Category ►►► Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
February 15, 2013
The Symbol Life
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!
This is too late for a current event; it's more of an haute courant event, or a living legend, like the unicorn. The date is unimportant, as this specific example repeats endlessly, world without end.
A couple of weeks ago, a high-school kid was suspended from school for possesing a picture of a gun:
A high school student in Florence said he has been suspended because of a picture of a gun.
Daniel McClaine Jr., a freshman at Poston Butte High School, said he saved the picture as his desktop background on his school-issued computer.
A teacher noticed it and turned him in.
The picture shows an AK-47 on top of a flag.
It appears that in today's PoMo/Progresso couture, a picture is exactly the same as the subject pictured, the signifier is the signified, and "Ceci est une pipe" après tout! Rene Magritte, please phone home.
I'm not surprised; I have expected exactly such confusions ever since we entered the era of the symbolic president -- inaugurated posing in front of faux Roman columns, smirking and winking to those "in the know" about his predilections and inclinations, laughing at having fooled enough of the people enough of the time.
But it's not just Barack H. "You didn't build that" Obama; the entire ironical, metrosexual, sensation-seeking, Progressivist world has devolved into a surreality of signifiers without signifieds, arrows pointing towards nothing; words without meaning, but treated as if the word was itself the meaning. An era where we're expected to sit down in a restaurant and eat the menu.
We have symbolic regulations, like Mayor Bloomberg's "ban" on 32 ounce sodas -- which doesn't apply to grocery stores or 7-11s, not to mention that there's no ban on buying two 16 ounce sodas; symbolic laws, like the "military-style" assault weapon ban, in which the distinction between banned and therefore dangerous guns and authorized and presumably harmless guns is whether it has a carrying handle, a pistol grip, or is painted in camouflage colors; and symbolic policy, where it matters not a whit whether the policy works or fails, only that it "sends the right message." The signpost for America's future perpetually points to "Reply hazy, try again."
The creepy Left demands a life not of the mind, nor of phenomena, nor even of reality, but a life of pure symbolism -- messaging, imagery, false front, bravado, bluster, and bluff. Image isn't just everything, it's the only thing.
Obama is the perfect pawn. He lives the symbol life, existing only for the princely pronouncement, the cadence of his own catechism. He speaks, and lo! it is done. Or at least he is done; implementation must fall to others, if at all.
Perfect example: Diplomacy used to mean a working amalgam of sound foreign policy, tough but honest negotiation, military might, allies, and nerve; think of Reagan, Churchill, Lincoln, Franklin, Cardinal Mazarin. This was the operating definition for both Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal; the differences were in the goals of our diplomacy, not an argument about what the word itself meant.
But in the Obamunist nightmare (will we ever awaken?), Diplomacy consists entirely of being photographed with the "right people." It doesn't matter whether it's conducted by Commissar Hillary or Jean le Kerry, le Marquis de Bostonia, because the driving definitional force is the symbolic president himself, "Skeets" Obama, and the powers and thrones that guide his every waking moment.
But why bother to travel, other than perfecting his backswing on every golf course in the eastern hemisphere? He could save time and trouble simply by hiring a central-casting "Indian" from Brooklyn and PhotoShopping a picture of him, Kim Jong-un, and President B.O. literally burying a hatchet. Word crisis solved; take that, Bibi Nut'n'Honey!
It's no less serious (or more hilarious) than Susan Rice announcing that "We'll do the usual drill" anent NoKo's most recent nuku blast. Why not Rice? She is the perfect symbolic spokeschick for the symbolic Sir Galahad, his counterfeit cabinet, and its Potemkin politics.
When all is merely sign and signifier, map and menu, indicator and imagery, then there is no difference between reality and wishful make-believe. Saying it is so is the same as actually making it so; apparently, Obama's words are self-actualizing:
- "I'm a skeet shooter," quoth he just the other day; then he made it retroactively true by posing for a picture shooting a shotgun. (Straight forward, not skywards; who the heck is he shooting at, the poor slob trying to throw the clay pigeons while simultaneously ducking and covering?)
"Our businesses have gone back to basics and created over 4 million jobs in the last 27 months -- more private sector jobs than were created during the entire seven years before this crisis -- in a little over two years." This statement is completely true! And completely meaningless! Because, dig, he mounted the Petal Throne not twenty-seven but forty-nine months ago; and it's only fair to judge his job creation from the beginning of his reign, not from the nadir to the apex.
Thus, we turn to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics tables (scroll down to the historical tables. There we discover (from the A tables, household survey) that when Obama was inaugurated for his first term, labor force participation was 65.7%; last month, at the beginning of his second term, it stood at 63.6%. Total employment is slightly up (142.2 million to 143.3 million); but the population grew in the meantime, so the employment-to-population ratio dropped from 60.6 to 58.6. Unemployment ended up just about where it was when Obama inherited a recession -- starting at 7.8% in January 2009 and ending last month at 7.9%. And those who don't have a job but want one rose from 5.7 million to 6.6 million.
In theory, we're no longer in recession; but we've still got that four-year hangover.
From the B tables (establishment survey) that total non-farm payroll rose from 133 million to 135 million; but the population rose nearly nine million during that same period. He's not even keeping up, let alone catching up.
In short, there has been no net recovery whatsoever from the "horrible" economy that Obama inherited; after four years of Obamunism, we're no better off than we were in 2009; in fact, we're significantly worse off, though not as badly as we were two years into Obama's painful plan for promoting patriotic poverty.
On border security: "We can build on the progress my [Obama's] administration has already made -- putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years." But he must know that he only increased Border Patrol by about a thousand agents; by contrast, George W. Bush increased them by ten thousand, doubling the size he inherited from Bill Clinton. And Obama surely understands that the main reason border arrests are down is that border crossings are down, and every agency that has studied this agrees that crossings are down primarily because Obama's stagnation economy is not as attractive as Bush's robust growth economy was.
But at least we can deduce this much: His claim that the borders are so much more secure now sends the signal that he has no intention of pushing (or signing) any further border-security laws, and likely won't faithfully to execute those border-security laws already in place. Also sprach Obamathustra.
- "So if you have insurance you like, you’ll be able to keep that insurance. If you have a doctor you like, you can keep that doctor. You’ll just pay less for the care that you receive." Did he even know whether that was true? Did he care? He knew passage required such a soothing, reassuring, symbolical claim... so he made it. But he couldn't possibly have known what was in the bill, because Dame Nancy Pelosi hadn't yet passed it.
- "We must ban military-style assault weapons," defined as guns that look really scary to hoplophobic Progressivists. Identical weapons without the cosmetic differences -- i.e., same car, different plastic -- are still allowed. For now. (Which should tell you something about Obama's belief, or lack of, in his own initiatives.
- "I'm a uniter, not a divider!" (Commentary omitted; Big Lizards is a family-friendly blog!)
An admirable list of magic words, like "open sesame" (or more appropriately, "Avada Kedavra") that lefties use in place of actually, you know, doing anything. Fiat obscurum! Thus what we on the Right see as braggadocio (before the fact bragging and braying) or lying in one's teeth (after the fact pretense that all went well) is not so seen by Progressivists; for they have a different metric for truth and falsity, the neologistic oxymoron of "socialist truth."
Socialist truth can be defined operationally as "that which advances world socialism," while socialist falsity is that which retards it, prevents it, or ridicules it (like this post); the literal truth -- lefties would say infantile truth or unraised consciousness -- never enters into the equation.
Literal truth, which those on the Right demand, is probably a minor virtue to the Progressivist Left; all things being equal, most of them would rather not make up a new fib: It's tough to keep their stories straight, and it's a strain for a Progressivist to be creative anyway. But rarely are all things equal; and even the slightest chance of advancing world socialism is enough to tip the scales in favor of socialist truth.
But the Jedi masters of Progressivism, like our symbolic president, are in such a zen state that they no longer even care whether they keep straight their improvised fantasies; they have absorbed the teachings of the Sufis of Socialism that nobody keeps track of conflicting stories, so long as they comfort -- "foma," as Kurt Vonnegut dubbed such ostensibly harmless or useful lies.
But foma are not always harmless, useful though they may be. And a symbolic presidency can cause a brutal, blunt-force impact upon very real aspects of life, from jobs to wealth to health to safety. Kids sent into Obama's symbolic "universal pre-K" fabrication will gain no lasting improvement in learning and education. But the children will come away with the belief that they're better than everybody else... hence have little reason to learn or even tolerate opposing points of view. They will become little Obamlets. We shall have many more low-information voters than in the previous administration, because the current one incubates and encourages the citizen's complete disengagement from government and its policy. Party like it's 1999 -- again! But on the plus side, the Left will pick off a few more votes from the low-information voters who think, "Free universal kiddie care, yippee ki yay!"
And every act of gun control has the effect of removing the best means of self defense from those most likely to need it and least likely to be able to replace it. Career criminals prey upon the weak and defenseless; they're not interested in a shoot out, they just want to rob you. Gang bangers and serial assaulters also pick out the weak, because they enjoy inflicting pain, terror, and death; it makes them feel powerful.
Without ready access to guns, the weak become prey for the thuggish strong; but with firearms, even Granny can fight off an intruder, as proved virtually every issue of American Rifleman. There is good reason why the Colt .45 revolver was called the "great equalizer," as anyone will eventually discover who accepts Obama's symbolic message and turns in all his guns to the government. (Even quicker if he proudly displays a "Gun-free zone!" placard.)
Sidebar: What's the real reason the symbolic president wants a ban on "military-style" assault weapons du jour? Because they symbolize independence, liberty, and government of, by, and for the people. With a "military-style" weapon, you are daily reminded that the foremost reason for the Second Amendment was to have an unorganized but well-regulated (that is, trained) militia to keep the peace and restore order if necessary, suppress insurrection and insurgency, repel foreign invaders, and to keep our own federal and state governments in check.
But without regularly reminding Americans that they are all Minutemen (male or female), the sense of personal responsibility for defending the homeland dissipates and can evaporate entirely. Hunting, sport shooting, and even home defense, the "lesser included" rights, become the whole; and the primary right (and duty!) to defend liberty, both individual and societal is tossed into the dustbin of history. What a boon to any would-be tyrant!
Thus to a cunning gun-banner, the difference between ordinary guns and "military-style" is not "cosmetic," it is cosmic.
The world of symbol is simple, even simplistic: To say is to make true; so mote it be. It is magical thinking: Forget the hard work of actual governance, all that matters is sending the politically correct message. It reassures and confirms membership of the "ins" and frightens the "outs" into joining. It's impossible for things to go wrong, because error has been abolished by order of the Dear Leader.
Foma is soma, the mind-dulling narcotic of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World; the poisonous purpose of "harmless lies" is to suppress thought itself. The dictator always prefers docile sheep to wily foxes, because they are easier to control; pure selflessness of his loyal subjects is his great desire, for only the selfless will give themselves over, body and soul, to the One, the Lightbringer, the benevolent dictator.
Thus the real danger of a presidency of sentiment, statement, superficial scholarship, and substandard statesmanship: It establishes a symbolic citizenry to worship a symbolizing presidency.
Liberty can survive and surmount much but probably not that. Baa! Baa! Baa!
January 1, 2013
The Emperor's New Gun Groove
It appears that President Barack H. "You didn't build that!" Obama has finally decided what will be (one of) the central animating crusade and agenda (CACA) of his second term: gun control and/or confiscation. He wants to make all of America into one vast "gun-free zone," a.k.a., a free-kill zone.
If you'll recall, last term's CACA was ObamaCare -- which he pushed onto the American people despite mounting dislike (and rejection, squirming, kicking, and howls of outrage), and which he insists will be implemented fully, every last drop, no matter what the people want. (The stimulus bill, that is, the trillion-dollar spree, was a sideshow, just payback for the many Friends of Statism who supported President B.O. through the seven lean years).
One can only presume that el Jefe will attack guns with the same violent fervor, the same fanatic, holy zeal, as he did the Patient Rejection and Unffordable Care Act; that is, he will ignore all previous failed attempts at gun control, set up his own organization (perhaps the Children's Crusade for a Gun-Free American Zone?) -- then relentlessly shill for the complete and extra-judicial transformation of constitutional America into confiscational Venezuela.
But if Obama does elevate gun control to be his new CACA, well, that's a very good thing indeed.
Oh, then good for the gun-control mob? No, certainly not for them; they shall be hijacked by and submerged under the president's own personal campaign to be kingmaker and achieve eventual deification, like a Roman emperor; but -- Tiberius, or Caligula?
Oh, then it's good for President Obama! No; in fact, it surely will go absolutely nowhere. It's unlikely that Congress can enact any major measure; and even if it did, such gun-control bills would have the same effect now as they have historically had: None at all.
It's all just mummery and flummery; perhaps not Obama himself, but certainly his firearms advisors know that virtually no homicides are committed using so-called "assault weapons," or any kind of rifle; know that a round with the same bullet and the same charge will produce about the same effect on the human body, whether or not that round is fired from a dreaded semiautomatic pistol or by a benign, sweet, and gentle revolver; know that knife wounds have about the same lethality as pistol wounds, and so forth.
So why flog that long-dead nag? Simple: Not cherchez la femme, but rechercher la puissance!
Then who the heck is it good for?
For us, baboso! By chaining himself to the albatross of gun control, Barack Obama has found perhaps the only issue which could destroy his presidency and besmirch his legacy... for even liberals and lefties love their Glocks.
Brief detour: In general, second-terms have a mixed and checkered history for American presidents. Richard Nixon's second term lurched from flip-flop to gaffe to incoherent rambling, culminating in an ignominious exit under the accumulated weight of Nixon's betrayal of our victorious military forces in Vietnam (in a cockamamie deal with the Dems).
Contrariwise, Ronald Reagan had an excellent second term: He cowed the Tyrant of Tripoli; he pushed through a second and decisive tax-reform bill, despite a Democrat-controlled House; he sent Mikhail Gorbachev reeling at Reykjavik; and he signed a series of nuclear-arms reduction treaties that for the first time were pro-America, not pro-Soviet. His policies (aided and abetted by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John-Paul II) led directly to the 1989 tearing down of the Berlin Wall (as Reagan had urged in a Peggy Noonan speech two years earlier), and culminated in the complete collapse of the Soviet Union two years later.
What was the difference between Nixon and Reagan? One very striking distinction was that Reagan had a CACA (or several, really), but it was the same set of CACAs that he had pressed in his first term: tax reform, rebuilding our military, muscular foreign policy geared towards the needs and benefit of the United States, not "world opinion," and of course the destruction of the Evil Empire. He didn't dump his first-term goals, nor did he go haring off in all directions trying to find a new "groove" to follow.
By contrast, after Nixon's landslide victory in 1972, he seemed to have run out of ideas; he certainly had lost whatever CACA he once had.
But CACAs are not always helpful or beneficial to a president or his party; every CACA is unique and must be inspected carefully to sniff out the good from the stupid. On the Democratic side, consider the immense energy expended by Lyndon Johnson on the "war on poverty," giving us the so-called Great Society, which was basically the New Deal redux, and on steroids. This certainly was a "central animating crusade and agenda," but it left Johnson a nervous wreck, unable even to stave off credible primary challenges in 1968 -- challenges that ultimately forced Johnson to withdraw from his own reelection race, leaving the anti-Republican field to the unelectable Hubert Humphry (and the execrable George Wallace).
Why did Reagan's CACA succeed, while Johnson's failed? Again, I believe a significant distinction was that, Reagan's ideas were widely shared by the American people; whereas Lyndon Johnson's Great Society crusade, which mainstreamed and normalized poverty, squalor, and economic failure (forcing successful middle-income families to subsidize losers, drug addicts, and bums) was controversial from the beginning and hemorrhaged support with every passing year in which the country went from wrong track to worse track.
Barack Obama's gun-control CACA -- along with his unpopular ObamaCare law, the lawlessness of his administration, and his seeming kow-towing to the world's most vile and dangerous dictators -- clearly fits the corrupt, anti-liberty, unAmerican, "LBJ" mold far better than does the Reagan mold: Most of Obama's upcoming crusades, especially gun control and/or confiscation, are anathema to a huge swath of the United States. And not just red-state America; millions of Obama voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado, Florida, and many others still "cling to guns or religion."
But knowing Obama, as four years living under his regime has taught us, when the people begin to resist his regulatory state and his bombastic, unresponsive "negotiation" style, the president will dig in his heels on all of his various projects and proposals, and vow to stick it to the American people good and hard, whether they like it or no.
End detour; resume normal speed.
In the whole, wide, political world, nothing unites Republicans better than another attempt to disarm American citizens. Too, a gun-control agenda will likely turn the American people away from the Democrats, alienate the president from his base, and turn him into a nagging, hectoring, threatening, bitter old man, the opposite of cool. And it will set us up nicely for 2014 and 2016. Not a bad prospect -- for the GOP!
Obama appears determined to squander every bit of popularity he currently retains -- of which he has little to spare anyway these days -- to fling it all away on hopeless causes, from gun control to appointing Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense.
So to quote Obama's illustrious predecessor, "bring it on," el Jefe. Let gun control completely define his second term, or even become an integral component of a slew of liberal assaults on the United States' foundational principles.
But the more you tighten your grip, Mr. Food-Stamp President, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.
December 13, 2012
With "Ambassador" Susan Rice withdrawing her name from the sorting hat for the position of Secretary of State, the pundits, pontificators, and presstitutes universally predict that Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA, 85%) will be nominated and easily confirmed; most predict by voice-vote alone, without even a roll call.
Does it bother you -- it outrages me -- that (leaving aside the extremely credible claims of the Swift Boat Vets) a man who admittedly lied and perjured himself to traduce his brothers in arms, accusing them jointly and severally of atrocities, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, should become the chief secretary of the presidential cabinet?
Or that our incoming Secretary of State could be an American traitor who flew to Paris to engage in secret talks with the North Vietnamese government, where he negotiated an American "surrender" -- with the very people who tortured Kerry's "fellow" senatorial colleague, John McCain?
I am infuriated that he is even in consideration. What next -- should Marc Rich become Attorney General? Should Hannibal Lector head up the National Institute of Mental Health?
If, as the political soothsayers say, the GOP acquiesces to JFK's appointment (presumably for no reason other than that he is a fellow member of the world's most exclusive conspiracy, the U.S. Senate)... then what standing have we to ever again call ourselves the party of national defense?
If we Republicans go along with this vile and grotesque farce, this sucker-punch to the men and women who guard the walls and secure our freedom, I fear we shall never recover from the self-inflicted immolation and degradation.
(Can't we have Jane Fonda instead? At least she partially apologized for posing on the North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. Kerry has shown no remorse nor expressed the slightest regret for calling his fellow servicemen baby killers and mass murderers.)
December 1, 2012
With their newly proclaimed "flexibility," lefties are feeling their beans. Here's an example:
A Democratic representative is calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would allow for some legislative restriction of freedom of speech.
"We need a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to control the so-called free speech rights of corporations," Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) was quoted as saying by CNS News.
Yep; with the limitless mandate the Democrats claim from their overwhelming, gargantuan, staggering victory in the 2012 elections, they now feel secure enough to do what they have always wanted: To throw the First Amendment out the airlock, and appoint themselves Guardians of Morality with full authority to censor or rewrite any human speech that is --
- Incorrect (a.k.a. "a lie!")
- Dissenting (a.k.a. "racist, sexist, homophobic, religious, and imperialist!")
- Upsetting to Progressivists (a.k.a. "unAmerican!")
- Inconvenient to Democrat schemes (a.k.a. "treason!")
Flexibility! That's the word.
November 11, 2012
Ach, der Nachtmare!
...My "Katzenjammer Kids" lingo for the following screamdream scenario:
- Senate Majority Leader (still?) Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 75%) rams through a new Senate rule barring filibusters in the case of federal appointees.
- Reupholstered President Barack "I win again!" Obama calls a press conference to inform the Senate and the American public that he has nominated two fellow travelers -- Susan Rice and Eric Holder, say -- to the Supreme Court, which would bring the total to eleven justices: five conservatives (one a bit squishy) and six doctrinaire, Progressivist lefties.
- Reid calls for an immediate vote in the Senate without troubling to allow questioning of the nominees; he declares the vote to be a "party" vote, meaning none of the Democrat senators is allowed to dissent.
- Absent the filibuster, each of the two nominees is confirmed by a vote of 55 to 45.
And wham, ma'am, thank you, Bam, he now has the Supreme Court up his sleeve.
Have a nice Veterans' Day...!
October 26, 2012
Fox News reports that American consular agents under atttack at the Benghazi consul and the nearby CIA annex on September 11th repeatedly pleaded for reinforcements and close air support, which were readily available less than 500 miles away at Sigonella Air Base... but that they were turned down by somebody up the chain of command. Fox News reports that "somebody" was within the CIA chain:
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command -- who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to "stand down," according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to "stand down...."
[T]hey called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights.
A CIA spokeswoman hotly denies the allegation, however:
CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood, though, denied the claims that requests for support were turned down.
"We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi," she said. "Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. In fact, it is important to remember how many lives were saved by courageous Americans who put their own safety at risk that night-and that some of those selfless Americans gave their lives in the effort to rescue their comrades."
On the other hand of the coin, the evidence seems quite solid that defenders at the two compounds repeatedly begged for air support or reinforcements; why would the security officer atop the CIA annex be pointing a laser at the mortars, other than to facilitate tracking by a smart bomb?
Yet, it is demonstrable that no air support responded during the entire seven hours of combat, despite the presence of Spectre gunships at Sigonella; the only force to arrive from outside the immediate area was "a Global Response Staff or GRS that provides security to CIA case officers" (which included Glen Doherty, later killed in the attack):
The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours -- enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.
A Special Operations team, or CIF which stands for Commanders in Extremis Force, operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella, Italy, but they were never told to deploy. In fact, a Pentagon official says there were never any requests to deploy assets from outside the country. A second force that specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella, according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were the same distance to Benghazi as those that were sent from Tripoli. Spectre gunships are commonly used by the Special Operations community to provide close air support.
So how do we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory claims?
- CIA and consular officials repeatedly asked for reinforcements, especially close-air support to take out the mortars, but nobody ever arrived.
- "[N]o one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need."
Assuming neither Fox News nor CIA Director David Petraeus is lying, there are only two possibilities:
First, that CIA and military personnel actually moved heaven and earth to get forces into Libya to turn the tide against the radical-Islamist terrorists; but somehow everything fell to pieces, and nobody could make it all the way to Benghazi. (And mysteriously enough, those mighty forces streaming towards the consulate and the annex left no trace whatsoever in the communications or logistical records.)
Or alternatively, the requests for support were denied... but not by the CIA. That can only mean the denial came from higher up the great chain of being than the cabinet-level CIA Director, which narrows it down to a single suspect: If both Fox News and the CIA spokeschick are honest and accurate, then Barack Obama himself must have made the lethal decision to abandon our personnel to their fates.
We await the expected sputtering denial from la Casa Blanca that they put the kibosh on our own Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three slain defenders: Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. I cannot imagine that it's not on the way, if not already issued before I publish this blogpost.
That will give us a difficult choice to make; who should we believe -- the CIA, led by four-star Gen. David Petraeus, who almost singlehandedly flipped the Iraq war from defeat to victory, and who has undoubtedly called in thousands of air strikes and air support in Iran and Afghanistan?
Or the notoriously vacillating and indecisive Commander in Chief, who has a crystal-clear record of repeatedly evading, dissembling, ducking, and flatly lying to the American people about this very subject?
It's a toughie, a real quandry. But I reckon most folks will figure out who, between those two, is forswearing and perjuring himself.
October 23, 2012
Best -- Headline -- Ever!
(Or at least, ever in this election cycle: Let's not be too lexiphanic -- just moderately lexiphanic.)
Via Jim Treacher at the Daily Caller, captioning the pettiness and small-ball into which the Obama campaign has sunk:
Debate III: Winners and Wieners
Everyone (even Democrats) roundly agrees that Mitt Romney trounced President Barack "Small ball" Obama in the debate -- the first debate, I mean. It's a no-brainer, one of several events that upended this presidential campaign. After the first debate, Mitt Romney gained in stature, in fundraising, and very strongly in the polls; he reversed the trend of a rising Obama virtually overnight and moved back to parity.
In the second presidential debate, most of the snap polls showed Obama had won; but the two focus groups whose results I saw, the Luntz group on Fox News and the MSNBC focus group, unambiguously showed Romney as the winner. As I wrote earlier, those whose business is necessarily adversarial -- meaning the Progressivist, activist press, political pundits, and even a smattering of conservative lawyers -- saw the second debate through very different eyes from the rest of the country:
Maybe attorneys tend to view a debate as they would a legal argument in court, scoring on specific points and authorities, on argument and who "wins" it, on who can best use objections to keep his opponent's evidence out of the record, and on who does the best job of submitting juror instructions that the judge accepts.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are looking for something very different: We want to see a candidate who can supply genuineness, sincerity, empathy, reassurance, a hopeful vision of the future, and a leaderly demeanor. We don't want glibness, aggression, or menacing body language; we're unimpressed by well-memorized talking points we've heard a hundred times before. We can taste defeatism and faux enthusiasm in a candidate the way you can taste overcooked barbecue even before you bite into it.
I suspect the laity look, more than anything, for nominees with a plan to get from here to there; one that is specific without drifting into the tall grass; plausible without sinking into logical lemmas and ponderous proofs; and gradual enough that we don't have to suffer radical dislocations and the upending of everything we believe into something foreign and frightening.
Watching the polls since then tells us "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey was wont to say; post-Debate II, Romney continued to rise in the polls, both national and the determinative state polls. So punditry, jounalism, instant polling, and grumpy lawers aside, we must conclude that Romney won the second presidential debate as well; it was then two to nothing, GOP leads.
This time, however, the signs aren't as clear as in the first debate; they're not even as clear as in the second: Snap polls show that Barack Obama won on "points;" in the Luntz focus group on Fox News channel after the debate, a little more than half of the panel thought that Barack Obama won that portion of the debate about foreign policy, the ostensible subject.
But hold on thar, Hoss; regardless of the listed subject matter, this debate was not about foreign policy. It was about the economy. How do we know? Because that's what the whole election is about, who can fix the economy and bring jobs back to America by getting the blasted, rent-seeking gummint out of the dadblamed way.
Foreign policy is vitally important... to about 3% of the electorate. The rest just want to be reassured that the candidates aren't idiots (Poland isn't dominated by the Soviet Union) or crackpates (let's bring home all our troops stationed abroad, line them up along the southern border, and have them link arms to stop all them Messakins sneakin in!) Show the voters that much -- reasonably bright, not obviously gibbering -- and they're satisfied enough to turn back to the real $16 trillion donkey in the dining room: the economy, stupid.
And guess what? The Luntz focus group also found that whenever Romney managed to drag the economy into the conversation, he won those portions of the debate, big time.
Bottom line, Paul Mirengoff was technically right that Romney was not "playing to win" the debate, but right for the wrong reason: Romney was playing to win the election instead.
That has been the core misunderstanding among both conservatives and liberals all along, though the moderate and undecided voters "got it" way back: Mitt Romney gamed these three debates brilliantly, moreso than did any other presidential candidate in the entire history of the "debate" era. He never intended to "win" any particular debate, if by win we mean rank higher on the judges' scorecards; he always intended to win the goldurned election. You know, the real goal.
That was where Obama made his critical mistakes in the second and third debates; he was persuaded that you win an election by winning the debates on points. Well, that and spending a Zeppelin-ful of money to convince voters that Romney was a rich, bloody-handed Koch-sucker.
Obama was misinformed.
So how do you win an election? Ultimately, by capturing the hearts and minds of the electorate -- for which you will surely need a number of resources, including money, campaign adverts, position pages, time spent personally campaigning, surrogates to plead your case, endorsements, and the fierce urgency of a ground game to get out the vote (GOTV).
Did I mention money? Yeah, Zeppelins-ful, on both sides, for a change. But Romney never took his eyes off the real goal: Not zinging your opponent in a nasty commercial, not a premature victory lap, and not winning debates by the crabbed rules of college debate teams... but being elected President of the United States of America.
Romney carefully painted a portrait of presidential bearing and gravitas, knowledge and wisdom, specificity and the political chops to carry it out, and the courage to point out that Emperor Obama has no clothes. Since that last clause was demonstrably true, the end result is -- well, not quite inevitable; it ain't over till the fat lady votes -- but extremely likely: Mitt Romney is going to win this election.
The presidential debates were part of that portrait, but only a part. They had a goal; they fulfilled that goal, and then some.
Romney's campaign by far out-organized the bewildered, flustered, inconstant, panicky, and now desperate Obama campaign. And that is why he's going to prevail on November 6th... and why he deserves it.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery (when they actually get around to approving it!)...
October 17, 2012
Change the Voters Can Believe In
I have noticed an interesting response-pattern develop in the most recent debate:
- Lawyers and journalists who watched this debate were generally disappointed (if on the right), seeing it as a tie at best, more likely a small win for President Barack Obama.
So for your Hinderakers and Mirengoffs, to a lesser extent your Scott Johnsons, and to a greater extent your Beldars. Ditto for your Brit Humes and Charles Krauthammers, and of course for the leftstream media darlings, who sincerely believe their guy won the debate. That is, the adversarial professions, which put a premium on combative argument driven by a need to win, not to accomodate, saw a victory for Obama in yestereve's debate.
(I leave aside those who are more activists than anything else, such as Hugh Hewitt and Sean Hannity.)
- But those not involved in either the practice of law or the malpractice of journalism -- those historians, doctors, contractors, people who work with their hands, administrative personnel, bankers, and stay at home moms -- they sure look to be responding to Mitt Romney, big time, in this last debate.
Maybe attorneys tend to view a debate as they would a legal argument in court, scoring on specific points and authorities, on argument and who "wins" it, on who can best use objections to keep his opponent's evidence out of the record, and on who does the best job of submitting juror instructions that the judge accepts.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are looking for something very different: We want to see a candidate who can supply genuineness, sincerity, empathy, reassurance, a hopeful vision of the future, and a leaderly demeanor. We don't want glibness, aggression, or menacing body language; we're unimpressed by well-memorized talking points we've heard a hundred times before. We can taste defeatism and faux enthusiasm in a candidate the way you can taste overcooked barbecue even before you bite into it.
I suspect the laity look, more than anything, for nominees with a plan to get from here to there; one that is specific without drifting into the tall grass; plausible without sinking into logical lemmas and ponderous proofs; and gradual enough that we don't have to suffer radical dislocations and the upending of everything we believe into something foreign and frightening.
If I'm correct, then those whose entire professional life is adversarial by nature really are seeing a different debate than those of us whose work or profession is far more about consensus, comity, and agreement than about conflict. (You know, an ordinary workplace.)
October 15, 2012
Obama's October (yawn) Surprise?
The "October surprise" is a favorite tactic of the Left; because they see a presidential campaign as a game to be won by any means necessary -- vice Republicans, who see it as an opportunity to highlight differences in philosophy and policy between the two major parties -- they naturally gravitate to the eleventh-hour punch at the candidate of the Right, whether he is incumbent or challenger, as the linked Wikipedia article demonstrates.
During George W. Bush's reelection, Democrats dropped the "bombshell" that munitions were allegedly looted from al Qa'qaa, supposedly under American control (October 27th, 2004); although it turned out to be false, it likely made Bush's victory smaller. Four years earlier, the October surprise (OS) was the revelation by Algore's campaign that Bush was arrested for drunk driving twenty-four years earlier (last week before the 2000 election).
Bill Clinton sought endlessly for an OS in 1996; he pushed for a peace treaty in Bosnia, an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, and finally, in desperation, a massive sting against the Russian Mafia in the United States. Four years earlier in 1992, when Clinton was running for his first term, leftist Democratic "Independent" Counsel Lawrence Walsh saw fit to announce the indictment against George H.W. Bush's Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, just four days before the 1992 election! (Even more obvious: The grand jury had actually indicted Weinberger four months earlier; Walsh sat on the indictment until the week before the election. Subtle, Larry.)
Michael Dukakis didn't manage to pull off any OSs, and he lost. (To be fair, I think he would have been walloped just as hard even if he had produced one.) Finally, back in 1980, President Jimmy Carter tried desperately to forge a last-minute deal with the Ayatollah Khomeini and his wild-eyed mullahs to release the American hostages from Iran before the election. The deal fell through... then when the Iranians released the hostages the very day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the Left was so enraged it immediately accused Reagan of having concocted a "secret deal" to keep the hostage in custody until after the election -- likely the most bizarre and vile accusation ever leveled after a presidential campaign had already lost. (Much more plausibly, the Iranians were (a) more afraid of Reagan than Carter, and (b) wanted to take revenge for Carter's failed attempt to rescue the hostages by force in April, 1980.)
Barack Obama himself received the best of all "October surprises" in September, 2008, with the economic meltdown -- inadvertently served up to him on a golden platter by a cohort of liberal Democrats, via their legislation and regulation that effectively forced banks and S&Ls to lend money to poor people who could not possibly meet the payments.
So what's Obama's OS going to be this year? I think the odds are darn near 100% that his campaign is cooking up something (or has already set something in motion).
More and more "pundants" have suggested that the president's "October surprise" is going to be some kind of assault on Libya, to retaliate for the assassination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy personnel.
This could easily happen; it's entirely in the hands of the Commander in Chief to order such an attack, at a time of his choosing. However, the most likely vehicle for this attack is -- a drone with a Hellfire missile, or maybe several. Such a remote attack, just one more in a long line of dubious drone attacks on purported high-value targets, would hardly change the dynamic of the race; in fact, it would lay the Obama campaign wide open to ridicule for having "fired a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt." Only a real assault, at least a successful raid with boots on the ground, could possibly be dramatic enough even to get a few minutes of airtime on the network news.
The only way that boots would hit the ground would be one of two possible scenarios:
- If the administration could (a) definitely prove who was responsible for the attack, and (b) demonstrate that said person or persons was/were still in Libya, and (c) positively determine exactly where they were, and (d) convince Barack "Third time's the charm" Obama that the targets were in a vulnerable place, so we wouldn't lose any troops at all. Only then would he have the huevos to send in some Special Forces to take out the bad guys. Unless...
- Unless, in the alternative scenario, Obama becomes utterly desperate. Even if the administration knows none of the above, they might nevertheless send in the SF to attack something, anything, any target randomly selected by the administration. The assault in this case would be without regard to any military objective; it would be purely as political stunt to show Obama's "resolve."
The actual result would be irrelevant, so long as the assault came just a few days before the election: just long enough for Obama to spin it as a historic victory (even if it meant lying, a prospect that evidently holds no existential terror for the president), but not long enough for Mitt Romney's campaign to unearth the reality and bring it before the American people.
It takes a lot less time to trumpet a victorious Obama "winning the war against terrorism" (I mean against "man-caused disaster") than it takes for voters to discover the truth, readjust their conclusions, and realize how they have been duped by the master debater. If the Obamunists time it just right, they might well get a five-point bump in the polls that drops to a three-point bump on election day... just as it happened in George W. Bush's first presidential campaign. That one resulted in the gut-biting tie in Florida.
In this year's potential October surprise, the attack would be timed to occur sometime in the last week before the vote -- say Thursday, November 1st, at about five o'clock PM New York time, for maximal live-feed ratings impact. (They would do it closer to the election, except they need several days for people to start thinking Obama is a great wartime leader, but they can't rely on coverage over the weekend when people are out doing their own things.)
Commercials touting Obama's historic victory over al-Qaeda ("It's D-Day all over again!") would hit the airwaves just a few hours after the assault.
Would such an absurdity work? My own opinion is: No, it would not. In fact, I expect we'd see a massive backlash against such shameless politicking of war. But we'll see.
It's possible that if Obama can't get actionable intel, the administration and the permanent campaign might be too afraid to pull the trigger, fretting that it'll be like Geraldo Rivera drilling open Al Capone's vault: We go charging in, live on camera, only to find nobody home (except a camel with a convenient butt); and our troops -- and by extension the Commander in Chief -- end up looking foolish, with egg dripping from their faces.
So, having neatly set up my prediction so that I'll be right whether he does or doesn't pull off an October surprise, your ivory-headed correspondent retires to his villa compound to await confirmation, if not coronation.
October 13, 2012
Obama's Orwellian Binge and Purge
This post is a Sachi-Dafydd joint.
"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever." George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, chapter 3.
One would imagine that to "know your enemy" is common sense, and nobody would gainsay it. If we're ignorant of whom we're fighting, how can we hope to out-think, surprise, resist, and defeat him?
Knowledge is our most powerful weapon: knowledge of strategy and tactics; of how to maintain supply lines and other logistical necessities; of actionable intel on what the enemy is going to do next; of how to transport combat units quickly hither and thither; and of course, knowledge of who the enemy is (so we know who to attack), how he fights (so we know what signs to look for), and how he thinks (so we understand what the enemy will do even before he himself knows.
One would imagine. But under President Barack "Ve knew nussink, nussink!" Obama, our military is systematically purging that valuable weapon of knowledge, word by word and concept by concept, from our military, intelligence, and political agencies... and all in the name of sensitivity and political correctness.
This Orwellian loss of language, like the "Newspeak" of Nineteen Eighty Four, has one obvious and ominous consequence. Since language evolved, human beings have learned to think primarily in terms of words; so when all the words that describe an idea are banned, it becomes impossible even to think it, because we have no verbal hook to hang it on.
That is precisely what the Obamunists have done... and now it even has its human face. Meet LTC Matthew Dooley, a West Point graduate and decorated combat veteran... a once and perhaps future instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College at the National Defense University, teaching such courses as "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism."
His courses were popular among students and colleagues. Nevertheless, Dooley was relieved of his position NDU. He and his course was adjudged "unprofessional" and "against our values," by no less a personage than Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Chillingly, this is no isolated case; it has become Department of Defense policy to remove from training materials and even military-university textbooks and course outlines any word or concept that is declared objectionable by Moslem in general or even by Islamists in particular.
In October 2011, a cohort of Islamic and Islamist individuals and organizations -- including a number of radical Islamist groups, including unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial -- the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, and the Islamic Society of North America, ISNA -- jointly signed a letter to a number of federal, state, and local agencies, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA, and local law-enforcement. The Islamist letter complains about supposedly offensive, bigotted, and religiously discriminatory documents and training courses, and its authors demand that the Obama administration purge all such material.
The letter was taken seriously by the administration, which responded, as instructed, with a sweeping purge of all military training documents. Page after page of materials were ruthlessly cut from the curricula of training and education courses, simply because the passages contained certain expressions that angered radical Islamsts and their co-dependents. Much of the purge was less surgical and more like an overwrought lumberjack. Sometimes, every single word that could describe a concept was rejected, leaving the concept itself inarticulable.
The purge policy did not arise from a vacuum; oddly, it began under the administration of George W. Bush... and initially was a misguided effort, not to shelter Moslem terrorism, but rather to avoid glorifying, aggrandizing, and popularizing radical Islamists.
In April of 2008, the Bush administration sent a global memo to American embassies; the memo listed specific words that should not be used, such as "jihadist" (holy war or struggle) and "mujahedeen" (holy warriors, warriors for God):
- "Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' in conversation to describe the terrorists. ... Calling our enemies 'jihadis' and their movement a global 'jihad' unintentionally legitimizes their actions."
- "Use the terms 'violent extremist' or 'terrorist.' Both are widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy."
- On the other hand, avoid ill-defined and offensive terminology: "We are communicating with, not confronting, our audiences. Don't insult or confuse them with pejorative terms such as 'Islamo-fascism,' which are considered offensive by many Muslims."
I understand the Bush State Department's intent. But any word can be misused or corrupted and be turned into an excluse for the chronically violent to act violently. That cannot mean we should purge such words from our lexicon, particularly when those most anxious to censor our speech are those who ally themselves with our enemies and routinely engage in Dawa -- jihad and the imposition of sharia law through means other than actual combat.
Dawa includes direct propaganda; "lawfare" (using our own civilized legal system against us); calling mass protests; appealing to the eager and pliant "fourth estate," the press; teaching Islamism in liberal universities as gospel; producing or at least influencing the production of movies and television shows, and other ostensible entertainments, that portray sharia and Islamism in a positive lighe; or alternatively, using methods such as boycotts, protests, and political persuasion to prevent the production of movies or tv shows that depict radical Islamism in a critical light.
And of course Dawa includes persuading military leaders, up to the Chairman of the JCS, to do their dirty work for them by purging "objectionable" words, phrases, and understandings in the name of diversity, tolerance, and inclusiveness. Leftist totalitarians are already in the censorship groove; it doesn't take much to get them all het up about "religious bigotry" or "hate speech."
Our Founding Fathers had a different approach: Rather than try to prevent speech considered "bad," they allowed it; and they likewise encouraged counter-speech that was "good," or at least allowed speech aggressively supporting and attacking every conceivable proposition. We now call that our sacred right to freedom of speech; and the religious nature of the phrase is no accident: Such universal freedoms come ultimately from the Hebrew and Jewish side of our American Judeo-Christian heritage, and are utterly rejected by the same radical Islamists who use freedom of speech here to support the imposition of sharia. (Their love of free speech ceases the moment sharia law is established, naturally.)
Rather than purge words from teaching materials lest some Islamist get huffy, we should redouble using those very "forbidden" words; but using them in an accurate, correct, and complete context. We enrich our ability to think by having more word arrows in our vocabulary quiver; and we do not further corrupt the English language by transforming it into Newspeak, trying to bludgeon Americans into concensus by whittling their tongues down to size.
Ever since Obama went on his Middle-East apology tour, Americans have suspected something strange was going on. He called it his "smart diplomacy," but we sensed something more sinister: The president was not simply apologizing for America's sins, he was kow-towing to radical Islamists and changing the language of our official documents -- and by extension through the establishment media, of our very way of thinking about radical Islamism.
Like Obama's Fast and Furious scandal, Purgegate had its earliest roots in the Bush administration; but also like Fast and Furious, the bad seed sprouted a far more poisonous fruit when Obama took office. From the Washington Times piece:
By 2011, Obama’s Counterterrorism and Deputy national security advisor John Brennan was urged by Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations to begin an “independent, effective investigation into the federal government’s training of its agents and other law enforcement” and institute a “purge” of any material that the undersigned organizations deemed unacceptable.
In an October 19, 2011 letter to Mr. Brennan, the groups criticize for anti- Muslim bias the FBI’s 2011 training manual, the books at the FBI library in FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia, specific FBI trainers and analysts, and a report made by Army Command and General Staff at the Fort Leavenworth School of Advanced Military Studies."
Swiftly thereafter, Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division, made his final recommendations to John Brennen:
In response to these recent disclosures, federal officials across the country—particularly FBI field offices—have been reaching out to local Muslim communities to state that the offensive training materials do not reflect the opinion of the FBI, its field offices or the federal government. Until the following steps are taken to remedy this problem and to prevent it from recurring, we will not be confident in these assertions. We urge you to create an interagency task force, led by the White House, tasked with the following responsibilities:
We paraphrase the so-called "following steps" that Perez recommended:
- Review all FBI, DoD, and Homeland-Security trainers and training materials at government agencies;
- Purge all biased materials;
- Install mandatory re-training programs;
- Ensure all trainers who used "biased" training materials are effectively disciplined (Adios, Col. Dooley);
- Ensure that bigoted trainers and biased materials are purged;
- Make clear that religious practice and political advocacy are protected under the First Amendment, are not indicators of violence, and shall not be subject to surveillance or investigation.
The recommendations concluded:
The interagency task force should include a fair and transparent mechanism for input from the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, including civil rights lawyers, religious leaders, and law enforcement experts.
But not, it appears, any military, intelligence, or even diplomatic personnel or organizations that might harbor "bigoted trainers and biased materials." Presumably this would include anybody who saw a connection of some sort, however tenuous, between radical Islam and murderous terrorism.
How significant was the ideological purge of inconvenient military, diplomatic, and intelligence truths? Is there any basis to conclude that this was a deliberate effort to expunge certain ideas from the American mind, so that better and more "flexible" understandings, perhaps more anti-colonial, could take their mental slots? Consider this point from the Washington Times:
In December of 2011 Congressman Dan Lungren, California Republican, questioned Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, at a joint session of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committee. After much back and forth, Stockton would not say the United States was “at war with violent Islamist extremism.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, had a similar experience in May of 2010, when he questioned Attorney General Eric Holder at a House judiciary hearing about the issue of radical Islam.
The FBI training manual changed. Nearly 900 pages of training that was considered offensive were deleted. Members like Congressman Allen West, Florida Republican, and Congressman Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, were critical of the purge.
Gohmert questioned FBI director Robert Mueller in May 2012 about the deleting of FBI material. Rep. Gohmert went to the House floor and compared the number of times certain terms (at 22:40) were used in the 9/11 Commission report as opposed to the now purged FBI training manual. For example, according to Gohmert, the 9/11 report mentioned the word “Islam” 322 times. However, Gohmert discusses that the FBI training manual can no longer mention the terms: Islam, Muslim, jihad, enemy, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, caliphate, Shariah law.
Now we know why "the fierce urgency of now" demanded Dooley's course be thrown into the ashheap of history and his head on a pike: As far as the Obama administration is concerned, there are some things Man is not meant to know; and among those unknowable things is the absurdity of Obama's perverse foreign policy, where we cast off our allies and bitterly cling to our adversaries and enemies.
Dooley himself is fighting back, trying to regain his job. But the real issue here is not whether one man can stop the boot from stamping on his face, but whether the American electorate can bring itself to believe just how anti-American is the American president... and can find the spine to do something about it on November sixth.
October 4, 2012
Hope -- Change
The conventional wisdom is this: No bout adout it, Mitt "I like being able to fire people" Romney slew Barack "You didn't build that" Obama last night. The president was old, gray, and tired. Mitt the drag-on slayer! But (still conv. wisd.) it ain't over 'till it's over, and one debate does not a game change make. Obama will come roaring back in the next debate with fire in the belly and steam pouring out his ears. It will still be a razor close race; and the odds are still with the president to reconnect, reinvigorate, and regain his lead! In the end, it's anybody's race; but reelection is the way to bet it -- if you're a Republican "leader."
Let me be clear: The conventional wisdom is a load of capybara ca-ca. It's as meaningless as last year's polls. Wednesday's debate was a game changer, and Obama will never recover.
Really? Isn't the president going to take that kick in the pants to heart, and come out fighting? Won't he put on his manly gown, gird his loins, and pull up his socks?
Oh yes, assuredly: In truth, he'll perfectly emulate the last Democratic Master Debator, Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.
That is, Barack Obama will swaller three power-bars whole, chug a 64-ounce can of Rock Star, and smoke an entire pack of Marlboros simultaneously. He'll burst out of the starting gate with eyes as wide as millstones, face as red as a replacement referee, and his hair literally on fire. Half the audience will suspect he's been toking that crystal meth again.
And he'll come across as a madman, a raving lunatic ranting about signs and portents and Cassandra-like warnings of Armageddon if he's not reelected. He'll swerve back and fro on a drunkard's walk; he'll overcorrect like a Don Knotts on his first solo flight.
And Obama will lose the next debate even more decisively than last night's.
That'll be it; game over.
To put the president's dilemma in a nuthouse, Obama has never been challenged like that before; and now we know he's a little tin god with feet of clay. The great impostor has no clue how to handle such impertinence and lèse majesté; he'll bolt onto the stage next debate and explode before our very eyes, victim of Phandaal's Gyrator spell. From one extreme to the other, from somnambulance to mania, he will prove himself completely void of the temperment, humility, and stability to be America's chief executive.
So quoth the Prophet Dafydd. And if my new prediction turns out to be as wildly off the mark as my last one, I'll eat my... well, I'll eat my Reuben sandwich. So there.
'Nuff said. Excelsior!
September 24, 2012
Slip Of State
September 21, 2012
Story Wars, Chapter Two
For reasons which remain obvious, the reelection campaign of Barack "I actually believe in redistribution" Obama has turned the tragic, humiliatingly successful attacks against our Cairo embassy and the Benghazi consulate into a week-long "squirrel!" distraction from the parlous state of Obama's economy.
Not that the Permanent Campaign really wants to discuss al-Qaeda overrunning two diplomatic missions, tearing down and burning our American flags, murdering Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats, and raising the black flag of radical Islamism in their place; no, never that discussion, the Prophet Mohammed™ forbid! The totality the Obamunists want to focus on, and the only story that their media-arm "presstitutes" vigorously flog, is the risible and tendentious meme that the real loser here is Mitt Romney.
Democrats in full scream denounce and repudiate (but fail to refute) Romney's post-attack statements -- variously described by the fourth estate fifth column as "gaffes," "divisive," "unprecedented," "the end of Romney's campaign," and "Romney's worst week ever" -- as insufficiently sensitive to our peace-loving allies in Islamist Egypt and Islamist Libya, and in blatant violation of a longstanding rule of civil discourse the Left just discovered: Presidential challengers shalt not criticize the incumbent's foreign policy in an election year.
All right, I'll bite: Let's take a look at those statements... all of them.
I take for my source that redoubt of right-wing rodomontade, the New York Times, which helpfully collected the colloquy of competing condemnations and complaints, from nine hours before the Cairo embassy was "breeched" until a day or so after. We shall start at the beginning and push on through the batch!
Here is the first infamous statement issued by the Cairo embassy, before the attack on the embassy, but after hysteria had already risen about the "movie that mocked the Prophet Mohammed™" (obviously, as the statement refers to both movie and how it "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.") Nota Bene: Assume all emphasis in any of these statements is added by me, unless otherwise instructed:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
And here is a very important restatement issued (via Twitter) by the same Cairo embassy, but this time after the attacks had begun at "midafternoon", and more than twelve hours after the first statement above; as a timeline check, note that the embassy refers to the "unjustified breach of the Embassy" (This is one of a series of similar tweets that the embassy or the State Department quickly deleted.):
This morning's condemnation (issued before protest began) still stands. As does our condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy
(For the record, "this morning's condemnation" could only have referred to this sentence in the original statement: The embassy "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions." Those are the only two things the original message condemned.)
