Category ►►► Obama Nation
September 24, 2012
Being a crazed right-winger, I've grown quite accustomed to all the accusations of fascism that get tossed at those of my political persuasion. In fact, I don't think you've quite made it as a conservative until somebody compares you to a Nazi -- though admittedly the bar has sunk pretty low as of late. Speakers at the DNC let fly with so many gratuitous references to the Third Reich that they might as well have been staging a revival of Springtime for Hitler, so the accusation packs about as much shock value as Howard Stern after his move to satellite radio: been there, heard that.
But beneath the cheap theatrics, the seeds of fascism are very real, even as they lay dormant. Only problem is -- at least for the Democrats -- it's mostly folks on the left getting their green thumb on to grow those seeds into a full blown movement. Think I'm crazy? Believe me kids, I wish I were.
Let's start with the Obama campaign flag, since taken down because it was, to put it delicately, about as creepy as a dirty old man at a high-school cheerleading competition. It isn't so much the "O" supplanting the stars that signify the fifty states in the Union. It isn't even the dried blood streaks that take the place of the stripes, either. The creep factor lies mainly in the symbolism (and as we've seen through history -- the swatsika, the fasces, the alien banner from "V" -- symbolism is very important to fascist movements). In this case, the flag no longer represents the United States of America, but the Obama States of America. Kind of makes you wonder what kind of people Barack has working for him behind the scenes.
Then there's that whole cultlike "pledge of allegiance" thing that various celebrities have been performing on YouTube. One might be inclined to dismiss it outright, because let's face it -- as human cutlery goes, actors aren't known for being the sharpest knives in the drawer. Still, though, you can't help but be drawn back to the symbolism: It's not the flag, or even the nation these people are pledging, but the current occupant of the presidency. If these people had the slightest clue as to what motivated the Founding Fathers, they'd realize how profoundly un-American such a pledge is.
And how about those pesky polls? In spite of the Obama campaign's best efforts to make his re-election seem inevitable, dammit all if the polling data just isn't cooperating with that narrative. Of course, in true Chicago fashion, Obama consigliere David Axelrod didn't take kindly to the news and tried to make an example out of the Gallup Organization, so that others might see what happens to those who dare to cross his boss. To their credit, Gallup refused to play ball -- and now they're facing a DOJ lawsuit.
Anybody sensing a pattern here?
You might not, if you depend on the mainstream media to get your news -- and here's where the final piece of the puzzle fits in. Typically a fascist regime will move on the media first and foremost, because they know that if they control the message, they can more easily control the nation. Except that in this case of the American media, reporters and editors have willingly co-opted themselves to the Obama cause. In throwing aside even the pretense of objectivity, far too many of them have also thrown away their First Amendment rights to a free and unfettered press -- all for the privilege of becoming propaganda lackeys for the administration and the Democrat Party.
And that's how it happens. People don't just wake up one day in a fascist regime -- it happens bit by bit, piece by piece, replacing the rights of the individual with some weird, twisted worship of the state. Institutions (such as the presidency) become irrelevant, while leaders are elevated to a higher status. This is exactly the opposite of what our Constitution intended -- and it scares the hell out of me that so many seem so willing to just go along with it.
Every election that comes along, politicians and pundits alike say that it's the most important one in a generation. In this case, however, they may actually be right.
September 15, 2012
Jimmah, Is That You?
The general consensus is that it's been a horrible week for the White House, though I'd argue it was a lot worse for Chris Stevens, Sean Smith and the two Marines whole were killed in yet another example of manufactured Muslim rage. But the administration of Barack Obama, never willing to let a crisis go to waste, have somehow managed to make things even worse through a response that could rightly be described as "bungled," assuming there's somebody at the State Department competent enough to understand just how badly they screwed the pooch. Not since 52 American citizens became guests of the ayatollah in 1979 has America been so humiliated in the eyes of the world -- and, just like President Jimmy Carter back in those days, the current president doesn't seem to have the first clue about how to deal with it.
It's bad enough that Obama's first response was to ask Google to take down the YouTube video that supposedly sparked all the violence. First Amendment considerations aside, this craven act of appeasement and capitulation can only serve to make things worse. If anything, Islamist radicals will take any sign of weakness as their cue to engage in even more violence. And why shouldn't they? Violence gets them what they want, and as everybody except liberal Democrats seems to realize, when you incentivize a certain kind of behavior you tend to get more of it.
Then there's the rank hypocrisy of Obama trying to smooth over those delicate Muslim sensibilities so insulted by the YouTube video. This is, after all, the same man who spend a good chunk of the previous week at his own convention trumpeting how America is safer because he personally killed Osama bin Laden. It seems lost on the president how the crowd in Benghazi shouted, "Obama, Obama, we are all Osama!" as they scaled the embassy walls and dragged Ambassador Stevens to his death -- all on the first anniversary of September 11 to take place after bin Laden's death. If Barack Obama really thinks that the YouTube video is to blame for all the violence, then he has to take his share of the blame as well.
And what to make of the media response? The last time I saw wagons circle that fast was that scene in Blazing Saddles when the Indians attacked. Reporters actually got together and coordinated their questions during a press conference on the crisis to make sure that the man at the podium would have to answer them no matter whom he called upon -- except that the man was Mitt Romney, not President Obama. And just what was this burning topic? Whether Romney "regretted" his criticism of how Obama was handling the crisis.
I'd say it was totally unbelievable, except that it isn't. I find myself hoping that Romney gets elected just so the press goes back to doing their jobs.
So in summation: the Obama administration is incompetent, the press are corrupt, and America faces even greater danger than before. If I were the Democrats, I'd probably switch back to trying to spin "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" That whole national security thing doesn't seem to be working for them.
July 13, 2012
Finally! Barack Obama, after much soul searching, has figured out where his presidency has gone wrong:
When I think about what we've done well and what we haven't done well, the mistake of my first term - couple of years - was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that's important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.
Man, I sure am glad we got that cleared up! And here I was thinking that Obama's blues had something to do with 30 straight months of 8% plus unemployment, anemic economic growth, and festooning us with a socialized health care system that nobody wants. Guess I need to read the New York Times more.
If you still had any lingering doubts that Barack Obama is a narcissist bordering on megalomania, this pretty much clinches it. After three and a half years of single-handedly doing everything in his power to hobble the economy with taxes, regulations and spending, he actually thinks that he can bring it all back -- with the sheer force of his words!
Ah, Barack. Didn't your Hollywood buddies tell you never to believe your own publicity? That bit about healing the nation's sins and turning back the oceans -- that was only campaign shtick, wasn't it?
God, I hope so. If not, we're in even bigger trouble than I thought. The kind of self-delusion on display here puts The Matrix to shame, except that we don't get the option of swallowing the blue pill.
In a way, though, Obama is selling himself short. As far as stories go, he's told some doozies. Between his composite girlfriends, the step-grandfather who didn't quite die with his boots on, and his puffed-up author bio, he's outdone Tolkien in terms of literary license.
And that doesn't even include his political career. Is the ObamaCare mandate a tax? It is -- except when it isn't. Talk about your twist ending! The only thing that would make it better would be if Obama really turned out to be Keyser Soze.
See, Barack -- the problem isn't so much your stories, but the willing suspension of disbelief required for the public to buy into them. Solyndra, Fast and Furious, the promise of stimulus -- all that stuff has just gotten too heavy for us to lift.
Perhaps a dash of truth might lighten the load a bit?
June 28, 2012
The Trillion-Dollar Taxman
As I understand the ObamaCare decision, Chief Justice John Roberts found that the individual mandate cannot be constitutionally justified under the Commerce Clause; that clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, § 8, ¶ 3) cannot be used to force Americans to buy government-specified products.
However, the so-called penalty for not buying medical insurance can, in theory, be "reasonably" considered a federal tax... thus, not the mandate per se, but the punitive imposition of taxes for failing to comply with it, can be justified under Congress' general taxing authority.
In other words, when Congress passed the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, what Democrats actually enacted was a trillion-dollar tax hike on the American people... coupled with a vast array of regulations, controlling every aspect of health insurance, that is odious, outrageous, and offensive to liberty.
If the Romney campaign, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) do not immediately cut commercials dubbing this president the "Trillion-Dollar Taxman," then they should resign in disgrace.
Note that the Obamunists also attempted, fortunately without success, to enact another, even more staggering tax increase -- the "carbon tax" that was the central part of Barack "Big Stick" Obama's Cap and Tax scheme -- which could have ended up far more costly even than the trillion-dollar ObamaCare tax itself.
And now they threaten to raise taxes even higher by smugly allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. Yet despite this cascade of "revenue enhancements" that dwarf all previous tax attacks, Obama persists in hurling us into financial oblivion via his trillion-dollar-a-year deficit-spending addiction. The cataclysm we now face certainly validates what conservatives and libertarians have said for many decades: The motto of Big Government is and will always be, never enough!
There is no logically conceivable limit to taxation, no magic level that would cause Democrats to say, "All right, that's enough tax; from now on, we must reduce the deficit by cutting spending." Even a tax rate of 100% is insufficient for the insatiable government maw: Even in a state of pure socialism, where the government brazenly asserts that the entire GDP belongs to the Dear Leader, the acolytes of totalitarianism can still monetize debt by simply printing enough "fiat" money to pay it off in worthless paper... at the cost of Weimar-Republic style hyperinflation (at its peak, from January to November 1923, 2.7 billion percent).
In a very real sense then, Big Government can even "raise taxes" on those already paying everything they earn to the feds: Whatever allowance the government gives to the people for basic necessities, that money itself plummets in real value until the paper itself is far more valuable than the currency printed on it. (If only currency were edible!)
Frighteningly, that appears to be the path that Democrats are, if not eager, then at least prepared to follow. Call it the Grecian burn; but who's left to bail us out?
Jettisoning the last vestige of Democrat rule has become a matter of national survival; the Left has made it an existential imperative, a holy crusade. If November's vote does not reflect that paradigm change, if it's another "business as usual" election, then we may be doomed as a people, at least for generations. And it may ultimately turn out that the skeptics in 1776 were right: As soon as the people discover they can vote themselves largess, then Democracy may encode its own final collapse.
Throw the bums out; we have no other option.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
December 24, 2009
Obamunism: Threat... or Menace?
Threatswatch -- which is normally fairly reliable -- is either hyperventilating some very interesting psychedelic vapors... or else they're onto something big. Steve Schippert and Clyde Middleton note that President Barack H. Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) rescinding part of Ronald Reagan's 1983 EO 12425; the original EO restricted the activities of Interpol -- the International Criminal Police Organization -- by denying their premises and property diplomatic immunity from search, from confiscation, and denying them the "inviolability" of their "archives" that would normally be offered to, say, a foreign embassy.
Thus, under the Reagan doctrine, the FBI or other law-enforcement agencies in the United States could enter Interpol property, search Interpol premises or computers, could confiscate -- that is, seize into evidence -- property or records pursuant to a court order, and could copy and read Interpol's communications and data. In other words, Interpol was not treated as a sovereign power; it was answerable to the American justice system.
But Obama just signed, without fanfare, his own EO nullifying the exception found in Reagan's EO... and the intriguing question is -- why?
The Threatswatch Duo believe this "plac[es] INTERPOL above the United States Constitution and beyond the legal reach of our own top law enforcement;" they argue that this is a precursor to the president once again signing the Rome Treaty, enrolling the United States into the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court -- just when several European nations are trying to drag American soldiers into the ICC for show trials to express those countries' outrage at America for having the temerity to stand up to Iran, Syria, North Korea, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other such peaceful nation-states and charitable organizations:
The pre-requisite conditions regarding the Iraq withdrawal and the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility closure will continue their course. meanwhile, the next move from President Obama is likely an attempt to dissolve the agreements made between President Bush and other states preventing them from turning over American military forces to the ICC (via INTERPOL) for war crimes or any other prosecutions.
When the paths on the road map converge - Iraq withdrawal, Guantánamo closure, perceived American image improved internationally, and an empowered INTERPOL in the United States - it is probable that President Barack Obama will once again make America a signatory to the International Criminal Court. It will be a move that surrenders American sovereignty to an international body who's INTERPOL enforcement arm has already been elevated above the Constitution and American domestic law enforcement.
But a bit of skepticism is warranted; for one thing, despite its full name, Interpol is only a "police organization" in the sense that the National Crime Information Center is a police organization: Interpol acts to coordinate investigations and criminal databases between countries and provide an "entry point" into the justice system of a host country for foreign powers who might be befuddled by the host's laws and procedures. It has no international agents with powers of arrest; Interpol can only work through local host countries' own police forces.
Sovereign nations have national Interpol "branches" comprising duly appointed law-enforcement officials within that country; the U.S. has one called the National Central Bureau, headquartered in the Justice Department in D.C. Thus there are no Interpol agents, in the sense of arresting authorities; there are only national police officers who carry out investigations and make arrests within the United States (and other countries).
Ed Morrissey (my old blog-boss) at Hot Air rejects the most sweeping claims of Schippert and Middleton but does find Obama's EO granting Interpol immunity suspicious. Responding to a claim from the Threatswatch article:
Property and assets being immune from search and confiscation means precisely that. Wherever they may be in the United States. This could conceivably include human assets – Americans arrested on our soil by INTERPOL officers.
Actually, that last argument overreaches. American law does not consider people as “assets.” It does mean, though, that Interpol officers would have diplomatic immunity for any lawbreaking conducted in the US at a time when Interpol nations (like Italy) have attempted to try American intelligence agents for their work in the war on terror, a rather interesting double standard.
It also appears to mean that Americans who get arrested on the basis of Interpol work cannot get the type of documentation one normally would get in the discovery process, which is a remarkable reversal from Obama’s declared efforts to gain “due process” for terrorists detained at Gitmo. Does the White House intend to treat Americans worse than the terrorists we’ve captured during wartime?
An apologist blogger for the U.N., UN Dispatch (sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, Ted Turner's billion-dollar pro-U.N. advocacy organization), pooh-poohs the very idea that there is anything nefarious about this slight change in Interpol's immunity. But even the authors of UN Dispatch cannot hazard a guess why the Obamacle would have signed such an EO without warning or explanation:
The people actually making the arrests, though, are members of the national law enforcement of the country where the crimes are committed. They are not "Interpol Officers" -- because there is no such thing as an "Interpol Officer." Further, "Interpol" can't arrest an American on American soil, a Canadian on Canadian soil or a Rwandan on a Rwandan soil. Only national law enforcement can do that.
As to the specific reaon [sic] why the Obama administration would decide, last week, to extend to Interpol the same suite of diplomatic privileges that are typically accorded to international organizations? I don't have a good answer for that. My sense is that it probably has something to with the accessibility of Interpol's secure criminal databases (on things like stolen passports and the like). But that is a question that could pretty easily be answered by a phone call to the Justice Department.
Or perhaps not; the current administration is not exactly known for its transparency (or honesty).
I'm somewhere in between UN Dispatch and Threatswatch: I don't think this is a precursor to shoehorning the United States into the ICC or that we'll see mass arrests of former Bush administration officials by Interpol special forces in black helicopters. But on the other hand, when Obama grants special immunities to an international police-coordination organization, does so without warning or explanation, and when even those who habitually support anything done by the U.N. and other international bodies cannot find a "good answer" for why -- my transnational tyranny siren begins to scream like a banshee.
At the very least, we need to hear the story of O.: Why did he do it? What is the upside, what are the risks? Is Morrissey correct that Americans arrested by FBI agents acting as members of the "National Central Bureau" might be denied traditional powers of discovery, such as subpoenaing the investigative officers whose work led to the arrest warrant?
Then, because we cannot believe a single word that the One says (he is an Alinskyite, after all, and lies without compunction or embarassment), we need an independent investigation by the GOP before we have any idea whether this is something to concern us... or just a "pretty innocuous bureaucratic move," as the Ted Turner-backed UN Dispatch would have it.
I realize it's too much to ask; but is it too much to demand?
October 27, 2009
Thomas Sowell: Obama Isn't UnAmerican, He's Anti-American
During the Bush administration, liberals relentlessly equated Bush and his administration with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. It was always a ridiculous comparison of course; liberals seem to think that Hitlerism simply means militarism or conservatism or being religious (which is a joke, as Hitler was an atheist) -- but that's par for the liberal course. Dafydd calls this tactic "Argument by Tendentious Redefinition": They expand the definition of a word to include so many other unrelated situations that the original meaning of the word disappears into a black hole.
So I do not make the comparison between the Barack H. Obama administration and actual fascism lightly. Please understand, Obama is not like Hitler; nobody is, nobody else ever was. Hitler was uniquely insane and evil: others like Stalin and Mao were as evil, but they didn't have the almost inhuman hatreds that drove der Führer.
Obama is neither crazy nor evil, not in the cosmic sense of the Nazis; so by "fascism," I do not mean "Naziism." The "brilliant genius" Obamacle may in reality be as thick as a brick, but he's not clinically insane.
With that disclaimer, I look at the policies and style coming out of his administration -- its thuggish behavior, the desperate need to control everyone and everything, the demonization of a huge laundry list of "enemies," and the constant demand that everybody (except the party leaders) sacrifice for the collective -- and I cannot help but compare it to the early stages of fascism. Not Naziism, a less demonic version of fascism... the fascism of Oogo Chavez, for example, or even the original fascism of Benito Mussolini.
And now I feel justified, because one of our greatest conservative intellects, Thomas Sowell feels the same way. In a column published in Jewish World Review titled Dismantling America, Sowell criticizes the Obama administration's dismantling of American values (all emphasis added):
Just one year ago, would you have believed that an unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate but simply one of the many "czars" appointed by the President, could arbitrarily cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent?
Did you think that another "czar" would be talking about restricting talk radio? That there would be plans afloat to subsidize newspapers -- that is, to create a situation where some newspapers' survival would depend on the government liking what they publish?
Did you imagine that anyone would even be talking about having a panel of so-called "experts" deciding who could and could not get life-saving medical treatments?
Does any of this sound like America...?
President Obama has already floated the idea of a national police force, something we have done without for more than two centuries.... What would be the role of a national police force created by Barack Obama, with all its leaders appointed by him? It would seem more like the brown shirts of dictators than like anything American.
Obama's repeated appointment of extremists is no accident, Sowell writes:
Nothing is more consistent with his lifelong patterns than putting such people in government -- people who reject American values, resent Americans in general and successful Americans in particular, as well as resenting America's influence in the world.
Sowell concludes with an indictment that has never been made so starkly by such a leading intellectual against a sitting president, particularly during a time of war; but I think Sowell is justified in making this accusation:
Nothing so epitomizes President Obama's own contempt for American values and traditions like trying to ram two bills through Congress in his first year -- each bill more than a thousand pages long -- too fast for either of them to be read, much less discussed. That he succeeded only the first time says that some people are starting to wake up. Whether enough people will wake up in time to keep America from being dismantled, piece by piece, is another question -- and the biggest question for this generation.
America must heed the fire alarm, get out of bed, and stop Obama from torching the America we know, so he can build on its ashes the America he and his liberal-fascist cronies long to see.
October 26, 2009
Obama: "What Me Sexist?"
I read something in yesterday's New York Times that caused me to shed a tear -- in a laugh-out-loud kind of way: The Times story accuses Barak H. Obama of rampant sexism.
What? How? According to the story, B.O. surrounds himself with a pavillion of "testosterone-brimming personalities" and "fist-bumping young men who call each other 'dude'":
The suspicion flared in recent weeks -- and not for the first time -- after President Obama was criticized by women’s advocates and liberal bloggers for hosting a high-level basketball game with no female players.
Oh, come now (I hear you cry); you don't expect our president to play basket ball with women do you? But the Times builds its case; women, it says, are invisible in other areas as well, while key White House positions are mostly filled with men.
Yes, I know; the same objection occurred to me... what about Hillary? Valerie Jarrett? Antisemite Samantha Power? (All right, she's out; but she was there before.) What about Mickey Maoist Anita Dunn" (Yes, I know, she's leaving too.)
The Times does admit there are a few hens among the roosters; quoth senior advisor Jarrett:
"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and six other cabinet-level officials; Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; the health care czar, Nancy-Ann DeParle; and the domestic policy adviser, Melody Barnes. According to figures provided by the administration, there is a 50-50 gender split among White House employees." [Sustained by a carefully administered formula: For every twenty senior policy makers (male), they make sure to hire twenty receptionists and secretaries (female). Fifty-fifty! -- DaH]
And we all know just how seriously the president treats Hillary Rodham Clinton, secretary of the Congo.
But the Times is not mollified. The highest profile positions are filled with men who "exude an unmistakable male vibe," the story says. So who are the "six other [female] cabinet-level officials" that Jarrett references?
- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
- Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
- Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
- Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
- United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice
- Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer
First, the secretaries of labor and HHS and the EPA director are all traditional "girly" positions; they have little policy-making role and are mostly trotted out for signing ceremonies or to appear on Sunday talk shows to soften the president's "good old boy" image.
The other four positions are traditionally more important; ordinarily, Secretary of State and Homeland Security, U.N. ambassador, and Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors would all be major positions. But with the czars in Obama's eyes -- an Afghanistan czar, a border czar, a Central Region czar, an ecnomic czar, a Guantanamo closure czar, an intelligence czar, a manufacturing czar, a Mideast peace czar, a pay czar, a regulatory czar, a stimulus accountability czar, a Sudan czar, a TARP czar, a terrorism czar, an urban affairs czar, a weapons czar, and a WMD policy czar -- all of them males -- these four cabinet-level women have all been emasculated.
In fact, of all thirty-three known Obamic czars, only three -- 9% -- are women: Lynn Rosenthall, the domestic violence czar; Carol Browner, the energy and environment czar; and Nancy-Ann DeParle, health czar. All three are traditionally female positions. All the czars with actual policy-making power are males. So much for the "50-50 gender split!"
Where I work, the male to female ratio is about 9 to 1. It's hard for many men to understand, but sports-fan male bonding is very real. I suppose I could learn to like basketball and football, just to join the conversation; but I can't spend my free time watching guy sports when I have Dancing with the Stars to watch!
One Democratic media strategist says that while Mr. Obama does place women in important roles, his comfort level with staff members is not always perceived as equal.
“There is a sense that Obama has a certain jocular familiarity with the men that he doesn’t have with the women,” said Tracy Sefl, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign who speaks regularly to some female aides in the administration.
George W. Bush was very different; many of his most trusted policy advisors (not just political aids) were women, such as Karen Hughes; and when he put women into important roles like National Security Advisor or secretary of state, he not only didn't undercut them by handing their portfolios to (male) czars, he enhanced their power; think of Condoleezza Rice. Even Bill Clinton gave a tremendous policy role to Janet Reno, allowing her to initiate many investigations of her boss; randy Bill was less sexist than the post-partisan, post-modern, community organizer who sits in the White House today! (Clinton later spiked the investigations; but he would have done the same even if his Attorney General was a man.)
It's completely natural that men and women socialize separately; I certainly wouldn't want to hang around a bunch of men in a sports bar (or Hooters), even if I were single. But a workplace gathering is not the same as some friends getting together for a backyard barbeque. When was golfing with the boss a personal activity?
Like it or not, that such "socializing" between boss and employees is how connections and camaraderie are forged that result in promotions, juicy assignments, and presidential access:
One junior aide, who like the other women spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about appearing publicly critical, said that the “sports-fan thing at the White House” could become “annoying” and that her relative indifference to athletics could be mildly alienating. And while this is not uncommon in any workplace, sports bonding can afford a point of entree with the boss.
Ben Finkenbinder, a junior press aide and scratch golfer, was recently invited into a foursome with Mr. Obama. (In records kept by Mark Knoller of CBS, the president has played 23 rounds of golf since taking office, none of which have included women, though Mr. Knoller allows that the press office does not always release the names of every player. A White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said Friday that Mr. Obama planned to play this weekend with Ms. [Melody] Barnes.)
Obama is not the first athletic president. Geroge W. Bush was famous for jogging and later mountain biking. But he often invited women to join the entourage.
President Obama and the White House dismiss this charge; but realizing the perception of sexism can hurt him in the future, Obama decided to hold some high-powered events to balance out the pick-up basketball games with "the boys" (Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, and Robert Gibbs): Baking cookies and holding baby showers:
In the same week as the basketball game, Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, hosted a group of women reporters for an off-the-record meeting with Ms. Jarrett over chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies....
Ms. Dunn said that she recently hosted a baby shower for an administration official and that no men from the office were invited.
Oatmeal cookies and baby showers; some actual feminists might call that patronizing. But how could it be? Being liberal means never having to live by the rules you enforce on others.
How does our Ms. Dunn feel about being relegated to the girly events, where "no men" are invited -- including Barack Obama himself -- while "the boys" get direct access to the president?
She is comfortable with that -- just as she is fine with never playing basketball with the president.
“That is just part of the culture here that I am excluded from,” she said. “And I don’t care.”
Well we don't care much either; she's probably as terrible at shooting hoops as she is at picking favorite philosophers. While Obama's at it, he can exclude from the inner circle Hillary, Napolitano, Jarrett, and all those other female groupies who get the vapors at the sight of the One and hurl their unmentionables onto the stage... so long as he also excludes the weirdest, most radical, and most corrupt of "the boys," like Emanuel, and other males (tax cheat Timothy Geithner comes to mind).
Still it's illuminating to shine a spotlight on a dark corner of liberalism: that typically, at the highest levels of leftist circles, skirts need not apply.
October 22, 2009
At Last, Just What We Need...
Let us take inventory of the last nine months (only as long as it takes to bring a baby into the world):
- Our president is driving the Crazy Train to national bankruptcy.
- He's hunting high and low for a way to lose two wars.
- He's appeasing our enemies and alienating our allies.
- He has as much as accepted Iran and North Korea building nuclear arsenals.
- Russia may be on the brink of resurrecting the Soviet Union, reconquering many of the countries whose liberty was the hard-fought victory of Ronald Reagan.
- Our Congress is scheming to take over the entire health-care system and ultimately transform it to single payer, using the British National Health Service as its model.
- Liberal Democrats are desperately trying to enact a stealth $3.6 trillion tax on all energy use, hoping to cripple American industry and the economy.
- The entire Left is trying to sneak gay marriage in through the back door.
- They're poised to grant full-blown amnesty -- not a plea bargain, as Bush proposed, but actual amnesty -- to millions and millions of illegal aliens.
- We may be about to see the American dollar dropped as the world's reserve currency.
