Date ►►► July 31, 2010
A Quick Chip to Patterico...
In a post today, my old blog-boss Patterico argued the inarguable and obvious point that children raised without fathers were more likely to suffer a number of significant drawbacks in life than children raised in an intact home with a mother and father. Patterico writes:
Here is a generalization for you: when I see violent criminals in court, they tend to be fatherless. When government welfare policies encourage fatherless households, they encourage crime and violence. And when anyone -- unmarried women or anyone else -- votes for expanding the welfare state, they are voting for a continuation of this depressing and dangerous cycle.
Patterico is spot on; I couldn't have said it better. And I'll give you another generalization that is equally true: Children raised without fathers tend to have a difficult time being fathers -- and a difficult time being firm without being cruel, being assertive without being aggressive, and balancing immediate desire with long-term planning.
And children raised without mothers tend to have a hard time empathizing with others, dealing with women, sharing and caring, and showing real love and affection. So it's a terrible shame when government policy encourages marriages that shun either fathers or mothers.
Alas, Patterico seems not to have thought this last point through to its logical conclusion... for there is another issue besides crime and welfare that is driven by the Left's desire to sever the sacred bond between male and female in American and Western society; and last time we talked about it, he was all for the radical and progressive transformation being shoved down our throats.
If you're still not sure what issue I'm talking about -- just check the category listed at the top of this post, just underneath the post title.
To quote the immortal Stan Lee (still truckin' on at 87), "'Nuff said."
Date ►►► July 30, 2010
National Reconstitution by Decree
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA, 96%) managed to intercept an internal memo sent in April to the Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Alejandro Mayorkas. The memo details how the USCIS can bypass Congress, bypass the people, and simply implement a limited -- or for that matter, un-limited -- amnesty of illegal aliens... with no increase in border security and no Republican or conservative Democratic input whatsoever:
"We continue to maintain that comprehensive bipartisan legislation, coupled with smart, effective enforcement, is the only solution to our nation's immigration challenges," he said in a statement.
Still, the memo makes clear that even without such a bill, immigration officials have identified a variety of ways to relax U.S. policy to allow more undocumented immigrants who might otherwise face deportation to stay in the country. Among the options outlined is expanding the use of "deferred action" - in which the government can use its discretion to halt a deportation indefinitely, usually for an urgent humanitarian reason.
"While it is theoretically possible to grant deferred action to an unrestricted number of unlawfully present individuals, doing so would likely be controversial [!], not to mention expensive," the memo says. Instead, officials suggest using the option for certain groups, such as tens of thousands of high school graduates who have been brought up in the U.S. and plan to attend college or serve in the armed forces.
Democrats and Republicans have repeatedly tried to push through legislation - known as the "Dream Act" - to cover those students.
This is a field-tested rhetorical tactic: Democrats concoct a cockamamie scheme to circumvent normal procedures, safeguards, checks and balances, and (of course) Republican opposition, in order to implement some item from the liberal wish list; but they assure us, hand on where their heart would be if they had one, that it will only be used in a few rare and uncontroversial cases. Once it's in play, however, the list of the anointed, like Topsy, just grows; as evidence, consider every liberal government program ever enacted, from welfare, to unemployment "insurance," to Medicare, to school lunch programs, to stimulus spending, to government seizure of private businesses, particularly under President Barack H. Obama.
Note also that this would be actual amnesty, not the plea bargain that Republicans offered in 2006; so far as we can tell from news coverage, the recipients of federal forgiveness envisioned by this memo would not have to pay any fine; would not have to pay back taxes, interest, and penalties they dodged; would not even have to return to their countries of origin and get in the back of the line -- all of which were required by the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.
And don't put much stock in the memo's fret that indefinitely delaying deportation of "an unrestricted number of unlawfully present individuals" would be "controversial;" it won't even be a speedbump on the highway to actual amnesty. The only element it might change will be the timing of the decree; since it's controversial, the USCIS, Mr. Mayorkas, and Obama will simply delay implementation until after November 2nd. Say until Wednesday, November 3rd, at 12:01 am.
"To be clear," Bentley said, the government "will not grant deferred action or humanitarian parole to the nation's entire illegal immigrant population."
Well that's reassuring!
The article runs through a number of technically legal gymnastics by which deportation proceedings against any number of individual illegals, along with a littany of groups of illegals, can be delayed for a period of time, or delayed indefinitely, or just terminated and the subjects handed green cards immediately.
Democrats, liberals, and immigration advocates all see this as immigration "reform":
Some proponents of revamping the immigration system said the document simply points out ways the agency can fix old and outdated practices that separate families and hurt workers and employers.
Writing on the Immigration Policy Center's blog, Director Mary Giovagnoli, a former immigration official, said, "Good for you, USCIS, for trying to do what it can within that broken system."
So activists agree that the system is broken; but what they appear to mean by that is -- that we still have a border. The system will be fixed only when we dissolve our southern and northern borders and declare all of America a "sanctuary State."
And if (Clinton appointed) U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton's preliminary injunction in the Arizona lawsuit were to become permanent law, actually barring state and local police from checking on the immigration status even of those arrested for other crimes, we would be well on our way to becoming a borderless geographic region.
But what's most remarkable (and least surprising) about the memo -- again, assuming the news coverage is more or less accurate about what it says -- is that there is no suggestion that any of these back-alley tactics for allowing illegals to stay would be restricted to immigrants who have a good chance of assimilating, as opposed to those who simply want to be able to go back and forth across the border, or to live in self-created, ethnically pure "bantustans" to avoid being tainted by the gringos.
In other words, the USCIS memo proposes no real reform of the legal immigration system at all, even though it's certainly within their power to pick and choose who receives a whack on the head from the magic legalization wand. The most vital reform is to restrict residency and citizenship to those who truly want to become Americans... not those who just want American jobs but intend to keep their foreign identities.
I say unsurprising because it has become increasingly clear that the only value the Left sees in illegal immigrants is as a pool of fraudulent voters who can be bullied, bribed, or tricked into voting for liberal Democrats. That's why leftists tirelessly champion both illegal-alien amnesty and loose voter-fraud election laws: When implemented, by hook or by crook (usually the latter), the two policies work together, one hand washing the glove, to elect an infinite number of lefties.
Real reform, restricting immigration to people who, though born foreign, are Americans in their hearts is the last thing in the world the Left wants in its mad march to reconstitute the country in their own "progressive" image.
Date ►►► July 29, 2010
Round One Masque for the "Ground Zero Mosque"
Two libertarian friends of mine -- one of whom is the immortal Brad Linaweaver, co-founder of this very blog -- are debating with various libertarian and conservative opponents about whether the city government of New York City should bar construction of Cordoba House on a site two blocks from the remains of the World Trade Centers in southern Manhattan, a site now grimly referred to as Ground Zero.
Those opposed to building the center call it the Ground Zero Mosque (GZM), and the term has become widespread. Those opposed to the opposers object that the term is misleading: Cordoba House an Islamic cultural center, not a mosque, they argue; and it's not to be emplaced exactly upon the rubble of Ground Zero but is actually a couple of blocks away
GZM opponents respond that the center will almost certainly include a mosque, or at least a place where center members can go for Islamic services, to pray, and to hear Islamic sermons... almost certainly radical Islamist sermons, given the nature of the center's Imam, Muslim Brotherhood associate and possible member Feisal Abdul Rauf. It's supposed to be dedicated on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks (I don't know that this is true, but that is the argument). And they argue that the GZM site chosen by Rauf was the closest he could get to Ground Zero itself; I believe even Rauf admits that, though he disputes the claim that he selected it in order to crow over the attack. And there stands the debate so far.
Brad and the third party wrote me to find out where I stood on the issue; this post is adapted from two e-mails I sent them addressing various aspects. (While Brad suggested I write about this debate, I haven't the permission of the third party to drag his or her name into it; so please forgive me if I don't use a name.)
The controversy has two sides (as most do); the first is the American virtues of religious liberty and property rights, enshrined in both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Let's take that side first.
...With liberty and justice for all
I don't particularly respond to "sacred symbols" or "holy land." I see nothing especially special about Mecca, Jerusalem, the Cross, the Magen David, Ground Zero, or for that matter, Arlington National Cemetary; each is just a physical thing or a spot on the map. While I am moved in various ways by the signified -- the actual events and the purposes behind them -- I feel nothing for the signifiers, the geographical places and symbolic objects that point at the more important ideas and events.
I take no personal umbrage at the owner of the property at Ground Zero -- which happens to be the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, basically a two-state port district, or government-owned corporation -- choosing to build another office building there, or a taco stand, or a shrine, or a mosque; it's Port Authority property, and the corporation should be able do what it wants with it. But I do understand the power of symbolism to other people... in this case, both to most Americans and to nearly all Moslems:
- To the former, Ground Zero symbolizes a contemptible and unprovoked sneak attack on thousands of American civilians, innocent foreigners, our most revered part of the American government (the military), and indeed upon our entire economic system of (mostly) free enterprise.
- To a great many, if not most Moslems, Ground Zero symbolizes a righteous blow against the wicked Zionists and Crusaders -- however regrettable it may be that some innocent infidels and even some of the faithful had to die in the striking.
- To other Moslems, it symbolizes the radical Islamism that holds Islam in thrall to Mediaevalism, tribalism, xenophobia, and totalitarianism. (I doubt that any but a handful of Moslems has no reaction whatsoever to Ground Zero as a symbol.)
Thus, for purely strategic reasons, an action in the war against radical Islamism, I would far, far prefer that any building erected on the actual site be a tall, powerful, arrogant, American commercial building, rising even higher than did the Twin Towers; and this time, let's design the damn thing to look as much as possible like a colossal, world-bestriding middle finger extended to the Moloch worshippers who plotted and carried out the 9/11 attacks. I hope thereby to rally Americans to defense of our nation and our culture, and dishearten the Islamists by showing that we will not be cowed, intimidated, or defeated.
As a libertarian (or propertarian), I don't believe the City of New York should be able to forbid the Port Authority from allowing someone to build an actual mosque on the actual site of 9/11; for that matter, as the Port Authority is owned by the states of New York and New Jersey, I don't believe the city would have any legal authority to enact such a prohibition.
(I would be much less forgiving if the Port Authority built a groveling appeasement center at Ground Zero. I still believe the corporation should have the right to build such an apology to the jihadis, but its commissioners would be monumental asses to do so. And I would hope some gazillionaire would raise the funds to buy the site from the P.A. and build something more appropriate there instead -- see design point above.)
But for the very same reason -- the sanctity of private property -- I also oppose allowing the city to prevent Rauf from building an Islamic center (or mosque) two blocks away, on land now owned by Soho Properties (a Moslem-run real-estate investment corporation). Soho owns it; the Cordoba Initiative (run by Rauf) presumably leases it; it's their private property... not communal property owned by the citizens of New York City.
Oh yes, and declaring the site, an old Burlington Coat factory, a "historical landmark" in order to deprive its owner of the right to commercially exploit the real estate is an anti-capitalist scheme that would be denounced by every conservative and libertarian in America... if only Soho Properties and the Cordoba Initiative were Christian or Jewish organizations. I understand from Mike Gallagher's radio show that the vote to declare it a landmark failed. Hallelujah, the God of Take-a-Deep-Breath was working overtime that day.
As to whether Cordoba House will include a mosque... so what if it does? There are plenty of mosques in New York already, as well as Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, Hindu temples, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, Mormon temples, and probably Scientology churches. Obviously we cannot single out one religion and say "but we don't want them!"
Moslems have as much right to erect Islamic cultural and religious centers as do members of any other religion; we have freedom of religion in America. But that does bring us to the other side of this controversy: How far does religious liberty extend? And must we treat every religious institution with exactly the same degree of scrutiny as all of the others, or can we discriminate on the basis of actual behavior?
"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"
The best article about the GZM controversy I have yet read is "Rauf’s Dawa from the World Trade Center Rubble," by Andrew McCarthy, the former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York who successfully prosecuted the "Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel Rahman, and eleven co-defendents for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centers. McCarthy also assisted in the prosecution of the terrorists who bombed the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and he is the author of what I believe to be the single most important book on radical Islamism thus far -- the Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America -- which I urge you all to read.
He argues that Cordoba House is not intended for "interfaith cooperation," as Rauf claims, but is in fact an exercise of dawa, Arabic for spreading Islam by means other than brute force; besides ordinary proselytizing, dawa includes propaganda, lying, bribery, extortion, infiltration, sedition, and sabotage, each of which is condoned by Moslem law if the goal is to advance Islam, specifically radical Islamism and sharia. (Advancing the supremacy of Islam by brute force would be jihad; thus dawa is sometimes called soft jihad by supporters and critics alike.)
McCarthy also amasses good evidence that Rauf is either a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, or at the very least in league with them:
- Two Brotherhood front groups published a special edition of Rauf's 2004 book on Islamism.
