Date ►►► May 31, 2011
Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah, famously made the following grisly remark in 2004:
The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win, because they love life and we love death.
He merely paraphrased a near contemporary of Mohammed, an unnamed seventh-century warlord who bragged about his "army of men that love death as you love life." Indeed, we tend to contrast Western liberal democracy with radical Islamism by saying we have a culture of life, while they have a culture of death. I have even characterized the latter as a culture of human sacrifice and Moloch worship.
So I understand why some naive and morally confused priests, pastors, ministers, imams, and rabbis condemn celebrating the assassination of Osama bin Laden, calling it "morally equivalent" to Palestinians celebrating the murder of thousands of people at the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and in a field in Pennsylvania. But understanding need not yield agreement; these condemners are dead wrong; they are indeed "naive and morally confused."
Here is Prager's core argument:
As a rule, little changes in basic human responses. For example, it is probably fair to say that throughout human history, just about all decent people have celebrated the death of those human beings understood to be truly evil.
It takes a lot to change such basic human reactions. But over the last generation, a major attempt to do so has been made. And it has somewhat succeeded.
Osama bin Laden, a man whose purpose in life was to inflict death and suffering on as many innocent people as possible -- the more innocent his victims, the greater his achievement -- was finally killed, and much of the Western world’s religious and secular elite has expressed moral annoyance with those who celebrated this death.
The argument is that no person’s death should be celebrated. Therefore celebrations of bin Laden’s death are morally questionable.
Prager continues, noting that this confusion results from not distinguishing between the killing of innocents and the killing of the guilty; but I believe the root grows much deeper, tapping into the polluted water-table of a general lack of discrimination and of intellectual laziness, perhaps even narcissism. If all answers are correct, then no answer is correct, and there is no need to think, judge, or conform to any particular standard; simply find the cultural standard that agrees with you and wallow in it, happy as a pig in a rug.
Worse, the "argument" appears to be just another example of leftist mysticism, the conscious rejection of logic. And as always on the left, mysticism, metaphysics, and ethics begin and end with sloganeering. (Epistemology never enters into the equation; per Thomas Sowell's the Vision of the Anointed, the Left simply receives the Vision from on high -- that is, from anybody to their left -- and parrots it uncritically.)
Examples of Progressivist reasoning:
- All you need is love.
- War is not the answer.
- Hope and change.
- Food for all.
- Land for use.
- You can't hug your children with nuclear arms.
- The survivors will envy the dead.
- From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
- No enemies to the left.
- Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ. has got to go.
- Solidarity forever.
- One planet, one people.
- Soak the rich.
And the slogan most relevant to this post,
- Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?
In my youth, this seemingly rhetorical question adorned literally hundreds of thousands of posters, usually printed in ink that glowed under black (UV) light. Cool, man. For impact, the fallacy relies upon a faux irony that only exists when stripped bare of all context. Restore the missing adjectives, and watch that slogan transform from rhetorical question -- how can we possibly teach the evil of killing by killing? -- to virtual tautology, and incidentally into a more succinct version of Dennis Prager's argument:
Why do we kill evil people who kill innocent people to show that killing innocent people is wrong?
The question answers itself.
Prager tries to find a logical calculus of morality:
It seems to me that if one does not celebrate the death of a truly evil person, one is not celebrating the triumph of good over evil. I do not see how one can honestly say, “I am thrilled that bin Laden can no longer murder men, women and children, but I do not celebrate his death.”
Yes, I know one can argue that bin Laden’s arrest and life imprisonment would have also prevented his murdering anyone else. Indeed, anyone opposed to capital punishment would have to prefer that bin Laden had been captured and tried. But no one could argue that a dead bin Laden is less likely to provoke further terror than a living bin Laden.
Celebrating the death of bin Laden is a moral imperative.
But it goes nowhere, just as Ayn Rand's attempt to deduce all ethics from "A is A" is mathematically doomed to failure: You can't make the jump from verbs of identity to imperatives without further grammatical input. (It's no coincidence that Prager and Rand, along with Michael Medved and many other representatives of the punditocracy, are basically innumerate: Innumeracy is one of many symptoms of paralogia.)
The problem with leftism is not strictly with the rules of inference -- though that is often one of the root problems with Progressivists; it equally arises from faulty premises and subversive goals. Those who say ordering the death of bin Laden is "morally equivalent" to bin Laden ordering the deaths of (relative) innocents on September 11th, 2001 are not simply confused whether bin Laden is a good person or a bad person; they passionately believe there is no real distinction between the concepts of good and evil, that we should strive to be, as proclaims the title of one of Friedrich Nietzsche's books, "beyond good and evil".