But at least Democrats have found the key to everything, the most important thing they can do to restore the greatness of America, in the face of the imminent collapse of everything unique and wonderful about our country:
The House Financial Services Committee voted Thursday to create a federal agency devoted to protecting consumers from predatory lending, abusive overdraft fees and unfair rate hikes....
The legislation has been the target of an aggressive multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign by the financial industry, which contends that the agency would have dangerously broad reach.
Thursday's vote indicates that Democrats were willing to shrug off those concerns and are likely to pass the bill on the floor by the end of the year.
President Barack Obama said the vote "sends an important signal to the American people that we will not stand by and allow big financial firms and their lobbyists to mobilize against change."
Well thank goodness for the return of sanity! Everyone knows that when trouble threatens and the future seems dim, there is always a solution: Create a new federal agency.
Why didn't I think of that?
I wasn't going to cross-post this on Hot Air's rogues' gallery; but then I thought, Why not give hoi polloi the gift of my genius to brighten up their otherwise dreary lives...?
October 14, 2009
Barack the Magic Statesman
Thank goodness we have such an eloquent spokesman for America's foreign policy! At last, we see the brave new world of hope and change wrought by Barack H. Obama. (And it has such people in it.)
Now that he has, for all practical purposes, taken off the table any military action against Iran -- which all now agree is indeed developing nuclear weapons, along with long- and medium-range ballistic missiles to deliver them anywhere in the world -- Russia is finally coming around to the sort of broad, sweeping sanctions that could produce a meaningful change in Iran's behavior:
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned major powers on Wednesday against intimidating Iran and said talk of sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme was "premature".
Via the brilliance of the One and his mind-numbing rhetorical ability, his charm, his willingness to throw the goal of spreading democracy and liberty around the world into the dustbin of Obamunism, and his rejection of American exceptionalism, he has achieved what eluded two previous administrations -- one Republican, one Democratic... clear, specific, harsh, and biting sanctions that can only shake the nuke-loving mullahs to their very cores:
"There is no need to frighten the Iranians," Putin told reporters in Beijing after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
"We need to look for a compromise. If a compromise is not found, and the discussions end in a fiasco, then we will see."
"And if now, before making any steps (towards holding talks) we start announcing some sanctions, then we won't be creating favourable conditions for them (talks) to end positively. This is why it is premature to talk about this now."
It turns out Obama's choice of Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham as secretary of state, a.k.a. the Mouth of Obama, was absolutely inspired; she has turned out to be a gem, a diamond. (A diamond who throws the occasional lamp; but you can't expect the superintelligent and supercompetent to abide by rules of decorum written for We the little people.) Her tough, no-nonsense negotiating skills and pleasant, sunny demeanor have blessed the One We Have Been Longing For, leading to a Russia that now listens to America and shows tremendous respect for our needs and desires (and for our top government officials):
Putin, who many diplomats, analysts, and Russian citizens believe is still Russia's paramount leader despite stepping down as president last year, was speaking after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Moscow for two days of talks....
Clinton failed to secure any specific assurances from Russia on Iran during her visit, leaving her open to criticism at home that she had not received anything from Moscow after earlier U.S. concessions on missile defence....
Clinton said she would have liked to have seen Putin but that their agendas did not coincide. Putin left for a trip to the Russian Far East and China before her arrival in Moscow.
She has given him the tool he needs to excavate mountains of ill will left behind by the previous regime, anger, misunderstanding, and hopelessness that soured Russia on working hand in hand with us on sanctions. Now that the dross has been cleared away by change we can believe in, and the Millennium of Revelations has finally commenced, everything is falling into place.
It's no wonder that the One received the Nobel Peace Prize -- it was perhaps the most justly earned such award ever! (Only those given to Woodrow Wilson, Le Duc Tho, Yassir Arafat, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore are even in the running.)
The world (outside the United States) loves him unconditionally, just as they loved the greatest figures of American history, from Michael Jackson to Mickey Mouse. What a change from the ogre we used to have, who the rest of the world merely feared and respected:
On the contentious issue of missile defence, which has divided Russia and the United States in the past, Putin said he hoped the United States would not renege on its promise to scrap plans for an anti-missile system in central Europe....
Putin said however Moscow "feels no euphoria" about Bush's successor Barack Obama's promise to roll back the shield plans.
"We treated this decision with reserve, calmly," he said. "In any case, the country's leadership accepted it with understanding and gratitude. We believe this was Obama's right and courageous decision."
I can only feel profound gratitude that so many conservatives and Republicans were big-hearted enough in 2008 either to vote for Barack Obama directly, or at least to throw away their vote by pulling the lever for Babar or writing in Ron Paul. If it hadn't been for them, who knows? We might have been deprived of the most transformative figure in all of American history.
Bless you, Christopher Buckley and Colin Powell! We could never have accomplished all this without your help.
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
October 13, 2009
"Enemies" List Redux
President Barack H. Obama, continuing his relentless quest to emulate and even surpass all the worst tendencies of Richard Nixon, has resuscitated the presidential (or perhaps unpresidential) enemies list. Topping Obama's version is the Fox News Channel; one gets the impression that if Obama could somehow revoke their broadcast licence, he would hesitate only as long as it took to find his favorite ballpoint.
Recently, the One and his acolytes have escalated their hate speech against news organizations that fail to fawn over him and his glorious crusade; his spokesmen increasingly make bizarre and unfocused attacks on the world's most popular cable news channel -- as reported by Fox News itself, of course, but very well sourced (as are most Fox News stories):
"What I think is fair to say about Fox -- and certainly it's the way we view it -- is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party," said Anita Dunn, White House communications director, on CNN. "They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is."
One is hard pressed to find a single political player who thinks it benefits the White House to single out one very popular news channel for repeated denunciation, denial of interviews, and smear campaigns. As professor, lawyer, journalist, and former presidential advisor -- to Republican presidents and also to Bill Clinton -- David Gergen notes, "The press always has the last barrel of ink." Or phosphors, in this case.
I wonder how far the Obamatons will take this war of choice against Fox News. Will they prevent the channel from sending reporters to White House press conferences? Threaten analysts with a loss of White House credentials if they appear on any Fox News show? Will they extend their rage to other news organizations seen as insufficiently compliant, such as the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, and Politico?
In a similar vein, attempts by Obamic allies to punish conservative talk show hosts, Rush Limbaugh in particular, have mounted to absurd heights. Recently, Limbaugh's attempts to purchase the St. Louis Rams football team (as part of a consortium of investors) has provoked first Al Sharpton and now Jesse Jackson to write angry, denunciatory letters to the National Football League, demanding that the league intervene and prevent the talk-show host's bid from being accepted by the team's current owners. Notwithstanding what Jackson once said about Barack Obama's testicles, both reverends are strong supporters of the president.
Chris Wallace, son of famed 60 Minutes founding correspondent Mike Wallace and host of Fox News Sunday, succinctly summed up Team Obama's approach to news organs that are not in Barack Obama's pocket:
Still, Obama refused to appear on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on Sept. 20, the day he appeared on five other Sunday shows. At the time, the White House characterized the snub as payback for the Fox Broadcast Network's decision not to air an Obama prime time appearance. But last weekend, Dunn blamed Fox News Channel's coverage of the administration for Obama's snub of Fox News Sunday.
"Is this why he did not appear?" Dunn said. "The answer is yes."
Wallace has called White House officials "the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington."
The Obama administration has never understood that it should no longer be in campaign mode, nine months into the president's term, but rather in governing mode; in the latter, presidents must interact not only with rabid supporters but the rest of the country as well. It's astonishing that Obama is more willing, even eager, to talk with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuelan dictator Oogo Chavez, and Russian puppeteer Vladimir Putin than to talk with the one American television news agency that critically examines both sides equally.
By contrast, George W. Bush gave many interviews to CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and NPR. But then, Republicans have never had a problem accepting the reality that even those who disagree with them still have First Amendment rights.
October 11, 2009
This Burns Me Up
According to Reuters, a truck driver was just fined about three hundred dollars for smoking in his "enclosed workplace"... which happened to be his own truck. There is no indication anyone was riding with him; he appears to have been alone in the cab.
This outrage occurred (of course!) in Canada, home of the knave and land of the "free" (health care, that is):
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, adopted in 2006, prohibits smoking in an enclosed workplace or enclosed public area, and that extends to work vehicles, said Constable Shawna Coulter of the Ontario Provincial Police in Essex County.
"We enforce the legislation and this truck driver was in violation of that," she said.
I don't know whether he owned the truck, but I don't think it would matter to enforcers of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act of 2006. What does matter, according to the (Toronto) Globe and Mail, is whether the company or person that owns the truck operates it entirely within Ontario, or whether it crosses the border into other provinces; if the latter, it's governed under federal (Canadian) law, and evidently can allow smoking in some trucks:
Companies doing cross-border business are federally regulated and can designate some trucks as smoke-friendly, leaving Ontario-only firms as the law's lone targets. And liability for a driver who owns the truck and is its sole operator is hazy.
The editor of the Globe and Mail has another pertinent question to ask:
What about those who work at home? If police find someone running a business from a sofa, enjoying a good puff, will they have the gall to write up a ticket?
I cannot vouch for the accuracy or even the veracity of Reuters-Canada... but I do know one thing: This is our future under ObamaCare. Once the government has a monetary interest in the health of each individual citizen, it develops an irresistable desire to control eveyr aspect of that person's life. After all, the government must protect its investment.
Think. Then vent. Then vote.
(Hat tip to Scott Gilbert, who uses the Big Lizards tip e-mail address to excellent effect.)
October 8, 2009
Why, oh why is President Barack H. Obama taking so blasted long deciding what to do about Gen. Stanley McChrystal's strategy and troop request in Afghanistan?
The Commander in Chief let it languish at the Pentagon for a month before even requesting it. Obviously, he already knew what was in it; the Pentagon leaked it, and its major components were widely reported: Switch to a counterinsurgency strategy and send more troops, structurally very like the strategy Gen. David Petraeus used so successfully in Iraq.
But the Obamacle sat and sat, squirmed and squirmed, unable to decide what to do about it (which is why he didn't request it be sent over to la Casa Blanca, because that formally "starts the clock"). Why? Why does he fiddle while Afghanistan burns? Our Marines and soldiers are dying.
The first is that Obama is congenitally incapable of making up his mind, of course. He has always been far more comfortable issuing lofty and vague encyclicals, then voting "present."
But he seems more torn that usual this time... and I believe there is a deeper reason why this particular decision is such an Obamic dilemma. This is the biggest, most consequential military decision he has ever had to make in his life... and it is the first entirely lose-lose choice of his immature administration.
Other crossroads have always offered Obama at least one option that was a win. What makes this one lose-lose?
The One likes to claim there is a "third way" between accepting the recommendation and rejecting it. He thinks he can get away with "counterinsurgency lite," which it pleases him to call a "counter-terrorist" strategy, whatever that means.
But in the end, no matter what alternative he picks, it will be seen by everyone as rejecting Stanley McChrystal's strategy... which is odd, because McChrystal is Obama's hand-picked choice to head up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) commands -- after he fired the previous commander, Gen. David D. McKiernan. And McChrystal's report was the first and most urgent task Barack Obama was ordered to perform. Rejecting it would make Obama himself look weak... either he can't pick a good general, or else he's afraid of the course his general charted.
No matter, Obama has only two choices: accept McChrystal's request or reject it.
If he rejects the proposal, then Barack Obama owns Afghanistan: If it goes south on us -- which it likely will; it's hard to believe that even President B.O. thinks Joe Biden is a better military strategist than a four-star general who has actually fought -- if we end up retreating, if the Taliban makes great gains there and in Pakistan, if al-Qaeda returns to the Taliban-held territory... then everybody in the country blames Obama for losing the war.
We're not likely to reelect a president who inflicted another unnecessary defeat on us, especially in a war so closely tied to the 9/11 attacks -- "the war we should be fighting," as everyone on the left said, including Obama himself as recently as August. Americans have experienced insufficient pain to be eager to accept defeat as the only way out, as we became anent Vietnam.
He's already struggling because of his radical domestic agenda, which the American people have decisively rejected: government-controlled health care, massive bailouts, nationalizing banks and now even the automobile industry, and staggering tax increases coupled with an orgy of new spending. If we add "lost the war against al-Qaeda and screwed up the national security of the United States for decades to come" to the list of obstacles he must surmount to continue working at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., I think even the narcissism of the Obamas (B and M) would quail.
So the obvious choice is to accept McChrystal's recommendation. Ah, but this is the other horn of the dilemma... because he promised his radical-left base an American military defeat; and they may fully and finally reject his presidency (and himself) if he betrays that promise.
The defeat was supposed to be in Iraq, of course; that was the unpopular war in 2008, while Afghanistan was the forgotten war. There was enough pain associated with Iraq (our threshhold of pain has dropped markedly in recent decades) that inflicting a military defeat upon us in Iraq would probably have been acceptable to the American people, if --
- If the war in Iraq were going as badly in 2009 as it was in 2006-7, when he made the promise...
- If the economy had come roaring back shortly after Obama was elected, so he could claim credit (even if he had nothing to do with it)...
- If his radical agenda had proved as popular as he convinced himself before the election that it would be.
But by the time Obama took command, the war had been won -- and won so obviously that to turn it around then would have been too, too obviously anti-American. It's not like in 1974; back then nearly everybody got his national news from one of three television networks or one of a small number of print sources, all linked together by a couple-three wire services. The political establishment could actually manage the news, feeding the American people what the powers that be thought they needed to know.
Too, the heavily Democratic Congress could blame the hated Republican president. Richard Nixon was already embattled, widely (and probably wrongfully) seen as corrupt, an easy target. His paranoia had all come true, and he barely even fought back. The 1972 reelection was his last hurrah; it was all downhill after that. With his resignation, to be replaced by his anti-war Vice President, Gerald Ford, there was nothing standing in the way of blaming Nixon for "losing the Vietnam war."
None of that obtains today. The news comes from too many sources now and cannot be managed by a small cabal of center-left establishment kingmakers. The turn-around in Iraq was too widely covered to be covered-up. Gen. Petraeus is far too articulate and beloved to be spat upon by snatching Obamic defeat from the jaws of Petraeus' victory.
Ergo, President Obama was forced to bless the Bush-Petraeus strategy; he was overtaken by events. But the Left exploded in rage anyway, unwilling to give him running slack; Cindy Sheehan is busily getting herself arrested outside the White House, a certain barometer of leftist Obamania dropping to a very stormy low.
Barack Obama promised the Left a defeat in Iraq if it supported him. When Obama defaulted, lefties came bawling at the White House gates, promissory notes in hand, demanding immediate payment.
The Left has always hated America more than any other country, for the obvious reason: We're the world's greatest bulwark of liberty, individualism, and Capitalism against international socialism. The revolution would eventually have to go through us before it could gain world domination; so leftists decided long ago that one of their strategies had to be to inflict military defeat on the United States whenever and wherever they could.
The Left needs us to be decisively and thoroughly bested by Jihadist terror organizations; it's desperate for America to be crushed under the sandals of al-Qaeda, Iran, or the Taliban; and it wants the whole world to see it!
Then the Left can crow that America's century has ended. It can encourage the spread of anti-Americanism, defeatism, despair, and fear -- especially fear, their favorite tool for mass manipulation. It can begin to advance a "national front," an alternative governing paradigm that can gain mass acceptance in this country, eventually allowing the Left to overthrow the American system and install internationalist socialism in its place. More than anyone else, the Left understands that to create a new governing paradigm, you first must utterly discredit the current one.
And historically, the best way to do that is to take advantage of a humiliating military defeat: in Vietnam/Indochina after the French occupation; in China right after World War II; in Germany after World War I; and of course in Russia itself during World War I.
Don't panic. I don't for one moment imagine it can actually pull off such an agenda. I argue only that it has exactly that agenda, and that it will pursue it with courage and vigor -- forever. We -- must -- lose one of our wars.
So what's left for us to lose? What other "funds of defeat" does Obama have to make good that promissory note to his natural base, the hard Left? He certainly can't start his own war for the sole purpose of losing it!
The only actual war left over from the "previous regime" is Afghanistan. If Obama accepts the recommendation of Gen. McChrystal, and if Afghanistan turns around as Iraq did, and we're seen to have won the war... then Obama may get a boost from the victory from real Americans; but that would probably come too late, after the 2010 congressional elections. It takes time to recreate a strategy: First one must design it, then select the leaders, transport the troops, order them, reorganize the supply lines, implement the new strategy -- and then you must execute it for many months before you see the fruits of your labor. I predict it would be eighteen months or more from making the decision to seeing undeniable signs of victory.
But the tangible hit from the Left would be immediate and catastrophic. When the mid-term elections roll around, the Left -- the most powerful engine of the Democratic Party -- will idle defiantly, driven by anger to punish the president who first trod upon one foot then stomped even harder on the other. 2010 will go from very bad for the Democrats to a tidal wave that could even wash them from power; it has happened before, and not just in 1994.
So the president is in a quandry, better yet, a quagmire of his own making. He himself created this Slough of Despond by agreeing to this deal with the Devil in the first place: Elect me and I promise you an American military defeat! Now he balances precariously on the bull's horns; and no matter which way Obama turns, he's likely to topple the moment the bull begins to run, and he may even be gored or trodden underhoof.
And that, I believe, is why the One We Have Been Waiting, Waiting, and Waiting For is in such a lather about what to do, and why he lashes out, furious but impotent, at his own general, who put him in such a pickle. My heart bleeds for Barack Obama, abandoned child of the Left.
The president must decide between betraying the American people but satisfying the Left, or the other way 'round. In the final cut, I cannot believe that he could ever cut loose from the ideology that has suckled and comforted him since childhood; I think he will land on the side of paying off that massive political debt: He will reject the recommendation and just hope to high heaven that Afghanistan just magically turns around on its own.
Or that unemployment miraculously drops to 4%, the economy roars back, and Obama gets to press the reset button on reaction to his entire domestic agenda. Then he can pray that the American voter has the memory of a mayfly, and the Democratic Party retains a strong majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate... because Barack Obama is incapable of doing what Bill Clinton did after 1994; it takes brains and courage to "triangulate," and I sincerely doubt the current fellow has either.
But such a fortuitous (to B.O.) sequence of events seems delusional to me.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
October 5, 2009
Obamunism: See No Wisdom, Hear No Wisdom, Speak No Wisdom
And in the meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Barack H. Obama (or one of his minions) has muzzled Gen. David Petraeus, who remains Commander of CENTCOM but appears unappetizing to the powers that be in the D. of C.:
General Petraeus’s aides now privately call him “Dave the Dull,” and say he has largely muzzled himself from the fierce public debate about the war to avoid antagonizing the White House, which does not want pressure from military superstars and is wary of the general’s ambitions in particular.
The sticky wicket between the general and B.O. appears to be very specific -- and so bizarre it's almost a knee-slapper; Barack Obama, or his acolytes, fear that David Petraeus may run for president in 2012:
“General Petraeus has not hinted to anyone that he is interested in political life, and in fact has said on many occasions that he’s not,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel and professor of military history at Ohio State University who was the executive officer to General Petraeus when he was the top American commander in Iraq.
“It is other people who are looking at his popularity and saying that he would be a good presidential candidate, and I think rightly that makes the administration a little suspicious of him.”
(One notes with rye amusement, if not sourdough, that Obama appears to be a lot more suspicious of David Petraeus than of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)
The prospect of a campaign clash of the titans -- or a titan and a midget -- terrifies campaign officials and governing aides alike (who are actually the same people). Petraeus has demonstrated success in the face of repeated attack, both physical (the enemy) and verbal (the president, when he was but a senator)... while Obama has only demonstrated incompetence in the face of reality.
Obama himself denies it (through a worshipper). But it truly fits: What could be more likely to elicit a freeze-out, even of our most important military commander, than the president's fear that he could be overshadowed by a mere soldier? How rude!
So until Obama either gets reelected or boots Petraeus out in an abundance of pre-emptive damage control, it's yet another Obamic six-pack of "Shut up," he explained.
Baron Barone Gives the King His Drubbing
Michael Barone has just given President Barack H. Obama the thumping of his administration so far -- in his own low-key, quiet, but factually stubborn way. The charge is fecklessness, and the substance of the charge is the president's sudden lack of interest in pursuing what he himself dubbed "a war of necessity" that was "fundamental to the defense of our people" just a month and a half ago:
"This is not a war of choice," Barack Obama told the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Aug. 17. "This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9-11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaida would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people."
But that was nearly seven weeks ago. Now, it appears that Obama is about to ignore the advice of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whom he installed as commander in Afghanistan in May, after relieving his predecessor ahead of schedule. McChrystal, who came up as a Special Forces officer, is an expert in counterinsurgency. Not surprisingly, in his Aug. 30 report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he recommended a course that seems certain to require a substantial number of additional troops.
Barone notes how little time Obama spent meeting with his military and security advisors anent the Afghanistan war; he only met once in September, the very time that Gen. Stanley McChrystal was compiling the final version of his report and sending it to the Commander in Chief.
When it landed on the Oval Office desk, Obama held a major, three-hour White House meeting with his senior advisors, including Slow Joe Biden. The president chose to hold the meeting when Gen. McChrystal was scheduled to be out of the country; and of course, McChrystal was not invited to confuse matters by participating in the discussion in person, where he could make sure he was heard, but only by easily ignored "videolink." (I wonder how many times senior White House officials hit the Mute button?)
Later, these wise old men (and, one presumes, two wise old woman: nagging Secretary of State Hillary "Can We Tawk?" Clinton and shrill Secretary of Homeland Security "Dammit" Janet Napolitano) concluded that McChrystals assumptions were just next door to being "myths," which the Obamic advisors "exposed to the light of day"... including the myth that "the return to power of the Taliban would automatically mean a new sanctuary for al-Qaida," as the Washington Post put it.
That WaPo article gives us a stunning insight into BarackThink:
Senior White House officials asked some of the sharpest questions, according to participants and others who have been briefed on the meeting, while the uniformed military, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, did not take issue with McChrystal's assessment.
According to White House officials involved in the meeting, Vice President Biden offered some of the more pointed challenges to McChrystal, who attended the session by video link from Kabul. One official said Biden played the role of "skeptic in chief," while other top officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, were muted in their comments.
Notice what's missing? Where is a single White-House staffer who supports McChrystal's recommendations -- as evidently Gen. Petraeus and other "uniformed military" do -- and is willing to argue for them?
We appear to have an appeasement of White House officials -- La-Z-Boy leaders who are highly skeptical, led by Joe "Skeptic in Chief" Biden (with his vast military experience) -- arrayed against a gaggle of apathetic, close-mouthed chair-warmers with window seats, led by Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham. But nobody to speak for the Afghanistan campaign except some guy on closed-circuit TV who can't even get a table at the Willard Room without a closely reasoned debate with the maître d'.
Who are you going to believe anyway? Vice President of the Whole United States Joe "Divide We Stand" Biden, who was so prescient on the futility and failure of the
counterinsurgency "surge" strategy of the previous regime? Or Stanley McChyrstal, David Petraeus, and your own lyin' eyes?
At the end of the WaPo article, several administration officials -- speaking anonymously -- blamed everything on George W. Bush. I actually found this very surprising; after all, they're usually so quick to claim credit by name while they blame everything on Bush.
Let's give the last word to Michael Barone:
It's not clear yet that the "senior advisers" who were mocking McChrystal's assumptions will prevail. In his 25 minutes on Air Force One, McChrystal may have used his knowledge and experience to convince Obama that his judgment was better than that of the armchair generals that the president had listened to for three hours the day before. Maybe Obama will choose to wage his "war of necessity" in the way the general he selected believes is necessary for us to succeed.
But I wouldn't bet heavily on it -- not any more, in fact, than I would have bet on Chicago's chances of hosting the 2016 Olympic games.
To liberals, and especially to this president, reality is infintely malleable if you but close your eyes and wish really hard. I think Barack Obama truly believes that you don't have to "navigate from where you are," as McChrystal said; you can simply start from "where you wish to be" instead. All you must do is forcefully declare that that's where you're starting from, and the world will rearrange itself to make it so.
Obama is going to reject Gen. McChrystal's report -- though likely he'll announce that he's accepting it, while he issues orders that unambiguously countermand its every particular. Thus will he have the best of both cakes... until the power falls upon us like an avalanche.
Close-roasted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
October 1, 2009
The Shape of Things to Come?
In the absence of a discernable trajectory of purpose, a person's actions may seem random, unpredictable, and inexplicable. Why did he do that? Why not this? What's he going to do next? We haven't a clue.
But sometimes, in a great flash, you finally see the pattern; and all previous actions make sense. You can not only explain what he's done in the past, you can predict what he'll do in the future. This is, of course, why finding the appropriate pattern is so important: knowing what's to come.
Of course, more than one pattern can be constructed to "explain" a person's actions; it's tempting just to grab at the first pattern you invent... then start shoehorning every previous action into the pattern you've picked, willy nilly, no matter how badly it fits. After a while, the pattern begins to determine which facts you can see -- and which become invisible to you. We see this pattern of "pattern-worship" among true believers in any ideology.
So to avoid that trap, it's best to make numerous specific predictions and use them to test, and when necessary, correct our pattern-hypothesis. The predictions must be:
- Specific: This rather than that.
- Testable: This and that lie within our power to check, both in theory and in practice.
- Dispositive: If that happens instead of this, then our pattern-hypothesis is wrong.
So let's test our newfound prediction regimen by observing our president, Barack H. Obama, at work -- and trying to find a pattern-hypothesis that explains his actions to date and predicts what he'll do next. First, let's grab a set of facts that beg for an explanation:
- Obama is elected on a promise to fix the economy with a stimulus package, but then he backloads all the spending.
- He tries every possible way to raise taxes during a serious recession.
- He sells his bank take-over by saying they'll pay back all the bailout money with interest, then rejects their money when they try.
- He pushes a health-care "reform" plan that will add immeasurably to the deficit, will force millions out of private insurance and onto a public plan, and even after all that, will only insure a small fraction of those previous uninsured (the ostensible reason for ObamaCare in the first place).
- He insists that the plan must be bipartisan, then he leaves it up to the utterly partisan Congress to write it.
- He insists all through the campaign that we're "fighting the wrong war," so we should pull troops out of Iraq and send them to Afghanistan, "the war we should be fighting;" but once in power, he sabotages the Afghanistan war effort.
- He supports "balance of power" defense strategies such as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), but he opposes purely defensive strategies for protecting us from ballistic missile attack.