Rauf has high praise for the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood, Yusuf Qaradawi, a fundamentalist Islamist (and Brother) who explicitly supports Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation, and suicide attacks on any Israeli and on any American in Iraq. Qaradawi is an exterminationist antisemite who praises Hitler and expresses the desire that during the next Holocaust -- though he claims the Jews exaggerated the previous one -- the final extermination of all Jews in the world will be brought about "at the hand of the believers" (that is, by Moslems).
To Feisal Abdul Rauf, this is a band leader to follow!
Jihadi jiu jitsu
So the question becomes, given that Cordoba House is likely to be a radical Islamist recruitment center, assuming it takes after its founding imam, and a source of infiltration and sabotage into the government and institutions of the United States, for the avowed purpose of overthrowing them and replacing all with a sharia-based Islamic state -- what should be our response? Most of us supported the outing and prosecution of Communist infiltrators, agitators, and saboteurs in the last century; should we not likewise support the outing and prosecution of radical Islamists in this one?
I don't believe the proper response is to prevent it from being sited so close to Ground Zero; but that being said, we certainly have the right to defend ourselves, our nation, and our culture. As Justice Robert H. Jackson opined, "the Constitution is not a suicide pact."
So let's use a little asymmetrical warfare against those who would destroy us. Let's use American ingenuity, which I daresay we have in nigh-infinitely greater supply than adherents of a religion that is frozen in time at the seventh century. We'll turn the enemy's own strength against him: We step back and allow the Cordoba Initiative to proceed, let Rauf build his Cordoba House dawa center; but as it's being built on the site of the old Burlington Coat factory, we should bug the entire building, surveille everyone, and infiltrate the staff and membership.
I suspect such an effort would produce a veritable deluge of actionable, anti-Islamist intelligence. It would allow us to avert numerous terrorist attacks and other crimes, including terrorist funding efforts, sabotage, and espionage. It would give the FBI a tool to uncover untold numbers of Islamist moles, seemingly benign charitable organizations that are in fact the ideological heirs to the Holy Land Foundation. And it would allow us to keep tabs on a very dangerous group of insurgents right here in the United States.
Of course, I would also not be averse to revoking the legal residency or naturalization of any foreign-born resident at the center caught engaging in anti-American activities.
None of these responses conflicts with the principles religious liberty or property rights; certainly law-enforcement agencies have the authority to investigate possible crimes, even when committed by clergy or congregants; and intelligence agencies have authority to detect threats to national security and expedite their extirpation.
The liberal "elites" will believe they have won the day, and in an orgy of overconfidence will take a three-month victory lap. Those conservatives who are eager to trade essential liberty for temporary security will be prevented from giving in to their own worst impulses. And we'll be better able to take the war against radical Islamism straight to the enemy.
See? The quick and the clever can always find a middle ground between fascist tendencies on the Right -- and liberal-fascist tendencies on the Left.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► July 28, 2010
Brilliance at Midnight - the Dawn
In the comments of the previous post, commenter BigLeeH asked how I would "go about pursuing the war of ideas which we both agree should be a central focus in our confrontation with radical Islamism." Here are some thoughts I've had recently on that very subject.
(Note that I only discuss here the war of ideas against the radical Islamists; we of course also need actual military action... but that is beyond the scope of this piece.)
I point out that every one of these suggestions was actually carried out during World War II, within the context of the 1930s and 40s, of course. In fact, the defenders of American values went even farther, making scores of movies that were pro-American, pro-allied (including pro-Soviet), anti-Nazi, and anti-Imperial Japanese; producing pro-America propaganda for radio and the stage; and enlisting the aid of popular entertainers world-wide. There is no reason that conservatives within the entertainment industry -- and there are some -- cannot do at least some of that; "What Man has done, Man can aspire to do again."
School's in forever
The most important task before launching into a war of ideas is to fully arm and equip our "soldiers" -- in this case, our soldiers comprise all Americans willing and able to defend Western values of individual liberty, property and Capitalism, freedom of speech and religion (not merely freedom of worship, as Obama would have it), actual rule of law, and governance by the consent of the governed. Bluntly, I mean educating the masses about the Grand Jihad, its goals, its methods, and the existential danger it poses.
There are, as we know, any number of excellent books which will give the reader a very good education in the goals, strategies, and history of what Andrew McCarthy calls the Grand Jihad or the Project, a.k.a. the Islamist Project (just to be more specific). I'm not going to give a suggested reading list, because I can't possibly survey the literature deeply enough to make even a fair pass at it. But I'm sure there are experts in the field, such as former federal prosecutor McCarthy, or Professor Bernard Lewis, or even a lowly journalist like Mark Steyn or Hugh Hewitt, who could promulgate a required and desired reading list.
Step 1 in the war of ideas is not to be a tabula rasa; let's assume you've all read enough to educate yourselves. We move along.
Alas, while such books are necessary, they won't do the heavy lifting of educating the American heartland. Not because Americans are too stupid to read (that's a canard of the Left), but because most Americans either don't have time to read, or have been so traumatized by being force-fed leftist propaganda in school that they never developed the habit of reading. Thus, a 300-page tome is unattractive and intimidating.
Too, young Americans prefer a more interactive, more human style of communication. I believe much of what we find out, despite the left-leaning news media's desperate attempts to suppress it (such as the true nature of ObamaCare, with its huge taxes, massive premium hikes, and rationing councils that amount to death panels), we find out just by talking to our friends. (I call this news distribution system "water-cooler samizdat.")
Americans are always news-hungry; but for the water-cooler samizdat to start spreading the news virally, it must have an input source somewhere.
Our ideological army must publish short, readable articles in surprising venues, from Readers Digest to People to McCall's to Newsweek to Popular Mechanics, even to Playboy... except for the last, all magazines you'd find in a doctor's office or in the lobby of your office building or in the waiting room of your automobile service center.
These articles should:
- Keep the message simple and clear, using plain words.
- Include necessary examples but not lard down the piece with too many anecdotes.
- Be brutally honest -- not minimizing, but not exaggerating, either.
- Focus on the ideology and how it encourages violence when necessary, but is even more dangerous when it's "mere" propaganda and sabotage.
So much for structure; what about substance? I think this should be the general outline of the articles, though obviously each one should deal with a different aspect or "take" on the central theme:
Radical Islamism has been at war with us not just since 9/11, not even just since 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini seized control in Iran, but at least since 1928, the year that Hassan al-Banna founded the Society of Muslim Brothers (the Muslim Brotherhood). Or perhaps since the mid-eighteenth century, when Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab began preaching what we now call Wahhabism. Or one could even trace the war's beginning all the way back to Mohammed himself at the turn of the 7th century.
The point is that they, the Islamists, have always known they were at war with us, the West; and they have acted accordingly. Contrariwise, we have known, then forgotten, then remembered, then forgotten again, then remembered again, then forgotten again... for literally centuries. 9/11 was an alarm klaxton warning us that we've allowed the enemy to breach the outer defenses. The threat persists; but too many Americans, and especially too many of our national leaders, have long since hit the snooze button, rolled over, and fallen back asleep.
But can anti-Islamists really gain a toehold in national magazines? Not all, but surely some.
A few of the obvious venues will be utterly hostile to "outing" radical Islamism. But credentialed journalists who oppose the Grand Jihad must keep trying; and of course, keep publishing in those magazines that are not actively hostile to Western values or active collaborators with radical Islamism.
(How does an ordinary writer get published in a magazine like the above? It's not easy; I've never been able to crack them. But one tactic is to team up with someone who has "credentials" in the national-security or Islamic studies field, someone who has the knowledge but not the ability to write a strong article. National magazines are much more likely to publish something by, say, a former senator and his co-writer, or a former CIA analyst and his co-writer, than by some no-name writer whose only nonfiction publication is the blog he writes. Of course, if the writer himself has such credentials, that's even better!)
Another good source of education is a guest speaker at a club, service organization, or church gathering. Such venues are often desperate for entertaining and motivational speakers on a wide variety of topics; so why not this one? Those of you who are good at public speaking could work up a nice 45-minute talk: Why the world seems suddenly upside-down -- and how it's been a long time coming.
The presidential "bully pulpit" is another powerful venue. Of course, Obama is highly unlikely to aid or abet this effort... but if this president won't do it, we must demand that the next president becomes the Great Communicator, like Ronald Reagan, about the threat of our time that rivals the threat of Communism that Reagan faced -- and defeated.
But there are plenty of mini-bully pulpits, many Republican and even some anti-jihad Democratic congressmen who can talk about the Islamist Project -- its origins, its agenda, the threat it poses, and what we can do about it -- during town-hall meetings, during interviews, and during their reelection campaigns. It shouldn't be too much of a distraction; national security is always an important "issue" for American voters.
Once Americans have a much better understanding of what we're up against and where to look for radical Islamist subversion of our system of government (for example, demands for "sharia law" in some section of an American city that happens to have a large Moslem population), they can denounce the idea, out the vermin who are pushing it, and largely neutralize the "soft jihad."
There's gotta be a law...!
And for the most part, there is.
It's long past time we start prosecuting (at the least) every member of the government, federal, state, and local, who knowingly leaks classified information, contributes money or effort to terrorist groups, or infiltrates vital agencies or departments with the intent to sabotage them. For too long, our policy has been to fret and dither but never actually file charges.
This stands in marked contrast with how we treat those caught spying, infiltrating, or sabotaging on behalf of foreign governments in past decades, such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or a host of other hostiles. Why should covert agents for enemy ideologies like radical Islamism get a free pass?
We'll win some prosecutions and lose others; but even the losses, if well publicized, will serve to wake up Americans and other Westerners to the danger. And every prosecution will out another batch of deep-cover, enemy organizations and individuals; just as the Holy Land Foundation prosecution outed CAIR, the Council for American Islamic Relations, as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the Grand Jihad.
More particularly, we need to find and expose all the "Major Hasans" who have infiltrated the military, the intelligence services, or the State Department; alas, I suspect there are hundreds of such (wide awake) sleeper agents in our midst.
At the very least, we can start with the loudest, most visible, and most astonishingly overt about their sympathies... as was Nidal Malik Hasan, who is charged with murdering thirteen of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood and attempting to slay 32 others. His radical Islamism and America hatred was an open secret for years, but the Army did nothing substantial about him. And then he had his episode of "sudden" jihad syndrome. But in most cases, such explosions of violence are neither sudden nor surprising; such radicals generally cannot contain themselves for longer than a few minutes without outing themselves... if anyone's listening.
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on them
Similarly, whenever anti-Islamist government officials of any party, or any news organization that actually supports freedom of the press, obtains intelligence of some atrocity or infiltration or subversion in the West, even outside the United States, it should issue a press release or publish a story, respectively. In the first case, politicians should e-mail the press release to every newspaper, local or national news channel, and news radio show in the country. Many small-town newspapers love getting national press releases, because they can quickly write a story from it, getting some nice, international coverage without them having to pay reporters to hang out in Washington D.C. And Even the big metro papers and the network newsies find it hard to ignore forever a story that powerful Washington personalities are pushing hard.
Even if they write a story to try to refute or rebut the claim that Islamists are trying to subvert and destroy Western democracy, that would be better than completely ignoring it... which is what they do now, with nobody pushing back.
As a general rule, the best way to disrupt the infiltration and sabotage phase of the soft jihad is to drag it, writhing and screaming, into the light of day.
Invite the God of the West into the debate
Conservatives who are well educated on the subject of the Islamist Project, and who are members of a congregation, should encourage their pastors to begin giving sermons on the differences between the Judeo-Christian God and what He wants from Mankind -- and the radical Islamist version of Allah, and what he demands from Mankind. I daresay many more Americans get their worldview and moral compass from church or synagogue than from the rive-gauche news media, shocking as that may sound.
Again, it's vital not to exaggerate; we are not fighting a jihad against all of Islam. There are hundreds of millions of Moslems who reject the Islamist Project, who have undergone a quiet Enlightenment on their own, however ahistorical such moderating influences may be within Islam.
Of course, the Mediaeval Christian Church itself was militant, supremacist, totalitarian, and perfectly willing to slaughter those we now see as innocents, but who the Church damned at the time as heretics, infidels, Jews, witches, or sadly, sometimes simply people who owned property that some powerful clergyman coveted. Such hypocritical or intolerant behavior is, in fact, what led to the Judeo-Christian Enlightenment in the first place; and it can lead to the same rejectionism within Islam... though admittedly, Enlightenment thinkers had more to work with in Judeo-Christianity; neither Jesus nor Moses was a bitter, enraged, vengeful old man defined entirely by who and what he hated, rather that what he loved.
Still, the Reformation and the Enlightenment are precedents we should not discard. I don't believe there are many today who defend, say, the harsh sentences (including death by stoning) for seemingly trivial offenses in ancient Judaism; the violent excesses of the crusades; the expulsion of all Jews from Spain in 1492; the continent-wide Inquisition against witches in the fifteenth century; the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572; the brutal suppression of Catholics under Queen Elizabeth in the late sixteenth century, the seventeenth-century witch-mania among Protestant churches in the United States; or even such modern-day acts of extraordinary religious violence as the Mountain Meadows Massacre of more than a hundred peaceful settlers by the Mormons in 1857.