Allow me to analyze the text:
- The first sentence condemns those who would "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."
- The next chunk notes that we honor our patriots (how sweet).
- Then the statement reiterates "respect for religious beliefs" (yatta yatta).
- Finally, it rejects speech that "hurt[s] the religious beliefs of others," additionally adding the gratuitous conclusion that speech that hurts "feelings" or "beliefs" actually "abuses the universal right of free speech," which, one concludes, only protects speech to which nobody objects.
That is, the initial statement unquestionably sympathized with the "hurt" felt by Moslems and condemned anyone who said, wrote, or produced anything that might hut Moslem feelings. And the follow-up tweet "stand[s] by" that first missive, thus continuing to sympathize with those who had, by then, savagely attacked us. Remember this point, that the embassy stuck to its guns on its original, protester-sympathetic statement; it becomes a vital issue later.
My first observation: Wow, such a forceful reply to burning, sacking, and murder; we condemn it!
My second: Not one word defending freedom of speech in either of these two official statements, none; only a mewling apology for... what? For not censoring those videomakers, as is universal in Islamic countries?
When an American embassy leads off by condemning American citizens and residents for exercising their freedom of speech -- and then stands by that denunciation, even after rampaging jihadis attack that same embassy plus a consulate, murder four Americans including the Ambassador to Libya, and raise their own bloody, black terrorist flag over the conquered territory, the sanity gap is... breathtaking. Obamunists live in an alternative universe.
That the statements contain not one word about our sacred freedom of speech is hardly surprising: While the hard-Left of the 1930s and 40s had no difficulty vigorously defending the fundamental rights, liberties, and freedoms protected by the Constitution, today's "Progressivists" comprise only the Left of hate-speech codes; of political correctness and sensitivity training; of forced recantation of heretical doctrine and reeducation camps; the Left of argument by intimidation, deceit, and thuggish assault; of "SLAPPs" (strategic lawsuits against public participation) and other forms of lawfare; of government censorship, consent decrees that include a code of silence, and every form of suppression of inconvenient speech they can possibly get away with. And all to silence what Tim Leary used to call "injudicious use of the First Amendment."
Does hurting people's feelings or beliefs really "abuse" the freedom of speech? Anyone who believes it does needs a refresher course in early American history! As the Founding Fathers argued, the only kind of speech that needs protection is unpopular speech; popular speech needs none, because popularity itself confers the protection of numbers.
Besides, as even the least observant observer observes, the cheapest emotions in the world are indignation, outrage, hatred, and fury. Many people can go from zero to six million on the Rage-O-Meter just because somebody took a parking place the irate driver had his eye on. Were we to hand over our freedoms to any old fool who takes offense; were we restrained from expressing any creed that might hurt someone's feelings or beliefs; were the government to prevent us from speaking anything that a listener (seen or unseen) considers "hate speech," then however noble the intent of that government (though nobility is rarely the reason for such censorship), we would have no freedom of speech left whatsoever. For "freedom of speech" is precisely the liberty to say that which pisses off other people.
Yes, even including Moslems.
One would expect that elected or confirmed federal officials, of all people, would understand and defend such liberty; first, they take an oath to do so; second, that freedom has been used incessantly to good effect in this country, from the American revolution, to the abolitionist movement, to the marches and speeches against segregation, to Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire," to George W. Bush calling Iran, Iraq, and North Korea the "axis of evil." Despite the fact that everybody on the other side of such speech was (or professed to be) outraged, upset, shocked, shocked, nauseated, and infuriated that free speech could be so abused. Should we have censored Patrick Henry and smothered Martin Luther King, jr., just because lobsterbacks and Klansmen were offended?
Enough, let us move on. Three and a half hours after the tweet (and there were others, deleted by the State Department before the Times could archive them), Hillary Clinton issued her first pronunciamento:
I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.
This evening, I called Libyan President Magariaf to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya. President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government’s full cooperation.
Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.
In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide.
All right, but how deep is Hillary Clinton's commitment to tolerance of speech that offends her and her boss? Her declaration tells us little we didn't already know:
- We now discover that the State Department doesn't believe that an anti-Moslem video justifies attacking embassies and murdering ambassadors. (Thank heaven for small favors!)
And once again, we sympathize with Moslems everywhere, who suffered such a crushing blow to their self esteem by learning that not everybody loves the Prophet Mohammed™.
- Finally, and let me be clear, we deplore violence.
Anybody notice what is still missing from this series of official responses, both before and after the bestial and unlawful attacks?
Two minutes later, the Department of Hillary summarily rejects the original embassy response, throwing Ambassador to Egypt Anne W. Patterson under the bus (along with her acting comandante, not sure who that was, since she was in Washington DC at the time of the attacks):
The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government.
Finally, and for the first time (a quarter hour after the Hillary manifesto and about seven hours after the attacks), Gov. Mitt Romney offers his own reaction and thoughts about the official governmental responses to this point:
I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
The Left immediately assailed Romney on three grounds:
- That he had no right to jump into this imbroglio because that would "politicize" it.
- On the spurious and unproven grounds that Romney had "confused the timeline" by foolishly thinking that the initial embassy response occurred after the attacks.
- And because, claims the Left, accusing Obama and minions of sympathizing with those who attack us is a vicious, racist lie! Romney's name should instantly be removed from every ballot on all fifty-seven states, allowing Barack "You didn't build that" Obama to win the way he normally wins his elections... by default!
On the first, here is Ben LaBolt, the Mouth of Barack, trying to pound home the first meme less than two hours later, that a presidential challenger has no right to criticize the president's political statements because doing so would politicize them:
We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America isconfronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya,Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.
I'm shocked, shocked to find that politics is going on in here! So what was LaBolt's own statement, chopped liver? Don't be a dolt: Accusing your opponent of playing politics is itself playing politics.
Never in the modern era have we seen a more politicized presidency than the one we suffer through right now. I marvel at the chutzpah LaBolt required to accuse anyone else of "launch[ing] a political attack!" I reckon he didn't want a crisis to go to waste. We can dispense with the absurdity of the pot calling... oh dear, I don't want to be accused of racism, so I'll just stifle my freedom of speech. (See how well it works?)
All right, but what about the second prong of the attack on Romney? Didn't he confuse the timeline? Isn't he just another fulminating, redfaced, rage-filled, cement-headed, racist rightwinger?
The charge that Romney was just too stupid to know (or too dishonest to admit) that the attacks hadn't occurred yet when the Cairo embassy released its first statement critically depends upon one completely hidden assumption: The Left must assume that Romney had not seen the several follow-up tweets that came after the attacks, where the embassy "stands by" its earlier kowtowing to Moslem sensitivity.
But why wouldn't he have? Many hours had passed between the original embassy statement, the attacks, and Romney's first response. He has a very large and well-funded campaign; and the tweets themselves were known by news agencies -- again obviously, as several of them still exist, even after the State Department deleted them: People knew about the tweets and had saved them.
Let's assume that in the seven hours or so between the attacks and Romney's response, he wasn't just sitting on a treestump, silent as the Sphinx. Let's assume the GOP nominee was actually talking about the most urgent and shocking news story of the day.
Is that so farfetched? How unreasonable is it that Mitt Romney, angered by that first embassy response, asked his staff whether there was any other statement or pronouncement responding to the developing international incident? How unthinkable is it really that some member of his crack staff put the tweets in Romney's hand and said, "take a look at these, governor."
I can easily imagine the conversation -- because I went through pretty much the same conversation with my wife Sachi at about the same time:
ROMNEY: Wait -- when were these tweets sent?
STAFFER: Six-thirty p.m. Eastern time, sir.
ROMNEY: But that's three hours after the attacks! They're still feeling sorry for those poor, put-upon terrorists, even after the attacks? And what's this bit here, that expressing a view that offends Moslems is an abuse of freedom of speech? What lunatic wrote this?
STAFFER: Governor, this statement from the State Department just came in...
ROMNEY: Great leaping horny toads -- what does Hillary Clinton mean when she says we "deplore any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others?" Iran says Jews should be exterminated; Hamas calls Jews and Christians "pigs and monkeys," and demands that the U.N. enact an anti-blasphemy law; and the ACLU, great pals of President Obama, are busy in court trying to prevent the display of the "miracle cross" from the World Trade Centers, because God unconstitutionally fused two pieces of metal together! This is insane. This is nothing like what George W. Bush said when he stood on the rubble at ground zero. This administration is a pack of howling jackals! And I'm going to let them know just what I think of such unAmerican bowing and scraping.
The Romney statement could have followed immediately thereafter -- greaty toned down, of course.
But what about the third attack, that it's a damned lie to claim that the government "sympathized" with the radical Islamists? Here is my neat and sweet, three-point syllogism refudiating the Progressivist position on this exchange:
- Count how many times the official administration responses defended our fundamental freedom of speech.
Count how many times, how many lines, how many paragraphs, and the percent of these government responses taken up with blanket, codependent reassurances issued to radical Islamists that we feel their pain, that we're appalled that Americans would "abuse" the freedom of speech in such an unconstitutional way: insulting the Prophet Mohammed™, of all things!
- Contrast and compare: Between those wicked and despicable free-speechers on the right hand and the blood-gutted, human-sacrificing terrorists on the left -- and using only the textual evidence before us -- which side has all of the administration's sympathy? Which side gets the "poor babies," and which gets the back of Obama's hand?
I rest my case: Romney had the bastards pegged.
(If you're still confused about where our government's sympathies lie, just read this breaking Yahoo News story about our tax dollars hard at work... airing an advert in Pakistan reassuring Moslems that we really, really, really don't believe in freedom of speech, and we're extremely concerned for the feelings of jihadists, so please, please, don't kill us!)
Early the next morning, Barack "Too busy with Letterman to meet with Netanyahu" Obama issued his own statement; it was entirely trivial, uninformative, perfunctory. Here is the only sentence that pertains to the question at hand:
While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
Senseless? Really? Al-Qaeda, defeated by "the previous administration," has been resuscitated by the current one. They launched a series of astonishingly successful attacks, killed our people, raised their own flag and burned ours, and generally demonstrated their prowess and fitness to rule the ummah. Makes a heck of a lot of sense from their perspective!
We have one last document to document. Just to make it super-duper clear, this is Mitt Romney's second response, the next morning. Note that what was missing from all of the official government statements is present, loud and clear, in the ringing words of the next President of the United States.
I shall put the entire Romney release under the "Slither on;" here I post only those portions of his televised speech that pertain to what the government forgot, on every possible occasion, to do: make the case for a general right to freedom of speech for everyone, even those living in Moslem countries.
Mitt Romeny makes it crystal clear in this statement what he only implied in his first statement: The Cairo embassy, on its twitter feed, stood by its first apology for freedom of speech at 6:30 pm EDT. Therefore, they effectively issued the same statement twice, once before the attacks and once after them. Romney was outraged by that second statement, the "ditto" declaration. And it was that reiteration, that standing by, that prompted the governor to state, four hours later, that it was "disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
When he made his statement, the embassy had already been attacked -- and had already reaffirmed its initial apology. That is the context in which Romney first sent a statement, then later gave a press conference. Romney and the rest of us already knew that our embassies had been attacked, and anybody following the twitter feed already knew that the embassy was still apologizing for American values even after being attacked and overrun, and after the attack on its sister consulate in Libya turned murderous.
Never forget that. The Left wants us to believe that the Cairo embassy had no idea what was going to happen when they idiotically denigrated freedom of speech. But they did it again after the attacks, so they have no excuse whatsoever.
Here is Romney's presser, beginning with a small portion of his prepared remarks:
America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We'll defend, also, our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.
I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington, and that reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.
In the Q&A that followed (unlike Obama, Romney welcomes questions; he even welcomes them from those in the news biz who sincerely want to see Romney lose):
Q: The statement you refer to was very -- (inaudible) -- last night -- (inaudible) -- given what we know now?
MR. ROMNEY: I -- the embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it's a terrible course to -- for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course.
Q: Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded overnight, it was appropriate to be weighing in on this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?
MR. ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate, they were the wrong course to take. When our embassy is -- has been breached by protesters, the first response should not be to say, yes, we stand by our comments that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech....
Q: Governor, some people are saying you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early, before we learned about all the things that were happening?
MR. ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America. Simply put, having an embassy which is -- has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, having violated the sovereignty of the United States -- having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration.
Sure, it's not Tom Paine or Thomas Jefferson; but for a contemporary politician embroiled in a hot race for the presidency -- which both Gallup and Rasmussen polls today show to be neck and neck -- it's a bold, spirited, unapologetic, and forthright celebration of our greatest freedom. Mitt Romney thinks like a real American, while Barack "Citizen of the world" Obama thinks like an anticolonial Progressivist who has never been sure whether he loves his country or despises it to the bone.
(Much like how the president feels about his biological progenitor: Abandoned by the man himself, Obama wraps himself in a self-generated fantasy -- dreams from his father, dreams from his country, an obsessed fan longing for love with a fictional TV character.)
But back to the point. Mitt Romney's heartfelt response to the administration's tepid condemnation of the attacks, and his outrage at the complete absence of any defense of freedom of speech (in fact, a tacit renunciation of such freedoms, now shackled by the "Tender Sensibilities of Moslems" exception), was clearly the best and most appropriate possible thing he could say anent the craven surrender by the Obamunists.
Several more attacks against the United States have been carried out in Yemen, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, and now China; yet even the pro-forma denunciations of violence against America have been dropped, presumably because the administration concludes that denial of the new attacks is more tenable at this point than an explanation of the administration's own foreign-policy and security failures.
What concrete steps have we actually taken to find and punish the Libyan killers, and those Egyptians who so easily overran our actual embassy in Cairo? How are we responding to the new attacks on Americans and on America itself? China and Japan are in a tussle over what the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands and purchased them from its previous owner, the Kurihara family. China calls them the Diaoyu Islands; and since oil was discovered under the islands in 1968, the People's Republic of China demands they be seized from Japan and handed over to China.
Naturally, anti-Japanese protesters in China see this as the perfect opportunity to attack the American ambassador -- because we're allied with Japan, and because one of the islands (Kuba, no relation to Castro's paradise) is used as an American bombing range. For the PRC, snatching away the islands, which have been controlled by Japan or by the United States since 1895 and never by China, would be a "two-fer": Red China would get the oil and would be able to drive the U.S. Navy out of part of what China considers its hemisphere.
Why is Red China so bold as to threaten us and Japan over the sale this month? Because we are weak. America is weaker today than it has been in many, many decades; and the ease and impugnity of these attacks on our embassies (American sovereign territory -- once) and allies proves it. One would probably have to return to the mass American disarmament following World War I to find a moment when we were more ill prepared to defend ourselves, our property, our international rights, and our ideology of liberty.
Barack H. Obama has brought hope and change, all right: He has given our enemies hope and changed America from the final remaining superpower to a global laughingstock which cannot even fight back when attacked, so thoroughly has he gelded us. It's now a serious question whether we can man-up enough to fire the wretched redistributionist; or whether so many Americans have become court eunuchs, depending upon the government for their very sustenance, that a once proud nation now whines under the triple leash of Russia, China, and radical Islamism.
We shall find out how strong those leashes are on November 6th.
Here is the transcript of Mitt Romney's full remarks (truncated at the beginning, as for some reason the feed didn't begin right away):
…. with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corps were brutally murdered across the world.
This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous. It's disgusting. It -- it breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served during their lives the cause of freedom and justice and honor. We mourn their loss and join together in prayer that the spirit of the Almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so brutally slain.
Four diplomats lost their life, including the U.S. ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya. And of course, with these words, I extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones who have left behind as a result of these who have lost their lives in the service of our nation. And I know that the people across America are grateful for their service, and we mourn their sacrifice.
America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We'll defend, also, our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.
I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington, and that reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.
The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, America cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don't spin out of control. We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests.
Over the last several years we stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region but also poses the potential for peril if the voices -- forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events. We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring does not become an Arab winter.
Q: The statement you refer to was very -- (inaudible) -- last night -- (inaudible) -- given what we know now?
MR. ROMNEY: I -- the embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it's a terrible course to -- for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course.
Q: Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded overnight, it was appropriate to be weighing in on this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?
MR. ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate, they were the wrong course to take. When our embassy is -- has been breached by protesters, the first response should not be to say, yes, we stand by our comments that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech.
Q: So what did the White House do wrong then, Governor Romney, if they -- if they put out a statement saying --
MR. ROMNEY: It's their administration -- their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth but also from the words that come from his ambassadors, from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department. They clearly -- they clearly sent mixed messages to the world. And -- and the statement that came from the administration -- and the embassy is the administration -- the statement that came from the administration was a -- was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a -- a -- a severe miscalculation.
Q: Governor, some --
Q: Talk about mixed signals -- (inaudible) -- itself a mixed signal when you criticize the administration at a time -- (inaudible)?
MR. ROMNEY: We're -- we have a campaign for presidency of the United States and are speaking about the different courses we would each take with regards to the challenges that the world faces. The president and I, for instance, have differences of opinion with regards to Israel and our policies there, with regards to Iran, with regards to Afghanistan, with regards to Syria. We have many places of distinction and differences.
We joined together in the condemnation of the attacks on American embassies and the loss of American life and joined in the sympathy for these people. But it's also important for me -- just as it was for the White House last night, by the way -- to say that the statements were inappropriate and, in my view, a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.
Q: Governor, some people are saying you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early, before we learned about all the things that were happening?
MR. ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America. Simply put, having an embassy which is -- has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, having violated the sovereignty of the United States -- having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration.
STAFF: Last question.
Q: If you had known last night that the ambassador had died -- and obviously, I'm gathering you did not know --
MR. ROMNEY: Well, that came -- that came later.
Q: That's right. If you had known that the ambassador had died, would you have issued --
MR. ROMNEY: I'm not going -- I'm not going to take hypotheticals about what would have been known when and so forth.
We responded last night to the events that happened in Egypt.
Q: Governor, what sort of --
Q: Governor Romney, your -- one of your professed reasons for running is your economic know-how and your private sector experience. But now that foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East -- (off mic) -- the presidential campaign, can you talk about why, specifically, you think you're better qualified than President Obama -- (off mic)?
MR. ROMNEY: I think President Obama has demonstrated a lack of clarity as to a foreign policy. My foreign policy has three fundamental branches: first, confidence in our cause, a recognition that the principles America was based upon are not something we shrink from or apologize for, that we stand for those principles; the second is clarity in our purpose, which is that when we have a foreign policy objective, we describe it honestly and clearly to the American people, to Congress and to the people of the world; and number three is resolve in our might, that in those rare circumstances, those rare circumstances where we decide it's essential for us to apply military might, that we do so with overwhelming force, that we do so in the clarity of a mission, understanding the nature of the U.S. interest involved, understanding when the mission would be complete, what will be left when it is -- what will be left behind us when that mission has been -- has been terminated.
These elements, I believe, are essential to our foreign policy, and I haven't seen them from the president. As I watched -- as I've watched over the past three and a half years, the president has had some successes. He's had some failures. It's a hit-or-miss approach, but it has not been based upon sound foreign policy.
Q: Governor Romney, how, specifically -- how, specifically, Governor Romney, would President Romney have handled this situation differently than President Obama did? Before midnight, when all the facts were known? How would you have handled it differently than the president did?
MR. ROMNEY: I spoke out when the key fact that I referred to was known, which was that the Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles. That was a mistake. And I believe that when a mistake is made of that significance, you speak out.
September 11, 2012
Story Wars, Chapter One
Word on the street is that Leon Panetta, the hyperpartisan Democratic representative now inexplicably elevated by Barack "You didn't build that" Obama to Secretary of Defense (i.e., America's penultimate military official), is beside himself with rage at the publication of a book by a former US Navy SEAL, Matt Bissonnette (writing under the pseudonym of "Mark Owen"). Panetta has made it quite clear that he's going to drop the hammer on "Owen":
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is suggesting that a retired Navy SEAL be punished for writing a book giving an insider's account of the U.S. raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
Asked in a network interview if he thinks the writer should be prosecuted, Panetta replied, "I think we have to take steps to make clear to him and to the American people that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior."
Yet it's interesting that Panetta is still not willing to state with authority that "Owen" revealed any classified information whatsoever in the book; the Pentagon is still "reviewing" the situation. Either Panetta and his brass band are inordinately slow readers; or they've already read the dang book twice through, yet still can't find anything in it that shouldn't be. But they're certain that increasingly crabbed and narrow scrutiny will reveal something, anything, to justify prosecution!
The secretary stopped short of accusing the author of revealing classified information, but said Pentagon officials "are currently reviewing that book to determine exactly, you know, what is classified and what isn't, and where those lines are."
(Note that the AP news story charmingly -- or tendentiously -- refuses to print the title of the book: No Easy Day, if you're curious and want to read it yourself. I cannot recall similar MSM reticence and respect for the military's, or at least the Pentagon's tender sensibilities since... well, since the last time a whistleblower blew the whistle on a Democratic president.)
But the most Alice In Wonderland feature of this bizarre brouhaha is that we do have a public figure who has revealed reams, bushels, boxcars of undisputed, highly classified intelligence about this very same raid. And that incontinent leaker is of course Leon Panetta's boss: Barack Hussein Obama, Occupier in Chief.
President B.O. doesn't "leak" SEAL and bin Laden intel; he blasts it from a firehose. But there is a more fiercely urgent distinction between the two, from the president's perspective: When Barack Obama opens the floodgates of classified material, it's to plant a heroic, epic version of the raid that puts Himself front and center. And he clearly intends his gusher of erstwhile secrets to buttress his national-security credentials, paradoxically enough; for on the campaign trail, he thumps his chest and bleats how "he" killed bin Laden... absurdly contrasting himself favorably to the disfavored Mitt Romney, who has never killed anybody.
Given that context, it's very had not to conclude that what really torques off Secretary Panetta is that "Mark Owen" and co-author Kevin Maurer stomp all over Obama's self-serving fairy tale with the dadburned truth. This undercuts any electoral advantage the killing of bin Laden might otherwise confer on the Lightbringer and Ocean Subsider.
Obama and minions are hopping mad because No Easy Day rained on Obama's campaign parade.
AP's final paragraph is a wonder of undetected irony:
Panetta said the book, which went on sale this week, raises troubling national security questions.
"Well, I think when somebody talks about the particulars of how those operations are conducted, it tells our enemies, essentially, how we operate and what we do to go after them," he said.
Preach it, Grandmaster P.!
September 8, 2012
On August 31, the weekend before the Democratic National Convention, President Barack "Withdrawal" Obama visited Fort Bliss, Texas and met with a less than enthusiastic audience... of American soldiers.
President Barack Obama was greeted with fleeting applause and extended periods of silence as he offered profuse praise to soldiers and their families during an Aug. 31 speech in Fort Bliss, Texas.
His praise for the soldiers -- and for his own national-security policies -- won cheers from only a small proportion of the soldiers and families in the cavernous aircraft-hangar.
The troops were not awed by the appearance, nor were they rapt with attention; summoned to the campaign event, they clearly decided to give the Commander in Chief the respect required and nothing more:
The audience remain[ed] quiet even when the commander-in-chief thanked the soldiers' families, and cited the 198 deaths of their comrades in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The audience's reaction was so flat that the president tried twice to elicit a reaction from the crowd....
CNN and MSNBC ended their coverage of the speech before it was half-over. [Emphasis added throughout quotations.]
Hardly a surprise that the cable mainstream media were too mindful of the Lightbringer's dignity to continue the embarassing coverage.
Why the cold shoulder? Several possible explanations:
- You might say because Obama has not exactly been supportive of the military in the war against radical Islamism.
Despite the tremendous victory George W. Bush and Gen. David Petraeus finally achieved toward the end of their tenure, Obama is determined to quit, to yank the troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq... without the least concern for our Iraqi allies left behind, or for the negative effect such cutting and running will have on future military campaigns, future allies and alliances, our national security, and even the reputation of the American flag around the world:
The silence deepened when the president lauded his strategy of withdrawal from the war. "Make no mistake, ending the wars responsibly makes us safer and our military even stronger, and ending these wars is letting us do something else; restoring American leadership," he said amid complete silence.
(I don't mind when Barack Obama says "make no mistake;" I just wish that one day, he would take his own advice!)
- Or maybe the silence was due to the report that President B.O. evidently used an auto pen to sign letters to the families of fallen Navy SEALs; was Obama's hand too tired from those one hundred rounds of golf?
- Or perhaps the soldiers of Fort Bliss know that veterans are having a difficult time finding civilian work after separation, despite the president's election-year conversion to job creation.
Those may very well be part of the reason these soldiers were unhappy at being made into political actors. But their unhappiness might derive from a much simpler reason, as Russ Vaughn at the American Thinker blog explains:
I'm an old non-com who, as a bachelor lived in the barracks, and as such I'm well aware of the excitement that permeates any military barracks in the days leading up to a four-day, holiday weekend like Labor Day. Virtually every soldier has made big plans to escape his military existence for four precious days and spend that time with family or friends.
A day to get there, and a day to return to Fort Bliss; that leaves but two days with family and friends: Two lousy, infinitely precious days with parents you might not have seen for months, childhood friends, the town you grew up in. But wait -- not two days, but only one! Why? Because...
[S]ome hotshot in the Obama campaign, feeling badly stung by the sparse turnouts for the president's visits to other locales, gets a bright idea of how to produce a really big crowd for a photo op: "Hey, let's schedule one for some military facility where the commander can be ordered to produce a big audience in a sufficiently impressive backdrop."
As a result, the holiday reunions for many soldiers and their families were ruined. Gone are their (possibly non-refundable) flights and difficult to get hotel reservations; gone also is half the time they expected. Not to mention all the wasted money they couldn't afford to lose. All gone.
And for what? Because of a military emergency? A hurricane or other natural disaster? For what lofty reason were these soldiers forced to donate their time, the most precious resource for an active-duty soldier? To listen to a classless, clueless politician talk about how concerned he is about military personnel... while using them as a prop in his own reelection campaign, without regard to whether they want to become part of his next campaign commercial, or even whether they support his reelection in the first place.
I'd say the poker-faced silent treatment Obama received was no more than he deserves. The brass can order the troops to assemble and be respectful to the Commander in Chief, but they cannot order them to cheer spontaneously.
September 4, 2012
Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been Better Off?
At last! The reanointment campaign of President Barack "You didn't build that" Obama is finally ready to detail exactly what way Americans are better off now than they were four years ago. In a New York Times piece, they finally get down to the nitty gritty of economic, cultural, and national-security improvement since January 20th, 2009.
Here's the lede:
A day after fumbling a predictable and straightforward question posed by Mitt Romney last week -- are Americans better off than they were four years ago -- the Obama campaign provided a response on Monday that it said would be hammered home during the Democratic convention here this week: "Absolutely."
That answer, "absolutely," comes from Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign mangler, at the Democratic National Convention on Monday:
In fact, on Monday the campaign settled on a definitive answer of, as the deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter put it, "Absolutely."
There it is, in black and white (or whatever colors you've chosen for your font and background): Stephanie Cutter has categorically, unequivocally, hysterically answered that "better-off" question for all time: Ab-so-lootely we're better off now than when Obama assumed the position. Absolutely!
Who could argue with that?
Let's not be unfair; Cutter did go on to give detailed and specific reasons why we're better off:
Followed down a hallway by a local news crew asking the "better off" question in the convention center here, Ms. Cutter described the economic scene four years ago -- the auto companies teetering near bankruptcy, bank failures -- and said, "Does anyone want to go back to 2008? I don’t think so."
I'm not so sure: Perhaps those voters who lost their jobs under the Obama administration long for 2008, which they might see as the golden age of employment.
Today's real unemployment/underemployment rate -- what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the U6 labor underutilitzation rate -- includes those unemployed and actively looking for a job, those unemployed who would like to work but have given up in despair, and those who are working part time but want to work full time.
That U6 unemployment number is significantly higher now than it was when Obama seized the reins of power.
Back then, on January 20th, 2009, the U6 rate was 14.2%. It had been rising in the waning days of the Bush administration; and it continued rising throughout Obama's first year, hitting a peak of 17.1% in December, 2009.
That big run-up of 2.9% represented nearly 4.5 million more people unemployed or underemployed than when Obama was inaugurated.
The U6 rate stayed more or less around that point for another year, then finally began to drift downward a little in December, 2010. It wafted back towards the "inauguration rate" over the next year, hitting 14.5% in March, 2012; but then the U6 unemployment number took off again. Today it hovers at 15.0%... still noticibly higher than it was when Obama was sworn at by the Chief Justice. The 0.8% rise in the U6 rate from 2009 corresponds to 1.24 million more Americans out of work or underemployed than when Obama's term began.
At no point has total unemployment/underemployment dropped back down to Obama's inauguration rate; on employment, the president is still underwater. Those hoping for employment are certainly no better off today than they were four years ago... and I doubt the extra one and a quarter million unemployed/underemployed Americans are mollified by the fact that Barack Obama seized General Motors and gave huge bailouts to his Big Banking cronies.
Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland echoed Cutter's claim anent Obama's stellar record on job creation, though he offered a slightly more cautious version:
Mr. O'Malley provided another answer on Monday on CNN: "We are clearly better off as a country because we’re creating jobs rather than losing them. We have not recovered all that we lost in the Bush recession. That’s why we need to continue to move forward."
But they've also "not recovered" all the extra jobs lost in the Obama recession; they're still short, as we noted, by 1.24 million jobs since inauguration.
Forward! Progress! Ab-so-lootley!
Let's press on, guvnor. Surely there must be some objective measurement to back up Stephanie's cutting ejaculation of "Absolutely!"
Oh, here we go; Slow Joe Biden issues an unanswerable proof:
Speaking in Detroit on Monday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said during a union rally, "You want to know whether we’re better off?" He answered: "I’ve got a little bumper sticker for you: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive."
Well, yes; it's true: Osama bin Laden is dead. On the other hand, his organization, al-Qaeda, and its kissing cousins in the Taliban, are significantly more powerful today than they were at the end of Bush's term. So there is that.
Throughout all of 2008, 151 Americans were killed in Afghanistan by enemy action, according to the notoriously right-wing news source, the Hufflepuffington Post. But last year, that number had exploded to 398, down from 492 in 2010. Seems like quite a lot more Taliban/al-Qaeda activity, especially for a war whose expiry date has already been announced.
And of course, radical Islamism in general (Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, et al) has been on the march for the last couple of years. It's true that one extremely bloody mass murderer was finally taken down -- by U.S. Navy SEALs, by the way; not by Barack Obama personally, no matter what he may fantasize. But as George W. Bush warned during his presidency, bin Laden, or even al Qaeda, is not the entirety of radical Islamism; in fact, Iran is the most dangerous radical-Islamist power, and it has been since the 1979 revolution.
President B.O. has done virtually nothing to check the overarching threat of jihadism and its related components, from nuclear weapons; to massacres of Jews, Christians, and Animists; to subversion of democracies or emerging democracies; to cross-border warfare; to "lawfare" and other elements of dawa, supporting sharia law by means short of violent assault. In fact, Obama reserves his strongest condemnations not for radical Islamists, but for Israel, the lone fully democratic nation in the Middle East.
With the uninhibited rise of radical Islamism across the world and even here in the United States on Barack Obama's watch (the Fort Hood massacre, for example), we are not better off on terrorism than we were four years ago... even with the death of an old man hiding in Pakistan.
Joe Biden's second point is technically true: General Motors is, in some sense, still "alive" (though I don't quite see how the attribute of "life" comports with the general Democratic Progressivist rejection of corporations as "persons" under the law). However, all those former stockholders of GM -- millions of Americans (including a great many retireees) in their 401K plans and pension funds -- might not feel better off... as their holdings were looted by Obama to give his Big Labor pals a stock jackpot. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Maybe the Democrats are happy to stand on bailouts for bankers, "Government Motors," and claiming credit for the heroic deeds of America's Special Forces; but it does seem just a little squirrelly to me.
Their next point... oh. Oh dear; I'm afraid we have managed to plod all the way through the triumphalist New York Times article. There is nothing else in the article.
Yet isn't it peculiar that in this entire litany of reasons in the New York Times why we're better off today than we were four years ago, not a single Democrat points to ObamaCare or the trillion-dollar "stimulus?" It's as if the two signal achievements of the Obama administration have faded, like the Cheshire Cat, leaving only their deficits behind.
We began this inquiry with the Reagan/Romney Riddle: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" I reckon we'll just have to watch the
debacle spectacle unfold to see what evidence they can cite, besides that already (?) introduced, to justify Cutter's Comprehensive Confirmation: "Absolutely!"
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 17, 2012
I'll Buy That for a Dollar
So, the Obama campaign is offering to back off Mitt Romney and his taxes, but only if Romney releases five more years worth of returns. What a deal! Mitt would be crazy not to snap that up! And while he's at it, maybe he can score some big campaign cash by giving that Nigerian general's wife his checking account number so she can move her husband's millions out of the country.
Word of advice to the Obama minions: Leave the con games to Bernie Madoff. You're not very good at them.
First off, the offer is phony on its face. Does anybody honestly think that the Obama campaign, after poring over Romney's returns, will ever say, "Wow, I guess Mitt really did pay his fair share! Oh, well." No, they'll hammer every little item demanding an explanation for this and and explanation for that, because that's the entire point of this exercise: keeping Romney on the defensive so that Obama doesn't have to talk about his failed record.
Secondly, it asks something for nothing. Even if the moon ends up in the second house and Jupiter aligns with Mars and the Obama campaign stops harping on Romney over his tax returns, you can bet your sweet derriere that the super PACs will keep the hits coming. Obama, meanwhile, will just shrug and give another speech about how we've got to get the big money out of politics -- all while his surrogates keep right on doing his dirty work.
Bottom line, there is no upside on this. Romney's a smart enough businessman to know that, which is why he won't take the deal. He can, however, make a counter-proposal: more tax returns in exchange for Obama's academic records during his lost years at Occidental College and Columbia University. If we're talking about transparency, why not go all the way?
Ball's in your court, Barack.
July 26, 2012
The Next New Squirrel v 3.0
Our previous posts in the Next New Squirrel series are:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a "Republican" (see below), calls for a nationwide police strike until Americans disarm:
In a primetime exclusive interview, the head of the executive branch of New York City's government provided his solution for implementing stricter gun laws in America:
"I don't understand why the police officers across this country don't stand up collectively and say we're going to go on strike," Bloomberg told the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host. "We're not going to protect you unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what's required to keep us safe."
To be fair, however, Bloomberg said the next day that he didn't literally mean it and his words were taken out of context. But he still wonders why they don't literally do what he didn't literally mean anyway.
Note the liberal-Fascist, ultimatum-style argument -- government by threat and extortion. But that should hardly surprise: Michael "Mr. Conviction" Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat and the eleventh richest person in the world, switched parties to run for mayor in 2001; the Democratic field was crowded with five strong candidates, and Bloomberg reckoned he had a better shot at nomination on the GOP line, which had only one candidate.
Jonah Goldberg knew whereof he spoke when he coined the term "liberal Fascism."
Meanwhile, back at National Urban League convention, President Barack H. "Big Stick" Obama responds to his leftist, Progressivist base:
Faced with a clamor in his party for stricter gun control in the wake of the Colorado movie-theater massacre, President Obama said Wednesday night he would "leave no stone unturned" in seeking new measures to reduce violence nationwide, including more restrictive background checks on gun purchases.
"A lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals," Mr. Obama said at the annual National Urban League convention in New Orleans. "They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities."
That second paragraph sounds a lot more like an "assault rifle" ban than "more restrictive background checks." But perhaps I'm just taking his words out of context.
The president blamed "politics and lobbying" for defeating gun-control measures when outcries arise after mass shootings in the U.S.
O for the good old days, when every sensational shooting produced a spontaneous, irrational, hysterical overreaction and more useless gun-control laws!
Bloomberg makes an interesting argument against armor-piercing rounds:
"Police officers want to go home to their families. And we're doing everything we can to make their job more difficult, but more importantly, more dangerous, by leaving guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them and letting people who have those guns buy things like armor-piercing bullets," he detailed. "The only reason to have an armor-piercing bullet is to go through a bullet-resistant vest. The only people that wear bullet-resistant vests are our police officers."
...Quoth he, in response to the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in which the shooter wore body armor.
The drumbeat continues, and our Trillion Dollar Taxman appears to be gingerly but consistently wading his way into a gun-control presidential campaign. Every day that the debate du jour is gun control, or anything else other than the miserable economy, is a good day, as far as the permanent presidential campaign is concerned. He's headed for the deep end; keep watching the skies!
But it won't work. As I said before, voters will be outraged by a condescending campaign at war with guns, when our real problem is a federal government at war with prosperity.
July 24, 2012
Update to the Next New Squirrel?
The White House hinted on Tuesday that President Barack Obama may address the politically sensitive issue of gun control more broadly in the aftermath of the recent shootings in Colorado....
Obama traveled to Colorado on Sunday to comfort family members and victims of the shooting at an Aurora movie theater in which 12 people died and dozens were injured. In remarks after his visit the president hinted at the prospect of a new discussion about gun control measures.
"I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country," he said.
On Tuesday White House spokesman Jay Carney also said Obama could talk about the issue more broadly but he declined to offer details or a time frame.
"It's certainly possible the president could address ... these issues in the future but I don't have any scheduling updates for you," Carney told reporters on Air Force One.
I'm just saying...
The Next New Squirrel?
The title refers to the animated movie Up, wherein an intelligence-augmented dog who can talk (it's the collar) interrupts his speech, now and again, to stare wildly left or right and yelp out, "Squirrel!" It's the ideal image when thinking of Barack "Big Stick" Obama's campaign, which comprises nothing but a series of ludicrous attempted distractions from the big picture, our collapsing economy.
E.g. du jour: The Associated Press reported yesterday that:
The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.
Food-stamp mania has struck the country. More and more Americans are applying for disability payments from the government at the same time that Americans enjoy better health than ever. Unemployment is mired in the eights, with real unemployment about 15%-16% and no relief in sight. Small-business owners and entrepreneurs are still reeling from the president's speech denigrating and insulting them.
Atop this pile of bad news for Obamunism, three new polls today tell us that Americans are souring on the president and especially on his broader thesis, that government deserves most of the credit for jobs and economic growth... and that the "previous administration" must shoulder all the blame for their lack:
- One from the Hill finds that two-thirds of likely voters blame the (current) federal government for the weak economy, with a plurality saying it's mostly President Obama's fault.
- According to a Rasmussen poll, 72% believe that entrepreneurs who start a business "are primarily responsible for their success or failure. Only 13 percent disagree." 77% believe entrepreneurs work harder than employees. 57% believe that entrepreneurs and small businesses do more to create jobs and grow the economy than big businesses (16%) or state and local government (11%); only 7% think that the federal government creates the most jobs and wealth. And "61 percent believe that small businesses provide more valuable service to a community than big business or government at any level."
- Finally, this poll from USA Today/Gallup has a raft of noisome news for President B.O.: Mitt Romney has a "significant advantage" over Obama on "managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs;" Republicans and Republican leaners have a huge advantage in enthusiasm over Democrats and Democratic leaners; 61% of respondents say "the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses." And this is from a poll of adults, not likely voters or even registered voters; likely voters would be even more pro-Romney.
And what is the response of America's Trillion-Dollar Taxman to this incessant threnody of electoral woe?
President Barack Obama dashed to Colorado on Sunday to meet with families of those gunned down in a movie theater and to hear from state and local officials about the shooting that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured.
Many argue that the visit was a wonderful, heartfelt attempt to reach out and comfort those in dire need of it, who have lost loved ones including children, wives, husbands, and other beloveds. The elected officials of Aurora are convinced that the president's visit was a vital part of the grieving process:
"These families need that kind of contact by our elected leader," said the Aurora police chief, Dan Oates. "It will be very powerful and it will help them. As awful as what they've been through and what they're going through has been having the president here is very, very powerful, it means a great deal to them and all of Aurora," he told CBS'"Face the Nation."
"I think the president coming in is a wonderful gesture," said Aurora's mayor, Steve Hogan. "He's coming in, really, to have private conversations with the families. I think that's totally appropriate." Hogan told ABC's "This Week" that it "certainly means a lot to Aurora to know that the president cares."
But does it really? Does it truly comfort the grieving when the President of the United States shows up with full entourage, trailing a bus-sized complement of paparazzi, and turns grief into a very public spectacle with distinctly political overtones? Particularly when the grieving and the wounded know full well, as do we all, that at least one purpose of the presidential visit to Aurora is to buttress Obama's reelection bid.
I don't speak for anyone else, but I can tell you that the absolute last thing I would want, were I in a situation I don't even want to think about, the very last thing, would be to abruptly discover myself to have become an integral part of a presidential campaign event... even if I liked the president in question. (With this president, such forced exploitation would be intolerable.)
On a silver platter
But I have the feeling that this burst of "compassion" is more than just a momentary bolt, a duck and fade, a quick trip to avoid, for another couple of days, grabbing the bear by the tail and looking the economic facts in the face. Rather, I think there is a distinct possibility that this shooting might transform and refocus the Obama campaign on the next new squirrel, a distraction that could possibly carry them all the way to November without Obama ever having to articulate a solution to our fiscal crisis.
The Permanent Progressivist Presidential Campaign might decide to base their entire campaign on a nationwide series of repressive gun-control laws. He could, for example, make a point of signing the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (assuming it get finalized in time), then making great theater of saying he'll present it to the Senate for approval after the election (because he doesn't want to "politicize" such an urgent and vital issue).
This will allow him to ride the gun-control hobby horse, clinging to the pommel until the bell rings on November 6th, without ever having to show any results for all that sound and fury.
Again I caution, this is sheer speculation, a "might," not a "will;" I have no hard evidence of this, since it hasn't happened yet. Consider this merely a musing with a heads-up.
But there are portents; Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA, 90%) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY, 80%) have already waved the obligatory bloody shirt, demanding we cast aside our essential liberty and do something about those awful guns. That supplies the framework on which Obama can hang his new campaign theme.
It's easy enough to coax other anti-gun extremists, never shy about publicizing their cause, to redirect, repeat, and retweet the clarion call. Just look how easy it was, as Korso points out below, for ABC chief investigative reporter Brian Ross tried to falsely blame Tea Partiers for the Aurora shootings with breathtaking alacrity. How many Americans heard (and believed) the accusation but not the retraction? A concerted anti-gun campaign could drum up hundreds of voices, from shrill to solemn, from measured moderation to maximum madness, to try to pull off the greatest presidential-election misdirection of all time.
With so many "reputable" sources blaming this shooting on the guns wielded by that ghoul, can the White House itself lag far behind? How long until some genius in the Permanent Campaign realizes the opportunity that has just been handed to them, the ultimate distraction from that which they cannot discuss?
The indecency of inappropriate silence
A quick, self serving, justification detour...
We are continually lectured that we should not "politicize" tragedy, generally by liberal "instructors" doing precisely that. Republicans and conservatives rightly see themselves as much better mannered than Democrats and liberals; but the latter exploit that Republican reserve and dance, booted and spurred, upon our politesse. And despite the effrontery, they make great inroads in the meme wars by doing exactly what they demand the rest of us to abjure.
Consider the case of Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush did more to mitigate damage and prepare for the disaster, even before that catastrophic storm, than any president in history. In the immediate aftermath, the Left warned the president, in stentorian and censorious voice, not to politicize the devastation -- then instantly fell to attacking Bush for his "incompetence," "disconnect," and "indifference."
The president, in an excess of good manners and basic decency, refused to fight back; and the Left had the airwaves all to themselves for many days. The result was that the false stench of presidential failure was firmly established, despite reams of evidence that the response to Hurricane Katrina was perhaps the best example of federal disaster response. Today, even most conservatives have been brainwashed into seeing Katrina as the nadir of Bush's presidency. Worse, it colored Americans' perception of his entire tenure, and perhaps helped saddle us with the current Occupier in Chief.
We must not enable yet another one-sided war in the name of seemliness, when those who would destroy America from within -- for example, by obliterating our cherished right to keep and bear arms -- are about as unseemly as it's possible to imagine. If I offend, I won't apologize; the loss of traditional American virtues is too dire to be held hostage to inappropriate silence.
Now back to the main road...
The tee shot
Let us be clear what I suggest and what I do not. First, there is no chance in Hades that the Arms Trade Treay could garner 67 votes in the Senate; there are already 57 senators who have come out against it, at least as envisioned by the anti-gun crowd.
But that's irrelevant to the Progressivist point. Obama need not actually enact gun control or confiscation; he need only change the subject (again) away from the economy to something else, anything else.
Many Americans would be "up in arms" about such a bait and switch. But with the stakes so high -- four more years of Obamunism to finish transforming our nation -- the Obama campaign might well calculate that the ill-will generated by going after guns is the lesser of two evils.
Look at the size of the hole they've already dug on jilted jobs, guttering growth, risible regulations, and just plain mean-spirited mudslinging at "the rich," which today appears to mean everybody not ensconced beneath the liberally defined and infinitely movable "poverty" line.
Obama cannot fix or even staunch the bleeding of our economy, because that would require the Big Stick to embrace Capitalism and the free market, anathema to Progressivists. But his other option is a simplistic, "black and white" battle cry: "Cling" to evil, talismanic guns, and you'll have a bunch of dead innocents in movie theaters.
And every minute spent discussing something other than the economy is a minute precious and helpful to Barack Obama.
But in the end, I believe this (speculative) distraction would explode in the president's face like a trick cigar, as have all the other sleights he has tried. Obama's biggest and most intractable problem is that he fundamentally does not understand what it means to be American, proudly American, uniquely American. I don't care where the man was born, he is not one of us.
If the president gives in to his baser instincts and his clueless advisors, or the other way 'round; if he pulls the trigger on running a "gun-control campaign;" he will discover that the roots of American independence stretch much deeper than he could possible imagine. Even many liberals would be outraged by a campaign at war with guns, when our problem is a government at war with prosperity.
So if that's the direction the permanent campaign has chosen, bring it on. I have no proof that gun control is their Plan B, and I'm certainly not making such a prediction; there are so many other distractions to choose from! But an anti-firearms campaign knits together so many threads that Progressivists love that I cannot imagine they haven't at least kicked the gong around.
July 13, 2012
He Stoops to Hunker
President Barack "Big Stick" Obama, America's Trillion-Dollar Taxman, is out of gas and running on vapors... in this case, the "vapors" induced in the press at the evidently terrifying thought that we might soon have a businessman lording over la Casa Blanca. Heaven forfend! All the president's men can do is hunker down and hope that something happens, or that something "sticks," to reverse the downward dynamic of the election.
In a desperate ave Diabolus, President B.O. attempts to turn Mitt Romney's most attractive qualification, his extraordinarily successful management of Bain Capital, into a disqualifation for public office. At the moment, the president's campaign labors to label the Republican candidate as -- wait for it -- a federal felon.
As Paul [Mirengoff] noted twice today, the Obama campaign has reached a new low by resuscitating its Bain-Capital-related smears of Mitt Romney. Picking up on a recycled story in the Boston Globe, the Obama campaign suggested in a call with reporters that Romney may be a felon; either that, or he is misleading the American people. [Emphasis added. -- DaH]
The Democrats’ smear is based largely on ignorance of securities law. In her phone call today, Obama staffer Stephanie Cutter cited SEC filings which listed Romney as a “controlling person” after 1999. If Romney was controlling Bain Capital, Cutter argued, then obviously he was responsible for Bain Capital’s investments after 1999 and has been lying about his relationship with the company. But being a “controlling person” doesn’t mean that you are running the company....
As the owner of Bain Capital from 1999 to 2002, Romney naturally was listed as a controlling person in Bain’s SEC filings. That has nothing to do with whether he played any operational role in the firm’s investments, which, by all accounts, he didn’t.
The "felony" part comes into play because Romney signed various Securities and Exchange Commission documents over the years between February, 1999, when he departed from Bain Capital in haste to rescue the Salt Lake City Olympics, to 2002, when the legal nonsense surrounding Romney's departure finally was resolved; since those statements are signed under oath, if Romney lied on them, that could be considered felonious behavior under some circumstances (and of course, it would be a federal rap, because the SEC is a federal agency).
But there isn't an echo of a ghost of a molecule of evidence that (a) Mitt Romney actually actively managed Bain or made investment decisions after he left in 1999, nor that (b) he lied about anything. In fact, it doesn't even make sense: Since Romney was a private person during those years, still intending to return to Bain (which he never did), he would have had no reason to lie anyway.
The One had no "Magic 8-Ball" to predict that a decade later, it would make a scintilla of difference whether he ceased managing his firm as soon as he headed out to the Great Salt Lake or a triplet of years later. What could he possibly gain in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 from fibbing about this? He wasn't even elected governor of Massachusetts until November, 2002.
But there is a darker, more repugnant possibility here that appalls me, but which I am compelled to consider (which also appalls me). My inability to dismiss it from my musings sprouts from Obama's own pre-presidential electoral history; in particular, the fact that Obama won several contests by concocting ways to force his opponents off the ballot entirely.
And what better way, they may believe, to force Romney off the ballot, or at least cripple him so badly that Obama's reelection becomes a foregone conclusion, to persuade the American voters that they were on the verge of electing a "federal felon" to the presidency?
How far would the Obama campaign go in trying to emasculate the GOP nominee? Would they, for example, open a Justice-Department "investigation" of Romney's Bain-Capital statements? Repeatedly subpoena and interrogate Romney campaign officials -- "What did the governor know, and when did he know it, Mr. Rhoades?" -- to disrupt the campaign, douse it with the malodor of criminality, and incidentally wring details of every last campaign strategy out of them?
Would they dare go so far as to call a grand jury and indict the Republican nominee?
I think I would let out a whoop and do the Snoopy happy-dance if they did. Alas, while I think Obama and his campaign cronies are fools, I cannot bring myself to believe they're utter fools. And they would have to be, to think that arresting or indicting their opponent, like some African or South American banana republic, would have any effect other than to appall the electorate, enrage voters (even many Democrats), and finally cause them to rise up in a true popular front against the Big Stick.
