Date ►►► May 30, 2010
Deepest Horizon of Suspicion
Would President Barack H. Obama be moving more swiftly to put the full weight of the federal emergency system behind stopping and cleaning up the Gulf oil spill -- if the region affected comprised liberal Democratic states? Could the president of the United States be that cold-blooded and vindictive against one particular part of the country, a region he particularly detests because of long-past racism and current conservative leanings?
As usual with liberals, when we allow our thoughts to pull us where the evidence seems to lead, we sound paranoid; we back away, embarassed at even thinking such a thing. Who could imagine such a vicious plot... it must just be a curious concatenation of coincidence.
Liberals routinely rely upon that natural tendency, hatching conspiracies so bizarre and brazen that nobody would ever believe them, from attempts to nationalize much of the Amerian economy to wild orgies with White House interns in the Oval Office (rather, the little room just off the Oval Office). Even Republicans like Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt scoff at the "conspiratorial" ideas of "lunatics":
- That Obamunism might include deliberately wrecking our capitalist economy with unsustainable debt, just to pave the way for a liberal-fascist, public-private "partnership," à la Venezuela or Japan;
- That ultra-liberals might welcome a flood of illegals into the country, reasoning that once they're mass-naturalized in a bona-fide amnesty (not like the legitimate path to citizenship proposed by George W. Bush and John McCain), they'll vote reliably Democratic;
- Or that the American Left actually wants to see America lose in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be repeatedly humiliated by Iran, Russia, and China, and to be driven away from our allies in South Korea, Europe, and of course Israel, all the better to "humble" us and drive us, out of desperation, towards supporting greater internationalism and the leftist dream of one-world government.
But at some point, we must ask the fundamental question: Can all the damage inflicted upon our country from the left side of the aisle, over the past century or more, be attributed to mere incompetence? Are the relentless heavy shoves all in the same direction just coincidence piled upon happenstance wrapped with synchronicity? Or at some deeper level, does the Left -- and today, the people surrounding the president or even the Man himself -- intend the consequences they consistently provoke?
I once spent an entire year keeping track of the number of times a restaurant bill was added incorrectly (this was in the days before all such bills were computerized). During that year, I received fourteen misadded checks; thirteen of them were mistaken in favor of the restaurant, only one in my favor.
It's tempting (easier, less truculent, not as scary) to suggest that such improper arithmetic is just a silly error; but if so, then shouldn't the error be in the customer's favor roughly half the time? When the errors so overwhelmingly favor the restraurant, the "null hypothesis" is effectively disproven. At that point, the most reasonable conclusion is that the misadditions are deliberate, not random.
Similarly with the incessant "missteps" and "incomprehensible errors" and "foolish mistakes" in domestic and international policy from the most liberal (or leftist) administrations: When nearly all, virtually without exception, trend in the same direction -- towards more government control at higher and higher levels of organization, cutting against individual liberty and local control -- then it's hard not to conclude that pattern matches the "Misadded Restauant Check" fallacy; and that the curiously coincidental errors are not such coincidences after all.
There are five American Gulf states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The first four voted against Barack Obama by a whopping average of 58-42; now Florida is clearly trending back Republican after its brief flirtation with radical "hope and change," restoring the solid conservative, Republican South.
And this very day, Obama is enjoying another vacation, his second (!) since the BP spill began just 41 days ago. Yet he still hasn't ordered the most obvious responses, from directing the Army "Corpse" of Engineers to help Louisiana build barrier sand berms, to using fire booms to burn off the oil, to sending in oil tankers to try to scoop up the 20.7 million to 32.7 million gallons of oil that have erupted into the Gulf so far (the Exxon Valdez spill was a paltry 10.8 million gallons), to at least considering using powerful explosives to plug the well. (At least the president, never shy of bragging about the wonders he's going to perform, hasn't even mentioned the possibility.)
Is Obama merely a fool, or is he willfully dragging his feet because the primary victims of the disaster are by and large anti-Obama Republicans? Is this his way of punishing them for their apostasy against the One We Were Supposed to Have Been Waiting For?
Democrats might not like the implications of that question, but I say it demands an answer.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► May 28, 2010
Hope and Change From India's Left
In yet another in a long string of bestial attacks in India, "Maoists" derailed a passenger train in West Bengal, headed for Bombay (I refuse to call it "Mombai"), and sent it hurling into a head-on collision with a freight train. At least 71 innocents were slain with another 140 injured (as usual, some of the latter will become the former, changing these figures somewhat):
The attack on the Mumbai-bound train, after rebel fighters last week blew up a bus carrying civilians and police officers, underscores the resilience of the Maoists.
From its inception as an independent democracy, India has experienced different regional rebellions, some now quieted, others persisting, like those in Kashmir and in the country’s northeast.
But the Maoist threat, once taken lightly, has transformed into a very different logistical challenge, with the Maoists spread across several states and police jurisdictions. This has made coordinating a response much more complicated. Maoists have derailed trains, bombed bridges and schools, blocked roads with felled trees, sabotaged pipelines, and raided security patrols, only to melt back into the forest before reinforcements arrive.
Is it just my suspicious nature, or does this read as if reporter Jim Yardley is almost cheering them on?
Note that in every case above, the victims are not specific military, security, or government officials, but always comprise mostly random civilians. The brutality is sickening; what next -- will the Maoists begin eating their victims, and chucking virgins into active volcanos to appease the evil spirits?
Now I wonder whether former interim Communications Director (and wife of President Barack H. Obama's personal attorney) Anita Dunn still considers Mao Tse-Tung one of her two "favorite political philosophers?" *
"By their fruits ye shall know them."
This is the intellectual Left; this is the "action directe" they admire and applaud. This is who runs our country now.
Sure makes me feel proud to be an American.
* In Dunn's Wikipedia page, the notes include a long passage from Dunn's speech in which she declared her favorites; it purports to be a transcript, and from what I can glean, it appears accurate; but there is no link, so buyer beware.
Here is the allegedly more complete quotation from Dunn [I added the paragraphing]:
The third lesson and tip actually comes from two of my favorite political philosophers: Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa -- not often coupled with each other, but the two people I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point which is: you're going to make choices; you're going to challenge; you're going to say why not; you're going to figure out how to do things that have never been done before. But here's the deal: These are your choices, they are no one else's.
In 1947, when Mao Zedong was being challenged within his own party on his plan to basically take China over. Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army, they had the air force, they had everything on their side. And people said, "How can you win? How can you do this? How can you do this, against all of the odds against you?" And Mao Zedong said, you know, "You fight your war, and I'll fight mine."
And think about that for a second. You don't have to accept the definition of how to do things and you don't have to follow other peoples choices and paths. Ok? It is about your choices and your path. You fight your own war, you lay out your own path, you figure out what's right for you. You don't let external definition define how good you are internally, you fight your war, you let them fight theirs. Everybody has their own path.
Dunn claims her other favorite political philosopher was Mother Teresa, but she did not enthusiastically recite an anecdote about any of the beatified nun's military campaigns.
Date ►►► May 26, 2010
Inglorious Results of an Overspent Youth
Michael Barone just published a fascinating column; he argues that something is happening that has never happened before in Western civ. For the very first time, a populist, small-c conservative uprising is focused not on taxes (that's fairly common), but rather on the deeper and more profound cause of socialist woe, government spending itself:
In the past rebellions against fiscal policy have concentrated on taxes rather than spending. In the 1970s, when inflation was pushing voters into higher tax brackets, tax revolts broke out in California and spread east. Ronald Reagan's tax cuts were popular, but spending cuts did not follow. Bill Clinton's tax increases led to the Republican takeover and to tax cuts at both the federal and state levels but spending boomed under George W. Bush.
The rebellion against the fiscal policies of the Obama Democrats, in contrast, is concentrated on spending. The Tea Party movement began with Rick Santelli's rant in February 2009, long before the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts in January 2011.
A garden-variety tax revolt is more immediately gratifying to the people, forthey pay less tax immediately; and sometimes it can function as a proxy for reducing government spending, but only when accompanied by a ban or limitation on deficit spending, as with a state. Even then, however,
lawbreakers lawmakers can shield the true culprit by simply ignoring the law; this is what is happening in California, which mandates a balanced budget -- but is currently about $20 billion in the red for this year alone, with no prospect of things looking up in the near future.
But in the country as a whole, Barone sees a growing mass movement -- which I dubbed a "popular front" in a previous post, What Makes Lefty Run? For the first time, we see in the Tea Parties (and associates, hangers-on, groupies, and fellow travelers) a genuine popular front against bread and circuses:
What we are seeing is a spontaneous rush of previously inactive citizens into political activity, a movement symbolized but not limited to the Tea Party movement, in response to the vast increases in federal spending that began with the Troubled Asset Relief Program legislation in fall 2008 and accelerated with the Obama Democrats' stimulus package, budget and health care bills.
The Tea Party folk are focusing on something real. Federal spending is rising from about 21 percent to about 25 percent of gross domestic product -- a huge increase in historic terms -- and the national debt is on a trajectory to double as a percentage of GDP within a decade. That is a bigger increase than anything since World War II.
Now the political scientists' maxim seems out of date. The Democrat who won the Pennsylvania 12th Congressional District special election opposed the Democrats' health care law and cap-and-trade bills. The Tea Party-loving Republican who won the Senate nomination in Kentucky jumped out to a big lead. The defeat of the three appropriators, who among them have served 76 years in Congress (and whose fathers served another 42), is the canary that stopped singing in the coal mine.
Barone goes on to question whether the Republican Party will be bold enough to seize upon this popular front, but that's a side issue. The front itself represents the maturation of the American (perhaps world) polity itself away from the nanny-state and towards greater reliance upon state, local, family, and oneself. More and more, people see the government not as a comforting, protective mother but as a smothering, clutching, giant kraken, entwining its squirming, grasping, sucker-clutching tentacles into everybody's back pocket.
Our greatest fiscal problem has always been overspending, not whether that spending is "paid for" by taxation or run up on the national credit card. The most extreme examples of socialism do not limit themselves to high taxes; they invariably supplant private spending with public spending and diminish private wages to greatly expand the public payroll, with the concomitent increase in government control. The intent is to destroy or hobble all personal and local institutions of society, forcing citizens to rely more heavily upon the national State -- or even transnational bodies, from the Communist Party to the European Union.
(President Barack H. Obama is currently pushing both of these policies as well, demonstrating that he does indeed have the socialist, specifically "liberal fascist," impulse himself -- joining Carter, Nixon, Johnson, F. Roosevelt, Wilson, and T. Roosevelt in the ranks of liberal-fascist presidents of the United States.)
The farther removed the institution is from the individual, the weaker the individual becomes; when all necessities can only be obtained from the national or international government, that constitutes pure socialism, which invariably metastasizes into totalitarianism, whose motto is "because we can!"
But perhaps counterintuitively, the lever that moves the meter from liberty to tyranny is always spending, not taxes. Whether the overspending State taxes or borrows, the result is the same: Power to the State, powerlessness to the people.
We certainly haven't gone as far as totalitarianism, or even as far as the EU, which does appear to be the short-term goal of Obamunism. One reason is the provenance of America itself; born in bloody revolt against oppressive government tyranny, the citizens of the United States have stubbornly maintained their distrust in remote, all-powerful government rule. Today, that distrust is "expressing," like an activated liberty gene, as the Tea Party-driven popular front against overspending and red ink.
The most outrageous recent example of just what our popular front is fighting is a bill introduced yesterday by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA, 90%). It calls for the federal government to bail out labor-union pension plans, which are grotesquely underfunded due to staggering mismanagement and criminal looting since long before the current financial upheaval. The Casey bill is a $165 billion early Christmas present to Democrats' most reliable backers, Big Labor.
But it's counterproductive to nitpick a few obvious insanities. The problem is much deeper: Too many people have formed the conclusion -- not unreasonable, assuming colossal ignorance -- that government has a bottomless pocket, boxcars of cash like Scrooge McDuck, enough to pay for everything that everybody wants, twice over! And if you object either to forking over most of your dough to the feds or to the recipients of all this largess, then you're a selfish son of a bachelor -- and of course a racist, sexist, homophobic carnivore.