- He announces he wants to be the president who finally resolves the Israeli-Palestinian "crisis," then turns America into a mindless advocate for the latter against the former.
- He criticizes President George W. Bush for not engaging in tough negotiations with Iran, then he cedes all negotiating points to the Iranians without asking anything in return.
- He accuses Bush of unilateralism; then Obama himself insults, belittles, ignores, betrays, and arrogantly commands our allies -- while cajoling, jollying, bribing, and appeasing our enemies.
- He lectures us on energy conservation, implying we haven't enough to live the American lifestyle; but he also terminates any method of generating energy that actually works (nuclear, hydroelectric, or just drilling in ANWR, the Gulf of Mexico, and so forth), while promoting numerous goofy methods (solar, geothermal, biomass) that could not possibly generate enough energy to make a difference.
All right, we can probably think of more such weird, seemingly mad policies of the Obama administration; but I think this is enough of a fact base to study.
Taken independently, none of these policies seems to make any sense; taken together but without finding an overarching pattern, they seem inconsistent and contradictory: Why rush to pass a stimulus package but slow-walk the spending? Why raise taxes to lower the deficit but push health-care reform that will spend all the new taxes and more? Why push for negotiations with Iran and abandon Afghanistan, which borders Iran and can put pressure on them during the negotiations?
So let's take our first cut at pattern matching:
Hypothetical Pattern 1 -- Obama is secretly a radical Moslem, and he wants to destroy America from within to pave the way for a sharia-state.
Now it's true that this pattern-hypothesis could explain some of the facts:
- His actions on the economy are designed to destroy it, so an Islamic revolution can arise from the ashes.
- He kow-tows to Iran because he's secretly working for them. Same with al-Qaeda and the other Sunni terrorist groups.
- He sabotages the Afghanistan war because he's on the Taliban's side.
- He hates Israel because Islam considers Jews the original heretics.
But for the other facts, we discover ourselves banging square pegs into round holes:
- He pushes ObamaCare because he wants lots of Christians to die, so that the 1% of the country that are Moslem will eventually outnumber them... in about three hundred years.
- He doesn't want to drill for oil in the United States because he wants to send more money to support Moslem countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran... all but the last of which oppose and fight against jihadism.
- He opposes missile defense against possible Russian missiles because if we have it, we might sell it to Israel, and then they can defend against a Iranian attack. Oh, please.
When we find ourselves tap dancing like this, it's a sure sign that we've picked the wrong pattern-hypothesis. So let's drop Pattern 1 and try a new one:
Hypothetical Pattern 2 -- Obama has always hated individualism, believing in the greatest good for the greatest number; he has always hated federalism, because states used that to justify segregation; he wants all power vested in the highest level of national government and all governance from the top down (with him at the top).
Well, this pattern might explain the economic and health-care policies, but how does it explain diminishing American power vis-a-vis the international political and military environment?
Another failed hypothesis-pattern; so try this:
Hypothetical Pattern 2.5 -- Obama has always hated individualism, believing in the greatest good for the greatest number; he has always hated federalism, because states used that to justify segregation; and he has always hated nationalism, because he believes that's what causes all the wars in the world. He wants all power vested in the highest level of international government and all governance from the top down (with him at the top).
This pattern-hypothesis seems to fit all the facts pretty well:
- Obama's stimulus backloads spending because he's using the money as both carrot and stick to control state and local governments and private companies and individuals.
- He's raising taxes because he wants to wrench the United States onto the EurAsian economic model, thus to diminish the control individuals and private corporations have over the fruits of their own labor (they might spend it selfishly, while the national government and international law will take from those who have too much and spread it around to those who need it.
- He wants banks and other corporations to remain in debt to the government because that gives him an additional lever of control over them.
- He's trying to bring American health care "up to" the standard of the rest of the world (centralization, nationalization, single-payer). And he's staying "hands off" at the moment not because he doesn't care what's in the bill, but because he expects to be the final arbiter of the final version of the bill, the last link in the great chain of power.
- He sabotages Afghanistan, kills missile defense, and favors diplomacy over defense at every turn because he wants to handcuff America's "unilateral" military power. That way, all use of force could instead be approved and directed by an international agency -- either the United Nations or an actual world government that succeeds it.
- He appeases our enemies because that's how you bring them into the International Coalition of Everyone; he's dismissive of our allies because they have rejected Obamunism and won't support him as the natural leader of the entire Earth.
- And of course he opposes any policy leading to energy independence for the United States because his radical internationalism demands that we become even more energy dependent on foreign nations.
All right, Pattern 2.5 seems pretty close; so let's make a few predictions -- specific, testable, dispositive -- about what the Obamacle would do in the future, if Pattern 2.5 is the correct structure explaining his otherwise incomprehensible maze of policies:
He would show a curious insistance on socialist policies in, e.g., heath-care "reform" that he isn't even championing yet: Rather than accept anything so long as he "gets a bill," as most are predicting, he will push hard to reinsert the most important elements of extreme ObamaCare back into the bill using reconcilliation.
In particular, he would insist upon the mandate, coverage of illegals -- either directly or via a general alien amnesty -- and federal standards of what coverage "approved" insurance plans must include; for without those, reform doesn't serve his fundamental purpose of Europeanizing American health care.
- He would consolodate more power in the federal government at the expense of the state and local governments; he could do this by conditioning revenue sharing and stimulus spending to states and locals ceding traditional powers to the feds.
- He would certainly want to sign more treaties, and reinterpret existing treaties, to cede ever more sovereign American power to international bodies, particularly the United Nations.
- He would push for an international (non-state) currency to become the standard unit of international trade -- something like the Euro, but with a less specifically European flavor -- rather than the United States dollar. Call it the Espero, just for purposes of discussion.
- He would pressure the Democratic Congress to make the Espero legal tender throughout the United States; the idea would be to eventually phase out dollars entirely, just as the Euro was expected to push out local European currencies.
- He would press Congress to remove all restrictions on and exceptions to our participation in the International Court of Justice and other international courts; he would also reinterpret codicils of exemption out of existence, or just issue an Executive Order for all federal agencies to cooperate with international courts as if we had ratified those treaties unconditionally (even though we didn't).
- He would take steps to be seen more and more as the natural successor to United Nations Secretary General Nanki-Poo. In particular, Obama would pay all "back dues" (without demanding any structural or ethical changes at all from the U.N.); he would chair as many international conferences as possible; and he would butter-up and stroke all the different factions within that body -- the geographical blocs and the U.N. agencies, such as UNESCO, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Bank, and so forth.
These are all specific enough to be tested; and if the opportunities arise, and Obama goes the opposite way from these predictions, then I think it's reasonable to reject Pattern 2.5 as a workable framework for the various policies we lump together as "Obamunism".
But as chances come along, every time Barack Obama does take the path of our pattern-hypothesis, the more confidence we should have that our theoretical pattern is a valid tool of prediction.
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
September 30, 2009
Withdrawing from Afghanistan, Plus Future Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming
I just heard Bill Kristol on the Hugh Hewitt show dropping a couple of political bombshells:
- First, Kristol now believes for the first time that President Barack H. Obama is paving the groundwork for rejecting Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendation of a COIN strategy for Afghanistan, including increasing troop levels.
Note that it was the Obamacle Himself who appointed McChrystal to head up his present commands, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), just three months ago; and he it was who ordered McChrystal to undertake a complete review of the Afghanistan policy.
I suspect Obama expected McChrystal to recommend declaring defeat and pulling out. But in response to Obama's order, McChrystal released a 66-page report to continuing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that called for significantly increasing troop levels there and redeploying the force in a counterinsurgency mode, similar to Iraq.
Ever since, as several bloggers have argued (notably John Hinderaker at Power Line), Obama has acted like a man who deeply regrets having picked an actual fighting general in the first place -- and who wants to prepare the American people for the complete rejection of his own appointee's report, in favor of a phased withdrawal from "the war we should be fighting," as some guy named Barack Obama called it during the campaign (in contrast to Iraq, the war we were supposed to lose, one presumes).
- Second, and far more shocking, is some political intel that Kristol received from a person who is in "cose contact" with top Defense officials: That holdover George W. Bush Defense Secretary Bob Gates will be asked by Obama to step down at the end of the year... and that Obama plans to name former senator Chuck Hagel, who never met a war he didn't want us to withdraw from, as his new Secretary of Retreat and Defeat.
Hagel was an infantry grunt in Vietnam for two years, leaving shortly after the Tet Offensive; that experience seems to have colored his attitude towards all subsequent conflicts: He sometimes votes for them (as for example the Iraq war); but as soon as the going gets tough, Hagel demands an immediate and aggressive surrender.
- He was one of only four Republicans in July 2007 who voted in favor of cloture on a bill to force withdrawal from Iraq starting 120 days from that vote; the other three were Olympia Snowe (ME, 12%), Susan Collins (ME, 20%), and Gordon Smith of Oregon, liberals all.
- In railing against the Iraq COIN strategy of Gen. David Petraeus, Hagel called it "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out." (I don't recall Hagel ever issuing an apology, or even a statement, after the Petraeus strategy proved decisive in our victory in Iraq.)
Speaking about Israeli's incursion into Lebanon to stop Hezbollah's rocket attacks on their northern cities, Hagel blurted out:
"The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now.... President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop."...
"How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend -- the country and people of Lebanon -- is going to enhance America's image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?" asked Hagel, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Yes, the perfect man to defend America -- Barack Obama style. I can just picture the furious and manly letters of strong disapproval Hagel will shoot off whenever some dictator funds and gives safe haven to a terrorist group while they blow up another American embassy.
Currently, Chuck Hagel is Chairman of the Board of the Atlantic Council, a foreign-policy think tank cum policy advocacy group that appears to lean heavily towards diplomacy above everything -- talking loudly and forgetting to bring any stick at all, big or small. (E.g., its International Advisory Board is headed by Brent Scowcroft and includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Edelman, Lawrence H. Summers, and a huge inflation of bankers and CEOs of vast multinational corporations.)
Hagel replaced outgoing Chairman Jim Jones, who was tapped to serve as Obama's National Security Advisor; Jones was last seen offering what we called "the weirdest explanation to date for cancelling the long-range ballistic-missile defense system in Eastern Europe -- while simultaneously betraying our allies, Poland and the Czech Republic."
Since the Jim Jones appointment as security sock puppet worked out so well for Obama, it certainly seems plausible that he would go back to the same well to draw out a bucketful of Defense Secretary. Admittedly, Kristol just lost his father, Irving Kristol; but it was hardly the sort of shocking or unanticipated demise that might throw William Kristol into a blue funk and darken his normal optimism.
The threatened appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense would be catastrophic for the war efforts, all of them: Iraq, Afghanistan, the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, intelligence gathering, interrogations, dealing with Pakistan, North Korea, China, Russia... and of course, Hagel would be a disaster for Israel, as he would almost certainly back Obama to the hilt in the latter's quest to force Israel back to the indefensible borders of the pre-Six Day War era. (In exchange for the Palestinian's promise that they might seriously consider deciding whether or not to recognize Israel sometime in the distant and not very likely future.)
Appointing Hagel would seriously diminish our ability to protect our allies or even defend ourselves, and in general would signal the end of American power and leadership in the world, at least for a while (say until 2013). Therefore, I conclude that Obama is already plotting to make the appointment.
I must also conclude that the Senate will swiftly approve the nominee; Hagel was once one of them... therefore, "comity of the Senate" and all that, Republicans will probably support him, though he rarely supported them while in that august body.
And there you have it, your recommended minimum daily allowance of political pessimism and national-defense despair.
Cross-posted (of course) to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
September 22, 2009
That Big Ol' NEA Scandal... Just Déjà Vu-Du
Today saw new posts by Power Line and Patterico's Pontifications on the newest Obamic scandal; in this one, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was nabbed red-handed leaning on "artists" -- rather, those who are so unsuccessful that they must suckle at big government's teat -- to promote the partisan agenda of President Barack H. Obama... presumably with the threat of a cut-off of NEA grants as the "stick," and new, juicy buckets o' bucks as the "carrot."
The prime mover in this case is once again Andrew Breitbart, whose site Big Hollywood is breaking the NEA story -- just as Breitbart's Big Government by and large broke the ACORN story by hosting the first videos of James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles earlier this month.
I think there is no question that Breitbart has the goods on the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, its director Valerie Jarrett (a longtime Obamanista), her deputy director Buffy Wicks, and another federal agency, United We Serve. There is no doubt that the Obamacle is misusing and abusing the public trust, peddling propaganda, and using the threat of government power to coerce (and entice) artists into supporting his partisan agenda
And there is every likelihood that members of the Obama administration -- and perhaps the president himself -- have engaged in criminal behavior that, in a more rational and law-abiding era, might even lead to impeachment.
But such an era would surely not have been the 1930s and 1940s; and therein lies the reason why this particular scandal fills me with ennui: For an earlier president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, pioneered this exact tactic: using literary writers, playwrights, screenwriters, movie directors, producers, actors, radio dramatists, painters and sculptors, songwriters, composers, singers and entire orchestras -- and all the trade unions, professional societies, and literary and artistic guilds associated with the arts -- to advance his own leftist agenda for America.
And critics were not only called "unpatriotic," they were subject to arrest... if the mobs fomented by Roosevelt's New Deal cult didn't tear them limb from limb first. Let's see Barack Obama and his puny New Black Panther Party and SEIU unionistas top that.
Throughout the FDR 30s, Hollywood was pressured into making numerous propaganda promos for the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the primary vehicle of New Deal socialism and vicious anti-Capitalism; these promos starred the biggest names in Hollywood and villified the profit motive, competition, individualism, and liberty in practice (while extolling liberty in name only). But there were also a great many major, A-release features that self-consciously pushed Rooseveltianism slyly, as storyline in mere dramas and comedies.
The Communist (read: Stalinist) Left had so taken over Tinseltown that there was a "redlist" long before there was a blacklist. Anti-Communist actors, such as Adolph Menjou, saw their careers severely damaged. By contrast, lefty producers, directors, and screenwriters benefitted tremendously from their Party affiliation.
And not just Hollywood; painters and sculptors were likewise pressed into service to sell the American people on one of the most radical leftist programs ever foisted upon this country. The very reason those Obama posters from last year's election look so familiar is that the heroic-worker style is copied wholesale from the 1930s New Deal posters.
Songwriters were pressured to sell the NRA and rural electrification and Social Security and all of it. Good Lord, Barack Obama is a pathetic, little wannabe huckster compared to the Master of Evil, he with his mile-wide grin and mile-long cigarette holder.
But the corruption sank even deeper, for it wasn't just American leftism that the president was pushing, using the arts and farces as his populist bulldozer: Roosevelt himself personally ordered Jack Warner (an anti-Communist studio head) to produce a sickening, fawning, bootlicking paeon to Josef "Uncle Joe" Stalin torn from the pages of the journal kept by Roosevelt's hand-picked ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph Davies.
The movie was titled Mission to Moscow (1943)... and I rib you not, you cannot possibly believe what I say about it until you actually see it. We learn that peace-loving Uncle Joe has always been a great friend to America; he tried as hard as he could to bring about peace between the allies and the axis. Russia is full of nothing but happy, contented people -- well fed, free and independent, able to speak their minds on any subject with no threat from the government. (This is in stark contrast to Germany, where everybody suffers under the bootheel of oppression by the Nazis.)
Factories are run by the workers, who labor solely for the good of all. Eventually, we get to the infamous show trials... wherein we discover that all those Trotskyites were really just -- Nazi spies!
The Hitler-Stalin pact goes unremarked in the movie, though it had been signed, sealing the alliance between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and finally abrogated two years before the movie was released; nor does the movie (or book) dwell on the dismemberment of Poland by Germany and -- who was that again? -- and the Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik.
But the most jaw-hinging aspect of Mission to Moscow is its provenance: It was made from the allegedly nonfiction book written in 1941 by Ambassador Davies when he returned from his posting to the Soviet Union; and Davies, an attorney who chaired the FTC under Woodrow Wilson, was personally selected by FDR for that "mission." Ye gods, imagine what peril the nation was in, when a man like that could be sent to one of the most delicate, sensitive diplomatic posts in the known universe.
When I decry Roosevelt defiling the arts by drafting them into his leftist political agenda, I'm not talking about movies made simply to help the war effort; that's mere patriotism. But even deep into the 1940s, FDR pushed Hollywood to release movies that went far beyond "demonizing" the Nazis (if such a thing is possible) and the Imperial Japanese or even praising our ally, the Soviet Union... movies like:
- Keeper of the Flame (1942 -- written by Communist Donald Ogden Stewart in consultation with the Bureau of Motion Pictures in the U.S. Office of War Information): Katherine Hepburn discovers her husband, in concert with a number of veterans, plans a fascist coup d'état. Damn Republicans... they're everywhere!
- Tender Comrade (1943 -- written by Dalton Trumbo and directed by Edward Dmytryk, both later members of the "Hollywood Ten"): Ginger Rogers and other wives of servicemen discover the joys of living in communal farms -- just like in the Soviet Union! -- while their husbands are off fighting the Nazis. Incidentally, in case anyone is interested, Dalton Trumbo joined the Party during the Hitler-Stalin pact... such much for him merely being a "premature anti-fascist."
- Song of Russia (1944): An orchestra conductor travels to the USSR shortly before the Nazi invasion -- which means during the pact, of course -- and sees, as Wikipedia so perfectly puts it, "happy, healthy, smiling, free Soviet citizens, blissfully living the Communist dream."
Each of these movies, along with others (e.g., the North Star, 1943) sang the praises not of Russia but of Communism, and worse, of Stalinism. And each of these films was made by studios that were in near constant contact with the U.S. Office of War Information. This was Roosevelt's baby, his conduit to wartime posters, wartime movies, wartime radio, and so on.
It was not used merely to promote patriotism and support for the war; as seen above, it was a powerful federal agency that pushed the graphic arts (fine and pop), literature, movies, drama, and music to support FDR's political agenda and encourage the hysterical Roosevelt-worship that characterized his entire reign. The OWI was established by executive order in 1942 and lasted through the war -- though in 1944, Congress was so disturbed by some of its domestic projects that it defunded, among other elements, the Bureau of Motion Pictures.
But even death did not release the arts community -- not the Bureau's death, nor even FDR's. After Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, his skeletal hands reached and clutched at we the living; the project continued, and we got movies like It's a Wonderful Life (1946) -- in which we discover that the banks should simply forgive all their loans and redistribute the wealth -- and High Noon (1952) -- all the more corrupt and vile for the sheer artistry of its propaganda, and its duping of dim bulb Gary Cooper: Marshal Will Kane must stand alone against Sen. Joseph McCarthy -- er, I mean outlaw Frank Miller -- and the ravening hordes of HUAC... I mean, his two thugs.
The story of High Noon is set in or about 1900, but it makes not the slightest lick of historical sense; if the town was that worried about Miller, they would simply have formed a committee of vigilance, surrounded the train depot, and either ordered Miller to hop back aboard and ride the iron rail to the end of the line... or just blown him to glory with their own rifles and scatterguns. No need to interrupt the marshal's honeymoon.
When I gaze upon the awe-inspiring majesty of the New Deal's corruption of art for political propaganda, not to promote good citizenship and patriotism but specifically to promote the partisan political projects of Franklin Roosevelt, and the joyous brazenness of FDR's blasphemy and heresy within the chapel of freedom and liberty he inherited -- and then I turn my eye to the insignificant insect bites of Obamunism's own arts project... honest to mercy, I just find that my give-a-damn's busted.
Sorry, no red meat on this one. I'll stick with the much more significant and systematic dismantling of ACORN.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
September 12, 2009
Obama Admin Begs North Korea for One on One Talks
...Just like Bill Clinton did in the 90s!
From Jake Tapper at ABC -- on the eighth anniversary of 9/11:
The US shifted its policy today, saying it is now willing to meet one on one with North Korea if that is helpful to bring Pyongyang back to the nuclear negotiations....
Speaking on background, a senior US official said: “Our assessment, after consulting with the other parties in the six-party process, is that if a bilateral discussion can be an effective mechanism to get North Korea to come back to the six-party process… so that we can remind them of what their obligations are and to push them to take affirmative steps… then that would be a potentially useful step.”
North Korea has recently said it will never return to the nuke talks… so is there an expectation now that they might?
“We’ll wait and see,” the senior official said.
Obamic negotiating will talk the North Koreans out of their nuclear program. Maybe if we, you know, offered them an inducement? Acquiesced to all their demands? Crawled on our hands and knees, if that's what it takes to get them to talk to us?
What could possibly go wrong?
September 1, 2009
Day 224... and Yep, You Guessed It
All right, here we go; from Reuters, anent Afghanistan:
U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal said the situation was "serious" but the 8-year-old war could still be won. He gave no indication if he would ask for more troops but is widely expected to do so in the coming weeks.
With U.S. and NATO casualties at record levels in Afghanistan and doubts growing about the war in the United States and other NATO nations, McChrystal is under pressure to reverse Western fortunes within months....
"While there's a lot of gloom and doom going around ... I think we have some assets in place and some developments that hold promise," [Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates said on a visit to a Lockheed Martin factory building F-35 fighter jets in Fort Worth, Texas.
And now, the punchline:
The White House sought on Monday to pin the blame for the grave state of the war in Afghanistan on the Bush administration, which made Iraq its top military priority.
"This was underresourced, underfunded, undermanned and ignored for years," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Oddly, during those years of underresourcing (when did "resource" become a verb?), undermanning, and ignorance, Afghanistan was a much more peaceful, anti-Taliban, and pro-American country. But after just eight months of Barack H. Obama, the "bellman," as Commander in Chief... well, everything is going to hell in a hambone.
But Col. David Kilcullen, Gen. David Petraeus' top counterinsurgency aide back when Petraeus was Commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq, has a very different take on the failings:
A top counterinsurgency expert said on Monday Afghanistan's government must fight corruption and quickly deliver services to Afghans because Taliban militants were filling gaps and winning support.
"A government that is losing to a counter-insurgency [sic] isn't being outfought, it is being out-governed. And that's what's happening in Afghanistan," David Kilcullen, a senior adviser to McChrystal, told Australia's National Press Club.
So we're not talking about some failed Bush military policy in Afghanistan after all; according to Col. Kilcullen, it's not the boots on the ground that are failing... it's the suits on the ground, led by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Lt.Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry -- named to the position by Obama nine days after the new president was sworn in.
This is not a Bush holdover, like Defense Secretary Gates; Eikenberry is an Obama man. Curiously, however, while Eikenberry has extensive military experience in Afghanistan -- including as Commander of the Combined Forces Command -- all of his political training and focus appears to have been aimed at making him an expert on China, not Afghanistan: the Hong Kong Chinese Language School (run by Great Britain's Ministry of Defense), thence Nanjing University, and "an advanced degree in Chinese History."
So far as I can see, Eikenberry had no experience as an ambassador or in the State Department -- or in politics at all, other than commanding troops of various nationalities -- before Obama named the student of Chinese history and language Ambassador to Afghanistan, one of the key positions in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis. Hey, what could go wrong?
Doesn't matter; whatever it is, it's all George W. Bush's fault. (And Yngvi is still a louse!)
August 25, 2009
Day 217... and It's STILL All Bush's Fault!
Viddie this, oh my droogies, with glazzies of your very own...
The federal government faces exploding deficits and mounting debt over the next decade, White House officials predicted Tuesday in a fiscal assessment far bleaker than what the Obama administration had estimated just a few months ago.
Figures released by the White House budget office foresee a cumulative $9 trillion deficit from 2010-2019, $2 trillion more than the administration estimated in May. Moreover, the figures show the public debt doubling by 2019 and reaching three-quarters the size of the entire national economy.
Obama economic adviser Christina Romer predicted unemployment could reach 10 percent this year and begin a slow decline next year. Still, she said, the average unemployment will be 9.3 in 2009 and 9.8 percent in 2010.
And now, the punchline:
"This recession was simply worse than the information that we and other forecasters had back in last fall and early this winter," Romer said.
I think we all get it now. Hunker down for 41 more months of "Look what you made me do!"
But wait -- there's light at the end of the tunnel. President Barack H. Obama has a cunning plan to get us out of this economic death spiral:
[Budget director Peter] Orszag, anticipating backlash over the deficit numbers [you think?], conceded that the long-term deficits are "higher than desirable." [You think?] The annual negative balances amount to about 4 percent of the gross domestic product, a number that many economists say is unsustainable [you think?].
But Orszag also argued that overhauling the health system would reduce health care costs and address the biggest contributor to higher deficits.
Thanks goodness for ObamaCare; we can balance the budget with huge cuts in health care.
Isn't it wonderful finally to have an actual genius in the White House, instead of that slope-browed illiterate from Texas, whose only experience with financial matters was running several businesses?
Say -- is that an onrushing train I hear?
August 22, 2009
Withdraw for Peace!
I've been pondering the new Obamic strategy for Iraq: Withdraw from joint patrols to a Fortress of Solitude, withdraw from the successful counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) of Gen. David Petraeus, and announce to the entire world exactly when we are going to withdraw from Iraq altogether. How has that worked out so far?
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Saturday alleged there had been collaboration between Iraqi security forces and the insurgents whose massive truck bombings killed 95 people three days ago.
Zebari, whose ministry lost 32 workers in the blast at its headquarters, admitted the attacks were a serious security setback and that the government had failed to protect its citizens.
Wednesday's bombings at the ministeries of foreign affairs and finance culminated in the worst day of violence seen in the conflict-hit country in 18 months, with around 600 people also wounded.
It's not that the entire war is falling apart, mind; it's just a small setback -- set back to about 2006, that is, the nadir of the failed "containment" strategy, in which we cached American forces in moated castles, whence they would sally forth to engage any passing enemy army.
The hallmark of COIN was the remarkable cooperation we got from Shia, Sunni, and Kurd, once we made it clear that we were willing to patrol, fight, and if necessary, die alongside Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people. It was that commitment to civilian security that finally turned the tide, snatching victory in 2007-8 from the jaws of a 2006 defeat.
But our new Commander in Chief has other ideas; we no longer patrol with Iraqi forces, fight alongside them, or concern ourselves much with protecting the civilian population. Evidently, Barack H. Obama believes that the two years we've been building up the Iraqi military and civilian infrastructure should be plenty. "Enough!" as he is fond of saying in many contexts. It's been such an incredibly long time that surely our Iraqi partners can stand on their own hands by now.