Still, I find the possibility amusing; certainly no other president of my lifetime would have either the chutzpah or hubris to imagine he could get away with it... but I'm not 100% certain that the current occupier of 1600 Penn. Ave. doesn't: He has demonstrated an arrogance and narcissism never before seen at such exalted levels.
Call it the Case of the Injudicious Indictment, where Mitt Romney would play Perry Mason to Obama's bumbling Burger. It's not likely enough for me to call it a prediction, but it's worth keeping your eye to the ground for a heads up.
June 21, 2012
Our Pinocchio President
Yes, yes, Barack "Big Stick" Obama's latest futile attack ad, slamming Mitt Romney's tenure as Massachusetts governor and his time as CEO of Bain Capital, is nothing but a pack of lies, danged lies, and hysterics. But don't take my word for it: The fact-checker at the Washington Post gives it the coveted rating of "four Pinocchios." That's the worst level of "misleading, unfair and untrue" statements (WaPo's words) they give.
The Post defines the four possible ratings thus:
Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods.
Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people.
Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.
All I'll say about this particular attack ad is -- does Big Stick want a 42 oz King sized Mello Yello with that?
If you want the details, go read the article; but there are bigger fish to drink here: This president is without any question the biggest big fat liar, traducer, and corrupter of our nation's youth ever to sit behind the desk in the Ovum Office. And that's up against some outstanding presidential competition, from "Vote Haggler" Quincy Adams, to "Teapot" Harding ("I know nussinkg, nussinkg!"), to "Deadvote" Johnson, to "All In the Family" Kennedy, to "Sinister" Nixon, to "Is-Is" Clinton.
But Barack Obama blows 'em all away with the sheer banality and senselessness of his crimes against honesty, and by the casual, offhand way he commits them. It's as if he truly never knows, from one falsity or villainy to the next, whether he is lying, embellishing, compositing, extorting, bribing, kow-towing, cowering, hallucinating, gibbering, sleeptalking, or -- on occasion as rare as a hygienic Occupier -- accidentally blurting out the truth, but at the worst possible moment.
He is a veritable treasure-trove of treachery, the pontiff of perfidy and prevarication. A man who, I suspect, believes that reality is literally created and recreated with every new claim. To ask Big Stick whether he told the real truth is like asking a dreamer whether he dreamt a real dream. Truth is, by Obamunist definition, whatever Obama most recently said.
It's a sobering thought, that the President of the United States perceives the world through the brain of a solipsist, or even, gold help us, a schizophrenic: Reality is infinitely malleable; as Robert Anton Wilson put it, "reality is what you can get away with."
...Which increasingly, for Barack H. Obama, is less and less that it used to be.
Or to quote that wonderful gospel song, God's Gonna Cut You Down:
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
June 15, 2012
When Metaphors Attack!
Tuesday: Barack "Big Stick" Obama explains, with one of the most labored metaphorical analogies in political history, why the deficit really is all Bush's fault:
When Mitt Romney and other Republicans carp about the dismal economy without mentioning that Mr. Obama inherited a $1 trillion deficit from his Republican predecessor [well, not really. -- DaH], "it’s like somebody goes to a restaurant, orders a big steak dinner, martini, all that stuff," Mr. Obama said, winding up to his punch line as his audience tittered. "And then, just as you’re sitting down, they leave, and accuse you of running up the tab!"
"That’s what they do!" the president said, as the Democratic Party faithful crammed into the ballroom applauded, hooted and hollered. [Or could one say, brayed like donkeys? -- DaH] "I am not making this up!"
No, he's not; that's the Obamic speechwriter's job. And it's a cute analogy, if not remotely close to reality. But lo! The v-e-r-y n-e-x-t d-a-y...
Wednesday: "Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you..."
Celebrating Father’s Day early, the president had lunch with two service members and two local barbers at Kenny’s BBQ on Capitol Hill.
As the group chatted about fatherhood, the president enjoyed a steaming plate of pork ribs with hot sauce, collard greens, red beans and rice and cornbread.
The bill for the president and his four guests was $55.58, but was left unpaid at the point of sale, according to pool reports.
Might one say he left, sticking his
hosts guests with the bill? I am not making this up.
So the Big Stick throws another boomerang. But don't worry; the White House did eventually, and however reluctantly, pay the bill, probably after mulling how chintzy it would look if they simply stiffed the helmet-heads and head cutters. Nevertheless, Obama still hasn't managed to stop running up his own "steak dinner" deficit tab -- martinis and all.
No word on when the president plans to apologize to George W. Bush for the stupid "stuck-Obama-with-the-bill" mal-analogy; but another perfect example of just what it means to be "snakebit."
May 21, 2012
A Modernist Proposal to Make ObamaCare Better, Faster, and Stronger
In the spirit of ObamaCare's mandate on all employers, including religious institutions that don't happen to be churches, to push contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization, Big Lizards hereby proposes a new mandate1.
It is well known that pork has gotten a bad rap over the years for being dirty, poisonous, and loaded with fat; hence the campaign, thwarted by conservatives, to dub pork "the other white meat"2.
It doesn't help that pork is associated with lower-income consumers who live in the South and is frequently cooked in barbecues by hot smoke; science has proven how dangerous smoking is!
Thus we propose the Safe Porcine Alternative Mandate: All restaurants and food stores, regardless of Kosher or non-Kosher status (except for all establishments owned, operated, or frequented by Moslems, which are of course completely and utterly exempt from this mandate), are required by regulation to carry a full line of pork products, both raw and also ready to eat, prominently displayed on the menu and on store shelves; the mandate requires that all employees, servers, owners, customers, and random passers-by enthusiastically cooperate with the mandate by using all forms of rhetoric, persuasion, threats, and brute force to induce consumers to purchase large and expensive lots of these pork products, whether they like it or not3.
The mandate applies to all businesses, corporations, facilities, retail outlets, convenience stores (whether connected to a gasoline service station or not), candy stores, movie theaters, primary and secondary schools whether secular or sectarian, vending machines, and private pot-luck parties4.
We trust this will satisfy those rightwing wingnuts who whine that we're always picking on Catholics; hey, did you know that "Middle Class" Joe Biden is Roman Catholic? And when we dump him from the reelection ticket, that also won't be because we're picking on Catholics again.
And if SPAM + GloTE do not satisfy some fringe religious bitter-clingers, we have re-education centers with full waterboarding facilities ready and waiting to persuade them, calmly and rationally, to see things our way.
1 There is no need for Congress to act on this mandate; it can be "deemed" (by regulatory fiat) to be an integral part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, and be implemented forthwith pursuant to Executive Order 13666 by President Barack "Very Big Stick, Massive Stick" Obama.
2 Or, if you're one of those vegetarians who insist that fish are just vegetables with eyes, "the other other white meat."
3 If price or inavailability make it difficult to obtain pork products, those subject to the mandate and who earn less than $200,000 and who also pay a higher effective income tax rate than Debbie Bosanek, Warren Buffett's secretary, can substitute products that mix meat and milk (e.g., McDonald's Toyless Cheesburgers™ or Campbell's Cream of Rodent™ soup) on a Global Traif Exchange (GloTE), which is also deemed enacted by Congress pursuant to the same Executive Order 13666 that enacts the SPAM itself.
4 Reform and Orthodox Jewish synogogues are exempted on Saturdays and on High Holy Days; Conservative Jewish synogogues are not exempt because, well, we just don't like their name.
May 9, 2012
President Comes Out
With mounting pressure on President Barack "Big Stick" Obama from mounting activists, protesters, and Occupiers among his White House staff, and with mounting slumping in his poll numbers in an election year, the president has reversed his life-long opposition to same-sex marriage and now embraces it:
President Obama today announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president....
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told [Robin] Roberts, in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.
Many political analysts believe the president is now poised to capture the powerful gay-activist vote.
May 3, 2012
A Crisis Obama Might Let Go to Waste
Finally, at long last, President Barack H. Obama has a chance to show off that big stick he totes.
See, the tragedy is that he has not yet had any real opportunity to prove that he could be a real, honest to goodies wartime president, like his idol, Franklin Roosevelt. Oh, sure, there are those two petty, vainglorious wars he inherited from his predecessor, may the flies eat out his eyes; but those wars were plodding, dreary affairs that simply had no dash, no shining White-House moment, no sex appeal at all.
They don't count. No future historian is going to point to Afghanistan or Iraq circa 2009-2013 and gush about how courageous Big Stick was in winding down those wars with neither victory nor even closure. That's just straight out of the Democratic playbook; Obama doesn't get any brownie points for doing what everybody expected him to do: snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Similarly, it's hard for even Mr. O. himself to get all het up about more drone attacks; heck, the very word "drone" sounds like your boring neighbor who just goes on and on about his pets, and how delicious they are in hollandaise sauce.
Of course the president did make a tremendous impact on the deadly military emergency in Mexico; but, well, for various reasons he can't really use that to burnish his national-security credentials.
But today, Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov, the highest ranking soldier in the
Soviet in the Russian Republic, has given Barack Obama manna from Moskow: Makarov has issued a serious and credible threat to launch a preemptive strike on our ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in East Europe, unless we agree to negotiate it into the dustbin of history:
Russia’s most senior military officer said Thursday that Moscow would preemptively strike and destroy U.S.-led NATO missile defense sites in Eastern Europe if talks with Washington about the developing system continue to stall.
"A decision to use destructive force preemptively will be taken if the situation worsens," Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said at an international missile defense conference in Moscow attended by senior U.S. and NATO officials.
Should Obama save our commitment to BMD? Admittedly, the current system was initiated by that same vile predecessor, may he find scorpions in his breakfast cereal; but Big Stick already took care of that problem: He changed the previous system from the more powerful, effective, and versatile Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle atop our existing Ground Based Interceptor -- the system envisioned by the warmonger -- to the old Standard Missile 3 (SM-3), the same, off-the-shelf missile used by the Navy for shipboard BMD, emplaced in "Central Europe" by 2015. So you can see that the new system is totally different from the worthless piece of junk developed by the hateful hating hate-monger who ran the previous tyrannical regime.
Thus, President Stick has a golden opportunity to go toe to toe with the Russkies and tell them to just "bring it on" -- if, that is, they want to precipitate a shooting war between Russia and NATO. Show 'em who's boss! Grab that big stick, Mr. President, and throw it over your shoulder like a Continental soldier!
All Obama need do -- it's so easy! -- is instruct "Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense," who "insisted the talks about NATO plans for a missile defense system using ground-based interceptor missiles stationed in Poland, Romania and Turkey were not stalemated," to stand firm, arms akimbo, look her counterpart in the eye (stepstool may be required), and say, "Yo' bubbie!"
If more elaboration is needed, she can add, "Just try an attack on American military forces, vodka breath, and after our Aegis ships shoot down your impotent missiles, we'll expand the BMD system to Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia, South Korea, Japan, and not to forget Nome, Alaska. Stick that in your babushka and smoke it!"
Dear gentle readers, this is it: This is the chance for which the president has been waiting lo these many years. Let this be Barack "Big Stick" Obama's three a.m. phone call.
Is he going to knuckle under? Or worse, is he going to let the phone just ring and ring and ring? Heck no! My money's on
the Stig the Stick to flex those Popeye muscles and give that dadburned Bluto Putin what for. Our man in la Casa Blanca certainly won't let this crisis go to waste; surely he'll swing for the fences at the low-hanging fruit.
Who's with me on this? Who's with me on this? It's time Obama draws his foot in the sand. If he stands up to the Russian bear on this point, if he tells them that we will consider any attack on our bases in Poland or anywhere else "casus belli," a justification for full-blown war against Russia, then nobody can call him a wimp, a mushmouth, an unprepared, dimwitted, poorly educated, godless, Castro-loving, commie prevert affirmative-action president ever again. So there.
All he need do is shut off the teleprompter, square up, and take a full-throated stand for America... and that will be Barack Hussein Obama's finest hour. (What's the over-under?)
May 1, 2012
Big Stick's New Slogan: Forward to Nowhere!
I reckon by now everybody has heard that Barack H. Obama's new campaign slogan, unveiled to great fanfare for the media to parrot until it goes viral, is -- wait for it -- "Forward."
No, that's not a misprint. Obama's entire campaign will be based upon the word "forward."
Yes, yes, I know what the conservative press and the dextrosphere have been saying; but forget about all those Socialist and Communist movements and States that have used the word "Forward!" as part (or all) of their slogans, names, or publications. As even Newsmax has pointed out, everybody and his unkie's monkle has tried to appropriate the future at one time or another, including the state of Wisconsin and the Jewish Daily Forward. (Of course, the latter is published by and for New York Jews, so maybe it should count as one of those radical Socialist publications...)
The first problem with the slogan is that it is utterly devoid of any meaning whatsoever -- "forward" to where? To what? Forward means only going in the same direction you're currently pointing; which at the moment is the wrong direction, according to a supermajority of Americans, as measured by Rasmussen, NBC, CBS, and Reuters. Reverse full, reverse full!
The second problem is that, being so vacuous itself, this silly slogan easily lends itself to parody and mockery. Here's the first cartoon I imgained: Barack "Big Stick" Obama striding boldly off to the left, fist raised high, the caption reading "Forward!" -- directly towards a cliff over a yawning chasm. This sort of mirth at the president's expense practically draws itself.
Third, it's pompous, playing directly into voters' perception that Obama sees himself as the smartest guy in every room and the center of the known universe. Doesn't it recall, in its delusional grandiosity, those Greek columns that surrounded him during the spectacle of his nomination?
Forward to the dubious and imaginary golden age of Progressivism!
Sure, Obama is already ripe for mockery; here's Mitt Romney on the president's upcoming renomination in Charlotte, North Carolina -- remember when the Democrat's irrational exuberance led them to believe that North Carolina would become a permanent blue state? -- and what you won't see in Charlotte:
My guess is by the way, the Democratic Convention, he will not be appearing in front of Greek columns like in Denver. He won't want to remind people of Greece.
And dig those ginormous, left-facing portraits of Obama, each about a quarter-mile tall: Big Stick is watching you! Add that to the ludicrous slogan, and you've got a real winner there -- for wits and comics across the globe.
Finally, when you hear the word "Forward" -- what is your immediate word-association-football for the next word? For an awful lot of American males (and an increasing number of American females), the obvious next word is: ...march! Which sounds an awful lot like Barack Obama is (literally) issuing marching orders to the citizenry of the United States. Achtung!
My understanding was, and maybe I'm just being naive, that the legal and political reality is the exact opposite: We're supposed to give our representatives, including the POTUS, orders, not the other way 'round.
Remember those words from Abraham Lincoln (does the Big Stick even know who that feller was?) from his Gettysburg Address: "And that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." He didn't say government of, by, and for
the One the Light Bringer the Big Stick the Supreme Leader.
But Obama's imperious nature (I'm the king, and I want my noodles!) and condescending opinion of the American people (we're just not good enough for him) tells me that the association of "Forward, march!" may be unintentional, but it surely is not unwarranted.
The cement-headed new slogan isn't a disaster; it's not like his new slogan was "You want mustard on that dog?" But it's yet another lost opportunity, in a lengthy chain of such lost opportunities, to try to bridge the gap between Obamunism and Americanism. It is a blunder... and I'm profoundly grateful: For every such foolish misstep brings us one sure-foot step closer to real hope and change in November.
April 30, 2012
Slick Chick Shivs Big Stick - UPDATED!
You know it's not your everyday day, in this, the permanent campaign, when Arianna Huffington of the Huff'n'puff Press calls President Barack "Big Stick" Obama despicable:
In May 2011 President Barack Obama authorized the raid that did away with the al Qaida leader. But a video ad released by the Obama campaign last week, which included former President Bill Clinton trumpeting Obama’s achievement, also had wording which suggested that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Romney might not have made the same decision.
"I don't think there should be an ad about that," Huffington told "CBS This Morning" Monday. "I think it's one thing to celebrate the fact that they did such a great job [with television specials]. All that is perfectly legitimate. But to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do."
It's hard to believe that Huffington actually cares about the tender sensibilities of Mitt Romney; more likely, she detects a growing whiff of desperation in Big Stick's slick schtick. Obama must be getting a little gobsmacked by the fact that, contrary to his supremely confident sense of himself, he's not running ten points ahead of this upstart nobody with a funny name who wasn't even brilliant enough to make president of the Harvard Law Review. Once again, the American people are failing him!
When a narcissist's self image collides with reality, a common reaction is to lash out with an increasingly aberrant frenzy of accusations, each designed to demonstrate the physical, moral, intellectual, and spiritual superiority of the narcissist to the barnacles and parasites trying to drag him down. But the rest of the world sees the attacks for what they are: indefensible defense mechanisms enabling the overly self-esteemed to live one more day as still the center of the universe.
(Obama's real crime, from Huffington's perspective, is that every time he does something like this, the glare from Barack's hand-held halo washes out the beauty of Arianna's own.)
UPDATE one hour later: The Big Stick doubles down! Obama traveled all the way to Japan to repeat his calumny that Mitt Romney would have been too cowardly or too squeamish to continue the Bush policy of assassinating Osama bin Laden, as Barack Obama did:
"I'd just recommend that everybody take a look at people's previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and to take out bin Laden," Obama said, obviously taking a shot at Romney. "I assume that people meant what they said when they said it. And that's been at least my practice. I said that I would go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him--and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they would do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it."
But this time Barack Obama added a "visible smirk." Mighty presidential of him.
April 23, 2012
Obamunism and the Mark of the Outcast
According to Newsmax -- admittedly not the most reliable of sources, but it's hard to doubt this story -- many, many people have taken to Twitter to issue direct, specific, and presumably criminal threats to kill George Zimmerman (he who shot Trayvon Martin, possibly in self defense), along with solicitations for others to kill Zimmerman, as well as the judge who released him on bail. Some of the threats or solicitations:
- Someone pass me a gun, imma go follow zimmerman, shoot, and kill him and say #imstandingmyground
- I think imma personally kill George Zimmerman . . . anyone's welcome to join
- Once u been convicted of a crime & let out on bail u can't be charged 2x for the same thing so that means sum1 gonna have to kill Zimmerman.
- Zimmerman released from jail someone kill the judge!!!!!
Nor to forget the "dead or alive" wanted poster promulgated by the New Black Panther Party.
My question: Will any of these people actually be charged or indicted for making terroristic threats, solicitations to murder, or any other obvious felony?
Or does the well-publicized fact that President Barack H. Obama and his administration are backing Trayvon Martin 100% in this controversy mean that the feds -- whose jurisdiction I assume it would be, since Twitter crosses all state lines -- declare, in effect, a de facto, universal letter of marque and reprisal, "open-season" on Zimmerman? Will Obama give murderers carte blanche for any act of violent revenge they please... so long as the target is that "white Hispanic" that the American Left hates worse than anybody except perhaps the Koch brothers (whom the Left also blames for this shooting)?
If we don't hear about numerous arrests of Twitter twits, I submit we will have our answer:
Actually, it's even more lawless than that; for in the old days of sail, each privateer required specific permission from the government (the letter itself)... and he was supposed only to capture ships and bring them before a tribunal for judgment; he was only allowed to fire upon them if they resisted. The present Twiminals have no authorization from anybody to do anything, and they have no intention of taking Zimmerman for trial but simply want to kill him.
The Left has pronounced Zimmerman beyond all legal protection, moral rights, social support, and even beyond the minimal humane consideration. Without an immediate crackdown by the relevant law-enforcement agencies, Zimmerman may well end up lynched. The Obamunists will have carved "the mark of the Outcast" into George Zimmerman's brow... and anybody is allowed to do anything to an Outcast.
Yet I have a cold gut-feeling that the federal response to these crimes will be... nada. After all, if Obama had a son, he would look like Trayvon; the fish rots from the head down, and even cops take their cue from the capo di tutti capi (along with his designated button-man, Eric Holder).
In the lawless age of Obama, God knows we need a federal shall-issue concealed-carry permit, one that overrides all state and local laws banning the carrying of concealed weapons. Otherwise, at least a third of the population of the United States are utterly denied our fundamental, individual right -- affirmed recently by the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010) -- to keep and bear arms.
McDonald did not, of course, address whether carrying a concealed weapon is also individually protected by the Second Amendment; but we could clear that up with federal legislation as above. I truly hope that this will be one of the first actions of an incoming Republican Congress and presidency.
Democrats will inevitably try to filibuster it; but nowadays, it's not at all certain that they'll get their 41 votes.
Rather than hunker into a defensive crouch, hoping to stave off the mythical "people's movement" to install a European-style gun ban, let us go on the offensive: Let us demand that our exceptional right to keep and bear arms finally be fully implemented, as the Founders intended.
April 14, 2012
Peg Bundy Progressivists
Power Line's John Hinderaker (my favorite fave) looks at a few reasons Why Liberals Hate Ann Romney, but I think he missed one.
Most of these liberal Progressivists are young, younger than I, probably younger than a great many of you, Dear Readers. Their own mothers likely were not stay-at-home mothers; they worked outside the home -- they had to work because of the huge taxes levied on the middle income in contemporary America.
They're also much too young, today's Progressivists, to remember movies and television shows, the source of all pop (i.e., liberal) culture, that portrayed stay-home moms in a positive way. Sure, Leave It to Beaver, the Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, and suchlike still play in reruns on TV Land and other channels; but my experience is that many young viewers -- especially those egotistical and condescending enough (and with short enough attention spans) to be liberals -- simply cannot abide black and white TV and movies. It's like so last century!
So whence do they get their image of what a stay-at-home mom is, does, and looks like? My guess is from primarily one show: Married With Children:
- The show is in color, and it has a contemporary feel -- unlike, say, the Brady Bunch. It plays into the hip, cynical, ironic, liberal narrative of what "real" families are like (i.e., severely dysfunctional, as are many more liberal than conservative families).
- Peg Bundy is a lousy mother: She spends much of her day lying on the couch eating bon-bons and couldn't care less that one kid is a slut who sleeps with anybody or anything, and the other is a geeky target of violent abuse at school.
- She has big hair.
- She never goes to the gym, yet miraculously maintains an incredible figure -- thereby inducing extreme envy among physically and intellectually lazy feminist Progressivists.
- And she's dumb as a doorknob, again allowing a feeling of tremendous superiority in the minds of narcissistic lefties.
So when Hilary Rosen sneers out the words "stay-at-home mom," making them sound like an obscene epithet, I'm utterly certain that the image that pops into her head is brainless, duplicitous, lazy, useless leech Peg Bundy. And I reckon John missed that possibility because he's not all that conversant with the high art of (relatively) contemporary American sit-coms.
Maybe we can get the term "Peg Bundy Progressivists" to go viral...
April 3, 2012
Did Silly Goose Obama Just Cook ObamaCare's Goose?
Nearly every court watcher agrees that ObamaCare hangs by a thread... the thread of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The four "conservative" (i.e., judicially modest) justices -- Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts -- appear poised to find the individual insurance mandate unconstitutional, and possibly the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 -- depending on how they rule on "severability," whether any part of ObamaCare can stand if the core of it is gutted.
And it's a dead cert that all four "liberal" (i.e., radical leftist) justices -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan -- will uphold the law, regardless of its constitutionality or lack thereof; for they rule according to politics, and it's very, very bad politics for the Left if they strike down the "crown jewel" of Barack H. "Occupier" Obama's administration. (Occupy la Casa Blanca's motto is "Everything inside the State; nothing outside the State; nothing against the State.")
That leaves the swingin' justice, Anthony Kennedy, holding the sack.
So along comes the Occupier with this pronunciamento:
"I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress," President Obama said Monday of the High Court’s consideration of his signature health care legislation....
"I would just remind conservative commentators that for years what we have heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint. That an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example and I am pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step," he said.
Translation: I won the dang election, and now I get to decide -- me, not a gaggle of errand boys for grocery clerks -- what's constitutional and what's not. So shut the frack up... or else!
Now this sort of taut, rage-fueled hectoring may play very well within the authoritarian Left; but how will it play in the broader electorate? None too well, I expect. Few ordinary people like to be lectured by a corrupt, abject failure. And more to the immediate point, how will it play to the majesty and dignity of the Court, especially to Justice Kennedy?
If Obama even thought about it for a moment before speaking, he might imagine that Kennedy will be intimidated, will fret that the press might beat him up again; and thus he will respond by slinking away with his tail between his judicial legs.
But I think the president, in this case as in so many other instances, is living in a lefty bubble. I believe he has seriously misjudged the consequences of yet another example of presidential defiance bordering on outright threat. Rather than frighten Kennedy into kow-towing to the man in the high castle, I suspect that Kennedy -- however he might have been wavering about striking down the entirety of ObamaCare -- will now dig in his heels and go the whole nine hogs. I think he's going to call Obama's bluff and go all "Citizens United" on 'im.
By his ham-fisted tantrum, I believe that Barack Obama has thrown the ObamaCare goose into a cooked hat. I believe that come June, the Occupier in Chief will desperately wish for a Wayback Machine to unsay his words from yesterday.
Yet another epic fail.
P.S. For a riotously funny order issued by the 5th Circus -- well, riotous as such court orders go -- check the second update to the mononymous Karl's typically wonderful post on Patterico's Pantaloons. It's a gas, gas, gas!
February 22, 2012
Obama's "Romney Playbook" Refutiated
Many election analysts have noted that President Barack H. Obama, who appears to want another term, has worked with his grand viziers, his mullahs, his Council of Experts, and assorted hatchet peeps to develop two distinct election playbooks, one for each of the two most likely nominees:
For Rick Santorum, the Obamunists plot to smear him as a religious fanatic who wants to erect a theocracy on American soil, and as an ultra-social-conservative lunatic who wants to disenfranchise the entire female sex, burn gays at the stake, and reinstate official government racism, if not the return of slavery itself.
Alas, Santorum plays right into this strategy by his increasingly hysterical denunciations of Obama as "not a Christian;" he may well not be a Christian -- I think his religion is Progressivism; but as electoral strategy, attacking your opponent as irreligious is not calculated to reassure the mushy middle that you're fit to serve as POTUS.
For Mitt Romney, their scheme is both simpler and more complex: The Kingpin of gangster government intends to "smear" Romney for being a wealthy man.
This is simpler, in that nobody can deny that Mitt Romney would be the richest GOP presidential nominee of all time (that is, since the Republican Party was founded in 1854); he's worth between $190 and $250 million. (JFK -- Kerry, not Kennedy -- is probably the richest nominee ever; but he doesn't count as a counterexample, since he's a Progressivist Democrat, hence by definition busy saving the world, man!)
But the strategy is also more complex, in that Obama must show not only that Romney is rich, but that there is something disreputable about this; and he must convince tens of millions of voters who are not already "Occupiers" and "99 percenters."
I don't really care about Santorum's response to the inevitable Obamic attacks; I doubt he'll be the nominee; and if he is, having seen him in action now, I believe he'll win only if the economic climate is such that any Republican would win... a pious hope, but unlikely.
Thus, Obama will be forced to pivot his slanderous traducements from "evil conservative!" to "one percenter!", and he's stuck with trying to explain to the American people why multi-millionaire Republicans like Romney are inherently unfit to command, while multi-millionaire Democrats like Al Gore and John Kerry (and Barack Obama) are inevitably great leaders.
And that last is the chink in Obama's playbook, meaning no disrespect to Jeremy Lin; it lies within Romney's power, if not within his will, to utterly destroy that meme of attack -- or better, to drive it right back into Obama's court with an overhead smash. He can! But will he?
Will a Capitalist nation (sort of) implicitly reject anybody who's rich? Egad, I hope not; I can only hope that America has not sunk so low that it treats wealth itself as suspect, and sees liberal Fascism as its cure. Rather, I believe Americans admire achievement; and I believe they understand that wealth "inequality" is precisely what drives the economy, while enforced income equality would kill it... just as water that is all at the same level can do no work: Hydraulics requires some of the water to be higher than the rest; that's what makes the waterwheel, or the turbine, go round and round.
Romney need never apologize for his wealth; instead, he needs to say something along these lines:
My opponent accuses me of being successful and wealthy -- "rich" is the term he uses, I believe. All right, I confess; I am wealthy; I am rich. And you now how I got to be that way? By following the American dream.
My friends, I inherited a lot of money from my dad, George Romney, who worked for decades in the automobile industry in Detroit, Michigan. I also inherited a first-rate education. I kept the education, but I gave my entire inheritance to my alma mater... not because there's anything wrong with money or with parents passing along the fruits of their labors to their kids, but because I wanted to be my own man, to see what I could accomplish on my own. So I can honestly say I've earned every dollar I have.
Unlike my opponent, nobody gave me a suspiciously huge book contract when I was an obscure law student at Harvard; when I was an obscure law student at Harvard, I was simultaneously an obscure business student at Harvard; and I didn't have time to write a dream book about my father, anyway... or put my name on some radical professor's book, as the case may be.
I also never got a sweetheard land deal from a lobbyist and campaign fundraiser who was later convicted of fraud, bribery, and money laundering. So you see, I didn't have the advantages growing up that my opponent did.
Instead, I worked hard, played by the rules, and kept faith with my family, my friends, my competitors, and my God. And I succeeded, as so many others have done before and after, some more, some less. I thank God everyday for the United States of America, for liberty, and for the Capitalism that allows not only the privileged but the downtrodden to rise to heights limited only by their own talent, drive, persistence, and their refusal to accept artificial limits on achievement. Just ask Justice Clarence Thomas.
My opponent is a great believer in limiting achievements. Four years ago, all he could talk about was vague "hope and change," and how his presidency would heal the Earth, calm the oceans, and how the lamb would lie down with the lion. A pocketful of stimuluses, ObamaCares, and trillions of wasted spending later, not too many folks think they're better off now than four years ago. Except the lion, who got a nice rack of lamb on the deal.
This time, all my opponent can talk about are the few minor things he did that more or less worked, tiny islands in a vast sea of failure, diminished expectations, and a long, steady collapse of the American dream and of America itself... if we let him.
Yeah, I'm rich. And I want all of you here, everyone hearing these words, to become rich too -- or to write the great American novel (without a ghostwriter), or invent a molecule-sized computer, or design the most beautiful shopping mall ever built, or become a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Whatever your dream happens to be, never be ashamed or apologetic about succeeding. Be joyous! Be proud! I'm proud of the companies I helped save when I worked at Bain Capital and made a pile of money; and I kick myself for the companies that we couldn't save.
But that's Capitalism: In order to earn the right to succeed, you must accept the right to fail. Failure can be painful, but it teaches us to do it better next time.
There have been times I've failed, and times I've succeeded. On the whole, I like winning better than losing, not just for me but for everybody.
I guess that makes me both a Republican and an American!
All right, all right, I got a little carried away; but I was having fun cheering and defending achievement, wealth, and Capitalism with joyous abandon; I never apologize for anything but not doing my best.
Barack Obama is my political antiparticle, forever begging forgiveness for the achievements of his betters.
I reckon that makes him a liberal.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
February 9, 2012
Let's Get One Thing Perfectly Clear...
The recent order by President Barack H. Obama (and Kathleen Sebelius at the Department of Health and Human Services) -- that every employer must offer health insurance that fully covers birth control, sterilizations, and morning-after abortion pills, regardless of any religious objection employers, including faith-based employers that are not actually churches, might harbor to those procedures -- is not an "unintended consequence" of ObamaCare. Its architects are not that stupid.
Rather, that was one of the very reasons for enacting ObamaCare in the first place.
As many of us said back in 2009, the purpose of ObamaCare was never to give health insurance to needy people who couldn't afford it. First, that category was nearly empty:
- The deserving poor were already covered by Medicaid; and if necessary, its qualification threshold could have been temporarily lowered to allow more people to benefit -- say, by expanding availability to those who had recently lost their jobs (hence health insurance) but were not yet living below the Medicaid poverty line.
- The biggest chunk of those who did not have health insurance comprised the rich (who prefer to pay for their health care as necessary, rather than buy insurance), and the young, healthy, and shortsighted, who can afford health care but choose instead to gamble that they won't get so sick or injured that they need expensive treatment. Making such a choice, even if it turns out to be a big mistake, is part of individual liberty. The proper "solution" is to allow us that liberty, then hold individuals accountable for their own decisions; actions have consequences. (Innocents swept up in those bad decisions, such as children, can be helped separately.)
Finally, a small percentage of the uninsured could have afforded a cheaper, stripped-down policy, but cannot afford the "Cadillac" health-care plans whose costs are driven up by government mandates and regulations.
For those unfortunates, the easiest fix -- which would have benefitted everyone else as well -- was to eliminate all the government meddling the caused the problem in the first place: Requiring health insurance by law to cover a littany of specialized services; policies that make it difficult for insurance companies to offer greater variety in policies, such as a medical savings account coupled with catastrophic care (which encourage more parsimony among patients, as they must pay to refill their MSA if depleted); regulations prohibiting insurance companies from offering policies cross-state and cross-border; overly plaintiff-friendly (and especially lawyer-friendly) medical malpractice laws; and so forth.
Real problems, such as people with pre-existing conditions (the faux "casus belli" for the war against private insurance), could have been handled the same way bad drivers are handled for automobile insurance: Create an "assigned risk" pool among health insurers to spread the cost; allow a reasonable increase in rates for those with such conditions, and have a reasonably short waiting period (e.g., six months) before full coverage occurs; and allow for temporary government assistance for those who truly cannot wait and incur unpayable costs. (This isn't laissez-faire Capitalism, of course; but it's a reasonable and inexpensive compromise between liberty and safety net.)
Such reforms would have cost a fraction of the trillion dollars that ObamaCare expropriated from the private sector. In fact, once the lifting of government mandates and the squelching of "jackpot justice" malpractice suits lowered actual health-care costs, insurance reform might have wound up cheaper than the original system it replaced. And in any event, it would have been a move towards greater freedom of choice for employers and individuals.
But the Obamunists had precisely the opposite purpose from the beginning; rather than freedom, their ultimate goal was to put more Americans than ever before under the iron boot-heel of the government. Never was it about health insurance for the poor and uninsured; it was always about the federal government seizing control not only of the health care of individuals but also nationalizing those state and local health programs already in place. ObamaCare was, first and last, a power grab by the federal government at the expense of states, local governments, and individual Americans.
So please, let's not imitate Captain Renault in Casablanca -- shocked, shocked to discover that Barack Obama has violated our First-Amendment right to freedom of religion! In fact, that specific mandate was at the heart of ObamaCare tyranny: a frontal assault on the Catholic church in particular, which is so virulently hated by the gay-activist and feminist wings of the Left.
The only element of this policy that should shock anyone is the unbelievably hamfisted way that Obama decreed it: A politically savvy politician would have patiently held off until after the election, giving himself two years to allow the furor to die down.
Instead, the president once again mistook unanimity among his left-liberal friends for a Progressivist "consensus" among the American people; he lives in a bubble of epistemic closure, talking only to true-blue believers on the left. I formerly gave him the nickname "Lucky Lefty," because (a) he is left handed, (b) he is left-leaning, and (c) he was extraordinarily lucky. Well he's still (a) and (b), but not so much (c) anymore, so I can no longer call him that.
Obama's new nickname is "Bubble Boy," honoring his world view.
But what's done is done and cannot be undone; Obama has ripped off the mask, and he can't put it back into the bottle. We now see ObamaCare in all its naked savagery and unAmericanism. Thank goodness for Obamunist "dumbth!"
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
January 4, 2012
Obamic "Gaffe 'n' Graft" Machine Working Overtime - Instant Update!
Big Lizards hereby inaugurates (if I may use that word) a new political-rhetoric award called the Daley, after former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. We shall award it whenever a politician makes a gaffe, in the Kinsleyan mode of inadvertently blurting out the truth, by inexpertly managing his syntax.
Daley was mayor for 21 years; he made his eponymic gaffe (well, now it's an eponym) during the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in the Windy City. His oral manglement has become legendary:
Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all -- the policeman isn't there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.
Obama has made so many similar gaffes -- e.g., his wonderfully bizarre eruption of "Don't call my bluff!" -- that he deserves not only to be today's recipient but simultaneously the second recipient emeritus as well. (The first is of course, and always, Vice President "Slow" Joe Biden, who is awarded his own emeritus status retroactive to sometime during the Spanish-American War, when he first entered the Senate.)
Obama's Daley occurred not so very long ago; in fact, it will occur later today, in prepared remarks that he hasn't even given yet. Here we go:
"I refuse to take 'No' for an answer. I’ve said before that I will continue to look for every opportunity to work with Congress to move this country forward. But when Congress refuses to act in a way that hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them," he will say, according to prepared remarks.
Well! Who can argue with that?
The underlying context is equally disreputable. The Constitution allows the POTUS to temporarily appoint cabinet and sub-cabinet members without senatorial confirmation, but only when the Senate is in recess. Such "recess appointments" serve for one year. But by longstanding tradition, the Senate is only in "recess" when it has shut down for an extended period of time -- a minimum of three days without formally gaveling in a session.
But today, President B.O. appointed Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the newly invented Consumer Financial Protection Bureau only one day after the Senate held a regular, if pro forma, session; and Republicans argue this is an illegal appointment to seize power from Congress.
Even Obama himself agrees... or he did, way back in 2010, when his own Deputy Soliciter General argued in favor of the "three-day" rule to the U.S. Supreme Court, and during George W. Bush's presidency, when Obama was in the Senate and fully supported the rule:
The Constitution gives the president the power to make appointments when the Senate is not in session and able to confirm them. Traditionally that has been understood to mean when the Senate has adjourned for a recess longer than 10 days, and a Clinton administration legal opinion said a recess must be at least three days.
Mr. Obama’s own top constitutional lawyers affirmed that view in 2010 in another case involving recess appointments. Asked what the standard was for making recess appointments, then-Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal told the justices the administration agreed with the three-day rule....
The three-day rule was also the precedent Mr. Obama and his fellow Senate Democrats followed in 2007 and 2008 when they were trying to block then-President George W. Bush from making recess appointments.
“I am keeping the Senate in pro forma to prevent recess appointments until we get this process back on track,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said on Nov. 16, 2007, as he announced his strategy of having the Senate convene twice a week for pro forma sessions.
Now that the shoe is on the other hand, Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 75%) has changed his mind; he fully supports the president being allowed to make a "recess" appointment the very day after a session. All previous opinions of Reid's are inoperative.
I reckon means that future presidents can make them throughout the year, every Saturday and Sunday. No longer need they trouble the Senate to confirm or reject executive appointments. What a relief!
This one is likely headed to court, giving the president ample opportunity to win the Daley award several more times on this selfsame issue.
Instant update: Before even publishing this post, we have an update. It's a scoop!
Just hours after appointing Corday to head the CFPB, and still only one day after the last Senate session, the Obamunist in Chief made three more "recess" appointments, this time to the National Labor Relations Board:
President Barack Obama is bypassing GOP opposition to make three more recess appointments -- this time to the National Labor Relations Board.
The move came hours after Obama used a similar tactic to install former Ohio Atty. Gen. Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
Both moves infuriated GOP leaders, who threatened legal action and warned that Obama was setting a dangerous precedent by ignoring the will of Congress.
What fun! We must be nearing the Rupture, when the One shall rule entirely by decree, to officially inaugurate (if I may use that term yet again) the Obamic Millennium.
January 1, 2012
Barack the Peacemocker
According to my favorite blogger at my favorite blog (and the Associated Press), President Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama is currently in secret negotiations with the Taliban -- to be "mediated," if Obama has his way, by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: a Koran-thumping, jihad-urging, radical-Islamist cleric in Afghanistan.
The bare bones of the agreement our president is hammering out with the Taliban is this:
- Americans unconditionally withdraw all forces from Afghanistan.
- We give up all objection to the Taliban returning to power (as part of a "coalition" with the Karzai government * ).
- We build a headquarters compound for the Taliban.
- We announce that we are no longer enemies with the Taliban.
- We release all Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and allow them to return to Afghanistan -- and resume the activities that landed them in Gitmo in the first place.
- We issue an apology from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan; after which Obama goes barefoot and bareheaded to Kandahar, where he bows deeply from the waist and begs forgiveness -- for George W. Bush's wickedness.
(That last bullet point isn't official; I'm just logically extrapolating.)
In the Power Line post, John Hinderacker theorizes about what President B.O. has in mind:
[T]he Afghanistan war is deeply unpopular [it is? I thought that was the good war! -- DaH], and Obama wants to run for re-election next November on the boast that he "ended two wars." The baleful consequences of re-installing the Taliban in Afghanistan will not appear until long after the next election campaign, which is all that Obama cares about.
John implies, I believe, that the maneuver will have the desired effect: Obama will be lionized for being the peacemaker, Bush reviled as a warmonger, and this will give Bubble Boy a swift boost into a second term. But bear in mind that traditionally, the closer we approach an election, the more pessimistic become the lads at Power Line.
I have a different take on the political outcome of Obama "workin' the machinations behind the scenes," as Louis Farrakhan might put it. Rather than a political triumph for Obama, I see a soft spot that even the Republican Party will be able to hit while dead drunk and with one eye tied behind its back -- which, to be honest, is the way it usually campaigns.
Here's the plan. We wait until Barack Obama begins strutting and chest thumping about how he has "ended two wars," then we respond thus:
President Obama has discovered a super-easy way to end any war quickly: just surrender. We prematurely withdraw from Afghanistan at the same time we prematurely withdraw from Iraq, leaving the door wide open to an Iranian invasion; what a diplomatic masterstroke! Obama becomes the first president in American history to lose two wars... simultaneously!
It seems the One We Have Been Waiting For actually believes that surrendering to two different gangs of radical Islamists is America's greatest national-security triumph, and he expects us to reward him with another term. Even worse, these are two wars that we had already won -- that is, until Barack Obama took over and found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Heckuva job, Mr. President.
I have no idea who gave him the cockamamie idea to bring the Taliban back in Afghanistan and to prematurely withdraw from Iraq and allow Iran to take over. It's as if in 1945, after the Germans surrendered in World War II, FDR had entered into secret negotiations with the surviving Nazis to withdraw all American troops, then help restore the Nazi Party to power again in Germany... while simultaneously encouraging the Soviets to seize control of Japan, China, and the Philippines.
Even Jimmy Carter stands in awe of such a colossal concatenation of catastrophe.
Barack Obama has pulled off a feat that none of us thought possible: His foreign and national-security policy has failed even worse than his domestic and economic policy... a breathtaking achievement!
I say, bring it on; how I long to have that debate. What is Obama going to argue? "Look, it has been three months already, and the Taliban has not yet reinstated mass torture-executions of Christians, moderate Moslems, and uppity women!"
Well of course not: Part of Obama's secret deal with the Taliban requires them to hold off until Obama is safely reelected... probably the only clause of the contract they will fulfill; and then only because having Barack Hussein Obama continue to occupy the White House is in the Taliban's best interest, and Iran's as well.
All that's left is to declare all American hydrocarbon fuel off-limits at the very moment the Iranians decide to blockade the Strait of Hormuz; then the cosmic Obasmic failure will be complete, thorough -- and irreversible.
* Note that the Taliban and Hamid Karzai's government are deadly, sworn enemies; how's that parlay going to work out?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
December 20, 2011
On the Road 1 - Make 'Em Gaffe, Make 'Em Gaffe
Everybody's talking about a huge political gaffe, a typically goofy malstatement by (surprise!) Vice President "Slow" Joe Biden:
"The Taliban, per se, is not our enemy," Biden told Newsweek, for an article published today. "There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests."
But that's just more Biden inanity, and we've already factored that tendency into the equation. I'm far more infuriated by an entirely different gaffe that's quoted in the same article, one that I managed to miss last May, when President Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama himself included it in his speech crowing about having killed Osama bin Laden.
The Newsmax article truncates Obama's quotation; so to be perfectly fair, here is the complete context from the CNN transcript (May 2nd) of Obama's "gaffe," using the Michael Kinsley definition of "inadvertently blurting out the truth":
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we've made great strides in that effort. We've disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
In this particular paragraph, Obama leaves himself just enough wiggle room with the phrase "over the last 10 years" to dodge the charge of narcissism bordering on delusion. He might (plausibly) deny that he meant that he, President B.O., was personally responsible for "remov[ing] the Taliban government" from Afghanistan, a feat accomplished in 2001 by the United States of America during the presidency of George W. Bush.
But evidence later in that same speech indicates that in the mind of the current Occupier of la Casa Blanca, it's always all about Obama. Here is some more fun and games from that same speech:
Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network. [Note well that he uses both "I" and "we" in a single sentence to refer to the same subject: Barack H. Obama.]
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
Reality check (which beats "mic check" hands down): In the real world, President Bush ordered the killing of bin Laden ten years ago; he made it a "top priority," while he also "continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network." "Painstaking work by our intelligence community" came up with many, many "possible leads." Bush "met repeatedly" with our national-security team (not Bush's personal team; and neither does the One have a personal version of our national-security team). And on numerous occasions, Bush "determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice." It was Bush, after all, who coined the phrase that we would either "bring bin Laden to justice -- or bring justice to bin Laden."
Yet over and over, Obama assumes the mantle of Nimrod the mighty hunter, single-handedly killing bin Laden with his bare hands. (And over and over, the president pro tempore conflates himself -- "I" -- with the entire country, "we." Or perhaps it's merely the royal "we.")
The speech begins by ostensibly talking about America, not Himself. But he segues so seamlessly and quickly into "talking 'bout me" that one cannot take seriously the "modesty" of the opening few sentences. The ego-stroking starts up right quick and never quits until Obama runs out of teleprompter.
Ergo, I am quite convinced that from the very first words, in Obama's own mind, he's actually braying the personal triumphalism and self-glorification that has marked his public utterances since the year dot:
- When he announced that his election would lead to the oceans receding and the Earth cooling.
- When he declared that we are the ones we have been waiting for.
- When he gloried in winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, before he had a single significant accomplishment for "peace" -- other than announcing
surrenderunilateral withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of the status of the wars or the imminence of achieving our victory conditions; and his breathless announcement -- loudly cheered but since then discarded like a used Kleenex -- that he would close Guantanamo Bay within a year of his inauguration.
Therefore, given the totality of the evidence, I conclude that Obama truly believes that he, himself, kicked the Taliban out of Afghanistan... just as he is the One who set the machinery in motion to kill bin Laden, while that lox, George W. Bush, cowered in a corner and did nothing.
(Sidebar: On 9/11 itself, the very day, the co-worker of an acquaintance of mine -- a very liberal woman -- announced, "I blame Bush; he's a do-nothing president." Then she shrugged and went back to work. That's so leftin'!)
As so many have said so many times, November 2012 can't come soon enough. I just hope that the American people don't back away from what they seem to understand today: that Barack Obama is an unmitigated disaster on the American economy, feckless on national-security (notwithstanding being the guy on watch when the U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden), and an utter catastrophe on health care, labor policy, the environment, energy, diplomacy, judicial appointments, and indeed every domestic and foreign policy to which he has turned his lidless eye.
I still fear that at the last moment, Americans might get so frightened by the looming crises -- so many! -- that they turn to the nearest "strongman," the chest-beating Obama, the man who created or exacerbated our problems in the first place... and beg him to take command, like Hugo Chavez, to save them from their own liberty.
October 11, 2011
Barack H. Obama: the Whine We Have Been Waiting For
The president is grim; the moan-scream media is in full offensive-tackle mode (I think they're all left offensive tackles); the media's puppetmasters at the DNC are already pondering substitutions -- Hillary for Slow Joe, maybe even Hillary for B.O. himself, and anybody at all for Eric Holder.
But the Senate isn't playing ball; at the moment, they seem to be enaged in a complicated set of war games:
United against Barack Obama, Senate Republicans voted Tuesday night to kill the jobs package the president had spent weeks campaigning for across the country, a stinging loss at the hands of lawmakers opposed to stimulus-style spending and a tax increase on the very wealthy.
Forty-six Republicans joined with two Democrats to filibuster the $447 billion plan. Fifty Democrats had voted for it, but the vote was not final. The roll call was kept open to allow Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. to vote. The likely 51-48 eventual tally would be far short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive in the 100-member Senate.
Based on what I've been hearing, I'm quite certain that the Republican filibuster actually gave cover to Senate Democrats -- of which there are 53, counting socialist Bernie Sanders (S-VT, 100%) and "independent Democrat" Joe Lieberman (iD-CT, 79%); had the GOP allowed a vote, I am confident that at least two more Democrats would have voted against Bride of Stimulus, defeating the bill by 51 to 49.
Earlier, Obama signalled that he would be willing to drop his call for a special surtax on Americans earning more than $200,000 per year (or $250,000 per family), so long as he could get a "millionaire's tax" in trade; anything, just so long as he can sock some rich person somewhere with a totally unfair and unAmerican tax penalty for being too successful. But it doesn't seem to have been enough to overcome senators worried more about the fate of the economy (and their own upcoming elections) than about punishing wealth.
Senate Democrats themselves seem to agree:
Democrats were not wholly united behind the measure. In addition to Nelson and Tester, Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who aligns with Democrats, said they oppose the underlying measure despite voting to choke off the filibuster.
If they all voted their consciences, the bill would have gone down by 52 to 48!
B.O. seems incredulous, in his typically mean-spirited, peevish, whiney way; in fact, he can summon up only one possible reason (personal animosity, probably driven by racism) why his plan crashed and burned:
"Any senator who votes no should have to look you in the eye and tell you what exactly they're opposed to," Obama said to a union audience in Pittsburgh. "I think they'll have a hard time explaining why they voted no on this bill -- other than the fact that I proposed it."
It passeth understanding (at least it passeth mine) that, what with...
- Mad tea partiers hyperventilating about federal deficits over a trillion dollars as far as Man can measure,
- Independents transmogrifying en masse into Republican voters,
- And with even many Democrats starting to wonder whether their kids will grow up in a democratic republic or a liberal-fascist, totalitarian, nanny-state
...that the man up top can't understand why we recoil from another unstimulating stimulus.