Six weeks of vacation a year. Retirement at 60. Thousands of euros for having a baby. A good university education for less than the cost of a laptop.
The system known as the European welfare state was built after World War II as the keystone of a shared prosperity meant to prevent future conflict. Generous lifelong [!] benefits have since become a defining feature of modern Europe.
Wow, let's all move to Belgium. Who can resist Aladdin's cave, where diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds sprout from bushes that grow in gold-dust soil? Ah, but a specter is haunting paradise:
Now the welfare state - cherished by many Europeans as an alternative to what they see as dog-eat-dog American capitalism - is coming under its most serious threat in decades: Europe's sovereign debt crisis.
Deep budget cuts are under way across Europe. Although the first round is focused mostly on government payrolls - the least politically explosive target - welfare benefits are looking increasingly vulnerable.
"The current welfare state is unaffordable," said Uri Dadush, director of the Carnegie Endowment's International Economics Program. "The crisis has made the day of reckoning closer by several years in virtually all the industrial countries."
Europe is battered by many economic and sociopolitical monsoons:
- Wars erupting across the world (so what else is new?), into which European nations are dragged by alliances and by their own colonialist obligations.
- A stomach-clenching plummet in the fertility rate that has left some European countries reproducing at only half the rate needed to maintain their populations.
- Labor shortages (caused by the above) that require massive immigration from outside Europe, leading to a slow-motion Moslem invasion of the continent.
But even without these external body blows, the reality is simply that Europe cannot afford to spend like drunken Democrats. Neither can we; nobody can. But like scions of wealth and privilege, too many who grow up suckling at the government teat know only decadence and profligacy, and nothing of responsibility, duty, or sacrifice -- even sacrificing for one's own future, let alone the future of society. So when Europe's eternal adolescents are told that the well has run dry, the obvious response (as in Greece) is -- let's throw a riot!
Or let's storm the property of a Bank of America executive, and maybe they'll just write off those tens of billions of dollars we owe them. More bread! More circuses!
Here in America, we've had our own teen-logic flirtations with the "bottomless pocket" of government. One topical example was the enactment of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 that treated mortgages, for the first time, as a "right." Expanded drastically under President Bill Clinton and egregiously misused by organizations such as Rainbow Push and ACORN, the CRA was turned into a cattle prod driving lenders to offer mortgages to people who could never possibly repay them.
These toxic mortgages were then bundled into a vast river of unrecoverable debt, there concealed from the naked eye by "securitization" into mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) and the like. The quasi-federal agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac then issued bogus guarantees of the now "toxic assets" (now there's an oxymoron!), reselling them back into the banking world.
Thus was "wealth" created ex-nihilio. Free money, as much as you want! More bread. More circuses.
There are many other examples of the Cult of the Bottomless Pocket, but this is the one that led directly to the spending crisis of 2010 -- thence ironically to the popular front that will, I predict, end up resolving not only the crisis of the moment but the very culture that creates such crises and catastrophes in the first place.
Historical detour: Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747–1813) has been forever tarred by the spurious claim that he wrote the following:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
No matter who's opinion this actually represents, it sits upon a gaping fallacy of static analysis. In fact, as we're starting to see today, when enough politicians vote themselves, and their lucky constituents, "largess from the public treasury," the republic does not necessarily collapse; evidently, there is another possibilty: that the majority rises up and squelches the greedy-pig minority.
The impulse began with an increasingly virulent attack on earmarks, but voters quickly realized that ears are only the tail of the iceberg. The real danger is not secret theft of public funds for petty bribery, but brazen expenditures of vast amounts of tax money to purchase another lump of socialist coal for our Christmas socks. Now the demand is simply to stop overspending our money, period... a surging popular front now stands athwart the history of government expansion yelling Stop!
To answer the question asked at the end of our last post, perhaps this then is the synthesis created by debt-theft plus the spending crisis: Instead of the New Soviet Man that the Left has sought for nearly a century, we may be midwives at the birth of the New Sovereign Voter, who rises to seize control of the government and return it to what our Founders meant it to be: a useful ass, not the whip-wielding master.
Date ►►► May 25, 2010
Ever since I was about seventeen years old, I have believed that property ownership -- or monopoly control of land, for the purists who insist land, being non-anthropogenic, cannot be "owned" -- is the most fundamental civil right we have. (From here on, I ignore the purists and talk about land "ownership" without the wishy-washy quotation marks.) migraine
Correspondingly, the vigorous defense of land ownership should be given the widest latitude in the courts: A man's home is his castle, and his land is his fiefdom; or that's the way it oughta be. There is nothing more terrifying to modern man than to be turned out of his own property, especially if he owns it (or so he believes, not understanding the true goal of the Left).
So take a long, cold look at what passes for justice in the Epoch of Obamunism:
An Arizona man who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border....
The lawsuit is based on a March 7, 2004, incident in a dry wash on the 22,000-acre ranch, when he approached a group of illegal immigrants while carrying a gun and accompanied by a large dog.
Attorneys for the immigrants - five women and 11 men who were trying to cross illegally into the United States - have accused [Roger Barnett] of holding the group captive at gunpoint, threatening to turn his dog loose on them and saying he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.
Let's rephrase that last sentence, using the actual legal term for what Barnett did: "Attorneys for the [illegal] immigrants... have accused Mr. Barnett of [effecting a citizen's arrest of the trespassing illegals]."
If a person enters onto my property unlawfully (as has happened) and threatens me or my property, I believe with great passion that I have the right to make a citizen's arrest and hold him until the police arrive (which I have done). I believe I have the right to do so with a gun in my hand (as I had), since one likely response to trying to do so unarmed would be for the miscreant to attack me.
But I guess that right doesn't exist in Arizona, or so the federal judge appears to believe:
In the lawsuit, MALDEF [the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of the illegals] said Mr. Barnett approached the group as the immigrants moved through his property, and that he was carrying a pistol and threatening them in English and Spanish. At one point, it said, Mr. Barnett's dog barked at several of the women and he yelled at them in Spanish, "My dog is hungry and he's hungry for buttocks."
The lawsuit said he then called his wife and two Border Patrol agents arrived at the site. It also said Mr. Barnett acknowledged that he had turned over 12,000 illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol since 1998.
In March, U.S. District Judge John Roll rejected a motion by Mr. Barnett to have the charges dropped, ruling there was sufficient evidence to allow the matter to be presented to a jury. Mr. Barnett's attorney, David Hardy, had argued that illegal immigrants did not have the same rights as U.S. citizens.
Small wonder that Arizona enacted the law that so infuriated la Rive Gauche!
This lawsuit, being taken so seriously by one and all, should shock the conscience of any real American. After all, we're not talking about some teenaged beach bum cutting across a corner of your lawn to get to the surf. Illegal aliens frequently trash the land, destroy buildings, steal property, slaughter livestock, wreck water tanks seeking a drink (Barnett actually installed a faucet on his 8,000 gallon tank so that they wouldn't keep damaging it), threaten family members, and even kill owners -- and that's when the illegals aren't drug dealers or terrorist infiltrators. How can any legislator in his right mind pass a law making it illegal to effect a citizen's arrest of such potentially deadly trespassers?
Ah, but there's the rub: "in his right mind." As President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa of Mexico recently reminded us, many on the Left believe that people have the "civil right" to migrate.
But if migrants have the right to migrate, the logical conclusion is that those across whose land they exercise that putative right have no corresponding right to stop them. This belief completely upends the great liberty and virtue of property ownership; it tells citizens they have no right to defend their property and vests property rights instead in those who don't own any. It's the clearest oracle yet that Obamunism equals socialism, Michael Medved notwithstanding.
Illegal aliens cannot possibly have a "civil right" to cross a rancher's land to enter the country, just as raging thugs of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) can have no "civil right" to swarm like locusts onto the private property of a randomly selected Bank of America executive to "protest" that bank foreclosing against defaulted mortgages. In both cases, mobs of leftist looters use the pretense of "populism" to institutionalize theft -- theft of land via migration and squatting, or theft via involuntary debt "forgiveness" in the name of poverty. America is creeping noticibly towards being a kleptocracy, like Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
(Tellingly, as reported by Big Government, the SEIU is itself deep in debt to Bank of America; no conflict of interest there!)
Private property has been under seige for decades, perhaps centuries, if we include such messes as the French Revolution. But for the first time in my lifetime, we now have a president who appears to share the economic views of Venezuela President Oogo Chavez: That everything really belongs to the sovereign, who can reclaim his royal property (that is, the entire country and every jot and tittle of its GDP) whenever he chooses. We live in parlous times; I cannot predict which side will win.
In a forthcoming post, we'll examine the rise of debt-theft since passage of the Community Reinvestment Act... and how that is now driving a government fiscal spending crisis -- which itself triggers a world-wide revolution against government overspending. Action, reaction. Where is the synthesis? Will property rights survive this century?
Date ►►► May 21, 2010
Given Obama's policies and principles, Turkey and Brazil are acting rationally. Why not give cover to Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions? As the U.S. retreats in the face of Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, why not hedge your bets? There's nothing to fear from Obama, and everything to gain by ingratiating yourself with America's rising adversaries. After all, they actually believe in helping one's friends and punishing one's enemies.
I reckon erstwhile American allies and confident enemies are busily exchanging Obama Default Swaps.
Russia Yanks the Football Away
Examples of President Barack H. Obama's brilliant, inspired foreign policy just keep a-comin'...
A draft U.N. resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran, including limits on global arms transfers, will not block the controversial transfer of Russian S-300 missiles to the Iranian military, according to U.S. and Russian officials.
The Obama administration had opposed the S-300 sale because the system is highly effective against aircraft and some missiles. The CIA has said the S-300 missiles, which have been contracted by Tehran but not delivered, will be used to defend Iranian nuclear facilities.
Whoops! Somehow, the Obamacle seems not to have forseen that the
Soviet Union Russian Republic would once again pull the football away just as Barack "Charlie Brown" Obama tries to kick it. But what clever trick, what devious ploy, what occult conspiracy did they employ to flummox our genius president this time?
A key provision in the resolution made public this week states that all U.N. member states will agree to block sales or transfers of weapons. It lists tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft, warships and "missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms."
A close reading of the missile section of the register defines those included in the ban as missiles and launchers for guided rockets, and ballistic and cruise missiles, and missile-equipped remotely piloted vehicles. However, the register states that the missile system category "does not include ground-to-air missiles," such as anti-aircraft missiles and anti-missile interceptors like the S-300.
Whew, that was sneaky; can't blame Team Obamarama for missing that one! Who on Earth would think of actually reading the U.N. Register that defined exactly which weapons were prohibited by the new sanctions regime?
In any event, the Russians assured B.O. that they would continue to "show 'vigilance and restraint' on arms sales;" so what's to worry? I'm sure they won't send the S-300s to their client state/proxy in the Middle East: That would give the Russia-Iran Axis an unfair advantage over all the other oil-producing nations in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
But there's another point that seems a touch worrisome. Mull on this:
Yevgeni Khorishko, a Russian Embassy spokesman, said his government is aware that the draft resolution does not ban sales of air-defense systems. "The S-300s is not prohibited," he said. "It is not on the list of prohibited items."
Mr. Khorishko said that for unspecific "technical reasons" the S-300 contract will not be implemented at this time.
"At this time." Let's put a few facts on the table and see if anyone salutes them:
- Obama and the Russians just negotiated the New! Improved! Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, cleverly titled New START.
- One of Russia's major demands was that we scrap the Europe-based anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system. George W. Bush initiated the program to emplace a radar installation in the Czech Republic and ten interceptors in Poland, in order to stymie Iran, should it get a nuclear-missile arsenal after all.
- After threats from Russia, Obama canceled that version last September, replacing it with a similar though imaginary land-and-sea program. (I don't believe he has gotten as far as picking fictitious sites for the imaginary radar or interceptors yet.)
- Buoyed by their previous success, the Russians wanted us to kill the new program, too; but B.O. refused to cancel it outright. Russia is very, very unhappy about the prospect of an ABM system to protect us and what few allies we have left from Iranian nuclear threats.
- Along come the Iran sanctions... and for some odd reason, Obama agrees to a regime that does not prohibit Russia from selling one of its most advanced ABM systems to Iran, a system that would make it virtually impossible to take out said Iranian nuclear arsenal.