Yet today, neither the Catholic Church, nor the Protestant churches, nor any branch of Judaism, nor the Mormons engage in, condone, or even tolerate such violence and totalitarian control over the individual. They changed; they changed in the wink of an eye; and they changed much for the better.
But no one living in the earlier versions of those societies would have suspected such a change was about happen. It seemed to come out of nowhere; but reformation and englightenment typically do spring "ex-nihilio." There clearly is hope, and we must believe there is hope, that Islam too can shed its own history and become "just another religion."
Such change begins by dissidents drawing contrasts between the paradise the radicals promise -- and the Hell on Earth they actually deliver.
Finally, closer to home, Christian ministries must focus with an even greater intensity on converting black prison inmates to Christianity, to save them from being converted by the Nation of Islam instead. The combination of a violent life history, an unwillingness to live within the law, and a violent, jihadist ideology is the ideal incubator for terrorists, subversives, and saboteurs. Reform would be best; but even if they remain mere criminals, that's far better than becoming self-styled "soldiers of Allah."
"Good enough" is good enough
This list of suggestions is surely not inclusive, but we cannot wait for the perfect plan before we start to implement what we can do today. In fact, if we even followed half or a third of the obvious paths I suggest here, we'd be a heck of a lot better off, better armed, more vigilant, and we would make much harder targets than we do right now.
Date ►►► July 26, 2010
Brilliance at Midnight
The take-away from the massive dumping of leaked U.S. military documents on WikiLeaks, documents related to the conduct and progress of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is this: The putative "rift" between Islamist terrorists on the one hand, and radical Islamists who "reject terrorism" (at specific times and places) on the other hand, has nothing to do with any ultimate goal of Islamism.
The rift reflects only a difference of opinion about the precise strategies and tactics for achieving that goal. Islamist victory conditions are the same in both groups: a pure, radical Islamism dominant across the globe, with sharia the final law in every country.
This is, of course, the central thesis of Andrew McCarthy's seminal work, the Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. But we see it played out in the carefully parsed response of the administration of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to the documentation, throughout the leaked papers, of cooperation between Pakistan officials and the Taliban... at the very time the former are supposed to be allied with the United States and NATO at war with the latter.
Note how carefully spokesmen dance around the actual accusation:
A senior ISI official, speaking on condition of anonymity under standard practice, sharply condemned the reports as “part of the malicious campaign to malign the spy organization” and said the ISI would “continue to eradicate the menace of terrorism with or without the help of the West.”
The unnamed official pointedly restricted the term "menace" to terrorism; but the danger is not terrorism but Islamism. The accusation against the ISI, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence in Pakistan, is not that they, themselves engage in "martyrdom operations" in Pakistan or Afghanistan; of course they don't (in general). Rather, the data-dump documents that the ISI especially, but other Pakistan government bodies as well, leak military intelligence like a sieve. Some of the leaks are simple incompetence; but others are due to corruption (bribery) or a radical ideology that deliberately aids and abets Islamist groups... including those who prematurely engage in terrorism at this time, before Pakistan has been sufficiently "Islamicized" to embrace the ideology of the Taliban.
Farhatullah Babar, the spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari, dismissed the reports and said that Pakistan remained “a part of a strategic alliance of the United States in the fight against terrorism....”
Mr. Babar questioned how Pakistan could possibly have the kind of connections to the Taliban that some of the reports suggest, asking if “those who are alleging that Pakistan is playing a double game are also asserting that President Zardari is presiding over an apparatus that is coordinating attacks on the general headquarters, mosques, shrines, schools and killing Pakistani citizens?”
Yes, I think we all agree that the current quasi-democratic, partially authoritarian regime in Pakistan believes it should remain in charge; consequently, it opposes terrorist attacks on "mosques, shrines, schools," and especially upon "the general headquarters" of Pakistan's military. But that isn't the question, is it?
Are elements of the ISI collaborating with the Taliban to bring about an Islamist revolution in Pakistan? That is the real question, and it remains unanswered by the Zardari administration.
Such a revolution needn't include terrorism; for example, if Zardari himself fully embraced Islamism and enacted sharia law, overturning what democracy Pakistan still possesses and joining "the Project" -- but if he declared himself the supreme Taliban leader in Pakistan -- that would still constitute an "Islamist revolution," without firing a shot. And it would be just as catastrophic for America and the rest of the West as a bloody insurrection or coup d'état.
Terrorism is not the enemy; it is a tactic of the enemy, one bolt in an entire quiver of bolts. A "global war against terrorism" has no meaning; but surely we can understand and support a war against radical Islamism. (To highlight this point, I am changing the category formerly known as "the War Against the Iran/al-Qaeda Axis" -- too limiting! -- to "the War Against Radical Islamism.")
This specifically includes not only those who want to advance Islamist ideas by terrorism but also those, like the Muslim Brotherhood, who share that goal but believe, at this time in history, that the Islamist Project is best advanced by propaganda, sabotage, bribery, "democratically" electing a totalitarian government (which then "pulls the ladder up" behind it)... and only sometimes by terrorism and bloody revolution.
Thus the surety we need is that Pakistan rejects the Islamist Project, and all it comprises:
- Dominance -- Islam is dominant over all the world; infidels worldwide must pay the special tax and be treated as inferior beings.
- Purity -- Islam is the Islam of Mohammed and his original followers; no reformation, no enlightenment, containing no Western ideas of individual liberty, democracy, or separation of religion and State.
- Completeness -- Sharia is the entire law in every country and Islam the entire morality.
- Hegemony -- the "true" Caliphate is restored to its rightful place as supreme ruler of the world.
If highly placed individuals within Pakistan (or Afghanistan) still support any element of the Project, then those individuals are our enemies, regardless of whether they believe terrorism is the best route to advance the Project at this time, in that particular place; and they should be treated as enemies by anyone who purports to reject radical Islamism.
The clever way found by representatives of Pakistan to ignore the implication that high-ranking government and intelligence officials either support the ideology of radical Islamism, or are at least willing to ally with them (for money, for power), and tendentiously redefine the question to focus only on the straw man of direct ISI involvement in terrorist attacks upon themselves, should make us very nervous indeed.
Why can't Pakistani officials, or President Zardari himself, just come right out and denounce the ideology of the Taliban? While it's important what tactics they use to advance that ideology, the most important factor is radical Islamism itself.
But don't look for the current American administration of Barack H. Obama to demand an answer; it has already ruled out ideology as a motivator of "Man-caused disaster" in the first place (an act of "Willful Blindness"). We cannot possibly win the war until and unless we are willing to confront the real enemy -- radical Islamists -- and win the war of ideas.
There are many ways to win a war of ideas or ideologies; but our core strategy is the same as that of the Islamists: conversion. We must convert the unaligned and even the enemy -- either to another religion entirely (Christianity, perhaps), or at least to a non-radicalized version of Islam.
One path to conversion is to prove that our Western "culture of life" leads to a better life than the Islamists' cult of death. Another is to show that the West is the "strong horse;" this plays directly into the Arab cultural tendency to gravitate to the winning side in any conflict. But in order to convert, we need a Borg-like ideology that is powerful and seductive, against which "resistance is futile."
Fortunately, we have a couple ready to hand: Evangelical Christianity is winning that war in Africa, for example, as Animists and even Moslems on that continent are converting in mass numbers to an African Christianity that is both Western in outlook and native in local implementation.
Too, our own American ideology of individual liberty, Capitalism, rule of law, separation of religion and State (while maintaining the connection between religion and culture), and democratic governance by the consent of the governed is itself powerful and awesome, leading to a staggering improvement in human life and meaning, and to a strength that has made the still-young America the most powerful nation on Earth. (Even after eighteen months of Obamunism!)
But you can't surrender your way to victory; we must engage on the most important front -- the ideological one.
That's how our Founders won the Revolutionary War, how the North won the Civil War, and how the Democratic West won World War II and the Cold War... they fought and won the war of ideas. Yet by allowing the multi-culti "elite" to jettison the entire intellectual arsenal of liberty, we have disarmed ourselves in what could be an existential armageddon.
So to hell with taking back "the night;" it's long past time for real America to recapture the light of the Western day.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► July 25, 2010
Snappy Aphorism Lizipedia Project - Share Your Entries!
John Hinderaker at Power Line has a great aphorism; he likes to say, "You cannot create wealth by subsidizing the inefficient production of energy."
I'll rewrite that slightly to make it snappier: You can't create wealth by subsidizing inefficiency.
I have my own saying which shares the basic structure of the Hinderaker Hypothesis: You can't create jobs by paying people not to work.
To be specific, the structure of this line of aphorisms is, You can't [achieve some obviously desirable goal] by [obviously inimical action that is nevertheless American policy]. Here are some others in that same format:
- You can't create freedom by removing choice.
- You can't feed the world by paying people not to grow food.
- You can't foster original thought by stifling dissent.
- You can't end mandatory government racism by racializing government mandates.
And here are some of a similar but shorter structure, You can't [counterproductive action] your way to [desireable outcome]:
- You can't tax your way to prosperity.
- You can't surrender your way to victory.
- You can't dictate your way to democracy.
So let's play Lizipedia: Please post in comments as many such aphorisms as you can concoct, putting them into one of these two formats. If we get enough, maybe we can compiled them into a long post; then truly, everything you need to know you could learn from Big Lizards!
Date ►►► July 23, 2010
Having failed to overtake Barack H. Obama in 2008's Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton was unable to realize her bitter ambition to become President of the United States; and she is unlikely ever to get the chance again. But through the perversity of Democratic politics, she may be about to be dubbed, as near as makes no difference, America's first viceroy... who is, as Wikipedia puts it, "a royal official who runs a country or province in the name of and as representative of the Monarch."
For McClatchy News reports that as all American military combat troops and all but 50,000 non-combat troops leave Iraq under the "Status of Forces" agreement with that country, the need for some kind of force protection of State Department personnel will become acute. And the Obama administration has decided that, rather than renegotiate the agreement to allow for protective military personnel to remain in country, the United States will simply create a civilian quasi-military security force under the command of the Secretary of State.
That is, Vice Commander in Chief Hillary Clinton will get her own army to play with:
The arrangement is "one more step in the blurring of the lines between military activities and State Department or diplomatic activities," said Richard Fontaine of the Center for a New American Security, a Washington research center. "This is no longer (just) the foreign service officer standing in the canape line, and the military out in the field."
"The State Department is trying to become increasingly expeditionary," he said.
The most identifying power of the monarch is command of the military; ergo, handing it over to a lower-level duchess is equivalent to putting her in complete charge of that corner of our foreign policy.
The introduction of a new quasi-military army under State's control doesn't sit well with the more liberal members of Congress, however; recall, the Left was expecting that Obama would gracefully declare defeat in Iraq and go home, allowing "progressives" to argue that the entire Iraq war was a catastrophe and a war crime. They were overjoyed with the agreement negotiated with Iraq, which clearly did not leave enough combat personnel to protect the mission.
But now, defeat is once again imperiled, albeit in a flagrantly unconstitutional way; and the Left is hopping mad:
Already, however, the State Department's requests to the Pentagon for Black Hawk helicopters; 50 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles [MRAPs -- DaH]; fuel trucks; high-tech surveillance systems; and other military gear has encountered flak on Capitol Hill.
Contractors are to operate most of the equipment, and past controversies that involved Pentagon and State Department contractors, including the company formerly known as Blackwater, have left some lawmakers leery.
"The fact that we're transitioning from one poorly managed contracting effort to another part of the federal government that has not excelled at this function either is not particularly comforting," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
"It's one thing" for contractors to be "peeling potatoes" and driving trucks, McCaskill told McClatchy. "It's another thing for them to be deploying MRAPs and Black Hawk helicopters."
"I know there's a lot of bad choices here," the senator said, adding that she'd choose using the U.S. military to protect diplomats in Iraq. "That's a resource issue."
Claire McCaskill has a 95% rating from the Americans for Democratic Action and was one of the earliest and most ardent Obama campaigners during the primaries and the general election. Perhaps we should keep an eye on other ultra-liberal Democrats in House and Senate to see who else has little trust in the probity and command ability of Gen. Hillary.
Meanwhile, conservatives should oppose the scheme -- I would hope! -- as clearly violative of the United States Constitution, which vests all military command in the president, in his role as Commander in Chief. It's akin to giving a mere cabinet member authority to sign or veto congressional legislation: It subverts our very form of government.
Perhaps between the anti-victory liberals and the pro-Constitution conservatives, we can nip this very, very bad precedent in the bud and do what even McCaskill proposes: Just renegotiate the blasted agreement to allow a protective military force to remain in order to prevent our diplomats and aid workers being shot, blown up, or beheaded.
Honestly, we don't need an American viceroy.
Date ►►► July 21, 2010
The Impotence of Being Snakebit
No, he's not there yet. But he's trending in that direction... and he knows it. It's already starting to affect his responses -- he's drifting, drifting into Nixonian levels of paranoia and Johnsonian levels of ennui.