But perhaps he does understand; and what really passeth Obama's understanding is how "We the People" caught on to the scam so darned quickly. After all, he was assured that the peons were all nincompoops by the MSM, the union bosses, the Hollywood Party, the masses "Occupying" fill-in-the-blank, the enviro-mentals, the rump end of the Old Left... by just everybody!
Yeesh. Sometimes you just don't know who to trust.
September 28, 2011
Obama: Everything But the Kitchen Synch
Barack H. Obama has always been the master of zigzag:
- He sits for twenty years in the pews of the Trinity United Church of Christ; then during his first presidential campaign, he throws Rev. Jeremiah Wright under the bus, weeping like the Walrus and Carpenter that "this is not the Jeremiah Wright that I knew."
- As senator, he denounces the Iraq War as the wrong war; as president, he continues fighting it.
- As senator, he declares the Afghanistan War is the right war, the one we should be waging; as president, he can't wait to announce a date for withdrawal into ignominious defeat.
- Two days after inauguration, he announces with fanfare that he will shutter the Guantanamo Bay detention camp within one year; two and a half years later, it remains open and in full operation with no plans for a shutdown.
- As senator, he scoffed at the idea of raising taxes in the midst of a recession; as president, and during a recession that may well already be double-dip, he has already rammed through the biggest tax increase in history and is trying to top it with another one.
I'm not talking about grandiose plans that went awry, like ObamaCare, his environmentalist schemes, and the colossal failure of his stimulus package; by zigzag, I mean the art of being the Weathercock in Chief: major goal reversals on cue, in the wink of an eye. Obama is more than Clintonian; his presidency verges on multiple policy disorder.
And for a while he got away with it; folks cheered his "post-partisan" and "post-racial" presidency, giving him sky-high approval ratings.
But something has happened in the last year; somehow, Obama has gotten "out of phase" with the rest of the world. He zags everyone else is zigging...
- After acknowledging many of the failures of the stimulus package, this month he zigs, announcing Bride of Tax and Stimulus; but even ultra liberal Senate Democrats (like Chuck Schumer, D-NY, 95%) zag, denouncing the plan as crazed and working to derail it.
- He zags to inject American forces into the Libyan War, hoping to tap into patriotic Americans' tendency to rally behind the president great martial causes (the Civil War, World War II, the Libya kafuffle); but at that very moment, conservatives zig to denounce the engagement for lacking congressional approval and for Obama's decision to try to "lead from behind," while the Left likewise zigs to denounce the engagement due to a general rejection of and revulsion for any more wars in that region of the world.
- In a swerving effort to shore up support on his left, he zigs again, demanding a "kill and eat the rich" tax policy; but his leftist constituency zags, hitting the ceiling over his right turns on Israel and Cuba.
- Losing the Left, hence desperate to grab a chunk of the Right, particularly in Florida (which he won in 2008 but looks increasingly likely to lose next year), he zags, promising an immediate veto of the fiat PLO state. Then today, he announces as part of the same "Barack the Strongman" zag that he won't lift the embargo on Cuba until "we see positive movement" in that country. (Both are flipflops). But instead of zagging to embrace Obama's newfound conservatism, his Republican audience zigs, still screaming bloody blue murder about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell!
It's not that he's "snakebit," as some put it; he has fallen out of synch with the electorate, so that every turn he makes puts him 180° off course compared to the rest of the country, left and right. At this point, the percent of people who believe President B.O. is doing a good job and who actually look forward to reelecting him (as opposed to holding their noses and voting against the GOP) can probably be numbered on a single hand... of a three-toed sloth.
And it's only going to get worse. Like a beginner in flight school, he overcorrects and re-overcorrects, oscillating back and forth with increasing amplitude. There is only one finale to this out-of-control lobster quadrille, and it looks very like the 1940 collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a.k.a. "Gallopin' Gertie," when a steady wind set the bridge twisting at its resonant frequency in an almost surreal structural failure:
Keep in mind the money-shot of the bridge rockin' and rollin', as we converge on November 6th, 2012. I expect that image will more and more take on an eerie prescience.
September 21, 2011
Who's That Creepin'?
Why it's good, ol' Mr. Sanity, the prodigal son come home at last!
One of my greatest frustrations for the past two and a half years has been the persistence of blindness: In the eyes of the American voter, the Untouchable who currently squats in la Casa Blanca, has somehow eluded and evaded all culpability for the fiscal calamity that has overtaken us. "It's Bush's fault!" has been the order of the day for 974 of them; Barack H. Obama's greatest eloquence has always come when pointing the finger at somebody else.
But as the man said, you can run on and on, but great God a'mighty gonna pull you down. And that's just what is finally happening: According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, Americans have finally dumped ownership of this wretched economy into the One's squirmy lap:
A slight majority of Americans for the first time blame President Obama either a great deal (24%) or a moderate amount (29%) for the nation's economic problems. However, Americans continue to blame former President George W. Bush more. Nearly 7 in 10 blame Bush a great deal (36%) or a moderate amount (33%).
Those assigning Bush significant blame have steadily dropped from 80% in July, 2009 to 69% today; at the same time, those assigning significant blame to Obama have steadily risen, from 32% then to 53% today. I suspect the lines will cross over sometime within the next year, and more Americans will blame Obama than Bush.
Gallup notes that the reason Bush still receives more blame than Obama is that Democrats are loath to blame Obama at all:
Americans are more likely to blame Bush than Obama mainly because a much higher percentage of Republicans assign a high degree of responsibility to Bush compared with the percentage of Democrats blaming Obama, 50% vs. 25%. At the same time, partisans are equally likely to say the president of the opposing party bears significant blame: 83% of Republicans blame Obama and 86% of Democrats blame Bush.
Only a quarter of Democrats blame Obama for the rotten economy even a little! Methinks a bit of wagon-circling hath crept into this Gallup poll. (The GOP is significantly more just and fair-minded, as usual; that is because staunch Republicans support philosophies and ideas, while yellow-dog Democrats support their leaders, with all the fervor of Nicolas Chauvin.)
But reality cannot long be denied: Simply looking at the annual deficits, how they sprouted like virulent weeds as soon as Obamunism took hold in America, should make it clear as can be who has done the most harm to our national finances:
United States budget deficits 2000 to 2021 (actual and projected)
- Note that George W. Bush's last budget, FY 2008 (from October 1st, 2007, through September 30th, 2008) -- under a Congress completely controlled by Democrats -- showed a deficit of $450 billion.
- The first budget to be substantially affected by the economic policies of Barack Obama was FY 2009, which ran from October 1st, 2008 through September 30th, 2009; Obama was the POTUS and gleefully ramming Obamunism down our throats for more than eight of those twelve months. That first Obama-driven budget showed the nation's very first unlucky 13-digit deficit, $1.4 trillion, more than thrice Bush's last deficit.
We can all agree that even a deficit of nearly half a trillion is unconscionable, and surely W. could have fought harder against the insane spending priorities of the Democratic Congress. Still, it's impossible to ignore the stunning increase that accompanied President B.O.'s ascension to the Delphic Throne.
And at long last, the American people are starting to wise up. They no longer fully swallow the One's self-serving blame shifting; and by the time of the next election, November 6th, 2012, I confidently predict that the percent still blaming Bush after four years will be in the teens, with 80% plus putting blame where it belongs... squarely on the pointy head of Barack H. Obama.
As that happens, get ready to start licking your chops; for the only thing rising faster than Obama's deficits will be his disapproval rating in the polls.
September 19, 2011
Quote of the Decade - So Far
President Barack H. Obama, explaining why he is demanding $1.5 trillion in new taxes in the depths of a recession:
"We can't just cut our way out of this hole," the president said.
No, of course not. Sheer folly. We must tax our way out of this hole!
That's the Chicago way.
August 10, 2011
Obama Very Popular - Among Moslems and Mullah Omar
Evidently, talks between spokesfolk for Barack H. Obama and aides to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar have "broken down." Those of us still flabbergasted that they were being held at all may be excused, I hope, for not feeling let down that they've evidently collapsed.
For all the secrecy, it was never particularly a secret: The talks -- what, conditions under which we would give Afghanistan back to the Taliban? -- were widely discussed in several news stories over the past few months. In fact, that appears to be the reason they crashed and burned:
Secret exploratory peace talks between the United States and the Taliban leadership have broken down after details of the negotiations were leaked, Western diplomats have told The Daily Telegraph.
The breakdown in the talks at such an early stage has led to recriminations and claims that the details of the meetings and the identity of the Taliban's chief negotiator were deliberately leaked by 'paranoid' Afghan government figures....
[A]fter only three sessions details of two meetings in Germany and one in Qatar – held in March and April - were leaked to the Washington Post and Der Spiegel news magazine which named Tayeb Agha as the key Taliban negotiator.
Well. All I can say is... Holy Hudna! Mullah Omar himself appears to have given his blessing for the talks:
Absolute confidentiality had been a key condition for the meetings which were held in Germany and Qatar earlier this year between Tayeb Agha, Taliban leader Mullah Omar's former private secretary, and senior officials from the US State Department and Central Intelligence Agency. The meetings were chaired by Michael Steiner, Germany's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan....
After years of the Taliban rejecting Hamid Karzai's overtures, news of contact with a senior aide to Mullah Omar had kindled cautious hope in Kabul.
Abdul Hakim Mujahid, the Taliban's former envoy to the United Nations and now a member of Mr Karzai's High Peace Council, told the Daily Telegraph in June that the contacts were "helpful".
He said: "[Tayeb Agha] is still very close to Mullah Mohammad Omar, it's a good sign. Not only close to Mullah Omar, but also close to Pakistan."
But the saddest part of the story is this:
Michael Semple, the former deputy European Union representative in Kabul and a leading expert on Taliban thinking, said the disclosure of the talks and the identification of Tayeb Agha was regarded as damaging by the insurgents.
"The Taliban have long claimed that they will drive the foreigners out by force before contemplating talks. They need a period of confidential contact to satisfy themselves that there is something serious on offer to warrant them taking the big step of acknowledging that negotiations have to start now and not after things have been settled on the battlefield," he said.
"When the fact that talks had taken place and the identity of the Taliban envoy were leaked the Taliban shifted into their version of damage control. The leadership put it about that the contacts were nothing out of the ordinary. They were just routine discussions about prisoner releases, which a movement at war has to undertake periodically.
The Taliban will "drive the foreigners out by force before contemplating talks." Why does Mr. Semple say they've decided to start negotiations "now and not after things have been settled on the battlefield"? The Obamunists are proclaiming throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof that we just can't wait to withdraw our forces from Afghanistan; that we shall do so unilaterally and without regard to the facts on the ground; and that withdrawal will proceed no matter whether we're winning or losing.
So haven't the Taliban met their original requirement, then? If that's not surrender, what is? The Taliban can enter into "negotiations" -- when, where, and how we are sheepishly to return them their country, throwing ordinary, anti-totalitarian Afghans under the camel's hooves -- with a clean conscience, basking the holiness of having already defeated B.O. on the battlefield!
Meanwhile, Obamic love is not distributed evenly throughout the religions; there appear to be some meaningful differences:
Eighty percent of Muslim Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president (!), according to a newly released survey conducted by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, a partnership between Gallup and the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.
According to the survey, 65 percent of Jewish Americans* approve of the job Obama is doing; 60 percent of atheists, agnostics, and those of no religion approve; 50 percent of Catholics approve ; 37 percent of Protestants approve and 25 percent of Mormons approve .
So it's hardly surprising that Mullah Omar is pleased as punch that our president plans to negotiate away everything we've won over the past decade: He's in the 80% majority!
'Zounds, how I wish we could hold the November, 2012 election this September. At this rate, I'm not sure we can survive another seventeen months.
* That is, probably close to 100% of irreligious Jews.
A strong talking point for Mitt Romney.
July 17, 2011
The Conservative Radical in Chief
Yesterday, President Barack H. Obama pooh-poohed the notion that any government program needed radical revamping:
Fighting back against Republican calls for greater spending cuts, President Obama said Friday that the government doesn’t need to make major changes to get its budget back on track and called for that solution to include some trims coupled with tax increases.
“Here’s the good news: that it turns out we don’t have to do anything radical to solve this problem. Contrary to what some folks say that -- we’re not Greece. You know, we’re not Portugal,” Mr. Obama said at his third press conference in three weeks, using his most powerful public relations tool to take his arguments directly to voters.
Well -- not exactly; what he really said was that no government program that was already despicably intrusive, massively overbudget, and growing like a cancer needed a radical trim; he still supports radical "reform" of those fews segments of the universe that have not yet been nationalized, including health care, energy, union-election rules, eating, the planetary climate, the biosphere, and Capitalism itself.
His only consistent philosophy of goverance is that government growth is a ratchet that only allows movement in one direction: towards increasing federal control over the individual. He wants to complete the vision of reconstructing the New Obamunist Man, and deconstructing traditional America.
In Obama's budget and debt crisis of 2011, he has so far identified approximately $2 billion in actual cuts he might be willing to swallow... assuming he gets the $600 billion to $800 billion in tax increases on millionaires (who aren't paying their fair share), oil companies (who work with icky, stinky oil), and any corporation whose employees travel often enough to make it more cost effective for the corporation to own its own jet -- not counting his own administration, which of course maintains a fleet of jets, helicopters, and limos in case the Lord Reformer, the First Family, and the First Entourage desire to travel somewhere for work or play (mostly play).
See? A balanced approach to solving the crisis, something for everyone!
At least he has shown a willingness to be flexible about the negotiations with Congress:
The president said there are three options on the table: a big deal that totals $4 [tr]illion in tax increases and potential spending cuts; a plan about half that size; and a “fallback position” that would increase the debt limit but push off action on the deficit.
In other words:
- A staggering tax increase plus a light dusting of decreases in spending increases sometime in the nebulous future.
- A staggering tax increase without even the illusion of that "light dusting."
- Raising the debt limit unconditionally to any level the resident president demands.
“'If they show me a serious plan, I’m ready to move,' he said." Well you can't say he doesn't give us options!
I think somewhere in his youth, President B.O. misunderstood the phrase, "command economy." Rather than meaning economic decisions under the direct control of a centralized government, Barack Obama misheard it as an economy that responds directly, as if by magic, to any command, demand, or pronunciamento issued by the sorcerer's apprentice -- like a command genie: "I command thee to destroy all energy production but still run all the power devices I think are cool!" *Blink!* "I command thee to double the tax rates but still have a vibrant, growing economy!" *Blink!* "I command the oceans to recede and the Earth to heal!" *Blink!*
Too bad Barbara Eden is no longer working in that line; otherwise, the emperor could command his Jeannie blink him a new set of clothes.
November 2012 cannot come soon enough for me.
July 13, 2011
Look What We Made the Obamacle Do, Part Two
I seem to have dropped a casual bombshell in the sister-post to this, and I ought to cite a source.
After writing the following --
Money comes into the American treasury all the time: quarterly tax payments, corporate taxes, employee withholding, sales of government property, fees, licenses, and so forth. I understand that such continuous income greatly exceeds the bare-bones payment obligations of the United States government -- entitlement payments and debt service. In other words, we have enough revenue to meet those obligations; just not enough to meet them in addition to all the other expensive projects that the Obamunists want to fund at the same time...
-- I received a comment from a frequent commenter who raised the obvious question: Was my back-of-the-thumbnail guesstimate about income and outgo correct? MikeR asked,
You made a claim that there is enough money to cover our bare-bones obligations. I have heard otherwise: That in the month of August, we would essentially have to choose between paying our soldiers, Social Security, and debt service. Did you have a source?
Ask and ye shall receive. I found this on the American Spectator blog, posted today:
But, assuming the debt limit is reached and the Treasury has the power to privilege certain bills over others, there's no doubt that it's within it's power to pay Social Security recipients. The federal government will take in about $172 billion in August, and owe roughly $307 billion. It will have no problem paying the interest on the debt (about $30 billion) and Social Security recipients (about $50 billion).
But what about "paying our soldiers?" The author of the Spectator blogpost, Joseph Lawler, digs deeper:
Bloomberg Businessweek has created a debt ceiling prioritization calculator, using figures from the Bipartisan Policy Center. Using broad categories, it shows which items the government could continue to fund past the deadline while avoiding a default on the debt. By BPC's calculations, it would be possible to continue paying not only for Social Security and the interest on the debt, but also Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, active duty military pay, TANF [welfare], food stamps, and Homeland Security emergency preparation and response, with billions left over just in case.
Joseph Lawler is the managing editor of the American Spectator; Bloomberg L.P., which publishes Bloomberg Buisinessweek (formerly BusinessWeek), is nearly entirely owned (88%) by Michael Bloomberg, the current Mayor of New York City and a flaming Democrat, for all that he ran for the mayorship as a "Republican." He, his company, and the magazine are hardly likely to tilt towards tea partiers, conservatives, or actual Republicans. I think it safe to trust them all on this point, which constitutes an admission against the Left's interest.
(To be a compleat completist, another commenter, LarryD, posted much of this same information in a comment to the previous post; and MikeR himself found a similar story here.)
Just remember: When in doubt, always trust Big Lizards; we may not always be right, but we're never wrong. (And Power Line. And Patterico's Puntifications, of course; trust them too. And even Beldar, when you can scrape the crust off'n him; but that's a whole 'nuther box of fish.)
July 12, 2011
Look What We Made the Obamacle Do!
First it was "Hope and Change," where any kind of change would make things better, any government spending at all would be "stimulative," and hope arose from the mere fact that a man who called himself "post-partisan" and "post-racial" had planted himself in la Casa Blanca. Under his reign, the oceans would subside, the Earth would heal, and like Milo Minderbinder's M&M Enterprises, everybody would have a share.
This idyllic intro-interlude quickly morphed into "gangster government," as Michael Barone put it: a lethal combination of legal bribery from unions and other special-interest groups, followed by wholesale privileges (literally, "private laws") granted to favored constituencies, from auto-worker unions, to teachers, to gays, to federally privileged minorities, to Silicon Valley billionaires, to silicone-mountain Hollywood elites. The president had discovered that democracy is messy, and even those who disagree with Obama are allowed to vote, protest, organize, and voice their opinions.
Faced with such disunity and "chaos" coming from bitter people who cling to their religion and their guns, what was a newly anointed Keeper of the Vision supposed to do? Naturally he had to turn to criminal mobs to appease the liberal mobs who made him -- and who could break him just as easily.
But at last, after years of increasingly dirty (and incompetent) governance coupled with crony "capitalism," the administration of Barack H. Obama slithered into its third and terminal phase: extortion government, in which the President of the United States directly threatens to inflict grievous damage, in a planned and calculating way, upon the most vulnerable of his own people -- unless his political opponents kow-tow to his every demand. (Actually, as Barack Obama considers himself a "fellow citizen of the world," perhaps he doesn't consider them "his people" in the first place.)
In a sense stronger than merely symbolic, Barack Hussein Obama has become Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre, architect of the French Revolution, the bloodiest community-organizing mob action in history.
Witness: France during the Terror had the guillotine, the "national barber;" America, held hostage, has the deficit -- the national credit card. The administration has maxed out the national credit card (even gone over the limit), and the president is beside himself that he cannot continue charging, charging, and charging to pay for his caviar tastes in government largess.
So today, in a fit of pique, Obama threatens that unless Republicans agree immediately to a Brobdingnagian hike in the national credit card's credit limit and to trilliions of dollars in new taxes and spending, he will deliberately, and with malice aforethought, refuse to send out Social Security and Veterans Benefits checks.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Mr. Obama said in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, according to excerpts released by CBS News.
"Look what you made me do!"
But of course, the administration is responsible for all federal spending. Congress can only appropriate; it's up to the Executive actually to send out the checks. And that means the president has the legal authority and obligation to prioritize spending.
In this case, he has the duty to privilege certain spending -- interest and principal payments to bond holders and "entitlement" payments to seniors and veterans, among others -- over other types of spending, including payments to doctors and hospitals under ObamaCare; block grants to states; foreign aid; funding of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, paying vendors and federal contractors; paying for travel by government employees (including the president, Mrs. President, and their posse/entourage); money to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and every other federally funded foundation or institute (no matter how worthy); and even paying federal workers.
Not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars appropriated by Congress every year for porkbarrel projects in the districts of powerful representatives and senators.
Money comes into the American treasury all the time: quarterly tax payments, corporate taxes, employee withholding, sales of government property, fees, licenses, and so forth. I understand that such continuous income greatly exceeds the bare-bones payment obligations of the United States government -- entitlement payments and debt service. In other words, we have enough revenue to meet those obligations; just not enough to meet them in addition to all the other expensive projects that the Obamunists want to fund at the same time. (What's most galling, of course, is that Barack Obama himself and his cronies in Congress are the very culprits who brought on this terrible financial catastrophe in the first place. "Look what I made you make me do!")
The obvious solution presents itself.
Every large corporation must have a budget; and every such budget must, among other requirements, prioritize the corporation's financial obligations: What gets paid first? What gets paid second, third, nth? I suspect that if a publicly traded corporation was so mismanaged that it didn't even have a contingency plan for what bills to pay if it experienced a sudden revenue shortfall, not only would it be liable for massive lawsuits, but the SEC and the Justice Department might open a criminal investigation of the corporate officers.
Thinking of the federal government as the nation's largest (if not the world's largest) corporation, then mustn't it, too, have a heirarchy of payments to guide the president during a temporary shortfall? Isn't the obvious lack of such an emergency plan, resulting in threats to withhold pledged funds to those who could literally die from such embezzlement -- which is what the president's threat amounts to -- the very definition of financial malfeasance and nonfeasance?
But this sort of hysterical extortion is the liberal's stock in trade. I cannot begin to count how many times a Democratic governor or mayor has responded to reduced revenues by threatening to furlough police and firefighters first, before even considering laying off the thousands of non-essential government workers, from state license form filler-outers and scrutinizers, to inspectors who prowl neighborhoods to make sure nobody has the wrong kind of front lawn or too high a fence, to complicated "diversity" (affirmative action) schemes, to pothole repair, to state highway construction, to light rail, to establishment of new state parks, to city-hall barbers, to spiraling billions to state "education" funding.
It's a vile and shabby trick: Pandering to the liberal mob, Obama attacks the weakest and most vulnerable citizens by directly threatening them with penury and starvation unless Republicans cave. "Nice pension you have there; sure would be a shame if something was to happen to it..." Such intimidation of America's own citizens is so thuggish, so antidemocratic, so unAmerican that it easily rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors in the meaning of Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.
Any ordinary person would burn with shame to threaten the old, the sick, and wounded vets just to enact his pet policies, against the clearly expressed will of the people. I can only conclude that Obama's narcissism is so advanced that he has become a functional sociopath -- the anti-Clinton -- literally incapable of feeling anybody's pain, responsive only to his own sense of aristocratic entitlement and his outrage at being thwarted.
Obama's "audacity" is positively brazen; it doesn't even occur to him to conceal his real motivation. He nakedly commands this issue to go away until after his presumed re-coronation next year:
Mr. Obama has repeatedly said he wants a deal that would allow the U.S. to avoid confronting the issue again until after the 2012 elections and vowed on Monday that he would "not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension."
He insists that both sides "put politics aside" -- and simply enact the Democratic minority agenda. There's post-partisanship for you, Chicago style. What's next? Will President B.O. take a page from the National Lampoon? "If Republicans don't raise taxes and jack up the debt ceiling, we'll kill this dog!"
November 2012 cannot come soon enough. I only wonder... if Barack Obama continues on the path he has trodden for the past two and a half years, will he become the first incumbent president to lose all fifty-seven states?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
June 29, 2011
Well There's Your Problem Right There! (number Shrimp Cocktail)
I was lending an ear to Hugeus Hewittus as he played excerpts from Barack H. Obama's press conference today (his first in three months!) when I heard the most remarkable exchange. The president was angry that Republicans in the debt-ceiling negotiations have called for huge spending cuts -- satisfying "their" constituency, which I presume means the American people -- but offer nothing in the way of massive tax increases on "millionaires" and evil corporations that operate corporate jets, to satisfy the Left's constituency (welfare eaters, rent seekers, and citizens of the world).
Attacking aristos and priests has been the only plan the Left has to offer since 1789. At least today's Democrats don't resort to the National Razor... not yet.
But this particular Obamasm almost made me pull over and check my hearing. Here is President B.O. venting his spleen about Republicans and their unfair tactics:
He said “every single observer who’s not an elected official” agreed that the only way to bridge the debt gap was to address both spending and revenues and he called on Republicans to accept that, saying, “Democrats have had to accept some painful spending cuts that hurt some of our constituents and that we may not like. We’ve shown a willingness to do that for the greater good.
“If everybody else is willing to take on their sacred cows and do tough things, then I think it will be hard for the Republicans to stand there and say that the tax breaks for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we’re not willing to come to the table and do that.”
I am stunned. Leave aside the fact that he insisted that he had nothing to do with the economic troubles, the skyrocketing unemployment, the rising inflation, the collapse of the housing market, the seizure of banks and other corporations, the ruination of the domestic energy policy, or the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, all of which he blamed on previous Congresses and presidents. (Who does he mean, I wonder?)
Forget all that; it's the usual Chicago rules. What shocked me was that the President of the United States believes that the point of these negotiations is not to get the economy moving again, or to boost the job market, or to set out fiscal house in order... it's to share the pain fairly among Republican and Democratic politicians!
He appears to be uninterested in what will actually work to jump-start the economy (more Capitalism and private-sector expansion, less government spending, regulating, and intruding into private affairs), and incurious about why we're in such a calamitous and parlous financial situation in the first place. Nevertheless, Obama is absolutely outraged that Republicans demand "their" stuff (spending cuts), but won't allow in the Democrats' stuff (staggering tax increases).
I mean, where's the fairness? Where's the balance? "You said that if I ate my spinach, I could have a big, gooey piece of devil's food cake!" Oh, the humanity! I want my cake, and I want it now.
Personal reminiscence: In days of yore, anytime a parental decision did not hand my little sister J. everything she had demanded, she would set up a banshee-like ululation that could be heard all the way to Scotland:
"That's not fair to meee!"
Strangely enough, she never found bias when the decision went the other way; J. never complained when she got everything and the rest of us got bupkes. Nothing unfair then!
And of course, nothing unfair during the last four years, and especially since the 2008 election (until the 2010 correction), when Republicans may as well have been on walkabout in Tasmania for all the impact they had on federal legislation and regulation. "Shut up," Obama exclaimed; "I won. The world is mine. All your base are belong to us!"
Now it's B.O.'s turn to schrai gevalt, just as sister J. did in the ancient times. But J. had a perfectly legitimate reason to act like that: She was five years old.
June 28, 2011
"George Orwell" wrote in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." To which we may add, Who controls the presidency controls the "bipartisan" panels.
The Biden deficit-reduction panel perfectly fits this mentality, for President Barack H. Obama stacked the membership to create a tax and spend steamroller. Its roster of members comprises:
- Vice President Joe Biden - chairman
- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
- White House budget director Jack Lew
- Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling
- Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Dan Inouye (D-HI, 80%)
- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT, 85%)
- Assistant House Minority Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC, 95%)
- Ranking member House Budget Committee Chris Van Hollen (D-MD, 100%)
- Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ, 96%)
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA, 100%)
I make it eight Democrats vs. two Republicans, but who's counting? (Why, President B.O., it appears!) Does the panel decide on recommendations via voice vote?
(I find it particularly delicious that four months after the November 2010 elections, Obama and Biden decided that the House Democratic minority should be represented on the panel by two members, while the House Republican majority should have only one.)
Last week, the "childish" "temper-tantrum"-throwing Republicans walked away from the panel after the Democrats on it made clear that they want most of the deficit reduction to come in the form of tax increases, $600 billion worth:
Negotiations collapsed Thursday when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, walked out after complaining that Democrats refused to budge on their demand for tax increases. Mr. Kyl, the only other Republican member of the Biden panel, quickly followed suit, essentially rendering the group dead.
I understand that an overwhelming consensus -- fully eighty percent! -- of the "bipartisan" panel favored the new taxes, though I'm sure they prefer calling it "cutting excess spending from the tax code." After all, it's well understood in mainstream circles that the deficit is not caused by too much spending but by insufficient taxation. Darn it, if we could only just restore that 90% bracket for "millionaires" (defined in Democrat Newspeak as anyone earning more than the average government worker -- members of Congress exempted, of course) and apply it. Retroactively to 2006.
The Dems called out their big guns to defend tax-code spending cuts:
Democrats and the White House have accused Republicans of falsely suggesting that they want to raise taxes on average Americans. Rather, Democrats say, they want to close certain tax “loopholes” for wealthy corporations.
“How do you call closing loopholes to oil companies that are making billions of dollars in profits … how do you call that a tax hike?” Rep. James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”“I don’t know of anybody who would define a tax increase as closing the loophole.”
(Where "loophole" is defined in Democrat Newspeak as an oil company taking a specific tax deduction that every other industry in America is allowed to deduct from taxable income. It's like accusing accusing Bill Gates of crawling through a loophole because he deducts his payroll as a business expense.)
Democrats added they have been willing to accept some GOP demands, such as reductions in Medicare spending, though no cuts in benefits.
“This was not about coming to an impasse,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Friday regarding the breakdown of the Biden panel. “There was just a lack of political will by Republicans to accept the kind of compromise that was taking shape.”
Churls who retort that Democrats simply want to force Republicans to do their dirty work for them should have no place at the Joe-gonquin round table. This critical debate isn't about partisan bickering or silly complaints about tax increases; it's about Republicans stepping up and passing the Democrats' vital agenda.
If not now, then when? If not the GOP, then who?
June 26, 2011
President Barack H. Obama gave his customary weekly radio broadcast yesterday:
"Of course, there's been a real debate about where to invest and where to cut, and I'm committed to working with members of both parties to cut our deficits and debt," Obama said in his weekly radio address. "But we can't simply cut our way to prosperity," he added.
Wait for it.
June 21, 2011
Playing the Erase Card
First, two months ago, the FBI under the Obama administration shuts down all the main online poker sites, using a 2006 law that defines it to be a criminal act to operate an "illegal" gambling site on the internet. Under this law, an "illegal" gambling site means one that doesn't have a license to operate a gambling den, not only where the servers actually live, but also in every possible location on Earth from which a customer may access the poker site.
Since it's impossible to have universal licences, the law quite naturally makes all private-sector online sites illegal and criminal. (The 2006 law exempts governments.) In consequence, the sites have all been expunged from the ether, along with all the real money players had invested in personal accounts there.
And then yesterday, the District of Columbia -- with the evident acquiesence of the federal government -- spontaneously decides to open its own online gambling site... which includes poker games. States and cities are sure to follow suit, if I may put it that way.
Thus by immaculate coincidence, the FBI has cleared the decks of all private competition for online gaming.
This does not of course prove that the Federales' giddy trampling of the internet version of what is perfectly legal in brick-and-morter buildings in many states was part of a vast conspiracy to replace yet another private market with a government monopoly. But I'm just sayin'...
June 17, 2011
At Least George W. Bush Won His Wars
Anybody who has been following the Libya "war" must have noticed something rather peculiar and depressing, if not altogether unexpected: At the moment, after many weeks of standing up not only to the United States but all of NATO, the only person who is clearly winning is -- Muammar Qaddafi. After all, he can say with absolute truth, "I still seem to be here, señor."
That's a line from my all-time favorite television show, Walt Disney's Zorro: El Zorro, "the Fox," is dueling a professional swordsman who had confidently predicted swift victory; after disarming the man (and cutting free a hanging potted plant to plummet into the duelist's head), Guy Williams delivers the line with just the right mix of aplomb and amusement. While Qaddafi certainly doesn't have Williams' suavity and savoir faire, he is still the winner at this point -- by virtue of not having been visibly defeated.
That is just one of the three major differences between Barack H. Obama's wars and Bush's wars:
- Whatever one may think of how the peace has gone, it's impossible to dispute that George W. Bush won the "major combat operations" phase of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. (I argue he also won the peace, as both countries are markedly better off, more democratic, and less a threat to the United States than either was on January 20th, 2001.)
- When George W. went to war, he led from in front; he didn't try to "lead from behind." He picked the generals, the strategy, he got out front and forcefully defended them, he promised victory, and he delivered. There is no doubt in anybody's mind that Afghanistan and Iraq were America's wars... not NATO's, not the UN's, not France's or Germany's. And Bush stud up like a man and personally took the political hits as the wars "dragged on" longer than the unrealistic expectations of American voters.
- And again, whatever the merits of Afghanistan and Iraq, and whatever qualms or second-thoughts the Left might have about them now, the indisputable fact remains that Bush got congressional approval for each, as the Constitution requires: A congressional "authorization for the use of military force" has been held to be legally the same as a declaration of war.
As pathetic as the economy is under Obamunism, it's the president's national-security policy that most clearly illuminates how incompetent, inattentive, flighty, hysterical, fickle, and in general, unserious his team is. The entire administration of President B.O. is like unto a ditsy blonde in a TV sitcom -- think Chrissy Snow in Three's Company -- but without the honesty or heart of gold such farcical characters usually display.
I can only say, once again, thank God for Ronald Reagan; if a dolt of the caliber of Barack Obama had been up against a Brezhnev or Gorbachev, we'd all be drinking vodka and whistling "Polyushko Polye."
I suspect that eventually, NATO will simply weary of the war and withdraw, leaving Libya still in the hands of a terrorist dictatorship. Qaddafi himself and his standing within the ummah will be enormously enhanced by the obvious victory, just as Cuba was after JFK bumbled the Bay of Pigs invasion. Obama will parade around the country, thumping his chest in a four-month "victory lap." And the lapdog media will trumpet Obama's claim to be the first American president ever to achieve a military victory against a Moslem despot.
Maybe NATO will eventually turn the tide and take out Qaddafi and his murderous regime; whether or not we should have entered the war in the first place, now that we're there, we'd bloody well better win it. But if we do, I suspect it will only be because the alliance finally gets serious, ignores the Obama administration's advice, and sends in ground forces.
Led by the French, of course. From in front.
May 23, 2011
We pass lightly over the Obamic demand that a so-called state of "Palestine" be contiguous. I suspect that President Barack H. Obama doesn't even know what the adjective "contiguous" means (all parts connected to each other)... nor the impossibility of making the West Bank of the Jordan river and the Gaza Strip "contiguous" without either (a) bisecting Israel, or (b) creating a corridor -- comically thin, perhaps a dozen feet wide -- that runs the gauntlet around the southern borders of Israel to connect the two areas with a sort of geographical bicycle lane, snaking hundreds of miles between Israel and Jordan and Israel and Egypt.
(By the way, the name Palestine comes from "Philistine." It was a Roman poke in the eye of the rebellious Jews, renaming their homeland after their bitter ancient enemies. It has absolutely nothing to do with Islam... which didn't even exist until more than half a millennium after the Romans dubbed it with that insulting moniker.)
So forget the contiguity quandry; it requires a Dr. Seuss solution. I'm more interested in the borders controversy.
I wonder how many people understand what President Barack H. Obama really meant, whether he understood it or not, when he suggested -- pronounced is the better word -- that any final settlement of Israel's borders must be based upon the "1967 lines":
We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.
To begin with, he certainly didn't mean post-June 10th, 1967 "lines" (borders), as that would actually be larger than the land currently controlled by the Jewish state! In the years since the Six Day War, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula and from the Gaza Strip. Clearly the Obamacle meant -- and Arab and Palestinian leaders certainly heard -- that the borders should be based upon the pre-Six Day War lines.
But what does that mean? If we're honest, that means Obama did not call for Israel to retreat to the "1967 lines," but rather the 1949 lines: The borders of Israel when the Arabs, losing badly, hastily offered an armistice to freeze Israel's borders in situ. That is, Barack Obama wants Israel to return to the indefensible borders it held a year after striking the Union Jack and hoisting the Israeli flag, declaring themselves an independent state.
It's hard to fathom, so here's an analogy: Suppose radical Aztlan boosters in Mexico were to demand that the United States readjust its borders... to where they were in 1788. Thirteen states, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to -- the Appalachians.
Yeah, that's what President B.O. proposes as his "peace plan."
Just bear it in mind: The only conclusions a reasonable person could draw from this declaration are that (a) Barack Obama hates Israel enough to want to see it buried, or (b) he is a complete nitwit. Or (c) both. Take your pick.
Any Jew who votes for Obama in 2012 must believe that the Jews, alone among all cultures on the planet, deserve no homeland, not a single country they can call theirs. Talk about the self-loathing...!
May 19, 2011
It's extraordinary how many times President Barack H. Obama uses a particular four-letter word, especially in public utterances. In his most recent speech, for example, he uses it 32 times in 74 paragraphs, or once every 2.3 grafs. It's jarring to hear such a muster of oaths coming from the mouth of the most powerful man in the world.
Submitted as evidence is the president's speech on "the Middle East and North Africa"... the "making a long nutshell short" edition:
In Sanaa, we heard the students who chanted, “The night must come to an end....” *
Yet we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind....
There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity....
Of course, as we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility....
[I]t’s the people themselves that must ultimately determine their outcome....
Today I want to make it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions....
But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place....
The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests. It must release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests. It must allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara’a; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition....
But if America is to be credible, we must acknowledge that at times our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for consistent change -- with change that’s consistent with the principles that I’ve outlined today....
The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis....
America must use all our influence to encourage reform in the region....
We must also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites....
Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information....
And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain....
So the second way that we must support positive change in the region is through our efforts to advance economic development for nations that are transitioning to democracy....
The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness, the reigns of commerce pass from the few to the many, and the economy generates jobs for the young....
Together, we must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year....
The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace....
A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people -– not just one or two leaders -- must believe peace is possible....
So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear....
The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state....
As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated....
That is the choice that must be made....
It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by the people....
Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa.
* Although the first instance of Obama's favorite four-letter word apes the form of a quotation, the Yemeni students of Sanaa doubtless chanted their chant in Arabic, not English; as a White House translation of the chant (if said chant occurred at all), the "must" must be laid at the feet of President B.O., not the hapless protesters in Yemen. (And if it didn't really occur but was just made up for dramatic effect, that plonks the must even more firmly in Obama's hands.)
As I understand the word, "must" means "is required to;" we must do this means we are required to do it. But I'm more than a little puzzled over who, exactly, requires that America "proceed with a sense of humility" and "also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites." And while it's certainly true that persons in a negoiation are required to negotiate "the core issues of the conflict," it sounds like a trivially obvious point.
By contrast, with "that is the choice that must be made," miserly Obama won't even reveal the name of the "Person X" making the choice, let alone the "Person Y" chap behind the scenes, requiring Person X's complete participation. I must be misreading.
(Later the president qualifies that such choices should be made by leaders, and also by people. Having just watched the beginning of the sixth season of the new Doctor Who, I'm intensely curious to discover who those non-person leaders might be.)
I must be reading the wrong speeches. Something must be done -- choices must be made by leaders (and by people); strong action must be taken through proper channels; and the President of the United States must cease and desist all use of that overripe, placeholder word in public, the word that swaps a verbal imperative -- this must be done! -- for any concrete effort to do it.
It's an absolute must!
May 2, 2011
The "I" In the Pyramid
Have we ever had an American president as narcissistic as we have today? Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me" could be the Obamic theme song.
I just read the transcript of the president's announcement that Osama bin Laden had finally been killed. I was startled to discover that not only was Barack H. Obama the very first president to enunciate a policy of going after terrorists associated with 9/11, he personally planned the entire operation -- it was all his idea, which he kindly passed along to Agency agents; not only that, he was the point man on the insertion team, firing the fatal shot himself, in between rounds 66 and 67 of golf:
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
If you ever invite President Obama to your wedding, for heaven's sake, don't let him make the toast! By the time he finishes (a couple of hours later), he will have become the groom, and will be triumphantly leading the bride to the marital bed.
May 1, 2011
The Inevitable (and Unenviable) Birth-Certificate Post
I'm sure I said this before, but I'm not going to bother looking it up.
I have no idea whether Barack H. Obama was born in the United States. Nor do I know whether, assuming for sake of argument that he was born abroad, he would still be a native-born American.
But I do know this: The question is entirely moot.
No federal court in the entire United States will ever, ever, ever attempt to remove Obama from the office of President of the United States, simply because he was not a "natural born Citizen." Even in the unlikely event that some court found that President B.O. was naturalized, the fact that he was elected President would cause the courts to hold, as a matter of expediency, that to remove him from office themselves would (a) violate the separation of powers, and (b) negate democracy and disenfranchise every voter in the country.
So it's simply never going to happen.
Nor can we use it in November, 2012, even if his non-native-bornness were proven by some means; to voters, it would sound every bit as technical as the doomed Democratic effort in 2008 to boot John McCain off the ballot because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.
The likely response of a serious GOP effort to eject the sitting President from the ballot on such a technicality would be to reelect Obama in a landslide; the American meme of "fair play" would swamp any pedantic doubts about the loyalty of a man who was, at the very least, raised nearly his entire life in the United States, saving only four years spent in English-language schools in Indonesia.
Barack Obama's problem is not that he is an immigrant -- he isn't, and that's not necessarily a "problem," in any event -- but that he is a radical and a Progressivist who flies perilously close to Marxism. His nationality is completely irrelevant, because the Obamacle considers himself a Citizen of the World, beyond all national borders, beyond Left and Right, beyond good and evil. He imagines himself the Nietzschean Übermensch: an "evolved" man who is not limited by either constituional checks and balances or bourgeoisie morality.
Let's fight him on those grounds, and on grounds of fundamental incompetence, rather than relying upon infantile and futile Birtherism. Right or wrong, the argument is worse than useless.
April 25, 2011
Easter Egg on B.O.'s Face
Given that Barack H. Obama has commemorated every Moslem holiday and holy day on the calendar; and given that he had ample notice what time of year it was, since he participated in the annual "Easter Egg Roll" at la Casa Blanca today, the day after Easter Sunday; and given that he signally and (it is obvious) deliberately refrained from any form of commemoration of the most important holy day in Christendom... I cannot but take as my default position that Barack Obama is, in fact, a Moslem.
It's still a rebuttable default; but if he has been trying to rebut it, it's not evident to me. He can ramble on about being beyond good and evil, or whatever he claims; but I say it's spinach, and I say to heck with it. If he were really above the fray, then either he would commemorate all major religious holy days, or none.
So until he proves otherwise -- and I no longer take his bare word for it -- I shall consider Barack Hussein Obama to be a Moslem, or as near as makes no difference.
(Could that be why he won't release his full, long-form birth certificate? Back in '61, many states still listed the religion of the newborn baby -- I don't know whether Hawaii was one. Admittedly, even if it did, it would be logically meaningless: A baby has no "religion" per se; that's what confirmation is for. Nevertheless, it might still be terribly embarassing and hard to explain if that box was filled in with an "M"!)
April 16, 2011
Can't Buy Me Love - But How About Reelection?
President Barack H. Obama plans to raise north of one billion dollars for his reelection:
By inaugurating what could be the first $1 billion campaign in history so early, Obama has gotten the jump on a scattered GOP field reluctant to take the plunge and hits the starting line months earlier than George W. Bush did for his 2004 reelection bid.
Note that this is the amount Obama personally plans to raise; it doesn't include the expenditures by the Democratic National Committee, monetary and in-kind contributions by labor unions and "Progressivist" corporations (that would be most of them), and of course moneys raised and spent by "independent" political groups, such as MoveOn.org, George Soros's Open Society Institute, MALDEF, National Council of La Raza, CAIR, Big Media, the Mafia, and so forth.
The early announcement is not surprising; under Obama's personalized version of the Live-In Constitution, the oath of office at the end of Article II, Section 1 reads:
The current campaign-spending record is $740.6 million, spent in 2008 by some fellow with the amusing, sound-alike name of Barack H. Obama -- which itself eclipsed the previous record of $345 million spent by George W. Bush for his successful 2004 reelection by a whopping 115%.
(John McCain also outspent Bush in the same 2008 election, but by a paltry $23 million.)
The odds are good that Obama can do it -- raise the money, that is. (I wonder how much of it will come, directly or indirectly, by a commodius vicus of recirculation, from his stimulus scheme?) But that begs the more arresting question: Does such staggering spending truly guarantee reelection for the Obamunist?
In general, the political establishment says yes, it does. The nomenklatura believe that there is a direct, one-to-one correspondence between money spent and votes received. Thus, our spendthrift president merely extends his claim that all government spending is stimulative to the equally vacuous premise that all campaign spending is effective: You may not like ObamaCare the first fifty times you see a commercial extolling it; but the 51st time -- or the 74th, or the 293rd time (billion-dollar pockets run deep) -- it will seem suddenly brilliant and indisputable.
Hence the meme that the biggest campaign spending spree wins the election, via argumentum ad infinitum. What I tell you five thousand times starts to sound true.
I cannot seem to find a site that lists the campaign expenditures for each major candidate for every presidential election; but I'm sure that it's usually the case that the biggest spender wins. However, I'm equally sure that there have been occasions, even in electing a president, where the biggest spender was the biggest loser.
Here is what's wrong with the reasoning. Most of the time, the guy with the most money is also the guy with the largest number of contributors. But recently, we've begun seeing a disconnect between those two measurements. In particular, with every election, the Democrats become more and more the party of the rich and agitated. Nowadays, the mean average size of Democratic contributions is considerably larger than for Republicans: The pachydermic pretender receives much smaller checks from many more people, while the Donkey king receives humongously larger checks from a much smaller number of contributors.
When average contribution amount per contributor is similar between the parties, then moneys received is a good proxy for electoral support. But when a large gap yawns between the parties, then a candidate can receive less money overall than his opponent, yet still have a significantly larger base of support in a one man, one vote election.
At that point, the big-money low-support candidate must use some of that moolah, not to put too fine a point on it, to butter-up, browbeat, bribe, and even bamboozle voters to support him:
- Vote for Joe because that's what all the smart people like you are doing.
- -- because you won't get a moment's peace if Joe loses.
- -- because Joe will "bring home the bacon" (and make you pay for it later in taxes; but you'll pay them anyway, and this way you'll get something as well as forking something over).
- -- because Joe supports everything you stand for... and everything your mortal enemy stands for, too!
In the present case, for example, President B.O. will spend hundreds of millions of 2012 dollars trying to make voters believe that his reelection he is a spending-cutter, strong on national defense, a great believer in American exceptionalism, a health-care reformer, and above all, a big-time job creator; that he'll "soak the rich" for trillions of dollars of free money, just for you; that if you vote Republican, your grandmother will be forced to live under a rock and eat dog food; and that Obama's reelection is inevitable anyway, because he's the strong horse!
Imagine an ad buy pushing all of the above... a billion dollars worth. Well, you don't need to imagine; just wait a couple of months, and you can watch it unfold in "reel" time.
So why aren't I putting my head through a noose and pulling the trigger? Because something monumental has changed since the election of Bill Clinton: Americans are no longer hogtied to the Magpie Media. "Intellectual dissent" no longer comprises a chronically constipated George Will sniffing in on This Week with David Brinkley. Today, with a myriad of channels through which the average Dick and Jane can harvest the news, from outré television outlets like Fox News Channel and CBN, to conservative news-sites like Newsmax or the Washington Times, to a yearly raft of conservative books, to YouTube, Farcebook, Twitterdom, and direct e-mail. Patterico put it succinctly:
One of the most important points of Andrew Breitbart’s new book is that conservatives can use New Media to fight Big Media’s narrative -- and to reshape it according to the truth.
Obama focuses obsessively on trying to control the new media; he seems unaware that nobody possibly can: Even if the president spammed every e-mail account in the United States, I doubt he would net more than a handful of "road-to-Washington" conversions. Because the new media is to a large extent a distributed, non-local, unregulated, non-heirarchical communications model -- one that is rapidly being folded into the Popular Front for Liberty -- the very act of trying to dominate it turns consumers off.
If Obama is as ham-fisted with new media as he has been with the old, even his supporters will find themselves unmotivated to motivate to the polls; they will stay home in droves next year.
Presidential candidates need to learn what information and politicking their potential voters truly want from them. And honestly, what most of us really want is a deeper, more adult discussion of policies, as opposed to condescending head-patting and tut-tutting, coupled with extortive threats and sepulchral prophecies of doom. Democrats are real wizards at firing off phosphoric fabulation; but their content, based upon the Think Progress and Hufflepuffington Post model, leaves so much to be desired that often it can't even inspire the choir.
This election, this time, the GOP has the substance, the gravitas, and also the means to slither around the three-headed gate-keeper to get meaningful information into the hands and minds of the voters. And not all the money in the world spent spewing the same old Spam in a can is going to give Lucky Lefty any advantage against any reasonable Republican nominee. (Note I said reasonable; if the GOP nominates Donald Trump, all bets are off.)
Obama may still win; but if so, it will certainly not be because he burned his mountain of cash like a Kwakiutl potlatch.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
March 31, 2011
History Repeatedly Repeats Itself...
...The second and subsequent times as increasingly unfunny farce:
Justice Department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment in their handling of a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party by dismissing three defendants in the case, says the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).
In a letter this week, the OPR said its seven-month inquiry “found no evidence” that the decision to dismiss the case against the New Black Panther Party and two of its members was “predicated on political considerations.”
So the utterly untarnished and consistently credible Justice Department, after dismissing a civil-rights complaint against the Black Panthers that the former had already won in court, thoroughly investigates itself -- and lo!, discovers itself to be clean as a baby's behind. Who could possibly argue with that?
Yet this spotless self-report gives me the repeated opportunity to quote the late, great Robert Anton Wilson (channeling Lemuel Gulliver), here for the eleventy-second time:
(From "The Persecution and Assassination of the Parapsychologists as Performed by the Inmates of the American Association for the Advancement of Science under the Direction of the Amazing Randi;" p. 85, Right Where You Are Sitting Now, ©1982, And/Or Press, Inc. -- first printing.)
It's a thing of wonder to have an administration so devoid of corruption, as innocent as Caesar's newborn wife, that every department, agency, and committee can investigate itself with complete credibility. Bully for Obamunism!