- But the Russkies don't deliver it right away; instead, they say that "technical reasons" are holding things up. "At this time," that is; for the future, who can tell?
- So we haven't deployed our ABM system in Europe yet... and the Russians haven't yet deployed theirs in Iran.
Is it just barely possible that Russia might, you know, offer a "deal?" And that Obama might accept the swap -- we kill ours if they kill theirs -- and then crow to the American people this November that he got the Russians to "back down" on arming Iran with an ABM system?
Wait a minute... who yanked away that football anyway... President Dmitry Medvedev, or President Barack Obama? I don't know, but I sure feel like we're the ones lying flat on our backs.
Date ►►► May 20, 2010
The Lizards Defend That Blooming Idiot, Rand Paul
Before diving into the substance of Dr. Rand Paul's remarks on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, let's get one thing straight: Paul was a fool for blundering into that tar pit -- or allowing MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to lure him into it like a drunken farmer chasing a corpse candle into a bog. Worse, once hip deep in the big muddy, he contracted a bad case of hoof-in-mouth disease and couldn't defend his position.
But just because one shallow thinker of today was unable to defend the liberty position doesn't make indefensible a principle famously argued by Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election campaign... no matter what Hugh Hewitt says.
It's hard to nail down exactly what Paul's position actually is; I think it's the same as Goldwater's: Where state or federal policy either directly discriminates on the basis of race or else mandates private racial discrimination, it is absolutely appropriate to pass a federal law overturning such "institutional racialism;" however, such a law should not and constitutionally cannot reach beyond that point to purely private and voluntary racial discrimination, which (alas) the final version of the Act did.
That's why Goldwater voted against it after having supported earlier versions that did not outlaw private, volunatry discrimination; and fair warning, that is my objection to the Act, as well.
Here's my best collage of Paul's lengthy, meandering, and unfocused response to Maddow:
MADDOW: Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?
PAUL: Yes. I'm not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race.
But I think what's important about this debate is not written into any specific "gotcha" on this, but asking the question: what about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking?
I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn't mean we approve of it.....
MADDOW: I mean, the Civil Rights Act was the federal government stepping in to protect civil rights because they weren't otherwise being protected. It wasn't a hypothetical. There were businesses that were saying black people cannot be served here and the federal government stepped in and said, no, you actually don't have that choice to make. The federal government is coming in and saying you can't make that choice as a business owner.
Which side of that debate would you put yourself on?
PAUL: In the totality of it, I'm in favor of the federal government being involved in civil rights and that's, you know, mostly what the Civil Rights Act was about.... Most of the things [Martin Luther King, jr.] was fighting were laws. He was fighting Jim Crow laws. He was fighting legalized and institutional racism. And I'd be right there with him....
MADDOW: As I understand it, what you`re saying, [is that] the portion of the Civil Rights Act that said you can't actually have segregated lunch counters here at your private business [is the one title of the Civil Rights Act you reject].... Until the year 2000, Bob Jones University, a private institution, had a ban on interracial dating at their school, their private institution. If Bob Jones University wanted to bring that back now, would you support their right to do so?
PAUL: Well, I think it's interesting because the debate involves more than just that, because the debate also involves a lot of court cases with regard to the commerce clause. For example, right now, many states and many gun organizations are saying they have a right to carry a gun in a public restaurant because a public restaurant is not a private restaurant. Therefore, they have a right to carry their gun in there and that the restaurant has no right to have rules to their restaurant.
So, you see how this could be turned on many liberal observers who want to excoriate me on this. Then to be consistent, they'd have to say, oh, well, yes, absolutely, you've got your right to carry your gun anywhere because it's a public place.
So, you see, when you blur the distinction between public and private, there are problems. When you blur the distinction between public and private ownership, there really is a problem. A lot of this was settled a long time ago and isn't being debated anymore....
MADDOW: Let's say there's a town right now and the owner of the town's swimming club says we're not going to allow black kids at our pool, and the owner of the bowling alley in town says, we're not actually going to allow black patrons, and the owner of the skating rink in town says, we're not going to allow black people to skate here.
And you may think that's abhorrent and you may think that's bad business. But unless it's illegal, there's nothing to stop that -- there's nothing under your world view to stop the country from re-segregating like we were before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 --
It goes on an on, but the basic points are all here. Note that Paul brings up a valid analogy -- should gun owners in a gun-friendly state be allowed to bring guns into a restaurant, even against the will of the restaurant's owner?
Paul says no. But if the owner is allowed the private-property liberty to control who brings a weapon into his facility, then under what principle can he not control who he allows in, period? The analogy was valid, but it was (again) foolishly chosen: No listener not already predisposed to the Goldwater, Paul, and Lizardian point of view will understand his point.
Allow me to help Dr. Paul out of the mire; again, bear in mind I'm defending his position, not the hamfisted way he expressed it.
Rachel Maddow's fundamental confusion is shared by all liberals and about 80% of conservatives (e.g., Hugh Hewitt): Under Jim Crow, the problem wasn't that individual owners "decided" to racially discriminate; state laws required them to discriminate.
In a free market, some-but-not-all restaurants will discriminate, while others won't. Those that do cut off much of their customer base -- not just the potential customers who are black but also those whites who vehemently oppose racial discrimination; their non-discriminating competitors get the extra business instead. Thus, a discriminatory stance creates an automatic "economic penalty": Racism becomes an expensive luxury that most business owners simply cannot afford.
(The same punishment operates whenever an owner makes an economic decision on a completely non-economic basis, such as not serving old people or divesting stock from companies that do business with Israel; that's one of the magical effects of a free market!)
After a while, many racists will decide they need the money more than they need to discriminate; they will take down the "whites only" sign, no matter how much it pains them, or risk going out of business. A few will maintain their discrimination until the bitter end; so it goes.
But wait, what about the other side of the coin? Some dyed in the wool racists would only frequent those establishments that discriminate. They will boycott the integrated businesses and patronize only the racists.
Frankly, I doubt that such persons would have been the majority in any state even back in the days of Jim Crow: If they had been the majority, there would have been no need for laws to force them to do what they wanted to do in the first place. The very fact that the state legislature had to enact Jim Crow laws testifies that residents weren't discriminating, they weren't keeping blacks "in their places."
Walter Williams writes about this in his wonderful book, South Africa's War Against Capitalism: The Afrikaaners enacted Apartheid laws precisely because at the turn of the twentieth century, businesses (from railroads to mines to hotels), left to their own free will, were rapidly integrating the races. Economic necessity was breaking down the barriers; blacks offered their services for lower wages than whites, and employers snapped them up to save labor costs. Soon the whites had to lower their own wages to compete; at the same time, as blacks gained more experience, they raised their demands... eventually, the two races met in the middle, more or less.
Funnily enough, one of the first bills the Kreugerites enacted forced businesses to pay blacks and whites exactly the same wages, "equal pay for equal work." Sound familiar? The effect was to remove the financial incentive to hire blacks, because their labor was no longer any bargain.
With the market mechanisms removed, it was easy to threaten or bully businesses into hiring and promoting only whites. (Most of the racist coercion was committed by the socialist labor unions, by the way... quelle surprise!) Thus, even in Apartheid South Africa, the free market acted to integrate and equalize the races, while the government -- "for their own good" -- acted to segregate and discriminate between them -- "Apartheid" literally means "apart-ness".
In any event, I steadfastly believe that even in the deep South in the 1950s, far more potential customers would choose to patronize a business on the basis of quality and price -- than on the basis of whether that business segregated black from white. Over the long run (which would likely be only a few years), that would drive out the adamant racists: Businesses operate on such a small margin that even a small economic advantage towards race neutrality would have an oversized effect on a business' viability.
Unless, that is, the state steps in and makes such racial discrimination mandatory; that is what we mean by "Jim Crow." If the state interferes with the market, forcing everyone to discriminate, it kills the market's ability to drive behavior away from irrelevant (and offensive) absurdities like racial discrimination: I can no longer compete with a "whites only" lunchcounter by advertising "we serve everybody!" I would be arrested and my business shut down if I tried.
That robs me of my liberty, my property rights; and that is the ground on which the Civil Rights Act should have been fought. Let freedom reign, and allow the market to do its holy job of driving the fools and haters out of business.
Of course, there will always be pockets where there really are more racists than sons and daughters of liberty; in those dark nooks, they will open their whites-only swimming pools and bowling alleys and ice-skating rinks. What do we do about that?
We let them. If they want to segregate themselves away from the rest of society, let them huddle together and fester. So long as we all have freedom of mobility and association, the 99% of the country that is decent will isolate the tiny fraction who are morally putrid; and the good citizens will open their own pools, alleys, and rinks open to everyone. After all, there's gold in them thar businesses.
The racist kooks will become curiosities, monkeys in a zoo: We'll point and laugh at the funny and now-powerless haters, just as we do whenever the Ku Klux Klan musters its eight or nine hoodwinkers to stand on the corner holding up racist, and typically illiterate signs.
That's the American way, the path of liberty. Just as we don't deny Klansmen, Black Panthers, or MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) their freedom of speech, we should also not deny them their right to serve only "their own kind," if that's what they want.
Nor do we prevent the rest of us from expressing displeasure by patronizing their competitors instead.
Had Rand Paul really thought this all through aforehand, he could have answered Rachel Maddow much more powerfully and directly, like this:
MADDOW: Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?
LIZARDS: Sure -- if they want to cut their own economic throats.
MADDOW: What do you mean? The Civil Rights Act was the federal government stepping in to protect civil rights because they weren't otherwise being protected. It wasn't a hypothetical. There were businesses that were saying black people cannot be served here and the federal government stepped in and said, no, you actually don't have that choice to make. The federal government is coming in and saying you can't make that choice as a business owner.
How about desegregating lunch counters? Lunch counters. Walgreen's lunch counters, were you in favor of that? Possibly? Because the government got involved?
LIZARDS: The problem wasn't that Jim Crow wasn't protecting civil rights, Rachel. The great evil of Jim Crow laws was that they forced even non-racists to racially discriminate.
In a free market, I could open a lunchcounter right across the street from a "whites only" Walgreens; and in my front window, I could put a sign that says "we serve everybody!" I have faith in the American people, Southerners included. Let me compete with the racists without the state government or federal government stacking the deck, and I guarantee you I'll drive the racial haters out of business and out of town.
That way, we'll lose the racists -- good riddance -- but we'll keep liberty and the sanctity of private property, the cornerstone of America. That's the same sanctity of private property, by the way, that allows a homeowner to sell his house to a black family, no matter what the ancient, entrenched political class in the state capital demand.
MADDOW: Mr. Reptile, until the year 2000, Bob Jones University, a private institution, had a ban on interracial dating at their school, their private institution. If Bob Jones University wanted to bring that back now, would you support their right to do so?
LIZARDS: Bob Jones University didn't drop its policy as a result of the Civil Rights Act; President Bob Jones dropped the policy in the year 2000, because the adverse publicity of its racist stance was hurting the university. That's an important point, Rachel: The market was hurting Bob Jones badly enough that it forced them to change their stupid, evil policy.
The most the feds ever did to BJU was to take away its religious tax exemption. I've long argued that when an insitution requests special dispensation that amounts to an endorsement of that institution -- such as a religious tax exemption that secular private universities don't get -- the government has every right to make that privilege contingent upon meeting the base-level standards of decency that American society demands. I would just as vigorously oppose giving a tax exemption to Mohammed Atta Martyrdom University, no matter how sincerely held was its jihadist religous curriculum.
MADDOW: Let's say there's a town right now and the owner of the town's swimming club says we're not going to allow black kids at our pool, and the owner of the bowling alley in town says, we're not actually going to allow black patrons, and the owner of the skating rink in town says, we're not going to allow black people to skate here.
And you may think that's abhorrent and you may think that's bad business. But unless it's illegal, there's nothing to stop that -- there's nothing under your world view to stop the country from re-segregating like we were before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
LIZARDS: Nothing but the justice and common decency of the American people! In the first place, this isn't the 1950s. The whole world has come a long way in the last half century, wouldn't you say? And no country in the world is less racist than the United States: Not a single state in the Union has even one pair of racists in its legislature to conspire together to re-segregate the country.