All right, let's back up and start this right. First, I love the July 13-19 Quinnipiac poll showing that President Barack H. Obama's job approval has plunged to 44%, with 48% disapproving -- a 9 point drop in the spread (from positive 5 to negative 4), just since May. Even better is their finding that very few Americans other than die-hard Democrats want, at this juncture, to see Obama reelected: By a 39% to 36% margin, respondents chose the generic Republican over President Obama.
The president is in a slump right now, but he could still pull it all back... at least in theory. Paul Mirengoff of Power Line is convinced that the economy will improve significantly before 2012, and that a rising economy would make Obama very competitive in his reelection bid.
It could happen that way; generally, the American economy automatically recovers from most recessions. But history tells us that if the federal response to an economic downturn is stupid enough, recovery can be delayed indefinitely -- as Franklin Roosevelt's disastrous handling of the Great Depression conclusively proved.
I think even Paul would agree with me that if the economy hasn't improved significantly by early 2012 -- with real employment being the primary indicator of such improvement -- then Obama will head into his reelection without the upper hand; without a drawing hand; without a useful under-handed move he can make; in fact, with no hand at all.
But even if the economy limps forward, avoids a double-dip recession, but shows no dramatic recovery, I suspect his approval ratings would continue to slump. And a very important tipping point looms.
When a president's approval sinks low enough, there is nothing he can do to recover; he becomes effectively impotent, neutered. No matter what action he takes to help the economy, the people become further enraged at him:
- If he raises taxes, Left, Right, and Center are furious that he's raising taxes in the middle of a recession.
- But if he lowers taxes, the Right is furious that he's adding to the deficit; the Left is furious that he's pandering to the Right; and the Center is furious that he's not "creating jobs."
The mechanism at work is the opposite of normal. Under normal circumstances, the people evaluate the policy; if they like it, their approval of the president rises; if they don't like the policy, then approval drops and disapproval rises. But in the situation above, where the president has become unpopular enough, people dislike any policy he enunciates just because they dislike him. If he's fer it, they're agin' it -- no matter what "it" is!
The crisis becomes a vicious circle, a negative feedback loop: The people having decided that they dislike the policy because the disliked president proposed it, they then seize upon the now-disliked policy to disapprove of the president all the more so. The technical term for such a negative feedback loop of job disapproval causing policy rejection causing more job disapproval is "snakebit", if Peggy Noonan can be believed. (And why shouldn't we?)
Eventually the president strikes rock bottom; empirical observation puts that point at about 35%; that's the number of people who would vote for a yellow dog if it called itself a (fill in the blank party).
- George W. Bush hit bottom and stayed there.
- Richard M. Nixon came close and probably would have cratered, had he stayed on.
- And if Barack Obama cannot find a way to really swing the economy around, visibly and spectactularly -- for example, by turning into a pro-Capitalism triangulator -- I believe he will find the same hole as the others.
At the moment, the Obamunist is on a direct glidepath to the snakepit, and there are very few ways for him to reverse course... particularly since the best way to do so is to dramatically remake oneself, as Bill Clinton did; then go before the American people, apologize for his mistakes, ask forgiveness, and promise to turn over a new leaf -- as Ronald Reagan did at the nadir of the Iran-Contra scandal.
But from my read on the current occupant of la Casa Blanca, that option is a non-starter: Obama would have to (a) admit he was wrong, then (b) do an about-face on his signature issue, the economy. I'm not sure which task would be more psychically painful to the man who announced that his ascension to the Petal Throne would cause the oceans to begin to recede and the Earth cool.
Paul Mirengoff is a real expert on Washington D.C. He lives and works there (all right, on the Maryland side); he's an attorney; he's well-connected in conservative and Republican circles; he lunches with movers and shakers -- and I don't mean guys who drive vans full of furniture while singing "Simple Gifts" -- in fine, he's plugged in to the Washington zeitgeist. But he has a chink in his Achilles heel: Paul Mirengoff is relentlessly establishmentarian; as it was, so shall it be, there is nothing new under the sun.
I have none of his political advantages, but what I do have is a speculative ability; from my training both in mathematics and science fiction, I see trends as physical, moving forces... and I sometimes can skate along them to their far ends and see how it all comes out, when to others it still seems as if it could go either way. (For example, I could tell just a few days into the "long count" of the 2000 election in Florida that Algore was never going to surpass Bush, and that the latter would finally prevail.)
I won't say it's inevitable that Obama will become snakebit; but there is a swing, a momentum in that direction; and it's getting heavier with every passing day. If I were required by law to wager $100 on the future, I would bet that by 2012, Obama's reelection will look so dismal that, like Lyndon Johnson, he simply declares godlike success and walks away from the wreckage.
Then he'll write a third autobiographical memoir, and it will be filed in the fiction section at Borders.
Date ►►► July 20, 2010
If ABC News can be believed -- and in this case, they're probably accurate, though clearly biased against the police -- more and more police departments are actively trying to prevent citizens from video-recording or audio-recording arrests and other law-enforcement activities:
[I]t wasn't his daredevil stunt that has [Anthony Graber,] the 25-year-old staff sergeant for the Maryland Air National Guard facing the possibility of 16 years in prison. For that, he was issued a speeding ticket. It was the video that Graber posted on YouTube one week later -- taken with his helmet camera -- of a plainclothes state trooper cutting him off and drawing a gun during the traffic stop near Baltimore.
In early April, state police officers raided Graber's parents' home in Abingdon, Md. They confiscated his camera, computers and external hard drives. Graber was indicted for allegedly violating state wiretap laws by recording the trooper without his consent....
"The message is clearly, 'Don't criticize the police,'" said David Rocah, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland who is part of Graber's defense team. "With these charges, anyone who would even think to record the police is now justifiably in fear that they will also be criminally charged."
On the one hand, I can think of several good reasons for police to be nervous about such recordings: The video of an arresting officer can be circulated to violent gang-bangers to use in a retaliatory assault. On a less dire note, a civilian can record an arrest, then use one of many free or low-cost editing applications to alter the video to make the cops look corrupt or out of control.
A videographer conspired with the left-bank news media to do exactly that in the Rodney King beating, albeit in a crude, prehistoric, and easily refuted way: The early part of the confrontation with King was snipped off, making it appear as though the officers beat him for no reason at all. (And it doesn't help the cause of liberty that the ABC article is utterly one-sided, not allowing police spokespeople to make the case in favor of prohibiting video-recording of arrests and confrontations.)
But still and all, such civilian videos would generally be the only possible evidence of police misconduct. If citizens have no right to record an arrest, either of themselves or a third party, without the "consent" of the officers (which is of course routinely denied), then how can anyone ever prove that a policeman is lying on the stand about what happened... or worse, that he assaulted the arrestee without good cause?
Suppose a cop pulls you over and demands money. When you refuse to pay a bribe, he throws you to the ground and arrests you for "resisting." By the time other officers arrive, you're already in handcuffs; who will the newly arrived police believe, the guy face down on the pavement, or one of their own?
I believe the answer is obvious: If a Good Samaritan records the events, you will be exonerated and a dirty cop will be off the streets; but if the police can confiscate his cell phone/camera -- or intimidate him into not recording the arrest in the first place by threatening to arrest him too -- then you will almost certainly be wrongly convicted; and the dirty cop will continue shaking down motorists. A society that removes from civilians the only means they have to prove statist tyranny is deeply unAmerican.
The ACLU of Florida filed a First Amendment lawsuit last month on behalf of a model who was arrested February 2009 in Boynton Beach. Fla. Her crime: videotaping an encounter between police officers and her teenage son at a movie theater. Prosecutors refused to file charges against Sharron Tasha Ford and her son.
Ford was not charged; but she was arrested. The mere threat of arrest would frighten most people out of video-recording any such "encounters," even in situations where police actions were entirely unreasonable. A decent judicial system must not tilt so strongly towards "law and order" that it neglects basic liberty. After all, the purpose of police in a civilized society is not to safeguard the police; if it were, cops would just hide in their stations and only sally forth in force to make military-style raids on the civilian population, as in many third-world countries.
The basic purpose of police is to safeguard civilians -- their persons, their property, and their liberty. In this case, the accused must have access to any valid record of the arrest, because it can form the basis of a defense against some or all of the charges.
It's true that police often have their own videocameras mounted on their patrol vehicles; and in a perfect world, that would probably be all that most defendants would need. But these videos are totally within the control of the police themselves. If the arrestee alleges he was abused and subpoenas the video, the police can say there is none -- it wasn't turned on, the recorder malfunctioned -- and there is no way for the alleged victim to prove otherwise.
Even if the cops are entirely honest, hood-mounted videos often fail to catch everything that happens, especially if the suspect flees and is brought to ground far away from the squad cars.
In most states, it's only a criminal offense to record "private conversations" without consent of all parties; it seems hard to argue that official law-enforcement action -- detention, arrest, physical confrontation -- constitutes a conversation where the police have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
We must balance the two imperatives: We certainly don't want creatively edited videos making their way onto YouTube and tainting the jury pool; but on the other hand, we cannot simply brush aside the liberty interest of civilians being able to gather evidence of police misconduct, abuse, or assault.
Since police themselves now routinely video-record confrontations, I would rather encourage them to expand those operations, by new legislation if necessary; this would protect them against Rodney King-like media manipulations. American military forces now routinely use helmet-mounted video cameras; that should be standard equipment for police as well. And if a civilian videos an encounter, the police should be allowed to get his name and address at the scene and subpoena a complete copy of the recording.
The cops should even be allowed to release the civilian's complete video to the public, if a partial or edited video has already been released -- via media news, YouTube, or any other means -- either by the defendant or by any third party not connected with the police themselves. And of course, the prosecutor should be allowed to introduce the civilian video recording during trial, whether or not the defendant alleges abuse or misconduct... just as defendants should be allowed to subpoena and introduce any and all police videos and audios. (The latter is probably already law.)
But by the same principle, we should enact legislation allowing civilians to record incidents as well, whether as arrestee or Good Samaritan. This proposal follows my general libertarian principle: The antidote to dishonest or toxic speech is not to suppress it, but to respond to it with honest speech.
If police are worried that their actions will be deliberately misportrayed in the media, then instead of banning civilian video-recording of arrests, let the police fight back in the same venue with an honest, untampered video recording. (And if the police -- or defendants -- make their own dishonest manipulations of video, that should clearly fall into the category of obstruction of justice, just like post-hoc fabrication of a search warrant that never actually existed.)
Let a thousand video bloom, and hold everybody accountable for his actions -- perp and cop alike.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► July 19, 2010
The Cleaver Conundrum - and the Brilliance of Breitbart's Bucks
On Saturday, March 20th of this year, Tea Partiers rallied just off the Capitol steps against ObamaCare, which was being debated and voted in the House of Representatives. In an effort to provoke some sort of ugly response, a "YouTube moment" that could be played endlessly against the Tea Party popular front, four members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) -- Reps. John Lewis (D-GA, 85%), Andre Carson (D-IN, 100%), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO, 95%), and James Clyburn (D-SC, 100%) -- waded through the scrum of protesters.
At least three of them, Cleaver, Carson, and Lewis, claimed immediately afterwards to have been mercilessly pummeled by taunts, threats, spitting, and the dreaded N-word, which Lewis (I think) said was hurled at them "fifteen times."
Curiously, not a single video taken during that event -- and there were many -- supports the allegation; not only that, but not a single antique-media journalist, blogger, or spectator, has stepped forward with evidence that there was any racist verbal assault at all... not even an "eyewitness" account that backs up the CBC Four.
Not even when Andrew Breitbart, former Drudge editor, offered first a $10,000 bounty for any such evidence, then later raised it to $100,000: All anyone, including a reporter, need do is come forward with his own substantiated eyewitness testimony that he heard the N-word shouted at the CBC Four, and he can collect a hundred thousand simoleons. But none has stepped forward and applied.
The easy (and correct) conclusion is that the incidident never happened; that's why no journalist claims he heard it. But this begs a most intriguing question: Why not? Why hasn't some left-leaning journalist present at the scene stepped forward and claimed he heard the N-word, even if he has to lie about it?
One would think it would be the easiest thing in the world for two or three or ten reporters simply to fib, to back up the Democrats and tar the entire Tea-Party popular front with the vile epithet "racist." The leftstream media is certainly no stranger to tendentious lying to make the political Left look good; they do it all the time. What could a new "Jayson Blair" possibly have to lose?
The answer is -- his freedom; and therein lies the genius of Andrew Breitbart.
By making his $100,000 offer, Breitbart has changed the game: He singlehandedly elevated the consequences for lying about the alleged incident from simple embarassment if caught, or even a job loss (usually temporary) -- to felony fraud.
Now if some reporter for the New York Times or the Washington Post or CBS News tells the big lie, casting it as his "personal eyewitness testimony," he can be arrested for fraudulently trying to obtain the hundred thousand dollar bounty. And considering the wealth of negative evidence from videotape, audiotape, and hundreds of Tea Partiers and even other reporters, any earwitness thinking of backing up the CBC's fabrication must weigh the possibility that he himself will end up in prison.
Thus is the power of positive bounty... a ton of money makes a federal case out of simple character assassination!
