American power vis-a-vis the international political and military environment?

Another failed hypothesis-pattern; so try this:

Hypothetical Pattern 2.5 -- Obama has always hated individualism, believing in the greatest good for the greatest number; he has always hated federalism, because states used that to justify segregation; and he has always hated nationalism, because he believes that's what causes all the wars in the world. He wants all power vested in the highest level of international government and all governance from the top down (with him at the top).

This pattern-hypothesis seems to fit all the facts pretty well:

  • Obama's stimulus backloads spending because he's using the money as both carrot and stick to control state and local governments and private companies and individuals.
  • He's raising taxes because he wants to wrench the United States onto the EurAsian economic model, thus to diminish the control individuals and private corporations have over the fruits of their own labor (they might spend it selfishly, while the national government and international law will take from those who have too much and spread it around to those who need it.
  • He wants banks and other corporations to remain in debt to the government because that gives him an additional lever of control over them.
  • He's trying to bring American health care "up to" the standard of the rest of the world (centralization, nationalization, single-payer). And he's staying "hands off" at the moment not because he doesn't care what's in the bill, but because he expects to be the final arbiter of the final version of the bill, the last link in the great chain of power.
  • He sabotages Afghanistan, kills missile defense, and favors diplomacy over defense at every turn because he wants to handcuff America's "unilateral" military power. That way, all use of force could instead be approved and directed by an international agency -- either the United Nations or an actual world government that succeeds it.
  • He appeases our enemies because that's how you bring them into the International Coalition of Everyone; he's dismissive of our allies because they have rejected Obamunism and won't support him as the natural leader of the entire Earth.
  • And of course he opposes any policy leading to energy independence for the United States because his radical internationalism demands that we become even more energy dependent on foreign nations.

All right, Pattern 2.5 seems pretty close; so let's make a few predictions -- specific, testable, dispositive -- about what the Obamacle would do in the future, if Pattern 2.5 is the correct structure explaining his otherwise incomprehensible maze of policies:

  1. He would show a curious insistance on socialist policies in, e.g., heath-care "reform" that he isn't even championing yet: Rather than accept anything so long as he "gets a bill," as most are predicting, he will push hard to reinsert the most important elements of extreme ObamaCare back into the bill using reconcilliation.

    In particular, he would insist upon the mandate, coverage of illegals -- either directly or via a general alien amnesty -- and federal standards of what coverage "approved" insurance plans must include; for without those, reform doesn't serve his fundamental purpose of Europeanizing American health care.

  2. He would consolodate more power in the federal government at the expense of the state and local governments; he could do this by conditioning revenue sharing and stimulus spending to states and locals ceding traditional powers to the feds.
  3. He would certainly want to sign more treaties, and reinterpret existing treaties, to cede ever more sovereign American power to international bodies, particularly the United Nations.
  4. He would push for an international (non-state) currency to become the standard unit of international trade -- something like the Euro, but with a less specifically European flavor -- rather than the United States dollar. Call it the Espero, just for purposes of discussion.
  5. He would pressure the Democratic Congress to make the Espero legal tender throughout the United States; the idea would be to eventually phase out dollars entirely, just as the Euro was expected to push out local European currencies.
  6. He would press Congress to remove all restrictions on and exceptions to our participation in the International Court of Justice and other international courts; he would also reinterpret codicils of exemption out of existence, or just issue an Executive Order for all federal agencies to cooperate with international courts as if we had ratified those treaties unconditionally (even though we didn't).
  7. He would take steps to be seen more and more as the natural successor to United Nations Secretary General Nanki-Poo. In particular, Obama would pay all "back dues" (without demanding any structural or ethical changes at all from the U.N.); he would chair as many international conferences as possible; and he would butter-up and stroke all the different factions within that body -- the geographical blocs and the U.N. agencies, such as UNESCO, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Bank, and so forth.

These are all specific enough to be tested; and if the opportunities arise, and Obama goes the opposite way from these predictions, then I think it's reasonable to reject Pattern 2.5 as a workable framework for the various policies we lump together as "Obamunism".

But as chances come along, every time Barack Obama does take the path of our pattern-hypothesis, the more confidence we should have that our theoretical pattern is a valid tool of prediction.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 1, 2009, at the time of 6:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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