But frankly, Rachel, I don't even believe any state in the deep South had a majority of racist citizens even in 1964. What they had was an oligarchy of bitter, hate-filled, septuagenarian racists who occupied state legislatures like the Nazis occupied the Reichstag. They were corrupt, elections were rigged, and they couldn't be ousted from their seats except perhaps by dynamite... or by joining Republican Party!
But that's no longer true, and it hasn't been since I was in grade school. Oh yes, there is still racial discrimination in the United States; but today, as in the 50s and 60s, it comes from the left side of the aisle, from race-obsessed Democrats and leftists allied with radical Islam. But so long as we can keep the Left away from the levers of power, I'm confident America will never re-segregate.
I am quite certain this would have been much, much harder to spin as racist, pro-segregation, and anti-civil rights. And in any event, it sure would have made more exciting political theater!
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► May 19, 2010
"Do As I say -- !"
Ahem. Obamunism on a nutshell:
President Barack Obama stepped up his criticism of Arizona's controversial immigration law Wednesday, calling it "misdirected" and warning that it has the potential to be applied in a discriminatory fashion.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, Obama called for overhauling the nation's immigration laws and said that can't be done unless Republicans support it.
The controversy over the Arizona law, which would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally, hung over Calderon's visit. Both leaders oppose the law, with Obama directing the Justice Department to review it for possible civil rights violations, and Calderon's government issuing a travel warning for Arizona, out of concern that Mexicans face an adverse political environment there.
And he says...
The White House appears to be laying the groundwork for President Barack Obama to shake the hand of each senior at Kalamazoo Central High School’s commencement ceremony next month.
Seniors are being asked to provide their birthdates, Social Security numbers and citizen status to the Secret Service so background checks could be performed. Such a check is required for anyone who gets within an arm’s length of the president, students were told at their senior breakfast Friday.
Of the fact that the White House is requesting information on all the graduating seniors, K-Central Principal Von Washingon Jr. told the students, “I’ll let you figure out what that means,” said senior Simon Boehme, who was at the breakfast.
And we'll let you figure out what this says about Obamunism, the Democratic Party of 2010, and President Barack H. "Post-Partisan" Obama.
Date ►►► May 18, 2010
Political Quote of the Day. Maybe the Year...
Quoth Sen. Arlen Specter (?-PA, unrated because nobody wants to claim him), after conceding the Democratic primary for his own reelection to his opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA, 95%):
in the Democratic Party hands."
(Well... as of April 2009. Before that date, it was equally vital to keep this seat in Republican Party hands. But, well, you know... shift happens.)
One reason I've never been able to warm up to Stratfor is the persistent gloominess and despondency it exudes. George Friedman and his mopy men must have published an optimistic analysis of some world event somewhere, somewhen; but danged if I can recollect any. For the most part, any Stratfor paper can be reduced to the following abstract: Doom is nigh!
Victory is never an option
Lately, however, the entire organization appears to be in utter despair. Take today; Friedman was a guest on Dennis Prager's radio show, and he made the following points:
- We cannot possibly stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons; it's inevitable.
- Even without nukes, Iran's conventional forces mean it can dominate the entire Middle East at will.
- If we were even to try to take out Iran's nuclear sites, it would mine the entire Strait of Hormuz; this would stop 25% of the world's oil market from flowing, which would raise oil prices beyond $400 or $500 a barrel... which would utterly destroy all Western economies, including our own.
- There is nothing Israel can do in response to a Hezbollah chemical attack except hunker down and hope that some of Israel's population survives. Hezbollah probably cannot kill every Israel; some would surely remain.
From these "realistic" (that is, terminally pessimistic) assessments and analyses, Friedman made the following recommendation, near as I can recall. This is of course my own phrasing, not Friedman's; but I believe it amounts to a reasonably fair summary of what it appeared to me Friedman proposed:
Since the United States is pulling out its troops, we have no power at all in the Middle East anymore. Israel cannot help us, and we cannot help Israel. Therefore, the only course of action available to us is to cut a deal with Iran.
Since we have no power to threaten Iran, we'll have to accept whatever terms Iran dictates. We will have to recognize and acknowledge Iran as the ruling player in the Middle East; if we're contrite enough, Iran may allow us to have the oil we need to survive.
As for Israel, it must cut the best deal it can with Hezbollah and hope that some Israelis will be allowed to depart in peace. America's moment is passed; the Young Turks (and Persians) will be the new masters of the world.
Friedman went on to predict, following a second question from Prager, that the European Union was fated to shatter apart. Most of Europe will sink into the State of Nature described in Hobbes' Leviathan, where those few remaining lead lives that are "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." However, some countries will do very well: Germany will probably prosper; but the biggest winner will be Russia, which will end up ruling all of Europe, eastern and western.
We must cut a deal with the Russian bear as well. But see, at least we get a choice: America can become a client state of either Russia or Iran!
Needless to say, I find such despair mongering less than convincing. I note that George Friedman left a number of circumstances out of his calculations.
Iran's deathgrip on the world's oil supply
First, he never once mentioned the staggering oil wealth we ourselves have, right here in our own backyard. Besides the Gulf of Mexico, the Santa Barbara coast, and ANWR -- which by itself comprises nearly as much oil as in all of Iran, and not counting the 20 billion barrels of oil (bbl) we already have at our disposal (should we ever choose to dispose of them) -- we also have something in great abundance that most members of OPEC have scantily or completely lack: oil-shale deposits.
The four largest oil-shale reserves are in the United States; combined, they're the equivalent of more than two trillion bbl. By way of comparison, the combined liquid oil reserves of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, the UAE, Venezuela, Russia, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Algeria, Brazil, and Mexico are less than 1.2 trillion bbl.
So a better way to phrase Friedman's point 3 above is that, if we take out Iran's nukes, then inexplicably allow them to mine the Strait of Hormuz without a fight, we would be forced to begin drilling in our own vast territory -- and selling oil to our allies, who could no longer travel to the Persian Gulf. (Of course, that means we would get those trillions of petrodollars, instead of Iran; what a shame!) And if the price indeed rose sufficiently, it would spur us to begin extracting oil from shale, inventing whatever techniques are necessary to make it practical and profitable.
Not to mention giving us a real incentive to develop high-temperature ceramic engines to burn gasoline much more efficiently, something I've been writing about since the halcyon days at Patterico's Pomposifications, half a decade ago.
Then there's coal liquifaction, nuclear fission, solar-power satellites, and many other energy sources that don't require us to kow-tow to our enemies, begging them to supply us with oil. The current system is untenable anyway: Why entrust our entire economy to countries that would as soon see us dead as the proverbial clam?
Instead of using our energy fragility as an excuse for doing nothing in the face of threats and provocations, murders of our troops and aiding and abetting our enemies... why not use our weakness as a spur towards complete energy self-sufficiency? That's the American way of responding to an impossible situation: change the rules of the game to allow us to win!
Rather than being a deal killer, Iran's threat can turn out to be an utter game changer... pushing the United States to a much stronger position of world leadership even than we enjoy today. It's not a setback, it's a challenge.
Likewise, Friedman's burbling threnody of despair assumes that if Iran decides to mine the Strait, there's nothing we can do about it. If we try to attack Iran's missile and nuclear sites, we'll fail. If Hezbollah shoots Scuds with chemical warheads at Israel, the Jewish state can only cower in the dark and wait for Armageddon.
He seems to have little faith in American, Israeli, and in general Western fighting spirit. I have greater.
Some years ago, I discussed a military strategy for use against Iran that I dubbed the Herman Option, after historian Arthur Herman, who wrote about it. Here is an extensive excerpt from that 2007 post...
Take a moment to look at this map of the Persian Gulf:
Iran: Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz
The narrow pinch of the Strait of Hormuz on the far right of the Gulf -- about 20 miles wide, with two 1-mile wide sea lanes for tanker traffic -- controls delivery of about a quarter of the entire world's daily oil production. It is staggeringly important to the entire world.
The biggest fear about Iran is that, in response to an attack on their nuclear development sites, they might strike back with a catastrophic terrorist attack in the strait: Iran, Hezbollah, or both could attack an oil supertanker at the narrowest part of the strait, sinking the huge ship and sealing the passage for perhaps years... and as a serendipitous side effect, causing the worst environmental disaster in human history (I'm sure the Iranian mullahs lose sleep over that one).
There is reason to fear this option: the Iranians themselves have practically boasted about it. In Arthur Herman's Commentary piece linked above, he notes this quite matter of factly:
In April of this year, as if to drive the point home, Iranian armed forces staged elaborate war games in the Gulf, test-firing a series of new anti-ship missiles capable of devastating any tanker or unwary warship. In the boast of one Iranian admiral, April’s “Holy Prophet war games” showed what could be expected by anyone daring to violate Iran’s interests in the Gulf. A further demonstration of resolve occurred in August, when Iran fired on and then occupied a Rumanian-owned oil platform ostensibly in a dispute over ownership rights; in truth, the action was intended to show Western companies—including Halliburton, which had won a contract for constructing facilities in the Gulf—exactly which power is in charge there.
A 30-page document said to issue from the Strategic Studies Center of the Iranian Navy (NDAJA), and drawn up in September or October of last year, features a contingency plan for closing the Hormuz Straits through a combination of anti-ship missiles, coastal artillery, and submarine attacks. The plan calls for the use of Chinese-made mines, Chinese-built missile boats, and more than 1,000 explosive-packed suicide motor boats to decimate any U.S. invasion force before it can so much as enter the Gulf. Iran’s missile units, manned by the regime’s Revolutionary Guards, would be under instruction to take out more than 100 targets around the Gulf rim, including Saudi production and export centers.
As Herman notes, "contingency" plans are just that, and may never come to fruition; but clearly, Iran is thinking along these lines. And why not? How could they more seriously hurt the West than to shut off the black gold (Teheran tea) that we depend upon? (I'm sure the mullahs have followed with great glee the GOP's bootless efforts to open up a teensy-tiny fraction of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to clean, modern oil extraction... along with the Gulf of Mexico and the California coast; the efforts were of course thwarted by the then-minority Democrats, who were rewarded for their intransigence by being voted into the majority.)
But on the other hand, as the saying goes, "a plan betrayed is a plan denied." The Persian Gulf is a two-edged scimitar. Herman again:
Every country in Western Europe and Asia, including those that complain most bitterly about American policy in the Middle East, depends on the steady maintenance of the global economic order that runs on Middle Eastern oil.
But -- and herein lies a fruitful irony -- so does Iran itself. Almost 90 percent of the mullahs’ oil assets are located either in or near the Gulf. So is the nuclear reactor that Russia is building for Iran at Bushehr. Virtually every Iranian well or production platform depends on access to the Gulf if Iran’s oil is to reach buyers. Hence, the same Straits by means of which Iran intends to lever itself into a position of global power present the West with its own point of leverage to reduce Iran’s power -- and to keep it reduced for at least as long as the country’s political institutions remain unprepared to enter the modern world.
On a nutshell, Iran thinks of the PG as the lever by which it will move the world; but in reality, to a truly modern nation such as the United States, the Gulf is the lever by which the rest of the world will move Iran.
Herman suggests a seven-point plan to break the logjam with Iran:
- Announce that we will not tolerate any nation interfering with the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz;
- Back that threat up by sending at least a carrier battle group (CBG) to the Persian Gulf, along with anti-submarine ships and planes (the latter are routinely carried on carriers), minesweepers, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System-equipped cruisers and destroyers, UAVs, and our own submarines;
- Declare a one-country blockade of all of Iran's oil shipments out -- and gasonline shipments in; a complete freeze-out. Everyone else gets to ship freely through the strait... just not Iran;
- Launch a "comprehensive air campaign" against Iran's air defenses, air bases, communications grid, and missile sites along the PG;
- Continue the campaign against the nuclear sites and all supporting infrastructure, including roads, bridges, power plants that serve the nuclear development centers at Natanz and Bushehr, and so forth;
- Finally, and most important, continue the campaign to take out all of Iran's gasoline refineries.