Obama's Tendentious Redefinition of Freedom
Catholic Online catches President Barack H. Obama in a seismic shift in rhetoric, one that could betoken grave changes in the very concept of religious freedom:
The change in language was barely noticeable to the average citizen but political observers are raising red flags at the use of a new term "freedom of worship" by President Obama and Secretary Clinton as a replacement for the term freedom of religion. This shift happened between the President's speech in Cairo where he showcased America's freedom of religion and his appearance in November at a memorial for the victims of Fort Hood, where he specifically used the term "freedom of worship." From that point on, it has become the term of choice for the president and Clinton.
So what's in a word? Isn't freedom of worship simply a quaint synonym for freedom of religion? Well, no; worship is a much narrower word than religion, and the freedom envisioned is a crabbed and crippled one:
In her article for "First Things" magazine, Ashley Samelson, International Programs Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, stated, "To anyone who closely follows prominent discussion of religious freedom in the diplomatic and political arena, this linguistic shift is troubling: "The reason is simple. Any person of faith knows that religious exercise is about a lot more than freedom of worship. It's about the right to dress according to one's religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square. Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don't go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves-yet "freedom of worship" would protect none of these acts of faith...."
It also could exclude our right to raise our children in our faith, the right to religious education, literature or media, the right to raise funds or organize charitable activities and the right to express religious beliefs in the normal discourse of life....
Samelson writes, "The effort to squash religion into the private sphere is on the rise around the world. "And it's not just confined to totalitarian regimes like Saudi Arabia. In France, students at public schools cannot wear headscarves, yarmulkes, or large crucifixes. The European Court of Human Rights has banned crucifixes from the walls of Italian schools."
So why would Obamunism suddenly demand a slimmer creed of freedom than the full-bore freedom of religion? What does the administration gain from the switch to freedom of worship? Alas, I fear it's yet another act of appeasement of the usual suspects, more creeping acceptance of the virulent form of "jihadist" totalitarianism: Barack Obama is signalling that the United States, despite the words of our Founders and in our own Bill of Rights, no longer believes Moslem nations violate fundamental liberty when they discriminate against the infidel -- where "infidel" means anyone who doesn't submit to the precise form of Wahhabism, Salafism, or Khomeiniism demanded by the State.
We no longer vigorously oppose religious violence, from head-chopping and suicide bombing down to "honor" killings and throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women. We don't want to anger militant Islamists by insisting that schools be something less than -- and something more than -- propaganda mills for extremist, anti-Western, anti-Christian, and especially anti-Jew hatred that twists lives and warps souls. America, in the person of the President of the United States, is more solicitous of the feelings of those engaged in a "holy war" against us than he is of the lives and freedoms of their victims.
In other words, it's just another "bow from the waist" abasement to the so-called "jihad."
Catholic Online gingerly points at this explanation but appears too nervous actually to pull the trigger:
In the administration's defense, Carl Esbeck, professor of law at the University of Missouri, is quoted by Christianity Today as saying, "The softened message is probably meant for the Muslim world, said. Obama, seeking to repair relations fractured by 9/11, is telling Islamic countries that America is not interfering with their internal matters."
"Internal matters" such as publicly stoning women to death for the crime of being raped.
Everyday, in every way, the Obamacle expresses his disdain for traditional American virtues and his passionate belief -- probably deeper than anything else he learnt in the pews of Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ -- that there is nothing exceptional about the United States... unless it's that America is exceptionally racist, sexist -- and religist.
Harry Reid Surges in Nevada - or Does He?
The blogosphere is agog at doings in the Silver State, where a Mason-Dixon poll showed Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-NV, 95%) "surging" to a seven-point lead over Tea-Party darling Sharron Angle. This has wrung wails of despair from the Right and giddy jitterbugging on the hard Left, with many solemnly pronouncing that the Tea Party movement has lost the war.
But in reality, Reid did not "surge" at all; he remains mired in the low-forties, just about where he was in the last three Mason-Dixon polls. What happened was that a harsh series of anti-Angle adverts drove her support down, from 44% to 37%. Reid's support ticked up slightly from 42% to 44% -- statistically insignificant movement:
The Mason-Dixon poll showed that if the general election were held now, Reid would win 44 percent to 37 percent for Angle. Ten percent were undecided, 5 percent would choose "none of these candidates," and the remaining 4 percent would pick another candidate on the ballot.
That is the best Reid has done against Angle this year in a series of Mason-Dixon polls. Previously, the two had been locked in a statistical dead heat with Angle finishing just ahead of Reid in February, 44 percent to 42 percent, and in June, 44 percent to 41 percent, and Reid finishing just ahead of Angle in May, 42 percent to 39 percent.
The phone survey, taken Monday through Wednesday of 625 likely voters in Nevada, is the first in which Reid has finished ahead of Angle outside the margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Voters are still not embracing the Democratic incumbent and Majority Leader of the Senate; but he did succeed in raising doubts in voters' minds over Sharron Angle's "extremism." So what are the weird, extreme, hysterical Sharron Angle policy pronouncements that Reid is hammering?
They include allowing young workers to opt out of Social Security and instead open personal retirement accounts, doing away with federal agencies such as the Education Department to cut spending and developing Yucca Mountain into a nuclear reprocessing facility.
"We have always said that as Nevada voters become familiar with Sharron Angle's extreme positions on Social Security, education and Yucca Mountain, they will reject her agenda," Reid campaign spokesman Jon Summers said in a statement.
Now would be a great time for Angle to use some of the great gobs of greenbacks she raised last quarter to push ads not only bashing Reid -- hardly necessary, considering how loathed he remains in Nevada -- but more importantly, talking directly to Nevadans about those exact positions, explaining why they make good sense and aren't extreme after all.
The Social Security system is going broke; and when it goes, it could take the entire American economy down with it. Nearly every economist agrees that the unfunded liability of our current system, which is about $17.5 trillion, according to the Social Security Administration's own figures, is a looming economic Armageddon:
Social Security's actuaries make such a calculation on page 64. It says that Social Security's unfunded liability in perpetuity is $17.5 trillion (treating the trust fund as meaningless). The program would need that much money today in a real trust fund outside the government earning a true return to pay for all the benefits that have been promised over and above future Social Security taxes. In effect, the capital stock of the nation would have to be $17.5 trillion larger than it is right now. Alternatively, the payroll tax rate would have to rise by 4%.
These figures are from May of 2009; but the Democratic juggernaut of Congress and the Democrat president have done absolutely nothing to solve this problem, nor proposed anything but slightly extending retirement age. This is akin to bailing out a sinking rowboat with a Dixie cup... it may delay the disaster by a few minutes, but it sure doesn't plug the leak.
(One should note that Medicare has an even huger unfunded liability of -- take a deep breath -- $88.9 trillion, according to the Medicare board of trustees. On this front, Barack H. Obama has done something: He nicked half a trillion bucks away from Medicare to spend on other priorities. Thank you, masked man!)
Simply put, the current Social-Security system is utterly unsustainable: People are perversely living longer, which means that every worker is carrying a much greater totem pole of retirees on his back than when the system was enacted in 1935. We must do something different, or else the system will collapse, and retirees will receive nothing. Social Security must be wholly or partially privatized -- soon! -- or we can kiss the American economy goodbye.
Folks can dicker about the exact details of such privatization, but a last-ditch effort to rescue retirement security cannot possibly be characterized as "extremism."
Department of Redundancy Department
"Doing away with federal agencies such as the Education Department to cut spending" has been a perennial Republican pipe dream since 1980, when some guy from California got himself elected president on a similar promise. When a proposal has been rattling around Washington D.C. for THIRTY BLOODY YEARS without ever being enacted, voted upon, or even seriously introduced as legislation, then it's far too elderly to be dubbed "extremist." It becomes... charming.
Yeah, yeah, Nevadans are worried about radioactive exposure from the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. Of course, the potential level of exposure is less than folks living in mile-high Denver "suffer" just from cosmic rays. Nevertheless, Nevadans are annoyed that their state is singled out for such a repository, merely because it's practically deserted.
Well, in this day and age, it looks like nuclear power plants are going to be making a big-time comeback, as soon as the kook in la Casa Blanca stops tilting at windmills -- or we get a new kook. And if the federales are so anxious for Nevada to store the waste... well, I'm sure they'd be willing to jack up the gold paid to the Silver State for the privilege.
Let's see Sharron Angle make that argument to Nevadans -- and let's see how a significant annual paycheck might change the public perception of the merits of the Yucca Mountain site.
In any event, the storage site has been kicking around since 2000 and has been supported by most Republicans and a great many Democrats. It's risible to call it "extremism." Even if people disagree with Angle on the subject, if she sticks to her guns and quietly but logically defends the position, I don't think it will seriously hurt her in the race. It's hardly the most important topic on voters' minds and couldn't possibly overcome Pinky Reid's vulnerability on the jobs issue, the economy issue, or the national-security issue, let alone all three put together.
The point being that what Harry Reid dubs "extremist" should not be blithely accepted by conservatives: e.g., Paul Mirengoff at Power Line responds to this single Mason-Dixon poll, showing no surge for Reid but a minor and likely temporary slump for Angle, by accepting at face value the Harry Reid spin:
PAUL adds: On the minus side, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research finds that Harry Reid leads Sharron Angle by a 44-37 margin. The two were running neck-and-neck until Reid launched a series of ads portraying Angle as too extreme. The ads seem to have hit the target.
Let's hope that what should be a huge year for Republicans doesn't turn into merely a good one due to the selection of unattractive candidates.
Rather, we should loudly reject the very premise that dissent against the relentless accumulation of state power constitutes prima-facie evidence of "extremism." In fact, refusing to acquiesce to radicalism is the polar opposite of extremism; it is conservative in the broadest sense of the word.
We cannot let the radical Left set the terms of debate, or we'll paint ourselves into a hole. Let us fight over every slick sophistry, tendentious redefinition, and argumentative assumption. We're not obliged to make progressives' task easier by appeasing them on the fundamental creeds of American individualism, Capitalism, and exceptionalism.
Date ►►► July 16, 2010
Senator on the Grassy Knoll
Jake Tapper of ABC published a bombshell column hinting that the change of heart of switch-hitting Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA, 75%) anent Elena Kagan, Barack H. Obama's embattled Supreme Court nominee -- Specter was against her before he was for her -- may have little to do with any new fact. Rather, it appears to have a great deal to do with Specter's terror of having to find honest work after an ignominious finish to his lusterless Senate career, hence a burning desire to "remain in public service after his Senate term ends at the end of this session."
Tapper reports that "White House officials are keeping an open mind about possible job openings for him;" one presumes that the more Arlen Specter switches votes to coincide with Obamic positions, the more of an open mind the administration will keep.
But today, Jake Tapper updated his column with speculation that the first administration job Specter seeks is to be named a Middle East czar, so to speak:
Would Specter be interested in being a special envoy to help negotiate peace between Israel and Syria?
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported this week that he has been exploring such a role with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Specter has long ties to both Syria and Israel.
All this is prelude, however, to my real point, which is altogether trivial compared to the giant ideological principles bashing about overhead, but much more to Lizardian tastes. I was mesmerized by the last paragraph of Tapper's update:
Some who know Specter say he's eager to go out with a bang -- to have a more majestic career-ender -- and not to be known in perpetuity as a party switcher, an inquisitor of Anita Hill, or as a leading advocate on the Warren Commission of the single-bullet theory.
Anybody notice how the saloon fell dead silent the moment Specter walked through that swinging door?
All right, I can see how a man wouldn't want Runagate-gate to tar him for the rest of his life. And having turned his coat to the Democrats, he certainly doesn't want anyone to remember his effective cross-examination of Anita Hill, at the highjacked hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. But -- when did advocacy of the "single-bullet theory" in the JFK assassination become a career killer in American politics... or even Democratic politics?
Does this mean Arlen Specter now supports the discredited conjecture of a second Kennedy assassin sitting on the gassy gnome, or in the Dal-Tex building across the street from Oswald's perch in the book suppository?
What other conspiracy theories must Specter now embrace in order to get that czarship... that we faked the Moon landing using a Revelle Lunar Module model? That 911 was an inside job by Rightwing moles, Israeli commandos, or Bureau 13 of the BSA? That both the Pentagon and TWA Flight 800 were hit by missiles, possibly fired from Hugo Drax's secret orbital space station? That the CIA deliberately started the AIDS epidemic in a bid to exterminate the race of senatorial party-switchers?
It appears that one requirement for membership in good standing in today's Democratic Party is ardent and visible lunacy: Arlen Specter may be trying to ingratiate himself with the likes of Valerie Jarrett, Van Jones, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX, 95%).
Date ►►► July 15, 2010
Why Did Obama's DOJ Botch Roman Polanski's Extradition?
When the Swiss denied the extradition request for child-rapist Roman Polanski, they explicitly gave as their primary reason the refusal of the Department of Justice to release a transcript of several days of "secret testimony" by one of the prosecutors, Roger Gunson:
The Justice Department said the transcripts couldn't be provided, according to a letter from Swiss officials to the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. The letter was dated Monday and obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday night.