Let's see... we spent fourteen years (1899-1913) in the Philippine jungles, building up indiginous forces (Philippine Scouts) and inculcating Filipinos with radical ideas such as the rule of law and the evil of involuntary slavery, before we could finally put down the Moro (Moslem) Rebellion and set up a functioning civilian republic. That country is still functioning today, with a vibrant economy (after a recession in the 1980s caused by their brief flirtation with socialism under Ferdinand Marcos), and still strongly allied with the United States. This is the model of a successful counterinsurgency followed by successful nation-building.
By contrast, France under Charles De Gaulle -- whipsawed by the socialists abroad and the French Communist Party at home -- pulled their troops out of Algeria prematurely, only three years after the French COIN strategy finally suppressed the Front de Libération Nationale; thus they never gave the 60% majority of Algerians who opposed complete "independence" from France their opportunity to erect civic institutions and security forces to protect and defend the liberties of a free people. And today, the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria is a socialist totalitarian regime with much closer ties to the Middle East than the West.
President Barack H. Obama carefully pondered these historical examples, analyzed them with his unequaled military acumen... then decided to follow the French example. (Of course!) Ergo, today in Iraq...
Zebari said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had ordered the arrest of 11 senior security officers on Thursday so they could be questioned on how a four-tonne truck had entered an area where even two-tonne vehicles were barred.
He also made the first official admission that the blasts signalled that security gains made in the past year were under serious strain following a series of deadly attacks in recent months.
"They have been moving their attacks... now they have focused on their main concern, their main attention, on Baghdad and this is a dangerous and a serious development and a security setback," said Zebari.
"This has been going on for the last two months. Every week, every two weeks we see a wave of these bombings and killings of innocent people."
I picture Petraeus tearing his hair out in frustration, watching all the gains of COIN poured out onto the Iraqi sands. Our allies are starting to sound desperate, even plaintive:
But Zebari went further and called for a re-appraisal of the country's entire security apparatus as it was not, he said, obtaining sufficient intelligence to counter the enemy threat....
"Sometimes you can't fight these people with checkpoints. You should be mobile. You should go after them you, disrupt and penetrate their network to get human information. This is the key," he added.
Sadly, however, the real "key" would be a change of leadership here in the United States. That is beyond the grasp of Nouri al-Maliki, Hoshyar Zebari, or any other Iraqi; and the Iranian-backed terrorists in Iraq know they have at least three more years to slaughter and butcher before they must worry about that possibility.
August 17, 2009
DOMA Derangements: Obama Wants MA to Dictate SSM to USA
Now that the presidency of Barack H. Obama is in a quiet period, with no roiling controversies or raging political disputes at the moment, he has reannounced his intention to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- presumably whether or not Congress agrees -- so that Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and (possibly) Maine can force the other 44 states to accept same-sex marriage (SSM), regardless of the homophobic votes of the knuckledragging, redneck, slope-browed, inbred, hillbilly, religion-clinging citizens of the vast majority of the American population. After all, we can't turn over the whole political process to mere voters and trust them to do the right thing:
President Barack Obama insisted Monday he still wants to scrap what he calls a discriminatory federal marriage law, even as his administration angered gay rights activists by defending it in court.
The president said his administration's stance in a California court case is not about defending traditional marriage, but is instead about defending traditional legal practice....
Obama said he plans to work with Congress to repeal the law, and said his administration "will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits" to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples under existing law.
The government says in its court filing that it will defend the statute in this case because a reasonable argument can be made that the law is constitutional -- a standard practice of government lawyers.
As everybody in the known universe understands, the purpose of DOMA is to prevent some states from forcing every other state to accept same-sex marriage (SSM); its operative language is very simple:
The first part is found at U.S. Code Title 1, Chapter 1, §7:
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
That is, same-sex unions are not marriages under federal law. The other element is at U.S. Code Title 28, Part V, Chapter 115, §1738C:
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
This is the provision that says states do not have to recognize an SSM, even if it is legal in the state where it was performed.
The president, by announcing that he still intends to repeal DOMA, signals that he wants to take away the people's right to determine the marriage law of their own state: Any same-sex couple living in a state that doesn't recognize SSM could very simply take a trip to a state that does, get married, then return and demand to be treated the same as an opposite-sex married couple... and to hell with what the citizens of that state have said at the voting booth.
So the national government, in addition to taking over dozens of banks, General Motors, and the entire health-care industry, wants to take over the state marriage laws as well! ("None dare call it...")
Incidentally, if Brietbart is to be believed (and why not?), it's not strictly true, as they reported above, that the Justice Department is "defending [DOMA] in court." In fact, towards the end of the story, we discover that they're doing so in such a half-hearted manner one might almost conclude they're intentionally sabotaging their own case, hoping to lose:
The administration also disavowed past arguments made by conservatives that DOMA protects children by defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
"The United States does not believe that DOMA is rationally related to any legitimate government interests in procreation and child-rearing and is therefore not relying upon any such interests to defend DOMA's constitutionality," lawyers argued in the filing.
They begin by throwing into the dustbin of politics a very powerful argument for DOMA that could easily sway the federal courts, and the absence of which could destroy the case.
Of course, if they do lose, they can always say they tried! That way they get the policy they want but duck the consequences.... Just another day in Obamaland.
August 14, 2009
When the Joker Hits the Fan
Say, maybe this can be the marching song of the New Sons and Daughters of Health-Care Liberty...!
When the Joker Hits the Fan
by Dafydd ab Hugh
(Can be sung to the tune of "Bad Moon Rising")
I see Obama Jokers risin’
I see those posters all around
Sure seems politically surprisin’
Must mean approval’s hitting ground
Don’t think I’m the man
For your socialistic plan
When the Joker hits the fan
Health care is something quite important
Health care is something we all need
Town halls, if they’re a potent portent,
Folks hate ObamaCare indeed!
Don’t think I’m the man
For your socialistic plan
When the Joker hits the fan
Looks like quite a change in weather
Must be the winds of liberty
Liberals are blowin’ round like feathers
Town halls have speech that’s finally free
Don’t think I’m the man
For your socialistic plan
When the Joker hits the fan
Take back your governmental mandates
Taxes that sink us like a stone
Don’t think we’re all a bunch of ingrates
We just prefer to choose our own
Don’t think I’m the man
For your socialistic plan
When the Joker hits the fan
We don’t need government to guide us
We’re not just “public option” cogs
We don’t need senators to chide us
We won’t throw Granny to the dogs
Don’t think I’m the man
For your socialistic plan
When the Joker hits the fan...
When the Joker hits the fan
© 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
August 13, 2009
State Health Care Plan: Traveling Eternity Road - on a One-Way Ticket
This is so stunning, I'm still not sure what to make of it.
Several states already have the equivalent of ObamaCare's "government option;" one of those is Oregon.
Oregon is a blue state... in the last two decades, a very blue state:
- The last time it went for the Republican in a presidential race was a quarter century ago, for Ronald Reagan in 1984; Oregon even voted for Michael Dukakis in 1988.
- The last time it elected a Republican governor was even longer: 31 years ago (Victor G. Atiyeh). Every major elected official in the executive branch is currently a Democrat.
- Oregon has two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden, 100%, and Jeff Merkley, not yet rated; Merkley replaced about the most liberal of all "Republican" senators, Gordon Smith, 33%. (Smith's last rating from the liberal ADA was 60%, nearly twice his rating from the American Conservative Union.) [This bullet point corrected; Smith was defeated for reelection in 2008. Hat tip to commenter Fritz.]
- Oregon has five representatives in Congress; four of them (80%) are Democrats. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR, 75%) is the lone Republican, and he's hardly a conservative.
- Democrats currently hold a 60% majority in both the Oregon State Senate and the Oregon House of Representatives.
So it's hardly surprising that Oregon enacted an assisted suicide law in 1994, and again in 1997, both times by a referendum of the citizens. And it's equally unsurprising -- but instructive -- that it also passed the Oregon Health Plan, created by doctor and Democratic state Sen. John Kitzhaber; it went into effect in 1994. Kitzhaber rode the health plan into the governor's officer, elected in 1994 and serving two terms.
The plan is called Oregon's Medicare/Medicaid program, but adults not qualified for either program can nevertheless be enrolled into OHP Standard.
The program has not exactly worked as intended; after costs nearly doubled in its first six years, new enrollments were frozen for four years, from 2004 through 2008; Oregon then held a lottery, in which tens of thousands of applicants applied -- for 3,000 slots.
The Oregon Health Plan, more or less a real-world model of ObamaCare, is under tremendous pressure to cut costs. They have found a unique way of doing so: They no longer pay for life-saving chemotherapy for cancer patients with less than a 5% chance of survival for five years... but they will pay to help kill them:
Barbara Wagner has one wish - for more time."I'm not ready, I'm not ready to die," the Springfield woman said. "I've got things I'd still like to do."
Her doctor offered hope in the new chemotherapy drug Tarceva, but the Oregon Health Plan sent her a letter telling her the cancer treatment was not approved.
Instead, the letter said, the plan would pay for comfort care, including "physician aid in dying," better known as assisted suicide.
"I told them, I said, 'Who do you guys think you are?' You know, to say that you'll pay for my dying, but you won't pay to help me possibly live longer?' " Wagner said. [Hat tip to Sachi]
Dear readers, this is your future under ObamaCare.
But why in the world would the Oregon Health Plan brazenly suggest that she kill herself? That's easily explained:
[Dr. William Toffler] said the state has a financial incentive to offer death instead of life: Chemotherapy drugs such as Tarceva cost $4,000 a month while drugs for assisted suicide cost less than $100.
[Dr. Som Saha, chairman of the commission that sets policy for the Oregon Health Plan] said state health officials do not consider whether it is cheaper for someone in the health plan to die than live. But he admitted they must consider the state's limited dollars when dealing with a case such as Wagner's.
"If we invest thousands and thousands of dollars in one person's days to weeks, we are taking away those dollars from someone," Saha said.
It's government medicine; poor Barbara Wagner has no place else to go.
Adding insult to accessory to manslaughter, it appears that the Oregon government health bureaucracy hasn't even kept up with the advance of modern medicine:
The Oregon Health Plan simply hasn't kept up with dramatic changes in chemotherapy, said Dr. David Fryefield of the Willamette Valley Cancer Center.
Even for those with advanced cancer, new chemotherapy drugs can extend life.
Yet the Oregon Health Plan only offers coverage for chemo that cures cancer -- not if it can prolong a patient's life.
"We are looking at today's ... 2008 treatment, but we're using 1993 standards," Fryefield said. "When the Oregon Health Plan was created, it was 15 years ago, and there were not all the chemotherapy drugs that there are today."
Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight. So... under government medicine, Barack H. Obama's grandmother shouldn't get a hip replacement, because she's going to die soon anyway; Sarah Palin's son Trig, who has Down Syndrome, wouldn't get long-term treatment because Down is incurable; and Barbara Wagner begs for cancer treatment -- and instead gets a not-so-subtle hint that she should contact a physician about how to "reduce the surplus population" by committing suicide.
There is really no nice way to spin this.
Fortunately, the company that manufactures Tarceva, Genentech, has decided to let Wagner have it for free... for now. But what about all the other Barbara Wagners in Oregon?
ObamaCare: Change you could die for.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 12, 2009
Attn: Johnny Isakson... Please Call Your President!
Yesterday, we wrote about Sen. Johnny Isakson's (R-GA, 76%) lunkheaded misunderstanding of Sarah Palin's "death panel" remark: In his anti-Palin hysteria, he imagined she was talking about "living wills" and the "end of life directive." Isakson thought that Palin was saying those amounted to euthanasia -- when in fact, she was talking about the health-care rationing that inevitably results from a single-payer, government-run system... which itself is the inevitable and intentional end result of the putative government "option."
It was an incredibly humiliating mistake for Isakson, exacerbated by its provenance: Isakson never even troubled to read what Palin herself actually wrote on her Facebook page, relying instead on the caricature by an anonymous telephone caller. (Perhaps Isakson should be made to sit in a corner of the Rotunda with a conical dunce-cap on his head, and write a hundred times on the chalkboard, "I will not rely upon unknown third parties when a primary source is available.")
I read a fantabulous Power Line post yesterday that accurately explained what Palin was talking about; alas, I cannot give credit either to John Hinderaker, my favorite blogger on my favorite blog, because the best part of the post was written by an unnamed "knowledgeable reader" corresponding with Hinderaker:
[S]o the only choice is limiting choice and quality....and that in turn requires a de facto single payer accomplished through the subterfuge of dictating the terms of "private" insurance, turning them into all but public utilities, engineering the transfer to the "public option" over a relatively short period of time, and then dictating payment terms to providers through rate setting, service bundling and, most important in this context, the MedPAC council which will determine "quality-adjusted effective" treatment protocols. The net effect is that an elderly person won't get a hip replacement or a coronary bypass....and will have nowhere --- in the US --- to turn.
The disingenuousness of the left on this point is breathtaking. Perhaps some are just too stupid to get the point....but the issue is NOT euthanasia, living wills etc....that's a pure straw man however insidious the proposal is and however dishonest they have been in covering it up or describing it. The real issue is the MedPAC council....there won't be any actual "death panel" adjudicating case-by-case....there won't need to be!....the MedPac council will set up criteria and rules, more or less in secrecy....rules determined by "experts" and by design removed from Congress to prevent pressure to approve expensive protocols at the end of life....or for "life unworthy of life"....a faceless bureaucracy with a maze of rules will simply be built into the system....diffused responsibility, nobody accountable, just the way it will be, no one can do anything about it.
Well, yeah. What Mr. Anonymous said.
MedPAC -- the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission -- already exists; it was created in 1997 by the Balanced Budget Act of that same year. Its purpose, in its own words, is "to advise the U.S. Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program."
The Commission's statutory mandate is quite broad: In addition to advising the Congress on payments to private health plans participating in Medicare and providers in Medicare's traditional fee-for-service program, MedPAC is also tasked with analyzing access to care, quality of care, and other issues affecting Medicare.
MedPAC sets a government-enforced price-control system for doctors and hospitals. It's important to understand that medical providers lose money on Medicare reimbursements, which they're forced by law to accept; they make it up by jacking up charges to all other patients. If they didn't have the lifesaver of non-Medicare, non-Medicaid patients on private insurance plans, many doctors, medical groups, and even hospitals would have to shut down, because they simply couldn't afford to practice medicine: We would have fewer health-care providers.
Under the House bill, patients shunted into the "goverment option" will be treated the same as current patients in Medicare; this requires exactly the same sort of price-control commission -- whether called MedPAC or by any other name, say ObamaPAC -- to make the same sort of decisions:
Get it? When ObamaCare engorges itself, like the Blob, to engulf and devour all health care, then the new ObamamPAC will make all decisions on what treatments will be covered. An unelected handful of wise men will pick and choose what medical treatment and procedures you and I and everyone else is allowed to receive.
(Everyone but presidents, senators, and congressmen, of course; they will always have their own system -- with unlimited treatment, no premiums, and no deductable -- at least, none paid by top federal officials; it will be our generous, if involuntary gift to the One and his minions.)
As demand for medical care skyrockets ("it's freeeee!"), and as the number of doctors and hospitals plummet, we will no longer have enough doctors to provide all that demand. Since prices will be controlled by ObamaPAC, the only remaining solution will be rationing, literal rationing. As in, no hip replacements for Granny, no expensive long-term care for Down Syndrome babies, and suchlike.
When Sarah Palin warned of "death panels," she was talking about the miserly ObamaPAC commission, staring at a staggering mismatch between demand and supply, deciding what care will be allowed to which class of patient -- not that stupid end-of-life counseling directive.
Well, today we have two followups: First, another charter member of the Duncecap Delegation, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the Associated Press; and second, a perfect illustration of exactly what Sarah Palin meant -- and why she was right all along.
In AP's inaptly labeled "FACT CHECK," Alonso-Zaldivar smirks that there is no "death panel" in the House ObamaCare bill -- as if he expected to find a title or section with the name DEATH PANEL, and that its absence is ipso facto proof that Palin is an idiot. But he ruins his own flame by making (you guessed it) the exact, same mistake that Isakson made:
Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says the health care overhaul bill would set up a "death panel." Federal bureaucrats would play God, ruling on whether ailing seniors are worth enough to society to deserve life-sustaining medical care. Palin and other critics are wrong.
Nothing in the legislation would carry out such a bleak vision. The provision that has caused the uproar would instead authorize Medicare to pay doctors for counseling patients about end-of-life care, if the patient wishes. Here are some questions and answers on the controversy:
Q: Does the health care legislation bill promote "mercy killing," or euthanasia?
Q: Then what's all the fuss about?
A: A provision in the House bill written by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would allow Medicare to pay doctors for voluntary counseling sessions that address end-of-life issues. The conversations between doctor and patient would include living wills, making a close relative or a trusted friend your health care proxy, learning about hospice as an option for the terminally ill, and information about pain medications for people suffering chronic discomfort.
The Q&A drones on and one, smugly lecturing the (presumably moronic) Sarah Palin -- and everyone else worried about ObamaCare -- that there is absolutely no cannibalism in the British Royal Navy (kudos and a self-administered backpat to anyone who gets the reference).
I hate to tell Mr. Alonso-Zaldivar... oh, who am I kidding? I love telling him! I rejoice in giddy glee to inform Mr. Alonso-Zaldivar that it is he, not Sarah Palin, who is the dumbass here... because she was not talking about euthanasia, the end-of-life counseling directive, or living wills. She probably has a living will. She was talking about -- exactly this, from Bloomberg:
President Barack Obama said his grandmother’s hip-replacement surgery during the final weeks of her life made him wonder whether expensive procedures for the terminally ill reflect a “sustainable model” for health care.
The president’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, had a hip replaced after she was diagnosed with cancer, Obama said in an interview with the New York Times magazine that was published today. Dunham, who lived in Honolulu, died at the age of 86 on Nov. 2, 2008, two days before her grandson’s election victory....
Obama said “you just get into some very difficult moral issues” when considering whether “to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill.
“That’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues,” he said in the April 14 interview. “The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health-care bill out here.”
Speaking later in the same interview about a different subject, banking regulations, Obama said the following:
Obama also said his economic advisers aren’t constrained by ideology or connections to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. “What I’ve been constantly searching for is a ruthless pragmatism when it comes to economic policy,” he said in the interview.
That is precisely what Americans of all ages, political persuasions, and economic conditions are frightened of, what drives the anger and anguish at town-hall meetings, and what has ground polling support for ObamaCare into the dirt: We fear that when health-care policy becomes "economic policy," due to vastly increased government meddling, leading at last to a complete federal takeover of health care, "ruthless pragmatism" will push ObamaPAC to deny Granny her hip replacement, because she's going to die soon anyway.
It may start by throwing only the terminally ill under the bus (as if that itself were morally acceptable); but when ObamaPAC is mugged by economic reality, it will end by throwing us all under those same wheels... just as similar councils have done in every other country that implemented government-run, government-controlled health care, from Great Britain, to Canada, to Japan, to most of Europe, to Cuba, to China, to the old USSR -- and the "new" Russia.
Is this starting to sink into the brains of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the Associated Press? It's certainly already percolating through the brains of most Americans (excuse me, mobs of fascist thugs toting Nazi paraphernalia and intimidating the poor victims in the Service Employees International Union)... which is why they're showing up in droves to town-hall meetings, demanding that their representatives listen to them and not vote on either the House or Senate bill... that Congress tear it up and start over. (And I have a suggestion of how, exactly, to "start over.")
Sadly, our congressional "leaders" are neither leading nor even following their constituents; the Democrats who control Congress and la Casa Blanca have chosen instead to get in the way of real health-care reform.
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 5, 2009
My Loyalty Test - Do I Pass?
Sent: 2009-08-05 20:54 PDT
Subj: Anti-government health care nonsense on this website
I read the post on the White House blog, "Facts Are Stubborn Things," which said what we could do about misinformation and leis being told on the web about the healthcare plan.
I recently read two posts on the web that are just nonsense, and I hope you can do something about them. The first is here, http://biglizards.net/blog/archives/2009/08/the_joys_of_gre.html and this is the second one: http://biglizards.net/blog/archives/2009/08/light_dawns_on.html
(The same person also posted a very insulting set of lies about you on your birthday, here http://biglizards.net/blog/archives/2009/08/obama_birthday.html but I don't suppose you can do anything about that; anybody can say what they want, even about the president of the United States.)
Please let me know what I should do about the health care lies and propaganda.
Thank you very much,
Dafydd ab Hugh
August 4, 2009
Quid Pro... What? UPDATED
Look up the phrase "quid pro quo," and you discover that it literally means "something for something." To distinquish, let's rewrite that as "this for that."
We know the "this" -- Kim Jong-Il released a couple of journalists that North Korea had kidnapped in June then threatened to hold captive for twelve years (claiming they committed a "grave crime," never specified). Since they were released, and this is North Korea we're talking about, there must likewise be a "that" -- the Dear Leader must have got something in return.
Some argue that what Kim got was merely publicity, a propaganda coup -- having a former American president crawl to Pyongyang, hat in hand as the Beggar President, pleading with Kim to release the hostages (at least, that's how the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will portray it) -- and a chance to pretend to magnanimity. John Bolton, among others, pointed this much out; and yes, Kim got all that.
UPDATE: Evidently, if CNN can be believed, Bill Clinton also confessed on behalf of the captives to the ludicrous charges leveled against them by their captors; in fact, he apologized for them:
"Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it," the news agency reported. "Clinton courteously conveyed to Kim Jong Il an earnest request of the U.S. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view.
I can only add... well, nothing. Clinton's loathsome obsequiousness speaks for itself.
That would be bad enough; but judging from Kim's prior behavior, I am convinced that he must have got something else, a more concrete and explicit "that" than the fuzzy-bunny, feel good gestures enumerated above. So what is it? What quo did President Barack H. Obama, via Bill Clinton, give him to balance the quid of releasing the two hostages? After all, Kim already knew he could have kept them indefinitely without any fear of retribution or punishment from the One.
I suspect what we offered Kim is itself a grave crime: I believe the only thing that would tempt Kim Jong-Il into releasing his bargaining chips is if he got the very bargan he wants... to be treated as leniently as Obama treats Iran on the same issue, the development of nuclear weaponry. I believe that what the One promised Kim is that he would turn a blind eye to North Korea's future nuclear program, the same way he has turned the other blind eye to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (If you're keeping count, that's two blind eyes.)
I'm sure that "talks" will ensue; but they will be show talks, like a show trial -- a farce to allow the United States to save its face, with the result predetermined. The talks will not be unconditional; they will commence with a major concession by the American side: That in the end, we will allow North Korea to have nuclear missiles capable of striking Japan, India, and even Australia (let alone South Korea).
My only question is whether that's the entirety of the second "something." Did the Obamacle, speaking ex cathedra through the Mouth of Sauron, promise something more... say, sweatboxing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Han Seung-soo into adopting the "reunification" policy of insane former President and recent suicide Roh Moo-hyun? Roh's "sunshine policy" amounted to complete appeasement... leading many to believe Roh was even willing to reunify the two Koreas under Kim Jong-Il's rule.
Did Obama and the Clintons negotiate with a terrorist state to sell South Korea down the river, as part of their effort to restore the primacy of "diplomacy" and gain a propaganda coup of their own -- the release of the captives? Or did they merely bargain away any small hope we had of forcibly stopping the Communist thugocracy from gaining a full nuclear arsenal, with which to threaten the entire Asian region, from India to Mongolia?
I fear we won't know the full extent of Barack Obama's capitulation to the Dear Leader until it's much too late to do anything to mitigate it.
August 3, 2009
Wherein We Find That Britain's Government "Option" Is a Pain in the Back
A crystal ball for America. Here is our future under ObamaCare:
Tens of thousands with chronic back pain will be forced to live in agony after a decision to slash the number of painkilling injections issued on the NHS, doctors have warned.
The Government's drug rationing watchdog says "therapeutic" injections of steroids, such as cortisone, which are used to reduce inflammation, should no longer be offered to patients suffering from persistent lower back pain when the cause is not known.
Instead the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is ordering doctors to offer patients remedies like acupuncture and osteopathy.
Acupuncture? Say, if that doesn't work, there's always cupping and bleeding. At least they're cutting pain treatment in a NICE way.
But wait a minute. What percent cut are we talking about? Surely this is just a small statistical adjustment, right?
The NHS currently issues more than 60,000 treatments of steroid injections every year. NICE said in its guidance it wants to cut this to just 3,000 treatments a year, a move which would save the NHS £33 million.
See? It's not a wholesale slashing of patient care; it's only a minor pruning... of 95% of all cortisone pain treatment. In any event, there is an obvious up-side to this: The National Health Service of the UK will save £33 million -- $56 million, a whopping $980 per patient cut from the program.
Here is the problem: When a government gets into financial trouble, there are only three things it can do:
- Run an increasingly large deficit;
- Raise taxes;
- Cut spending.
Number 1 is problematical, because large deficits produce inflation, which produces successful electoral challenges from the other party.
Number 2 doesn't work because of the Laffer curve, which demonstrates that a point exists beyond which increasing tax rates doesn't increase revenue, it reduces revenue. Few countries can resist increasing taxation right up to that point... and bitter experience teaches them that they cannot then increase government revenue by jacking up the tax rates again.
That leaves only number 3, cutting spending. But that itself carries several dangers to the sitting administration. There are only three ways to cut spending:
- The administration can cut porkbarrel spending;
- It can cut highly visible programs that have powerful champions in Congress;
- It can cut the costs of ongoing programs, over which it already has complete control of day to day spending, by a series of nearly invisible changes, none of which individually has strong support in Congress.
Number 1 is problematical, because pork is the primary way that members of Congress buy votes back home, so they jealously guard such spending from Executive monkeying.
Number 2 doesn't work, because powerful members of Congress can hold up all legislation until their own pet programs are restored and even increased.
That leaves only number 3, cutting that spending which is fixed by formula, by quietly manipulating some critical variable in that formula, which results in automatic "savings" -- for which no individual can later be blamed at the polls.
After all, it's not like Uncle Scrooge is simply slashing treatment in order to minimize costs; perish any such thought. The administration is not simply making up policy; the change comes direct from a panel of medical experts -- remote, anonymous, and unaccountable:
The NICE guidelines admit that evidence was limited for many back pain treatments, including those it recommended. Where scientific proof was lacking, advice was instead taken from its expert group. But specialists are furious that while the group included practitioners of alternative therapies, there was no one with expertise in conventional pain relief medicine to argue against a decision to significantly restrict its use.