February 24, 2011
Misrule by Decree
Yesterday, President Barack H. Obama decreed that the popular surge for restricting marriage to the traditional definition was unconstitutional; further, that the popular Defense of Marriage Act was likewise unconstitutional; and he forbade his racially discriminatory Attorney General, Eric Holder, from defending any anti-DOMA lawsuit that disgruntled gay activists might bring:
“The president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny,” Mr. Holder said. “The president has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the president has instructed the department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the president’s determination.”
All I can say is -- thank goodness! Three cheers for Obama's moral resolve and newly grown spine -- because that smirking trick of his clears the decks for for legal challenges to be answered by attorneys for House and Senate Republicans, who actually support traditional marriage and oppose the same-sex inversion of marriage.
And before going one nanometer further, I once again strongly support and defend both the repeal of Bill Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of forcing gays in the military to remain in the closet, and also the seminal U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas overturning all "anti-sodomy" state and federal laws. In other words, I have not budged on any of my positions:
- I support allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
- I support the fundamental liberty of consenting adults to have any kind of sex they want, so long as it does not cross the line into assault, battery, homicide, or public exhibition.
- But I completely and adamantly oppose instituting same-sex marriage (SSM).
Back to Lucky Lefty, the Obamunist. Note the traditional liberal hubris and megalomania: First, he is not content to leave findings of constitutionality to the courts; Obama has discovered somewhere in Article II of the Constitution a clause that allows him to nullify, by presidential diktat, any federal law he dislikes, even though duly enacted by Congress and signed by the president. Second, he seemingly could not care less what voters in the United States think about the definition of marriage; he has concluded that SSM is cool with him, and the rest of us should simply fall in line.
But it's not as if he even believes that he can prevent such defenses, thus forcing -- as the state of California and its new (and its former) governor are trying -- to deny all potential defenders standing, then eighty-six the laws due to lack of defense. Rather, the administration seems almost giddy at the thought of Congress defending traditional marriage, while the president attacks it:
The decision effectively throws the defense of DOMA into the lap of Congress, which can instruct its own attorneys to defend federal laws. Mr. Holder said he had informed members of Congress of the decision so that “members who wish to defend the statute may pursue that option.”
Supporters of traditional marriage immediately called on the Republican-majority House to intervene in the DOMA lawsuits.
“With this decision, the president has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging Congress,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “It is incumbent upon the Republican leadership to respond by intervening to defend DOMA, or they will become complicit in the president’s neglect of duty.”
Many on the left are likewise giddy to the point of vertigo, calling the president's principled act of unprinciple a tremendous victory for the forces of radicalism and transformation, hastening the eventual Europeanization of the United States.
But not so fast; lefties may be missing the point.
When the Attorney General or the Soliciter General of the United States undertakes to defend a law under constitutional assault, the courts surely consider that defense much more seriously than some outside, third-party, amicus curae brief; I'm sure they privilege those arguments, since it's the official policy of the United States. Thus, if the administration's defense is deliberately lame and incomplete, the law stands in grave danger of being overturned... even if a better argument was available but unused.
And evidently, the administration has been doing exactly that, offering an intentionally impaired defense of DOMA while ignoring winning arguments that have prevailed in state cases, hoping that the feds' feeble efforts will "fail" to uphold DOMA; the crafty Obamunists will then have gotten a major policy change while leaving their own hands clean, thus sidestepping voter vengeance:
While it was sudden, Wednesday’s move did not come out of nowhere. Opponents of same-sex marriage had grown increasingly frustrated with the administration for what they called its underzealous defense of DOMA and its omission of key arguments.
In a brief filed Jan. 13 in defense of DOMA at the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department states that “the administration supports repealing DOMA,” but that the department must do its job to defend the law “as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality.”
Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, told The Washington Times recently that he suspected the administration of purposely tanking its case.
“They purposely avoid arguments that are winning time and time again in court,” he said. “Even scholars on the other side of this issue have said, ‘What is going on here is wrong.’ Anyone who cares about constitutional government should be very concerned about what’s happening in the DOMA case.”
But Obama, Holder, and the entire administration are now openly at war with traditional marriage while aiding and abetting same-sex marriage, and congressional conservatives have been given the green light to vigorously defend the sanctity and necessity of a legal marriage being between one man and one woman. That very fact means that DOMA has a much greater opportunity to be upheld yet again.
Inadvertently, the tremendous victory is ours, not theirs, a gift from the smug and cocky Left. As usual, "Progressivism" overreaches and draws back a stump, setting itself up for voter blowback as well.
Thank you, mask man!
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
November 6, 2010
Sound and Fury, Signifying... Something
Since I'm speaking about national issues, as opposed to Californian, I'm going to be the glass-half-full guy today.
I'm somewhat optimistic (just a bit) that maybe Barack H. Obama will be able to change course, at least a little, so that we don't have complete civil war for the next two years -- which might well turn off the electorate that just elected the GOP.
In the wake of the midterm elections, the president -- after hilariously proclaiming that the Democrats only lost because the TOTUS* didn't do a good enough job explaining to voters how Obama plans to radicalize America -- has actually offered two very substantial concessions to traditional American values:
Mr. Obama this week already has moved, at least slightly, on two major issues.
He said he no longer believes he can pass a broad energy bill that would impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and instead called for all sides to work on renewable and clean energy sources, such as nuclear power.
The White House also signaled movement on tax cuts -- the issue that deeply divided Congress just before it left town in September, and that will await lawmakers when they return this month.
Mr. Obama earlier said the Bush tax cuts that went to wealthier Americans must be allowed to lapse. But asked about a temporary extension, Mr. Gibbs said Thursday that Mr. Obama would "be open to having that discussion and open to listening to what the debate is on both sides of that."
One possibility I've seen floated would be to extend the Bush tax cuts until -- drum roll -- early 2013. The point is clear: If Obama loses reelection in 2012, then the next Republican president can try to make the tax-cuts permanent, if he can overcome the Democrats in the Senate.
But if B.O. is reelected, he will have a substantial argument that the American people don't want them to become permanent, else they would have elected the Republican -- who will, naturally, run on a platform that includes permanizing the tax cuts.
And of course Republicans on Capitol Hill would be overjoyed to work with the president and many Democrats in expanding our nuclear reactor force to take the place of as many coal- and oil-powered electricity plants as possible.
All it really would take would be to dramatically streamline the approval process and grant partial legal immunity to nuclear projects, to protect them from baseless lawsuits by environmentalists, which could stymie construction forever. As it happens, a number of environmentalists have already rationally concluded that nuclear power is less damaging to the environment than burning oil and coal; so the opposition is already divided.
I see these as much more significant than does the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan. By throwing both Cap and Tax and the Hands-Free Tax Increase under the bus, I think the Obamacle augurs that the era of big transformation has ended -- for a time, at least. It's hard to imagine him permanently giving up his ultimate goal of remaking America as a Eurosocialist welfare state; but Obama is obviously gobsmacked at the moment, unable to conjure a scheme to pull it off.
I still don't see him as a Clintonian triangulator; but perhaps he is so unused to defeat that, for a while at least, he will be too stunned to resist the pressure to make concessions. Another way of looking at it: Maybe for a few months -- before he shakes himself, like a cartoon victim of an explosion, and returns to his natural self -- the One will find himself bowing at the waist and kow-towing to his personal, American "enemies," the way he's already used to doing to America's foreign enemies.
Quick, let's take advantage while it lasts! When Obama comes back to his old, arrogant, messianic self, then Republicans can return to fighting him, hammer and tooth. But perhaps by then we'll have some substantive and substantial accomplishes under our belts... all the better to head into the 2012 showdown.
* TOTUS: Teleprompter of the United States
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
September 3, 2010
Why Do Folks Think Obama Is Racist?
Perhaps because, using the Left's own definition, he is.
If the liberal definition of racism includes pursuing policies that have a disparate racial impact, especially against members of a federally protected minority group (such as Hispanics), then Barack H. Obama and his administration are busted; because the policy of non-enforcement and non-feasance they pursue anent illegal immigration in, e.g., Arizona clearly has its worst impact on the law-abiding immigrants from south of the border and on Americans of Hispanic origin.
The connection isn't that obscure: Criminologists have known for more than a century that criminals tend to commit the great majority of their crimes intra-racially -- within their own race. White criminals primarly target white victims, blacks target blacks, and Hispanics target Hispanics. (There is some crossover, but intra-racially is the way to bet it.)
And the Obamunists pursue such anti-law-enforcement policies with a vengeance that borders on the vicious:
Thursday's lawsuit is the latest action in a slew against Arizona by the federal government.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stripped Arpaio's office of its special powers to enforce federal immigration laws, and in May, the Obama administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent Arizona from enforcing its employer sanctions law.
In July, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to overturn portions of Arizona's strict new immigration law that would require police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally. A federal judge put that provision and most of the law on hold.
And via a column by the Washington Examiner's Byron York, we discover another U.S. Justice Department attack on Arizona's policy of prosecuting and deporting illegal aliens:
In addition to the drive to kill the new law, Attorney General Eric Holder is also suing the Maricopa Community College system in Phoenix, alleging it broke the law by requiring a job seeker to provide a green card before being hired.
Policies that inhibit the arrest and prosecution of illegal immigrants in a state that borders Mexico (especially those who are already being arrested for some other crime) have the effect of empowering Mexican drug gangs and other Latin-American criminals coming up from Mexico to spread their corruption and terror in this country... with Hispanics as their principal victims.
What have Obama and Holder done?
- The U.S. Justice Department sued to prevent Arizona from checking the immigration status of suspects already being arrested for other crimes, even when probable cause existed to suspect they were here illegally.
- It sued to prevent Arizona from enforcing a policy of holding employers accountable for hiring illegals.
- The Justice Department is criminally investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, the self-proclaimed (but generally acknowledged) "toughest sheriff in America," via a federal grand jury in Phoenix.
- And now, the Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to force Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office (MCSO) to "cooperate" in a separate investigation by handing over a staggering number of documents -- in a vaguely defined fishing expedition, hoping to find some evidence of racial discrimination.
Everybody in Phosphoria has been talking about the lawsuit against Arpaio and the MCSO, excoriating the Justice Department for the message it sends and the policy of "non-enforcement" it tries to enforce. I have yet to see a substantive defense of the lawsuit.
But what I find more appalling is the real-world death and destruction it wreaks among the very people Justice purports to "protect" by interdicting the law. When a policy causes so much more damage to Hispanics than whites or blacks, any sincere liberal civil-rights advocate would denounce it as racist.
So why the shock when ordinary Americans, steeped in the strange brew of American racial preferences and governmental prejudices, correctly apply the disparate-impact racism test to the One -- and conclude Obama and his administration are, in fact, racist? The Left especially should denounce him by its own definition... that is, if it were honest.
August 21, 2010
Obamacle Demands Lockerbie Bomber Be Reincarcerated; World Laughs
Today, a spokesman for President Barack H. Obama hilariously demanded that Libya hand over the Lockerbie Bomber to be returned to prison in Scotland:
John Brennan, President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, told reporters accompanying the vacationing leader the United States has “expressed our strong conviction” to Libya that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi should not remain free.
Brennan criticized what he termed the “unfortunate and inappropriate and wrong decision,” and added: “We’ve expressed our strong conviction that al-Megrahi should serve out the remainder - the entirety - of his sentence in a Scottish prison.”
I doubt that either Brennan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or Obama himself believes that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi will sheepishly hand Megrahi over to Scottish authorities; while I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it does appear that yesterday's censorious "Sermon on the Hill" might have been nothing more than presidential grandstanding.
The Obamunist has repeatedly insisted he did everything humanly possible to stop the release, which he only found out about a day or two beforehand -- far too late to intervene in any serious way. But by golly, he sure talked a good fight!
However, British officials revealed last September that the Obama administration knew about the pending release for months before it happened and was privy to the entire negotiation; yet Obama told no one and did nothing effective to stop it:
British officials claim Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton were kept informed at all stages of discussions concerning Megrahi’s return.
The officials say the Americans spoke out because they were taken aback by the row over Megrahi’s release, not because they did not know it was about to happen.
‘The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain’s discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,’ said the Whitehall aide.
‘We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US. It is disingenuous of them to act as though Megrahi’s return was out of the blue.
Big Lizards posted about the president's uncharacteristic taciturnity nearly a year ago; to quote myself (my favorite pastime!):
[H]ad Obama put his foot down, perhaps even threatening to go public about the talks (thus scuttling them) -- had he even threatened to reveal the real reason for the amnesty, a massive oil deal for British Petroleum offered as a bribe by Libyan military dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi -- Obama could almost certainly have stopped the release of Megrahi.
Given the reaction not only here but across the Atlantic, such a deal must be negotiated in the dead of night; a credible threat to bring it out into the open before the terms were agreed upon would have meant both Great Britain and Libya would have had to deny and denounce the deal, and it couldn't have happened... not for years, at least, while the furor died down.
Evidently, Obama feels the periodic urge to thump his chest and buttress his national-security credentials -- especially just before an election, albeit midterm. But to loudly demand the impossible now, when the horse has long since been let out of the bag, doesn't make Obama (or the United States) look strong; it makes us look pathetic and desperate. Worse, America becomes an object of mirth and triumphalism to our enemies. It could hardly be worse if B.O. himself had stood in a dinghy off the shores of Tripoli, shaken his fist and shouted, "You wascally wabbit...!"
Of all the hypocritical and disingenuous things Obama has said, directly or through a sock puppet, this one may top the list. In a single demand, he has pulled off a hat trick:
- Insulted and offended our allies by making out that they went behind Obama's back, when in fact he was fully informed before, during, and after the release;
- Made the United States look weak and impotent;
- Made himself look like a pompous, clueless, ineffectual ass.
By first standing by, hat in hand, while the Brits sold the Lockerbie bomber back to Libya for a mess of petrolidge, then raging and storming a year later, when it has become obvious to the world that we, the Brits, and the Scots were all flim-flammed by Megrahi the Mysterious, President Obama picked the worst possible combination of responses to yesterday's anniversary. I'm certain our radical-Islamist enemies have taken note.
Thank you, Mask Man!
August 19, 2010
Greasing My Spindle Part XIX
I often write stubs of posts that I never get around to finishing; on occasion, entire posts that I forget to edit and publish. I must be as absent minded as a -- as a great -- absent-minded thing. Whatever.
Here's one I wrote entire the day after Independence Day...
Just two years ago this month [July], then-candidate Barack H. Obama, speaking on the campaign trail in the American state of Berlin, called himself "a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world."
"Citizen of the United States" I understand, though I'm a bit skeptical about the "proud" part. But what on earth is a "citizen of the world?"
My understanding of citizenship is that it's a relationship of allegiance between an individual and a single, unified political entity; the fellow avowing he is a citizen of X thus accepts that he is subject to the jurisdiction of X, required to obey its laws (excepting unconstitutional or tyrannical ones), and sees X as his lawful sovereign, to which he owes some level of fealty. Underlying all of these defintional conditions is the assumption that X actually exists as a political body.
Thus, I can be a citizen of the United States, of the state of California, and (stretching a bit), of my county and city. Each of these is a distinct political entity; each demands obedience to its rightful laws, ordinances, and regulations; and each exerts an authority over me that I acknowledge.
But "the world" is not a political entity. It does not have general police powers, nor a codified, world-wide set of laws and regulations that we all pledge to obey. And I certainly don't agree to "the world" having any sort of authority over me; rather, I reject that cockamamie idea in favor of pledging fealty to one specific piece of "the world," even when that entity -- the United States of America -- finds itself at odds with the huge majority of the population of Planet Earth.
Pithily put, the phrase "I am a citizen of the world" is syntactically valid; but it's semantic gobbledygook, a phrase that "seems vague but is in fact meaningless." Saying "I am a citizen of the world" is like saying "I am the procrustean reiteration of next Thursday."
Does President B.O. realize he utters such whoppers day in and day out? I doubt it; he has been carefully trained his entire life to replace thinking with sloganeering, from his earliest days in school in Hawaii and Indonesia, through his misbegotten youth as a "community organizer," through his political career, and even today as President of the United States: Obama truly believes that saying, for another example, that he is trying to find whose "ass to kick" anent the BP Gulf oil spill, should be "deemed" an example of thoughtful analysis and policy-making.
I don't believe he realizes what a fool he sounds; he is surrounded by sycophants, head nodders, chest thumpers, and yes, an entire gaggle of fellow fools. Regardless of where one lands on the eternal philosophical question of whether Barack Obama is a well-meaning incompetent or a highly competent anti-American, he is at his core an utter dope -- which severely impacts his ability to close the deal with the American people.
Thank God for buffoonery!
August 15, 2010
An Exchange of Note(s)
Friend Lee just sent me e-mail noting that Barack H. Obama has pretty much painted himself into a hole anent the "Ground-Zero Mosque," or Cordoba House, as it's actually dubbed. I responded with my own notation; and with my usual flair for modesty and self-effacement, I have decided the exchange is worth passing along to the world (like James Boswell's exchanges with Dr. Samuel Johnson, or Dr. John Watson's conversations with Mr. Sherlock Holmes).
"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!"
(A six-pack of kudos to anyone who can identify the name of the ficticious character who said this, and in what venue.)
Obama brought it all upon himself when he said the following:
But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.
As many have noted, this maudlin sentiment goes above and beyond -- or I should say beneath and between -- a simple commitment to freedom of religion... particularly coming from a man who admits to support only for freedom of worship. He enthuses that "all faiths" -- by which he appears to mean especially faiths that would if they could obliterate our country, our liberty and freedom, our ideals, and indeed, our entire way of life -- must be treated equally.
Obamunist morality demands that a faith that supports and nurtures individual liberty cannot be treated any differently by the United States government than one that seeks to overthrow that same government by force and violence! In other words, we must tolerate the utterly intolerant, even if doing so will allow them to take over -- and end all tolerance forever. I think the technical term for this philosophy of self-destruction is "mad as a hatter."
So Friend Lee sent me this note:
Subject: I think Obama's a huge loser on Cordoba House
Here's my two cents on this issue --
If he defends the project claiming this Imam is a moderate, then he becomes an apologist for the Imam's positions of record.
If he admits the Imam is immoderate but defends the project on grounds of American values of religious freedom, then he is not defending the constitution, but is defending those who would destroy it. For most people, tolerance is off the table at that point -- or at least, it is no longer paramount.
If he tries to de-link the project itself from the Muslims who are pushing it, then he still looks like a law professor, not a chief executive.
If he punts on the issue and says it is "local" he shows a failure of leadership.
If he changes the position he's already taken, he looks vacillating and insincere. How's that KSM trial going?
By the time this mosque is finished, I think he'll no longer be President -- but I won't be surprised if he eventually takes off his shoes and appears to pray there.
I particularly like that phrase, "and appears to pray there." I can only conclude that Friend Lee is suggesting that a Compleat Narcissist like Obama never actually prays, for he would have to pray to himself; but he has learnt how to ape the ritual, metaphorically holding his nose, for political gain.
Response by Dafydd:
Subject: Re: I think Obama's a huge loser on Cordoba House
Obama's only saving grace has been his self-destructive political instincts, which lead him into one unforced folly after another. He seems as addicted to offending Americans as Clinton was to sex with subordinates.
I cannot imagine that he will find a way to "fix" his personality defects between now and November 6th, 2012; he's a one-termer.
Colossal ego aside, I think Friend Lee nailed it: There is currently no card in the deck that will win the Cordoba hand for the Obamunist; he's drawing dead, as they say on the World Poker Tour. And of course, if he tries simply to drop the discussion and pretend he never said anything, he will be thwarted by GOP candidates playing Obama's quotes over and over in campaign commercials, ad infinitum.
The Obamic Dilemma reminds me of a reformulation of the three main laws of thermodynamics that is sometimes attributed to Sir Arthur Eddington (without any evidence, alas); in more or less original form, laws one through three state:
- In any process in an isolated system, the total energy remains the same. (That is, energy in an isolated system can neither be created nor destroyed.)
- Spontaneous natural processes increase entropy overall. (That is, taking all energy in a closed system as a whole, entropy increases over time.)
- As temperature approaches absolute zero, the entropy of a system approaches a constant minimum greater than absolute zero. (That is, the end-state of entropy is uniform distribution of energy, after which every natural process ceases.)
Eddington (or some other wag) rewrote the laws thus:
- You can't win.
- You can't break even.
- You can't even quit the game.
That quite succinctly describes Obama's Dilemma, in a nuthouse.
August 12, 2010
Is He Is, or Is He Ain't, Mahmoud's BFF?
Speculation abounds that President Barack H. Obama plans to personally meet with Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Gen James Jones, has indicated the President may be prepared to meet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if the regime resumed negotiations over its nuclear programme....
However, the President’s national security adviser said there would be “no point in a theatrical meeting.” It is unlikely that the Iranians will agree to the American’s demands as the regime has repeatedly circumvented previous attempts to rein in its nuclear programme.
Of course, if all that Ahmadinejad need do is agree to resume negotiations, or even have his team attend a couple of minor meet & greets, then perhaps the diminutive Iranian muppet could "negotiate" just long enough to get his tête-à-tête with the Obamunist, then drop him like a used Kleenex.
But the big money is already pouring in on a much more important "is he is or is he ain't" wager: Assuming they do meet -- will Obama bow to Ahmadinejad?
Recalling bad press of bows past, and mindful of his reelection campiaign in 2012, Obama may well go into the meeting bound and determined not to bow to the terrorist leader. But as such things often go, he may focus so much on not bowing, the subject of bowing rattling round his brain like a trite song you can't shake loose, that he walks firmly up to Ahmadinejad -- I will not bow to the little creep! -- sticks out a hand... and bows deeply at the waist.
If he does, it will of course be (you knew this was coming) a Freudian dip.
August 8, 2010
Just Suppose This Juxtapose
From the Financial Times (free registration required):
The Federal Reserve is set to downgrade its assessment of US economic prospects when it meets on Tuesday to discuss ways to reboot the flagging recovery.
Faced with weak economic data and rising fears of a double-dip recession, the Federal Open Market Committee is likely to ensure its policy is not constraining growth and to use its statement to signal greater concern about the economy. It is, however, unlikely to agree big new steps to boost growth....
In congressional testimony last month, Ben Bernanke noted “unusual uncertainty” in the economic outlook and in a speech last week the Fed chairman warned of a “considerable way to go” before the US achieves a full recovery.
From the Seattle Times:
As the U.S. economy endures high unemployment and a jittery stock market, President Obama has preached sacrifice and fiscal discipline. But the pictures coming out of a sunsplashed Spanish resort this week may be sending a different message.
First lady Michelle Obama is on a five-day trip to a luxury resort along with a handful of friends, her younger daughter, Sasha, aides and Secret Service personnel. Her office said the first family will pay for personal expenses, but declined to reveal the taxpayer cost for the government employees. The president stayed home in the United States, as did daughter Malia, 12, who is at camp....
The opulence of the European trip also has drawn scrutiny. Michelle Obama is staying at the Hotel Villa Padierna, a Ritz-Carlton resort in the mountains outside Marbella. The resort has two golf courses, a posh spa with Turkish baths, views of the Mediterranean Sea and a high-end restaurant specializing in avant-garde fare. Room rates start at $400 and rise to $6,500 for a two-bedroom villa with a private pool and 24-hour butler service.
The danger for the Obamas is that the trip may feed perceptions they are out of touch with struggling American families, said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster.
From the Daily Mail:
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and her younger daughter lunched with Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia today at the royal summer residence on the Balearic island of Majorca.
Mrs Obama, nine-year-old Sasha and their entourage flew into the Majorcan capital of Palma from the glitzy Mediterranean resort of Marbella, where they have been staying since Wednesday at a deluxe hotel....
But the First Lady has been lambasted for her extravagance at a time when the economy is still struggling. One blogger went so far as to brand her a modern-day Marie Antoinette.
And her critics will be further annoyed when they learn that the president's wife had a Spanish beach closed off today so that she, her daughter and their entourage could go for a swim.
Spanish police cleared off a stretch of beach at the Villa Padierna Hotel in Marbella after the Obamas had finished a busy day of sightseeing....
It is unclear whether the police presence was paid for by Spain - or whether a nasty invoice could be landing in the lap of the American taxpayer.
I promise on my mother's grave -- does that still count, even though she's still alive? -- that I will never, ever refer to the First Michelle as "Marie Antoinette." Never.
Nor will I compare and contrast, nor draw any conclusions about the depth of Obamic sincerity. I will simply let the words and music of Evita Obama speak for themselves.
August 2, 2010
The Eyes Have It
In a recent post by John Hinderaker of Power Line (my f.b. on my f.b.), the divine Mr. H. contrasted the courage of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill with the carnage of Barack H. Obama. The latter comes up lacking:
Unfortunately, it is hard to see much resemblance between our current leadership and Churchill.
But at least we appear to have solved a mystery! For now it's quite clear just why the Obamacle's first official gift to Great Britain was a bust of Churchill; that very country lent it to us after the 9/11 attacks, and the bust had occupied an honored spot in the Oval Office ever since.
Until Valentine's Day, 2009, that is, when the incoming Obamunist packed it up and FedExed it back to Jolly Olde England. (Jolly Olde E. promptly snuck it right back, to the Washington residence of Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Britain's Ambassador to America.)
In a secretly recorded snippet of conversation the next day between Obama and Rahm Emanuel, the president can be heard whimpering, "those eyes; those eyes! It's like they were following me as I moved around the room. And they were... scowling."
(In a related note, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts categorically denies that it has purchased the bust to set up in the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.)
July 21, 2010
The Impotence of Being Snakebit
No, he's not there yet. But he's trending in that direction... and he knows it. It's already starting to affect his responses -- he's drifting, drifting into Nixonian levels of paranoia and Johnsonian levels of ennui.
All right, let's back up and start this right. First, I love the July 13-19 Quinnipiac poll showing that President Barack H. Obama's job approval has plunged to 44%, with 48% disapproving -- a 9 point drop in the spread (from positive 5 to negative 4), just since May. Even better is their finding that very few Americans other than die-hard Democrats want, at this juncture, to see Obama reelected: By a 39% to 36% margin, respondents chose the generic Republican over President Obama.
The president is in a slump right now, but he could still pull it all back... at least in theory. Paul Mirengoff of Power Line is convinced that the economy will improve significantly before 2012, and that a rising economy would make Obama very competitive in his reelection bid.
It could happen that way; generally, the American economy automatically recovers from most recessions. But history tells us that if the federal response to an economic downturn is stupid enough, recovery can be delayed indefinitely -- as Franklin Roosevelt's disastrous handling of the Great Depression conclusively proved.
I think even Paul would agree with me that if the economy hasn't improved significantly by early 2012 -- with real employment being the primary indicator of such improvement -- then Obama will head into his reelection without the upper hand; without a drawing hand; without a useful under-handed move he can make; in fact, with no hand at all.
But even if the economy limps forward, avoids a double-dip recession, but shows no dramatic recovery, I suspect his approval ratings would continue to slump. And a very important tipping point looms.
When a president's approval sinks low enough, there is nothing he can do to recover; he becomes effectively impotent, neutered. No matter what action he takes to help the economy, the people become further enraged at him:
- If he raises taxes, Left, Right, and Center are furious that he's raising taxes in the middle of a recession.
- But if he lowers taxes, the Right is furious that he's adding to the deficit; the Left is furious that he's pandering to the Right; and the Center is furious that he's not "creating jobs."
The mechanism at work is the opposite of normal. Under normal circumstances, the people evaluate the policy; if they like it, their approval of the president rises; if they don't like the policy, then approval drops and disapproval rises. But in the situation above, where the president has become unpopular enough, people dislike any policy he enunciates just because they dislike him. If he's fer it, they're agin' it -- no matter what "it" is!
The crisis becomes a vicious circle, a negative feedback loop: The people having decided that they dislike the policy because the disliked president proposed it, they then seize upon the now-disliked policy to disapprove of the president all the more so. The technical term for such a negative feedback loop of job disapproval causing policy rejection causing more job disapproval is "snakebit", if Peggy Noonan can be believed. (And why shouldn't we?)
Eventually the president strikes rock bottom; empirical observation puts that point at about 35%; that's the number of people who would vote for a yellow dog if it called itself a (fill in the blank party).
- George W. Bush hit bottom and stayed there.
- Richard M. Nixon came close and probably would have cratered, had he stayed on.
- And if Barack Obama cannot find a way to really swing the economy around, visibly and spectactularly -- for example, by turning into a pro-Capitalism triangulator -- I believe he will find the same hole as the others.
At the moment, the Obamunist is on a direct glidepath to the snakepit, and there are very few ways for him to reverse course... particularly since the best way to do so is to dramatically remake oneself, as Bill Clinton did; then go before the American people, apologize for his mistakes, ask forgiveness, and promise to turn over a new leaf -- as Ronald Reagan did at the nadir of the Iran-Contra scandal.
But from my read on the current occupant of la Casa Blanca, that option is a non-starter: Obama would have to (a) admit he was wrong, then (b) do an about-face on his signature issue, the economy. I'm not sure which task would be more psychically painful to the man who announced that his ascension to the Petal Throne would cause the oceans to begin to recede and the Earth cool.
Paul Mirengoff is a real expert on Washington D.C. He lives and works there (all right, on the Maryland side); he's an attorney; he's well-connected in conservative and Republican circles; he lunches with movers and shakers -- and I don't mean guys who drive vans full of furniture while singing "Simple Gifts" -- in fine, he's plugged in to the Washington zeitgeist. But he has a chink in his Achilles heel: Paul Mirengoff is relentlessly establishmentarian; as it was, so shall it be, there is nothing new under the sun.
I have none of his political advantages, but what I do have is a speculative ability; from my training both in mathematics and science fiction, I see trends as physical, moving forces... and I sometimes can skate along them to their far ends and see how it all comes out, when to others it still seems as if it could go either way. (For example, I could tell just a few days into the "long count" of the 2000 election in Florida that Algore was never going to surpass Bush, and that the latter would finally prevail.)
I won't say it's inevitable that Obama will become snakebit; but there is a swing, a momentum in that direction; and it's getting heavier with every passing day. If I were required by law to wager $100 on the future, I would bet that by 2012, Obama's reelection will look so dismal that, like Lyndon Johnson, he simply declares godlike success and walks away from the wreckage.
Then he'll write a third autobiographical memoir, and it will be filed in the fiction section at Borders.
July 19, 2010
Obama's Tendentious Redefinition of Freedom
Catholic Online catches President Barack H. Obama in a seismic shift in rhetoric, one that could betoken grave changes in the very concept of religious freedom:
The change in language was barely noticeable to the average citizen but political observers are raising red flags at the use of a new term "freedom of worship" by President Obama and Secretary Clinton as a replacement for the term freedom of religion. This shift happened between the President's speech in Cairo where he showcased America's freedom of religion and his appearance in November at a memorial for the victims of Fort Hood, where he specifically used the term "freedom of worship." From that point on, it has become the term of choice for the president and Clinton.
So what's in a word? Isn't freedom of worship simply a quaint synonym for freedom of religion? Well, no; worship is a much narrower word than religion, and the freedom envisioned is a crabbed and crippled one:
In her article for "First Things" magazine, Ashley Samelson, International Programs Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, stated, "To anyone who closely follows prominent discussion of religious freedom in the diplomatic and political arena, this linguistic shift is troubling: "The reason is simple. Any person of faith knows that religious exercise is about a lot more than freedom of worship. It's about the right to dress according to one's religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square. Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don't go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves-yet "freedom of worship" would protect none of these acts of faith...."
It also could exclude our right to raise our children in our faith, the right to religious education, literature or media, the right to raise funds or organize charitable activities and the right to express religious beliefs in the normal discourse of life....
Samelson writes, "The effort to squash religion into the private sphere is on the rise around the world. "And it's not just confined to totalitarian regimes like Saudi Arabia. In France, students at public schools cannot wear headscarves, yarmulkes, or large crucifixes. The European Court of Human Rights has banned crucifixes from the walls of Italian schools."
So why would Obamunism suddenly demand a slimmer creed of freedom than the full-bore freedom of religion? What does the administration gain from the switch to freedom of worship? Alas, I fear it's yet another act of appeasement of the usual suspects, more creeping acceptance of the virulent form of "jihadist" totalitarianism: Barack Obama is signalling that the United States, despite the words of our Founders and in our own Bill of Rights, no longer believes Moslem nations violate fundamental liberty when they discriminate against the infidel -- where "infidel" means anyone who doesn't submit to the precise form of Wahhabism, Salafism, or Khomeiniism demanded by the State.
We no longer vigorously oppose religious violence, from head-chopping and suicide bombing down to "honor" killings and throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women. We don't want to anger militant Islamists by insisting that schools be something less than -- and something more than -- propaganda mills for extremist, anti-Western, anti-Christian, and especially anti-Jew hatred that twists lives and warps souls. America, in the person of the President of the United States, is more solicitous of the feelings of those engaged in a "holy war" against us than he is of the lives and freedoms of their victims.
In other words, it's just another "bow from the waist" abasement to the so-called "jihad."
Catholic Online gingerly points at this explanation but appears too nervous actually to pull the trigger:
In the administration's defense, Carl Esbeck, professor of law at the University of Missouri, is quoted by Christianity Today as saying, "The softened message is probably meant for the Muslim world, said. Obama, seeking to repair relations fractured by 9/11, is telling Islamic countries that America is not interfering with their internal matters."
"Internal matters" such as publicly stoning women to death for the crime of being raped.
Everyday, in every way, the Obamacle expresses his disdain for traditional American virtues and his passionate belief -- probably deeper than anything else he learnt in the pews of Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ -- that there is nothing exceptional about the United States... unless it's that America is exceptionally racist, sexist -- and religist.
July 7, 2010
...And Now You Don't!
I began yesterday's lone post with this preamble:
The first clue that a new governmental policy is boneheaded is that the promulgating administration instantly attempts to "clarify" its pronunciamento.
The decision to prevent access by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees to various categories of website, one of which comprised those with "controversial opinion," was simultaneously so tendentious and so risible that I fully expected a speedy withdrawal.
Alas, I blinked, and I missed it:
After intense media scrutiny, the Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday backed off a new policy that would have restricted employees from visiting "controversial opinion" sites at work.
Employees at the TSA were initially informed last Friday that five categories of websites would be blocked on internal computers. They included: chat/messaging, criminal activity, extreme violence and gruesome content, gaming and controversial opinion.
But following questions about how broadly the last category would be interpreted, the TSA sent around an e-mail to employees on Tuesday saying "controversial opinion" sites would not be blocked.
So a policy that was likely implemented after months of discussion and planning, amid what one would expect to include numerous findings of fact and policy, and touted as a necessary measure to eliminate "increased security risk," is promulgated on a Friday -- then partially voided four days later, in response to "intense media scrutiny!"
Can there be any clearer admission, short of outright confession and penance, that adding sites containing "controversial opinion" to the banned list was purely political, never related to actual security concerns?
The TSA, likely at the direction of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, tries to sneak through a provision to stop employees from viewing sites that pay insufficient homage to the settled questions of the liberal Vision. Had it worked, I'm sure the same orders would have been issued to every other federal agency, administration, and department in the federal government, and might become the basis for many left-leaning states to follow suit.
Instead, such bastions of conservatism as CBS News pick up the story and run it, quite properly, as a massive assault on freedom of speech. So the Obama administration sheepishly draws back a stump and utters an Emily-Litella-esque, "Never mind!"
The Barack H. Obama administration, far from being "post-partisan," is the most intensely partisan and politicized administration in my lifetime, possibly in the entire twentieth and twenty-first centuries. At least the ultra-liberal Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon administrations had occasional real-world problems that they had to deal with, and did so on the basis of reality and pragmatism. By contrast, I don't believe the Obamunists have made a single decision, drafted a single policy, or made a single, cynical appointment, with any thought in mind other than how it would play politically.
That is a breathtaking record that likely won't be repeated before I leave this planet (one way or another).
July 6, 2010
TSA CYA - Now You See It...
The first clue that a new governmental policy is boneheaded is that the promulgating administration instantly attempts to "clarify" its pronunciamento.
The initial edict was as indefensible as it was inexplicable:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency's computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a "controversial opinion," according to an internal email obtained by CBS News....
It states that as of July 1, TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed "inappropriate for government access."
Four of the blocked categories make at least some sense: chatting and messaging sites (potential security breach), sites devoted to engaging in criminal activity (duh), sites depicting "extreme violence" (where one can watch jihadist beheading videos, for example), and gaming sites (we don't want government employees playing online poker or HALO on taxpayer time). But then there's the joker -- websites that provide "controversial opinion."
The email does not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a "controversial opinion."
But I bet I can guess...
The e-mail was sent Friday afternoon (the day after it officially went into effect -- how well timed!); the story ran on CBS's website Saturday; and today (Tuesday), the TSA was already scrambling to "explain" what the heck it was doing. The pushback spin, however, was one of those "non-explanatory explanations":
In response, the TSA sent the following statement to CBS News Tuesday:
"TSA routinely makes improvements to our information technology systems to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats to keep our systems secure. As part of this continued effort, TSA uses a security technology to limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk. TSA does not block access to critical commentary about the organization and in fact expressly created the TSA IdeaFactory and the TSA Blog to promote diverse opinions. TSA employees will be able to access web sites required for work purposes."
So the reason they must block employee access to websites with "controversial opinion" is that, in order to "keep [their] systems secure," they must "limit access to categories of web sites that pose an increased security risk." There, what could be clearer or more convincing?
Thus one presumes that the Drudge Report, Power Line, the National Review Online, Fox News, the Washington Times online, and the Washington Examiner online might all pose such immediate and obvious security risks that blocking them is a no-brainer: They interfere with employees suckling at the teat of (uncontroversial) liberal orthodoxy.
The TSA Administrator is currently John S. Pistole, a former Deputy Director of the FBI; but he was just recently appointed in May and confirmed by the Senate on June 25th. Since I assume this policy was in the works longer than one week before being announced last Friday, it's probably the baby of Pistole's predecessor, Acting Director Gale Rossides.
But in reality, the TSA is part of the Department of Homeland Security; so the real capa dei capi is Janet Napolitano, President Barack H. Obama's intensely politicized administrative protégé, acolyte, and all-around groupie. If nothing else, blame the policy on the Democratic culture of suppression.
From the very beginning, the Obama administration has fought tooth and nail against freedom of speech, in both its aspects -- speaking out, and hearing what others have to say:
- Obama's attempts to freeze out Fox News;
- His administration's initial refusal to give interviews to any news medium that didn't already share "the Vision;"
- His refusal, for more than three hundred days, even to hold a press conference;
- His staggering use of "policy czars" to keep all decision-making within the administration (and under the rose), not even allowing the ultra-Democratic Congress into the inner circle of knowledge;
- His repeated invocation of "national security" and "executive privilege" -- more than any president since Richard Nixon! -- to clam up his federal employees and keep the public in the dark;
- His bitter opposition to allowing campaign expenditures (themselves a form of speech) by corporations, in order to balance those routinely made by unions.
And his threats to employees to zip it -- or face termination, or possible prosecution, as in the recent disclosures about the Justice Department killing the already-won case against the New Black Panther Party. One career federal prosecutor was exiled to South Carolina (ending his career); another had to resign, giving up his career voluntarily, in order to be free to speak out.
In each case, Obama has made it clear that freethinking, open discussion, and especially "controversial opinion" was neither valued nor tolerated in his administration. Under pure Obamunism, only the truth is allowed to be spoken -- where "the truth" equals the catechism of the radical Left.
Of course, Barack Obama is not the first "progressive" to see dissent as at best a nuisance -- and at worst, a criminal act; consider Woodrow Wilson's signing of the Sedition Act of 1918, which in his administration included any "'disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language' about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces or that caused others to view the American government or its institutions with contempt," is a direct precedent.
So why should we be shocked that someone in his administration -- whether Rossides, Napolitano, or the big B.O. himself -- has troubled to codify that antipathy to free speech in an internal e-mail?
The only "hope and change" we have left is that we can begin undermining his anti-American power base this November, and that this task will continue through the presidential election of 2012.
That's when the real work begins, of course, trying to undo six years of Alinskyite radicalism before it metastasizes to a terminal cancer in the American body politic, economy, and culture.
July 2, 2010
Obamunism on a Nutshell
I rarely do this kind of post; but today, I just can't resist:
Employers cut 125,000 jobs last month, the most since October, the Labor Department said Friday. The loss was driven by the end of 225,000 temporary census jobs. Businesses added a net total of 83,000 workers, the sixth straight month of private-sector job gains but not enough to speed up the recovery.
Unemployment dropped to 9.5 percent - the lowest level since July 2009 -- from 9.7 percent. But the reason for the decline was more than 650,000 people gave up on their job searches and left the labor force. People who are no longer looking for work aren't counted as unemployed.
The latest figures suggest businesses are still slow to hire amid a weak economic recovery. Many economists were hoping to see more private-sector job growth, which would fuel the economy by boosting consumers' ability to spend....
In a separate report, factory orders fell by 1.4 percent in May, the Commerce Department said. It was the first decline after nine months of gains and the biggest drop since March 2009.
The reports follow a slew of data and developments this week that point to slower growth in the months ahead.
In May, home sales plunged and construction spending dropped after a popular homebuyers' tax credit expired on April 30. Consumer confidence has fallen sharply. The European debt crisis has sent U.S. financial markets downward, lowering household wealth. And more than a million jobless Americans have been cut off from unemployment benefits after Congress adjourned for a weeklong Independence Day recess without extending federal aid.
And now, as Monty Python might say, the punchline:
President Barack Obama said the economy is moving in the right direction, but not quickly enough. He seized on the latest data to push for more government stimulus -- including the extension of jobless benefits -- to aid the recovery.
Our entire economic policy is a complete catastrophe; everything we've tried has had the exact opposite effect; now we're on the brink of a double-dip recession -- or a complete collapse -- and the private sector is shattered, the government rapidly gobbling up the stabilizing corporations and crushing the wealth-producing small businesses that could have pulled us out of economic ruin. So clearly -- we must redouble our efforts!
...That, gentle readers, is Obamunism in a nuthouse.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
June 23, 2010
McChrystal Out, Petraeus In: Color Me Surprised But Not Shattered
In the end, it appears that the wounded vanity of the notoriously thin-skinned Barack H. Obama won out over continuity and steadfastness in wartime: Obama sacked Gen. Stanley McChrystal over snarky remarks the latter and his aides made to a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine.
Obama said bluntly that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's scornful remarks about administration officials represent conduct that "undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system."
How exactly McChrystal "undermined the civilian control of the military" went unexplained. It did, however, prick the ego of the president, which is lèse déité, a greater sin than merely threatening rule of law in the United States.
But at least the likewise notoriously anti-victory president didn't use the opportunity to install a pet commander to declare defeat and go home -- as Obama himself tried to do anent Iraq when he was a (very) lowly senator. In fact, he decided to stick with a man previously confirmed in a higher position... McChrystal's direct boss, Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Central Command.
(Amusingly, Obama was probably forced to tap Petraeus by the necessity of avoiding yet another confirmation fight in the Senate... one where the even more anti-victory Senate Democratic caucus could have destroyed our counterinsurgency [COIN] operation in Afghanistan merely by voting down all successors who might continue it.)
Although Petraeus must give up command of CENTCOM, and he does have to be confirmed by the Senate in his new, lower position, voting him down is really not an option: If Senate Democrats reject him now, after previously approving him for the higher job, the deliberate attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Afghanistan would be too brazen for the Left to possibly Blame It on Bush ™. Just as Obama was forced to name Petraeus, so too are the Senate Democrats forced to confirm him, and quickly.
No word yet on who Obama might name to take the reins at CENTCOM. This is still a threat to the mission, if he names someone who will undercut Petraeus and COIN.
Gen. Petraeus clearly intends to continue the offensive (against the Taliban, I mean, not against the president). He is certainly the most experienced COIN commander in the world right now, having pulled the mutton out of the burka in Iraq; on a purely military front, this may improve chances that we'll win in Afghanistan, too -- possibly in the 91st minute, after a heartstopping stalemate: David Petraeus is probably better trusted by the troops than was Stanley McChrystal, and is likely better able to explain to them why the emphasis in a countersurgency is on protecting the lives of civilian natives, not American military forces.
Thinking ahead -- far past the victory in Afghanistan, which I believe is well within our grasp, if we can be steadfast -- I have a remarkable scenario I would love to see play out. I doubt it will, but it's such a beautiful reverie I cannot resist:
- Petraeus takes charge and turns the Afghanistan campaign around, as he did before in Iraq.
- By mid-2011, things are going so well in Afghanistan that Petraeus is able to buy more time before the withdrawal. The withdrawal thus starts at the end of 2011, rather than July.
- Shortly thereafter, Gen. Petraeus retires from the Army.
- And in February of 2012, he announces that he is running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States -- on the strength of back-to-back victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his (by then) thirty-seven years experience as an "administrative manager" of one of the largest organizations in the United States, with more than a million active duty, Reserve, and Guard personnel.
So far, David Petraeus has resisted the blandishments of many to run for office; but I can dream, can't I?
If he did run against the Obamunist, the contrast in competence alone, let alone Americanism, might blow Obama right out of the race: President B.O. might declare, "My job here is done," and wangle appointment as Secretary General of the U.N. -- which he could portray as a promotion. (We all know that the job of President of the United States is just too small for the One We Have Been Waiting For.) Seriously, Obama might prefer MovingOn under his own steam to a humiliating defeat at the polls.
In any event, considering the personalities in motion on this self-inflicted scandal (self-inflicted by both parties!), this is probably the best result that could have prevailed.
Paul Mirengoff at Power Line notes the "arms-length disdain" exhibited by President Barack H. Obama towards America-loving soon-to-be-former President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia; my friend predicts that Obama will be just as frigid towards Uribe's America-loving successor, Juan Manuel Santos.
(I call Mr. Mirengoff my friend because I once had lunch with him. I recall he spent the entire meal scowling at me, clearly trying, and failing, to place exactly who I was and why I was eating up his food and his time. He was gracious, however... though I had the distinct sensation of being underdressed. Or completely undressed, as in the stereotypical nightmare. This, by the way, is my usual experience when meeting the rich and celebrated: "Uh... Dafydd ab-Who?")
Paul connects this Obamic disdain -- of Uribe and Santos, not of the Lizard -- with the general ambivalence at best, loathing at worst that the Obamunist feels towards any country that has the bad taste to ally with the United States:
As far as I can see, there is only one thing that unites Britain, Israel, India, and Colombia (along with certain former Soviet bloc counties like Poland towards which Obama has also demonstrated ambivalence) - their friendship with the United States. Thus, I think we should presume that Obama's contemptuous approach to these countries is a reflection of his profound misgivings about his own country. To him, it may well seem that any nation seeking close ties with an entity as deeply flawed as the United States is not worthy of respect.
This surreal syllogism strikes me as classical Marxism, an obvious reformulation of the very words of Marx himself -- that is, Groucho Marx, who is reputed to have said, "I would never join any club that would stoop so low as to invite me as a member."
You heard it here first: evidence that President B.O. really is a Marxist! (And doubtless a Lennonist as well.)
The Most Unpardonable Sin: Lèse Déité - Instant Update!
(Update: See below.)
Lèse majesté, pardon my French, is "an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign." In the Obamacle's case, one supposes the more appropriate crime would be lèse déité, or "insulting the local demigod."
Today's example (subscription to the Wall Street Journal Online possibly required):
U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal faced a barrage of criticism -- and little public support -- from top aides to President Barack Obama and senior politicians for reportedly mocking Vice President Joe Biden and others in a magazine article, casting doubt over future of the top commander in the Afghan war.
Mr. Obama summoned Gen. McChrystal to the White House from Kabul because of the article, an eight-page profile in Rolling Stone magazine titled "The Runaway General." It portrays Gen. McChrystal, the commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan, and his staff as rogues with little regard for Washington officials, including Mr. Obama.
If one can believe the reactions by various stuffed shirts, the vice president, the Secretary of Defense, Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, and the Stuffed Shirt in Chief himself are all furious about tiny little digs uttered by McChrystal or even by his aides... such as quipping about Vice President Joe Biden, "who's that?" (Well, who is that?)
The WSJ makes clear the problem is not any policy difference between Barack H. Obama and Gen. McChrystal -- apart from that whole, you know, "victory" thing. It appears to be just petty ubrage that the general "poked a finger in the zoo, punctured all the ballyhoo," as the poet said. The Journal contrasts this micro "scandal" with the interview in Esquire that got George W. Bush to fire Adm. William Fallon from his position as Commander of Central Command in 2008:
In the Esquire piece, however, Adm. Fallon appeared to directly contradict White House policy on Iran and other parts of the Middle East. The Rolling Stone article makes no such allegation, but rather is full of jokey put-downs of important Washington players.
Lèse majesté, lèse déité.
Capital punishment -- or even corporal -- being already ruled off the table, the next most likely response for his infuriated Holiness would be to fire Gen. McChrystal. Yes, right in the middle of the Afghan campaign, and damned to the consequences. But what difference does it make? President Barack H. Obama shows every intention of "presid[ing] over America's second lost war" anyway, as the editorial board of the Washington Times put it.
However, I don't think the president will fire McChrystal: It would be too humiliating to oust the man he only "inst" a few months ago.
Be that as it falls out, all the players are dancing around the dead horse in the punchbowl; there is a much more serious conundrum that rightly should engage President B.O. much more than whether somebody made mock of him: Some of our evidently troops believe the Afghanistan rules of engagement (ROEs) are so restrictive, they're hurting the war effort:
As levels of violence in Afghanistan climb, there is a palpable and building sense of unease among troops surrounding one of the most confounding questions about how to wage the war: when and how lethal force should be used.