The Swiss officials said that the denial of access to the information was the key factor in the refusal to extradite Polanski.
The testimony was taken, it appears (though the reporting is quite vague), during a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing this last January, held to determine whether Polanski could be sentenced "in absentia;" eventually, Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that he could not be, that he had to be physically present for the hearing to occur.
The request was particularly risible and frivolous in this case -- given that Polanski already fled from a previous sentence, which he seems to have believed was only an additional 48 days of "diagnostic study." What are the odds that, were he sentenced in absentia today for a more reasonable term in jail, he would actually show up to serve it? Obviously, the only purpose of such a hearing would be for Polanski's lawyers to refight the original charge -- then only allow him to return if he was victorious and "vindicated."
Retired Prosecutor Gunson's testimony during that hearing remains sealed, per the DoJ; however, it's easy to guess what Gunson said: I presume he repeated the claim he made in a statement in June, 2008 -- and earlier that year in a pro-Polanski documentary -- that the original judge, Laurence J. Rittenband, had been "coached" during the original trial in 1977 by another prosecutor, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney David Wells. I'm not quite sure what "coached" means in this case, probably the allegation that the prosecutor and judge colluded against Polanski.
Gunson also claimed in documentary and statement that in 1997, twenty years after, he and Polanski's attorney Douglas Dalton met in chambers with Judge Larry Paul Fidler. Fidler, they say, agreed that Polanski could return to the United States and be sentenced only to probation with no prison or jail time.
But President Barack H. Obama's Justice Department denied the Swiss request for that testimony. They must have known that withholding it guaranteed that Swiss authorities would reject extradition: Swiss law allows extradition only in cases where the defendant would be sentenced to at least six months in jail; yet the Gunson testimony went to the question of whether Polanski faced any jail time at all. Obviously, without being allowed to read that testimony for themselves and weigh it against other, more pertinent evidence, the Swiss were bound to err on the side of Polanski, who owns property in Gstadt, rather than the distant United States.
I see only two plausibilities, neither of which redounds to the credit of Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama:
- The Justice Department reflexively withheld the testimony because top personnel were afraid the Swiss would seize upon it as proof that Polanski didn't qualify to be extradited under Swiss law. This is "teen logic," like a high-schooler having a fender bender, then parking the car on the street so Dad would think it was a hit-and-run in the middle of the night.
- Justice deliberately withheld the testimony to ensure that Polanski would not be extradited, would not stand trial again for the brutal rape and for fleeing prosecution, and would not be punished. It is at the very least curious that Polanski hired a new attorney, Reid Weingarten, four days after his arrest in Zurich... an attorney who is a "close friend of Attorney General Eric Holder."
The Weingarten angle is tantalizing; did Holder's pal broker a Washington deal to keep Polanski free? Did Holder agree -- he does have a history of killing prosecutions, doesn't he? -- in order to keep faith with Obama's supporters and donors among the Hollywood Left?
Polanski, 76, was arrested last weekend at Zurich’s airport on a 31-year-old fugitive warrant issued after he skipped sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The addition of Weingarten, who has known Holder since the two worked together in the department’s Public Integrity Section in the 1970s, means Polanski now has a powerful advocate in Washington.
The New York Times reports:
The recruiting of Mr. Weingarten was a strong signal that Mr. Polanski’s legal team intends to push hard on the Washington end of the case. Mr. Polanski was arrested on his way to the Zurich Film Festival after Swiss authorities received a letter from the Department of Justice requesting that he be held for possible extradition to the United States.
The question now is, from how high up the chain at Justice came the decision to refuse the Swiss request for the Gunson testimony?
Under the first hypothesis, it was just a boneheaded mistake by either Eric Holder himself or one of his top deputies. There is ample evidence that Polanski actually faced far more than six months, possibly as much as twenty years. As Patterico pointed out in early May, both Polanski's plea transcript from 1978 and a Christmas Eve Day decision in 2009 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rebut the urban legend that Roman Polanski had a sentencing "deal" with Judge Rittenband to "serve" only 42 days of a diagnostic study as his sole "punishment." In fact, Patterico notes, such studies are not punitive at all and cannot constitute a "sentence;" they're meant to help determine what sentence the convict should receive.)
Nobody, not even Polanski's attorneys, claims that the defendant was legally authorized to flee the country to avoid further court proceedings; so at the very least, he should be subject to prosecution for unlawful flight, which would likely net him at least six months on that charge alone. Too, serving some sort of sentence following the full 90 days of evaluation -- even if only probation -- was surely part of any plea agreement; since he failed to fulfill his side of the agreement, the plea bargain is off -- and Polanski is now subject to the full set of charges, including oral, vaginal, and anal rape of a minor by drugs and force. If convicted, and I suspect he would be, I'm sure he would be eligible for life in prison (de facto if not de jure, as he turns 77 years old next month).
Instead of refusing to hand over the ramblings of an obviously biased witness, Roger Gunson, Obama's Department of Justice should have released it and simply made the argument that Gunson's testimony is not dispositive anent the punishment that awaits Mr. Polanski upon his return. It's possible the Swiss law-enforcement officials would have found some other excuse not to extradite; but it's also possible they would decide, if the petition was strong and all documents included, that they couldn't brush it aside so easily.
And of course, the other hypothesis -- that Holder once again quashed prosecution of a politically favored defendant in a sensational case -- is even more reprehensible. It forms a pattern of biased conduct verging on political bribery at the DoJ that would further erode any confidence among the American people that Barack H. Obama is fit to serve as President of the United States... or at the very least, that Eric Holder is fit to serve as Attorney General. (But who appointed Eric Holder?)
The botching of the Polanski extradition case -- or its corrupt quashing -- opens yet another vista of the Democratic culture of corruption, an inexhaustible oil spill of moral rot and political turpitude seeping throughout all three branches of the federal government.
Drip, drip, drip.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► July 13, 2010
WSJ Notices BL
Despite my voluminous vanity and enormous ego, which rival the gas giants for sheer, monstrous size, I nevertheless recognize that I am but a blogger: I see a vast distinction between what I do and what a real professional journalist does, however few of those are left, and however few of those left are right. I even understand the yawning chasm between blogger commentary -- and paid commentary at a real news outlet.
Thus I am grateful and more than a little gobsmacked to see the Wall Street Journal, in the person of columnist James Taranto, in his Best of the Web Today piece titled "It's Duck Season!", actually quote from and link to a piece of Big Lizards. (I'm doubly pleased to be in the WSJ -- associated with Bugs and Daffy! No jokes about the latter's name, please...)
Taranto quotes from my analysis of the Byrd option [subscription to the WSJ may be required]; and funnily enough, he arrives at the same conclusion as I: That even if the Democrats try to push Obamunism through in a "Lame Donkey" session, it likely will fail in the Senate... because too many Senators are up for reelection in 2012 and would probably be gunshy about spitting in voters' faces so brazenly. Though I wish he had more widely spread my own name for the attempt -- I really like the term, Lame-Donkey Congress.
Oddly, the link doesn't seem to have increased today's hits; but one can't have everything. (Or perhaps one can -- but would one really want it?)
Date ►►► July 12, 2010
The Surreality-Based Community
This quotation, at the very end of an ABC News article, is a real jaw-scratcher:
"We have to close the enthusiasm gap," NAACP president Ben Jealous said in an interview with the Associated Press Friday. "The danger of the Tea Party is that people see them and think about periods in history when groups like them were much more powerful than they are now, and so a lot of what we spend energy doing is explaining to people what reality is, and that the reality is that the majority from 2008 still exists."
Uh... whatever you say, Jealous Ben!
(The thrust of the article is that the NAACP is gearing up to launch a campaign against the Tea Party popular front, accusing it of being utterly racist to the core. Of course, if I even typed the full name of the NAACP, they would accuse me of being racist to the core; so what do I know?)
Starting Gun for "Polanski Peel-Out Pool"
Updated and bumped (is that "bumpdated?"); see below.
Reuters announces that Roman Polanski was released into house arrest yesterday, December 4th, 2009.
The clock is now ticking...
We'll see who called it closest anent jumping bail.
The current pool positions stand as follows:
- Release day: Captain Ned *
- December 6th: GW
- December 7th: Sachi *
- December 10th: Mr. Michael
- December 12th: Resolute
- December 16th: Dafydd
- December 25th: Freetime
- January 1st: Ken Hahn
- January 2nd*: Chris Hunt *
* I would say Captain Ned is already out, but we'll be generous and give him through December 5th, since Polanski might have been returned to Gstaad late in the day. We'll do the same for the two people (Chris Hunt and Sachi) who selected a relative number of days after release that (upon release) turned out to be identical to absolute dates selected by another commenter: The former each get moved one day forward.
Tick tick tick tick tick --
UPDATE July 12th, 2010: We were all wrong, and evidently Roman Polanski knew more than we knew; he appears to have known that he would simply be set free by the Swiss authorities... ergo, he did not have to jump bail:
Roman Polanski was declared a free man on Monday after Switzerland rejected a U.S. request to extradite him to be sentenced for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.
(Where "having sex" has that special definition that applies only to celebrity leftists: Drugging a thirteen year old girl, then orally, vaginally, and anally raping her by force and violence.)
Although Chris Hunt was closest to winning (having selected the latest date), nobody wins the prize. The pool, recall, specified the number of days before Polanski "splits down the Alps -- on the French side." Although the option of "Never" was available for picking (I even noted that availability), nobody picked it, not even Chris Hunt. Ergo, nobody wins.
And all of us lose, of course; as once again, the rich and infamous brutal felon laughs at American justice. And once again, Hollywood cheers... since the other members of "the Industry" all expect to receive the same courtesy the next time they, themselves feel like raping an adolescent.
Date ►►► July 11, 2010
How to Deter the "Lame Donkey" Congress of 2010?
In yesterday's post (from here in "sunny" San Diego, on holiday), we warned once more -- this time echoed by John Fund of the Wall Street Journal -- that the critical time for a massive last-gasp of liberal-fascist legislation from the Long Congress will be after the November 2nd congressional elections, but before the new 112th Congress is sworn in on January 3rd; that is, when many Democrats will have already lost, and therefore have nothing left to lose (and a seething, bitter anger at the electorate which dumped them). The question before us is, what to do, what to do?
Our counterstrategy must be threefold:
- Consolidate our own members.
- Recruit Democratic representatives and senators who still plan to run for reelection in 2012.
- And most important, get the American people up to speed... and explain to them exactly why we mustn't take up substantive, controversial bills during that period.
First above all, make the case to the voters
Let's take the last first, as it is the rhetorical infrastructure that underlies everything else we can do. The important point to make with the voters, again and again, is this: "The people have spoken: America has already elected a new Congress. So major policy changes must wait until the people's new choices are sworn in."
That is a very winnable position; but we cannot wait until after the election to begin arguing it; by then it will be too late to affect polling, and it's the polls that can scare delicate Dems (and recalcitrant RINOs) away from taking advantage of a self-styled "crisis."
The GOP needs to start making its case against a Lame-Donkey onslaught of Obamunism right now, today, long before the election, in order to have a hope of recruiting Democrats against a Long Congress.
Maintain party discipline
This is a no-brainer. We have virtually no chance of stopping any of the Lame-Donkey outrages in the House: If even a slim majority of Democrats holds together, then no matter how many others break ranks, the Left can ram through anything Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) wants.
Our only hope is in the Senate, where the minority has much greater power to stop legislation -- or slow it, which is just as good in this case.
The first necessity is to hold all Republicans to party discispline... or at least all that we can. Our most powerful weapon is the filibuster; but the Democrats' most devastating response would be the putative "nuclear option," also called the Byrd option.
In the Byrd option (here is a primer at Wikipedia), the Parliamentarian of the United States Senate (currently Alan Frumin), rules a filibuster "out of order;" then the Democrat majority votes to affirm this ruling. This essentially allows a filibuster to be broken by a simple majority, not the 60 votes usually needed... assuming the majority is willing to overturn all previous traditions, precedents, and understandings of the Senate and among senators.
First, let's assume they don't use the nuclear option. In that case, it's just a numbers game: Can we lasso at least as many Democrats as we lose Republicans, thus preventing cloture? It's dicey, but I think even the perennial "stick-pokers" would hestitate to enrage voters so blatantly... particularly those GOP senators themselves up for reelection in 2012.
Some of our senators may need more herding that others, including Lindsey Graham (SC, 88%), Charles Grassley (IA, 96%), Scott Brown (MA, not yet rated), and the Maine twins, Susan Collins (48%) and Olympia Snowe (48%). We need solid polling that shows voters will be enraged not only at outgoing Democrats who try to thwart the will of the people, but also against their Republican "enablers" who remain in Congress after January.
And we need the credible threat that any GOP senator who aids and abets Democrats trying to ram Obamunism through during the Lame-Donkey period will be completely cut off from any party funding and NRSC- or RNC-controlled volunteer organization in 2012.
Since Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts, the GOP controls 41 Senate seats; if they stand firm, that is all it takes to filibuster legislation, if Democrats reject the Byrd option. If they go for it, everything gets much messier -- see below.