The Left sees those two terms, good and evil, laden with the plunder of social propaganda... hence their fascination with cultural relativism, the idea that you're only allowed to judge a culture based upon its own standards. (Under this deranged philosophy, Hitler's only crime was that he didn't kill enough Jews; he was supposed to get them all!)
In other words, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, you can't argue a man out of something he wasn't argued into in the first place. This is higher-wisdom stuff, the "Vision," whose beholders thereby become the "anointed" and are granted absolute moral dispensation: E.g., Roman Polanski isn't a rapist; he's an artist. Barack Obama isn't a serial liar running a gangster government; he's off to save the world.
And in the minds of Western, liberal, non-Moslems who nevertheless protested against the assassination of bin Laden, the target wasn't a terrorist, a homophobe, a violent misogynist, or a mass murderer; he was a "warrior against imperialism" and American hubris! Like Che Guevara, bin Laden lasted long enough to metamorphose, not into a Kafka-esque cockroach, but into a charismatic but remote revolutionary figure, just the type to tickle the Left's fancy.
And just the type for them to martyrize, all in the name of moral preening and militant, censorious post-judgmentalism.
Me, I celebrated; Sachi and I drank a toast. And if anybody had tried to shame me for it, I would have hurled the booze in his face, glass and all. To commit yet another paraphrase, this time of S.I. Hayakawa, I have a very low threshold of idiocy.
Date ►►► May 26, 2011
Hesitating at the Doors of the Ryan Express - a Response to Beldar
Today, Beldar came out of the closet: He called for a draft-Chairman-Paul-Ryan (R-WI, 96%)-for-president movement.
But color me skeptical -- not of what Ryan could do in office but of his ability to capture said office in the first place, which is of primary (and general) importance.
Look, I like Paul Ryan, and I love his plan to rescue the budget and economy. But I'm nervous about him being the GOP standard bearer next year -- given that the last time anyone went directly from the House to the White House was James Garfield in 1880.
A representative running for president was of course far more common in the nineteenth century, and the House was held in much higher regard than now. Too, Garfield was a nine-term congressman first elected during the Civil War; and he served for five years as Appropriations Committee chairman. But in 2012, Ryan will be a seven-term congressman who will have served as Budget Committee chairman less than two years. So far, he has not yet shepherded a single major budget or economic bill into law as chairman; and with congressional gridlock, it's unlikely he will before the election.
He has never held any substantive job other than politics (like Obama)... though he did drive the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile during college. (I shudder to imagine Obama's campaign ads!)
Despite Ryan's current stature, on paper Ryan in 2012 could be construed as having even lower qualifications for president than did Obama in 2008, considering House vs. Senate and depending on how many bonus points he gets for his chairmanship.
(I stress this is on paper; obviously I consider him far more qualified in reality. But paper qualifications play a vital role in voters' minds, especially when most of them don't even know who Paul Ryan is.)
He would be the youngest person ever elected president, at 42 years (Kennedy was 43 when elected); Ryan would also be the second youngest ever to serve as president, at 42 years, eleven months, and twenty-two days. (Teddy Roosevelt, who became president following McKinley's assassination at 42 years, ten months, and eighteen days of age, wins that contest by only a scant month.)
Now we all know Ryan would make a wonderful president, lightyears ahead of the fellow currently polluting 1600 Pennsylvania Ave with his half-baked and half-witted Progressivism, like Will Rogers without the charm, patriotism, or rope tricks. But again the problem: Ryan will not get a chance to demonstrate his skill if he isn't elected in the first place.
My worry is that Ryan will easily be painted by the Left as an untested and unqualified callow youth, himself a radical; they will portray his "Roadmap for America's Future" as a Ponzi scheme cooked up by Republicans to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; and as we just witnessed in the special election in New York's 26th district, not all Republicans are on board with the "Roadmap."
I believe it will eventually be enacted into law in a post-Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-NV, 75%), post-Obama political environment; and once passed will eventually prove to have been a brilliant idea and help Republicans immeasurably. But I do not believe that it would help the GOP ticket to have the "Roadmap's" sponsor as our presidential nominee; nor would it help getting the requisite Senate pickups to pass it through that body in the first place.
Rather, I worry that voters might recoil from so many drastic changes coming all at once like that, harkening back to all of Obama's drastic changes and how many Americans have come to despise them. I just don't believe the voter will appreciate being whipsawed back and forth between Scylla and Charybdis.