Put everything together, and what do we get? That one of the easiest, least visible, and cheapest (in units of electoral retribution) way to appear to restore fiscal responsibility is for the president to order changes in a few small variables in spending formulas:
- Reduce the percent of health-care charges for which the government plan will reimburse doctors and hospitals;
- Reduce the allowable charges by doctors and hospitals for each procedure;
- Ban or dramatically reduce certain more expensive procedures -- by declaring them "ineffective," for example;
- Filter the patient pool by restricting treatment for those less likely to live much longer anyway, thus denying care to older or sicker patients;
- Lowering the lifetime cap on medical benefits;
- Funneling patients into particular favored health-care providers, who charge less and make it up in volume;
- Reduce the amount of time doctors are allowed to spend with each patient (volume, volume, volume!);
- Reduce the number of days patients are allowed to stay in hospital;
- Require patients' families to provide some of the care, such as hygiene (bathing, bedpans) and physical therapy;
- Reduce costs by skimping on ancillary expenses, such as nutrition, heating, and lighting;
- Shunt more patients into relatively inexpensive hospice care by changing the standards for which conditions get hospital or doctor care and which do not.
Of course, many private or group insurance plans attempt these same cost-cutting measures; but they must deal with actual competition from other plans, so they don't have carte blanche. The more miserly they make their benefits, the less they can charge for coverage, lest they lose their customers.
But such market responses don't affect a government health-care plan, because it doesn't have to worry about competition; it can reduce benefits yet continue to charge the same amount. Consumers cannot jump ship for private competitors for a number of reasons:
- A national plan can force everyone to pay for it by law; every major country that begins with a government "option" ends with the option being mandatory... so any private plan people obtain must be in addition to, not instead of, the government plan.
- Even before that happens, the national plan can use its sheer size to force health-care providers, drug companies, and so forth to sell to them at any price the government health-care plan offers, undercutting smaller private plans;
- It can set administrative standards in a way designed to drive out private companies -- for example, by requiring that every private plan duplicate the federal plan, or by preventing private plans from charging less than the national plan;
- The national plan can operate at a loss and subsidize itself with taxes (see Amtrack);
- And It can use its auditing authority to threaten and abuse potential competitors and intimidate them out of the business.
We see this same dynamic in every, single country that has either full-blown national health care, as in many Canadian provinces that actually prohibit private care or private insurance -- or even a "government option" that operates alongside a private health-insurance system, as in Japan and even (to a lesser extent) Great Britain.
A government "option" quickly gobbles up nearly all patients, becoming a de facto or even literal national health service. Typically, fewer than 10% of patients can afford to pay for private health insurance on top of the mandatory premiums and taxes they must pay for the national health service; only the rich can do so.
This sets up a two-tier system: Those with a lot of money get much better health care, the very "scandal" that is used to sell nationalized health care in the first place.
But there is some hope: Even in Canada, some provinces (such as Quebec) are struggling to reform their national health services by introducing a radical, new idea: Competition by private insurance!
So even if the Democrats manage to foist ObamaCare on the entire country, after a couple, three generations, we might possibly regain our senses and try to push it back -- a bit.
The new NICE policy of pain "management" in the United Kingdom illustrates the old saying about national health care: The government health-care policy is... don't get sick! And whatever you do in Merrie Olde England -- or soon to be Merrie Olde Obamastan -- don't let anyone or anything become a pain in the back, unless you don't mind being needled by the pinheads in D.C.
July 28, 2009
I found this juxtaposition fascinating -- in a horrifying sort of way. First, we certainly can't talk to those scheming Honduran diplomats... they represent the coup leaders:
The U.S. government said Tuesday it has revoked the diplomatic visas of four Honduran officials, stepping up pressure on coup-installed leaders who insist they can resist international demands to restore the ousted president.
The U.S. State Department did not name the four, but a Honduran official said they included the Supreme Court magistrate who ordered the arrest of ousted President Manuel Zelda and the president of Honduras' Congress.
The State Department is also reviewing the visas of all officials serving under interim President Roberto Micheletti, department spokesman Ian Kelly said.
(How dare the Honduran Supreme Court rule according to the Honduran constitution, rather than sit quietly and wait for instructions from the One They Have Been Waiting For!)
But of course, we can't simply refuse to talk to people; that would be puerile and unproductive:
A concerted effort to start unprecedented talks between Taliban and British and American envoys was outlined yesterday in a significant change in tactics designed to bring about a breakthrough in the attritional, eight-year conflict in Afghanistan.
Senior ministers and commanders on the ground believe they have created the right conditions to open up a dialogue with "second-tier" local leaders now the Taliban have been forced back in a swath of Helmand province.
Oh, I know, I know; it seems just a tad inconsistent:
- Refusing even to allow into the United States diplomats and officials from one of the most pro-American countries in Central America, because they refused to sit idly while a Cuba- and Venezuela-backed wannabe dictator unilaterally and illegally changed the constitution to allow him to become President for Life;
- And then turning around and opening a diplomatic initiative with the terrorist group that (a) was fully complicit in the September 11th attacks, and that (b) we ousted in a -- well, not exactly a coup; in our case, we used a full military invasion to institute regime change. (See? Totally different.)
It may seem inconsistent, hypocritical, hysterical, adolescent, cement-headed, awkward, slovenly, ad-hominem, and amateurish... but appearances can be deceiving: Perhaps President Barack H. Obama is just living by the motto that defines his life: Keep your enemies close, and your mortal enemies actually in bed with you.
But then again, maybe the president is signalling that he now has second thoughts about the war of Christianist aggression in Afghanistan, started by a previous administration. Maybe this is the first step towards demanding that the current illegal "government" of that country disband, fly to the Hague, and surrender themselves... so that the legitimate government of 2001 and prior can retake its rightful place in Kabul.
I understand that later this year, the president plans to send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special-Olympics Spokesman Joe "Litella" Biden to South Korea to share a beer with President Lee Myung-bak and PM Han Seung-soo -- then deliver a long and serious lecture about dissolving the South Korean entity and making amends for their war of imperialist aggression against their northern brothers 59 years ago.
Cross-toasted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
July 21, 2009
A strange and hopeful pattern has developed in the new administration: Projects are commenced with great fanfare, flourishes, and pompous circumstance. Everything is rush, rush, rush... for a short while.
Then the president appears to lose interest... and another revolutionary policy is put upon the back burner and promptly forgotten, heard no more, as the next --
-- as the next revolutionary policy elbows out the former to strut and fret its hour upon the stage.
The most recent policy to tumble into the realm of forgotten toys is, evidently, closure of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility; at least, that is the inference I draw from the fact that on the same day Barack H. Obama delayed publication of an important economic report until after Congress recesses, he also put off for half a year a task force that is supposed to evaluate interrogation and detention policies at Guantanamo Bay:
President Obama on Monday extended by six months a task force charged with determining how terrorism suspects should be interrogated, held in custody or handed over to other countries, putting in jeopardy his promise to close the military detention facility at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January.
The move came on the same day the president pushed back the release of a congressionally mandated report on the nation's economic conditions, and the White House began to extend a self-imposed deadline for overhauling the nation's health care system.
Just how long is the president's attention span? If we wait long enough, will he just forget all about nationalizing the automakers, the banks, and health care?
I think I just had an epiphany (though I understand those are surgically removable these days): We've noticed that every Obamic policy is a screaming, four-alarm emergency that must be enacted not just now but yesterday, and for God's sake without congressmen wasting time actually reading the bills they vote on. Perhaps the reason is that Obama's aides know full well that if a bill takes longer than two weeks to pass, the POTUS has already lost interest,and is off playing with a newer toy (or perhaps the box in which it was delivered). The previous bill finds itself on the way to dusty death.
I can see where that would create the sense of a "ticking clock" among Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his posse... like trying to hold an important conversation with a six year old child, or Lindsay Lohan: You have only a limited window of communication.
Note, for example, that Obama made the decision on July 20th to push --
-- to push the task force back by six months... meaning it would start (here's where my math degrees come in handy) on January 20th, 2010. Which makes it rather difficult to be ready to set the policies in time to find locations for all the detainees and still shut Gitmo down -- by January 22nd.
But don't worry; long before then, President Obama will probably have forgotten that the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility even exists; we can only hope!
And remember how his very first order as president was going to be an immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq within six months? The attention-span window on that one didn't even last from November 4th (election) to January 20th (inauguration).
By the time he was sworn in, Obama had also utterly forgotten that just a couple of months earlier, he had savagely attacked George W. Bush for his profligate, unaccountable stimulus package. And Jiminy Cricket, that tax cut for 95% of all Americans occupied the president's consciousness for such a long spell!
Most presidents occasionally have convenient lapses of memory; it's a survival trait. But Obama's interests wax and wane in the blink of a political eye, giving every impression of some functional variant on Attention Deficit Disorder. It just makes him and the country look like flakes.
I reckon that's one definition of "change we can believe in": From now until 2012, if you don't like the weather in D.C., just wait ten minutes.
July 17, 2009
Ten Things He Hates About Us
Ten Uniquements [ thirteen no, wait -- fourteen!] that Barack H. Obama hates about the America he inherited -- and how he plans to change all that. Obviously not every person in the United States will fit every instance of American exceptionalism on this list; in fact, some folks will see the entire list as alien and frightening. (We have a name for such people; we call them "liberals.")
But for the most part, this list defines the character of America. And even with the staggering pressure that modern life puts upon these eternal verities, America still exhibits these character traits more strongly than any other country on God's green earth. Collectively, they are what make us unique on the globe: uniquely moral, uniquely powerful, uniquely rich, and uniquely free.
So here they are, The Ten Uniquements:
Americans are self-reliant: They want work, not welfare; their own insurance, not government-controlled health care; and an open choice where to send their kids for school (or to educate them at home).
Obama wants to change America so that everybody must rely upon the government for every aspect of life, from womb to tomb.
Americans are personally generous: We prefer our aid to be voluntary, not coerced, enforced, or expropriated by some government bureaucrat sitting in D.C. (or the Hague).
Obama wants to institutionalize and nationalize all acts of emergency aid, foreign and domestic... and make them into entitlements.
Americans are individually empowered: If attacked by criminals or terrorists, they would rather rely on their own weapons to defend themselves and theirs than comply with their attackers' demands and hope the police finally arrive. (Viz., from women shooting attempted rapists to what the passengers of Flight 93 did)
The One We Have Been Waiting For With Bated Breath has made it plain that, were it up to him, Americans would be disarmed, forcing them to depend upon overwhelmed and underfunded police forces. Except for rich Hollywood liberals -- and of course politicians -- who would have heavily armed bodyguards at beck and call.
Americans are antiracists, antisexists, and anticreedists: We really don't judge people by the color of their skins; worse, we actually do insist upon judging them by the content of their characters!
"Justice" Sonia Sotomayor.
For those tasks that require government, Americans prefer that government be as small and close to them as possible: city before county, county instead of state, state in preference to national; and for goodness' sake, national always ahead of international!
No comment necessary.
Americans would rather limp along under a government that is too weak than be crushed by a government that is too strong: They demand lower taxes, even if that means fewer programs.
The Obamacle and his faction in Congress now openly talk about hiking taxes back up to where they were under Jimmy Carter. But realistically, that's nowhere near enough to pay for their rapacity; that would require an average of 60%-70% for everyone.
Similarly, Americans prefer smaller companies: We encourage individuals to start up small businesses, rather than longing for the entire workforce to be tied to a handful of giant, multinational conglomerates.
Taxing "the rich" inevitably means especially heavy taxes on small business; taxing medical-insurance payments kills small business; high interest rates -- guaranteed, once government runs the economy -- means the utter destruction of small business; and extending the power of unions into every company, no matter how small, will bring about the consolidation of all labor into one big glob of corporatism... which is, of course, the goal of the "liberal fascism" that Jonah Goldberg describes.
Americans are not envious: Each of us sees himself (or his children) as perhaps being rich one day, so we don't punish success.
The B.O. administration is brazen in its contempt for a flat or even semi-flat tax system; they want a sharply "progressive" tax rate, where "the rich" are socked with higher and higher surtaxes, windfall profit taxes, inheritance taxes, and a gargantuan capital-gains tax. (Of course, they also intend to define "rich" downward until it includes everybody who isn't on welfare... and they also favor a highly regressive national sales tax in addition to a progressive income tax. Perhaps they're just happy taxers and loopy looters.)
But they also support regulations to enforce, not just equality of opportunity, but equality of outcome, no matter what life choices someone makes; they long for a Harrison Bergeron world, where everyone is truly equal -- even if that means a "Handicapper General" to ensure that all are equally poor and equally miserable.
Americans are evangelists: We believe in spreading the faith of "ethical monotheism" everywhere, even to places that have never known anything but religious oppression and "holy" warfare. (Even many of us non-religious Americans support that goal!)
Obama sees religion as the handmaiden of radical politics, as his twenty-year association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright demonstrates. His liberal goodfellas in Congress side with the ACLU on most of its attacks on public religious displays. (But on one occasion, Obama himself went against form, nominating the evangelical Christian Francis Collins to head up the NIH.)
Americans are evangelists: We believe in spreading the government of individualism, Capitalism, and deregulated democratic republicanism everywhere, even to places that have never known anything but despotism and crony-cannibalism.
Barack "Lucky Lefty" Obama prefers instead to import into America all the evils of foreign welfare states and tyrannies -- from the government health care of Britain, Canada, and Japan, to the corporate nationalizations of Oogo Chavez's Venezuela, to the rule-by-decree of banana republics from South America to the South Pacific, to the torpid fatalism and dhimmitude of much of the Middle East.
Oh, heck -- let's make it a baker's dozen:
Americans are adamantly participatory: We cannot be silenced, disenfranchised, shut up, sent home, pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered... our lives (and thoughts and votes) are our own. We are cardinals, not ordinals.
Obama prefers that Congress simply enact his proposals without regard for the people; if the people get unruly enough, he will dissolve them and appoint a new people (subject to Senate confirmation).
Bills are shoved through committees on swift, party-line votes; and he instructs the full House and Senate have it on his desk in a couple of weeks... preferably without representatives and senators confusing matters by trying actually to read the bills before passing them.
For the rest of us, we should stand quietly in line and wait for instructions.
Americans are bold, brave, and grand: Our plans are expansive, not cramped; our crusades are universal, not limited; our expectations are sky-high; and our demands are impossible... yet we regularly meet them.
The B.O. administration tells us we must slash our expectations of future medical cures, "spend money to keep from going bankrupt," bow to the wishes of Putin, Kim, and Ahmadinejad, close Guantanamo Bay, get out of the Middle East, stop making waves, don't expect prosperity anytime soon -- and stop using energy. Or else. I fear a terrible malaise is creeping out of la Casa Blanca.
Americans are stubborn, obstinant, querulous, gritty, cantankerous, peevish, grudge-nursing, quick to anger, and often violently intemperate... and those are our best qualities! That's why we're still around, the oldest government in the world still functioning by and large according to its foundational documents, with no sign of dying -- or allowing Lucky Lefty from Chicago to turn America into New Amsterdam.
Obama wants America to be liked. To be liked, we must be nice. To be nice is to be accomodating -- to everyone else. We've had our turn; in all fairness, it's now time to hand the reins to other countries -- say, Iran, North Korea, China, Venezuela, and Russia. Let them drive for a few decades.
Oh, all right... and "one to grow on":
Americans are brutally honest: We despise corruption -- of the soul or of the public purse.
Obama prefers Chicago Rules -- vote buying, suing his opponents off the ballot, suppressing his opponents' vote count, elections run by union thugs, back-room deals, White House threats against reluctant congressmen, and pals and gals making a killing off of sweetheart stimulous deals. It's no shock -- from little ACORNs, mighty orcs grow.
There you go -- some indeterminate number of things he hates about us, about America as it is -- and what he wants to overthrow and create in its place... America as he thinks it should be. Now, what are we going to do about it?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
June 29, 2009
Old Shoes and Barackends
Isn't it amazing how long it took Barack H. Obama to finally, grudgingly support the Iranian protestors in their opposition to the patently stolen "reelection" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- and how tepidly he supported them when he finally moved away voting "present"... yet how swiftly he has moved to condemn the Honduran supreme court's removal of the president?
Notice that he jumps immediately to the most extreme solution -- reinstating corrupt lefty, anti-American, and Venezuelan ally Manuel Zelaya as President of Honduras. None of this namby pamby nonsense about finding some intermediate solution, as he proposes for the Iranian crisis. And notice that Obama doesn't even condemn Oogo Chavez's threat to send Venezuelan troops to invade Honduras to reinstall Zelaya -- regardless of the Honduran constitution, democracy, or the people. No, this is a crisis. Zelaya must be reinstalled by any means necessary... not now, man, yesterday!
What do these two positions, on Iran and Honduras, have in common? Three major similarities I can see:
- Both Obamic positions support the status quo against real "hope and change" for the people of those two countries;
- Both take the side of the bully against his victims;
- And both put President "Lucky Lefty" Obama on the same side as his best bud, Oogo Chavez.
Democrats, especially the president, bristle when they are compared to Soviet apparatchiks; they like to think of themselves as "progressives" who want to "move America into the future," rather than socialists who intend to mire us in the cloying stasis of yesteryear's authoritarianism.
Well I say, if the shoe fits, sleep in it.
June 28, 2009
Mother, May I?
Yesterday, we learned that President Barack H. Obama will not "forcibly inspect" the North Korean ship that we suspect is carrying nuclear technology to Burma, which some people call Myanmar:
An American destroyer has been shadowing the North Korean freighter sailing off China's coast, possibly on its way to Myanmar.
Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy met with South Korean officials in Seoul on Friday as the U.S. sought international support for aggressively enforcing a U.N. sanctions resolution aimed at punishing Pyongyang for its second nuclear test last month. The North Korean-flagged ship, Kang Nam 1, is the first to be tracked under the U.N. resolution.
Naturally, North Korea calls the allegation that they are trying to build a nuclear arsenal a slanderous lie. In completely unrelated news, they have threatened to launch a nuclear strike against the United States if we attempt to board the ship without the permission of North Korea's hereditary king, Kim Jong-Il:
North Korea has in response escalated threats of war, with a slew of harsh rhetoric including warnings that it would unleash a "fire shower of nuclear retaliation" and "wipe out the [U.S.] aggressors" in the event of a conflict.
Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy explains why we can only inspect the ship if the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, suspected of smuggling nuclear materials, gives us permission to board the ship and search for smuggled nuclear materials:
"The U.N. resolution lays out a regime that has a very clear set of steps," Ms. Flournoy said, according to the Yonhap news agency. "I want to be very clear. ... This is not a resolution that sponsors, that authorizes use of force for interdiction." [Well that's certainly useful!]
Ms. Flournoy said the U.S. still has "incentives and disincentives that will get North Korea to change course."
Aha. That certainly closes that case. Barring using any of our vastly superior military muscle, we can still, she notes, use "incentives," such as bribery, and "disincentives": very strong language, followed by very strong language; and if necessary, downright caustic and scornful language -- with perhaps a finger-wag, if the Secretary of State gets involved (her spouse can explain to her the ins and outs of one-digit diplomacy).
Rough language -- fierce -- imperious! I often find that the Obama administration reminds me of one of my favorite poets:
Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.
I speak severely to my boy,
I beat him when he sneezes;
For he can thoroughly enjoy
The pepper when he pleases!
So now we know that we can only interdict Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty scoffers -- the DPRK is not actually a signatory, so technically it cannot be a "violator" -- if they graciously allow us to do. Thus I think I more clearly understand the Obamic stance on the upcoming missile launch by North Korea against Hawaii: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is absolutely correct that we can shoot that missile down... but we only may blow it out of the sky if we first ask permission of King Jong-Il.
April 30, 2009
Everybody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
At the end of an AP story on the extraordinary lengths to which the administration of Barack H. Obama is going to urge, cajole, and even bribe our "allies" into accepting released detainees from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility -- so that the president can shut it down and bask in the warm glow of being patted on the head by Europe -- I stumbled across this arresting exchange:
In speaking to reporters Wednesday, [Attorney General Eric] Holder also said it is possible the United States could cooperate with a foreign court's investigation of Bush administration officials.
Holder spoke before the announcement that a Spanish magistrate had opened an investigation of Bush officials on harsh interrogation methods. Holder didn't rule out cooperating in such a probe.
"Obviously, we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it," Holder said. [Any country? Any country at all can open a "probe" of American officials, and Holder will seriously consider cooperating with it?]
"This is an administration that is determined to conduct itself by the rule of law and to the extent that we receive lawful requests from an appropriately created court, we would obviously respond to it," he said.
Oh yes, the "rule of law." But whose law? The rule of law in Spain forbids any interrogation of captured unlawful combatants and terrorists without them having an attorney present to object and demand classified intelligence; is that our new policy too? For that matter, the rule of law in Saudi Arabia demands that rape victims be flogged or even stoned to death. Will we "cooperate" on Saudi probes of such promiscuous women here in the United States?
The juxtaposition of Holder's offer of "cooperation" (complicity) and the hoped-for acceptance of Gitmo detainees strongly suggests that a grand bargain may be in the works: European countries may accept releasees in exchange for American recognition of the "universal jurisdiction" of individual courts of "human rights."
Does our looming cooperation imply that we might even look favorably upon a demand that we arrest and extradite named defendants to stand in the dock of such courts? Perhaps suspecting that he had given a bit too obvious a "tell," Holder seemed to retreat slightly (but only slightly):
Pressed on whether that meant the United States would cooperate with a foreign court prosecuting Bush administration officials, Holder said he was talking about evidentiary requests and would review any such request to see if the U.S. would comply.
But this is manifestly absurd: If the Attorney General of the United States once accepts the absurdity that a Spanish court and Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón, sitting in Spain and operating under Spanish law, actually have jurisdiction over American officials making official policy decisions inside the United States about how American military and intelligence agents can interrogate detainees at an American Marine Corps base inside Cuba... then how can Holder later limit such jurisdiction to "evidentiary requests?"
If Garzón has legal authority to demand we hand over evidence, he also has legal authority to demand we hand over "war criminals," from American military personnel, to John Yoo, to Jay Bybee, to William Haynes, to Douglas Feith, to Alberto Gonzales, to Richard Myers, to Dick Cheney -- even to former President George W. Bush himself.
This is even more outrageous than the suggestion that we prosecute any of these individuals ourselves, or that we form a "truth commission" and haul them before it for public show trials. This is, in essence, outsourcing the prosecution of the previous administration to foreign courts. Call it "extraordinary judicion."
If we ever once accept that a European court -- and not even a recognized "international" one! -- has jurisdiction over actions committed by American officials here in the United States, and can prosecute them for "crimes" that are not even recognized here, then we have crossed a line from which we can never retreat: The United States will cease to be a sovereign power.
If Eric Holder and Barack Obama accept this idea, they will actually have brought about what used to be a paranoid fantasy among the John Birch Society and other lunatics -- "one-world government," run according to European, not American rules.
Even if we do not actually arrest and extradite suspects in a European crimes-against-humanity witch hunt, by acquiescing and even cooperating with such unconstitutional probes of American citizens, we could make it impossible for former Bush-administration officials ever to travel outside the United States: By accepting the jurisdiction of such "world courts" and blessing their proceedings, President Obama signals that he will stand by and do nothing if, say, Dick Cheney or George Bush is seized abroad and sent to some star-chamber tribunal for prosecution. (What would the former president's Secret Service contingent do -- shoot it out with Italian or German police?)
Note in this WaPo article that the administration has already cooperated with Garzón's kangaroo court, albeit with boatloads of plausible deniability:
In Madrid, a Spanish investigating magistrate announced Wednesday that he has opened a wide-ranging criminal investigation into what he called "a systemic plan of torture" at Guantanamo and other places where the U.S. government held terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Judge Baltasar Garzón said his probe was based largely on complaints filed by four former prisoners at Guantanamo who were transferred to Spain. But in court papers, he also said his investigation was prompted by the release of secret U.S. legal opinions authorizing the CIA to subject terrorism suspects to waterboarding and other tactics.
Spain and some other European countries have adopted laws giving themselves authority to investigate torture, genocide and other human rights crimes anywhere in the world. Although it is rare for prosecutors to win such cases, those targeted can face arrest if they travel abroad.
It's possible that Obama, Holder, and everyone else involved in the bizarre decision to release highly classified memos detailing our interrogation techniques into the wide world, were so naive and feckless that they literally had no idea that a Spanish court (and others) would rake over such a treasure-trove of intel for anything they could use against the United States. But it's equally plausible that the administration knew exactly what would eventuate from the release... and they did it anyway, consciously and deliberately. It is, after all, a wonderful way to push forward the criminal prosecution of the former administration without Obama himself, or his deputies, getting blood on their own hands: Garzón is willing (eager!) to do it for them.
But they cannot escape their own complicity so easily. I strongly believe that even most rank and file liberals will rise up in disgust at the idea that any cockamamie court anywhere in the world can announce that it has awarded itself "authority to investigate torture, genocide and other human rights crimes anywhere in the world" -- then demand the arrest and extradition of Americans for actions committed in some third-party country (or in America itself!) that are not crimes here... but are crimes in the country housing the court.
Should we hand over American government officials to sharia courts in Iran, to be prosecuted for the "crime" of insulting Islam? Well, don't we want to improve relations with that country, hoping they wil promise, crescent their hearts, to stop building nuclear bombs? Or should we extradite a president for refusing to join in some EU-enforced policy to cut carbon use by 80%?
Just how far is the Obama administration willing to go to impose "change we can believe in" upon the American people. More to the point, just how far are we willing to let them go?
April 13, 2009
Obamunism III - Biden His Time
For our third example of almost jaw-dropping childishness from the Childe President -- or this time, the Vice Childe -- we have the pathetic maunderings of Vice President Joe Biden (can anyone read that phrase without wincing?) Now (according to Fox News' excellent Bill Sammon) he has taken to recounting how he bravely spoke truth to power, bearded President Bush in his den, and became the life-preserver to which George W. Bush clung, while Biden lectured him repeatedly... always getting the better of the exchange:
"I remember President Bush saying to me one time in the Oval Office," Biden began, "'Well, Joe,' he said, 'I'm a leader.' And I said: 'Mr. President, turn and around look behind you. No one is following.'"
The exchange is purely "fictional," said [Karl] Rove, who was Bush's top political adviser in the White House.