Hook a few Democrats
Joe Lieberman (ID-CT, 95% Democratic) is up for reelection in 2012 (class I); other class-I Democratic senators who are somewhat more moderate include Ben Nelson (NE, 70%) and perhaps whoever replaces Robert Byrd in the West Virginia U.S. Senate seat. These three Democrats are potential votes against cloture, if we can get them worrying about how such a usurpation will affect their own reelections in two years. We might be able to use these Democrats to replace one or (maybe) two GOP turncoats.
But the real danger comes if the Democrats decide to go for the Byrd option anyway, and damn the consequences. Remember, if they succeed in killing the filibuster, they will have free rein to enact anything they want; they can rampage like a bull in a candy store.
But it's not so easy as snapping their fingers; it requires the corrupt connivance of the Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin. He must start the procedure by ruling a filibuster of a bill out of order.
There are two firewalls against the Byrd option: First, Frumin is widely considered to be fair and honest, and he likely would balk at such a ruling; but he could be removed by the majority Democrats and replaced with someone who is more pliant. But the second firewall is entirely within the hands of the GOP. Here, in a nuthouse, is what happened the last time the Byrd option was discussed back in 2005 (from the Wikipedia entry linked above):
The maneuver was brought to prominence in 2005 when then-Majority Leader Bill Frist (Republican of Tennessee) threatened its use to end Democratic-led filibusters of judicial nominees submitted by President George W. Bush. In response to this threat, Democrats threatened to shut down the Senate and prevent consideration of all routine and legislative Senate business.
This is the real answer to the conundrum of the Lame-Donkey Congress: Republicans filibuster; and if the Democrats threaten with the Byrd option to short-circuit the filibuster, the Republicans must shut the United States Senate down hard until the new Congress is seated on January 3rd.
It can be done. Senate rules are so Byzantine, so empowering to individual senators, that virtually nothing can be done without "unanimous consent" for this or that procedural shortcut. Withhold that consent, and the ponderous machinery grinds to a halt.
That is the secret to stop a runaway Senate; that is what makes the upper body the "saucer" to the House's "coffee cup": As John Adams explained to Thomas Jefferson, the overheated passions of the cup are poured into the saucer precisely in order to cool them.
Ruthlessness in defense of liberty is no vice
I believe that if we succeed in step 1 above, explaining to the American people how anti-democratic such a Long Congress is, then voters will back us no matter how far the Democrats force us to go to stop the imposition of Obamunism. Americans simply do not like radicalism, and particularly radical curtailment of their own liberties.
If the Democrats persist, I believe the damage to their brand will be deep, irreparable, and possibly politically fatal. When the 2012 elections roll around, not only will President Barack H. Obama be denied a second term, but the "Republican realignment" will be completed by the routing of Senate and House Democrats for a second election in a row, the mirror image of 2006 and 2008.
Realizing that, I suspect the Democrats would not even be able to get the 51 votes needed to override the GOP objection to the ruling from the Senate Parliamentarian terminating the filibuster -- assuming they can even get the Parliamentarian to so rule, for such an obviously political purpose, so diametrically opposed to "the consent of the governed."
If we stand firm, we can prevent the Lame-Donkey disaster from even occurring, or else shatter it if the Democrats actually try it. But considering that we're relying upon the Senate Republicans, that is still a mighty big "if" indeed.
Date ►►► July 9, 2010
John Finally Finds His Fundament
We'd like to congratulate Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund for bringing to our attention the distinct possibility that, during the "lame duck" session of the 111th Congress -- when many, many Democrats will have already been defeated at the polls (thus have nothing to lose anymore) -- the Democrats will muscle through all those wish-list pieces of legislation that they would never dare to vote for before the election.
It's a brilliant insight... but I have the strangest feeling of déjà vu, almost as if I've seen something like that on the Web before. Wait, I think I have it; could it be -- this?
I would guess that the window will firmly shut in late May or early June; after that -- with one dangerous exception -- ObamaCare cannot be enacted, for reasons of politics.
The one dangerous exception is the putative "lame-duck" period of the second session of the 111th Congress... the short interval after the elections but before the 112th Congress is seated on January 3rd (per the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution).
During those two months, every representative in the House already knows whether he has been reelected, and the Senate bill is still in effect.
A defeated Democrat has nothing to lose by voting for ObamaCare. If enough of those currently leaning towards Nay are defeated, they may, in a fit of vindictive revenge against the constituents who fired them, vote in as perverse a manner as possible. (Though of course, it's unlikely the reconciliation side of the package could also be enacted during that period.)
This is the most likely time for ObamaCare to be enacted, since it would then have virtually no consequences on its supporters: Many of the Democrats voting for it will have already been defeated; and for those from moderate districts who were nevertheless reelected, a December vote gives them the maximal "memory-lapse" time before facing voters again in 2012.
I'm quite concerned about that interval; has the GOP given it much thought?
I can't remember what idiot wrote it, but it was posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery approximately three months, 26 days, nine hours, 39 minutes, and 46 seconds ago. It's another WSJ scoop!
...But I'll bet a whole lot more people will read it in Fund's column than in that anonymous blogger's post; and perhaps such exposure will finally awaken Republicans from their electative torpor; perhaps they will suddenly realize that the "loyal" opposition considers politics to be an extension of war by other means, regardless of how docile and genteel the GOP behaves towards them.
Time to begin sounding the klaxton about what the Democrats intend to do after the election but before the 112th Congress is sworn in: Our side needs to be ready to mobilize every GOP senator and even some more moderate Democratic ones to deny cloture. We need to credibly threaten that any such shenanigans will force Republicans to resort to various "nuclear options" during the next congressional term, bringing Congress (and Obama's last two years) to an utter standstill. Oh, and don't expect a Republican House to fund any of these insane policies.
Perhaps that fear will deter enough Democrats to prevent such wholesale disenfranchisement of the American voter... at least for any Democrat who understands the term "pyrrhic victory."
Date ►►► July 8, 2010
Oh for Pete's Sake
Now Power Line is running a banner advertisement equating Sarah Palin and -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Don't let Sarah and Mahmoud dictate our energy future, screams the advert atop one of the premier conservative blogs; it's time for a strong clean energy and climate plan.
In God's name, who is running Power Line's ad sales? Doesn't any of the three proprietors pay attention to the vile, liberal inuendos and scurrilous attacks appearing on the blog?
I would never accept an ad trashing Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina, or hawking Jerry Brown for re-governor, or linking Sarah Palin and the Tyrant of Teheran... not even for the "worthy cause" of promoting global-warming hysteria.
Scott -- Paul -- John... wake up! You have allowed BlogAds and GoogleAds to seize control of your blog and turn it into a liberal campaign "bot." You have let them make fools of you.
I beg you to please retake control of your adspace! The adverts undo virtually every good thing wrought by your excellent posts.
Date ►►► July 7, 2010
Wonderful News on Climate Change!
Remember the University of East Anglia (UEA), whose Climate Research Unit (UEA-CRU) was the subject of "intense media scrutiny," after e-mails filtched from its server disclosed numerous violations of basic science and simple honesty in the debate over global warming? The e-mails appeared to show such obviously fraudulent or extortive practices as secretly switching measuring methods in the middle of an experiment, burying data that conflicted with their hypothesis, and behind-the-scenes pressuring of scientific journals to prevent publication by globaloney skeptics, no matter how well conducted the science.
In order to investigate the scandal, the UEA set up and paid for a blue-ribbon panel, the Independent Climate Change E-Mail Inquiry; the university investigated itself, and discovered itself and the UEA-CRU to be blameless, or at least innocent of any serious breach:
A British panel on Wednesday exonerated the scientists caught up in the controversy known as Climategate of charges that they had manipulated their research to support preconceived ideas about global warming.
But the panel also rebuked the scientists for several aspects of their behavior, especially their reluctance to release computer files backing up their scientific work. And it declared that a that graph they produced in 1999 about climate in the past was “misleading” and should have contained caveats....
The university solicited and paid for the new report....
"On the specific allegations made against the behavior of CRU scientists, we find that their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt," said the new review, led by Muir Russell, a retired British civil servant and educator.
You can find the final report here.
Independent Inquiry head Sir Alastair Muir Russell is a Scottish career civil servant; the Scottish government is, if anything, even more enthusiastic about global warming than the British government. But I'm sure a politician would never allow political considerations to cloud his scientific judgment.
His team comprised the following:
- Geoffrey Boulton is a Scottish climatologist whose field of study actually appears to be the science of chairing committees -- he chairs or is a member of thirteen committees, councils, or royal societies. Oh, and "[h]e leads the Global Change Research Group in the University of Edinburgh, the largest major research group in the University’s School of Geosciences." But surely he wouldn't allow his deep professional commitment to global climate change research to bias his findings.
- Professor Peter Clarke is a physics professor whose CV includes nothing to do with climate change; but I'm sure he has considered himself a quiet expert in the field, ever since he first read the original report from the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
- David Eyton is an engineer with British Petroleum, the Group Head of Research and Technology (R&T). He, too, appears to have no background in climate change research. BP, of course, like every other oil company, is very heavily invested in climate change and expects that some form of carbon-trading commodities market will prove to be a glory hole for the entire industry. Though certainly, Mr. Eyton would never allow himself to be influenced by such crass commercial concerns.
Finally, we have the Jack of All Trades, Professor Jim Norton. He is -- well, I suppose I'd better just let Professor Norton tell his own tale (I presume he wrote his own CV):
Aged fifty-seven, Jim Norton is an independent director and policy adviser. He is an external member of the Board of the UK Parliament's Office of Science & Technology (POST) and council member of the Parliamentary IT Committee (PITCOM). Jim is a Non-Executive Director of F&C Capital & Income Investment Trust plc, where he chairs the Audit & Management Engagement Committee. He is a Board Member and Trustee of the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR), as well as a member of the 'Electronic Communications Expert Advisory Panel' for the Irish Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). Jim chairs the Steering Group for the Secure Software Development Partnership (SSDP) of the Technology Strategy Board.
He was a founder member of the Cabinet Office Performance & Innovation Unit in 1999, a former Chief Executive of the DTI Radiocommunications Agency (the UK's radio spectrum manager 1993-1998) and has held senior positions in Cable & Wireless (Marketing Director C&W Europe 1990-1993), Butler-Cox (Director Vendor Consulting Practice 1987-1990), and British Telecom (Senior Manager International Business Development).
Jim is a Visiting Professor of Electronic Engineering at Sheffield University and an Honorary Doctor of Engineering of that University. He is an External Examiner for the IoD Certificate in Company Direction’. Jim is a Chartered IT Professional and Fellow of the British Computer Society (BCS), where he is chair of the ‘Professionalism Board’ and is a Vice President and Trustee. He is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) and is Chairman of the IET IT Sector Panel. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Commerce and Manufactures and of the Institute of Directors. Jim holds the Diploma in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors and is a Chartered Director.
I can't imagine how Professor Norton forgot to add "devilishly handsome, dashing, and terminally narcissistic." In any event, his expertise in climate change should be clear: He is obviously an expert in everything, like the professor in Giligan's Island.
In any event, one can see that global-warming skeptics were well represented on the Independent Inquiry; so that final report should settle the matter once and for all and be the final word.
Except... the Independent Climate Change E-Mail Inquiry affair gives me the opportunity to repeat, for the eleventy-first time, my favorite quotation from one of my favorite writers, the late, great Robert Anton Wilson (channeling Lemuel Gulliver):
I look forward to several more such definitive investigations, wherein the accused examines himself deeply in the mirror -- and really, really likes what he sees.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
...And Now You Don't!
I began yesterday's lone post with this preamble:
The first clue that a new governmental policy is boneheaded is that the promulgating administration instantly attempts to "clarify" its pronunciamento.
The decision to prevent access by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees to various categories of website, one of which comprised those with "controversial opinion," was simultaneously so tendentious and so risible that I fully expected a speedy withdrawal.
Alas, I blinked, and I missed it:
After intense media scrutiny, the Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday backed off a new policy that would have restricted employees from visiting "controversial opinion" sites at work.
Employees at the TSA were initially informed last Friday that five categories of websites would be blocked on internal computers. They included: chat/messaging, criminal activity, extreme violence and gruesome content, gaming and controversial opinion.
But following questions about how broadly the last category would be interpreted, the TSA sent around an e-mail to employees on Tuesday saying "controversial opinion" sites would not be blocked.
So a policy that was likely implemented after months of discussion and planning, amid what one would expect to include numerous findings of fact and policy, and touted as a necessary measure to eliminate "increased security risk," is promulgated on a Friday -- then partially voided four days later, in response to "intense media scrutiny!"
Can there be any clearer admission, short of outright confession and penance, that adding sites containing "controversial opinion" to the banned list was purely political, never related to actual security concerns?
The TSA, likely at the direction of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, tries to sneak through a provision to stop employees from viewing sites that pay insufficient homage to the settled questions of the liberal Vision. Had it worked, I'm sure the same orders would have been issued to every other federal agency, administration, and department in the federal government, and might become the basis for many left-leaning states to follow suit.