So where do I stand? I think Ryan might be a very good choice for president -- in 2020, as a follow-up to the Republican who is elected next year. Perhaps by then he will have served a term as Gov. of Wisconsin, or at least served as a high-ranking cabinet member, say Secretary of the Treasury or somesuch.
For next year, there is very little chance for a superstar, celebrity, outside-the-box nominee; Gen. David Petraeus looks to be headed for Director of the CIA, thus unavailable for the top job, and I can't think of anyone else with that star power. Therefore, we have to duke it out against the incrumbent on competence, repeal, and normalcy -- that is, a traditional election run against a sitting president.
So for right now, I'd rather see a traditional nominee, someone to sooth the waters and reassure voters that everything is back to norble: a successful governor who isn't a Tea-Party activist, in other words; which more or less narrows the betting line down to Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Rick Perry of Texas, or on a long shot, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (dicey).
We're necessarily rolling the bones next year, because when all is said, Obama is still the incumbent president, with all the power and clout and bully pulpititude appertaining thereto. So for goodness' sake, let's not make it even harder on ourselves by taking one die (executive experience) off the table and trying to make our point with just the other!
Date ►►► May 23, 2011
We pass lightly over the Obamic demand that a so-called state of "Palestine" be contiguous. I suspect that President Barack H. Obama doesn't even know what the adjective "contiguous" means (all parts connected to each other)... nor the impossibility of making the West Bank of the Jordan river and the Gaza Strip "contiguous" without either (a) bisecting Israel, or (b) creating a corridor -- comically thin, perhaps a dozen feet wide -- that runs the gauntlet around the southern borders of Israel to connect the two areas with a sort of geographical bicycle lane, snaking hundreds of miles between Israel and Jordan and Israel and Egypt.
(By the way, the name Palestine comes from "Philistine." It was a Roman poke in the eye of the rebellious Jews, renaming their homeland after their bitter ancient enemies. It has absolutely nothing to do with Islam... which didn't even exist until more than half a millennium after the Romans dubbed it with that insulting moniker.)
So forget the contiguity quandry; it requires a Dr. Seuss solution. I'm more interested in the borders controversy.
I wonder how many people understand what President Barack H. Obama really meant, whether he understood it or not, when he suggested -- pronounced is the better word -- that any final settlement of Israel's borders must be based upon the "1967 lines":
We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.
To begin with, he certainly didn't mean post-June 10th, 1967 "lines" (borders), as that would actually be larger than the land currently controlled by the Jewish state! In the years since the Six Day War, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula and from the Gaza Strip. Clearly the Obamacle meant -- and Arab and Palestinian leaders certainly heard -- that the borders should be based upon the pre-Six Day War lines.
But what does that mean? If we're honest, that means Obama did not call for Israel to retreat to the "1967 lines," but rather the 1949 lines: The borders of Israel when the Arabs, losing badly, hastily offered an armistice to freeze Israel's borders in situ. That is, Barack Obama wants Israel to return to the indefensible borders it held a year after striking the Union Jack and hoisting the Israeli flag, declaring themselves an independent state.
It's hard to fathom, so here's an analogy: Suppose radical Aztlan boosters in Mexico were to demand that the United States readjust its borders... to where they were in 1788. Thirteen states, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to -- the Appalachians.
Yeah, that's what President B.O. proposes as his "peace plan."
Just bear it in mind: The only conclusions a reasonable person could draw from this declaration are that (a) Barack Obama hates Israel enough to want to see it buried, or (b) he is a complete nitwit. Or (c) both. Take your pick.
Any Jew who votes for Obama in 2012 must believe that the Jews, alone among all cultures on the planet, deserve no homeland, not a single country they can call theirs. Talk about the self-loathing...!
Date ►►► May 22, 2011
It's 12:01 am... Do You Know Where Your Rupture Is?
Date ►►► May 19, 2011
It's extraordinary how many times President Barack H. Obama uses a particular four-letter word, especially in public utterances. In his most recent speech, for example, he uses it 32 times in 74 paragraphs, or once every 2.3 grafs. It's jarring to hear such a muster of oaths coming from the mouth of the most powerful man in the world.
Submitted as evidence is the president's speech on "the Middle East and North Africa"... the "making a long nutshell short" edition:
In Sanaa, we heard the students who chanted, “The night must come to an end....” *
Yet we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind....
There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity....
Of course, as we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility....
[I]t’s the people themselves that must ultimately determine their outcome....
Today I want to make it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions....
But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place....
The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests. It must release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests. It must allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara’a; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition....
But if America is to be credible, we must acknowledge that at times our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for consistent change -- with change that’s consistent with the principles that I’ve outlined today....
The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis....