On the other hand, the counterinsurgency doctrine promulgated by McChrystal and his immediate boss, Gen. David Petraeus, calls for just such tight ROEs, because the entire strategy depends upon winning the "hearts and minds" of Afghans. Or to put it another way, we can only win the war against the insurgency by winning the propaganda war at the same time. In Iraq, for example, we didn't win by shipping ten thousand tanks into the Land of Two Rivers and refighting the North Africa campaign; we won it by persuading Sunni tribal leaders to abandon support of al-Qaeda in Iraq and shift to our side:
Since last year, the counterinsurgency doctrine championed by those now leading the campaign has assumed an almost unchallenged supremacy in the ranks of the American military’s career officers. The doctrine, which has been supported by both the Bush and Obama administrations, rests on core assumptions, including that using lethal force against an insurgency intermingled with a civilian population is often counterproductive....
“Winning hearts and minds in COIN is a coldblooded thing,” General McChrystal was quoted as telling an upset American soldier in the Rolling Stone profile that has landed him in trouble. “The Russians killed 1 million Afghans, and that didn’t work.” COIN is the often used abbreviation for counterinsurgency.
The rules have shifted risks from Afghan civilians to Western combatants. They have earned praise in many circles, hailed as a much needed corrective to looser practices that since 2001 killed or maimed many Afghan civilians and undermined support for the American-led war.
But the new rules have also come with costs, including a perception now frequently heard among troops that the effort to limit risks to civilians has swung too far, and endangers the lives of Afghan and Western soldiers caught in firefights with insurgents who need not observe any rules at all.
Like Hugh Hewitt, I tend to side with Petraeus and McChrystal, even against the NCOs and low-level officers: Those at the pointy end of the stick do the real fighting, but they often can't see the big picture. I note that Petraeus scored a tremendous victory in Iraq by following his own understanding of COIN, ignoring the well-meant advice both from those above and those below him.
But at the very least, we need more instruction in the basics of COIN for the troops, so they know why they risk their own lives and their fellow troopers'... so they understand the theory and how well it worked in the real-world crucible of Iraq. As Sachi said last night, "the purpose of the Army is not to protect the lives of soldiers; it is to complete the mission."
It would also help if we didn't have a Cowerer in Chief who sees any minor setback not as part of the vicissitudes of war but as an unmistakable augury that it's time to declare defeat and go home.
Having an unconventional commander lead troops in a counterintuitive counterinsurgency is hard enough, without having to serve under a feckless civilian government comprising anti-war, anti-American academics with visions of Schlessinger, jr. dancing in their heads. Behind the snarky comments, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his aides may have hoped the message sent would be received: War is not a timed event.
June 14, 2010
The Ignoble Savage: Administration Zeroes Out Return to Moon
I've always considered a presidential administration's commitment to manned space exploration an excellent barometer of its belief in the grandeur of Western civilization; its belief in America's future and exceptional greatness; and its understanding of what Konstantin Tsiolkovsky meant when he said that, "a planet is the cradle of mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever." Simply put, an administration that believes in manned space exploration -- believes in Mankind.
So it's hardly a surprise that Barack H. Obama is in the process of killing the Constellation program proposed by (of course) President George W. Bush to return human beings, Americans, to the Moon, this time to stay; to explore lunar science and geology, investigate the origins of our solar system, and exploit the vast mineralogical, energy, and environmental resources found on our nearest neighboring planet.
And it's even less of a surprise that they're doing it in a backhanded way, in violation of an act that Obama himself is about to sign into law -- while mockingly flouting it:
Constellation aimed to build upon what was arguably America’s greatest technological achievement, the first lunar landing of 1969, by launching new expeditions to the Moon and to Mars and worlds beyond. Mr Obama proposed in February that it should be scrapped because it was “over budget, behind schedule and lacking in innovation”, but he has met opposition in Congress, which has yet to approve his plan.The head of Nasa, Major-General Charlie Bolden -- an Obama appointee -- has now written to aerospace contractors telling them to cut back immediately on Constellation-related projects costing almost $1 billion (£690 million), to comply with regulations requiring them to budget for possible contract termination costs.
The move has been branded a “disingenuous legal manoeuvre” and referred to Nasa’s inspector-general for investigation. “It’s bordering on arrogance by the Administration to boldly and brazenly go forward with this approach. It shows a blatant disregard for Congress,” said the Republican Congressman Rob Bishop, of Utah, whose constituency stands to lose thousands of jobs. Two weeks ago the Senate passed legislation that compels Nasa to continue work on Constellation unless Congress directs otherwise. That legislation is due to be signed into law by Mr Obama this month while Congress continues its deliberations over his proposal to cancel the current space space progamme.
Why is Obama doing this? What is his goal? I believe the Times of London has hit upon the answer without even realizing it, as the answer controverts the received narrative of the Obamacle:
Distinguished space veterans, including the first and last men to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, have complained that the abandonment of Constellation will set America’s space capabilities on a “downhill slide to mediocrity”. They say that, while Mr Obama has outlined a vision for Nasa that includes sending people to Mars at some point, it lacks a concise plan for developing the rockets and spacecraft to get them there.
“The Administration has no planning, no programme and no idea -- they’d just have these things happen mysteriously,” Mr Bishop said. “Rockets aren’t something that Wal-Mart puts on its shelves. You have to have a plan for how you get from A to B, and Obama has just said we’ll work it as we go along and maybe some day we’ll end up on an asteroid or the Moon or somewhere. The bottom line is, those ‘maybes’ will never happen.”
In my estimation, the simple, obvious explanation is correct: Obama does not believe America is in any way "exceptional"... nor even that it should be. He believes Americans (not citizens of the world, as he is) are arrogant and imperialistic "little people" who need reining in. This can only happen under a strong central government headed by (who else?) the Philosopher King.
Americans' ambitions are too grandiose and range too widely; we need to humble ourselves. Fly to the Moon? Land humans -- Americans, yet! -- on Mars? How dare we!
This is hubris of the highest order. The president must show the whip hand every now and then in his job of Shepherd in Chief to keep his flock tame and hobbled. Baa, baa, baa.
In Mark Steyn's genius takedown of the Obamunist -- the best anyone has ever penned, says I -- he commits a nigh-Twainian epigram:
It is hard to imagine Mr. Obama wandering along to watch a Memorial Day or Fourth of July parade until the job required him to do so. That's not to say he's un-American or anti-American, but merely that he's beyond all that. Way beyond. He's the first president to give off the pronounced whiff that he's condescending to the job - that it's really too small for him and he's just killing time until something more commensurate with his stature comes along.
At the end, Steyn fingers Obama as the current leader of "a cult of radical, grandiose narcissism;" but the writer need only source "the One We Have Been Waiting For" himself to prove his claim.
A legendary and probably apocryphal tall tale has it that an ancient emperor tried to obliterate all documents that mention a national history predating himself, in the hope that future generations would believe he personally created civilization, culture, and perhaps the very world. It may be truer today than in any ancient realm, for I believe Barack H. Obama would prefer the future historians take literally his messianic claim that:
[G]enerations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment -- this was the time -- when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.
There we have it: A grandiose narcissist who sees himself as simply too big for America's britches must be horrified by a program of manned space exploration, the consequences of which threaten to overwhelm his own meagre achievements, assuming one can find any, in a Noachian deluge of science, technology, and future shock. Indeed, if we indeed returned to the Moon on a permanent basis, using that as a stepping stone to Mars and the rest of the solar system, then that would likely be the only thing anyone would remember, "generations from now," about the administration of Barack Obama. Only our next faltering steps into the universe beyond; all else would be sucked down the memory hole, along with yesterday's horoscope.
How could a creature like Obama possibly live with such a rival without scratching her eyes out?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
June 9, 2010
President Mugwump Speaks Out
President Barack H. Obama has discovered yet another way to vote "present."
Speaking to wimpy Palestinian loser Mahmoud Abbas at the White House -- Yassir Arafat being unavailable due to continuing death -- Obama addressed the "raid" on the Turkish flotilla (a.k.a., enforcement of the three year old, perfectly legal blockade of Gaza). The Obamacle managed neither to oppose the blockade, nor support it; nor defend it, nor condemn it; nor find an alternative -- nor admit that no alternative exists, neither. But he hath spake nonetheless, and threatens to speak again:
President Barack Obama called the increasingly tense environment in the Mideast "unsustainable" Wednesday and said Israel needs a "better approach" in blockaded Gaza that would satisfy security and humanitarian needs.
Turning his attention to the troubled region as he welcomed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to the White House for talks, Obama also predicted "real progress" in coming months in U.S. efforts to nudge the Israelis and Palestinians toward direct peace talks [I'm sure AP really meant "nudzh," instead]....
Without joining international calls for Israel to end the embargo, Obama suggested a "new conceptual framework" to the blockade to ensure that both Israel's security requirements and the Gaza people's needs are met. He said he would discuss the idea with U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East....
"It seems to me that we should be able to take what has been a tragedy and turn it into an opportunity to create a situation where lives in Gaza are actually directly improved," Obama told reporters brought into the Oval Office at the conclusion of the meeting....
Obama said the flotilla raid was a "tragedy" and that it's important "that we get all the facts."
"What we also know is that the situation in Gaza is unsustainable," Obama said as Abbas sat alongside him in the Oval Office.
Asked whether Abbas asked him to take a tougher stance on the flotilla raid, Obama said he and Abbas spent most of their meeting time discussing how to solve "the problem" in Gaza....
"Both sides have to create an environment, a climate that will be conducive to an actual breakthrough," Obama said, adding that means the Israelis must curb settlement construction in disputed areas and the Palestinians must make progress toward security, among other issues.
If some reader can make fish nor tails out of this Nostradamian oracle, please enlighten us in the comments! All I can glean is that trying to get a consistent, sensible foreign policy out of the man is like pounding Jell-O down a rathole.
(I'd say it was time for the president to fish or get off the pot; but whenever the Obamacle does slip up and get specific, he turns into the Obamunist.)
He does have one concrete policy, however -- his universal solvent for any problem, big or small:
Obama also announced that the U.S. was sending an additional $400 million in aid to Gaza.
I'm sure foolproof security measures are in place to ensure that Hamas won't use our foreign aid to buy guns instead of butter. I don't know why Obama felt compelled to announce his terrorist-stimulus package while standing arm in arm with Mahmoud Abbas, of all people; the latter has as much control over Gaza as I have over the Pope's prandial leanings. It would make more sense for Barack Obama to announce the half-billion dollar gift to Hamas while bowing to that other Mahmoud over there.
Howbeit, in response to international pressure, Israel has agreed to loosen the blockade somewhat, for which the Obama administration will shortly claim credit: Israel will now allow importation of potato chips, cookies, candy, halvah, pork rinds (maybe not), cheeseballs, and other junk food. Perhaps there's something to those "war crimes" charges after all. (What, no Spam?)
I love this last skosh of Solomonic wisdom from the writer, Darlene Superville (I can only guess that all of her blue tops are emblazened with big, red-and-yellow Ds):
U.S.-Israeli relations were tested earlier this year when Israel announced plans for additional settlements in a part of Jerusalem considered by Palestinians as a potential capital of a new Palestinian state. The announcement came as Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel preparing for dinner with Netanyahu, in an incident that turned out to be a major embarrassment for the Israeli leader.
Three thoughts immediately spring forth like Athena from Zeus' brow:
- Capital of Israel: Jerusalem. Capital of Palestine: East Jerusalem. What could possibly go wrong?
- The new housing in East Jerusalem is erected entirely within Jewish, not Moslem neighborhoods. One must conclude, therefore, that the reason the Palestinians demand an end to housing construction and dismantling of existing "settlements" -- a.k.a., condos in Israel's capital -- is that they intend their eventual state of "Palestine" to be Judenrein, as Gaza is today.
- Who else besides me is intrigued enough to ask, what exactly did Joe Biden do at that dinner that proved such a "major embarassment?" The possibilities are literally limitless!
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
May 21, 2010
Given Obama's policies and principles, Turkey and Brazil are acting rationally. Why not give cover to Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions? As the U.S. retreats in the face of Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, why not hedge your bets? There's nothing to fear from Obama, and everything to gain by ingratiating yourself with America's rising adversaries. After all, they actually believe in helping one's friends and punishing one's enemies.
I reckon erstwhile American allies and confident enemies are busily exchanging Obama Default Swaps.
May 14, 2010
Too Quiet on the Afghan Front
In a stealth shift of the rules of engagement (ROEs) in Afghanistan last July, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the senior NATO commander in Afghanistan, severely restricted the use of close-air support in our operations there.
Today, our soldiers and combat pilots are really feeling the hangover from that addled, "politically correct" decision, as Taliban and other terrorist fighters no longer "run and hide" when American jets scream overhead; they laugh at us, because they know we're not going to shoot:
Joint terminal attack controllers, airmen on the ground who call in airstrikes, and fighter pilots report that insurgents are encouraging each other to continue firing because they know the Air Force’s F-16s and A-10s are dropping far fewer bombs now than this time last year.
“Keep fighting; [coalition forces] won’t shoot” is the order that enemy leaders are giving -- in Pashtun and Dari, words that the JTACs have heard over their radios....
Much of [Air Force Captain Andy] Vaughan’s time is spent flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sorties, even though his A-10 -- with titanium planers underneath the cockpit and a 30mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun mounted on the nose -- was built to fly close-air support.
“The A-10 pilots … are just left circling in the skies,” said an Air Force officer here who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak on the record.
Technically, McChrystal gave the order; but considering the negative impact on our warfighting capability and the higher risk to McChrystal's own troops, I find it highly unlikely that the order originated with him. I would bet money that the order came from somewhere far upstream from McChrystal; from Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Central Command; even from the Service Chiefs. I doubt it even came from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, except perhaps as a conduit.
I am quite convinced that the "decider" in this case wears a suit and never wore a uniform; I cannot imagine any combat infantry commander deciding to forgo close-air support, which we have used to excellent effect since World War I. In fact, I suspect the strategic retreat originated from someone with great power who loathes the military and thinks jihadism can be defeated by a flurry of subpoenas and indictments.
Regardless, the change in the ROEs has a devastating real-world impact:
Before a plane drops any bomb or makes a strafing run, the aircrew and the JTAC work together to determine if an attack can be justified. For example, either the pilot or JTAC must visually identify an insurgent firing a weapon before engaging the target -- no easy task either while flying a plane or taking fire on the ground, airmen here said.
“There are directives on what we need to ask the JTAC,” Vaughan said, and each pilot is looking for the JTAC to say “specific phrases” before he releases any munitions....
Even if a ground commander orders an airstrike, a JTAC does not have to authorize the attack if the situation does not exactly meet the conditions laid out by McChrystal, Bryza said.
When seconds count, the JTAC's determination is only a quarter hour away!
Without close-air support, we're fighting with one hand tied behind our straightjacket. It truly calls into question the seriousness with which this administration intends to fight even the "good war" in Afghanistan.
The goal of the order was evidently to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan:
Fewer civilian casualties have been reported since McChrystal issued his directive. The numbers are difficult to count and often disputed, but the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan puts the civilian death toll from airstrikes in 2009 at 359, down from 680 the year before.
This is a political goal that again points the finger at the civilian branch of the chain of command -- which terminates with the Commander in Chief, of course. Sadly, fecklessness appears to be the normal mode of operation for our post-racial, post-partisan, post-modern, third-millennial president when he tries to run a war.
But if the war on the Iran/al-Qaeda axis is not really a war, only a law-enforcement investigation to "solve" a disconnected series of criminal acts, then there's no reason to treat even its most warlike manifestations with the seriousness a real war demands: We can accomodate our ROEs to fit the politically correct fashion; and if that causes us to lose a few battles (and a few good men), it's a small price for those faceless minions to pay.
If the progressive caste demands a bloodless war with no (non-American) casualties, so be it; we'll order our mighty Air Force to stand down. If a few more soldiers get killed because they cannot call in an air strike, it's their own fault for not finishing skool and getting stuk in afganerstone. If the Obamacle even notices their demise, he'll be pleased they could sacrifice their meaningless lives to such a glorious cause as a war in which no blood is spilt -- except by American troops.
What a cathatric and humbling experience that will be for the lone (whether we like it or not) superpower!
I seriously wonder if we have elected an honest to goodness solipsist as President of the United States.
May 12, 2010
Stop Me Before I Veto Myself!
Ahem. To be filed in the "I warned you" file under C for chutzpah:
The Obama administration threatened to veto parts of its own health care bill after budget scorekeepers found that the package would add at least $115 billion more to government health care spending.
What next? If we don't give him whatever he demands, will he threaten to tell everyone that he was really born in Tierra del Fuego? But wait, there's more; President Barack H. Obama is actually using his own fabricated figures to extort something out of his own Democratic Congress:
President Obama's budget office charged Congress with finding $115 billion in spending cuts or tax increases to offset the price tag hike. The figure approached the amount of money the Congressional Budget Office previously estimated the law would save, and pushed the total 10-year cost of the package past $1 trillion. It comes after a separate Medicare office report found the bill would raise spending by about 1 percent over the next decade.
But the Office of Management and Budget stood by the administration's original claims that the law would reduce the deficit and tasked Congress with making sure that happens -- or else.
Is anybody else reminded of a bizarre scene from the Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles? Cleavon Little, the black sheriff sent to clean up a racist town, is about to be run out of town. So he points his pistol at his own head and says, in a deep, fake voice, "Hold it! Next man makes a move, the [pejorative deleted] gets it!"
"He's not bluffing!" shouts one of the panicky townspeople.
Aside from the surreality of Obama threatening to immolate his own odious health-care takeover, the real scandal here is the president holding his own bill hostage until he gets a big, fat tax increase. (And the casual admission that the extra amount the bill will cost is just about the amount Obama and the Dancing Democrats said it would save. Who'd a thunk it!)
But as they say on the Ginzu Knife commercial, that's not all...
Costs could go higher, because the legislation authorizes several programs without setting specific funding levels.
And that's not even counting the infamous "doc fix," the 21% "pay cut" for doctors Medicare reimbursements that was enacted as part of ObamaCare. The vaunted projections over hundreds of decades that show huge savings all relied upon slashing more than a fifth from physician reimbursements... which everybody knows is never going to happen.
In fact, the House already passed a bill to nullify the pay cuts, and the Senate will surely follow suit. The doc fix adds from $208 billion (Yahoo's prediction) to $245 billion (CBS) to the actual cost of ObamaCare, sans accounting tricks.
Add the two together, and the cost is already up by (averaging) more than $340 billion -- and deep, deep into the red. And the only solution acceptable to the Democrats will naturally be... yet more tax increases! Probably a Euro-style "value added tax," which taxes everything at every level of manufacturing, distribution, and sale... the greatest economy-buster and job-killer ever invented by the socialist mind.
We're shocked, shocked to discover there's brazen corruption at the International House of Obama. But how about this for our response: If Obama threatens to veto his own bill -- let him. Can we at least get all 41 Republicans in the Senate to agree not to rescue Obama from the veto pen he's holding against his own head?
If we can't successfully filibuster a massive tax increase -- the only purpose of which is to appease the Obamacle -- then we may as well just pack it in and return to the primordial ooze, whence we came.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
May 7, 2010
The Flying Fickle Finger of Guilt
I'm a little tired of seeing everything and everybody blamed for the failed intelligence, failed security, and failed prevention of the ultimately failed bombing that Faisal Shahzad failed to perpetrate... that is, blaming everybody except Barack H. Obama, of course. I come not to praise Obama, but to accuse him.
Here are a few facts:
According to a CBS story published Tuesday, May 4th at 2:41 PM, Shahzad was arrested "late Monday night." That would have to be Monday, May 3rd. The story includes the following sentence: "Shahzad... was later read his Miranda rights and continued to cooperate with authorities after that, [Deputy Director of the FBI John S.] Pistole said."
If Shahzad was arrested "late Monday night" and Mirandized prior to Tuesday afternoon, when the story was posted, that means the Feds questioned him less than one day before telling him he had the right to clam up and lawyer-up. This is insane, but hardly unprecedented; they did pretty much the same with the Undiebomber.
(It's irrelevant that Shahzad chose to keep on yapping; just as our counterterrorism strategy cannot be "hope the bombs fail to explode," our terrorist interrogation strategy cannot be "hope the detainees waive their Miranda rights.")
The supposed reason he was Mirandized so quickly was to make it easier for prosecutors to try the case. But that's hardly the most burning issue, is it? It's much more important to determine whether he acted alone, whether he had accomplices who might carry out further bombings -- successfully, this time -- and whether he was part of a large plot directed from Pakistan, by the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or some other international terrorist organization. Prosecution is far down the list of critical tasks, particularly if we can hold him in custody until we finish interrogating him, using enhanced techniques as necessary and legal.
In the case of a terrorist attack, safeguarding the country takes precedence over a criminal prosecution. The inverted priorities are stupid and incompetent.
In a segment on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, I heard some administration spokesman say that they couldn't hold Shahzad as an unlawful enemy combatant because "he is an American citizen.... We can't just hold an American citizen without charges indefinitely." But is he really an American citizen? Let's examine that a bit more thoroughly.
First of all, it was the Obama administration itself that made him a naturalized American citizen on April 17th, 2009. The president and his federal government clearly dropped the ball by not investigating Shahzad more thoroughly -- just as they did in the months leading up to the Fort Hood massacre last November.
But unlike natural-born citizenship, naturalization is not irrevocable.
In order for Shahzad to become naturalized, he must have filled out form N-400 Application for Naturalization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Reading that form, I notice the following on page 7:
9. Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:
c. A terrorist organization?
10. Have you ever advocated (either directly or indirectly) the overthrow of any government by force or violence?
And on page 8:
D. Good Moral Character
15. Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?
24. Have you ever lied to any U.S. government official to gain entry or admission into the United States?
Shahzad was naturalized in April of 2009; less than two months later, he flew to Peshawar, Pakistan, where he claimed to have undertaken explosives training.
Considering that he had flown to Pakistan many times in the last eleven years, it is a reasonable inference that he did not suddenly develop an interest in -- and contacts with -- terrorist training camps in Pakistan. The most reasonable interpretation of the facts suggests that Shahzad was already in contact with the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda and/or Lashkar-e-Taiba before last April.
If so, then Faisal Shahzad lied on his Application for Naturalization. Lying about a material fact in order to obtain citizenship makes the application fraudulent, which is grounds for administrative denaturalization.
In other words, the Obama administration had an excellent case for stripping Shahzad of his U.S. citizenship... after which he could be held as an unlawful enemy combatant and even transferred to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. So much for the risible claim that his "American citizenship" required the FBI to Mirandize him less than 24 hours after being captured.
Don't let's get buffaloed again: There was no reason at all to Mirandize Faisal Shahzad -- not within 24 hours, nor afterwards. Rather, President Obama should have directed the Justice Department to call an immediate immigration hearing to strip him of the shield of American citizenship precisely so that he could be held as an unlawful enemy combatant and interrogated for as long as it takes to extract all possible intelligence from him.
Anything less constitutes a dereliction of duty on the part of our (ugh) Commander in Chief. Ask not at whom the flying, fickle finger of guilt points; it points directly at B.O.
May 6, 2010
Quick and Snarky Observation
In 2008, we elected the least accomplished or experienced person in American history to be President of the United States. Before being elected to the highest office in the land, Barack H. Obama had essentially done nothing but be a "community organizer," taught a bit of law, and run incessantly for higher office while ignoring whatever office he already held.
Now he turns out to be, among other things, the most incompetent president in American history.
Perhaps next time we should insist upon a resume longer than two inches. You think?
April 19, 2010
Emptying My Thimble
Over on my favorite blog, Power Line, Scott "Big Johnson" Trunk has a series of posts called something like "emptying my spindle." The phrase, for those of you younger than Scott (i.e., born after 1907), a spindle is a vicious spike sticking up out of a flat base; the idea -- horrific even to imagine in today's Nerfworld -- is to take important memos (printed on paper!) in one's hand and jam them onto the spike with a lusty whack, where they will stick... along with your hand, if your aim be unsteady. Having been "dealt with," said memos are promptly forgotten until until Doomsday.
To empty or clear one's spindle is thus to go through one's old business and respond belatedly to urgent matters that should have been taken care of months ago. Scott uses the phrase to mean going back through his voluminous file of posts he meant to make but didn't, and write some quick and pithy abstract of his thoughts on the subject, jamming two or three hundred essays into a single post, like a fossil-rich sediment layer.
Well, I don't have a spindle-full of such ancient pith, but I think I can scrape together at least a thimble-full of comtemporary stories about which I have a milliliter or so of fresh pith. So here goes nothing!
A man, a plan, a genocide -- Ahmadinejad!
Secretary of Defense and Bush leftover Robert Gates says President Barack H. Obama has no plan for what to do when Iran gets its nukes. Doesn't that make your chest swell with ideological pride?
A memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the White House warned that the United States lacks a nimble long-term plan for dealing with Iran's nuclear program, according to a published report.
Gates wrote the three-page memo in January and it set off efforts in the Pentagon, White House and intelligence agencies to come up with new options, including the use of the military, The New York Times said in its Sunday editions, quoting unnamed government officials.
But of course, now that Obama's own SecDef has called attention to the gaping hole in our nuclear policy -- whoops, forgot all about that Iran thing -- surely the White House is rushing to rework our strategic posture to take into account this fairly likely scenario, yes? Well, not exactly:
White House officials Saturday night strongly disagreed with the comments that the memo caused a reconsideration of the administration's approach to Iran.
"It is absolutely false that any memo touched off a reassessment of our options," National Security Council spokesman Benjamin Rhodes told The Associated Press. "This administration has been planning for all contingencies regarding Iran for many months."
Ah, contingencies. So what contingencies are in place to deal with a nuclear Iran?
One senior official described the memo as "a wake-up call," the paper reported. But the recipient of the document, Gen. James Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, told the newspaper in an interview that the administration has a plan that "anticipates the full range of contingencies."
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, who did not confirm the memo Saturday night, said the White House has reviewed many Iran options.
"The secretary believes the president and his national security team have spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort considering and preparing for the full range of contingencies with respect to Iran," Morrell said.
Well, that certainly clears the air!
This is one area where President Obama actually has an opinion beyond voting "present." The man is so pure and adamant in his hatred of nuclear weapons that he refuses -- on principle, one must surmise -- to think about them... even to the extent of how to respond if the world's most beligerent and most anti-democratic, and most Jew-hating regime on the planet perfects them. To plan a response is to accept the existence of atoms, which is anathema to the Obamacle.
Rather, the administration's policy appears to be cajole, beg, threaten... wash, rinse, and repeat, ad infinitum. And if Iran doesn't listen?
Gates and other senior members of the administration have issued increasingly stern warnings to Iran that its nuclear program is costing it friends and options worldwide, while sticking to the long-held view that a U.S. or Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be counterproductive.
See? "Stern warnings": They do have a plan after all.
Renewing his bows
Speaking of the One Himself, Barack Obama has been bowing recently to all and sundry. From the Heisei emperor of Japan, Akihito, to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, to President Hu Jintao of China, Obama has groveled to them all.
This chaps my hide. What's next... will our president crawl on his hands and knees, scourging and debasing himself (or more likely George W. Bush) in penance for America's sins?
But I tell you this: The day Obama bows to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, I will forever refer to the Windy City community oorganizer as "President Hussein."
You may think it petty; I see it as symbolic... let the world know that he will have chosen up sides.
The mad tea-bash
Bill Clinton, in a fit of retro triangulation cleverly timed to remind us why we really don't miss that administration, has just equated tea-party rallies to the Oklahoma City bombing:
"What we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold - but that the words we use really do matter, because there's this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious [read: Democrats] and the delirious [Republicans] alike. They fall on the connected [liberals] and the unhinged [neo-conservative running-dog imperialists] alike," he said.
He warns the country against that lunatic fringe of "tea partiers" who hurl incendiary rhetoric like "Taxed Enough Already" and "repeal the bill." But here's the point missed by throwback leftists such as Mr. C.:
"I'm glad they're fighting over health care and everything else. Let them have at it. But I think that all you have to do is read the paper every day to see how many people there are who are deeply, deeply troubled," he said.
He also alluded to the anti-government tea party movement, which held protests in several states Thursday. At the Washington rally, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota railed against "gangster government."
Clinton argued that the Boston Tea Party was in response to taxation without representation. The current protesters, he said, are challenging taxation by elected officials, and the demonstrators have the power to vote them out of office.
No, actually, they don't; at least in most states, voters cannot recall their U.S. senators and representatives willy nilly as they please (nor do I wish they could). To set the record straight, we have the power to vote some of them out of office six months from now... but not right now.
Alas, in the upcoming demi-year, the Progressivist supermajority can do incalculable and irreversible damage to the United States of America. And we haven't even mentioned the horror that will attend the lame-duck session following the election, when scores of Democrats will know that their careers are ruined anyway... so why not be hanged for an entire abattoir of swine as be hanged for a single sheep?
Clinton says he isn't asking for us to censor ourselves, just tone down the demands; but freedom of speech includes not only the right to present the case for fiscal sanity, but also the right to do so colorfully and dramatically.
When the Left regularly drops F-bombs and N-words, plays the race card like a permanent joker, flashes its get out of jail free card to be exempt from all consequences of its actions and its own violent rhetoric, and encourages its members to confabulate wild, unsubstantiated urban legends for no reason other than to paint Republicans as ogres and cannibals... then why should the anti-Left be restricted to mild, hesitant argumentation, accompanied by much apology and forelock tugging?
I say, unconstrain your rhetoric, so long as you target the real culprits. Let the Left start responding with rational and logical debate, instead of special pleading and threats. Let a thousand points of light bloom. That may not be the Chicago way, but it's the American way.
Frame by frame
I had a fascinating revelation yesterday, what I shall call an "utterly obvious profundity."
Sachi and I were driving through an old section of town, one that was more or less intact from the twenties and thirties. As I looked at the buildings, I abruptly realized something: That world really was just as colorful and three-dimensional as today's. It's just that our only visual window into that world -- movies -- has a narrow aperature and happens to be in black and white.
While Cagney and Bogie and all the rest pursue their violent courses within a noir world of shadow, the real inhabitants of that spacetime locus wandered through the same colors, more or less, as we do today. (By the same token, when Enrico Casuso sang, his voice was not scratchy and drowned out by vinyl or wax hiss; that is simply an artifact of the recording medium.)
Perhaps this just proves my own banality; but I believe more people than myself subconsciously envison yesteryear as we've always seen it on late-night TV: grainy, black and white, occasionally silent, always narrowly constrained to the TV's dimensions... and constantly interrupted by adverts for Cal Worthington and his dog Spot.
My thimble is empty. Tally ho.
April 8, 2010
New and Disturbing Under the District Sun
During the tenure of President George W. Bush, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, though sometimes prickly, continued to work with the United States and other members of the "Coalition of the Willing" to defeat the Taliban and take back the country. There never was any question which side he was on.
But now, under the increasingly unstable administration of Barack H. Obama, we have come to exactly that terrible pass: As of this moment, we really cannot say for sure whether Karzai is "with us or with the terrorists."
Karzai strongly hinted that he might side with the Taliban if the Obama administration continues accusing him of corruption and rigging the recent elections in Afghanistan; in fact, he has now accused us, or the West generally, of rigging them ourselves! ("This clumsy fool tried to plant that ridiculous camera on me," as Soviet Ambassador Alexi de Sadesky says in Dr. Strangelove.)
Both charges are true; but in Oriental cultures in general, and the Moslem cultures in particular, those accusations are about as serious as accusing an American politician of catering to lobbyists and special interests. In general, in what Thomas P.M. Barnett calls the "non-integrating gap" (in his book the Pentagon's New Map), one only levels such charges against one's enemies, never against one's friends.
So by accusing Karzai of corruption and vote rigging, Obama sent the message that America no longer considers him an ally... yet another diplomatic gaffe on the part of the One We Have Begun Dreading. Hence the verbal return-fire:
Afghan President Hamid Karzai's public accusations of vote-rigging against the West are eroding support among international backers already concerned about rampant corruption in his government and are jeopardizing a major U.S. offensive in the heartland of the Taliban, analysts say....
Marvin Weinbaum, a former Afghanistan analyst at the State Department, said Mr. Karzai's comments will have grave consequences. "It is one thing to play the nationalist card, but quite another when his remarks undermine his relations with his international partners and threaten the military operation," he said.
Mr. Karzai's remarks also can be seen as bolstering the Taliban cause and confirming a belief prevalent among Afghans that Western troops seek to occupy their country, he said. "Looking at his remarks, you'd think the Taliban wrote the script," said Mr. Weinbaum, a scholar in residence at the Middle East Institute.
How could this happen? The more I read about Arab -- and by extension, Moslem -- culture and society, in Lee Smith's excellent book the Strong Horse, the clearer the reason: The utter incompetence of Obama, how he is ignored by our friends and mocked by our enemies, has convinced world leaders that our president is a "weak horse;" that in turn encourages them to seize the opportunity to carve out their own fiefdoms -- at America's expense.
In the present case, Karzai no longer has confidence that we will even continue the current Afganistan offensive to the end; he worries that when we pull out on a date certain, without regard to conditions on the ground, the Taliban will fill the vacuum. He must place a bet on one of the two horses, and he increasingly sees the Taliban as the strong horse.
Under President Bush, he never would have dared. The previous administration would never have announced a withdrawal by a specific date, nor would it have said facts on the ground would not alter its timetable. In fact, if Karzai had started going wobbly, the Bush team could have quietly noted that we already induced one regime change; and with the troops we had in place, it would be as easy as falling off a bicycle to arrange another.
But Obama, caught like a Dear Leader in the headlights, cannot think what to do, beyond talking to Karzai and reassuring him that Afghanistan is the dominant and we the submissive in this relationship. Thus, as Smith writes, we reaffirm that we are the weak horse and Karzai can safely pin horns on us, cheating and flirting with the Taliban and al-Qaeda; like a cowed Moslem wife, we can only hunker down and hope for the best.
The problem here is not one of ideology; whatever Obama's private qualms, he publicly espouses the ideology of fighting and defeating Islamic radicalism (even if his administration is afraid to use that word). Yet he governs in so amateurish and ham-fisted a way, he makes even Jimmy Carter look like an organizational prodigy:
- His inexplicable breeches of protocol and comity among our allies, such as Great Britain and Canada, have stumped veteran foreign-policy watchers.
- His single-minded animus against our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel, calls into question either Obama's basic competence at good governance -- or perhaps his sanity. Even if he wants to improve relations with the Arabs (which clearly he does), even if he is a raging antisemite (which clearly, judging by his appointments and actions, he is), Israel is nevertheless a very, very strong horse in the region. Why go to such great pains to turn it into our enemy? It's bizarre -- and nerve-wracking.
- The president seems to have no policy, no plan, not even a clue how to respond to the economic woes of the European Union, despite the fact that our interconnected, interdependent world economy guarantees that if Greece brings down the EU, America will be severely hurt as well. In fact, I don't recall him even mentioning the subject. Is he even aware that a crisis looms across the Atlantic Ocean?
- Nor has he any notion how to deal with emerging threats, such as Venezuela, or allies drifting away from us, such as India, Pakistan, as the Eastern European countries. I'm not sure he's even noticed.
- In negotiations, Obama was rolled by the Russians, chewed up by the Chinese, irradiated by the Iranians, and deposed by the DPRK. Even excluding the wars, I cannot think of a single foreign policy victory of which this administration can boast. Not one!
- Not once has he taken a firm stand against our enemies; even Carter stood up to the Soviets (belatedly, but better than be-neverly) and maintained our nuclear deterrant. By contrast, Barack Obama has just announced our new nuclear policy is -- not to develop any improved nuclear weapons, even as our enemies frantically upgrade every system they have, and in particular upgrade their air defenses. Our nuclear posture can be changed on a dime; but not developing new systems means we won't have the capability to believably threaten retaliation even for nuclear attack, let alone chemical or biological warfare.
Obama's incompetence extends to his signature domestic agenda as well:
- His clumsy efforts to nationalize health care have turned plurality support for his "reform" into majority opposition.
- He talks of massive tax increases on business when we have 9.7% unemployment and 17.5% real unemployment (that's unemployment plus underemployment plus discouraged workers opting out of the labor pool). (Hat tip to Wolf Howling.)
- He pushes "cap and tax" energy legislation and identical EPA regulation to stop global warming, seemingly oblivious to revelations that the science is much shakier than we have been led to believe -- and in complete defiance of a mounting consensus that we should not cripple our energy production in the midst of the deepest and longest economic dislocation since the Great Depression.
- Despite having an overwhelming majority of Democratic supporters in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the Obamacle was unable to enact most of his agenda. Only ObamaCare, and even the implementation of that is delayed far enough into the future that Republicans can probably kill it before it even begins.
- In just a little over a year, he has turned huge approval ratings into dismal, anemic numbers that in most polls -- even Gallup! -- sulk in negative territory. (To be fair to Obama, however, while it's true his own reelection numbers are bad, at least his party is about to get shellacked in the midterms.)
My catchphrase is "Never attribute to stupidity what can adequately be explained by malice." I assume that those who hold high positions of much power are generally intelligent and competent, and therefore they intend the obvious (or odious) consequences of their policies.
For example, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) and Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) are almost certainly aware that ObamaCare will result in the destruction of the private-insurance model of American health care, forcing us into a completely government-controlled, single-payer model instead; they're not stupid, they're venal.
But in the case of Barack Hussein Obama, I honestly believe he really is as foolish and incompetent as he seems. He may also be venal; but his naïveté, fecklessness, paralogia, obtuseness, and rank incompetence at the simplest presidential tasks -- how difficult it is to let the Japanese Prime Minister stay at Blair House, rather than force his team to scramble to find rooms at Howard Johnson's? -- poses a much greater threat to the nation than mere corruption or honest "liberal fascist" tendencies.
I can't speak for the nineteeth century, whose presidential politics I know little about; but I believe it's safe to say that Obama is the most incompetent president since the turn of the twentieth. He really seems to believe that being president consists of touring the country in a four-year victory lap, giving the same speeches he gave during the campaign, and basking in the glow of success, like the last panel of a motivational cartoon tract: a beaming Barack upon a pedestal, arms akimbo, with rays of light shining out from behind him.
Sadly, this is what happens when the electorate decides to "punish" one party -- without regard to the likely consequences to the nation, or even to its own best interests. When we throw out the Democrats, and later Barack Obama himself, I sincerely hope it's not merely because we're "angry" at them. I want us to vote the scoundrels out coldly and rationally, because we have seen their national-socialist program and we want no part of it.
Otherwise, when the Republicans fail to produce paradise on planet Earth, we may whipsaw back and forth between freedom lovers and totalitarian tenderfeet. And that could be even worse for America than Obama and the Democrats themselves have been.
March 12, 2010
Traders to the Cause - Republicans Are All Ears
In 2006, incoming Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) infamously promised that the Democrats would run "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history." When President Barack H. Obama ran for president two years later, he made a similar pledge of ethics and transparency that would rise so high above the supposed gutter-level of the George W. Bush administration, it would be heaven on Earth. He explicitly pledged that lobbyists would find no home in the Obama administration.
Now, after a year plus of Obamunism, we're starting to see the outlines of those ethics and that transparency:
President Obama's pick to oversee export controls at the Commerce Department is a trade lawyer whose recent clients include two companies on a government watch list and a shipping business that agreed to pay millions of dollars last year to resolve a federal probe into shipments to Iran, Sudan and Syria.
All three companies have had recent interests before the government office that Eric Hirschhorn would oversee if he is confirmed as undersecretary of commerce for industry and security....
"If confirmed, Mr. Hirschhorn will be required to recuse himself for two years on all matters in which his former clients are parties or represent parties," Commerce Department spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said.
Do ye want yer old lobby washed down?
Eric Hirschhorn is a lawyer who most recently acted as a lobbyist for a couple of Hong Kong companies linked to Mayrow General Trading (Dubai); the feds linked Mayrow to manufactured parts found in IEDs set in Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis. He also represented a DHL division that had to pay a huge fine for unlawful shipping to Iran, Syria, and Sudan.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke singled out Mayrow in a speech last fall on export controls, saying that through work with the United Arab Emirates, "we successfully targeted Mayrow General Trading, which was forwarding U.S.-made goods to Iran that ended up in bombs in Iraq."
But I'm sure naming Hirschhorn to a top Commerce Department job -- where he "would oversee the Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, which controls exports of technology, software and dual-use items that can be used for both commercial and military purposes" -- was a mere oversight, a fluke event. He'll just recuse himself in a few cases, and then all will be well. Oh, wait; there's this:
Another top export official at the department, Kevin J. Wolf, a trade lawyer recently confirmed by the Senate as assistant secretary for export administration, is recusing himself from matters involving 36 former clients, including major exporters such as Raytheon and Boeing.
At least there's no suggestion that Mr. Wolf's former clients are linked to IEDs in Iraq, thank goodness.
But it is peculiar just how easy it seems for lawyers and lobbyists, deeply committed to their oft-unsavory clients, to find themselves working in the Obama administration at the very body they used to lobby; one wonders how many of these appointees expect to return to their former advocacy jobs as soon as legally allowed after finishing their stints in the Obama administration... thus might (just a thought) make decisions with an eye towards future employment, after their recusal period ends.
Paul Mirengoff has recently noted that it's unfair to refer to seven Justice Department lawyers who voluntarily sought to defend America-attacking terrorists held in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility as "the al-Qaeda Seven," since that implies that the lawyers share the views of al-Qaeda. All right, I won't argue against that case; but what does it say about the President of the United States that he has such a fetish for hiring such individuals into the administration, his administration?
Not only those seven at the Department of Justice, but now Mr. Hirschhorn to the Commerce Department, where he will "oversee" the committee that decides what companies can export to which enemy recipients; and of course, many, many other former lobbyists or advocates against America have wound up in the current administration... starting, I note, with the president himself, who called on the U.S. military in Iraq to declare defeat and go home.
The president should be held to a higher standard than merely saying that it's not strictly illegal for him to appoint a tendentious partisan on the enemy's side to a powerful post in D.C.:
- Barack Obama has no duty to those companies;
- Barack Obama did not represent them, nor did he have any responsibility to ensure they were represented;
- Barack Obama is supposed to pick the best person for a job, taking all factors into account;
- Barack Obama himself knows that not every person who is technically qualified under the law is therefore a good choice for high-ranking positions in the government.
Those are two different standards: Activity that may be perfectly legal -- such as lobbying for companies that are already known to be aiding and abetting Iran's program to build IEDs to blow up American soldiers, Marines, and civilians -- can still be a common-sense disqualifier for a plum federal position. Nobody has a "right" to be named to the Department of Justice, Commerce, or any other federal agency.
What's next -- if Attorney General Eric Holder resigns, will Obama replace him with some lawyer who rushed to file a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court demanding the release from military custody New York "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla?
Oh, wait. My mistake: That was Attorney General Eric Holder, not some hypothetical replacement, who forgot to mention that amicus curae brief during his confirmation hearings. Never mind!
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...
In the meanwhile, Republicans are not letting the crisis of a yawning chasm between rhetoric and reality under Barack Obama go to waste:
In a move to break with the GOP's big-spending past, House Republicans voted Thursday to ban their members this year from requesting earmarks, the pork-barrel spending that directs money to pet projects in home districts....
"Today, House Republicans took an important step toward showing the American people we're serious about reform by adopting an immediate, unilateral ban on all earmarks," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, adding that this was just a first step in a broader fight to control overall spending.
Blindsided by the GOP's sudden burst of propriety -- Pelosi never expected that! -- Democrats labored mightily to respond -- and gave birth to a mouse:
On Wednesday, House Democrats announced another new rule, one to ban earmarks to for-profit companies.
Fortunately, this will not prevent Democrats from using earmarks to funnel money to ACORN. Or to International ANSWER or the SEIU. Or to some "charity," such as the Holy Land Foundation. Or to Hamas itself, if they really wanted to do; last I checked, the Palestinian terrorist organization was not a "for-profit company," hence not covered by the ban.
So there you have a tale of two parties: One is showered daily by a cornucopia of corruption... while the other can only sigh wistfully for the good old days, when it had its own bottomless bowl of largess.
Previous posts in our neverending series about the Democratic culture of corruption and earwax:
- The Missing Earpiece
- Has Nancy Pelosi Changed Her Mind About Ears?
- The Democrats Are All Ears
- Earmarks? No No... Phonemarks!
- They're All Ears... Again
- The Power of the Big Idea: O'Billery Reduced to "Me Too!"
February 5, 2010
Obama's Dysfunctional Disinformation Dilemma
I first learned about the "disinformation pyramid" from Robert Anton Wilson; Tim Leary later expanded upon the subject at a seminar I took from him about 25 years ago. Finally, I read a piece in a libertarian mailer titled "New Work for Idle Hands," or somesuch (it's in storage and unavailable to me for the moment); this piece developed several strategies for bringing the market to corporate structure.
You will see its obvious application to the present administration at the bottom of this post.
The basic premise is this: In a classically heirarchical structure, nobody benefits from passing only truthful communications. Contrariwise, everybody has an incentive to lie up, lie down, and lie sideways.
Information disincentive is disinformation incentive
Lying up: Because your boss has the power to fire you, demote you, or at the very least sideline you, and because many bosses love to "kill the messenger," it rarely works to your advantage to tell your boss something he doesn't want to hear, even if true.
Thus there is a great incentive to filter and edit your communications up the chain of command so that you make your boss happy... even if it's a false happiness. In fact, fooling your boss into believing in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus can work to your advantage: If he gets into trouble with somebody even higher up the chain, you can narc him out and possibly take over his job after he is removed.
Lying down: You know your subordinates are always out to get you (see above); if you tell them what's really going on, you've given them power over you: They know where the bodies are buried and which pressure points will hurt you.
In addition, since your job is probably phoney-baloney anyway, if your junior ever gets all the information, he can do your job alongside his own and not even have to stay late nights. You become vulnerable to redundancy disposal.
Therefore you have two good reasons to severely restrict communications flow to your underlings; not to let anybody see the Big Picture; to give disinformation to them (both to ensure loyalty and also to detect whether information has a way of escaping anybody); and in general to muck up the data flow, which only you know how to unravel, to maintain your own "irreplaceability."
Lying sideways: Your colleagues are not your friends; they are your most dangerous competitors. They work for the same boss; and since most businesses severely restrict either jobs themselves or at the very least power and authority within those jobs, advancement becomes a zero-sum game: You succeed by making your office friends fail -- and vice versa, naturally.
Are you going to tell your rivals everything you know? Are you going to tell them only the truth and never a convenient (to you!) fiction? Everybody reading this post knows the answer to that question.
In a classic corporate/government bureaucracy, power is represented by a pyramid: At the tippy top is one boss, the CEO in a corporate setting, or the head of some branch of government (emperor, king, president, governor, mayor).
Below the boss is a small privy council -- the board of directors perhaps, or else the cabinet or the various department heads.
Each member of that board or council has his own set of advisors, lieutenants, direct subordinates, and so forth all the way down. With every step down the food chain, the pyramid widens. Because of the disinformation incentive above, with every step up or down the pyramid, information quality and reliabilty degrades. The farther information travels vertically or horizontally, the less it resembles the real reality of the outside world.
The surreality based community
In addition, to avoid information overload, nodes at the higher levels must cut off communications from those too far down the chain; if the CEO actually tries to read all the suggestions in the suggestion box himself, he will quickly be overwhelmed.
So each node insulates himself from all but the nearest nodes (up, down, sideways) -- and those above him do the same, more and more ruthlessly with each step up the pyramid.
Thus, the higher up the pyramid we go, the fewer connections do the nodes have to reality, and the more dependent they are upon their direct subordinates -- each of whose greatest dream is to kill the boss and take his place. (Picture the "Mirror Mirror" universe from the original Star Trek.) At the very top, the capo di tutti capi is functionally schizophrenic: fully divorced from reality and non-functional.
If you study multinational corporations and powerful governments, and you sometimes think they must be utterly insane, please be reassured: Your perception is 20-20. Such a top-down, heirarchical structure has in essence implemented an informational Ponzi scheme; and it will end as all Ponzi schemes end: in complete collapse.
This may take a while; as Adam Smith wrote, "there is a great deal of ruin in a nation" -- or a multinational corporation. But the fall of General Motors and AIG are two good examples that eventually, all the ruin takes its toll. Both companies were felled, I am convinced, because their disinformation pyramids drove each to madness. Neither could respond to the mutable real world outside the corporate headquarters; each ceased to function as an independent entity... its name was jacked up and a new regime rolled underneath.
Short-circuiting the disinformation pyramid
That's the bad news; the good news is that there are techniques a boss can use to get around this design flaw in communications theory:
- The first key is to cut through the isolation.
Each boss urgently needs sources of information and communications from outside the normal channels; that is, he needs spies and informants to tell him what's really going on. These spies must operate at a high enough level to get the necessary information, but a low enough level that they cannot expect to advance by knocking off their patron; rather, their fate depends upon the patron rewarding them.
The patron must make clear that the spies are rewarded for any information that checks out, good or bad for the patron: There is something to be said for getting a "heads up" about even the worst news! Let multiple spies compete, and give a cookie to the first to bring important information to the patron.
Naturally, each spy is also set to spy on the other spies, to guard against a double agent.
- The second key to cracking the disinformation pyramid is to engage an oversight panel.
The oversight panel must be entirely outside the corporate structure, not subject to the boss' whims or rages. The panel would be an independent agency with a long-term contract, subject to periodic renewal, to continually measure the governmental or corporate behavior against the outer realm, and to report back to whichever boss or bosses engaged the panel.
It's vital that this panel not be directly paid or employed by the boss but rather independently contracted, so there is little incentive for toadying to the boss' prejudice. Basically, the oversight panel would keep checking to see whether the bureaucracy is actually achieving real-world results.
- The third and most radical key is to decentralize the bureaucracy itself.
Instead of a corporate or governmental pyramid, the whole should be broken into independent corporate "business units" or governmental "service units."
- Each such unit is small, no more than twenty to fifty employees; that is about the largest group of humans that can be supervised by a single individual who knows how each member is actually performing.
- Each unit is functionally defined, by what it specifically does rather than by who is a member. (Individual employees can be in multiple units.)