"It didn't happen," Rove, a FOX News contributor and former Bush adviser, told Megyn Kelly in an interview taped for "On The Record." "It's his imagination; it's a made-up, fictional world."
Such narcissistic fantasizing for personal aggrandizement is commonplace among children, as anybody who has a child (or has ever been a child) knows: Two gradeschoolers have a tussle during recess; and by the time school ends, each has spun a narrative of epic battle à la Beowulf vs. Grendel -- a grand guignol in which his opposite number was so thoroughly vanquished that he will have to leave school and become a professional bum or journalist.
It's a bit disconcerting, however, to see such serial exaggeration come from the VPOTUS. Can anyone imagine Dick Cheney telling a fairy-tale about the day he scored such a bullseye with a cutting remark to Vice President Algore that the latter dropped into an egg-huddled mass, crying for his mommy?
Rove was equally appalled by Biden's claims of having given Bush his comeuppance.
"If you notice, all of these incidents have the same structure: Joe Biden courageously raises the impudent question; the president befuddles the answer; and Joe Biden drives home the dramatic response."
Notice again one of the hallmarks of childishness: Actual history is rewritten to make it more dramatic, with a plotline, climax, and denouement. The courageous senator-hero confronts and takes down the president-ogre; at the end, the villain is reduced practically to tears while the world cheers Zero the Hero.
But the fantasization runs even deeper, according to Rove; and judging from what I've read from other top presidential aides to this and many other presidents (including Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon), even the idea that a single senator would have the kind of access that Biden claims is inherently implausible.
People simply do not have that much face-time with the president, not unless they are top aides whose job entails such extensive contact. Among other problems, the primary job of the president's chief of staff -- the very able Andrew Card until 2006, followed by the equally competent Josh Bolten -- is to serve as a gate-keeper, preventing imbeciles from monopolizing the president's valuable and extremely limited time. There is no way that either Card or Bolten would permit Biden to ramble on and on, lecturing Bush and triumphing over him again and again.
But to hear (read) Biden tell it, George Bush becomes his imaginary friend... the one who plays foil to Biden's sense of snowjob. Here is the long version of a tale told by a Biden:
[Chief of Staff Card, press secretary Ari Fleischer, and legislative liaison Candida Wolff] also disputed a similar assertion made by Biden in 2004, when the former senator from Delaware told scores of Democratic colleagues at a lunch that he had challenged Bush's moral certitude about the Iraq war during a private meeting in the Oval Office. Two years later, Biden repeated his story about dressing down the president.
"When I speak to the president - and I have had plenty of opportunity to be with the president, at least prior to the last election, a lot of hours alone with him. I mean, meaning me and his staff," Biden said on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" in April2006. "And the president will say things to me, and I'll literally turn to the president, say: 'Mr. President, how can you say that, knowing you don't know the facts?' And he'll look at me and he'll say - my word - he'll look at me and he'll say: 'My instincts.' He said: 'I have good instincts.' I said: 'Mr. President, your instincts aren't good enough.'"
On Thursday, Rove ridiculed the claim that Biden spent "a lot of hours alone with" Bush.
"Joe Biden was never alone with the president for more than few moments," Rove said. "There was staff in the room the whole time."
In fact, I doubt that even Vice President Dick Cheney or senior aide Karl Rove got "a lot of hours alone" with Bush; as even Biden admits, any meeting between Bush and Biden would include a lot of presidential staffers. So there should be plenty of witnesses to be interrogated, right?
[Biden spokesman Jay] Carney declined to specify the dates of his boss's purported Oval Office scoldings of Bush. Nor would he provide witnesses or notes to corroborate the episodes.
Sammon does not neglect to note Joe Biden's history of embellishment, exaggeration, fabrication, and outright theft of intellectual property in his disgraceful thirty-six years in the Senate, and now three months at Blair House:
Last July, Biden came under fire for telling a questionable story about being "shot at" in Iraq. When questioned by the Hill newspaper, Biden backpedaled by saying: "I was near where a shot landed...."
In September, Biden again raised eyebrows with another story about his exploits in war zones -- this time on "the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where my helicopter was forced down."
"If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me," Biden bragged to the National Guard Association. "Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are."
But it turns out that inclement weather, not terrorists, prompted the chopper to land in an open field during Biden's visit to Afghanistan in February 2008. Fighter jets kept watch overhead while a convoy of security vehicles was dispatched to retrieve Biden and fellow Sens. Chuck Hagel and John Kerry.
This is, without doubt, the weirdest ticket ever to occupy the White House. But the most worrisome factor is not the liberal-fascist variety of Socialism, the military fecklessness, the mindblowing deficits, the serial lying, the cryptofascist antisemitic appointees, the boorishness of his contacts with foreign leaders, or even the veil of secrecy that shrouds his every decision (much moreso than George W. Bush)... it's the appalling way that everybody involved with this administration, with the possible exception of the Secretaries of State and Defense, sees the world through the eyes of a child -- and a particularly immature and poorly raised one, at that.
It's a shocking turn of events when the lone Democratic exemplar of sanity, honesty, and maturity in the White House is Hillary Rodham Clinton.
April 12, 2009
Time to Fish or Get Off the Pot
While President Barack H. Obama tries to make up his mind how to respond to the Somalian pirates (the larger group, not just the ones who were holding Captain Richard Phillips hostage), he's not wasting any time... he's simultaneously dithering about how to respond to a Somalian Islamist "extremist" group, al-Shabab, that is allied with al-Qaeda. Neither dilemma appears close to resolution; in fact, the paralysis and refusal to use swift retaliatory force reminds me more and more of the 444 days of national humilitation in Jimmy Carter's first term in office.
His second term -- under his standby, Barack Obama -- seems no more decisive on the foreign-policy front than the first term, back in the late 1970s. This stands in bizarre contrast to Obama's firm resolve in his domestic agenda to remake America as a socialist country.
But why not launch a massive attack on the pirates in their lair, to punish them for having attacked an American vessel in the first place? We note with some interest that the entire "community" of Somalis in that modern-day Tortuga (the eighteenth-century pirate island) appears to be on the side of the pirates:
Talks to free [Capt. Phillips] began Thursday with the captain of the USS Bainbridge talking to the pirates under instruction from FBI hostage negotiators on board the U.S. destroyer. The pirates had threatened to kill Phillips if attacked....
Before Phillips was freed, a pirate who said he was associated with the gang that held Phillips, Ahmed Mohamed Nur, told The Associated Press that the pirates had reported that "helicopters continue to fly over their heads in the daylight and in the night they are under the focus of a spotlight from a warship."
He spoke by satellite phone from Harardhere, a port and pirate stronghold where a fisherman said helicopters flew over the town Sunday morning and a warship was looming on the horizon. The fisherman, Abdi Sheikh Muse, said that could be an indication the lifeboat may be near to shore.
The district commissioner of the central Mudug region said talks went on all day Saturday, with clan elders from his area talking by satellite telephone and through a translator with Americans, but collapsed late Saturday night.
"The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates," said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans.
Two other Somalis, one involved in the negotiations and another in contact with the pirates, also said the talks collapsed because of the U.S. insistence that the pirates be arrested and brought to justice.
Fine; then the "clan elders" of "the central Mudug region," which contains that "port and pirate stronghold" of Harardhere, are clearly not with us... they are with the pirates. So what is to stop us from launching a series of devastating retaliatory strikes against these strongholds? Nothing, evidently, but Barack Obama's infamous inability to make a decision. (This disability applies even to ongoing wars; in Iraq and Afghanistan, he simply decided not to decide, accepting the Bush doctrine in both theaters by default.)
In fact, Obama is so indecisive that he's not even sure he's ready to commit to criminal charges yet:
U.S. officials said a pirate who had been involved in negotiations to free Phillips but who was not on the lifeboat during the rescue was in military custody. FBI spokesman John Miller said that would change as the situation became "more of a criminal issue than a military issue."
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said prosecutors were looking at "evidence and other issues" to determine whether to bring a case in the United States. The pirate could face a life sentence if convicted, officials said.
Well, that will certainly put the fear of the Judeo-Christian God into Long John Somali!
But back to the problem of al-Shabab. It appears that Obama is not only unwilling to attack pirates, he's also unsure whether we should attack militant Islamist terrorists in Somalia; from the Washington Post article:
Al-Shabab, whose fighters have battled Ethiopian occupiers and the tenuous Somali government, poses a dilemma for the administration, according to several senior national security officials who outlined the debate only on the condition of anonymity.
The organization's rapid expansion, ties between its leaders and al-Qaeda, and the presence of Americans and Europeans in its camps have raised the question of whether a preemptive strike is warranted. Yet the group's objectives have thus far been domestic, and officials say that U.S. intelligence has no evidence it is planning attacks outside Somalia.
An attack against al-Shabab camps in southern Somalia would mark the administration's first military strike outside the Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan war zones. The White House discussions highlight the challenges facing the Obama team as it attempts to distance itself from the Bush administration, which conducted at least five military strikes in Somalia. The new administration is still defining its rationale for undertaking sensitive operations in countries where the United States is not at war.
Yes, that's a toughie that would stump even a leader as decisive as Carter, let alone our current President Hamlet; it's especially tough when the president acts as if there never was any discussion in the previous administration about the rationale for launching strikes against terrorists -- and when the most important criterion of the brand new Obamaic rationale is whether such an attack would make the current administration look too much like the Bush administration.
In the meantime, a decision must be made, and the clock is ticking: Do we attack a terrorist group allied with al-Qaeda, which runs terrorist training camps full of domestic and foreign Moloch worshippers (including Europeans and Americans, who could presumably fly under the radar into the United States), which is trying to violently overthrow the current Somali government that we helped install (by supporting the Ethiopian invasion that overthrew the previous, al-Qaeda-friendly government), because we have "no evidence it is planning attacks outside Somalia?"
Of course, neither did the Taliban; they isolated themselves, completely fixating upon Afghanistan and Pakistan. But they also leased their country to the demonic Ayman Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, offering them safe haven from which they could launch the September 11th attacks, and aiding and abetting them in other, more tangible ways. Somalia looks ready to do exactly the same... for exactly the same group. And say what you will, bin Laden is not an isolationist.
I suppose the alternative course under consideration is to make it "more of a criminal issue" and "determine whether to bring a case in the United States." We might even file an indictment with the International Criminal Court at the Hague... though we'd probably have to agree to give them jurisdiction over American citizens as well.
(No matter -- the ICC's first action against Americans would doubtless be to put George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Douglas Feith, John Yoo, Mark Steyn, Rush Limbaugh, and a cast of thousands on trial for crimes against humanity, such as advocating war against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, spying on al-Qaeda without a world search warrant, and lowering taxes on the rich. What's not to like?)
What is the argument against striking at al-Shabab? Primarily that other countries in the world might object:
Some in the Defense Department have been frustrated by what they see as a failure to act. Many other national security officials say an ill-considered strike would have negative diplomatic and political consequences far beyond the Horn of Africa. Other options under consideration are increased financial pressure and diplomatic activity, including stepped-up efforts to resolve the larger political turmoil in Somalia.
That is, all those heads of government who praised Obama to the heavens at the G-20 might instead accuse him of being just like George Bush, and the president's self image would be shattered. Not that those same leaders respected him enough to acquiesce to any of the three major policies he wanted them to implement -- stronger sanctions against Iran and North Korea, stimulus spending, or enlarging the NATO commitment to Afghanistan; but at least they said really nice things about Obama personally.
The most recent discussion of the issue took place early this week, just before the unrelated seizure of a U.S. commercial ship in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates who [were] holding the American captain of the vessel hostage for ransom.
But are these two questions -- what to do about al-Shabab and what to do about the Somalian pirates -- truly "unrelated," as the Post declares? And even if they are discrete today, how long will they remain so? It stands to reason that terrorists, who oppose the new government of Somalia for being insufficiently Islamist, and pirates, who oppose it for cracking down on piracy, may very well make common cause against their shared enemy.
Barack Obama already fumbled his first test on foreign policy -- the debacle in London at the meeting of the G-20. He appears to have flunked on every measure except cordiality (the leaders all liked him as a person, so long as he kow-towed to China, Russia, the Arab countries, and Europe). I suggest that how we respond to the two Somalian threats represents Obama's first big military-policy test: If he cannot even muster up a military response to pirates and terrorists in the Horn of Africa, then how will he ever respond to the subtler but far deadlier perils of Iran's centrifuges, North Korea's missiles, the Palestinians' pratfalls, Red China's increasing economic dominance, and a resurgent "Soviet Union?"
The answer, I fear, will be even grimmer, and the damage even longer lasting, than his response to the economic crisis.
April 10, 2009
Obamunism II - the Infection Spreads
On Monday, in Obamunism - Through the Eyes of a Child, we lit into President Barack H. Obama for enunciating a very juvenile and immature philosophy, one based upon four pillars:
- Dividing world actors into either heroes or villains (based on whether they're considered generally Left or Right, respectively), as in the comic books of earlier generations (oddly, many comics have a more sophisticated worldview today than does the president);
- Misapprehending current events in a very superficial, childish way;
- Rewriting the chaos of history to make it a more exciting and melodramatic story -- complete with plot, conflict, climax, and dénouement (resolution of the climax)... they remember things not the way they happened but the way they should have happened;
- And magical thinking, in which deep, non-logical or paralogical connections exist between seemingly disconnected events or people, such that doing some apparently irrelevent thing (throwing the ring of power into a volcano) results in some vital consequence (the evil Sauron is destroyed).
Today, Friday -- bookending the week -- I have a perfect example of such pre-pubescent behavior; but this time, it's not just on the part of the president... it has spread through Western civilization at least as far as Merrie Olde England, as the Times (of London) joins in the juvenalia. Thus Obama does not merely enunciate a philosophy of childishness, he exemplifies what is rapidly becoming a movement of childishness.
In a straight-reporting article on Gen. Ray Odierno's fight in Iraq, primarily in the cities of Mosul and Diyala, we read the following description of the so-called "surge," which I prefer to call the counterinsurgency:
Despite the rise in the number of attacks, overall violence is still far below levels of two years ago when the surge of an extra 30,000 US forces -- a strategy created and implemented by General Odierno and his boss, General Petraeus -- was just getting started. That risk paid off, subduing a civil war that was killing thousands of Iraqi civilians and scores of American soldiers every month.
Let's take a look at that one paragraph. First of all, the definition of civil war is not "kills thousands of civilians and scores of soldiers every month." A civil war requires opposing armies -- each drawn from and led by citizens or subjects of the same country -- engaging in actual combat operations.
Neither of these was true in Iraq. There were initially two armies, that of Saddam Hussein and the one fielded by the American-led coalition. After the former collapsed and up until today, there has been only one army: the latter. In addition, there have been various home-staffed but generally foreign-led terrorist groups... and there is even a small force of militants fielded by a foreign power, Iran. But there is not now, nor has there ever been (during the third millennium) a "civil war" in Iraq.
This is story-telling as described above. It's very dramatic to describe the violent conflict from 2004 through 2007 as a "civil war;" the term conjures up images (in America) of horrific battles like Antietam (Sharpsburg) and Gettysburg and hundreds of thousands of dead soldiers on both sides. In Great Britain, readers envision the English Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century, between "cavaliers" (royalists) and "roundheads" (parliamentarians), in which King Charles I was executed by Parliament, his son driven into exile, the monarchy temporarily abolished, and a new government "Protectorate" established under Oliver Cromwell. Man, that's exciting!
By contrast, the reality in Iraq was nothing like that. The government was never in danger of being overthrown by al-Qaeda, which fielded no real army; the terrorists never really governed territory, though they held sway in some areas (e.g., Anbar province); all they could ever do was kill people, more or less at random.
In addition to the storytelling, the paragraph quoted above demonstrates the oversimplification and superficiality of Obamunism, despite coming from across the Atlantic ocean. Note the claimed provenance of the counterinsurgency: "a strategy created and implemented by General Odierno and his boss, General Petraeus."
This puts all the praise squarely upon the military itself, a safe and politically neutral repository... and it denies credit to the civilians (some former military) who actually crafted the plan, particularly the authors of the American Enterprise Institute's report: Fred Kagen and retired Gen. John "Jack" Keane.
Why should the Times want to deny credit to the AEI? Because it is a preeminent politically conservative organization. To grant the AEI its due entails admitting that the conservative approach to the Iraq crisis was correct; while the liberal view of withdrawal from the cities, handing everything over to the Iraqis, and quickly withdrawing from Iraq altogether -- as enunciated by, e.g., Gen. William Casey and retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, along with nearly every liberal Democrat especially including then-Sen. Barack Obama -- was dead wrong, failed, and nearly cost us the war.
(Even worse would have been the madcap scheme pushed by then-Sen. Joe Biden, among many others, to "partition" Iraq into threes, Sunni, Shia, and Kurd. Within a few months, the Sunni regions would all be controlled by al-Qaeda with support from Pakistan; the Shiite regions would all be controlled by Muqtada Sadr and his puppetmasters in Teheran; and Kurdistan would have managed to provoke a war with Turkey.)
Thank goodness the AEI made such a good counter-case.
Finally, note the truly glaring omission among those who should receive credit for the counterinsurgency, which seized victory from a battlefield where the Left had already declared defeat. Who was the one person most responsible for what the press enjoys calling "the surge?" Who was the actual decider? Who took the political heat? Who was called everything from a moron to a Nazi for pushing it?
The Times has surgically removed President George W. Bush from the story; it's as if he wasn't even there. Evidently, these two generals, Petraeus and Odierno, just got it into their heads to totally change the war-fighting strategy in Iraq. They invented the counterinsurgency out of whole cloth and somehow found a way to increase the forces on the ground as well... and all without any input or decision-making by the Commander in Chief!
Imagine how terrible it would be to have to admit, in one of the most respected organs of the elite media, that George W. Bush was right, and Barack H. Obama was catastrophically wrong on the Iraq war... that if we had followed the Obama-Biden-Reid-Pelosi-Kerry recommendation to declare defeat and go home, we would have lost the war; but because Bush instead implemented a strategy of victory, we have won it. If the Left confessed that, how could it ever hold up its head again?
Far better to praise a couple of more or less apolitical generals, pat the troops on the head, and cut all the political actors out of the picture, like a deranged divorcée cutting her ex-husband's head out of all the wedding photos. Or perhaps more appropriately, the Soviet habit of making former heroes of the revolution "vanish" from official photographs when they fall from power.
But the Times only takes its cue from President Obama himself; during his surprise trip to Baghdad Wednesday, he lavished praise on the American military presence there, crediting them with the "surge of troops;" but he pointedly refrained from mentioning President Bush's courageous decision to implement the counterinsurgency strategy in the first place. This has been Obama's modus operandi from the days of the campaign (which still hasn't ended) through the first months of his presidency: Everything bad that happens in America he blames on Bush; but he shifts credit for all the successes of the Bush administration -- and there were many -- to other entities, either liberal (Congress) or neutral (the military).
This is typically juvenile behavior, now being copied by leftists across America and even in supposedly sophisticated Europe. The childishness of our Childe President is spreading like a virulent malaise through an unsanitary grade school. Heaven only knows how long the epidemic will rage.
April 6, 2009
Obamunism - Through the Eyes of a Child
Well, I think we all knew, somewhere in the back of our collective minds, that Barack H. Obama was planning it; most of us just thought it was so ludicrous, so retro, that he would never really propose it.
But now he has. Great leaping horny toads, it's Dr. Helen Caldicott's unilateral nuclear disarmament all over again:
Just hours after North Korea launched a long-range rocket, President Barack Obama called for "a world without nuclear weapons" and said the United States has a “moral responsibility ” to lead the way, as the only nation ever to use them....
The president directly addressed the Cold War history of this former Soviet bloc city, calling the remaining nuclear weapons “the most dangerous legacy” of that era.
He again pointed to history to say that America must lead. “As a nuclear power -- as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon -- the United States has a moral responsibility to act,” he said.
Obama proposed doing so by reducing America’s arsenal, if not altogether eliminating it; hosting a summit on nuclear security; seeking ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and pursuing a new agreement aimed at stopping the production of fissile materials.
Also, he proposes gathering up all vulnerable nuclear material -- or “loose nukes” -- within four years. That’s an issue Obama also worked on in the Senate, with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.).
As we all know, the only reason that Russia, Red China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and soon to be North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons is self defense against the United States... and if only we would unilaterally eliminate our nuclear arsenal -- ¡ Si, su puede! -- these other countries would no longer fear us -- and they will surely follow suit. As the New York Times succinctly sums up the theory:
Mr. Obama said that his administration would “reduce the role of nuclear weapons” in its national security strategy, and would urge other countries to do the same. He pointed to the agreement he reached last week with President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia to begin negotiations on reducing warheads and stockpiles, and said the two countries would try to reach an agreement by the end of the year. He also promised to aggressively pursue American ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which in the past has faced strong opposition in Congress.
It is a strategy based on the idea that if the United States shows it is willing to greatly shrink the size of its atomic arsenal, ban nuclear testing and cut off the worldwide production of bomb material, reluctant allies and partners around the world will be more likely to rewrite nuclear treaties and enforce sanctions against North Korea and Iran.
That is, if America weakens itself by unilaterally dumping its nuclear weapons, then other nations will feel more empowered to aggressively enforce already existing sanctions against rogue nations. But why? By definition, "already existing sanctions" already exist; if our allies are not willing to enforce them now, why would they be more willing if we become weaker? Does Obama truly believe that the world defies us because we're too powerful? Does he believe that we're evil, imperialist warmongers oppressing the world, causing them to resist us the way that the Jedi knights resisted the imperial storm troopers of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader?
This is magical thinking at its most emblematic: There is no obvious connection between the United States eliminating its nuclear arsenal and Pakistan following suit -- the latter is far more concerned about India (and vice versa) than about us -- or North Korea and Iran abandoning their own nuke hunt; they see nuclear weapons as their route to power in their own regions or protection against their own enemies. It's silly storytelling, jaw-dropping narcissism, and childish "wishing on a star" to imagine that every other country in the world that has or wants nuclear weapons is only driven by fear of America's nuclear arsenal.
But if there is any other reason why they want to be members of the nuclear club, then our reduction or even complete nuclear disarmament will have no effect upon them at all... except perhaps to encourage them tenfold: It's easy for third-world countries to believe that if they have nukes and we don't, they will no longer be third world -- they will be the first world; they will be the masters!
The childishness of this Obamic policy betokens an equally childish worldview, full of good guys (who are always good) and bad guys (eternally bad), superficial understandings, a view of history based more upon melodrama than reality, and magical thinking.
Heroes and villains as world actors
The One is the Lightbringer, whose devoted acolytes are trying to spread the "good news" around the globe (America alone is too small a stage). There is no "in-between," only a vast sea of unenlightened souls awaiting but a touch, a glance from the Obamacle to fall into the rapture.
The Bad Guy in Chief is George W. Bush, of course; and all Republicans are his henchmen. We are consciously evil, in that we sit around and cackle about our latest evil plans, perhaps chewing on the odd pinky or two. (Note that there is another shadowy group of conspirators who may be the real villains in this piece, "working the machinations behind the scenes," as Louis Farrakhan put it; we'll get to them in a moment.)
The great advantage of such hero-villain thinking is that it forces an automatic devaluing of opposing viewpoints: Of course you don't think government should take over the economy... you're a Republican! You want to kill and eat the poor anyway.
Superficiality as a guiding principle
Obamunism is centrally focused on a series of superficial and (upon analysis) meaningless catch phrases, slogans, and jingoisms: hope, change, the One we have been waiting for, audacity, coming together, post-partisan, post-racial, diplomacy, an end to torture, and so forth. While each of these words or phrases could impart meaning in other contexts, as Barack Obama and his apostles use them, we have no earthly idea what he means. Hope for what? Change from what to what? The One we have been waiting for -- to do what?
Even "diplomacy" is an empty concept by itself: Gandhi practiced diplomacy; so did Hitler.
Bear in mind, the more superficial a policy, the more ill-defined and vague, the less able critics are to attack it. It assumes radically different dimensions in the mind of each person who hears about it... and each tends to envision it in a way that resonates with him, personally, satisfying that specific individual's wish-fulfillment fantasies. It's very, very tough to tell someone that his dreams are unrealistic and unattainable; he tends to react emotionally -- and sometimes violently.
The heroic epic as public policy
When Obama and his fellow Democrats recount history (particularly the economic history of the United States and the history of the conflict in the Middle East), it's clear their "understanding" is based not upon what actually happened but upon what should have happened to make things more coherent and plot-driven, like a novel.
We didn't have a financial crash because of foolhardy (and bipartisan) government policy to encourage poor people to buy houses they couldn't afford, regulation and oversight that was badly written by Congress and poorly implemented by several administrations, and increasingly complex financial instruments that few people understand, including those who invented them. No, it's much more gripping if there is a vast banking conspiracy -- or as a disturbingly large number of Obama appointees would see it, a vast Jew-banker conspiracy). The conspiracy (or "lobby") controls everything behind the scenes, like a bad John Grisham melodrama (sorry for the redundancy).
This reductionism is signalled by the use of capitalized terms beginning with "Big," personalizing the enemy without actually naming them: Big Tobacco, Big Carbon, Big Business, Big Money.
And the continual conflict among Arab countries is not driven by a religious interpretation of Islam that demands constant "jihad;" that's boring... and it smacks of racism, too. But if everything bad in the entire region is driven by a single rogue villain (Israel) which causes all the problems for the sole purpose of "taking over" -- an alien presence that exploits the traditional peoples of the region -- well then we have an enemy we can focus upon, a much tighter plot to follow, somebody we can actually defeat!
Conspiracy mongering is always based, at core, on a sense that the universe should really be more coherent, more linear, and more dramatic than it actually is. It should follow literary rules of plot development, causality, a climax, and a satisfying denoument. Here is where Obama's man-crush on Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers becomes the synecdoche of his worldview. It's not very satisfying if blacks are doing badly because they have a lousy culture, or if kids aren't being educated because they have egregious work habits and have never enjoyed thinking. It's much more thrilling if Republican big business has busily been suppressing children's education because they need more worker-drones for capitalist imperialism -- and Whitey has been holding down "people of color" for a thousand years.
(By a curious coincidence, among much of Obama's inner circle, it appears that both plots have the same conspirators, the same villains: Jews. As antisemitism rises across the rest of the globe, it now finds a sympathetic ear at the highest levels of the American government.)