America must use all our influence to encourage reform in the region....
We must also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites....
Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information....
And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain....
So the second way that we must support positive change in the region is through our efforts to advance economic development for nations that are transitioning to democracy....
The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness, the reigns of commerce pass from the few to the many, and the economy generates jobs for the young....
Together, we must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year....
The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace....
A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people -– not just one or two leaders -- must believe peace is possible....
So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear....
The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state....
As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated....
That is the choice that must be made....
It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by the people....
Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa.
* Although the first instance of Obama's favorite four-letter word apes the form of a quotation, the Yemeni students of Sanaa doubtless chanted their chant in Arabic, not English; as a White House translation of the chant (if said chant occurred at all), the "must" must be laid at the feet of President B.O., not the hapless protesters in Yemen. (And if it didn't really occur but was just made up for dramatic effect, that plonks the must even more firmly in Obama's hands.)
As I understand the word, "must" means "is required to;" we must do this means we are required to do it. But I'm more than a little puzzled over who, exactly, requires that America "proceed with a sense of humility" and "also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites." And while it's certainly true that persons in a negoiation are required to negotiate "the core issues of the conflict," it sounds like a trivially obvious point.
By contrast, with "that is the choice that must be made," miserly Obama won't even reveal the name of the "Person X" making the choice, let alone the "Person Y" chap behind the scenes, requiring Person X's complete participation. I must be misreading.
(Later the president qualifies that such choices should be made by leaders, and also by people. Having just watched the beginning of the sixth season of the new Doctor Who, I'm intensely curious to discover who those non-person leaders might be.)
I must be reading the wrong speeches. Something must be done -- choices must be made by leaders (and by people); strong action must be taken through proper channels; and the President of the United States must cease and desist all use of that overripe, placeholder word in public, the word that swaps a verbal imperative -- this must be done! -- for any concrete effort to do it.
It's an absolute must!
Date ►►► May 18, 2011
Only Obama Can Save Us
The Hill reports that employers are in for a significant hit in health-care costs due to ObamaCare:
U.S. employers can expect an 8.5 percent increase in their medical costs next year due in some part to the healthcare reform law, the consulting firm PwC said in a report Wednesday.
The widely read annual report on cost trends points to three main drivers of healthcare costs, two of which are exacerbated by the new law.
But relief could be at hand... for if only President Barack H. Obama will issue enough waivers, then perhaps costs will rise only five or six percent. And if he sees fit to just go all the way and grant universal waivers to the universal health-care "reform," then we mightn't see any increase at all!
The power is in the Obamacle's hands; His will be done.
Date ►►► May 15, 2011
John McCain: Forward to the Past!
Sen. John S. McCain (R-AZ, 96%) has painted himself into a deep hole over waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation methods. He has staked everything, everything, on two dubious claims:
- That waterboarding and the other so-called "harsh" interrogation techniques (used through 2006 by the CIA against terrorists and other unlawful combatants) is "torture," defined by McCain as the equivalent of what his captors visited upon him in the "Hanoi Hilton."
- That such "torture" cannot conceivably yield valid information, not even in theory.
How so? Because any form of interrogation harsher than politely asking the detainee to spill the beans necessarily, in every instance, elicits false and misleading disinformation (which apparently cannot even be fact checked, for some unfathomable reason).
Alas, in the war against radical Islamism, McCain has become obsessed with proving these two preposterous propositions, to the point that such proof trumps even victory itself. He believes such measures are never necessary, and that their use sears the very souls of the interrogators and of the nation itself. He also appears to maintain a childlike belief that there is always another way to gain the same intelligence; if only we ask detainees sincerely, compassionately, and charmingly enough, even top al-Qaeda leaders will see the light.
Case in point, McCain's bizarre argument with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and others who had intimate knowledge of what information was extracted from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi under waterboarding and other somewhat harsh (but hardly torturous) questioning. Though he wasn't there, John McCain has a vision of what happened (and didn't happen):
Waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques were not a factor in tracking down Osama bin Laden, a leading Republican senator insisted Thursday.
Sen. John McCain, who spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, also rejected the argument that any form of torture is critical to U.S. success in the fight against terrorism.
In an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, the Arizona Republican said former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and others who back those tactics were wrong to claim that waterboarding al-Qaida's No. 3 leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, provided information that led to bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.
Impassioned! But extreme passion typically comes at the price of reason.
AP makes a feeble attempt to cast McCain as "in the loop" anent those interrogations, enough to know for dead certain that they were completely unproductive, fraudulent, and useless; writer Donna Cassata tepidly serves up the fact that Sen. McCain is currently (since 2009) the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, a qualification she concludes gives McCain an "unrivaled record on the issue."