Herman points out the critical choke-point for Iran and the focus of this campaign:
It is still insufficiently appreciated that Iran, a huge oil exporter, imports nearly 40 percent of its gasoline from foreign sources, including the Gulf states. With its refineries gone and its storage facilities destroyed, Iran’s cars, trucks, buses, planes, tanks, and other military hardware would run dry in a matter of weeks or even days. This alone would render impossible any major countermoves by the Iranian army. (For its part, the Iranian navy is aging and decrepit, and its biggest asset, three Russian-made Kilo-class submarines, should and could be destroyed before leaving port.)
Contingent upon the completetion of the first six steps, Herman suggests the coup de grâce:
- American special forces would seize all of Iran's offshore wells and pumping stations, from the strait to Kharg Island (the small, unmarked island just off Iran's coast, due east of Kuwait and about 10 o'clock from Bushehr).
Herman concludes that if we did all this, we would able "to control the flow of Iranian oil at the flick of a switch."
While it's clear Iran threatens to mine the Strait if we attack, it's by no means a sure bet that it will succeed; in fact, we have a very good counterstrategy at our fingerends, the Herman Option. In addition, Iran would be cutting its own throat -- which means the very threat itself may be nothing more than a monumental bluff.
There is yet another George Friedman dog in the night that doesn't bark. When discussing Hezbollah and its chemical-tipped Scuds, why did he never even mention the possibility of missile defense? For heaven's sake, has anyone thought that it might possibly have occurred to Israel that Syrian Hezbollah could shoot missiles at them from Lebanese territory?
I strongly suspect that Israel has invested a lot of time and treasure in developing anti-missile systems, particularly for fast, short-distance use -- from Lebanon to Tel Aviv, for example. What logic in assuming that all or even most of the missiles will successfully strike their targets?
But beyond missile defense, would Syria really risk such an aggressive move into all-out, existential war, knowing that in such a dire circumstance, Israel would not make any distinction whatsoever between Hezbollah terrorist targets in Lebanon -- and Syrian military, C3I, and political targets in Damascus?
Deterrence still deters, especially when dealing with a non-jihadist, eminently practical king such as Bashar Assad.
Knowing what is at stake -- that is, what will be at stake, when we have a new Commander in Chief in 2013 -- I believe Iran's and Syria's deeds will not quite live up to their invective. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talks a great fight.
George Friedman obviously knows all of this; but his interlocutor, Dennis Prager, probably does not, nor does most of Dennis' audience. Shouldn't Friedman have mentioned the positive side of the ledger? Alas, he did not; he limned only the gloomy, pessimistic part of the painting. It's hard not to conclude that he has an agenda... and a good understanding of the whole picture would just get in the way of "the fierce urgency of now."
It all boils down (as oft it doth) not to some technical measure of strength or military might, but rather to our will to fight. And it's exactly that "will to fight" that despairing, defeatist analyses directly attack: If we think we can't win, defeat becomes a self-fulfilling default position.
"Fear is the mind killer."
"Fear is failure and the forerunner of failure."
Fear is a living thing: Feed it, stroke it, heed it, and it grows; starve it and it weakens and dies. Honestly, we need more Petraeuses and a lot fewer George Friedmans; I'm afraid the one of the latter we have plays directly into the hands of our Cowardly Lyin' president.
Expect the exeptional
All this whining and whimpering like whipped dogs is unbecoming the world's only hyperpower. Such despair is not only illogical, not only plays into our enemies' hands, but most important, it's unAmerican. Only those who voluntarily surrender can be ultimately defeated; that is the deepest secret. So long as we stand and fight our fate, Fate is unbound.
Should we go gentle into that bad night? Or should we burn and rave at close of day? If you're an American, there's no need to ask; when the time comes, we'll know what to do. And it will never include signing a suicide pact with Iran to buy us a few more years of subjugation.
"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Date ►►► May 16, 2010
Expect or Rate Spector
On Tuesday, Sen. Arlen Specter (
D R D-PA, unrated in current incarnation) scuffles to the polls, like an errant schoolboy expecting the master to hand him a right caning. As indeed is pretty likely to happen.
Specter turned his coat back to the Democratic Party a year ago. He was originally a Democrat until 1965, when he flipped to Republican after getting himself elected D.A. as a Democrat, though on the Republican ticket... ya fallah? Then on April 28th, 2009, when it became apparent that he would lose the Republican primary election to Pat Toomey, former House member from Pennsylvania and former president of the Club for Growth, Specter switched back to the Democrats. (He also turned his entire political philosophy on a dime and began voting with Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid on every critical issue.)
But for some odd reason, the Democrats decided the double-traitor was perhaps a skosh untrustworthy; and he drew an opponent in the Democratic primary election, Joe Sestak (actual D-PA, 95%). According to the RealClearPolitics average, (1) Sestak is 2.7% ahead of the incrumbent, (2) Specter cannot even crack 45%, therefore (3) he's going to lose.
Ah, but therein lies the snub: Hell hath no fury like a Specter scorned.
After Tuesday, Specter will know that his career of fakery and unprincipled pandering is ended... but he'll still be sitting in the United States Senate for another seven and a half months. He will be filled to the rim with rhapsodies of revenge -- but revenge against whom?
- Against the Democratic voters, who will have "betrayed" and consigned him to oblivion?
- Against the Republicans, who started the death spiral by rejecting him in favor of Toomey?
- Against President Barack H. Obama? Although the Commisar finally, reluctantly endorsed Specter, he really didn't lift much of a hand to save his sorry glutes.
- Against the entire Senate? Despite his thirty years of soulless service, they refused to rise up and declare him Senator for Life, so he would never have to undertake the humiliation of bowing and scraping to the "people," just so they would reelect him. The cads!
I cannot possibly say who Specter will consider Public Enema Number One; all I can predict is, he's about to become the most bitter and obstreperous member that the world's most deliberative high-school debate society has ever seen. I suspect he will put random holds on votes, refuse unanimous consent, absent himself to prevent a quorum, hijack committee hearings, ask leering and suggestive questions, mentally abuse the pages, replace the gavel with a rubber chicken, and intentionally tread on Olympia Snowe's toe.
It should be quite a show. Somebody bring the flopcorn.
Date ►►► May 14, 2010
Too Quiet on the Afghan Front
In a stealth shift of the rules of engagement (ROEs) in Afghanistan last July, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the senior NATO commander in Afghanistan, severely restricted the use of close-air support in our operations there.
Today, our soldiers and combat pilots are really feeling the hangover from that addled, "politically correct" decision, as Taliban and other terrorist fighters no longer "run and hide" when American jets scream overhead; they laugh at us, because they know we're not going to shoot:
Joint terminal attack controllers, airmen on the ground who call in airstrikes, and fighter pilots report that insurgents are encouraging each other to continue firing because they know the Air Force’s F-16s and A-10s are dropping far fewer bombs now than this time last year.
“Keep fighting; [coalition forces] won’t shoot” is the order that enemy leaders are giving -- in Pashtun and Dari, words that the JTACs have heard over their radios....
Much of [Air Force Captain Andy] Vaughan’s time is spent flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sorties, even though his A-10 -- with titanium planers underneath the cockpit and a 30mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun mounted on the nose -- was built to fly close-air support.
“The A-10 pilots … are just left circling in the skies,” said an Air Force officer here who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak on the record.
Technically, McChrystal gave the order; but considering the negative impact on our warfighting capability and the higher risk to McChrystal's own troops, I find it highly unlikely that the order originated with him. I would bet money that the order came from somewhere far upstream from McChrystal; from Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Central Command; even from the Service Chiefs. I doubt it even came from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, except perhaps as a conduit.
I am quite convinced that the "decider" in this case wears a suit and never wore a uniform; I cannot imagine any combat infantry commander deciding to forgo close-air support, which we have used to excellent effect since World War I. In fact, I suspect the strategic retreat originated from someone with great power who loathes the military and thinks jihadism can be defeated by a flurry of subpoenas and indictments.
Regardless, the change in the ROEs has a devastating real-world impact:
Before a plane drops any bomb or makes a strafing run, the aircrew and the JTAC work together to determine if an attack can be justified. For example, either the pilot or JTAC must visually identify an insurgent firing a weapon before engaging the target -- no easy task either while flying a plane or taking fire on the ground, airmen here said.
“There are directives on what we need to ask the JTAC,” Vaughan said, and each pilot is looking for the JTAC to say “specific phrases” before he releases any munitions....
Even if a ground commander orders an airstrike, a JTAC does not have to authorize the attack if the situation does not exactly meet the conditions laid out by McChrystal, Bryza said.
When seconds count, the JTAC's determination is only a quarter hour away!
Without close-air support, we're fighting with one hand tied behind our straightjacket. It truly calls into question the seriousness with which this administration intends to fight even the "good war" in Afghanistan.
The goal of the order was evidently to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan:
Fewer civilian casualties have been reported since McChrystal issued his directive. The numbers are difficult to count and often disputed, but the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan puts the civilian death toll from airstrikes in 2009 at 359, down from 680 the year before.
This is a political goal that again points the finger at the civilian branch of the chain of command -- which terminates with the Commander in Chief, of course. Sadly, fecklessness appears to be the normal mode of operation for our post-racial, post-partisan, post-modern, third-millennial president when he tries to run a war.
But if the war on the Iran/al-Qaeda axis is not really a war, only a law-enforcement investigation to "solve" a disconnected series of criminal acts, then there's no reason to treat even its most warlike manifestations with the seriousness a real war demands: We can accomodate our ROEs to fit the politically correct fashion; and if that causes us to lose a few battles (and a few good men), it's a small price for those faceless minions to pay.
If the progressive caste demands a bloodless war with no (non-American) casualties, so be it; we'll order our mighty Air Force to stand down. If a few more soldiers get killed because they cannot call in an air strike, it's their own fault for not finishing skool and getting stuk in afganerstone. If the Obamacle even notices their demise, he'll be pleased they could sacrifice their meaningless lives to such a glorious cause as a war in which no blood is spilt -- except by American troops.
What a cathatric and humbling experience that will be for the lone (whether we like it or not) superpower!
I seriously wonder if we have elected an honest to goodness solipsist as President of the United States.
Date ►►► May 12, 2010
Stop Me Before I Veto Myself!
Ahem. To be filed in the "I warned you" file under C for chutzpah:
The Obama administration threatened to veto parts of its own health care bill after budget scorekeepers found that the package would add at least $115 billion more to government health care spending.
What next? If we don't give him whatever he demands, will he threaten to tell everyone that he was really born in Tierra del Fuego? But wait, there's more; President Barack H. Obama is actually using his own fabricated figures to extort something out of his own Democratic Congress:
President Obama's budget office charged Congress with finding $115 billion in spending cuts or tax increases to offset the price tag hike. The figure approached the amount of money the Congressional Budget Office previously estimated the law would save, and pushed the total 10-year cost of the package past $1 trillion. It comes after a separate Medicare office report found the bill would raise spending by about 1 percent over the next decade.
But the Office of Management and Budget stood by the administration's original claims that the law would reduce the deficit and tasked Congress with making sure that happens -- or else.
Is anybody else reminded of a bizarre scene from the Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles? Cleavon Little, the black sheriff sent to clean up a racist town, is about to be run out of town. So he points his pistol at his own head and says, in a deep, fake voice, "Hold it! Next man makes a move, the [pejorative deleted] gets it!"
"He's not bluffing!" shouts one of the panicky townspeople.
Aside from the surreality of Obama threatening to immolate his own odious health-care takeover, the real scandal here is the president holding his own bill hostage until he gets a big, fat tax increase. (And the casual admission that the extra amount the bill will cost is just about the amount Obama and the Dancing Democrats said it would save. Who'd a thunk it!)
But as they say on the Ginzu Knife commercial, that's not all...
Costs could go higher, because the legislation authorizes several programs without setting specific funding levels.
And that's not even counting the infamous "doc fix," the 21% "pay cut" for doctors Medicare reimbursements that was enacted as part of ObamaCare. The vaunted projections over hundreds of decades that show huge savings all relied upon slashing more than a fifth from physician reimbursements... which everybody knows is never going to happen.
In fact, the House already passed a bill to nullify the pay cuts, and the Senate will surely follow suit. The doc fix adds from $208 billion (Yahoo's prediction) to $245 billion (CBS) to the actual cost of ObamaCare, sans accounting tricks.