The Childe Left hate and fear complexity and constructive chaos more than anything in the world (just as literal children do); they also project this fear onto the Right, pretending that it is conservatives who embody "black and white" thinking, and liberals are the ones who understand shades of gray... but the Left's actions and policies belie the proclamations of maturity and wisdom.
Waiting for a miracle as grand strategy
Obamunism, and its larger parent New Leftism, deeply believe in the "magic bullet" theory of governance: For every intractable problem, there is a single, simple solution that will solve everything -- which has been missed by generations of previous, unenlightened souls, leaving its discovery to the hero of the saga. Some hitherto unsuspected connection exists between (seemingly unrelated) events A and B; Doing A will, as if by miracle, bring about B:
- Many times in our past, and currently in the rest of the world, governments tightly control the economy via wage and price controls, overtaxation, heavy-handed regulation, union boosterism, and "five-year plans." This has never resulted in an economic renaissance, but generally recession and depression. But wait -- that's because it wasn't done by the One! This time, under the encyclical circulated by Barack Obama, when the government seizes control of the economy, it will cause the greatest economic boom in American, nay world, history... and the world will forever revere Obama as its champion eternal. (Don't ask how; it just will. And of course you're skeptical... you're a capitalist.)
- Unlike all previous diplomatic overtures, when the great man just sits down and talks to his fellow world leaders (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il, Raul Castro, Ayman Zawahiri) -- when he explains to them that, unlike the previous regime, the current administration doesn't want to conquer and annex their lands, kill their children, and violate their women -- then the light from his heart will shine through, and these national leaders will realize that they need fear America no longer. They will all fall into each other's arms (in a manly way, I mean), have a good cry and a wonderful laugh, and all will be well. Nuclear warheads will be beaten into solar-power plants, war will be obsolete, the Jews will be driven into the sea, and all will live happily ever after. "And guns and swords and uniforms lay scattered on the ground." Barack Hussein Obama is, quite simply, the One that Ahmadinejad has been waiting for.
- Due to stubborn resistance and ignorance, generations have closed their ears and stopped their eyes to the deadly, global peril of man-made climate change. But as soon as Congress enacts the divine vision of the Obamacle -- instantly, the world will cool, the seas will subside, the harvest will be bountiful, and disease and famine will be driven into the void. The word of the king is the blood of the land. We won't even have to wait for the policies to take effect... directly the word is uttered, the Earth will shake, the sky will brighten, and peace and plenty will rain upon all -- equally -- like manna from heaven.
Achievement without effort; success without setback or disappointment; like a Michael Jackson video, Captain Eo points his finger and a bolt of lightning obliterates the bad guy in a puff of CGI. It's magic!
Obamunism - through the eyes of a lizard
It took me a while to realize it, but it's the childishness of Obamunism that irritates me more than any other element... its reduction to heroes and villains, its soap-bubble superficiality, its melodramatic story telling, and the magical thinking that underpins all the rest. Our country is ruled by the inmates of an excessively permissive and progressive preschool.
The entire Obama administration needs a long time-out. Alas, what we're more likely to see is a time-out from history for the entire country... followed by a very rude and deadly awakening.
April 2, 2009
Triumph at the Summit of Mount Obamarama
A summit just concluded in London among the G-20, the group of 20 richest nations; the heads of state spoke to each other without visible brandishing of weaponry. This much we can all agree upon.
But that's about all we can agree upon. Here is AP's take on the outcome:
At his summit debut, President Barack Obama failed to persuade foreign counterparts to commit to fresh and lavish spending to boost economic revival. And the success he did achieve in finding common ground was as much the result of modified goals as swaying other countries to bend to U.S. priorities.
Still, he emerged with much of what he wanted from allies on the flailing global economy. And he helped thwart a French-backed attempt to set up an international financial regulator.
And here is the assessment by the New York Times:
After more than 11 hours of meetings, Mr. Obama emerged Thursday from his first summit meeting with a handful of modest concrete commitments. He did not get much of what American officials had been hoping for, notably failing to persuade other countries to commit to more fiscal stimulus spending.
Oh, yes; they're clearly singing from the same hymnal.
So what exactly does AP see as emerging with "much of what he wanted from allies on the flailing global economy?" Oh, that's as clear as crystal:
Thursday's daylong gathering of the G-20 nations pledged $1.1 trillion in loans and guarantees to struggling countries, agreed to crack down on tax havens, large hedge funds and other risky financial products, rejected protectionism that hampers foreign trade and committed to upgrading an existing financial forum to flag problems early in the global financial system. Those were all elements Obama was seeking.
And, as he hoped, the leaders also rejected a push by French and German politicians for a global financial super-regulator, a proposal that had been expected to go down in defeat. The emphasis, instead, was on cooperation among nations to each choose it own way to enact "a stronger, more globally consistent, supervisory and regulatory framework...."
Still, the leaders, many wary of piling up debt, did not sign off on large new stimulus packages for their own countries. Obama's administration had initially pushed for such a commitment, but backed off in recent days as European opposition solidified.
So Barack H. Obama elicited a few trivial, generalized noises from the other members about markets and trade; he managed to "thwart" a French demand for one-world government (at least on financial issues) that everybody knew going in was "expected to go down in defeat" anyway... and he bowed to the rest of the wealthy nations on a world-wide stimulus package, dropping it the moment it met the slightest resistance. Or skepticism.
Obama's "agreement" comprised caving to Europe; there will be no such global stimulus, as the One had long insisted was vital to preventing complete economic meltdown.
Mind, I'm very glad he caved; it's a craven admission by the president that his earlier sepulchral warnings and nigh-biblical denunciations were just so much hot air (no offence to Captain Ed, et al)... and the confession that, in the end, doing nothing is preferable to doing Obamunism -- even to the Euroleft! Still, it's always easy to come to agreement when One is willing to jettison all of One's demands; it rarely takes much diplomatic genius to persuade people to accept their own position instead of yours.
Oh, wait; there was one other signal triumph by the Childe President: According to AP, Obama somehow got the developed nations to "agree to crack down on tax havens."
Bully! So no longer will China allow companies to incorporate in Macao or Hong Kong and thereby skate on paying their "fair share" of taxes. But how did he do it?
Sayeth the Times, the big disagreement was between President Nicolas Sarkozy of France -- who wanted the nations to commit to a "name and shame" policy anent tax havens -- and President Hu Jintao of Red China, who did not want any such naming and/or shaming of the two biggest tax havens in Asia, to wit, those very same Chinese provinces of Macao and Hong Kong.
Here is how it all played out:
Mr. Sarkozy wanted the big communiqué produced by the Group of 20 to endorse naming and shaming global tax havens, maybe even including Hong Kong and Macao, which are under China’s sovereignty. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Hu was having none of it. He appeared angry that Mr. Sarkozy was effectively accusing China of lax regulation, and that the French leader was asking China to endorse sanctions issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of wealthy nations that Beijing has yet to join.
According to accounts provided by White House officials and corroborated by European and other officials also in the room, Mr. Obama escorted both men, one at a time, to a corner of the room, to judge the dispute. How about replacing the word “recognize,” Mr. Obama suggested, with the word “note?”
The result: “The era of banking secrecy is over,” the final communiqué said. “We note that the O.E.C.D. has today published a list of countries assessed by the Global Forum against the international standard for exchange of tax information.” Hong Kong and Macao did not appear on the list.
And there we have it. In a stunning tour de force, Barack Obama has achieved the trifecta:
- He grabbed credit for "thwarting" a French plan that was already doomed before Obama set foot in Londontown;
- He obtained a broad agreement with the other nations by taking the signal policy he has claimed for months was the only thing which could save the world economy -- and consigning to the dustbin of non-history;
- And he resolved a conflict between Europe and China over the latter's tax dodgers by kow-towing to the Chinese, ensuring that Macao and Hong Kong can continue to operate without any fear of being outed, named, isolated, or shamed.
Well now! See how much can be accomplished if America really sets its mind on diplomacy, rather than the Cowboy-George, go-it-alone policy of dictating to the rest of the world? The Times sums up what our man in London has taught us about our proper place in the world:
Gone are the days, from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana, when Britain and the United States made the rules that others followed.
“If there’s just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that’s an easier negotiation,” Mr. Obama said during his hourlong meeting with the international news media, during which he called on reporters from India and China to ask him questions. “But that’s not the world we live in, and it shouldn’t be the world that we live in.”
Yes, he has certainly proved that those days (of two years ago) are gone. Forgive me if I don't caper and frolic in glee; I've been feeling a bit enervated for the last two-plus months.
March 23, 2009
Déjà Vu About Vujà Dé
I once crafted a neologism, vujà dé, bouncing off of the psychological term déjà vu -- the false feeling that something you are now experiencing happened before. My new word vujà dé means -- the false feeling that something that actually happened before is really brand, spanking new!
I woke up this morning -- well, this afternoon -- and read the following new financial-rescue plan from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner:
The Obama administration formally presented the latest step in its financial rescue package on Monday, an attempt to draw private investors into partnership with a new federal entity that could eventually buy up to $1 trillion in troubled assets that are weighing down banks and clogging up the credit markets....
Initially, a new Public-Private Investment Program will provide financing for $500 billion in purchasing power to buy those troubled or toxic assets -- which the government refers to more diplomatically as legacy assets -- with the potential of expanding later to as much as $1 trillion, according to a fact sheet issued by the Treasury Department.
At the core of the financing package will be $75 billion to $100 billion in capital from the existing financial bailout known as TARP, the Troubled Assets Relief Program, along with the share provided by private investors, which the government hopes will come to 5 percent or more. By leveraging this program through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve, huge amounts of bad loans can be acquired.
The private investors would be subsidized but could stand to lose their investments, while the taxpayers could share in prospective profits as the assets are eventually sold, the Treasury said. The administration said that it expected participation from pension funds, insurance companies and other long-term investors.
This gave me an intense feeling of déjà vu (not vujà dé); didn't... we... see something like this sometime before? Not very long ago? Something... something... it's all coming back to me now....
Oh, wait. This may be it:
As proposed by Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, the putative "$700 billion" "bailout" is actually neither: It will neither cost that much, nor will it bail out those financial institutions that wrote bad loans for people they knew were not likely to be able to pay them off.
As I understand it, here is the basic plan. Note that I'm drawing this from many sources, it's not yet written in stone -- or even in ink -- and I can't give you sources. If you want more information, you're on your own! But here is what I've been able to glean:
- The Treasury is given authority to spend up to $700 billion (outstanding at any particular moment) to buy MBSs, CDOs, and related instruments that have become "illiquid." These "toxic assets" will be purchased from their current owners at a huge discount... meaning the banks and other investors who purchased these pigs in pokes will, in fact, take a significant financial hit... they're not being "bailed out."
So the Treasury can buy up these toxic assets; what do they do with them?
- I believe the plan (which has not yet been formalized in legislation) is to create a Treasury owned and managed resolution corporation that will take ownership of these toxic assets. Analysts will then pore through each MBS, determining the status of all the underlying mortgages and making a report publicly available. This will make the opaque assets completely transparent. All the financial fundamentals will be visible, so analysts at private companies can examine all of the securities and decide how much they would pay for each.
- The resolution corporation will then auction off each of the the now-transparent MBSs, selling it to the highest bidder; that very action allows the market to reset the value of the security.
That is why I characterize this rescue operation as "pressing the reset button."
Once some corporation has examined the fundamentals of the security and offered the winning bid for it, the MBS becomes (by definition) liquid; it is no longer a toxic asset. Its value has been reset... and it can go up or down after that point based upon subsequent, well-understood events (defaults, repayments, prepayments) in the underlying mortgages and reevaluations based upon other, market-based criteria. In other words, it becomes just like a mutual fund.
The crisis was the inability to value MBSs; the solution is to reset their values. The beauty of the Paulson-Bernanke plan is that this resetting is done by the free market, not by government decree.
Finally, note this point:
- When the Treasury-owned resolution corporation auctions off the now-transparent MBSs, it can use that money as income. Since the asset is now much more valuable than before (having been scrubbed into transparency), if it becomes saleable, then it will certainly sell for more than the discounted rate at which the corporation bought it. In other words, the resolution corporation will make a profit on every security it resells -- so the program will not actually cost $700 billion... it may even end up completely in the black.
That's why the Paulson-Bernanke plan is neither a bailout -- the so-called beneficiaries in fact must pay dearly for their folly -- nor massively expensive, since it resells most of the securities it bought, and at a profit. It could still end up costing money, depending on how many of the MBSs end up still toxic even after the complete report (if too many of the underlying mortgages are in default, for example); but the losses won't be anywhere near $700 billion, and they may be less than the profits.
That was a Big Lizards post from September 22nd, 2008; the differences between the old plan, from almost exactly six months ago -- developed by George W. Bush's Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and then Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke -- and the new plan just proposed today by Barack H. Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and current Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke are... well, subtle:
- The Paulson-Bernanke plan wasn't quite as expensive as the Geither-Bernanke plan;
- It didn't have the patina of private investors coming along for the ride (heavily subsidized by the federal government and leveraged by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC) that we see in today's version;
- In the original version, the government would buy the toxic assets from their current owners at a discount; Treasury (or a Treasury-owned resolution corporation) would investigate and "valuate" them (determine the actual value of the underlying mortgages that make up each mortgage-backed security, MBS, and related debt instrument); and then private investors would buy the formerly toxic, now liquid assets from the government at an auction. In the new version, the government will partner with private and corporate investors, leveraged by the FDIC, to buy the assets; then they would be auctioned to other private and corporate investors.
I don't know about you all, but the distinction between the two plans doesn't leap off the screen for me. The Times doesn't report whether the feds will undertake the intermediate step of investigating and reporting the details of these toxic assets, but I think it must be so; I can't see how else could they be turned from illiquid to liquid, except by injection of what I called in a later post, "timely, honest, accurate, and believable information," or THABI.
It seems I wasn't suffering from déjà vu after all. As the great sage Bert the one-man band, sidewalk chalk artist, and chimney sweep said, "Can't put me finger on what lies in store, but I feel what's to happen all happened before."
The current plan even includes the reset-by-auction of toxic assets that I gleaned from the original plan; from the Times story above:
An attractive feature of the program is that it will allow the marketplace to establish values for the assets -- based, of course, on the auction mechanism that will signal what someone is willing to pay for them -- and thus might ease the virtual paralysis that has surrounded those assets up to now.
For a relatively small equity exposure, the private investor thus stands to make a considerable return if prices recover. The government will make a gain as well. In the worst case, the bulk of the risk would fall on the government. The presumption, of course, is that the auction will lead to realistic purchase prices.
So where does vujà dé (not déjà vu) enter into it? Simply this: I haven't seen a single elite-media commenter point out that this is the very same plan we started with... lo these many months ago; the same plan that was quickly derided by congressional Democrats, railed against by presidential-candidate Barack Obama, dismissed as nonsense by voters (and by Wall Street), and derailed in favor of direct investments in -- that is, nationalization of -- banks, savings and loans, insurance companies like AIG, and so forth.
Everyone writes and speaks as though this is a brilliant innovation -- imagine, buying up toxic assets and using public auctions to establish a "realistic purchase price" for them! Who but Geithner could possibly have thought of such a corker of a solution? He's finally demonstrated the mental superiority with which he was hailed when he was nominated (so brilliant, we simply had to overlook that little kerfuffle about evading income taxes when he worked at the International Monetary Fund).
I still have a few questions:
- How long will the elite media continue to heap scorn upon that fool, Henry Paulson, and his ludicrous plan to buy up toxic assets -- while lavishing praise upon that genius, Tim Geithner, for his fantabulous plan to buy up toxic assets?
- And what about the hundreds of billions (or is it over a trillion? I can't remember) already spent or pledged by the federal government to buy "equity interests" in hundreds of financial corporations? Do we perpetuate the mass nationalization program even as Treasury crows that the wonderful thing about the new rescue plan is that it privatizes the bailout?
- Does the Obama White House suffer from Multiple Ideology Syndrome?
Everything old is new again, the wheel has come full circle, and what a long, strange trip it's been!
March 19, 2009
Obama's State-Ownership Society
Back in the precambrian era -- in fall of 2008, I of course mean -- we warned in several posts that when the federal government takes an "equity interest" (ownership in whole or in significant part) in private companies, it creates a grave threat to the capitalist system:
- Democrats Channel Hugo Chavez in Rescue Demands
- While Washington Wilts, Soros Schemes
- Is It Adios to Capitalism - or Only Au Revoir?
When government buys a significant stake in private companies, it creates a terrible conflict of interest; decisions that should be made entirely on economic grounds -- attempting to maximize the long-term profit for the owners of the company, whether stockholders or private consortia -- are made instead by politicians pushing a particular political ideology, or else trying to benefit big campaign donors.
Corporate management is ultimately accountable to the owners (though owners can be derelict in their fiduciary duties), while politicians are accountable only to voters and donors, neither of which may have any particular concern about the financial viability of particular private companies in the government's stock portfolio.
This is how we explained it in the first post linked above:
The latter especially is a key element of Woodrow Wilson, Benito Mussolini style fascism; it invariably leads to the State, as the $700 billion gorilla on the board of directors, exerting overwhelming control over corporate decisions... which it will exercise on the basis of politics, not profits.
When people read "fascism," they immediately tend to envision concentration camps, jackboots, and Nazis goosestepping at mass rallies; but the real danger of fascism, especially liberal fascism (fascism with a smiley face, as depicted -- against author Jonah Goldberg's wishes -- on the cover of his book Liberal Fascism), is government control of corporations. The more control is handed over to politicians and bureaucrats who have no hand in actually producing the product (loans and securities, in this case), the more critical decisions will be made on irrelevant political considerations, often leading to financial disaster... and another bailout, leading to even more government control. Eventually, the State completely hijacks the corporation for political purposes... and we're well on our way to Hugo Chavez-land.
The threat posed by the government taking an equity interest in private companies can be minimized by making it a matter of law that the holdings are fully divested as soon as buyers can be found at market prices -- either the company buying back its own stock or private third parties taking it off government's hands; in the third Big Lizards post linked up top, "Is It Adios to Capitalism - or Only Au Revoir?", we discussed this possibility:
With the long-expected decision today by President George W. Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke that Treasury will spend $250 billion of the $700 billion buying equity stakes in nine top banks, thus injecting "liquidity" directly into the industry, we stand at a crossroads. The question is whether this is "goodbye" to Capitalism or just "see you soon"... whether this is a permanent break from free markets or just a necessary but temporary bank holiday....
The direct injection of liquidity by Treasury buying equity is also outside the market, because that money is extracted from people by force, in the form of taxes. But at the core, even this direct investment is an attempt to buy time to complete the "transparentizing" (horrible neologism, I know) of the toxic assets -- the recreation of the information that was lost by multiple unregulated securitizations of massive collections of mortgages.
Once the [timely, honest, accurate, and believable information] has been restored to the mortgage-backed securities and other instruments, the market can reboot itself...
With the restoration of the missing THABI information, the market can reboot, and the catastrophe will be averted. So long as partial-nationalization of the banking industry lasts only long enough to retransparentize the toxic assets, thus allowing the market to begin functioning again, it will be an acceptable, even necessary intervention.
Alas, there is nothing in the Obama administration's bailout that implies they will, in fact, consider this a temporary expedient; from everything I've read, they see it as a permanent "reform."
There are two classic anti-capitalist examples of divesting funds for political reasons; together, they point out the very real danger when government becomes a part owner of the private sector through enforced or distressed nationalization (we have seen both in the present crisis):
- When universities, big corporations, and of course government programs in the 1970s dumped all their investments in companies based in South Africa or doing business in South Africa, even if they were based elsewhere, to protest Apartheid; this was in response to purely political pressure from black activist groups here in the United States.
- And when the usual suspects more recently dumped all investment in Israel, Israeli companies, or companies that did not ritually denounce Israel, in response to purely political pressure from antisemitic, anti-Israel, and generally pro-Palestinian and Islamist activist groups.
Both are examples of government trying to use equity ownership to bully the private sector into purely political actions that have nothing whatsoever to do with the companies in question.
When the government is a significant investor in a company, it cannot help running those companies; government funds never come "string free." Worse, the State runs those companies not to make profits, but to score political points.
In fact, that is exactly what is happening in the case of American International Group (AIG): We have such a huge investment in that company now, $80 billion, that how much they pay employees in retention "bonuses" (inducements to continue working for AIG, rather than jumping ship to some less shaky company) has become a political football.
In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives has just voted overwhelmingly, 328 to 93, to enact a confiscatory tax on AIG employees -- almost by name! -- if AIG fulfills its contractual obligations by paying the employees who stayed on for the work they did (reducing AIG's liability from $2.7 trillion to $1.6 trillion):
Spurred on by a tidal wave of public anger over bonuses paid to executives of the foundering American International Group, the House voted 328 to 93 on Thursday to get back most of the money by levying a 90 percent tax on it....
But there was no doubt after the House vote that the lawmakers were keenly aware of their constituents’ anger, which was focused on A.I.G., although the House measure would apply to executives of any company getting more than $5 billion in federal bailout money.
Hours after the vote, the office of Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York attorney general, said A.I.G. had turned over the names of employees who received bonuses, in response to a subpoena.
Before releasing the list, the attorney general’s office plans to review it and assess whether individuals on it might have reason to fear for their safety.
“We are aware of the security concerns of A.I.G. employees, and we will be sensitive to those issues by doing a risk assessment before releasing any individual’s name,” Mr. Cuomo’s office said in a statement.
Well that's mighty decent of them.
So the bill was openly and unabashedly driven by constituent anger -- anger that cannot possibly be based upon a sober and detailed consideration of whether those particular employees deserved those particular bonuses; in fact, the most likely culprit in ginning up such rage and fury is Congress itself, along with the president, who have been demonizing AIG and its employees for months now. It happened again in the debate on this very bill:
“The people have said ‘no,’ ” Representative Earl Pomeroy, Democrat of North Dakota, shouted on the House floor. “In fact, they said ‘hell no, and give us our money back.’ ”
“Have the recipients of these checks no shame at all?” Mr. Pomeroy continued. Summing up his personal view of the so-far anonymous A.I.G. executives, he said: “You are disgraced professional losers. And by the way, give us our money back.”
Great leaping horny toads. I had to wipe spittle-spray off my face after just reading it! "Disgraced professional losers?" Is Earl "Elmer Gantry" Pomeroy (D-ND, 85%) under the impression that these bonuses are going to the actual folks in the credit default swap area, who are the ones who brought AIG down? Or is Pomeroy just blindly striking out against anyone who makes more money than he?
And while we're on the subject, I think there is not a single Democrat in Congress to whom I could not say, “You are disgraced professional losers; and by the way, give us our money back.” And with a damn sight more justification, Earl.
Contrariwise, John Hinderaker -- my favorite blogger on my favorite blogsite, Power Line -- makes a compelling case that the bonuses were in fact perfectly proper:
- They were retention bonuses, not performance bonuses.
- They were paid, not to the employees responsible for the collapse, but to other employees who have worked hard for months after the collapse to rescue AIG... rather than jumping ship with their expert knowledge of AIG's exact portfolio problems, taking jobs with other companies that had better futures.
- As John writes, "[the employees] satisfied the terms of the bonus by wrapping up a portfolio for which they were responsible and/or staying on the job until now. As a result of the efforts of this group, AIG's financial products exposure is down from $2.7 trillion to $1.6 trillion.
- They stayed at AIG precisely because of those bonuses; but now the government, having eaten the fruit of that labor as an equity holder, wants those bonuses to go, not to the people who earned it, but to the government itself!
But note how carefully the Times dances around the question of who exactly is getting the bonuses, and what those people's roles were in the collapse:
The $165 million in bonuses has spawned rage in part because it was paid to executives in the very unit of A.I.G. that arguably turned a stable, prosperous insurance company into a dice-rolling financial firm in search of quick profits.
But there must have been hundreds of employees working in the financial products division! Does the Times think that every employee, from vice president down to secretary, was personally responsible for the foolish decisions that nearly killed AIG? Do liberals fantasize even that every executive in that division was responsible?
If new (post-collapse) AIG CEO Edward Liddy is telling the truth, and so far no current or former employee has come forth to contradict him, then the bonuses are going to people who were not responsible for the collapse, but are responsible for helping AIG deal with the collapse after the fact.
These are the people that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA, 100%) calls corrupt:
Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House Financial Services Committee and has been among A.I.G.’s fiercest critics, spoke contemptuously of the bonus recipients as people “who had to be bribed not to abandon the company” they had nearly ruined.
Wouldn't that same language, "bribed not to abandon the company," apply to every employee who ever demanded a raise?
It's another example of liberals' inability to deal with complexity; for all their protestations of having more subtle minds, they are really quite simplistic: The poor (and the rich who "represent" them) are always good; the productive core are always bad; and every moral question is the same shade of neutral gray.
John makes the same point as we anent this ridiculous 90% "tax," which is actually a deliberate attempt at confiscation, as the president made clear yesterday in Orange County. John writes:
The legislation introduced by the Democrats today to tax these bonuses (and possibly a few others, although it isn't clear that any others have been or will be paid that are covered by the statute) at a 90 percent rate is an outrage. It is, in my legal opinion, obviously unconstitutional. It is evidently intended to calm the current political firestorm and not to achieve any real objective.
John refers to the legislation as "introduced by the Democrats;" while that's technically true, it's only a half-truth: Democrats may have proposed it, but the House GOP split almost 50-50 on what Hinderaker (a lawyer) and I (a "sea-lawyer") see as an obvious bill of attainder.
In fact, the AP version of the Times article demonstrates Republican cowardice in the House: 87 Republicans voted against the "tax"; but 85 Republicans voted with the Democrats, blaming those retained employees for all of our woes... most switching at the last minute:
Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the bill was "a political circus" diverting attention from why the administration hadn't done more to block the bonuses before they were paid.
However, although a number of Republicans cast "no" votes against the measure at first, there was a heavy GOP migration to the "yes" side in the closing moments.
This is out and out pandering by the GOP... and it's vile. If we cannot even count on the House Republicans to stand up to liberal demagoguery, to stand up for Capitalism, then what is the point?
It's time for Minority Leader Boehner (R-OH, 100%) to fish or get off the pot: Does he lead a party that is distinct from the liberal Democratic majority, that is center-right, and that still believes in Capitalism, the rule of law, and conservative principles of governance? Has he learned the lessons of 2006 and 2008? Or does Boehner believe that the GOP's best shot at returning to power is to morph into a quieter, gentler version of the Democratic Party, pushing a slightly more restrained version of Obamunism?