But he was neither chairman nor ranking member when the interrogations took place; the Republican who was both is John Warner, now retired, who has not seconded McCain's pronunciamentos. No matter, the point is irrelevant anyway, as it's extremely unlikely that anybody in Congress, including Warner, was fully informed about the nature and extent of intelligence gleaned from those interrogations -- under the principle that 535 can keep a secret if 534 are bound and gagged.
How did McCain become such an authority, particularly on the left, on the morality and effectiveness of enhanced interrogation? Those now prattling about his "unrivaled record on the issue" utterly villified him during the 2008 campaign; what has since transmogrified him into the senator with absolute moral authority to speak on the issue of interrogations?
The cover story is that John McCain's Communist captors tortured him, so he has a unique understanding of such things. (The real story is that anybody casting calumnies on George W. Bush and other Republicans automatically has absolute moral authority.) But McCain's captors inflicted real, not simulated, torture upon him, for years during and after the Vietnam War. It's hardly comparable, but that's the truncheon they'll use to bash everyone who engaged in or supported the interrogations.
Yet McCain's personal connection is precisely what makes him a uniquely unreliable witness. It's clear that he was so physically traumatized and emotionally devastated by his ordeal that he cannot possibly come to any rational, unbiased conclusion about waterboarding or any other harsh interrogation technique; he's hag-ridden by nightmarish memories and chronic medical problems. You may as well ask a Pearl Harbor survivor what he thinks about the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during WWII.
I happen to like John McCain, and of course I have tremedous respect and admiration for what he went through and how he recovered (mostly) from it. But he has become, for perfectly understandable reasons, phobic on the subject of interrogations.
Phobias do not make a good basis for rational inquiry. An arachnophobe is terrified of a Brazilian wandering spider or a Chilean recluse, two of the most deadly arachnids; but he's equally terrified of a harmless daddy longlegs.
On policy, I very much like McCain's position on spending and taxes; I mostly like his position on immigration (though I still want to know exactly how he proposes to reform the legal immigration system); and he was of course the first major Republican to begin calling for a counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq. On the other hand, his role in the "Gang of 14" constituted an appalling attack on constitutionalism and judicial restraint; his other phobia about campaign fund raising led directly to an attack on freedom of speech; and his penchant for poking his finger in the GOP's eye at every opportunity may well have contributed not only to the election of Barack H. Obama in 2008 but even the Democrats' recapture of Congress in 2006.
I had no difficulty voting for McCain in the 2008 general election against Senator B.O., and I would have had just as little difficulty voting for him against Hillary "Fist Lady" Clinton. But on the subject of interrogating unlawful combatants for intelligence purposes, McCain is so blind, so deadly blind, that I believe he should simply recuse himself from that entire subject. He does his country far more harm than good on that issue.
John McCain has become a man behind his time. It happens to most folks, if they live long enough; but people who have been, in their lives, powerful mover-shakers and very important personae cling to relevancy as feverishly as they cling to life itself. In practice, this usually takes the form of railing against all that has changed in the world since their own opinions and understandings hardened into concrete, umpty-ump years ago.
McCain understood very, very well the world of the Cold War and Vietnam, of mechanical and electronic marvels, of an economy rooted in Alvin Toffler's second wave of industrial civilization. But there his personal "theory of everything" froze; and the lightspeed changes since then -- insurgency/counterinsurgency warfare, the microprocessor and biogenetic-engineering revolutions, and an economy increasingly based upon information and microcurrents rather than plugboards and manufactories -- confuse, enrage, elude, and frighten him.
He is a great politician -- for 1985. Alas, it's always 1985 for John Sidney McCain III.
Date ►►► May 12, 2011
Obamigration: Walls, Windows, and Empty Words
We start Sgt. Friday style, with just the facts, ma'am. President Barack H. Obama has suddenly discovered that the United States shares a longish border with Mexico on the south. Or at least this is the first time he has visited there; so if he knew about it before yesterday, it didn't make much of an impression.
The president, during his 2008 campaign, assured activists for the illegales that he would find a way to extend amnesty to the estimated twelve to twenty million illegal aliens. But of much greater weight than merely keeping his word, he evidently is sniffing wavering support among American Hispanics for the perpetuation of his atrocity administration: Perhaps the formerly steadfast Obamic Hispanic cadre has grown perturbed by the lousy economy, unconscionable unemployment, staggering spending, metastasizing debt -- and the daily assaults by his administration on the small businesses that might raise Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants from hardship to ownership.