Add the two together, and the cost is already up by (averaging) more than $340 billion -- and deep, deep into the red. And the only solution acceptable to the Democrats will naturally be... yet more tax increases! Probably a Euro-style "value added tax," which taxes everything at every level of manufacturing, distribution, and sale... the greatest economy-buster and job-killer ever invented by the socialist mind.
We're shocked, shocked to discover there's brazen corruption at the International House of Obama. But how about this for our response: If Obama threatens to veto his own bill -- let him. Can we at least get all 41 Republicans in the Senate to agree not to rescue Obama from the veto pen he's holding against his own head?
If we can't successfully filibuster a massive tax increase -- the only purpose of which is to appease the Obamacle -- then we may as well just pack it in and return to the primordial ooze, whence we came.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► May 11, 2010
Believe It - or Not
Does it matter that, if Elena Kagen is confirmed, the U.S. Supreme Court would, for the first time in history, have not a single Protestant justice? Were she confirmed, the Court would comprise six Roman Catholics and three Jews. Does this make a difference?
Honestly, I don't think it does. Sectarian doctrinal and theological differences remain strong, but they no longer translate into policy or judicial differences, in my opinion. There are pro-choice and pro-life self-described Catholics, just as there are pro-choice and pro-life Protestants; the same is true for most other issues, even moral ones like public prayer and same-sex marriage: You can find self-described religious adherents on both sides of every policy issue.
Where we find a stark policy difference, however, is between the religious and the irreligious, the believer and the strict materialist: Those who firmly believe in God and have a strong religiosity tend to think, act, and vote very differently from those who are secular, humanist, and atheist. There appears to be a very big distinction between those who see their religion primarily in terms of identity politics, as if it were a tribe or race, and those who see belief as a religious obligation with behavioral rules they must obey and a "catechism" they must profess.
(I ignore agnostics in this taxonomy. Although there are a few actual agnostics, such as myself, in practice, 99% of "agnostics" are actually practicing atheists: That is, they act as if there is no God, not as if they don't know whether there's a God.)
A religious Jew on the Court, even a liberal, would issue profoundly different rulings than would a very secular Jew; a religious Catholic would rule very differently than a secular Catholic, and so forth. Contrast the jurisprudence of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, both of whom are devout, practicing Catholics, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was raised Catholic but seems to have converted to Feminism and Wise Latina-ism in the intervening decades. I don't know for sure, but I strongly suspect that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito are also strongly and traditionally religious; I don't know about Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Similarly, though I haven't made an exhaustive survey, my sense is that the two Jews currently on the court, both very liberal and judicial activists -- Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer -- are not particularly religious. I cannot find a biography for either that mentions attending synogogue nowadays, for instance.
(Note that "being a Jew" is very different from being a religous Jew; myself, for example... I'm unquestionably a Jew, but I'm not at all religious. Judaism is a religion, but Jewishness is an identity.)
The same appears to be true of Elena Kagan:
A similar murkiness haunts how Kagan handles her Jewishness -- she has alluded to it, but has not explicitly stated it since her nomination.
Her interlocutors in the Jewish community say Kagan is Jewish savvy, but they are hard pressed to come up with her own beliefs.
"Jewish savvy?" I think it safe to say that if she was a traditionally religious Jew, many people who know her would be speaking up and saying so, both those who support and those who oppose her. She appears to be a typical, secular, New York liberal who happens to be of Jewish ancestory.
Though I myself am irreligious, I think it supremely important that society be religious. I really don't care what religion a person practices, so long as it's based upon the Dennis Prager formulation of "ethical monotheism," an omnipotent, omniscient God whose most important commandment is that we humans treat each other with both justice and decency. I would prefer a religious Moslem justice over a totally secular Protestant-background justice, so long as the former practiced a form of Islam that was ethical monotheism (if such an Islamic sect exists).
It makes no nevermind to me whether we have a practicing Catholic, a practicing Protestant, or a practicing Jew; secular humanists and atheists, however, are just too prone to follow the siren song of the Left.
Date ►►► May 10, 2010
One-Time Taliban Head Mullah Omar... in Custody?
So sayeth Brad Thor at Big Government...
Through key intelligence sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have just learned that reclusive Taliban leader and top Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Omar has been taken into custody [by Pakistan authorities].
Amusingly enough, it appears that both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Snide Hillary Clinton were not exactly in the loop:
At the end of March, US Military Intelligence was informed by US operatives working in the Af/Pak theater on behalf of the D.O.D. that Omar had been detained by Pakistani authorities. One would assume that this would be passed up the chain and that the Secretary of Defense would have been alerted immediately. From what I am hearing, that may not have been the case.
When this explosive information was quietly confirmed to United States Intelligence ten days ago by Pakistani authorities, it appeared to take the Defense Department by surprise. No one, though, is going to be more surprised than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It seems even with confirmation from the Pakistanis themselves, she was never brought up to speed.
Hm... perhaps "United States Intelligence" was concerned that if Hillary squealed to President Barack H. Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder would be dispatched on the first available suborbital rocket to Pakistan to read Mullah "Cyclops" Omar his Miranda rights.
Preeners vs. Winners: Time to Throw Off the Gloves
Over on my favorite blog, Paul Mirengoff comes down strongly against Republicans mounting a filibuster of the nomination of Elena Kagen, barring the discovery of what Paul calls "extraordinary circumstances." On this here blog here, brilliant trial lawyer and all-around miscreant and gadfly Beldar made the same point a couple of days ago. (I would suggest that Paul must have cribbed from Beldar, except that would necessarily imply that Paul Mirengoff reads Big Lizards... which assertion would further my reputation of delusional disorder.)
In our previous post linked above, I suggested that the GOP might try to delay President Barack H. Obama's Supreme Court nomination until the next Congress is seated, eight months from now. The air will surely be much thinner then for judicial activists, while constitutionalists will have more congressional firepower; perhaps the Obamacle could be induced to moderate his radicalism somewhat... but only if the president's forray into "Chicago Rules" stops working and begins backfiring.
Here's how Beldar put his rejection of the plan:
I argued very insistently during the Bush-43 Administration that judicial filibusters (as opposed to filibusters in general) are contrary to the clearly implied constitutional duty of senators to give the president an up or down vote on his nominees. That duty was honored and satisfied for the most part throughout most of the history of the Republic; filibustering is a long tradition, but not one that historically has included judicial nominees.
I could be flip and simply respond, "tick tock, Beldar; care to join us in the twenty-first century?" But I'll resist the temptation to make that my only argument...
We currently inhabit a political epoch in which two rival claimants to the throne, Republicans and Democrats, are engaged in a titanic battle for the future of the realm. In that twilight struggle, Democrats routinely fail to "honor and satisfy" the principles of comity, civility, and fair play that used to bind our country together stronger than Gorilla Glue. Yet Paul's and Beldar's thesis essentially argues that, the GOP should nevertheless adhere to those traditions, regardless of Democratic contarianism.
In the first years of the new millennium, we fought to preserve Senate comity... and we lost. Big time. Now we must ask the question: Is our purpose now merely to prove that we are morally superior to the Left?
Or is our purpose to force the cheaters and revisionists to retreat to the status quo ante and begin honoring the old commitments again? If the former, then we are merely preeners; but if the latter, we must ask (as in any conflict) what tactics should we employ to achieve victory?
If all we're interested in doing is puffing out our chests and strutting around like roosters, playing the self-righteousness card as if it were wild, then there's no point to this discussion: Democrats will be happy to let us act superior, so long as we allow them to continue winning. So let's suppose, for sake of continued argument, that we're really interested in changing the rules back to where they were before. How best can we do that?
Here is the key to this post: Democrats will never return to the old rules so long as the new rules give them an edge. And the new rules will give them an edge so long as Republicans quaintly adhere to the old: We'll get gobsmacked over and over, with each dirty Democratic victory reinforcing, in their minds, the benefits of playing by the new.
The worst possible tactic for us to use -- if our goal is to restore the system back to the way it used to work -- would be to enable a double standard, where Democrats can filibuster judicial appointments to their heart's desire, while Republicans stand stiff on principle and refuse to take advantage of the parliamentary maneuver.
This isn't just moral posturing, it's unilateral surrender: The Democrats' incentive is to keep doing what's successful; there's no reason in the world for them to back away from their aggressive, hyper-partisan strategy. It's working!
But if we were to begin playing by Chicago Rules ourselves, that would eliminate the advantage the Left has long enjoyed by its monopoly on ruthlessness. If both sides, not just one, were fighting under the new rules, then the Democrats would have an incentive to cut a deal with the GOP, both sides agreeing to scale back the divisiveness.
Simply put, we need to show the Democrats that two can play this game. If we bloody the Left's nose, then and only then might they be willing to agree to a truce, or at least a temporary ceasefire.
I'm tired of Democrats offering to hold the football while Republicans run up and kick it. Next time, Charlie Brown should haul off and kick Lucy, not the empty space where the ball was before she yanked it away. Then maybe she -- or should I say Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) -- might contemplate his sore backside and become more willing to negotiate in good faith, knowing that bad faith will finally carry some unpleasant consequences.
Date ►►► May 7, 2010
NYT: In Triumph for Obama, Unemployment Rate Rises!
I just couldn't resist this quick hit:
Economy Gains Impetus as U.S. Employers Add 290,000 Jobs
The American economy continued to add jobs in April in a further sign that an economic recovery was on track.
Payrolls surged with an unexpectedly strong 290,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported on Friday, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent. “This is unambiguously a strong report for growth implications,” James O’Sullivan, chief economist at MF Global, said. “It adds to the evidence that the pickup in growth is leading to a clear-cut pickup in employment. It is very clear there has been a bounce here, and momentum has been up.”
Let's perform a little Gedankenexperiment with this piece: Suppose the same financial report were issued, but assume the president is George W. Bush.
How would the Times have written this story?
The Flying Fickle Finger of Guilt
I'm a little tired of seeing everything and everybody blamed for the failed intelligence, failed security, and failed prevention of the ultimately failed bombing that Faisal Shahzad failed to perpetrate... that is, blaming everybody except Barack H. Obama, of course. I come not to praise Obama, but to accuse him.
Here are a few facts:
According to a CBS story published Tuesday, May 4th at 2:41 PM, Shahzad was arrested "late Monday night." That would have to be Monday, May 3rd. The story includes the following sentence: "Shahzad... was later read his Miranda rights and continued to cooperate with authorities after that, [Deputy Director of the FBI John S.] Pistole said."
If Shahzad was arrested "late Monday night" and Mirandized prior to Tuesday afternoon, when the story was posted, that means the Feds questioned him less than one day before telling him he had the right to clam up and lawyer-up. This is insane, but hardly unprecedented; they did pretty much the same with the Undiebomber.
(It's irrelevant that Shahzad chose to keep on yapping; just as our counterterrorism strategy cannot be "hope the bombs fail to explode," our terrorist interrogation strategy cannot be "hope the detainees waive their Miranda rights.")
The supposed reason he was Mirandized so quickly was to make it easier for prosecutors to try the case. But that's hardly the most burning issue, is it? It's much more important to determine whether he acted alone, whether he had accomplices who might carry out further bombings -- successfully, this time -- and whether he was part of a large plot directed from Pakistan, by the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or some other international terrorist organization. Prosecution is far down the list of critical tasks, particularly if we can hold him in custody until we finish interrogating him, using enhanced techniques as necessary and legal.
In the case of a terrorist attack, safeguarding the country takes precedence over a criminal prosecution. The inverted priorities are stupid and incompetent.
In a segment on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, I heard some administration spokesman say that they couldn't hold Shahzad as an unlawful enemy combatant because "he is an American citizen.... We can't just hold an American citizen without charges indefinitely." But is he really an American citizen? Let's examine that a bit more thoroughly.
First of all, it was the Obama administration itself that made him a naturalized American citizen on April 17th, 2009. The president and his federal government clearly dropped the ball by not investigating Shahzad more thoroughly -- just as they did in the months leading up to the Fort Hood massacre last November.
But unlike natural-born citizenship, naturalization is not irrevocable.
In order for Shahzad to become naturalized, he must have filled out form N-400 Application for Naturalization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Reading that form, I notice the following on page 7:
9. Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:
c. A terrorist organization?