- Each unit "communicates" with other units as in a free market -- by "buying" products from other units with budget funds, turning that input into a more valuable output, then "selling" the output to other units further along the production line. If a unit breaks down and is unable to pull its share, other units can reroute around the damaged unit until it is broken down and rebuilt.
- Each unit is modular and can be joined with other modular units into a functioning super-unit. The super-units can likewise be joined together. The entire corporation or government itself is nothing but a super-super...super-unit formed from many, many modules joined together.
- By analogy, think of a corporation as a mall made up of individual stores. Each store is a "business unit;" the individual mall is a super-unit comprising the individual stores, plus a rental unit, facilities unit, accounting unit, parking unit, security unit, and so forth. The chain of all such malls is a super-super-unit formed from the super-units, and so forth.
When a particular store fails to generate enough output (sales) to pay for its necessary inputs from other units (mall space rental from the rental unit, electricity and other services from the facilities unit, franchise fees, security costs, etc.), it's closed down; and a new mall store/unit is opened in its place.
The idea is to infect the feudal bureaucracy with the beneficial "disease" of Capitalism by turning a giant corporate pyramid into a hive of entrepeneurial business units, or by turning a dysfunctional government department into a network of functioning service units.
A government example
Note that the branch of the United States government that has already done the best job of implementing this decentralization is, oddly enough, the military service: America gives more authority to junior officers and senior NCOs -- and demands more accountability for results -- than any other country in the world. Under Donald Rumsfeld we made our military into an interlinked network of small, individual, self-contained combat units, which can join together or break apart into combined-arms forces of any size necessary (depending on the specific task).
It's a wonderful model for the rest of the government. And upon further thought, it's not odd at all: The military is the branch of government most forcefully and immediately impacted by the real-world result of its efforts, so it's not suprising that it has moved quickest to confront, on our own proactive terms, the fast-moving, adaptive, small, and independent enemy we have faced since the 1970s and Vietnam.
The case at hand
All right, with the prolog out of the way, let's turn our analysis to the current President of the United States, Barack H. Obama:
- Obama sits atop a heirarchy that is shaped like a classic pyramid.
- He considers himself a philosopher-king, so he surrounds himself with nothing but acolytes.
- He isolates himself from other information sources -- and even from his own closest advisors; he always knows best.
- He makes no effort to reach down the ranks to find out what the "little people" want or how they're doing. Subordinates' only function is to translate his vague pronunciamentos into action plans that more or less match what he said, or at least can be plausibly claimed to match it; they have no independent existence and should be seen but not heard.
- He does not accept external oversight even in theory; it's an affront to his own absolute moral and legal authority. It gives him a pain even to have to deal with Congress (a task he generally "delegates" to powerless flunkies who cannot even make deals).
- He certainly has no interest in or intention of decentralizing the federal government; rather, he would like to consolodate more and more power in his own hands, even to the point of nationalizing banks and corporations, allowing him to rule more of the economy by decree.
- He is not self-reflective enough to realize the pickle he has gotten himself into; he does not comprehend how damaged his own communications have become.
- Ergo, his is an administration that has become a classic disinformation pyramid.
- It is increasingly cut off from reality.
- Its isolation is a feedback loop.
- It is functionally insane.
See? Once one properly frames the early lemmas, the final theorem writes itself.
February 4, 2010
Rhetoritician, Heal Thyself
Another example of neoconservative Michael Medved fawning over an Obamic oration that simply isn't worth the... well, we'll get into that.
On his radio show today, Medved referred to a speech, which Obama gave today at the National Prayer Breakfast, as "great;" Medved enthusiastically compared it to Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Medved was evidently so impressed by the subject of the speech that he failed to note the superficiality and hypocrisy of its execution.
The subject was civility, about which Barack H. Obama is a subject-matter expert -- for the same reason that Jack the Ripper was a subject-matter expert on human anatomy. Indeed, the president's violent assaults on civility are legion. In today's talk -- the same one where he referred (twice!) to a Navy Corpsman as a "corpse-man" -- he inexplicably neglects covering a number of points:
- Bearing false witness against one's rhetorical opponents; for example, the president accusing Republicans of saying "that they can insure every American for free, which is what was claimed the other day, at no cost" -- when they, or rather Rep. Tom Price (R-GA, 100%), actually said "he has a health-care proposal that expands health insurance coverage to 'all Americans... without raising taxes by a penny.'”
- Making rude and offensive gestures out of view of the target of such mockery; for example, when the president extends his middle finger, visible only to his own supporters, while pretending to rub his cheek during a debate.
Insulting one's debate partners with crude, adolescent epithets; for example, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY, 100%) calling Sen. Scott Brown a "far-right tea-bagger Republican," which is not only demeaning but drips with homoerotic inuendo. Are Democrats really saying we should despise Brown because Schumer thinks the senator from Massachusetts is homosexual? (Which, by the way, he most certainly is not.)
That would be a switch.
In fact, whenever Obama in his civility speech drifts away from vague platitudes --
And this erosion of civility in the public square sows division and distrust among our citizens. It poisons the well of public opinion. It leaves each side little room to negotiate with the other. It makes politics an all-or-nothing sport, where one side is either always right or always wrong when, in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth.
-- into more concrete paeans to civility and condemnations of incivility, the good guys always seem to be liberal, while the black-hats are invariably conservatives:
That begins with stepping out of our comfort zones in an effort to bridge divisions. We see that in many conservative pastors who are helping lead the way to fix our broken immigration system. It's not what would be expected from them, and yet they recognize, in those immigrant families, the face of God. We see that in the evangelical leaders who are rallying their congregations to protect our planet....
We may disagree about the best way to reform our health care system, but surely we can agree that no one ought to go broke when they get sick in the richest nation on Earth. We can take different approaches to ending inequality, but surely we can agree on the need to lift our children out of ignorance; to lift our neighbors from poverty. We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are[.]
All right, we get it: Obama loves conservatives who support comprehensive immigration reform and Globaloney, and he despises any conservative who opposes universal health care, the government school system, and welfare for all. And he reserves especial hatred for anyone who "target[s] gays and lesbians for who they are." We take judicial notice that liberals by and large believe that any initiative which defines marriage as between one man and one woman falls into that "targeting" category.
Even his one feeble nod to lessons the Left must learn is innocuous, demonstrating their big-heartedness rather than small-mindedness:
We see it in the increasing recognition among progressives that government can't solve all of our problems, and that talking about values like responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage are integral to any anti-poverty agenda.
Yes, it would be nice if progressives recognized the former and talked about the latter. Soon, perhaps?
But where in the president's speech is any reference to the real-world examples where the incivility is entirely on the other shoe? Can we all agree that SEIU thugs shouldn't physically assault black conservatives at peaceful protests? Not until Obama and the Left recognize that it actually happens.
We can all take different approaches to environmental protection, but surely we can all agree that when climatologists who are global-warming alarmists conspire to sabotage the careers of their counterparts who reject global-warming theory, such shenanigans are at the very least uncivil.
Well, no; to most of the Left, the CRU's only mistake was getting caught by a hacker. As to fabricating evidence and suppressing inconvenient truths, the entire liberal spectrum relies upon the "fake but accurate" defense of Rathergate vintage.
Barack Obama seems remarkably averse to self examination. He is the most "do as I say, not as I do" president in my lifetime. Heck, he's the most "do as I say, not as I do" president of Sen. Robert Byrd's (D-WV, 79%) lifetime; and that takes us all the way back to John Quincy Adams!
The president is equally incapable of beholding the beam in the eyes of his allies in House and Senate, in the leftstream media, and on blogs like Daily Kos, Firedoglake, and the Hufflepuffington Post. (See, I'm keeping with the Biblical tone of the prayer breakfast.) When he says, "in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth," he means neither the progressive nor the moderate Democratic side; he certainly does not extend such magnanimity to the GOP -- which indeed has a monopoly on mendacity in Barack Obama's world.
I understand (but reject) Michael Medved's urge to give the POTUS (and his TOTUS) the benefit of the doubt; but Medved and other former liberals really need to understand that at a certain point, all "doubt" is blown away by the hurricane of rank, uncivil partisanship that surrounds the current administration. At that point, it's far more urgent to extend the benefit of clarity.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
January 30, 2010
Another Clue that We've Really Turned that Old Corner...
Prosperity is just around the corner. A car in every pot, a chicken in every garage:
The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review....
"Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason," [Assistant Attorney General Ronald] Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws....
"The administration shares your belief that the current lack of a college football national championship playoff with respect to the highest division of college football ... raises important questions affecting millions of fans, colleges and universities, players and other interested parties," Weich wrote.
Community Organizer in Chief Barack H. Obama, having already solved all the major problems that face our country -- having saved or created hundreds of millions of jobs (National service!), ended the threat of man-caused disaster (diplomacy!), fixed the economy (nationalization!), eliminated all those confusing choices in medical treatment (ObamaCare!), solved the energy crisis (windmills!), and made the Earth cool and the oceans subside (more windmills!) -- is now at leisure to turn his Obamacle eyes to federalizing college football bowl games.
My goodness, but our philosopher king's jug of benevolent despotism just never runs dry, does it?
January 17, 2010
B.O. in Boston - a Very Impotent Person
I see that Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama is personally headed to "Massachusettes". Does anybody in either hemisphere fail to understand what an admission of looming failure that is?
POTUS and TOTUS are rushing into the Bay State in a desperate, last-ditch effort to stave off electoral disaster. The congressional Democrats may see the election of Republican Scott Brown as God's gift of an exit strategy from ObamaCare, but the president himself has no plausible denial for his campaign frenzy: It's obvious that MA Attorney General Martha "Chokely" Coakley is about to be shellacked like a '73 Ford Pinto at Earl Scheib ("I'll paint any car for ninety-nine ninety five!").
And I say -- good on yer, B.O.! Rush off to Boston to appear at another closed-door fundraiser for Chokely. Make yourself as visible as possible...
Because when Scott Brown wins anyway, you will look like the most impotent tool in America: the Democratic president who couldn't even keep a firm grip on Ted Kennedy's seat (well... you know what I mean).
Have you thought this one through, Mr. O.? Too late to back out now; you'd lose even more face than you're already set to lose on Tuesday.
Am I gloating? Yep. Prematurely? Of course: the vaunted Democratic vote machine might still turn out more committed voters (or voters who should be committed, once you exhume and resurrect them) to squeak out a razor-thin victory for the Choke.
But I have a feeling about this race... and it's a wonderful feeling. Keep watching the skies, jackaroos and jillaroos.
December 6, 2009
Does ObamaCare Teeter on the Brink of Collapse?
There are two possible explanations for President Barack H. Obama's sudden rush to personally lobby and exhort senators to vote for ObamaCare:
- It's scant days from passage, and Obama wants to be there for the kill;
- Or just the opposite: The fragile coalition is breaking apart, and this is a last, desperate lunge for the brass ring, as Obama topples off the painted, wooden horse.
I vote for the latter, as the former doesn't match the observed facts:
Democrats met throughout yesterday to seek an alternative to Senate Majority Harry Reid’s plan to create the new national program to cover the uninsured. Opposition within his party leaves Reid at risk of falling four votes short of the 60 he needs to pass the legislation, the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system in more than four decades.
Four is a lot more than opponents need to kill the bill at the next cloture vote. And if there are four, more will probably jump aboard the bandwagon; any senator worried about reelection in 2010 or 2012 because his state is more conservative than he (that's a lot more than the usual formulation) would probably take advantage of a "free roll" to pander to the moderates. If the bill is already going down on a cloture vote anyway, it doesn't matter under the rules whether it falls four votes short -- or nine.
And the fissures are the same as they ever were: abortion, the public option, taxes, the looting of Medicare, and health-care rationing. As an example of the last, here's news about how the bill Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) introduced in the Senate guts home health-care:
Republicans, unified in opposition, forced the Democrats yesterday to reiterate their support for cutting more than $40 billion in home health-care services funding under Medicare. It was the latest Republican effort to highlight the bill’s potential impact on the elderly....
The Senate also turned back a Republican bid to restore the home health services funding. The Republicans are trying to draw attention to the impact on the elderly from some $400 billion in proposed Medicare savings.
To boil it down, if Bloomberg is to be believed, Reid has made no progress whatsoever on persuading opponents, including some Democrats who voted to start debate, to come over to the dark side. Nobody has budged yet.
Therefore, if the Obamacle is personally involved at this late date, the only explanation that jibes with the facts is that his hands-off approach, leaving it to the Senate Democratic leadership, has not worked. But with Obama's own lagging poll numbers, he really hasn't the clout to bully the wavering into voting for ObamaCare: The more he tightens his grip, the more star systems will slip through his fingers.
If the Senate passes anything this year, it will be after an "amendment" jacks up the title and runs a whole new bill underneath... one that does little more than what the conservatives and moderates demand. Such a bill would be supported by Republicans, red-state Democrats, and even some leftist Democrats who cannot face the humiliation of returning to Berkeley or Austin or Manhattan empty handed; it would pass with well over 60 votes.
Barack Obama has managed the nearly impossible: After less than a year in office, he has already transformed himself into a lame duck.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
December 2, 2009
Gallup Sets Obamic Baseline on Afghanistan
Gallup just released the polling numbers on Barack "Lucky Lefty" Obama's Afghanistan policy; they polled from November 20th to 22nd, so this poll sets a perfect baseline for how the One's policy speech last night, and his new policy itself, affect his approval on this issue.
We'll check back in a week or so and see what Gallup indicates has happened to the Tally of O, at least anent Afghanistan.
I suspect that rather than helping the Commander in Chief, the new policy -- we send 30,000 more men, who will fully arrive in about six months; then come what may, we yank them out one year later, just as his reelection fight kicks off -- and especially his "explanation" of the policy last night, will actually hurt his job approval on Afghanistan... significantly.
As it happens, his Afghanistan policy approval has already plummeted from 56% in mid-July to a scary 35% now, dropping an average of 5.25% per month:
Barack Obama's Afghanistan policy approval
Even fellow Democrats barely approve:
Approval by party
The same poll also asked about Obama's policies on six other issues: energy policy, terrorism policy, globaloney, economic policy, ObamaCare, and (heh) job creation. His approval ranges from a high of 49% for energy down to 40% for jobs.
I wonder how long this fellow can even sustain his current low overall job approval of 49%; sooner or later (probably sooner), his general approval will sink to match the low-average rating of his policy approvals.
We may very well charge into the November elections next year with President Obama languishing at 40% to 42% job approval. How might that affect the congressional elections?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
What the Right Hand Giveth...
...the left hand taketh away.
At first, I was going to keep a scorecard of the strategic questions the president needs to answer, so we will have some idea of what strategy President Barack "Lucky Lefty" Obama plans to implement.
But the speech turned out to be so lacking in essential detail that I can't answer any of 'em. This exercise in parroting the TOTUS seems vague but is in fact meaningless.
Then I thought maybe I could fisk it; but no, that's redundant. It fisks itself:
- The fuzzy, foggy flood of flatulent fatuity;
- The whiny blame-it-on-Bush segments;
- The unfocused jumping from one topic to another -- from Afghanistan, to a brief revisionist history of the world since 2001, to the failed eight years of the previous administration, to Afghanistan (again), to the economy, to yawn-inducing self congratulation;
- The rambling and blathering at the end, as he recounted his drive up the California coastline -- oh, wait, that was a different blather. This one was... I can't remember, something about Franklin Roosevelt and how good things really were in the 1930s;
- The nervous, tepid, semi-applause (I presume the "Applesauce" light lit up), the thin, grim lips on the cadets' mouths, the cadets who looked as though they were drifting off to the Land of Nod.
I thought to note the terrible message this sends to our allies and enemas alike: That the danger posed by al-Qaeda and the Taliban is so great, it threatens the entire world... and that we intend to end that threat, once and for all -- all of a year and a half!
No, all our readers already know all that.
Then what about the Washington insiders enthusing about the wonderful "politics" of the speech, how the One successfully placated all the different sides that matter to him: The moderate Left, the Left, and the extreme Left:
I watched President Obama's speech at West Point and thought it was a pretty good political speech.
That's not entirely correct. I thought it was a very good political speech....
Remember, Obama has to protect himself from his own left. House Democrats have all but declared war on Obama's War [the Washington Post's phrase, not mine], Michael Moore took out a full page ad in advance of the speech to announce his opposition, and the MoveOn.org and Pink Slip organizations are threatening to… be really, really, angry.
By contrast, I think this is the limpest speech I have ever seen or heard Obama deliver, for all the reasons quoted above. This isn't going to move the meter one angstrom, not on presidential job approval, Afghanistan-war conduct approval, nor even the president's gravitas and leadership -- at least not positively. I can easily see the speech so turning off the electorate that Obama manages to dig a sub-basement into the hole he has already dug.
So what the heck; consider this my contribution to the literature of oraculars from the Obamacle. I can't write any more; I'm already nodding off from ennui, just like those poor cadets.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
December 1, 2009
Big speech tonight, 5:00 PM PST; for all of youse who plan to listen (I probably will), it's urgent for you to pay less attention to the number of troops Barack H. Obama plans to send (30,000) -- and more to any hint he gives of the strategy he will order or allow Gen. Stanley McChrystal to follow.
Will he order the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy McChrystal said was the only strategy that could achieve victory? Or will it be the failed "counterterrorism" strategy concocted by that respected military genius, Vice President "Slow" Joe Biden? Or something else entirely which we haven't seen yet?
It makes all the difference in the world:
- Will our main focus be on protecting the civilian population of Afghanistan -- or on finding specific terrorists and killing them?
- Will we commit to stay until Afghanistan is stable and in control -- or will we announce a public withdrawal date, signalling the Taliban and al-Qaeda that they need only hang on till then?
- Will we be patrolling in company, fully integrated with Afghan forces -- or hiding in our Fortress of Solitude, only sallying forth to fight pitched battles with the Taliban?
- Will we be taking territory from the Taliban/al-Qaeda and holding it -- or chasing the bad guys from place to place to place in a big circle, ending right where they began?
- Will the rules of engagement (ROEs) allow us to attack the enemy whenever we see them, initiating campaigns and fighting them to conclusion -- or do we have to wait until we personally are attacked before we can shoot in self-defense?
- Can we follow Taliban or al-Qaeda forces across the Pakistan border in hot pursuit -- or must we always stop at the border, like the sheriff in a bad Hollywood western when he comes to the Rio Grande?
In each instance above, COIN requires the first, but a "counterterrorism" strategy would probably favor the second.
So listen close; the number of men is important, but less important than what he plans to do with them. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, If President Obama isn't going to use his army, the American people would like to borrow it for a time.
November 20, 2009
Imagine No al-Qaeda, It's Easy If He Tries...
The national-defense syllogism of President Barack H. Obama is pristine in its consistency:
- The war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis is over! It ended on January 20th, 2009, when the One We Have Been Yearning For was finally inaugurated.
- It was just one more of those failed policies from the previous administration. The war criminal Bush brought it on himself when he enraged the world by launching an unprovoked invasion of Iraq.
There are still a few criminal gangs that want to commit crimes against individuals inside the United States. The attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, the attacks on the World Trade Centers and some other public building -- these were crimes: serious perhaps, but no different in substance from a home-invasion robbery or a residential burglary.
And we already know how to deal with crime: After the next 9/11, we'll issue an immediate and sweeping flurry of indictments against the suicide perpetrators.
- Of course, you can't stop a burglary with missiles and bombs... therefore we should stand down all those needless, senseless military defenses -- think of the money we could save!
And to gain the love of the whole rest of the world, we should proudly and publicly proclaim that we've done so:
The commander of military forces protecting North America has ordered a review of the costly air defenses intended to prevent another Sept. 11-style terrorism attack, an assessment aimed at determining whether the commitment of jet fighters, other aircraft and crews remains justified....
The review, to be completed next spring, is expected to be the military’s most thorough reassessment of the threat of a terrorism attack by air since Al Qaeda’s strikes on Sept. 11, 2001, transformed a Defense Department focused on fighting other militaries and led to the Bush administration’s “global war on terror.”
Think of it: No more fighter jets fueled and ready to shoot down airliners... no more American troops sent all over the world... no more Guantanamo Bay... no more torturing innocent farmers and scholars kidnapped from Tora Bora. With all the protections against crime we now have -- security screenings at airports, locked cockpit doors, no-fly zones around wherever the Obamacle happens to be -- who needs military force?
The eight-year national nightmare is over; it turns out that the entire premise of "war" was flawed to begin with, as the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other criminals prove. And the money, the expense! Just think how all those billions that could be better spent on seizing control of health care and crippling America's energy production:
The assessment is partly a reflection of how a military straining to fight two wars is questioning whether it makes sense to keep in place the costly system of protections established after those attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Though the last of the air patrols above American cities were discontinued in 2007, the military keeps dozens of warplanes and hundreds of air crew members on alert to respond to potential threats.
“The fighter force is extremely expensive, so you always have to ask yourself the question ‘How much is enough?’ ” said Maj. Gen. Pierre J. Forgues of Canada, director of operations for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, which carries out the air defense mission within the United States military’s Northern Command.
What could possibly go wrong?
We cannot stick with the old regime of military defense anyway; we just don't have the resources:
General Forgues said the American and Canadian fleets of fighters, refueling tankers and radar planes “are always in high demand and low supply.”
Rather than do something crazy and counterproductive, like increasing the supply of fighters and refueling tankers to match the demand, it's so much easier simply to reduce demand by ending the air defenses.
But of course, nothing is carved in stone yet; that Canadian general who runs the American air defense at NORAD, Pierre Forgues, is merely conducting a review. Who can say how it may turn out?
General Forgues cautioned that there was no predetermined outcome of the review and that it was possible the commitment to the air defense mission would remain the same, or even increase.
Just as Obama, after careful consideration, may actually choose a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and send even more troops than Gen. Stanley McChrystal has requested -- who can say? It's still under review.
The Times notes the truly staggering expenditures of the Bush regime's warmongering and jet-jockeying over the skies of America: Combat air patrols over our cities cost (brace yourselves) in excess of $50 million every week. That's more than $2.6 billion each and every year -- an utterly unsustainable expense, fully equal to an entire week of the price for ObamaCare. How can we possibly continue to bankrupt ourselves by paying for such unnecessary, imperialist, neoconservative militarism?
Thank goodness our nation came to its senses in time to elect a president who believes in strength through disarmament. It's no wonder he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; Barack Obama is Mother Teresa on steroids.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
November 16, 2009
California, the 54th State, Creating or Saving Lots of Jobs!
According to the Recovery.gov website, California -- with its 101 congressional districts -- has created or saved a total of 110,185 jobs since the Obamic stimulus bill passed.
Oddly, other, less reliable sources report that "the state has lost 732,700 jobs over the last year."
And those same other sources also seem to be under the impression that California has only 53 congressional districts; we certainly have only 53 U.S. representatives! But if that's true, how could the federal incompetocracy of Barack H. Obama report the specific number of jobs "created or saved" -- along with the total stimulus spending required to create or save them -- in California congressional districts 57, 64, 67, 76, 80, 91, and 99? Not to mention district 00, and the inexplicable district labeled simply "congressional district?" (Those last two are always colored green on our maps, while the other 99 alternate between red and black.)
Our higher-numbered districts (and the unenumerated one) aren't doing well by the stimulus policy, alas. California congressional districts that do not actually exist created or saved a scant 24.2 jobs (I think the last two-tenths of one job comprise teenaged baby-sitters, drunken bums who won't stop singing "Crazy Train" until you give them a quarter, three-card monte experts, and community organizers). Worse, they sucked up $5,740,757 to create or save those 24 jobs (sorry, 24.2 jobs), which works out to $237,221.36 per job per seven months (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was passed in February, and the recovery.gov figures are from September) -- or $406,665.19 per job per year.
Even assuming that 67% of the cost per job is overhead -- federal building maintenance costs, salaries for government employees, payoffs to ACORN and the SEIU, etc. -- that means each job must offer an average compensation package of $134,199.51. Wow -- where do I sign up to be created or saved?
With the new transparency, it's easy to see exactly how the administration is able to report such stellar economic improvement so quickly. All I can say is hip hip, chin chin for the One!
Oh -- and can we have our 44 other congressmen, please? (Hat tip to Power Line's Scott Johnson.)
Cross-posted on Hot Ayres' rogues' gallery...
November 12, 2009
"I Reject Your Reality..."
"...And substitute my own!"
So reads a t-shirt often worn by Adam Savage, one of the two original starts of the Discovery Channel's series Mythbusters, which I have slavishly watched since the very first episode (I think that was the episode where they busted the myth of the rocket-propelled car launching into the air).
The tee commemorates a pithy summary Adam Savage delivered on the show, I can even remember whether he meant it optimistically or sarcastically: "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" I remember Adam saying that, but I can't recall now what precipitated the remark. But after today, I suggest he send his wonderful t-shirt to another fellow who now has a greater claim to it: President Barack H. Obama.
Take a look and tell me I'm exaggerating:
President Barack Obama rejected the Afghanistan war options before him and asked for revisions, his defense secretary said Thursday, after the U.S. ambassador in Kabul argued that a significant U.S. troop increase would only prop up a weak, corruption-tainted government.
"I'm not happy with the options reality has offered me; I demand you produce new fantasy options more to my liking!"
Let's take an Eikenberry detour. Yes indeed, he was once a military commander in Afghanistan; but he's not the commander now, and he hasn't been for well over two years -- during which time the situation has changed dramatically. Note that he also left before Gen. David Petraeus achieved such a thorough and remarkable victory in Iraq using a very similar strategy.
In 2007, as the Iraq COIN was picking up, Eikenberry was named Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and NATO was not officially involved in the Iraq War (as they are in Afghanistan). Thus I see no evidence that Eikenberry has spent any significant time studying the Iraq COIN -- or even talking to David Petraeus, who, as Commander of CENTCOM, is now McChrystal's boss.
Nor was Ambassador Eikenberry a COIN specialist when he wore a uniform instead of a suit. So why should his advice trump McChrystal's in the Obamacle's mind? (Except for the obvious explanation: Because what Eikenberry says, by happenstance or design, precisely matches what Obama wants to hear.)
Eikenberry's argument for why we should abandon Afghanistan is not exactly subtle; I think it boils down to the peculiar idea that the purpose of a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy is to "prop-up" the existing government, whatever it may be; therefore, since we don't like the fellow that Afghan voters elected, Hamid Karzai, we shouldn't prop it up by implementing a COIN strategy. Instead, we should focus on "training" the indiginous Afghan troops.
Most others experts on the subject I've read -- I'm certainly not an expert, so I must rely on others, such as Fred Kagen or David Petraeus -- seem to believe the purpose of COIN is to improve civilian security throughout the country, thus to enlist civilian support for the war effort against the insurgents and deny the latter the chaos and collapse they need to seize the government.
It needn't incorporate any support for the specific civilian government at all, just for the concept of democratic voting. All we need from Karzai is that he not interfere with Afghan troops' participation in COIN-related joint patrols and operations... which is, incidentally, exactly how we go about training the local forces, both military and tribal militia, in the first place. No joint ops -- no training.
Here is the Eikenberry thesis on display:
Obama's ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, who is also a former commander in Afghanistan, twice in the last week voiced strong dissent against sending large numbers of new forces, according to an administration official. That puts him at odds with the current war commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who is seeking thousands more troops.
Eikenberry's misgivings, expressed in classified cables to Washington, highlight administration concerns that bolstering the American presence in Afghanistan could make the country more reliant on the U.S., not less. He expressed his objections just ahead of Obama's latest war meeting Wednesday.
But there is an even more disturbing possibility: If AP is accurately recounting Eikenberry's objections (and I don't know that to be the case), then he, too, believes that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendations consist of nothing but "send 40,000 more troops" -- rather than "implement a COIN strategy, then decide how many troops we need." (McChrystal adds, "Psst... it turns out to be about 40,000 more than we have right now"). This would put the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the same conceptual box as the elite news media.
It's hard to swallow the contention that a former lieutenant general (that's a 3-banger) in the United States Army would be blissfully unaware of what counterinsurgency strategy is, and how it differs from a counter-terrorism strategy... where we "fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt". I hope that's not the problem. But if not, then what makes Eikenberry think he's more fit to opine on Afghanistan than the general that Barack Obama himself hand-picked to do just that? (And who is, as I understand it, an expert on COIN strategy.)
(There is a third, even more disturbing possibility: That Eikenberry knows very well that McChrystal is right, that a COIN strategy is the only one that leads to victory; but the ambassador believes that victory is the last thing Obama wants. In that case, Eikenberry may be quietly conspiring to lose the war, either to give Obama's leftist supporters the terrible American defeat they demand, or to deny President Bush the victory he earned. Or both. I certainly hope this is not what's going through Eikenberry's mind!)
But back to the One, who is ultimately calling the shots here. His philosophy of "I reject your reality and substitute my own" is, in fact, the standard modus vivendi of liberalism. As in:
- "I reject the reality that one must work hard, or at least smart, to live well; I substitute the reality where I can sit around and smoke pot all day but still receive a national income (big enough to pay for my dope)."
- "I reject the reality that says the best remedy for bad speech is more good speech; I substitute the reality where we can simply outlaw or ban bad speech, and then all that will be left is good speech."
- "I reject the reality that increasing health-insurance demand (via mandate) while decreasing supply (by driving companies out of business) will result in much more expensive insurance; I substitute the reality where a complete government takeover will lower costs, improve care, and expand the pool of those covered."
- "I reject the reality that we need cheap energy; I substitute the reality where we can tax the hell out of it, raise energy costs through the roof (as Obama himself gleefully predicted), declare more and more energy sources off-limits, and therefore make America stronger and more prosperous."
- "I reject the reality that doubling taxation of the average Joe will leave him with less money to spend; I substitute the reality where doubling taxation results in an explosion of new economic growth, causing the economy to take off like a rocket."
- "I reject the reality that Israel needs the ability to defend itself, or it will be destroyed; I substitute the reality where, if Israel will only give the Palestinians everything they want, while demanding nothing in return, the latter will be so grateful they will become fast friends with the Jewish state." (Alternatively: "I reject the reality that Jews should be allowed to have a state; I substitute the reality where Jews are so uniquely evil that they are the only "race" who should be barely-tolerated strangers wherever they live.")
To the liberal, reality is infinitely malleable: If you don't like it, just hold your breath, close your eyes, strain really hard, and intensely visualize the new reality. When you open your eyes and gasp in a lungful, the new reality will miraculously have been subbed in!
This seems to work in some environments but not others. It works great in Hollywood; and it works reasonably well in two-party politics -- averaging out to being successful about half the time. However, it doesn't seem to work much at all in warfare, where the default reality has a depressing way of contradicting the happy-facers, rudely and abruptly.
Alas, even that catastrophe could play into the hand of Barack Obama and his incompetocracy; after bargaining down the number of troops we need -- and implementing Slow Joe Biden's counter-terrorism strategy, rather than a COIN strategy -- we might be handed a signal, Vietnam-style defeat. Then B.O. could declare:
- "Clearly this means the war was unwinnable from the beginning, and my predecessor should never have invaded Afghanistan in the first place."
- "I gave the policy of the previous administration every opportunity; I even sent more troops -- not once, but twice! It's time to admit that the whole adventure was a terrible miscalculation, pull out, accept that defeat was inevitable, and MoveOn."
"Now the whole country understands why I have embarked upon a new era of Strategic Reassurance, talking to our enemies without preconditions, instead of the "cowboy militarism" of the Republican Party.
"We're going to redouble our efforts to talk Iran and North Korea into doing what's best for America, rather than what's best for themselves. I know we've tried it again and again, and it's never worked yet; but by the Law of Averages, that means we're due to hit the jackpot really soon now!"
In the long run, I don't think a strategy of denying reality is a military winner; and a long-run strategy of hoping for American defeat will not be a political winner in 2010 or 2012. But as John Maynard Keynes is reputed to have said, "In the long run, we're all dead."
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
November 10, 2009
A COIN Flip
Yesterday, rumor swept the dextrosphere that President Barack H. Obama was prepared to accept the recommendation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal; the president, quoth the Great Mentioner, would send 40,000 troops to Afghanistan.
And who could doubt the gossip? After all, it came from CBS, bastion of unbiased and utterly credible journalism at the highest standards of integrity. Blogs cheered; Democrats were dismayed. Hugh Hewitt was overjoyed, saying he would cheer the president when he did so.
Thus spake the net that Uncle Walt and Auntie Dan built:
Tonight, after months of conferences with top advisors, President Obama has settled on a new strategy for Afghanistan. CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that the president will send a lot more troops and plans to keep a large force there, long term.
The president still has more meetings scheduled on Afghanistan, but informed sources tell CBS News he intends to give Gen. Stanley McChrystal most, if not all, the additional troops he is asking for.
McChrystal wanted 40,000 and the president has tentatively decided to send four combat brigades plus thousands more support troops. A senior officer says "that's close to what [McChrystal] asked for." All the president's military advisers have recommended sending more troops.
All right, so the rumor was true... the rumor that CBS had reported such a story, that is. As to the accuracy of the story itself, don't hold your breath. By the time I read it, it was already prefaced with the following disclaimer, direct from la Casa Blanca, italics and all:
"Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false. He has not received final options for his consideration, he has not reviewed those options with his national security team, and he has not made any decisions about resources. Any reports to the contrary are completely untrue and come from uninformed sources."
But the swift denial from the Obamacle -- "Nonsense, I'm not through dithering yet!" -- was superfluous, just gilding the cake. Even before the administration rejected the foul contention that the Commander in Chief had actually made up his mind, the story was already meaningless blather -- because what McChrystal really needs is not a few extra troops but a whole new counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy... and the CBS story said nary a word about that question.
Nothing in the article so much as suggested that Obama had approved the general's request to implement a COIN strategy; without it, all the extra troops in the world wouldn't bring us an inch closer to victory. The new brigades would just create a target-rich environment for Taliban ambushes and al-Qaeda suicide attacks.
Let's look back to 2007; what won the Iraq war? Not merely deploying five more brigades of infantry and retaining 4,000 Marines who were to have been rotated out; what finally broke the insurgency was a change of strategy: protecting the civilian population, going on joint patrols with Iraqi militias, embedding American military personnel within Iraqi units, loosening the rules of engagement, encouraging the "salvation councils" that acted as a national front against the terrorists, and all the other elements of classical COIN.
After designing the strategy, Gen. David Petraeus calculated the total number of troops he would need, and that came to about 25,000 more than he had: Hence the so-called "surge" of troops.
But all that the leftstream media ever comprehended was "Bush is sending more soldiers" (or alternatively, "Bush is escalating the war, just like in Vietnam!") Thus, the press and the Democrats, to the extent they're not conterminous, began to use the term "surge," implying that the sole change involved was a few more warm bodies. This led to any number of liberals hooting that you can't win just by lobbing more soldiers at it.
Today, the same error infests the coverage of the McChrystal report: Newspapers and TV networks report that McChrystal has requested 40,000 more men, as if that were the sum total of military planning.
It may well turn out to be true that Barack Obama decides to send nearly that many to Afghanistan. But unless he likewise shifts decisively to a counterinsurgency strategy -- which is what Gen. McChrystal concluded was the only viable option -- those 40,000 men will do absolutely nothing to arrest the deterioration of our position in that country, or to lead us to victory against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis.
I'm skeptical that the One understands this point. I fear he thinks the only choices he has to make are whether to send more men, and if so, how many. Such misunderstanding leaves us in grave danger. If Obama thinks it's just a numbers game, the temptation to "split the difference" could become overwhelming: McChrystal wants 40,000, the leftist base wants none -- so let's split the difference and send 20,000! That's a fair compromise, no?
No; it's a prescription for disaster. Difference splitting may work fine in labor disputes and buying mutual funds, but half measures are a highway to defeat in warfare. We must pick one grand strategy, implement it, and stick to it until it has a chance to work. And according to our man in Kabul, the only strategy that leads to winning the war is COIN.
Alas, whether Obama gets that point is itself a coin-flip.
September 9, 2009
Barack Obama: Laff Riot at the U.N. Circus
President Barack H. Obama now embraces the ever-helpful, America-loving United Nations in yet another mirror-reversal of George W. Bush; it seems that all Obama can do is take the polar opposite position from his predecessor -- except when he's following in Bush's footsteps so closely, he leaves no tracks of his own. Either way, everything Obama does is determined by what Bush did, either mimicking or gainsaying.
The Obamacle's enthusiastic predictions of the miracles he will perform, the wonders that will unfold when he, the One Everybody on Planet Earth Has Been Waiting for, takes command of a U.N. Security Council meeting are so surreal and godlike that Michael Jackson might have put such things in one of his music videos. Obama plans to...
- Disarm the world of nuclear weapons -- after which the ogres of the world, unafraid of defenses or retaliations that no longer exist, will not fall upon the weak like vultures upon the crucified, but rather will embrace their erstwhile enemies and extend the hand of true brotherhood.
- Conclude a climate deal in Copenhagen in December -- whereupon the Senate will instantly ratify Kyoto II, even though it refused to ratify Kyoto I by a non-binding vote of 95 to 0.
- Host a meeting (date uncertain) between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of a non-existent but real-sounding "nation" called the Palestinian Authority, bringing about "a breakthrough about a timetable for Middle East peace." The starting gun for the timetable will be the PA recognizing the existence of Israel as a Jewish state... any day now.
- "Mr Obama gave Tehran a September deadline to reply to his offer of negotiations." ...Which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will gratefully join, negotiate in good faith to dismantle the Iranian WMD programs and terrorist infrastructure, after the golden teleprompter of the One persuades the Shiite revolutionaries to abandon Twelverism and join the community of truly free and democratic nations.
- After which, Obamoses will part the Red Ink, lead the wage slaves out of America to the promised land (Sweden), heal the sick with the government option, and drown the Republican multitudes beneath the waves.
The most hilarious element of all this hoopla is that Mr. Obama, I am convinced, actually believes that he will accomplish all of this -- probably before the 2010 elections, so that Democrats will actually gain even more seats in Congress: Each new setback seems only to strengthen Obama's grandiosity and megalomania. Soon, Obama will become like unto warty bliggens the toad:
to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favoured
said warty bliggens
what the universe has done to deserve me
When it all comes crashing down around the elephantine ears of B.O., he'll do the manly thing: Blame George W. Bush for "poisoning the well."
As a citizen of the United States, I dread the next two years; as a fictioneer, I can't wait to watch them unravel.
September 8, 2009
[H]opefully we can agree it’s a good message to tell students they need to work hard and get a good education.
Thankfully, we can't.
[T]here is no good reason for Obama not to give his speech.
Yes, Paul, there is.
The Obama administration is off to a horrible start, but it isn't yet a lost cause. If Obama could put aside his dopey left-wing ideology and stick to this kind of positive message, he could yet salvage his Presidency. But I'm afraid he doesn't have it in him to do that.
No, he can simply make himself a laughingstock. (But I do agree with your last sentence.)
The ghost in the machine
What all three are missing is that this speech, or indeed any speech by the President of the United States given (by decree) to all schoolchildren on their first day back -- even if the attempted monopolization was unsuccessful -- causes very real and significant damage to the education of a free, self-reliant citizenry in what should be a nation of liberty.
Oh, come on, Dafydd, where's your sense of proportion? Aren't you taking this much too personally?
No, I'm the only one being honest and realistic on this bus. Hasn't any of you asked yourself why Obama insists upon delivering this speech in the first place? Do you imagine he thinks his little homily will actually turn around the decline in American education over the past few decades? Or is it more likely that he just wants to get his nose in the tent -- so that next time, the precedent having been set, he can say what he really wanted to say this time.
John mentioned "subtext" in his post, but he didn't take that analysis far enough. The systemic subtext of any such speech is that the president is acting within his jurisdiction in talking to other people's children about how they should approach school and life in general... and the only proper response by parents should be to say, "Mr. President, my child's education is none of your damn business."
It may be the business of their state's governor, or perhaps their city's mayor -- or better yet, their kid's principal. It may even be the federal government's business that the states are doing their jobs at least minimally well, so long as those states suckle at the federal teat.
But the subtext of this or any other presidential speech to the nation's schoolkids is that the federal government, and its avatar, the president, stand in loco parentis: "In the position or place of a parent;" and that is simply above the pay grade of the president. It's not Obama's business, especially when his platitudes may well conflict with lessons from the parents he is usurping.
In particular cases, as when a parent is abusing a child, I can see the state, county, or city having authority to become the child's new parent -- though we all know how horribly that power can be abused. But there is no justification possible for the Chief Executive of the United States to usurp parental and local authority of all students, irrespective of how good or bad a job is being done by those he has just elbowed aside.
What's done is done -- and done again, and again, and again
In addition, this speech sets a vile precedent: That anytime the president wants to propagandize the nation's youth (even for "good" propaganda about working hard and doing all their homework), he can henceforth give a speech and demand that teachers and school systems everywhere force students to listen to it.
What life lessons will Obama feel compelled to pass along in 2010, 2011, and 2012?
What if the next president gives a "back to school" speech about the importance of celebrating same-sex marriage, abortion, and socialism? What if the one after that wants to use his by now traditional privilege to force kids to sit still for a lecture on pure laissez-faire Capitalism, the evil of any and all taxes, and the unprovable, fairy tale nature of "Darwinism?"
As a general rule, it's a wretched infringement to teach children to take marching orders from the president. Any president, at any time other than dire national emergency... and even then, they should be skeptical as hell: The Tree of Liberty demands nothing less.
This year's back-to-school speech is seemingly innocuous; I'm utterly convinced that the next will be a little more pointed, however; the third will be outright partisan; and the fourth will exhort all the little Winston Smiths to tattle on their parents' thoughtcrime.
What once all knew
I can't believe conservatives still haven't gotten it through their heads that the worst tendencies of people in this fallen world are exaggerated and exacerbated by orders of magnitude when those bad people serve in the government.
But I'm not in the least surprised that the libertarians -- last seen voting for Ron Paul, Babar, or even the One They Were All Waiting For himself -- are nowhere at hand when the State reaches its grubby paws right into every classroom in the most direct and offensive method possible: A presidentially directed national sing-along that simultaneously infantalizes students, emasculates fathers, and marginalizes mothers. Repent, ye natural sons of liberty.
Speaking of tea parties, how would those Boston rapscallions have reacted to a royal decree that some recent "speech of virtues" given by King George III be read aloud to every child in America -- even "innocuous" virtues that in the abstract, they all supported?
In many ways, we were a more sophisticated, intuitive, savvy people 236 years ago.
September 7, 2009
Is Obama Forming a "Shadow Government?"
Today, President Barack H. Obama appointed yet another "czar", making the announcement at an AFL-CIO Laborious Day picnic in Cincinnati today; Ron Bloom will make the 33rd Obamic Czar, counting Van Jones, who just resigned but will surely be replaced with a less explosive (but every bit as Marxist) appointee, and after Obama taps someone else to fill Bloom's old position as Car Czar.
Thanks to Glenn Beck, who has done a bravura job of journalism, here are the Czars; entries in blue are those Czar positions created expressly by Barack Obama:
- Richard Holbrooke -- Afghanistan Czar
- Jeffrey Crowley -- AIDS Czar
- Ed Montgomery -- Auto Recovery Czar
- Alan Bersin -- Border Czar
- David J. Hayes -- California Water Czar
- Ron Bloom -- Car Czar (moved to Manufacturing Czar today)
- Dennis Ross -- Central Region Czar
- Todd Stern -- Climate Czar
- Lynn Rosenthal -- Domestic Violence Czar
- Gil Kerlikowske -- Drug Czar
- Paul Volcker -- Economic Czar
- Carol Browner -- Energy and Environment Czar
- Joshua DuBois -- Faith Based Czar
- Jeffrey Zients -- Government Performance Czar
- Cameron Davis -- Great Lakes Czar
- Van Jones -- Green Jobs Czar (resigned)
- Daniel Fried -- Guantanamo Closure Czar
- Nancy-Ann DeParle -- Health Czar
- Vivek Kundra -- Information Czar
- Dennis Blair -- Intelligence Czar
- Ron Bloom -- Manufacturing Czar
- George Mitchell -- Mideast Peace Czar
- Kenneth R. Feinberg -- Pay Czar
- Cass R. Sunstein -- Regulatory Czar
- John Holdren -- Science Czar
- Earl Devaney -- Stimulus Accountability Czar
- J. Scott Gration -- Sudan Czar
- Herb Allison -- TARP Czar
- Aneesh Chopra -- Technology Czar
- John Brennan -- Terrorism Czar
- Adolfo Carrion Jr. -- Urban Affairs Czar
- Ashton Carter -- Weapons Czar
- Gary Samore -- WMD Policy Czar
In each case, the One has replaced functions normally carried out by cabinets or other agencies, headed by secretaries and directors who are subject to Senate confirmation (thus accountable to the United States Congress), with unelected, unconfirmed, unaccountable apparatchiks who ultimately answer to only one person: Barack Obama.
The departments raided of their authority in favor of Czars include the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, Health and Human Services, Labor, Interior, Energy, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) -- that's the entire cabinet except for the Departments of Education, Transportation, and Veterans' Affairs).
Specific sub-cabinet level agencies subject to the Senate's "advise and consent" rules, now looted of their powers by the Obamic Czardines, include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), National Security Council (NSC).
A less charitable observer might conclude that President Obama is systematically creating a shadow government of special commissars, which will allow Obama to bypass congressional oversight and the checks and balances of "independent" (in a sense) agencies to rule the United States directly by decree.
Every "czar" steals some of the authority that would normally reside in the permanent bureaucracy and instead secretes it behind the impregnable wall of an Executive Order: unquestionable, uninvestigatable, unreviewable, unviewable, and of course, un-overturnable by any other branch of government. In fact, I don't believe Congress can even subpoena a czar to testify before Congress what he's doing and why, since the president can declare the questioning off limits under "executive privilege."
Obama has some precedent on his side: Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt also tried to overthrow our system of constitutional checks and balances, in order to rule by diktat, with some success. Wilson (if I recall correctly) wanted virtually all power invested in the Congress (mostly the House, the "people's legislature"), whereas FDR demanded direct presidential control "for the duration" (of the Depression and World War II -- which between them endured for all twelve years of Roosevelt's tenure -- which gave him a perverse incentive not to solve either "crisis").
Shifting more and more governmental power into the hands of a single man on a white horse, who will personally speak for and on behalf of "the people," is a classical sign of incipient fascism... which, coupled with Obama's nationalization of the banks, of executive pay (even within companies that didn't take a lick of "stimulus" money), energy production and distribution, news reporting and other journalism, labor relations, medical care -- and soon food consumption and the body mass of each American -- makes a chilling portent of what is to come. As one of Obama's predecessors wrote, "Everything inside the state -- nothing outside the state -- nothing against the state."
I wish somebody would tell me how many elements of fascism must come bubbling to the surface of the new administration (not even a year old... seems like a hundred) before we're allowed to suggest that Barack Obama, the head of the fish, must himself be a liberal fascist.
Must we wait until he re-enacts Wilson's sedition act and starts throwing in prison anyone who criticizes the government, the president, or any of the president's policies?
Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
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?
July 13, 2009
Who's an Embryo? St. Francis of Genomia at the NIH
Those who follow Big Lizards religiously (have you all put on your phylacteries before reading?) know that we're big on Dr. Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the evangelical Christian who headed up the Human Genome Project -- and especially on his book the Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. In fact, we've spoken in favor of his ideas (and highly recommended his book) in the following Lizardian posts, from the oldest (August 28th, 2006) to today:
- Jury Nullification Or Nullifying the Jury?
- I appear to have become a Nazi...
- Expelled: No Intelligence Offered - part 1 (Win Ben Stein's Monkey Trial!)
- Expelled: No Intelligence Offered - part 2 (Ben in the Dock)
- The Nuclear Winter of Conservative Discontent
- The Membrane Connecting Science, Morality, and Aesthetics - More Thoughts
- Who's an Embryo? St. Francis of Genomia at the NIH
But who is Francis Collins? This post is going to be long, so I'll tuck the rest away behind the Slither on...
Collins' main thrust in his first book (he is secretive about the subject of his second, but he had to resign from his government position at the National Institutes of Health -- NIH -- to write it) is that there is no essential conflict between Christian faith and evolution by natural selection (hence, "evolutionary biology"). Collins uses the term "BioLogos" for the particular branch of theistic evolution he supports, the "wind up the universe and let it run" thesis: God created the universe and all its physical laws and constants, set the initial conditions, and then allowed it to evolve naturally.
Being omniscient and omnipotent, God deliberately set everything up so that moral human beings (and perhaps other sentient, moral creatures elsewhere) would eventually evolve; so in that sense, you could call it a version of creationism. But it's quite distinct from the Biblical creationism that ruled the creationist roost until a series of legal setbacks in the 1980s, and also from "Intelligent Design," the current method of back-dooring creationism into the public schools by not using certain words -- e.g., "God," "Lord," "Creator" -- and using code words instead ("Designer"): BioLogos requires no direct intervention or manipulation, no "fine tuning," to run its course; in Collins' view, God got it right at the first time and doesn't need mid-course corrections.
So it likely comes as no surprise that we soundly applaud, and even jump up and cheer a bit (in a dignified way, you understand), President Barack H. Obama's announcement last Wednesday appointing Collins to head up the NIH, subject to Senate confirmation. This will put Collins in control (along with the Advisory Committee to the Director) of all federal funding for medical, biomedical, and health-care research, both direct -- "intramural research" at the NIH's main campus in Bethesda, MD -- and indirect, by funding "extramural research" conducted by private universities, hospitals, and other medical research facilities outside government.
I myself am also unsurprised that some more absolutist members of the evangelical community are upset by the appointment; they fret that he will not be as -- all right, I'll say it -- not as doctrinaire as they themselves would be, particularly regarding stem-cell research:
President Obama's nomination of Francis Collins to be director of the National Institutes of Health has resulted in pro-life advocates expressing concerns about the views regarding unborn life held by the world-renowned scientist and evangelical Christian....
In announcing his intention to nominate Collins, the president described him as "one of the top scientists in the world," adding "his groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease...."