American Hispanics could even decide, God forbid, that the very socialism and "Progressivism" they fled from in Latin America might still be just as wicked and unacceptable here in the land of the fee and home of the rave. Therefore, the AHs might conclude that Barack Obama has had his innings; and now it's time to return to fiscal sanity by voting for Tea-Party Republicans.
Or at least, so President B.O. appears to fear; for he has marched to the border to proclaim border-security utopia:
[Obama] made the case that with more Border Patrol agents, a border fence and falling crime rates, he has checked border security off the to-do list, and it’s time for Congress to write a legalization bill -- an issue that has stalled since 2007, when it failed in a dramatic bipartisan filibuster on the Senate floor.
“We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done,” he said.
“But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us.”
Yes... move them back where they were a couple of years ago. (This source shall hereafter be known as "the story.")
Out of 1,969 miles of border between the United States and Mexico, some 873 miles -- 44.3% -- are under "operational control," according to the Border Patrol. Operational control means "the Border Patrol has the capacity to deter illegal crossers and pursue them when they’re spotted;" of course, under that definition, violent crime in Juarez is likewise under operational control, because the cops are free to chase suspects through the streets. (Whether they catch them is another question.)
(This source shall hereafter be known as "the editorial".)
But it seems that even such a loose standard is too tight for the Obamanistas, as Homeland Security Secretary Janet "Bonaparte" Napolitano was dispatched to Congress to enunciate a new measuring stick for border security; from the story:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last week told Congress that she is scrapping the “operational control” yardstick and will come up with a new definition to measure border security that does not require the border to be entirely sealed - something she said is not achievable.
The editorial goes into somewhat more detail:
The Obama administration has cooked up a novel way to calculate what a great job his Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been doing in stemming the flow of aliens flooding over the border from Mexico. In March, Ms. Napolitano stood on a bridge connecting El Paso to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and proclaimed border security to be “better than ever.” In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee last week, Ms. Napolitano claimed that the meaning of “operational control” of the border is “archaic” and that she intends to devise a “more quantitative and qualitative way to reflect what actually is occurring at the border.” She said she wants an index that would include a measure of how many persons have been deterred from even attempting to jump the border.
By counting these theoretical illegals - as opposed to real ones - Ms. Napolitano’s border-security mission becomes much easier. While hundreds of thousands actually cross over annually, compared to, say, Mexico’s entire population of 112 million, they represent a tiny fraction. Preventing border crossing in a computer model or a spreadsheet allows Ms. Napolitano to proclaim “mission accomplished” without having to actually crack down in a way that would offend left-wing open-border advocacy groups.
Describing the projected deterence of millions of phantom Mexicans who might (or might not) have contemplated entering the U.S. illegally, but who chose in any event not to do so, as a great "success" of Obamic border control -- and then using that suspicion of success to argue for immediate legalization of illegals -- takes a proud place among the miraculous verbal confabulations of this administration:
- "Leading from behind." (Not to be confused with bleeding from the behind.)
- "Spending reductions in the tax code." (Not to be confused with reductions in spending.)
- And of course, who could forget the most obvious parallel: all those jobs that were "created or saved" during the period that crass Republicans refer to as a recession: Sure unemployment skyrocketed when Obama took the oath of office; but imagine how many millions, billions, of fictional jobs would have been lost had Canal-Zone immigrant John McCain won!
Take Obama at his word: He has achieved a stellar but imaginary victory over invisible lawbreakers who didn't jump the border when they very well could have, had they actually existed. Perhaps those phantom illegals just stood in bed because, with our current 9% unemployment, not enough jobs have been created or saved for them.
So those are the facts: Mohammed came to the mountain, lest the mountain vote Republican. But what's the real issue here beyond mere fact-mongering? Only this; here are the elements of Barack Obama's dream immigration bill -- or so he claims:
While the president was speaking, the White House released a blueprint for a four-part plan to address immigration: maintain border security enhancements; phase in mandatory electronic checks for all employees; revamp the legal immigration system; and grant a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrants who go through a background check, haven’t committed crimes, pay fines and back taxes and wait at least eight years before getting a green card.
Sound familiar? It should: The "blueprint" appears to have been essentially Xeroxed from McCain's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which George W. Bush pushed heavily (as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007).
Of the blueprint items above, the most important was the least discussed: "Revamp the legal immigration system." I have written extensively about this issue; alert readers will discover that I fall into precisely none of the usual categories.
I am guided by two aphorisms that I have eructated over the years:
- First, there is no wall so strong that a million people cannot knock it down.