10. Have you ever advocated (either directly or indirectly) the overthrow of any government by force or violence?
And on page 8:
D. Good Moral Character
15. Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?
24. Have you ever lied to any U.S. government official to gain entry or admission into the United States?
Shahzad was naturalized in April of 2009; less than two months later, he flew to Peshawar, Pakistan, where he claimed to have undertaken explosives training.
Considering that he had flown to Pakistan many times in the last eleven years, it is a reasonable inference that he did not suddenly develop an interest in -- and contacts with -- terrorist training camps in Pakistan. The most reasonable interpretation of the facts suggests that Shahzad was already in contact with the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda and/or Lashkar-e-Taiba before last April.
If so, then Faisal Shahzad lied on his Application for Naturalization. Lying about a material fact in order to obtain citizenship makes the application fraudulent, which is grounds for administrative denaturalization.
In other words, the Obama administration had an excellent case for stripping Shahzad of his U.S. citizenship... after which he could be held as an unlawful enemy combatant and even transferred to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. So much for the risible claim that his "American citizenship" required the FBI to Mirandize him less than 24 hours after being captured.
Don't let's get buffaloed again: There was no reason at all to Mirandize Faisal Shahzad -- not within 24 hours, nor afterwards. Rather, President Obama should have directed the Justice Department to call an immediate immigration hearing to strip him of the shield of American citizenship precisely so that he could be held as an unlawful enemy combatant and interrogated for as long as it takes to extract all possible intelligence from him.
Anything less constitutes a dereliction of duty on the part of our (ugh) Commander in Chief. Ask not at whom the flying, fickle finger of guilt points; it points directly at B.O.
Date ►►► May 6, 2010
The Soft Bigotry of Insulting Chicanos' Intelligence
Yesterday was May 5th, which in Spanish is Cinco de Mayo... which Mexicans do not celebrate as their Independence Day (that would be September 16th, 1810), but which Mexican Americans (Chicanos) celebrate all across the American Southwest and probably elsewhere as well.
On May 5th, 1862, the nationalist militia of Mexico, under the command of Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated the imperial French forces at the Battala de Puebla. While this didn't end the war with France -- the French fought on for another five years, abandoning their Mexican "colony" only after the United States joined the war on Mexico's side -- Cinco de Mayo is a major Chicano holiday, celebrated primarily by gorging on Mexican food, swigging tequilla, and shooting pistols into the air (kind of like an NBA Finals victory celebration). One hopes the rituals are different in high school.
Yesterday at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, in the Santa Clara Valley of California ("Silicon Valley"), school officials celebrated Cinco de Mayo by sending five students home... for wearing American-flag t-shirts.
Principal Nick Boden called the t-shirts "incendiary," according to one of the students. His rationale for threatening the flag-wearers with suspension and then sending them home was that wearing red, white, and blue on Cinco de Mayo was somehow insulting and disrespectful to Hispanic students, which constitute a very large portion of the school's population; however, the school district is unhappy with Boden's action:
Officials at the school chose not to comment on the situation Wednesday, but one student said an official called the T-shirts "incendiary."
"They said we were starting a fight, we were fuel to the fire," said sophomore Matt Dariano.
The Morgan Hill Unified School District issued this statement: "In an attempt to foster a spirit of cultural awareness and maintain a safe and supportive school environment, the Live Oak High School administration took certain actions earlier today.
"The district does not concur with the Live Oak High School administration's interpretation of either board or district policy related to these actions."
I get the sense that the problem has far more to do with the adults involved, from Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez (who first ordered the students to remove the flag t-shirts) to Principal Boden to some of the parents of the Chicano students:
A parent of two Live Oak students, Teresa Casillas, said the American-flag wearing students were yelling "We live in America!" at the brunch break. She said her children were upset by their behavior at school, calling it disrespectful.
"We're all offended by it," Casillas said. She said parents of all ethnicities she spoke with felt that way. "Morgan Hill is too small of a community to start any racial wars. This is just bringing it out a little bit more."
Does anybody really believe that "parents of all ethnicities" were offended by five students wearing red, white, and blue, rather than red, white, and green? And does anybody really think the students yelled "we live in America" out of the blue? I think it far more likely they yelled it (if at all) in response to anti-American verbal attacks on them by Hispanic students for daring to wear the colors of their own -- and the Hispanic students' own -- country.
The saddest part is that the vice principal and principal don't even realize how it was they, not the five flag-wearers, who insulted and degraded the Mexican-American students yesterday. What could have been a teaching moment was instead warped by rampant political correctness into an incitement to racism and bigotry... against white students.
Let's suppose some Chicano students complained that the five were wearing American flags on "the only day [Mexican Americans] celebrate their heritage."
- Think what a revelation it would have been had Miguel Rodriguez explained to them that, while their heritage may be Mexican, they themselves are American citizens... so the American flag is not insulting or disrespectful to them. (I doubt a single one of the protesting students is actually a Mexican citizen.)
- Imagine if Rodriguez had told them that celebrating a victory by Mexico over France does not require them to attack the United States... which allied with Mexico in that very war.
- Imagine if he had lectured them about showing civility themselves: The five students didn't tell anyone else not to wear the colors of the Mexican flag; why should Hispanic students demand that their classmates not wear the colors of the American flag -- which is, of course, also the flag of the Hispanic students?
But he didn't.
Instead, the Hispanic assistant principal told all the Hispanic students at Live Oak High School that the American flag is insulting, offensive, and disrespectful... and that they have every right to demand it be excluded from an American school.
Good heavens, could a more bigotted, racist message have been sent if they had deliberately aimed for it? Ergo today, surprise, surprise, 200 Hispanic students marched through Morgan Hills chanting "We want respect!" and "Si se puede!" Oh yes, marching and chanting will get them loads of respect; how could we fail to respect children cutting class to demand we cater to their prejudices?
But it's the subtext that really damages the Hispanic students: Beneath the outspoken charge of "disrespect" is the whispered insinuation that Hispanics are too emotionally fragile to understand that ethnicity is not the same as nationality, and neither is equivalent to identity; the implication that they are Mexicans, not real Americans; and the disconcerting suggestion that other people don't enjoy the same First-Amendment right to freedom of speech as Hispanics themselves.
In other words, it's what George W. Bush called "the soft bigotry of low expectations" all over again. Telling Hispanics they can suppress contrary opinion because it hurts too much is just as bad as telling blacks they should get extra "Negro-points" on their university applications because they're not smart enough to compete fairly with whites, Orientals, and Jews. It's an insidious form of "affirmative action": Whites must tolerate contrary speech -- but not Hispanics, because they can't handle it. What a vile, oppressive, and lying meme to inject into the brain of an adolescent.
Hispanics do not need to be coccooned from the marketplace of ideas. They don't need to be coddled, cradled, sequestered, or sealed in an ideological bubble. There is no reason Americans of Mexican and Central or South American heritage should be less able to handle alternate "truths" than any other ethnic or racial group. If everyone is held to the same standards, kids will understand:
Over at Gilroy High School, Mexican and American patriotic colors commingled peacefully Wednesday, Principal Marco Sanchez said.
"Kids were in good spirits," he said. "I was out on campus most of the day and didn't see anything that was abnormal."
He reported no disciplinary issues as a result of Mexican or American patriotism. Plenty of students donned both both countries' national colors but none were [sic] sent home for wearing green, red, white, blue or any combination thereof, he said. Doing so would be "outrageous," he said.
"We're not going to be sending kids home for wearing American flags or wearing patriotic colors," Sanchez said. "That's discriminatory."
Muchas gracias, Principal Sanchez, for the breath of fresh sanity.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Quick and Snarky Observation
In 2008, we elected the least accomplished or experienced person in American history to be President of the United States. Before being elected to the highest office in the land, Barack H. Obama had essentially done nothing but be a "community organizer," taught a bit of law, and run incessantly for higher office while ignoring whatever office he already held.
Now he turns out to be, among other things, the most incompetent president in American history.
Perhaps next time we should insist upon a resume longer than two inches. You think?
Date ►►► May 5, 2010
Just a Dream Away...
With doddering, 162 year old Justice John Paul Stevens shuffling off into the sunset at the end of this Court term, striking about him with his cane and raving about the "good old days" of President Johnson (Andrew, not Lyndon), President Barack H. Obama will get to nominate his second radical, New Left socialist to the Supreme Court. Yet I have a clever but dirty scheme in mind that could blunt the damage caused by such an appointee.
Let's assume that Obama decides not to let a retirement go to waste, thus nominates Diane Wood, Woodrow Harrelson, Hillary Clinton, or others of their ilk. In that circumstance, I think the Republicans would have casus belli to spend an absurdly long time "scrutinizing" the pick... and then filibuster it, on grounds that a leftist Alinskyite is not going to judge cases fairly -- which we should already have known by looking at the imprudent jurisprudence of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, the dearly departed (from the Court, not this coil of tears) David Souter, and of course, from Stevens himself.
This will take time... months, if we really work at it. Then when it's clear Justice Andy Stern won't hunt, Obama will be forced to nominate a new prospective justice -- also a radical, also requiring scrutiny, also subject to filibuster.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
So is it possible that, if we try really hard, we can push the confirmation of a new justice to sometime after the 112th Senate is seated on January 3rd?
There's no law or article in the Constitution requiring all nine Court seats be filled at all times. In fact, with Stevens gone and only eight justices left, the net result would be that the absolute best the Rive Gauche of the Supreme Court could muster for their radical agenda would be a 4-4 tie, if Justice Anthony Kennedy votes with them.
I believe in a tie vote, the Circus Court ruling stands, whatever it may be; so Supreme Court radicalism could only occur in those cases where the appellate decision itself was an activist piece of judicial legislation, and Kennedy sides with the activists.
Pushing confirmation to the next Congress would be an incredible coup: The 112th will contain far more Republicans, making it much more difficult for the president to jam his nominee through; this may force Obama to make a more reasonable appointment, one that can actually get through a more balanced Senate J-Com and Senate floor.
So what do you think? Does the rump GOP conference, including newly elected gadfly Scott Brown, have the huevos to make a filibuster stick? Do they have the will?
Comments welcome, as always; but this time, you are encouraged to be as nasty and mean as you want; so long as none of the the targets of your snidery is online at Big Lizards, either as host or commenter.
A Right Good Trend
The New York Times seems a bit confusticated to report that a record number of black Republicans are running for House seats this year:
The House has not had a black Republican since 2003, when J. C. Watts of Oklahoma left after eight years.
But now black Republicans are running across the country — from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.
Party officials and the candidates themselves acknowledge that they still have uphill fights in both the primaries and the general elections, but they say that black Republicans are running with a confidence they have never had before. They credit the marriage of two factors: dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected.
How can such a thing be, when the GOP is well known as the historic home of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Klan? Squirming a bit, the Times manages to find some voices to pooh-pooh the surge -- Democratic voices, naturally:
But Democrats and other political experts [Democrats are natural political experts, you understand -- DaH] express skepticism about black Republicans’ chances in November. “In 1994 and 2000, there were 24 black G.O.P. nominees,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist who ran Al Gore’s presidential campaign and who is black. “And you didn’t see many of them win their elections.”
Tavis Smiley, a prominent black talk show host who has repeatedly criticized Republicans for not doing more to court black voters, said, “It’s worth remembering that the last time it was declared the ‘Year of the Black Republican,’ it fizzled out.”
Realizing that it's probably not exactly compelling to quote Brazile and Smiley on the irrelevancy of the many black Republican candidates, the Times slides seamlessly into more familiar ground:
Many of the candidates are trying to align themselves with the Tea Partiers, insisting that the racial dynamics of that movement have been overblown. Videos taken at some Tea Party rallies show some participants holding up signs with racially inflammatory language.
A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 25 percent of self-identified Tea Party supporters think that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites, compared with 11 percent of the general public.
One wonders whether Tea Partiers might actually be more knowledgeable about some of Barack H. Obama's appointments, such as Eric Holder as Attorney General -- his decisions, such as the decision to drop the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party after already winning it, and the president's knee-jerk defense of Professor Henry Louis Gates when the activist was arrested last July -- and his past and current associations, from the Irreverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former mentor, to his current political advisor, the Even More Irreverend Al Sharpton. Such greater awareness of just how racialist the current administration truly is might plausibly explain why Tea Partiers are more inclined to believe that the Obama administration is biased towards blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities and against whites. But let's MoveOn...