Instead, such bastions of conservatism as CBS News pick up the story and run it, quite properly, as a massive assault on freedom of speech. So the Obama administration sheepishly draws back a stump and utters an Emily-Litella-esque, "Never mind!"
The Barack H. Obama administration, far from being "post-partisan," is the most intensely partisan and politicized administration in my lifetime, possibly in the entire twentieth and twenty-first centuries. At least the ultra-liberal Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon administrations had occasional real-world problems that they had to deal with, and did so on the basis of reality and pragmatism. By contrast, I don't believe the Obamunists have made a single decision, drafted a single policy, or made a single, cynical appointment, with any thought in mind other than how it would play politically.
That is a breathtaking record that likely won't be repeated before I leave this planet (one way or another).
Date ►►► July 6, 2010
TSA CYA - Now You See It...
The first clue that a new governmental policy is boneheaded is that the promulgating administration instantly attempts to "clarify" its pronunciamento.
The initial edict was as indefensible as it was inexplicable:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency's computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a "controversial opinion," according to an internal email obtained by CBS News....
It states that as of July 1, TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed "inappropriate for government access."
Four of the blocked categories make at least some sense: chatting and messaging sites (potential security breach), sites devoted to engaging in criminal activity (duh), sites depicting "extreme violence" (where one can watch jihadist beheading videos, for example), and gaming sites (we don't want government employees playing online poker or HALO on taxpayer time). But then there's the joker -- websites that provide "controversial opinion."
The email does not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a "controversial opinion."
But I bet I can guess...
The e-mail was sent Friday afternoon (the day after it officially went into effect -- how well timed!); the story ran on CBS's website Saturday; and today (Tuesday), the TSA was already scrambling to "explain" what the heck it was doing. The pushback spin, however, was one of those "non-explanatory explanations":
In response, the TSA sent the following statement to CBS News Tuesday:
"TSA routinely makes improvements to our information technology systems to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats to keep our systems secure. As part of this continued effort, TSA uses a security technology to limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk. TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization and in fact expressly created the TSA IdeaFactory and the TSA Blog to promote diverse opinions. TSA employees will be able to access web sites required for work purposes."
So the reason they must block employee access to websites with "controversial opinion" is that, in order to "keep [their] systems secure," they must "limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk." There, what could be clearer or more convincing?
Thus one presumes that the Drudge Report, Power Line, the National Review Online, Fox News, the Washington Times online, and the Washington Examiner online might all pose such immediate and obvious security risks that blocking them is a no-brainer: They interfere with employees suckling at the teat of (uncontroversial) liberal orthodoxy.
The TSA Administrator is currently John S. Pistole, a former Deputy Director of the FBI; but he was just recently appointed in May and confirmed by the Senate on June 25th. Since I assume this policy was in the works longer than one week before being announced last Friday, it's probably the baby of Pistole's predecessor, Acting Director Gale Rossides.
But in reality, the TSA is part of the Department of Homeland Security; so the real capa dei capi is Janet Napolitano, President Barack H. Obama's intensely politicized administrative protégé, acolyte, and all-around groupie. If nothing else, blame the policy on the Democratic culture of suppression.
From the very beginning, the Obama administration has fought tooth and nail against freedom of speech, in both its aspects -- speaking out, and hearing what others have to say:
- Obama's attempts to freeze out Fox News;
- His administration's initial refusal to give interviews to any news medium that didn't already share "the Vision;"
- His refusal, for more than three hundred days, even to hold a press conference;
- His staggering use of "policy czars" to keep all decision-making within the administration (and under the rose), not even allowing the ultra-Democratic Congress into the inner circle of knowledge;
- His repeated invocation of "national security" and "executive privilege" -- more than any president since Richard Nixon! -- to clam up his federal employees and keep the public in the dark;
- His bitter opposition to allowing campaign expenditures (themselves a form of speech) by corporations, in order to balance those routinely made by unions.
And his threats to employees to zip it -- or face termination, or possible prosecution, as in the recent disclosures about the Justice Department killing the already-won case against the New Black Panther Party. One career federal prosecutor was exiled to South Carolina (ending his career); another had to resign, giving up his career voluntarily, in order to be free to speak out.
In each case, Obama has made it clear that freethinking, open discussion, and especially "controversial opinion" was neither valued nor tolerated in his administration. Under pure Obamunism, only the truth is allowed to be spoken -- where "the truth" equals the catechism of the radical Left.
Of course, Barack Obama is not the first "progressive" to see dissent as at best a nuisance -- and at worst, a criminal act; consider Woodrow Wilson's signing of the Sedition Act of 1918, which in his administration included any "'disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language' about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces or that caused others to view the American government or its institutions with contempt," is a direct precedent.
So why should we be shocked that someone in his administration -- whether Rossides, Napolitano, or the big B.O. himself -- has troubled to codify that antipathy to free speech in an internal e-mail?
The only "hope and change" we have left is that we can begin undermining his anti-American power base this November, and that this task will continue through the presidential election of 2012.
That's when the real work begins, of course, trying to undo six years of Alinskyite radicalism before it metastasizes to a terminal cancer in the American body politic, economy, and culture.
Date ►►► July 4, 2010
Happy Pro-American, Exceptionalist, Patriotic, Liberty-Filled Independence Day, Redux 2010!
I really like the image I used last year, so I'm going to repeat it. If I have time tonight when I get back from the fireworks display, I'll hunt for a new image and attach it below this one.
In the meantime... enjoy!
Happy Independence Day - 1916 meets
Last time I asked, "I wonder how many liberals see today as the goy equivalent of Yom Kippur?" In case anyone missed the snarkiness, Yom Kippur is the Jewish day of atonement, when one is supposed to reflect back upon all one's sins the past year, feel contrite, and resolve to do better.
My (uncharitable) point was that, to a radical liberal like President B.O., July 4th may not be a date to be celebrated; rather, it's likely a date to be mourned and regretted. Think of slavery, racism, sexism, Capitalism. Think of all the wars world-wide since 1776, and all of them America's fault. My God, think of the Native Americans!
Thanks heavens we need wait no longer for the One We Have Been Waiting For, the heart, soul, and intestines of America, to save us from ourselves. And the Obamacle shall not fail us, for I know that my liver redeemeth.
...Or am I maligning the man?
Anyway, for real America, let's celebrate Independence Day in the time-honored way: By eating burgers and franks, potato and macaroni salad, baklava and chow mein, and washing it all down with good American celebratory munitions.
Date ►►► July 2, 2010
Obamunism on a Nutshell
I rarely do this kind of post; but today, I just can't resist:
Employers cut 125,000 jobs last month, the most since October, the Labor Department said Friday. The loss was driven by the end of 225,000 temporary census jobs. Businesses added a net total of 83,000 workers, the sixth straight month of private-sector job gains but not enough to speed up the recovery.
Unemployment dropped to 9.5 percent - the lowest level since July 2009 -- from 9.7 percent. But the reason for the decline was more than 650,000 people gave up on their job searches and left the labor force. People who are no longer looking for work aren't counted as unemployed.
The latest figures suggest businesses are still slow to hire amid a weak economic recovery. Many economists were hoping to see more private-sector job growth, which would fuel the economy by boosting consumers' ability to spend....
In a separate report, factory orders fell by 1.4 percent in May, the Commerce Department said. It was the first decline after nine months of gains and the biggest drop since March 2009.
The reports follow a slew of data and developments this week that point to slower growth in the months ahead.
In May, home sales plunged and construction spending dropped after a popular homebuyers' tax credit expired on April 30. Consumer confidence has fallen sharply. The European debt crisis has sent U.S. financial markets downward, lowering household wealth. And more than a million jobless Americans have been cut off from unemployment benefits after Congress adjourned for a weeklong Independence Day recess without extending federal aid.
And now, as Monty Python might say, the punchline:
President Barack Obama said the economy is moving in the right direction, but not quickly enough. He seized on the latest data to push for more government stimulus -- including the extension of jobless benefits -- to aid the recovery.
Our entire economic policy is a complete catastrophe; everything we've tried has had the exact opposite effect; now we're on the brink of a double-dip recession -- or a complete collapse -- and the private sector is shattered, the government rapidly gobbling up the stabilizing corporations and crushing the wealth-producing small businesses that could have pulled us out of economic ruin. So clearly -- we must redouble our efforts!
...That, gentle readers, is Obamunism in a nuthouse.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Chavez Charade: Simple Solution Unsolved
A quick quote, then simple syllogism:
Venezuela's government has seized control of 11 oil rigs owned by U.S. driller Helmerich & Payne, which shut them down because the state oil company was behind on payments.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez announced that Venezuela would nationalize the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company's rigs. He said in a statement Wednesday that Helmerich & Payne had rejected government demands to resume drilling operations for more than a year.
Helmerich & Payne announced in January 2009 that it was stopping operations on two of its drilling rigs, because Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA, owed the company close to $100 million. It said it would shut down the rest of its rigs by the end of July as contracts expired unless PDVSA began to make good on its debts.
That's the set-up; now the pay-off:
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he hopes Helmerich & Payne is compensated and suggested the takeover and other recent nationalizations are scaring off private investment in Venezuela.
"We would just call on them, if they did make such a move, to compensate the owners of those wells," Toner said. [Pretty please? Sugarcane on top? --DaH] "This is the latest in such an instance where international investors, their investments are being nationalized by the government of Venezuela. It doesn't speak or bode well for the investment climate there."
That's it? That's the sum total of the Obamic Statist Department's response to a foreign prince seizing the private property of an American company?
I have but a single question: How much money does Venezuela have socked away in Western banks based in friendly nations? Or in American banks, for that matter.
Given that Venezuela's President Oogo Chavez is BFF with an Iranian chap named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with active military cooperation between the two nations, is it really too much of a stretch to the imagination to suggest that there is a ready-made source of compensation for Helmerich & Payne, and any other company which has seen its assets "nationalized" (stolen) by the Venezuelan Kleptocracy... a money source that should spring immediately to mind at the State Department?
Oh well. Perhaps the problem is that the Barack H. Obama administration doesn't recognize private property in the first place; and in the second place, is loathe to raise any sticky questions about the nationalization of private capital.
Date ►►► July 1, 2010
Dial It Down from 11, Already
Not only is "resistance" to Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court futile, it's pointless: The retiring Justice she will replace, John Paul Stevens, is every bit as liberal as she... which is to say vastly more liberal than the conservative wing of the court (Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia); rather more liberal than the swingin' justice, Anthony Kennedy; and significantly less liberal than the extreme left edge of the Court, Justices Ginsburg and Breyer. Probably around where Sonia Sotomayor sits.
I grant that Kagan is a political creature, and that she will rule politically during her time on the bench. I grant that she monkeyed with the report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on the unnecessary nature of "partial birth" infanticide. I grant that she is anti-gun. I grant that she would be a shill for Barack H. Obama, or any future radical president. But none of that makes her worse enough than Stevens to sound the panic button.
So if Republicans go ape on the Kagan nomination, if we do anything radical to delay or obstruct her confirmation vote (i.e., a filibuster), it only damages our credibility for a future, more urgent fight for a conservative seat.
Suppose Scalia or Thomas takes ill in the next year -- or worse, the next few months -- and he has to resign from the Court. If we Republicans have already made hysterical claims about Elena Kagan replacing John Paul Stevens, who will believe us when we make even more hysterical claims about (for example) Cass Sunstein or Erwin Chemerinsky replacing Antonin Scalia?
While it's true that we go to war with the Army we have, not the Army we wish we had (Rumsfeld) -- and against the enemies we have, not the enemies we wish we had (Big Lizards) -- nevertheless, we still have the option of picking the battles we want. We don't have to fight uphill in the fog, inadequately armed, against an impregnible enemy position; we can hold our fire until we have a better chance and a more meaningful goal, either hanging on to the four conservative justices (and one swinger) we have until the administration changes... or mayhap something even more positive.
Suppose it's 2013, and we have a Republican president again. If either Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who will turn 80 in 2013) or Stephen Breyer (who will turn 74) is forced to retire, we have the chance to replace a liberal with a conservative, making a solidly conservative Court. (Or if Anthony Kennedy, who will turn 76 in 2013, retires, we can replace a justice who votes "conservative" half the time with one who votes "conservative" perhaps 85% of the time.)
Those are the fights worth having, the chance to change the Supreme Court in an originalist direction for a generation. Those are the fights for which we should pull out all the stops, including the "nuclear option" to cut off a purely political Democratic filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. But we cannot sell such dug-in trench warfare to the American people unless we've kept our hands relatively clean in earlier fights, where less was at stake. Otherwise, we look like the pols who cried wolf.
Republican senators on the J-Com will make as much of a case against Kagan as reasonable. Then they will vote more or less along party lines to throw it to the full Senate. At that point, we need to sit down, take a stress pill, and just let the vote proceed in an orderly fashion. She'll be confirmed; we'll keep our powder dry and live to fight another day -- when we have real reason to fight, and when we have better chance than an iceman in a volcano.
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