- But equally true, invited guests don't sneak through the window; they knock on the front door.
The corollary to (2) above is that anyone who is trying to sneak through the window is crashing the party, and he deserves everything he's got coming to him. He's a no-goodnik.
Link them together and you get this: Enforcement alone cannot solve our problem with illegal immigration; there simply are too many illegals entering daily for the beleagured Border Patrol to find and process. The only real and lasting solution includes both enforcement and also drastic reform of the legal immigration system, so to accomplish two main goals:
- Giving would-be legal immigrants a path to citizenship that is predictable, just, and biased in favor of those immigrants who already have American values.
- Thus relieving the pressure on the enforcement policies.
We have no great interest in keeping out immigrants who want to come to America because they believe in the American creed of liberty, Capitalism, "In God we trust," and "E pluribus unum;" in fact, those are precisely the immigrants we want, because they add to the melting pot of assimilation, rather than the salad bowl of "diversity."
Right now, the vast, vast majority of those crossing over illegally are thoroughly Americanized, and would pose no threat and violate no laws, but for the arbitrary, arcane, and insane rules of the USCIS and the INS before them. But because we treat those illegals the same way we treat mules for Chihuahuan drug cartels, slave traders, and radical Islamist terrorists, we have no resources left to catch the real bad guys sneaking in among the sea of desperate good guys just trying to do what's best for their families.
And because the legal immigration system is unjust, unpredictable, and arbitrary, we drive into the desert those who would ordinarily be invited guests -- whence they do their best to sneak through the window, after the front door is slammed in their faces without a word of explanation, a morsel of consistency, an inch of a safe pathway, or a shred of hope.
So far, no politician for or against an immigration reform bill has told me exactly what reforms would make us safer and what would make us more vulnerable; and until that communications task is complete, none of us can have any idea whether the bill du jour is worth buying or not.
Alas, I do not believe the Obamunist really gives a rat's hoot about immigrants, legal or il-; he cares only about the people who choose to vote for Obama come 2012. Legally or il-.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► May 2, 2011
The "I" In the Pyramid
Have we ever had an American president as narcissistic as we have today? Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me" could be the Obamic theme song.
I just read the transcript of the president's announcement that Osama bin Laden had finally been killed. I was startled to discover that not only was Barack H. Obama the very first president to enunciate a policy of going after terrorists associated with 9/11, he personally planned the entire operation -- it was all his idea, which he kindly passed along to Agency agents; not only that, he was the point man on the insertion team, firing the fatal shot himself, in between rounds 66 and 67 of golf:
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
If you ever invite President Obama to your wedding, for heaven's sake, don't let him make the toast! By the time he finishes (a couple of hours later), he will have become the groom, and will be triumphantly leading the bride to the marital bed.
What It Doesn't Mean
As we all raise our glasses and toast the toasty hellish roast in which Osama bin Laden is just now finding himself -- is he disappointed that he won't be getting those seventy-two raisins? -- let's spare a few thoughts about what the long-overdue assassination doesn't mean:
- It doesn't mean the end of the War Against Radical Islamism or Islamist adventurism and attempted conquest, more's the pity.
Ever since at least Tora Bora (possibly before), Ayman Zawahiri has been the real operational boss of al-Qaeda -- what's left of it, after the kills and captures we've carried out in the intervening decade; we've mowed them down like scything wheat.
Remember Musab Zarqawi, the head of "al-Qaeda in Iraq," desperately begging bin Laden to send reinforcements? The U.S. Army and Marines not only didn't leave, as bin Laden had promised, they poured into Iraq like a tsunami overtopping a levee. A year after Zarqawi sent that letter, we killed him too. There's very little left in the al-Qaeda organization these days; and bin Laden's role has long been confined to being the "spiritual leader."
In any event, Hezbollah, Hamas, and even the Taliban have long since overtaken aQ as our core enemies in the War Against Radical Islamism.
- It doesn't mean that Barack H. Obama is now guaranteed a second term, as a friend of mine worries.
See everybody and his unkie's monkle knows that we've had death squads out trying to kill not only bin Laden but Zawahiri and many other top al-Qaeda leaders ever since 2001; in fact, we've been extraordinarily successful -- which is why nobody has heard a peep from al-Qaeda for many years, ever since the Anbar "awakening," other than the occasional video or audio tape.
So nobody's going to buy the idea that the successful hit was due to B.O.'s brilliant Special-Forces leadership, though some might pretend to believe it for political impact. By contrast, a huge percentage of Americans might well be offended that Obama is trying to grab credit away from the CIA snipers! The preposterous and insulting claim will just make Obama seem even more smuggish, conceited, and self-absorbed than voters already think him.