I'd really like to know the answer to that conundrum before the next election.
March 10, 2009
Another One Bites the Dust
And now, the Louse of Saud, Chas W. Freeman, has withdrawn himself from consideration as Chairman of the National Intelligence Committee.
...Does this administration now hold a national record for most number of cabinet and sub-cabinet appointees forced out of consideration in the shortest period of time?
February 27, 2009
Samantha Power, Chas Freeman, and Now - Hillary?
First, Samantha Power -- the anti-Israel, antisemitic Palestinian supporter and former advisor to Barack H. Obama during his campaign (until she was exiled for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster") -- is resurrected from the political graveyard to serve the administration of Barack H. Obama as "senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council."
Then anti-Israel, antisemitic sock puppet of the House of Saud (and apologist for Palestinian terrorism and the Tiananmen Square massacre), Charles "Chas" Freeman, is tapped to be the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which takes the lead in crafting the National Intelligence Estimates that are presented directly to the President of the United States.
And now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, previously thought to be a supporter of Israel, is pressuring Israel to allow nearly $1 billion of "humanitarian aid" to flow to Hamas for Gaza "reconstruction."
I wonder what they'll do with their billion bucks? They might:
- Feed the starving refugees in Gaza;
- Eliminate the putative "refugee camps" and settle the residents in permanent locations throughout the PA;
- Open schools to teach literacy to girls;
- Construct courts of genuine justice that would prosecute parents for talking their children into being suicide bombers and fathers for murdering their daughters for being seen talking to a boy;
- Engage the Arab world to help the Palestinian economy enter the 21st century;
- Buy rockets, missiles, suicide belts, and explosively formed projectiles and use them to slaughter innocent Jewish children, women, and old men.
I wonder which choice they will pick?
Clinton has relayed messages to Israel about the aid issue in the past week, and senior aides have made it clear the question would be central to her visit to Israel on Tuesday. [I suppose that means the question of continual Hamas rocket fire into Israel will be peripheral -- if she raises it at all.]
Influential Senator John Kerry last week witnessed first-hand the difficulties involved in delivering key supplies to Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power in June 2007, and is struggling to recover from Israel's devastating 22-day war. [Recovering from Israel's war? Great leaping horny toads.]
So why are the Israelis being so hard hearted and mean spirited?
Israel insists it will not reopen its crossing points into Gaza until Hamas releases Gilad Shalit, a soldier captured by Palestinian militants in a deadly cross-border raid from Gaza in June 2006.
How petty. What is the value of a single Jew, when weighed against all those Palestinian victims of genocidal Israeli tyranny? Just ask Chas Freeman.
But we needn't worry; this is just another example of "Jewish leaders overreact[ing]," as Atlantic Monthly columnist Jeffrey Goldberg assures us.
February 6, 2009
More Obama Drama As Zinni Gets Spinnied
The Mack Sennett presidency strikes again, this time ensnaring Anthony Zinni, the media's favorite general -- at least while he was bashing the Iraq war (he wasn't so popular when he came out in support of the counterinsurgency strategy of President George W. Bush, Gen. David Petraeus, and the AEI).
After Gen. Jim Jones was tapped to be President Barack H. Obama's National Security Advisor, he called Zinni and asked if he would be willing to take Ryan Crocker's place as ambassador to Iraq. Zinni jumped at the offer, and Jones started the eight-ball rolling. The most competent presidency in the history of the United States swung ponderously into action:
About two weeks later, General Zinni said, General Jones called back with a formal offer for the Baghdad job, and an appointment with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Jan. 26.
General Zinni said he met for more than an hour with Mrs. Clinton, discussing a wide range of Iraq issues with her; James B. Steinberg, one of her two appointed deputy secretaries; and William J. Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs.
"She thanked me for taking this, and we went over what needed to be done," General Zinni said. "She turned to Steinberg and Burns and said: 'Let’s get the paperwork moving. We’ve got to move on this.'"
The next day, General Zinni said, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called to thank him for taking the job.
But that was the last word on Iraq that General Zinni said he heard from the administration.
William Burns started ducking Zinni's calls; when they did talk, Zinni reports Burns was "increasingly vague" (!) about the appointment. Finally, Zinni heard from Gen. Jones, who had started the whole process; Jones told Zinni that Obama had decide to pick Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, instead of Zinni... but evidently, like little kids afraid to report the vase they broke playing ball in the house, nobody wanted to tell Zinni.
(Christopher Hill is best known for his lengthy and apparently fruitless negotiations with North Korea, which so preoccupied George W. Bush's second term... that whole farce, when the DPRK claimed it had shut down its breeder reactor at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center -- and then a year later, the North Koreans threatened to reactivate it if they didn't get more fuel and money from the U.S.)
So Zinni is out, Hill is in, and the general to this day has no idea what happened, why he was left spinning like a character from Scanners.
But at least Obama isn't weighed down by all that old-style thinking -- like managerial experience, proper planning, inter-office communication, and common courtesy -- that made the Bush administration the object of scorn and ridicule to the new elites. Now is not the time for thinking ahead or making sure the right hand knows what the left hand is washing. Now is the time for action, action, action!
So what was Zinni's reaction?
"As a sorry offer to placate me, they offered ambassador to Saudi," he said in a separate e-mail message, referring to Saudi Arabia. "I told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine."
Sounds like sound advice. Like Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH, 72%), Gen. Anthony Zinni got his first chance for second thoughts about joining Team Obama.
February 4, 2009
The Cookie Monster
President Barack H. Obama wants to be "different" from George W. Bush. Obama is the lightbringer, the agent of change, the avatar of hope. He is post-partisan, and he demands that the entire "old way" of Washington D.C. be defenstrated in favor of his new way.
And he is indeed "reaching out" to Republicans:
Can the shrill tone of Washington be changed through a presidential act of contrition? Or, perhaps, an enticing platter of oatmeal raisin cookies?
This week, President Obama has already served up both at the White House.
To one set of visitors, a gathering of Democratic and Republican members of Congress whom he invited to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, he carried around the freshly baked cookies as he mingled with his guests. To another set of visitors, the five broadcast and cable television anchors he invited to the Oval Office on Tuesday, he extended a blunt mea culpa and said he took responsibility for nominating aides with tax troubles.
By golly, that'll bring those recalcitrant Republican nay-sayers around!
At the same time, he is convinced that if we just sit down, without preconditions, and talk to the mullahs of Iran and to Mahmoud Achmadinejad, we can sort out our pesky misunderstandings and come to a concensus on how to fix all the problems of the Middle East (such as the existence of Israel). Group hug!
(In a geyser of irony that cannot have escaped even the One Himself, the Iranians rebuffed Obama's call with the blunt demands that Iran will only come to the table if the American president (a) gets on his knees, confesses America's criminality and apostasy, and apologizes for all the cruel and unjust attacks, verbal and military, we've made on Iran since 1979, and (b) that we defer to Iran -- that is, take orders from the Ayatollah -- when constructing our future Middle-East policy. The mountain may be willing to come immediately to Mohammed, but Mohammed insists upon some pretty hefty preconditions to meet the mountain halfway!)
What links these two policies? The oatmeal cookies are the perfect emblem: President Obama offers symbolic post-partisanship only in style, never in substance. He invites Republicans to his pad to watch the Superbowl; but he doesn't invite them into the process of crafting the misleadingly labeled "stimulus" package. No, that minor trillion-dollar boondoggle will be written entirely by the Democrats, of the Democrats, and for the Democrats.
And it's stuffed to the gunwales with weird spending -- billions to ACORN! taxpayer-funded foreign abortions! hundreds of millions for the SEIU, the UAW, and Hollywood's Democratic donors! -- that has nothing to do with helping the economy, the housing market, the credit market, or ordinary Americans... but everything to do with funneling gigabucks to reliable liberal Democratic constituencies which will perpetuate Democratic power for the next two generations.
This is "post-partisanship," Obama style:
President Obama warned Wednesday that failure to act immediately on his economic aid plan "will turn crisis into a catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession."
"Millions more jobs will be lost. More businesses will be shuttered. More dreams will be deferred," Obama said, as Senate debate continued on amendments to the stimulus package.
And so he hopes to buffalo the GOP into buying this pork in a poke, so that when it fails (as it inevitably will, given what's in it), he can spread the blame around: Don't stop, don't think, don't debate, don't amend, don't caucus, don't consult, don't talk to your constituents, don't read the bill, don't ask questions... just do something! We don't need talk -- we need action, action, action!
But please -- have a cookie.
February 2, 2009
Nanny's in Your Kitchen: the Spice Wars Begin
"Republican" Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City -- he was a Democrat until he decided the Democratic ticket was too crowded for his mayoral run, so he switched to have the nomination to himself -- now presides over a staggering budget deficit:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially announced Friday the city's $4 billion budget gap and unveiled a new budget filled with painful cutbacks that will impact every New Yorker.
Wall Street got sick and now New York City residents have to take their medicine, and Bloomberg's budget solution will probably be hard for most of us to swallow. New taxes, a smaller workforce, and reduced city services -- all the ingredients of Friday's "Doomsday" budget plan.
"This is a very tough time for our city and nation," Bloomberg said. "We have a $4 billion budget gap. It is serious, I think it is manageable."
Facing this Bloomsday budget plan, Mr. Mayor has thought and thought and thought and thought... and all that ratiocination has done to him what too much reading of chivalric fiction did to Alonso Quixano, about whom Cervantes wrote in the Quixote:
In short, he became so absorbed in his books that he spent his nights from sunset to sunrise, and his days from dawn to dark, poring over them; and what with little sleep and much reading his brains got so dry that he lost his wits. His fancy grew full of what he used to read about in his books, enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, wooings, loves, agonies, and all sorts of impossible nonsense; and it so possessed his mind that the whole fabric of invention and fancy he read of was true, that to him no history in the world had more reality in it.
And a few days ago, Michael, Princeps of Novus York, had a divine revelation: The specific enchantment that would serve to rescue his beloved principality from the economic fiery furnace is "sal salis deleda est!" Now we know how he'll "manage" the $4 billion deficit; sic semper tyrannis.
Clearly, the rabble are simply too ignorant to know how much salt they're eating. They cannot be trusted to make such urgent decisions, which affect the principality as a whole, all by themselves, the selfish villains.
So he has decided to do something about it: He is gearing up to order food manufacturers to "voluntarily" cut the amount of salt in the food they prepare by 50%; and if they don't voluntarily comply, the next step will be to ban any dissenters from selling their food products in New York City.
As New York is America's largest urban market, and it's too expensive to have two different versions of every product -- one for New York, the other for Everywhere Else -- the upshot will be that manufacturers will be forced to undersalt their food across the entire United States. Even the Pace Picante Sauce sold in Amarillo and Taos will have to conform to the tastes of "New York City!"
"Salt, when it's high in the diet, increases the blood pressure and high blood pressure is a major factor for heart disease and stroke," said Dr. Sonia Angell of NYC's Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program.
This is just Mayor Bloomberg's latest health initiative, following on the heels of a smoking ban, a ban on trans fats and forcing restaurants to post the calorie contents.
But many New Yorkers peppered the mayor with boos for his latest idea.
The inaptly named Dr. Sonia Angell might want to reinterview her cherubim sources; evidence that a high salt intake causes medical problems in otherwise healthy people is scant. Instead, most studies show only that people who already have problems -- cardio-vascular, exercise-induced asthma, stomach problems -- can significantly benefit from decreasing their salt intake. And in any event, do we really want a government that tells us what amount of an ordinary, even necessary mineral we are allowed to eat? "Deadly NaCl" has become the new millennium's "poisonous CO2".
Anyone who wants to reduce salt in his diet has a plethora of options available; there are health-food stores in nearly every reasonably large city, and probably hundreds in America's largest city. These stores carry many products that are low-sodium or even sodium-free. You can also simply make food from fresh, non-processed ingredients, thereby controlling how much salt your dishes contain.
With a city teetering on the edge of financial ruin, should Mr. Mayor be frittering away his energy and his budget forcing everyone to conform to an NYC "health Nazi" committee? (Adolf Hitler was a fanatic vegetarian and anti-smoking zealot, making Hitler the world's first "health Nazi.") It's hard not to suspect that Bloomberg's real objection to salt is not that it damages some people's health but that it makes food taste good, when we should be tightening our belts. (The mayor's political allies in the Center for Science in the Public Interest are even more overt, verging on brazen, in their war on flavor.)
This knee-jerk wildly inapropos response proves (if that were still needed) that Michael Bloomberg is still a liberal Democrat at core, no matter what letter he puts after his name now. A liberal is never more than two hysterias away from reverting to liberal fascism, in which every problem is a social problem -- and every social problem requires a collectivist, totalitarian solution. If some people's poor health is exacerbated by excess salt, then nobody should be allowed to eat too much salt... where "too much" is of course coterminous with "more than Mayor Bloomberg likes."
Liberals simply become impatient when one raises the liberty issue; in their hearts, no matter the rhetoric they espouse or claim to accept, right back to the days of the Progressive Party and the Fabian Society, they have always believed that liberty is overrated... that there are only two kinds of men: those who are meant to drive -- the "vanguard," or as Thomas Sowell dubbed them, the "Anointed" who have "the Vision" -- and those who are fit only to be driven (the lumpenproletariat).
The line of totalitarian succession stretches unbroken from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson to Jimmy "the Sweater" Carter -- to the Pelosi, Reid, Obama axis today, thence to all the little Obamoids orbiting the One like teeny, tiny moons. This includes Mr. Mayor of the cosmic center, New York City -- Bloomberg, rationer of prandial pleasure and arbiter of the new American asceticism... We the People sacrifice all so that They the Anointed may feast, swill, chain-smoke, and wallow in hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars (tax-free for cabinet appointees!) showered upon them because they are who they are.
Meet the new nanny; same as the old nanny. (Pass the salt, please.)
January 22, 2009
"Sentence First - Verdict Afterwards"
Curiouser and curiouser, to continue the Alice references; President Barack H. Obama has just signed three executive orders ordering the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility closed within a year, along with all other "secret overseas prisons" run by the CIA, and banning the use of harsh or undisclosed interrogation techniques. And then, after signing these executive orders, he subsequently "ordered a cabinet-level review" of whether any of this is even possible:
But even as he reversed the most disputed counterterrorism policies of the Bush years, Mr. Obama postponed for at least six months difficult decisions on the details. He ordered a cabinet-level review of the most challenging questions his administration faces -- what to do with dangerous prisoners who cannot be tried in American courts; whether some interrogation methods should remain secret to keep Al Qaeda from training to resist them; and how the United States can make sure prisoners transferred to other countries will not be tortured.
Fiddle-faddle; don't bother the president with such engineering details! I'm sure if we just put on our thinking caps, we'll come up with the easy, obvious solution that somehow escaped everyone's notice all these years.
Fortunately, Obama is in deep consultation with important leaders of the military and intelligence communities and following their unbiased advice:
As Mr. Obama signed three orders in a White House ceremony, 16 retired generals and admirals who have fought for months for a ban on coercive interrogations stood behind him and applauded. The group, organized to lobby the Obama transition team by the group Human Rights First, did not include any career C.I.A. officers or retirees. [Why invite the opposition to confuse matters by participating in the discussion?]
“We intend to win this fight,” Mr. Obama said, “We are going to win it on our own terms.”
So how, exactly, are we to induce agents of al-Qaeda, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to tell us what they know even if they really don't want to? That much, at least, the president has already figured out:
“We believe we can abide by a rule that says, we don’t torture, but we can effectively obtain the intelligence we need,” Mr. Obama said.
¡Si, su puede!
His cadre of retired flag-rank officers have even more detailed plans of just how to encourage, cajole, and jolly terrorist detainees into spilling their guts without in any way inconveniencing them (which would be unconstitutional):
John D. Hutson, a retired admiral and law school dean, was at the signing ceremony “He really gets it,” Mr. Hutson said of Mr. Obama in an interview a few minutes after the ceremony. “He acknowledged that this isn’t easy. But he is absolutely dedicated to getting us back on track as a nation. This is the right thing to do morally, diplomatically, militarily and Constitutionally. But it also makes us safer.”
Who can argue with that?
Republicans feebly protested that Obama is being unrealistic, that he has no plan, that he simply announced the decision and will leave it to others to find a way to make bricks without straw. Bitter cynics... don't they understand this is a new era of hope and change?
Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the decision to close Guantánamo by a year from now “places hope ahead of reality -- it sets an objective without a plan to get there.”
He said that in briefings for Congress on Wednesday, administration officials “could not answer questions as to what they will do with any new jihadists or enemy combatants that we capture.”
“What are we to do with these people, bring them to the very place they hoped to attack: The United States? What do we do with confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow terrorist conspirators, offer them jail cells in American communities?”
I was always skeptical of Paul Mirengoff's belief that Obama doesn't really mean what he proclaims, that we should eschew all of George W. Bush's extraordinarily successful policies to fight terrorism in an insane rush back to the failed policy of Bill Clinton to treat terrorism as just another civilian crime. And I'm still not convinced that Obama is an utter fool: Perhaps in the end, he'll be overtaken by events and be forced to adopt Bush over Clinton. But the madness of these executive orders shakes my normal optimism.
Will it take another 9/11 to awaken the Somnambulant One? Will the Student Prince come to his senses -- returning to the combination of free-market Capitalism and gritty, determined national defense that has served us so spectacularly for so long -- before another few thousand Americans are slaughtered by an enemy who isn't cowed by thirty days detention and doesn't seek plea bargains?
Or will even that be enough? Alas, I suspect that rather than drive us back towards Bush's measured but relentless prosecution of the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, such an attack would so shock the American people that they would demand we use any means necessary to protect our country.
Desperation and impatience gives statist Democrats a blank check to seize control of everything everywhere -- "for the duration" -- so as to allow Barack Obama to rule by decree, as previous presidents did during national crises, both real (the Civil War, World War II) and imaginary (the "100% Americanism" of the Woodrow Wilson administration). This is precisely the kind of circumstances that leads to what Jonah Goldberg calls liberal fascism, or (he hates this shorthand term) fascism with a smiley face.
The details of Obama's first executive orders do nothing to alleviate nervousness; it is now clear that those prisoners currently held in Gitmo will be moved to facilities in the United States itself:
The order calls for a cabinet-level panel to grapple with issues including where in the United States prisoners might be moved and what courts they could be tried in....
Mr. Obama had suggested in the campaign that, in place of military commissions, he would prefer prosecutions in federal courts or, perhaps, in the existing military justice system, which provides legal guarantees similar to those of American civilian courts.
Trying the detainees as defendants in the United States -- whether in civilian courts or military courts-martial -- ensures that the federal judiciary will have its full jurisdiction, as it would of any prisoner held for any civil offense. I believe that ultimately, the courts will demand nothing less than full "constitutional rights" for all terrorist detainees captured on the battlefield -- including Miranda warnings and the requirement that all evidence must be collected pursuant to a search warrant issued by a judge or magistrate... even during combat.
Any evidence that isn't collected with the same measured legal rigor that police departments across the nation are required to use will almost certainly be suppressed under the exclusionary rule. Terrorists will have the right to demand reams of top-secret, code-word classified intelligence at their trials; and when the CIA or DoD refuses to release that information to terrorists (and to their attorneys, supplied by al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, or Iran), federal judges will decide they have "no choice" but to set the accused free... every time.
I don't know how we recover from such a catastrophic error in judgment, even if later President Obama eventually realizes what he's done: Once we allow ordinary federal courts jurisdiction in such cases, the Supreme Court will never allow us to take it away again; the camel's foot is already in the door. We shall become the first nation in history -- but alas, probably not the last -- to extend full constitutional rights and privileges to prisoners captured during wartime, even to unlawful enemy combatants.
But at least, thank goodness, liberal "human rights" organizations and the world's elite news media will cheer us. Our precious national reputation will no longer be in "tatters." And once again, America will be a nation of "ideals."
Until the next attack, after which the pendulum will swing hard in the other direction; and we shall become a liberal-fascist state again, as we did under Franklin Roosevelt and under Woodrow Wilson before him.
January 21, 2009
Obama's Inarguable Address - Interlude
By the way, here's something even more interesting than Coldplay ripping off Joe Satriani (tip of the hat to Michael Medved)...
Anybody remember this unforgettable line from Barack H. Obama's inaggravating address?
Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
Of course, Fred Astaire's character really was supposed to be able to dance; he fakes being a novice, falling down repeatedly, so he can trick Ginger Rogers into "teaching" him (his interest is purely amorous). Two minutes later, he saves her job by pretending that she has managed, in a single lesson, to turn him into -- well, into Fred Astaire! (Pause the video the moment it starts, let it load fully, then slide forward to about 2:36 to see how the scene above continues.)
I certainly don't begrudge the student prince in old Washingberg cribbing from the best -- Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields; though I strongly suspect Obama or his speechwriters heard the Natalie Cole version instead: I just can't picture that crowd of po-mo lefties actually watching Fred Astaire movies from the 1930s.
But couldn't they at least have given attribution?
January 20, 2009
Obama's Inaugural Address: 1313 S Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92802
Part I: Tuesday our prince will come
I'm afraid I overslept and missed the president's inaugural address. Sorry. But I did bite the medicine and read the whole thing.
I admit I was reading with an eye towards fisking it; but I realized I was too late, for President Barack H. Obama beat me to it. But as I read through his pot of message (toothpicks holding my eyes open, like a cartoon character desperately trying to keep awake), I noticed a recurring theme, a leitmotif in some fantasia that continued bringing me related imagery. Let's run through a few excerpts and see if our gentle readers have the same reaction.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
This invocation is so stirring, so specific and direct, that it surely moves us to action, reminding one inexorably of those great moments with Mr. Lincoln that we all imbibed as little children in our little government schools. I can almost hear the second movement of Rossini's overture to William Tell -- the storm-tossed grain, the shutters of the farmhouse flapping in the gale -- followed by the grand, heroic theme of the fourth movement (the "Lone Ranger" part). The heart leaps!
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.
We mustn't live like Peter Pan and his lost boys in a Never-Never Land of political argument; rather we must finally grow up, just as Wendy, John, and Michael Darling finally did, to the post-racial, post-partisan, post-ideological, post-national, post-modern world of Barack Obama.
The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
Let John Smith and Pocahontas marry and gain their full measure of happiness; it will bring all peoples of the world together, uniting us; for indeed, though the mountains divide, and the oceans are wide, it's a small small world.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less [like Mittens the cat in last year's "Bolt"]. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted [like Ichabod Crane"] -- for those who prefer leisure over work [like those blubberballs in space that we saw in WALL-E], or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame [à la Captain Jack Sparrow]. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated ["what a boon, what a do-er, what a dream comer-truer was he, Daniel Boone!"] but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom [all those "little people" who dig for gems of greatness amid the lightless mines of obscurity].
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life [Obama speaks of the Pilgrims, including John Smith, op.cit.].
For us, they toiled in sweatshops [like those cute ants in "a Bug's Life"] and settled the West [as did Joe Crane and Andy Burnett]; endured the lash of the whip [just like Quasimodo!] and plowed the hard earth [as Mulan's father did, before he was drafted].
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn [Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier, lays down his life at the Alamo].
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction [or species... "It's the Circle of Life, and it moves us all."]
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.
"Through despair and hope, through faith and love..."
Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed.
"Till we find our place, on the path unwinding..."
Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
"In the Circle, the Circle of Life!"
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. [We could really use an extra big pinch of pixie dust right about now.] We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. [All right, maybe a handful of the stuff.] We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. [Double handful; maybe a bucket.] We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. [Tinkerbell scowls, scrounging through pocket after pocket for the last few grains.] And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do. [Tink! Come on everybody, quick -- clap your hands! Better yet, find a pixie-sized defibrillator; I think poor Tink has suffered a myocardial infarction from an overdose of magical demands.]
That's it for now, Obamateers; tune in tomorrow for the conclusion.
Bee-Ay-Are... Are you ready for change you can believe in?
Ay-See-Kay... ¿Qué? ¡Si, se puede!
November 20, 2008
I Scream Napolitano
I start reading through the AP newswire, and the first thing I see is that Barack H. Obama's "top contender" for Secretary of Homeland Security is -- Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano?
Janet Napolitano cabinet post within grasp
Has the President-Erect gone barking mad? What in the world remotely qualifies her to assume the second most important cabinet position in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis? Oh, wait; perhaps it's somewhere on this list:
- Anita Hill's attorney during the Clarence Thomas lynching;
- Former U.S. Attorney -- in Arizona;
- Former Attorney General of Arizona;
- First female governor elected to follow another female governor;
- First female governor to be re-elected;
- Would be first female Secretary of Homeland Security;
- Would be first sexually ambiguous Secretary of Homeland Security;
- Endorsed Barack Obama for president during the primaries and joined his transition team.
- Strongly opposes security fence along U.S.-Mexico border;
For some reason, one of these career highlights jumps out at me as likely the most important qualification of all. Can anyone quess which? I am shocked, but not surprised, to discover that Obama considers the Secretary of Homeland Security to be a sinecure to be bestowed upon an early supporter, like ambassador to Luxembourg.
Looking back, there were two previously confirmed Secretaries of Homeland Security and one acting secretary:
- Tom Ridge, first Secretary 2003-2005: Combat veteran of Vietnam and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security from 2001–2003.
- James Loy, acting Secretary 2005: Admiral in the United States Coast Guard; 21st Commandant of the Coast Guard; Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration; Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
- Michael Chertoff, Secretary 2005-2009 (est): Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department; led the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui; crafted much of the "legal war" against al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist organizations; authored much of the USA-PATRIOT Act of 2001.
To this list, perhaps we shall shortly add...
- Janet Napolitano, Secretary 2009-?: Endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, soon to be her fellow cabinet secretary.
Add this one to the list of Obamappointments that already includes Attorney General Eric "September 10th" Holder, Secretary of State Hillary "Climber" Clinton, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom "DaschilleryCare" Daschle, and I think we have a very clear -- and disturbing -- vision of the upcoming administration: a return to treating terrorism as just another crime, like carjacking or credit-card fraud; the re-erection of the wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement; a return to Clintonian, September-10th foreign policy; and the resurrection of the slain hydra of universal socialized medicine (should've cauterized those stumps).
Perhaps if we're lucky, Treasury Secretary Barney Frank, Education Secretary William Ayres, and Energy Secretary Ralph Nader will join the crowd.
Is "forward to the past" the sort of change we want to believe in?
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