The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative a news media fiction. “I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos,” said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. “There is no violence or racism there.”
Flummoxed by the refusal of black Republicans to attack the Republican Party as racist, the Times makes one last valiant stand for the natural order of things:
Still, black Republicans face a double hurdle: black Democrats who are disinclined to back them in a general election, and incongruity with white Republicans, who sometimes do not welcome the blacks whom party officials claim to covet as new members.
Black conservatives and Republicans running for office: It's just a cynical ploy to get elected!
I love this trend; I suspect there are also large numbers of Hispanics, Orientals, and Occidentals running as Republicans this year, compared to 2008 and 2006, when GOP chances looked much dimmer. When prospects are happier, more people of all races throw their heads into the ring. Surprise, surprise.
But in particular, the more minority GOP candidates run, the harder it is for the Left to pull their favorite slander-lever, the risible racism regurgitation. Too, whether we like it or not,
we remain a dominant military superpower there are still many voters who tend to vote along racial lines -- and they are mostly minorities: I believe that Blacks and Hispanics are far likelier to ignore ideological differences and vote for co-ethnics than are whites. As long as the Republican Party is wrongly perceived as being "the party for white people only," we will continue to lose many marginal races that, politically and economically, we really ought to win.
In many ways, Hispanics are natural conservatives: They have very strong family structures and often large families; Hispanic culture supports hard work; they tend to be cultural conservatives, opposing easy abortion, drop-of-a-hat divorce, and same-sex marriage; and a great many Hispanics are small businessmen and other entrepeneurs.
The same is true, to a somewhat lesser degree, with blacks, who have been culturally crippled by decades of "leadership" by the likes of Jesse Jackson and the aforementioned Sharpton, who preach helplessness, dependency, and socially destructive behaviors (Larry Elder is positively Lincolnesque on this subject). For another example, blacks strongly support education vouchers that allow low-income students to attend private secular and religious schools, instead of the hellholes they're shunted into by geography.
There's no legitimate reason why Hispanics and blacks should overwhelmingly vote Democratic; yet the GOP has trouble cracking 35% of the former and even 10% of the latter, election after election. Sadly, I believe a significant portion of this gap is due to their tendency to vote for the co-ethnic candidate... and due to Republicans who shun "racial" recruiting, for ideological reasons.
Republicans believe such recruiting flies in the face of the nondiscrimination that has been at the core of the party since its inception in 1854, founded to oppose the expansion of black slavery; but I've never bought into that argument. Taking race into account when encouraging candidates to run is no more odious than taking into account a potential candidate's good looks, height, physique, or even self-selected characteristics like being a military veteran or having run a successful business.
Any candidate for office is first and foremost a person; and if you want to win elections, you must recruit the most likeable and electable person available, so long as he supports the party on key ideological issues. People are people, and they will react to appearances; it's foolish to ignore that simple fact, regardless of how "unfair" it may seem to short, dumpy, wannabe candidates -- or lily-white candidates in black or Hispanic districts.
I very much hope that many of these candidates prevail in their primaries, and then of course in the general election as well. We need to shed the silly and a-historic reputation of Republican racism. Besides, I'm fascinated to see how the Congressional Black Caucus rationalizes refusing membership to a dozen or more new black House Republicans; that should be both amusing and educational.
Date ►►► May 3, 2010
Why Do We Need Immigrants? Steyn Misses His Mark
Mark Steyn has penned -- phosphored another jeremiad against illegal immigration. I do agree with many of his points; but he misses the most glaringly obvious reason why immigration, and yes, even illegal immigration, can benefit our country.
The first and most counterintuitive point, crashing headlong into conservative orthodoxy like a noisy freight train into a musty museum, is this: When determining whether immigration is on the whole positive or negative for society, in the long run, it's completely irrelevant whether that immigration is legal or illegal. What matters is not the legal status of the immigrant but why he chose to immigrate to America.
Why does some particular foreigner come to reside here? Is it (1) because he wants to assimilate into America and become a real American? Or has he some other reason? For example:
- To marry or move in with an American resident or citizen;
- To work in a field unavailable in the immigrant's homeland;
- To make some money and then go home again;
- To suck up American welfare;
- Or to engage in violence, terrorism, drug dealing, or some other terrible criminal behavior.
The only noble reason to immigrate here is the first, the intense desire to Americanize.
The next two reasons -- to live with a loved one, or to work in a career that requires a more capitalist environment -- are at least not ignoble; they're potentially valid reasons, depending on other circumstances. But if the immigrant is at least pro-American, immigration for these reasons will still benefit America.
Apart from those three motivations, however, I can think of no valid reason to become a new resident of the United States. (I'm open to other suggestions, if I missed any other good reasons to immigrate.)
Immigrants who come here for Americanization, cohabitation, and career employment can be very beneficial to the United States, and we should encourage them. But immigrants who come here for other reasons -- including as "guest workers" -- cause far more harm to the country than any benefit they bring, and we should bar them. This is the Big Lizards Fundamental Theorem of Immigration.
Here is the crux of my argument: Unless the immigration laws line up with the Fundamental Theorem of Immigration, they're lousy guides to whether specific immigrants are good or bad for America.
Sadly, that is precisely the situation we're in right now: We encourage immigration, both temporary and permanent, from poor people who have no interest in becoming Americans, no real family connections here, and no job prospects; and we discourage potential immigrants who would make the very best naturalized citizens, especially liberty-loving immigrants from former Eastern European countries, persecuted Christians from Africa and the Moslem countries, and capitalist entrepeneurs who want to start businesses here. Thus, an enormous number of legal immigrants are worse for the country than a great many illegal immigrants.
Here's a thought experiment. Suppose that a future administration noodled with the immigration quotas so that we only admitted immigrants from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Russia, Red China, North Korea, and Vietnam; and suppose we pointedly did not bar those with a history of anti-American activity... members of the Taliban, for example, or former members of Vladimir Putin's secret police. Everybody else was forbidden entry.
My question is this: Who would you rather moved next door: a legal resident recently from Iran, who used to be a low-ranking officer in the Qods Force? Or would you prefer an Ukrainian software designer -- who snuck in illegally because the cockamamie laws wouldn't let him through the gate? Anyone who would rather have the "legal" Iranian storm-trooper than the "illegal" Ukrainian computer geek has let his ideology kidnap his brain, in my opinion.
To me, it's clear that what matters most is the quality of the immigrant, and in particular, why he came here; not whether the immigration laws happen to match up with the Fundamental Theorem so that the good immigrant can also be the legal immigrant. That is why I have stressed from my earliest immigration posts that we should pay far more attention to the legal immigration system, bringing it into conformity with what I'm now calling the Fundamental Theorem, than with the "problem" of X number of illegal immigrants here now (12 million, 20 million, whatever arbitrary number one wants to posit).
We may well have 20 million immigrants we should deport; but that group of deportables will never exactly match the group of all illegals. In fact, the intersection can be woefully small, as the thought experiment demonstrates.
This is where Mark Steyn and many other conservatives go wrong on the immigration issue: They are so caught up in the mythology that every illegal is a "criminal" -- not in the purely technical sense, but as most people use the word -- that they miss the more important distinction between good immigrants and bad immigrants.
All right, but why do we need immigrants at all? Since I oppose "guest workers," labor shortages cannot be a reason I would cite for immigration. What other benefit does the United States gain from accepting good immigrants?
The greatest gift immigrants bring to America is not cheap labor or a larger tax base but cross-cultural fertilization; without a steady influx of immigration from exotic lands, our society will stagnate. Immigrants bring energy, enthusiasm, new perspectives, different ways of solving problems, and quite frequently greater religiosity and (to be blunt) greater fertility. This is true both of good and bad immigrants, by the way; the attributes are neutral.
Good (assimilable) immigrants bring energy and enthusiasm to re-Americanizing America -- and boy, do we need it! They bring new ways of solving the problems we've brought on ourselves by the steady leftward tug of an ever-expanding government. Good immigrants bring a zeal for the kind of religion that Dennis Prager calls "ethical monotheism," which we surely will need to fight off the bloodthirsty death-cult of Islamist jihadism. And of course, we are chronically short of people, the one indispensible resource necessary for expanding wealth; good immigrants will increase our fertility rate without increasing the ranks of the enemy within.
But won't the new immigrants radically change America?
I certainly hope they will! If we're impervious to change, that means we're living in zombieland. Life is change; it has always been and always will be.
But they might take over the country! What then?
Worries that new immigrants will "take over" miss the point: American society is the concatenation of immigrants who "took over," or at least introduced a powerful enough "meme" that it worked its way into the mosaic of "Americanism." That's why I refer to our society as American Borg culture: Every distinct cultural idiosyncrasy in the melting pot will be assimilated; resistance is futile.
America has changed repeatedly over the last 400 years, by and large because of immigration. Consider those illegal immigrants who arrived in Jamestown from England in 1607; I think they changed the North American continent for the better, anti-European Indian activists notwithstanding.
The problem we see is not immigration, nor even illegal immigration; the real problem is the wrong kind of immigration, by people determined not to assimilate into America, not to add their own memetic culture to America... but instead to remake America in the image of the failed societies whence they arrived. And that restatement of the Fundamental Theorem is true whether the anti-American immigrants have green cards or swam the Rio Grande.
Great Britain Outlaws Christianity
Or so it appears, if this story from the Daily Telegraph is accurate. Ministers in Jolly Olde E. are being arrested under the Public Order Act of 1986 -- for saying out loud that Christianity dubs gay sex a sin:
Dale McAlpine was charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” after a homosexual police community support officer (PCSO) overheard him reciting a number of “sins” referred to in the Bible, including blasphemy, drunkenness and same sex relationships....
Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.
Evidently, it's legal to preach the Christian faith (or the Jewish faith, for that matter)... so long as you whisper inaudibly.
Christian campaigners have expressed alarm that the Public Order Act, introduced in 1986 to tackle violent rioters and football hooligans, is being used to curb religious free speech.
Sam Webster, a solicitor-advocate for the Christian Institute, which is supporting Mr McAlpine, said it is not a crime to express the belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.
“The police have a duty to maintain public order but they also have a duty to defend the lawful free speech of citizens,” he said.
“Case law has ruled that the orthodox Christian belief that homosexual conduct is sinful is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society."
Unless you run into "the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison officer for Cumbria police;" in which case, thousands of years of religious teaching are swept into the dustbin of history, along with free speech, to make way for acceptable speech that doesn't offend anyone -- rather, anyone opposed to Western civilization. (You're allowed to offend Western civ. itself, of course; soon it may become mandatory.)
This is our future if we continue down the route of "hate-speech" laws and codes. The busts may start out restricted to clearly repugnant speech that is deliberate and intended to inflict emotional distress; but inevitably, their scope will expand to cut off controversial political opinions... where "controversial" is tendentiously redefined to mean "bucking the secular leftist trend in the European Union." Thus the anti-Judeo-Christian argument becomes a paradigm of "Shut up," he explained. Give 'em an itch, and they take a snarl.
Oh... did I forget to mention until now that I personally find nothing at all sinful or criminal about homosexual activity; and that I completely support Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruling that overturned all so-called anti-sodomy laws nationwide? It's irrelevant to my point; but I suspect that liberals who started this post already stopped reading long ago; and they're now busily telling their friends that I'm a right-wing, fascist, homophobic bigot who wants all gays arrested, branded, and send to concentration camps.
The point is that I have a number of crabbed and cranky opinions of my own that flout in the face of conventional wisdom, so I have a vested interest in seeing that everybody gets to exercise his freedom of speech. An almighty State big enough to take that fundamental liberty away from a Bible-thumping religious zealot like McAlpine -- is big enough to take away my fundamental right to say that Barack H. Obama is a national socialist.
So I make common cause with people who reject probably 75% of my core beliefs... because within the remaining 25% lurks the most sacred creed in my generally secular worldview, my own rewrite of the slogan of the French revolution: "Liberty, Accountability, Individualism!"
I reckon that's no longer fashionable in the United Kingdom -- and is rapidly becoming quaint and déclassé in my own land as well.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
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