He will get a short-term bump in the polls, but that's just euphoria at bin Laden's death. After a few weeks, it will drift right back down to where it is now... particularly as reality sinks in that bin Laden himself has been a dead letter for years.
But there's an even more embarassing possibilty here. We know that Saddam Hussein used a lot of look-alikes, precisely to confuse the myriad of people who wanted to see him attain room temperature. Is it completely impossible that Osama bin Laden might do the same? There must be other extremely tall Arabs who are cadaverously thin and can grow a beard.
Imagine, just suppose, that when the CIA returns the body to Langley, or wherever our main CIA medical facilities are found, and they compare the DNA of the corpse to samples taken from bin Laden's relatives... imagine that the analysis proves that the deceased is not, in fact, OBL. After Obama has made his triumphal credit grab, to find out that it wasn't even the tall man himself would be so humiliating, so perfect an example of "pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall," that Barack Obama would become the world's laughingstock.
What would that do for his reelection chances?
It will probably turn out to be bin Laden; but we're never sure until we're sure, eh?
- Finally, it doesn't mean that bin Laden now becomes a world martyr, radicalizing millions upon millions of ordinary Moslems and rallying hundreds of thousands to the cause. That train has long since sailed.
I cannot but believe that the vast majority of Islamdom has grown weary of constant combat. (I exclude the Palestinians from this war-weary cohort; but the rest of the ummah thinks they're totally insane anyway.) Besides, those radicals who are desperate to fight for their brother Moslems have their own causes to occupy their energies -- mostly in trying to overthrow the dictatorial, national-socialist governments that litter the Middle East like broken promises on the marble floors of Congress.
I doubt that bin Laden's call for a world-wide caliphate (with himself the Caliph) ever held much appeal to Moslem Arabs in Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, let alone to Persian Moslems, Indonesian Moslems, or Chechen, Bosnian, Indian, or Chinese Moslems. Even if they cheered his attack on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, it wasn't a pledge of loyalty to al-Qaeda so much as Schadenfreude against America and Israel, for those radical Islamists who see us as the Great and Little Satans, respectively.
If his life did not inspire, his death will likely not radicalize. We may see some riots, but that's due to the very fact that (presumed) non-Moslem CIA snipers done in the old man of the mountains. When some new outrage displaces the current one, bin Laden will be forgotten like yesterday's cud.
But still, there is an excellent chance that Osama bin Laden, who "needed killin'" more than almost anybody in the current era, has gone to meet his judgment and his doom. So let's celebrate what the assassination was -- the ignoble, ignominious end of one of the world's most evil men -- but without falling into the error of making more of it, for better or worse, than it truly signifies.
Date ►►► May 1, 2011
The Inevitable (and Unenviable) Birth-Certificate Post
I'm sure I said this before, but I'm not going to bother looking it up.
I have no idea whether Barack H. Obama was born in the United States. Nor do I know whether, assuming for sake of argument that he was born abroad, he would still be a native-born American.
But I do know this: The question is entirely moot.
No federal court in the entire United States will ever, ever, ever attempt to remove Obama from the office of President of the United States, simply because he was not a "natural born Citizen." Even in the unlikely event that some court found that President B.O. was naturalized, the fact that he was elected President would cause the courts to hold, as a matter of expediency, that to remove him from office themselves would (a) violate the separation of powers, and (b) negate democracy and disenfranchise every voter in the country.
So it's simply never going to happen.
Nor can we use it in November, 2012, even if his non-native-bornness were proven by some means; to voters, it would sound every bit as technical as the doomed Democratic effort in 2008 to boot John McCain off the ballot because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.
The likely response of a serious GOP effort to eject the sitting President from the ballot on such a technicality would be to reelect Obama in a landslide; the American meme of "fair play" would swamp any pedantic doubts about the loyalty of a man who was, at the very least, raised nearly his entire life in the United States, saving only four years spent in English-language schools in Indonesia.
Barack Obama's problem is not that he is an immigrant -- he isn't, and that's not necessarily a "problem," in any event -- but that he is a radical and a Progressivist who flies perilously close to Marxism. His nationality is completely irrelevant, because the Obamacle considers himself a Citizen of the World, beyond all national borders, beyond Left and Right, beyond good and evil. He imagines himself the Nietzschean Übermensch: an "evolved" man who is not limited by either constituional checks and balances or bourgeoisie morality.
Let's fight him on those grounds, and on grounds of fundamental incompetence, rather than relying upon infantile and futile Birtherism. Right or wrong, the argument is worse than useless.
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