Since Obama announced Collins' nomination July 8, some evangelical and pro-life spokesmen have taken issue with the nominee's comments about embryonic stem cell research and cloning.
A Southern Baptist philosophy professor at Union University said Collins needs to make his views clear before he takes over as director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which oversees federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). Extraction of stem cells from an embryo requires the destruction of a tiny human being less than a week old.
Whoa, stop right there; that is not, strictly speaking, true, as we have discussed here. There is already a procedure for extracting stem cells from human embryos non-destructively, utilizing the same procedure used in preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to extract cells from living embryos to test for various genetic diseases... extractions that leave the embryo intact and still growing normally.
Besides non-destructive ESCR, there are also other types of stem cells, of course; they can be found in somatic (bodily) cells of various types: uterine cells, placental cells, amneotic fluid cells, testicular cells, dental cells, mammary cells, and so forth. Many of these latter have already been used extensively in medical therapies; embryonic stem cells have barely been used so far, but they still show tremendous promise.
President George W. Bush had issued an executive order (EO 13435) on June 20, 2007 that specifically funded:
[R]esearch on the isolation, derivation, production, and testing of stem cells that are capable of producing all or almost all of the cell types of the developing body and may result in improved understanding of or treatments for diseases and other adverse health conditions, but are derived without creating a human embryo for research purposes or destroying, discarding, or subjecting to harm a human embryo or fetus.
We posted on that, too... in a post noting that one of Obama's earliest EOs (March 9th) after assuming office was to revoke EO 12435, killing the requirement to fund non-destructive stem-cell research, even as he lifted the federal-funding ban on destructive ESCR. (Anything you need to know, you can learn from Big Lizards.) The natural conclusion most drew was that Obama supported destructive ESCR and was uninterested in or even hostile to non-destructive stem-cell research, either embryonic or somatic... both of which positions comport with his ultra-liberal base.
Federal stem-cell research funding policy is still governed by President Obama's EO 13505, according to the NIH website; I doubt that NIH's "final regulations," issued last Monday, July 6th, 2009, differ from this, since federal agencies are bound by relevant executive orders.
But it's important to note that Obama did not order a ban on future funding of non-destructive stem-cell research; he just revoked Bush's EO that ordered NIH to actively seek out opportunities to fund such research. Bush asked NIH to conduct research in non-destructive stem-cell therapies; but it seems Obama would not particularly care if all that research withered on the vine.
(There is also a federal law, the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, preventing NIH or any other federal agency from directly funding the killing of embryos to create new lines. But once such lines are created privately, under Obama's EO 13505, they are fair game for federal funding.)
Still and all, the technique for non-destructive ESCR, somatic cell nucleus transfer, exists; it simply is not necessarily federally funded, now that the Obamacle presides. So the statement in the Townhall.com article above is at a mimum misleading, and might even be called fraudulent -- unless it "stems" from simple ignorance, which itself is not very reassuring. But we continue with the attack on Collins:
Collins was mistaken or misleading in comments about Obama's position on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, said Justin Barnard, associate professor of philosophy and director of the Carl F.H. Henry Institute for Intellectual Discipleship at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
At Obama's direction, NIH issued final regulations July 6 governing federal funding of stem cell research. In a May interview Collins said Obama's position "is not very radical" because Obama basically said "what Bush said in August of 2001" when the former president announced his policy. But that is not the case, Barnard says. The new NIH guidelines allow research not only on lines that were in existence when Obama made his announcement but new stem cell lines, Barnard wrote in a July 13 commentary for Public Discourse. Obama's position in fact is a "dramatic shift" from Bush's, Barnard said.
In these and other comments, Collins "is less than clear" regarding "the metaphysics and moral value of human life," Barnard wrote.
Perry Mason for the defense...
"Less than clear" is a term that can be equally applied to Barnard's attack: Is he saying that Collins supports the creation of new stem-cell lines from existing human embryos, or from other kinds of stem cells? And even if the former, does he mean embryos created for the purpose of research -- or embryos that were already created for reproductive purposes (in vitrio fertilization), remain unused, and are already slated to be destroyed? Barnard's deliberately vague wording leaves his accusation a complete muddle.
He does make one charge very explicitly in his Public Discourse article. First, a little background from Collins himself, quoted by Barnard:
Basically, what the president’s executive order said and what the NIH in its draft guidelines has now made more clear is that federal funds will be allowable, assuming these draft guidelines get finalized, for stem cell lines that were developed from leftover embryos from in vitro fertilization clinics. And in a way, this is not very radical because that’s what Bush said in August of 2001 when he became the first president to authorize federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Remember, it wasn’t allowed at all before his statement. But he said only lines that were developed before 9 p.m. on Aug. 9, 2001, could be used, which obviously seems like a bit of an arbitrary deadline.
Now Obama is saying, what about the 700 lines that have been developed since then, which are actually scientifically more useful? The early lines had problems. These new lines will now be allowed as well. Remember, though, that just means the funds will be allowed for the study of those lines, not for creating new ones. That is prevented by the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which people expect will probably remain there unless Congress decides to take it away. My bet is that they probably won’t, and I’m not sure that it’s necessary for them to do so in terms of supporting research. The use of private funds to develop new lines might be sufficient.
Barnard then pounces, flattening a very difficult, complex question into an easy soundbite of utter moral certitude, an "eternal verity":
Collins’s comments here are remarkable on several different levels. To begin, it is unclear whether Collins has any moral qualms about the wanton destruction of innocent human life given his apparent optimism about the sufficiency of private funds for the doing the federal government’s dirty work. [There's that weasel-word "unclear" again! -- the Mgt.] But even if one supposes that he’s not happy about it, his analysis of the difference between the Bush administration policy and the new Obama guidelines is mistaken at best, misleading at worst. For the August 9, 2001 deadline under the Bush administration was imposed precisely to take away the incentive for private entities to engage in more embryo destruction. Of course, as Collins’s remarks make clear, this did not prevent private entities from doing so. And apparently, they did so at least 700 times. (Of course, who knows how many embryos it actually took to get the 700 lines to which Collins refers!) And if the Obama guidelines were written so as to allow funding for these 700 lines and only these 700 lines, they would, in that respect, be similar to the Bush guidelines. But the new Obama guidelines do not limit the use of NIH funds exclusively to these existing, additional 700 lines.
Knowing this, Collins chose his words carefully when he said, “Remember, though, that just means the funds will be allowed for the study of those lines, not for creating new ones.” By the letter of the law, what Collins here claims is true. The new NIH guidelines do not permit the use of federal funds for creating new human embryonic stem cell lines. This is because, as Collins points out, such activity is prohibited by the Dickey amendment. Moreover, the guidelines do allow for the study of those 700 lines that have been produced since August 9, 2001. What Collins does not say, however, is that the new NIH guidelines also allow for federal funds to be used in studying new human embryonic stem cell lines that are created (by private entities, of course) beyond the 700 currently in existence. This represents a dramatic shift in policy from the previous Bush administration regulations. And Collins is doing nothing more than engaging in rhetorical subterfuge to suggest otherwise.
Collins in the dock...
This really boils down to one philosophical question: Do we admit the reality that:
- In vitrio fertilization will continue
- Excess embryos (beyond those that are implanted in a womb) will continue to be created, and
- Those excess embryos will either be destroyed outright or frozen in suspended animation for eternity (or until someone pulls the plug)?
If so, then neither Obama's EO or the new NIH policy provides an "incentive" to create embryos for purposes of research; the incentive already exists (via fertility therapy) to create far more embryos than could ever safely be implanted, and far more than could ever be used in research anyway -- a point that Barnard himself glosses over. (Just as he imputes pejorative motives and moral beliefs to Collins that Barnard could not possibly know unless he's a telepath.) The embryos are there and will continue to be there, with or without federal funding.
If we accept that such lines will be created willy nilly, entirely privately -- as Barnard himself admits -- then the only question is whether we allow federal funding to research those new lines... or only to research the old, degraded lines created the exact same way, but prior to 9 PM, August 8th, 2001.
This is certainly not the black-and-white issue that Barnard pretends; it's both more nuanced and more profound. But Barnard demands utter conformity to the most restrictive possible moral interpretation, or he launches a crusade against the heretic.
He has chosen his target well. Barnard knows that such high-level, future funding decisions are generally made by the Director of the NIH in conjunction with his Advisory Council; and he knows that director is going to be Francis Collins; there is no serious senatorial opposition to the appointment.
So what are Collins' thoughts on ESCR -- destructive and non-destructive -- and other kinds of stem-cell research? Fortunately, we have the answer to that question in his own words, from a series of interviews he gave, excerpts of which have been collated by a Christian blog.
First, on the precise moral question above, from an interview in Salon (the interviewer's questions are in blue):
Geneticists are sometimes accused of "playing God," especially when it comes to genetic engineering. And there are various thorny bioethical issues. What's your position on stem cell research?
Stem cells have been discussed for 10 years, and yet I fear that much of that discussion has been more heat than light. First of all, I believe that the product of a sperm and an egg, which is the first cell that goes on to develop a human being, deserves considerable moral consequences. This is an entity that ultimately becomes a human. So I would be opposed to the idea of creating embryos by mixing sperm and eggs together and then experimenting on the outcome of that, purely to understand research questions. On the other hand, there are hundreds of thousands of such embryos in freezers at in vitro fertilization clinics. In the process of in vitro fertilization, you almost invariably end up with more embryos than you can reimplant safely. The plausibility of those ever being reimplanted in the future -- more than a few of them -- is extremely low. Is it more ethical to leave them in those freezers forever or throw them away? Or is it more ethical to come up with some sort of use for those embryos that could help people? I think that's not been widely discussed.
So your position is that they should be used for research if they already exist and they're never going to be used to create a human life?
I think that's the more ethical stance. And I say this as a private citizen and not as a representative of the U.S. government, even though I'm employed by the federal government at the National Institutes of Health. Now let me say, there's another aspect of this topic that I think is even more confusing -- a different approach which is more promising medically. It's this thing called somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is where you take a cell from a living person -- a skin cell, for instance. You take out its nucleus, which is where the DNA is, and you insert that nucleus into the environment of an egg cell, which has lost its nucleus. Now think about this. We have a skin cell, and we have an egg cell with no nucleus. Neither of those would be things that anybody would argue has moral status. Then you give a zap of electricity and you wait a couple of days. And that environment convinces that skin cell that it can go back in time and it can become anything it wants to be. That is an enormously powerful opportunity because the cell would then be received by that same person who happened to need, say, neurons for their Parkinson's disease or pancreas cells for their diabetes without a transplant rejection.
Isn't this the process that is otherwise known as cloning?
Yeah, it's called cloning, which is a very unfortunate term because it conjures up the idea that you're trying to create a copy of that human being. And at this point, you're doing nothing of the sort. You're trying to create a cell line that could be used to substitute for something that a person desperately needs. It would only become a cloned person if you then intentionally decided to take those cells and reimplant them in the uterus of a recipient woman. And that, obviously, is something that we should not and must not and probably should legislate against. But until you get to that point, it's not clear to me that you're dealing with something that deserves to be called an embryo or deserves to be given moral status.
Let an urgent point not be forgot...
This is a much more sophisticated response than Barnard's; Barnard wants to anwers this... but the only way he can do so is to deny there is any moral distinction between the union of a human egg and human sperm -- and the union of a denucleated human egg and a human skin-cell nucleus.
His thesis appears to be that anything that could conceivably grow into a human being -- even if that would require future intervention by doctors, and even if it has never been demonstrated in the lab yet -- is a human being. But of course, once egg and skin-cell nucleus are combined but before electricity is added, I can still say it "could conceivably grow into a human being"... assuming "future intervention by doctors," including the spark. Does that mean such a union is already a human being?
In fact, I can still say the same after two cells have been extracted but before they are combined. This oddball definition not only entirely removes the necessity of sperm, its structure disturbingly reminds me of Roe v. Wade's test of whether a foetus can survive outside the womb: In both cases, the test of human personhood depends upon the state of medical technology du jour:
Nobody ever has cloned a human being; we don't even know if it would ever be possible to grow such a "cloned" embryo into a human.
- So if we're not actually able to clone human beings in 2009, then a cell created by somatic cell nucleus transfer is not a human person by Barnard's thesis.
- But if ten years later, we are able to clone humans, then those same, exact cells from 2009 magically transmaugrify into human beings by 2019 -- even though they are utterly identical in every respect to what they were ten years ago, having been kept on ice all that time.
(If an old growth spotted owl leaves its old-growth tree, flies a few feet away, and nests in a young tree, it becomes a member of a whole new species!)
I'm with Collins on this: I consider such a definition preposterous and unscientific. We must have a definition of "human person" that doesn't change with every advance in medical science, one that seeks a deeper element of humanity than superficial morphological characteristics -- what I refer to as a "movable verity," rather than an "eternal verity," because it's robust enough to remain consistent even as technology changes around it.
When, for example, does the soul enter a human body?
- If you believe that occurs sometime after conception, then is the developing embryo still a human being even before being ensouled?
- And even if you believe that occurs "precisely" at conception, then when "precisely" do you define conception itself to have taken place? (a) When the soon-to-be successful sperm starts to penetrate the egg's cellular wall? (b) When it works its way fully inside the egg? (c) When it contacts the egg nucleus? (d) When it combines chemically? Or (e) when it first divides into a blastocyst? Conception is a continuum, like everything else in biology -- conception, gestation, birth, and even death.
- Finally, no matter how one defines conception in the normal circumstance -- does the soul also enter into a cloned cell at the moment of transfering the nucelus of a non-sperm cell into the egg, even though no combining of DNA occurs?
- Does it occur after the electrical charge is applied?
- Or does it not occur at all, since there is no bisexual reproduction taking place in any event?
Is a human body a person, absent a soul?
These are not easy questions; but without answering them, we cannot decide "who's an embryo" -- and what isn't.
Shouldn't we then, just for safety's sake, accept the Barnard thesis that anything that could conceivably grow into a human is therefore automatically a human person from the moment of its creation, no matter how? Shouldn't that be the default presumption?
Not necessarily... because such a presumption is not cost-free in the realm of human life. Making that presumption will inevitably kill people -- people already living, breathing, thinking, and feeling.
Collins understands, as Barnard gives no evidence of understanding, that ESCR comprises more than just the rights of human embryos; it also includes the rights of those already born and suffering, even dying, from potentially curable diseases. As often happens in law, the two rights must be weighed against each other in individual cases and a just decision reached. From part 2 of an interview of Collins for a PBS television show titled Think Tank:
So I think one thing we ought to do is, sort of, tone down the rhetoric and try to get our scientific facts straight. So stem cells-- there's lots of different kinds of stem cells. The kind that I think many people are most concerned about are the ones that are derived from a human embryo which is produced by a sperm and an egg coming together. The way you and I got here.
There are hundreds of thousands of those embryos currently frozen away in in vitro fertilization clinics. And it is absolutely unrealistic to imagine that anything will happen to those other than they're eventually getting discarded. So as much as I think human embryos deserve moral status, it is hard to see why it's more ethical to throw them away than to take some that are destined for discarding and do something that might help somebody.
Reality and the limits of dogma...
Morality is never a lightswitch; it's never either all-the-way on or all-the-way off. Morality always exists on a continuum, because human life and the human condition exist on a continuum (recall my example of conception above). That's why each case must be judged individually -- under general guidelines.
(It's a terrible and dangerous error to try to write too much specificity into a guideline; that's how you end up with "zero tolerance" drug laws that expel a girl from high school for taking Mydol for her menstrual cramps.)
Even if one believes that a human zygote (fertilized egg) is a human being, not even the most ardent pro-lifer argues that a zygote can feel the pain of its own destruction; that capacity clearly comes much later in ontogeny. But a person suffering from Cystic Fibrosis certainly does feel the pain as that disease destroys him by inches until he finally dies an agonizing, suffocating death. Is it black-and-white that each zygote is morally equal, on a one-to-one basis, to every already-born person?
I see a whopping huge moral distinction between killing a zygote to save a teenager -- and killing a newborn baby to save that same teenager. Perhaps it's just sentimentality; but sentiment is as much a part of humanity as rigorous logic. Sentimentally, I attach far more value to a newborn, or even to a seven month old foetus, than to a human zygote... let alone to a cell produced by somatic cell nucleus transfer, a.k.a. "therapeutic cloning."
Professor Justin Barnard sees no moral distinction whatsoever. Early in his Public Discourse article, he refers to the destruction of human embryos as "the wanton destruction of innocent human life;" then towards the end, he adds the following tendentious codicil:
[T]he embryo produced by cloning enjoys the same moral status, whatever one judges that to be, as the embryo produced the old-fashioned way.
Since we know what Barnard "judges that to be," he must see no moral distinction at all between a skin-cell nucleus stuck into a denucleated egg cell and given a spark of electricity -- and a teenager dying of CF.
I consider that position vile and thuggish if he holds it merely for political purposes, and monstrous if he holds it honestly. (A lack of hypocrisy doesn't necessarily ameliorate a grotesque idea; I'm sure that many advocates of eugenics were quite sincere in wanting to eliminate inferior humans.)
But why can't we just use the stem-cell lines for which even George W. Bush approved federal funding, those generated before 9 PM, August 9th, 2001? Simple: Because they are old, degraded, and no longer work very well. In the interview linked above, Ben Wattenberg asks whether Collins agrees with the Bush decision to restrict federal funding for ESCR to those lines that already existed. Collins responds:
But as a scientist -- I would say we are currently not making as much progress as we could if we had access to more of these stem cell lines. The ones that are currently available for federal funding is a very limited set and they clearly have flaws that make them hard to use. But you know what? I think that kind of stem cell research is actually not the part that's going to be most interesting.
The part that's really showing the most promise is to take a skin cell from you or me and convince that cell, which has the complete genome, to go back in time and become capable of making a liver cell or a brain cell or a blood -- cell if you need it to. That reprogramming. That's called somatic cell nuclear transfer in the current mode. And yet people still refer to those products as an embryo. Well, there's no sperm and egg involved here.
And that's where I think we've really gotten muddled. That the distinction between these various types of biology has been all murkified. And people are beginning to argue in very irrational ways based on a lack of understanding what the science says. If we could back off from all of the, sort of, hard edged rhetoric and really say, okay, what is science teaching us, I suspect that the moral dilemmas are not nearly as rough as people think they are.
Finally, I think this response in a third interview for Christianity Today sums up and clarifies Collins' beliefs (which Barnard claims are "less than clear"), not only as to ESCR but human cloning as well (see p. 5):
[E]ven if the safety issues were solved, would human reproductive cloning be an acceptable practice? It wouldn't be for me. I believe that human beings have come into this world by having a mother and a father. To undertake a different pathway of creating a human being is a profound departure from the normal state of things. I have yet to hear a compelling argument for why we need to do that.
It is a classic example of a collision between two very important principles. One is the sanctity of human life and the other is our strong mandate as human beings to alleviate suffering and to treat terrible diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's, and spinal-cord injury. The very promising embryonic stem-cell research might potentially provide remarkable cures for those disorders. We don't know that, but it might. And at the same time, many people feel, I think justifiably, this type of research is taking liberties with the notion of the sanctity of human life, by manipulating cells derived from a human embryo.
It's rare that we get a presidential nominee to an important scientific (or legal) position who has thought as deeply and consistently about the great moral dilemmas as Francis Collins has. It's even rarer that after such thought, he remains so close to what I would call the best conservative principles of individualism, respect for human life and dignity, and ethical scientific inquiry. (And it's especially dumbfounding that a president who would call himself "the One We Have Been Waiting For" would make such an appointment. One would think that the One would be more apt to attempt to use somatic cell nucleus transfer to appoint an exact clone of himself to head up NIH.)
But for heaven's sake, let's grab this one while we can. Let's not make a big stink just because Francis Collins' evangelical Christian position on stem cells is an angstrom apart from that of the most dogmatic true believer, such as Professor Barnard. For God's sake, Obama could have named Peter Singer!
Collins is an amazingly good choice for NIH Director. He will be sensitive to human-life issues, a strong advocate for scientific inquiry, and not only not hostile to, but actually embracing of issues of faith, religion, and morals in federal funding of biomedical and health-care research.
Cross-posted in Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
July 7, 2009
Piddling Away Greatness
Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- presumably speaking for her boss -- doubled down on supporting erstwhile Honduran president and would-be dictator José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (a.k.a. Mel Zelaya) instead of rule of law in Honduras:
A day after failing to land in Honduras to confront the interim government that ousted him in a coup, Zelaya boarded a plane bound for Washington, where U.S. officials said he would meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Zelaya told a news conference Monday night that he hopes to ensure U.S. support for diplomatic efforts to see him restored to power.
"Tomorrow we hope to get support for these pronouncements," Zelaya said before heading to the airport in Managua.
Clinton and President Barack H. Obama superficially seem to be oblivious to the sequence of events that led to Zelaya's arrest, removal from office, and voluntary exile... but are they really just misinformed? (The full timeline of events in Honduras make clear what really happened, which is the polar opposite of what our antique media tell us.)
I believe at first mere ignorance was exactly the problem: The first time the ongoing, fluid situation in Honduras was explained to Obama, I suspect that all he heard was, "Wugga-wugga liberal wigga wagga union supporter woggle boggle ousted by the military roggle doggle coup d'état." He chose to stitch this muddle together into a narrative that reads, "The liberal, democratically elected President of Honduras was overthrown by a military junta."
Alas, Obama is probably the most impulsive man ever to sit in the big chair in la Casa Blanca; he appears allergic to debate, discussion, deliberation, contemplation, thinking things through, weighing consequences, examining the pros and cons, hearing from all sides before making a decision -- and of course retrospection.
By now, of course, he knows full well what really happened; but it seems he simply cannot bring himself to admit that he misunderstood so egregiously in the first five minutes -- which, coincidentally, was when he committed himself to supporting Zelaya, come what may; see our earlier Big Lizards post "Old Shoes and Barackends."
The military has a term they use for the decision-making process; they call it the OODA loop, for "Observe, Orient, Decide and Act." But the Obamacle appears to have found a different route to decision making.
He Partially listens to a random aide, acts on his first Impulse, angrily and bitterly Defends whatever snap-judgment action he took, Doubles-down on that first impulse, Laughs off any subsequent, game-changing information... then furiously Echos the pronunciamentos of any allies he might have gathered on the issue, no matter who they are -- or whether their own interests align with or are diametrically opposed to America's.
We can call this the Obamic PIDDLE loop, which generally morphs quite rapidly into an infinite regress. Let's see it play out in the Honduras case:
- Partially listen: Somehow, President Obama got the idea stuck in his brain that there was an actual military coup in Honduras, where the entire elected government was overthrown and some generalissimo or military junta took command.
- Impulsively decide: Stung by constant accusations of fence-sitting and waffling, Obama often "demonstrates his leadership" by making a snap decision based on his instincts. Alas, those "instincts" are formed on the basis of bullet (1) above: Outraged that such a fine, decent man as Mel Zelaya was ousted by a military junta (sic), Obama immediately ordered Honduras to reinstate the socialist apparatchik, and he aligned his interests (thought not the nation's) with Zelaya cronies in Nicaragua, Chile, Venezuela, and Cuba.
- Defend his decision: Once he'd made the decision to strongarm Zelaya back into power, President Obama was stunned by the democratic pushback even here in the United States. Instead of rethinking his position, he backed and filled, trying retroactively to justify the unjustifiable decision he made based upon an ill-formed conclusion. (Obama always defends, never discusses.)
Double-down: It frequently happens, in the course of human events, that a snap decision made on the basis of erroneous information doesn't pan out (now there's a revelation!) A smart feller backs off and thinks it all through a second time -- for example, George W. Bush picking a new general (David Petraeus) with a new strategy (counterinsurgency) to turn around the Iraq war.
Alas, Barack Obama's response to failure is not to rethink, rework, rewrite... it's to retrench, rinse, and repeat, ad infinitum. Thus, the doubling down we see in today's Hillary story: The Obamacle cannot back away, because that would be to admit that he goofed it up in the first place; so he goes "all in" on a bad bluff, hoping for a miracle -- or a chance to accidentally kick over the table, forcing a misdeal.
- Laugh off subsequent facts: As more and more facts have become available -- e.g., Zelaya's pre-arrest antics, the Honduran constitution, the participation of the Honduran Supreme Court, the fact that Zelaya's replacement, Roberto Micheletti, is next in succession to the presidency and from Zelaya's own Liberal party anyway -- a greater number of ordinary American voters will begin to realize that the White House is on the wrong side of this crucial issue. The only two responses available to Obama are (a) to do a one-eighty and start supporting the rule of law, democracy, and the Honduran people... or (b) to mock, hoot, scoff, and laugh away the inconvenient truth, lest it take root. Pish tosh. Nonsense. Who you gonna believe, me or your own lyin' eyes?
Echo his allies du jour: In the end, like every poor debater, Barack H. Obama must turn to the only argument left to try to salvage his reputation: the appeal to authority. In this case, he can but turn to his only allies in this disgraceful betrayal of Western and American values... a murderer's row of dictators, Communists, and fascists -- and the American press, which continues to haul water for the president on this one -- as if a lie becomes truth when sung in chorus.
As Michael Ramirez so wonderfully lampooned (see the Power Line link up top), the President of the United States has relegated himself and his administration to "parroting" the denunciations and diktats of the vilest demagogues in the Western hemisphere: President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua -- premier of the Stalinist "Sandinista National Liberation Front;" Oogo Chavez -- "il Duce" of Venezuela; the Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann -- President of the UN General Assembly, liberation theologist, and former foreign minister to Ortega's Sandinista government; José Miguel Insulza -- the Secretary General of the Organization of American States and also a Socialist, the man who declared last year that Venezuela had "no connection" with any terrorist groups; and of course los bros Castro, Fidel and Raul.
In practice, step 6 occurs within 24 hours of the beginning of the PIDDLE loop... and it dominates the latter stages, as President Obama relies more and more on his friends and allies in whatever action he has decided to take. Eventually, he simply takes on their characteristics as protective coloration, like a chameleon takes on the colors of its surrounding environment, and for the same reason: to hide from predators.
In effect, Obama's temporary allies become his tribe, and he turns to them over and again for advice, comfort, and friendship. As a consequence, he turns away from those critics whose unwanted facts and uncomfortable observations make him feel bad -- the worst sin in the liberal pantheon.
Far from bridging the ideological gap in Washington, Obama's de facto tribalism segregates administration officials and lawmakers more than at any time since the Second World War. And his PIDDLE loop decision making apparatus guarantees even more presidential isolation from dissenting opinion, both here and abroad.
He is not only piddling away any greatness his administration might have exhibited -- having been gifted with extraordinary times -- he is also piddling away America's greatness; that should never be tolerated... not even by other liberals who are not quite so radical, if there is any such rara avis left.
Cross-posted in Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
July 5, 2009
Spreading the Holiday Smear
So you've been wondering how the administration of President Barack H. Obama (and Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., a.k.a. a guy named Joe) would spin the rather damning facts that:
- Their economic policies are in ruins;
- Their wildly expanded (far above what President George W. Bush pushed) "stimulus" package has failed to stimulate anything but more unemployment;
- That said unemployment rate, in fact, is higher than at any time since the worst of the recession in 1986;
- They themselves have predicted trillion-dollar deficits for the next ten plus years (numbers hard to wrap one's frontal lobes around), which nearly every economists admits will lead to massive inflation fairly soon (coupled with no growth -- Jimmy Carter style "stagflation");
- They have nationalized two of the Big Three automobile giants, several banks, an insurance company, and they threaten to nationalize -- well, just about every other sector of the economy they can get their hands on, including health care and the weather -- all to no effect (no good effect, that is);
- The American people appear to have lost all confidence in Obama's economic policies;
- And that the only response of the Democratic Party -- is to suggest more (and more devious) taxes to levy against those disloyal people... including a "Fair Tax" proposal in addition to raising income taxes. (Hey, Medved was right!)
I know you've been dying to hear what they could possibly say to turn all that around to their benefit. Somehow.
Wonder no longer; Mr. Biden has the scoop:
"The truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited," said Biden, who is leading the administration's effort to implement it's $787 billion economic stimulus plan.
And there you have the answer: More than six months into the new administration, with a complete radical rewrite of economic policy rammed through a supine Congress -- and it's still all George Bush's fault!
But fret not; Biden realizes that the administration he is rumored to be a member of cannot entirely escape scrutiny; he understands that they, too, must give an accounting. Consequently, he spreads the responsibilty around a bit:
"Now, that doesn't -- I'm not -- it's now our responsibility. So the second question becomes, did the economic package we put in place, including the Recovery Act, is it the right package given the circumstances we're in? And we believe it is the right package given the circumstances we're in," he told me.
So having carefully weighed all the pros and cons, the administration gives itself, oh, let's say a B—... and gives George W. Bush an F minus minus minus. But don't take it out on the current administration; it's not as if they just make these scores up, you know.
Oddly, the journalist who authored this ABC blog entry did not really press Biden on the manifest failures so far; nor on the fairly obvious fact that, having completely changed everything Bush had done, they have consequently assumed all responsibility and accountability for its failures... that Obama and Biden cannot blame the ill effects on the policies of the Bush administration when (a) they have put their own, utterly different policies in place -- and (b) it got much, much worse when they did.
It's doubly odd that a news organization so respected for its unbiased, adversarial relationship with the current president would so neglect its duty to question, probe, and confront to get to the real truth. And it's especially shocking that a such a beloved career journalist as George Snuffleupagus would fail to ask such obvious follow-up questions. I can only conclude that there simply wasn't any time to ask them.
I know he would've if he could've: After all, Snuffleupagus was a great enough newsman to seize control of This Week with David Brinkley from pikers like Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts after its intelligent designer and namesake retired; Snuffleupagus must be one of the pantheon of reporter demigods, right up there with Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, and Helen Thomas.
I'm sure he'll get around to holding Biden's nose to the fire as soon as humanly possible.
Sachi adds: What a real journalist would ask as a follow-up question is: "So you're saying you implemented a massive economic stimulus package before fully understanding the full scope of problem; isn't that more than a little irresponsible?"
July 3, 2009
Puppet on a News Wire
In a previous post, I noted how the New York Times, the Washington Post, and AP had all recently engaged not only in heretical questioning of the mysterious ways of the One, but had even mocked him.
Today, Power Line adds the more personal, visceral, and (dare I say it) honest reaction of the doyenne of dimwitted Democrats, Helen Thomas (she was once a journalist, now she's just a spectator allowed to sit at the big kids' table). She compares him (unfavorably) to another recent president -- well, "recent" on the time scale of Ms. Thomas, at whose first presser, it is rumored, all the gentlemen wore knee-pants and powdered wigs:
Following a testy exchange during Wednesday's briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas told CNSNews.com that not even Richard Nixon tried to control the press the way President Obama is trying to control the press.
"Nixon didn't try to do that," Thomas said. "They couldn't control (the media). They didn't try.
"What the hell do they think we are, puppets?" Thomas said.
While it's amusing to see fellow liberal fascists (in the Goldbergian sense) beating up on the president, it begs the real question: Are they puppets after all?
I suspect the answer is -- No, they are not... and Barack H. Obama is about to find that out in a most unpleasant way.
I know many readers of this blog are startled, having thought I would say they were, in fact, puppets; but that is assuredly not the way they see themselves, as Thomas' outburst and the earlier mockery should indicate.
So what do they see when they look in their magic mirrors? I am absolutely convinced that most elite "journalists" envision themselves as co-pilots of the magical misery tour that is Obamunism:
- I'm certain they support everything he is doing to turn America, at the very least, into a Euroleft welfare state, in which every major industry is partially or wholly owned by the government;
- I'm positive they salivate, like Pavlov's dogs, at the thought of government-run health care;
- And I am secure in saying they think a massive tax increase is the "adult" thing to do -- no more of this pie in the face fantasy that we can help the ailing economy by clipping the wings of government and letting the private sector resume control... those are heartless industrialists we're talking about, robber barons!
But Obama has made the dreadful mistake of treating co-conspirators as employees, as his own, personal PR flacks. In journalism, economics, and the arts, the elites see themselves as Barack Obama's equals -- not his subordinates. And it boils their blood when he orders them around: "Put this story Robert Gibbs wrote on the front page -- stop demanding investigations -- you don't have to decide what to publish, I'll tell you what to publish -- go fetch me a hamburger, Pinch, and I want fries with that!"
The president's problem is that he can't wrap his planet-sized ego around the fact that the elites have egos that are just as big, or perhaps a smidgeon bigger. They, too, are used to having their "people" cater to their every momentary whim; they're not used to being told to clean the windows and take out the rubbish.
But Obama's own ego will not allow him to see them as anything other than extensions of Barack Obama, part of the body that is the Obamacle; and he cannot treat them as independent cronies, because he sees that term as an oxymoron: Cronies, by his own definition, obey and ask no questions other those the White House chooses to plant on them, for purposes of deluding the masses that Obama's "town hall" meetings are anything but stage-managed photo-ops.
So Obama will continue to treat the elite media, Hollywood, and Big Science as ring-kissing lickspittles, and the acolytes will get madder and madder; until eventually -- like kernals of corn in hot fat -- they will start to pop. And once they get going, President Obama may well be inundated by a tidal wave of bad press that could even rival the worst journalistic excesses that plagued the Bush Administration.
After all, hell hath no fury like a kept woman scorned.
July 1, 2009
With Fiends Like These...
Is the worm beginning to turn the tide?
AP breathlessly writes about President Barack H. Obama's health-care insurapalooza today in Virginia -- but look what they're saying! The tough-love starts with the headline: "Emotion, few details, in Obama's health care pitch"... and it only goes south from there:
"The health care changes that Obama called for Wednesday would reshape the nation's medical landscape. He says he wants to cover nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, to persuade doctors to stress quality over quantity of care, to squeeze billions of dollars from spending.
"But details on exactly how to do those things were generally lacking in his hour-long town hall forum before a friendly, hand-picked audience in a Washington suburb."
"Some of Obama's questioners Wednesday were from friendly sources, including a member of the Service Employees International Union and a member of Health Care for America Now, which organized a Capitol Hill rally last week calling for an overhaul. White House aides selected other questions submitted by people on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
"Republicans said the event was a political sham designed to help Obama, not to inform the public.
"'Americans are already skeptical about the cost and adverse impact of the president's health care plans,' Republican National Committee spokesman Trevor Francis said. 'Stacking the audience and preselecting questions may make for a good TV, but it's the wrong way to engage in a meaningful discussion about reforming health care.'"
"'The biggest thing we can do to hold down costs is to change the incentives of a health care system that automatically equates expensive care with better care,' the president said. He said the formula system drives up costs 'but doesn't make you better.'
Obama did not make specific recommendations for changing the incentive formulas."
- "Obama said, however, that he is working with the American Medical Association to explore ways to reduce liability for doctors and hospitals 'when they've done nothing wrong.' He offered no specifics for a problem that has vexed the medical and legal industries for decades."
"Obama said a government-run 'single-payer' health care system works well in some countries. But it is not appropriate in the United States, he said, because so many people get insurance through their employers working with private companies.
Still, he again called for a government-run 'public option' to compete with private insurers, a plan that many Republicans oppose."
Each of these points is factually correct, and one might argue that each is neutral; but they are not presented in a neutral way... and astonishingly enough, the spin is entirely anti-ObamaCare.
Even the last point presents the government option as a refutation of his pledge not to push a "single-payer" system, tacitly accepting the well-founded GOP warning that a subsidized and privileged government option will necessarily drive employers away from private plans for their employees, plans that are overtaxed, heavily regulated, and disfavored in a myriad other ways.
The Washington Post was nearly as bad; please pay close attention to the adjectives used in the opening of their story:
President Obama offered today a wonkish defense of his embattled health care reform effort during an hour-long town hall meeting in Annandale that featured seven questions, including one sent in via Twitter and several from a hand-picked audience of supporters.
As the president's health care bill struggles on Capitol Hill, the administration increasingly is seeking to pressure lawmakers with evidence of the public's desire to get something done as well as proof that the health care industry is a stakeholder in -- not an opponent of -- the effort.
The tone sometimes turns neutral, but never pro-Obama. And I nearly fell out of my chair reading this a few paragraphs later:
In the highly stage-managed event, questions for Obama came from a live audience selected by the White House and the college, and from Internet questions chosen by the administration's own new-media team.
Of the seven questions the president answered, four were selected by his own staff from people who submitted videos on the White House Web site or who responded to a request for "tweets" from the administration.
The president called randomly on three audience members. Each turned out to be members of groups with close ties to his administration: the SEIU union, Health Care for America Now, and Organizing for America, which is a part of the Democratic National Committee. White House officials said that was a coincidence.
Yeah, yeah, a "coincidence" -- that's the ticket!
If the president turns to the New York Times for succor, he will be disappointed. Here is a news commentary story on the global-warming bill just passed in the House; the story is written by John M. Broder, and it's found in the Politics section, not among the Op-Eds:
As the most ambitious energy and climate-change legislation ever introduced in Congress made its way to a floor vote last Friday, it grew fat with compromises, carve-outs, concessions and out-and-out gifts intended to win the votes of wavering lawmakers and the support of powerful industries.
The deal making continued right up until the final minutes, with the bill’s co-author Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, doling out billions of dollars in promises on the House floor to secure the final votes needed for passage.
The rest of the piece details some of these payoffs -- including a number that are sure to produce screams of anguish and rage from potential Obama supporters, including:
- Utilities that operate coal-power plants will receive "tens of billions of dollars worth of free pollution permits," as well as "billions for work on technology to capture carbon-dioxide emissions from coal combustion to help meet future pollution targets." Broder notes that the deal was negotiated by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA, 84%), "a conservative Democrat from Virginia’s coal country;" that is the only concession to the Times' traditional animus against "conservatives." (When did someone who votes 84% liberal become a conservative Democrat?)
- A billion dollars of pork for Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL, 33%) to distribute around Chicago.
- "Democrats from Southeastern states" got a special deal: reducing the target for getting energy from renewable resources from 25% to 15%, "with states given the ability to reduce it further if they cannot meet the target."
- More tens of billions of dollars in government goodies for refineries, rural energy co-ops, and a massive expansion of "carbon offsets" that can be sold by argibusiness -- as well as shifting their regulatory burden from the EPA to the "farmer-friendly Department of Agriculture."
I wonder if this change in the media weather has something to do with the Obamacle's sagging approval ratings? Today, Rasmussem Reports has the president's approval down to 54% positive, 45% negative -- which can hardly be called "sky high" anymore -- and with an approval index (percent strongly approving minus percent strongly disapproving) in negative territory, at —1% -- 32% strongly approve, 33% strongly disapprove.
CNN/Opinion Research notes that, although Obama's approval remains high at 61%...
"Since March, Obama's approval rating has gone down one percentage point each month in CNN polls," notes CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
If that continues for another year...
In the current ABC/Washington Post poll, Obama's approval advantage has dropped from 43 points in February to 34 points in June -- still high, but still shrinking.
Gallup still maintains the fiction that Obama's approval is 2-1 positive; but even they show his disapproval rating rising 20 points since he was inaugurated.
In any event, no matter what the reason, the antique news media have begun to wake from their Obamic torpor: They are finally starting to question the One about his supposed solutions, though they still give him a pass on his own litany of the problems he "inherited" from "the previous administration." (Watch for them to give Barack Obama the credit for winning the Iraq war, because the final pullout will occur on his watch.)
Huzzah. Now let's see some actual coverage of the many, varied, and far more American Republican alternatives to Obamunism.
June 8, 2009
His Master's Voice
When speaketh the man to whom Barack H. Obama prostrated himself the first time they met, does the president listen? Worse -- does he obey?
In the most recent demonstration of the respect and deference the rest of the world displays for the One They Have Been Laughing At, the King of Saudi Arabia has laid down the law to BO:
King Abdullah told Obama during his visit to Riyadh last week that Arab patience was wearing thin and that a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be the "magic key" to all issues in the region, al-Hayat said, quoting what it called informed sources.
"We want from you a serious participation to solve the Palestinian issue and impose the solution if necessary," the Saudi monarch told Obama, according to the paper, which is owned by a nephew of the monarch. It did not elaborate.
It didn't need to; it's patently obvious that Abdullah refers to the "peace plan" enunciated by Saudi Arabia seven years ago, when Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud was king, and half-brother Abdullah (bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud) a mere princeling.
The plan is brutally simple: The Palestinians get everything they (and the Arab states) want -- a return to the pre-1967 border, full recognition of a contiguous Palestinian state comprising the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (necessitating cutting Israel in twain, of course), complete control of East Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount), the retreat of Israel's capital from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv, and of course the right of "return" for millions of radicalized Moslems -- who have lived their entire lives in so-called "refugee" camps outside Israel, as did their fathers and grandfathers before them.
In fair exchange, Israel gets grudging recognition as a state, though not a Jewish state -- for ten full years, if Fatah can be believed. Which they can't.
King Abdullah explained exactly why Obama should stick a shiv into our most reliable ally in the Middle East, one of only two democracies in the region (the other is the one we created in Iraq): "We (Arabs) want to devote our time... to build a generation capable of confronting the future with science and work."
Well! Who can argue with that? Clearly, Israel deleda est.
This is yet another test for a president who hasn't a very good track record on such examinations: After Abdullah witnessed -- to his evident startlement -- Barack Obama bowing deeply at the waist upon meeting the real-sounding but fabricated monarch of a manufactured country of nomadic goat herders, whose chief export after petroleum products is probably animal hides, the king could be excused for thinking we had a patsy for president. The question is whether Mr. Abdullah is right.
So far there has been no response from the White House to the abrupt order issued to our president by the "king" of Saudi Arabia. If the administration means to snub the man (and they should), it needs to do so explicitly, publicly -- and posthaste. The longer it and Obama himself hesitate, the more uncertain, nervous, rattled, and agitated they appear... so much the worse for the country.
Tick tick tick tick...
June 2, 2009
The Double-Standard Gauntlet Is Thrown
From yesterday's New York Times unsigned (thus from the editorial board) editorial:
The murder of Dr. George Tiller, who was shot to death as he stood in the foyer of his church in Wichita, Kan., on Sunday morning, was a reprehensible act of domestic terrorism directed toward the dwindling cadre of physicians who risk their safety to perform legal medical procedures....
Responding to Dr. Tiller’s slaying, President Obama expressed shock and outrage and said that profound differences over issues like abortion “cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.” Mr. Obama recently called for Americans to find common ground on reducing the need for abortions. In that spirit, abortion opponents should refrain from the “baby killer” rhetoric that inflames an already heated debate....
There must be a sustained focus by federal and state officials to prevent further acts of violence and intimidation. If it turns out that additional laws are needed, Congress should take action.
So far as I've heard, every single pro-life organization and a great many pro-life individuals denounced and condemned this murder as despicable, cowardly, and a violation of the entire thrust of the pro-life community. And they did so the very day it happened, Sunday, May 31st, 2009.
But I have yet to hear or read a single radical leftist anti-war organization, politician, or blogger condemning the assassination of Private William Long, United States Army, and the attempted assassination of Private Quinton Ezeagwula, United States Army. As of the timestamp of this post, not a word on the website of International ANSWER; nary a peep from the chicks at Code Pink.
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH, 95%), "America's most courageous congressman," hasn't the courage to speak out against killing American soldiers in America's heartland -- not even on his Twitter feed. Perhaps if it turns out that additional laws are needed, Congress should take action; Rep. Kucinich could introduce a bill.
Andrew Sullivan -- I've heard he has a blog or something; I think it's called the Daily Dirt; or something -- found occasion to publish 58 blogposts yesterday, including many about the assassination of Dr. Tiller. But Sullivan found no occasion even to mention the assassination of Long and the attempted assassination of Ezeagwula.
But it's early yet. Maybe mañana.
Tick tick tick tick...
June 1, 2009
AP's Brand New, Never Before Tried Approach to Islam: Appeasement
The Associated Press lays its own cards on the table anent how President Barack H. Obama should woo the Moslem world to the side of hopey-changitude:
Respect for Islam, a prescription for Palestinian statehood and assurances of a speedy U.S. pullout from Iraq - that's what Muslims from Morocco to Malaysia say they want to hear from President Barack Obama this week when he addresses them from this Arab capital.
His speech Thursday from Cairo University will try to soften the fury toward the United States among so many of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, ignited by the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the hands-off attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of his predecessor George W. Bush.
Obama's offer of a new beginning is seen as an attempt to stem the growing influence of extremists - particularly Iran, with its regional and nuclear ambitions - and to bolster moderate Muslim allies.
Yeah, I recall that: The Moslem world just loved us until George W. Bush came along and ruined everything!
Although Obama isn't expected to get very specific, AP shows no such shyness or reluctance:
Obama "has to walk the talk [sic]," said social activist Marina Mahathir, daughter of Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.
But with rising hopes come the risk of disappointment. Obama isn't expected to present a detailed vision of a Mideast peace deal - potentially the most effective antidote to anti-Western sentiment - until later.
And there is doubt the U.S. president can change entrenched foreign policy, particularly what is perceived in the Muslim world as Washington's pro-Israeli bias. What Muslims see as America's repeated failure to hold Israel to its international obligations is a sore point. A construction freeze in Israeli West Bank settlements -- Obama wants it, Israel rejects it -- is shaping up as a major test.
To be sure, Obama is doing everything possible, short of endangering his own political future, to tilt America away from Israel and towards our enemies. For example, AP notes that he is headed off to Saudi Arabia to confab with King Abdullah -- where perhaps the president will again bow deeply from the waist to show submission to the king of the land of the two holiest cities; but he plans to snub Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by bypassing that country on his trip.
And President Obama continues to appease the ummah:
The president's initial actions have earned him good will. He's reached out to Muslims in an interview with an Arab satellite TV station, in video message to Iranians on the Persian new year and in a speech to the Turkish parliament. He ordered Guantanamo prison closed within a year and said the U.S. would not engage in torture, reversing two Bush policies seen here as having targeted Muslims.
(I'm not exactly sure who we were supposed to incarcerate in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, if not those who were fighting a war against the United States -- who were, not coincidentally, radical, militant Moslems. And note the casual way that AP tries to slip it past us that it was "Bush policy" to "engage in torture," a deft and subtle touch by reporters Hadeel al-Salchi and Karin Laub.)
AP next employs one of its very favorite techniques... attributing its own opinions to anonymous "experts" or "analysts":
If Obama wants to rally Muslim support to rein in Iran, analysts say, he will have to prove his good intentions elsewhere. In particular, he needs to move to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands the Palestinians want for a state.
Left unsaid is that the only concession that would truly "rally Muslim support" would be for Obama to end Israel's occupation of Israel. I wonder whether that's a part of the president's plan that he hasn't yet shared with us.
It's no surprise that AP advises the president to play the appeasement card, but it's depressing that they appear to imagine it hasn't already been played -- and played and played -- anent the Arab Moslem world... or that this time, it will have a different result than encouraging the latter to demand even more, as appeasement has every other time it's been tried. (Those who cannot remember Santayana are condemned to regurgitate him.)
I cannot resist ending as AP does, with a quotation that I'm certain perfectly encapsulates the entire elite media's jubilation towards the new era of hope, change, and nationalization of American industry, ushered in by the election of the One They Have Been Pining For:
Still Obama gets some credit up front for just being himself. Many were inspired by his victory, emotionally connecting to his African and Muslim roots and his childhood in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.
"It's so exciting to have a black man run the entire world," said Awni Shatarat, 45, a clothing store owner in the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa in Jordan.
Does this qualify as "Barack the magic Negro"-ism?
May 20, 2009
Worse Than Preening
My fave blogger at my fave blog found occasion to publish a post on the contrast between Barack H. Obama's extraordinary concern that three admitted terrorists may have been questioned harshly -- with the president's complete uninterest in the statistical certainty that his new fuel standards, enacted "with a stroke of the pen" via executive order, will result in thousands of innocents dying in automobile accidents.
(The key is that the only way to significantly increase mileage -- barring a breakthrough like, oh, a high-temperature ceramic engine -- is to reduce weight, which means manufacturing flimsier cars... which in turn means more people killed in accidents that would not kill someone in a stronger, heavier vehicle.)
John Hinderaker ends his short post thus:
The contrast in Obama's priorities is striking, to say the least. I would submit that this is what happens when you substitute preening for intelligent policy-making.
Alas, I think John is being a bit obtuse, missing the boat. I don't believe the most serious problem here is moral preening, though that certainly is a hallmark of leftists in general and this president in particular. Rather, it's much worse than that.
The more disturbing conclusion is that Obama, for all his protestations of Protestant religiosity, acts as if he were an atheist. That is, he appears to see no value in an individual's existence except as an insignificant cog in the giant machine of the revolution of the new progressive man. He sees us not as cardinals, numbers interesting for their own sake, but as mere ordinals, numbers interesting only in their place or rank in an ordered set.
(The distinction is easy to grasp. Consider height; a cardinal is the measurement itself: "Bill is five-foot eleven." But an ordinal is a ranking: "Bill is the third tallest man on the team.")
I believe that Obama sees people, other than those he personally knows, as very like cockroaches; if you kill a few, so what? You can always break another few thousand out of the hatchery. He has not the slightest sense of empathy for people of other tribes; and his only concerns about those of his own tribe are propinquity and loyalty: He needs people around him to elevate his importance, and if some critical player dies, that leaves a hole in the line-up.
In this case, the deaths of thousands of strangers, while statistically certain, is to Barack Obama statistically meaningless. He fails to think about it not because he is distracted, by preening or any other of his unsavory habits, but because the deaths and inuries are just "white noise" to him. "Can't make an omlet without breaking a few legs."
It may be neither policially correct or politically wise to say so, but I believe Obama is the coldest hearted sociopath to have occupied the Oval Office in my lifetime -- or possibly ever. Your life or death literally means nothing to him, except insofar as it could affect his reelection chances in 2012. I almost wonder whether he is an out and out solipsist.
This is symptomatic of graver moral sickness (or crime) than mere "preening."
May 19, 2009
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Vows to Lose War (Through the Eyes of a Child...) UPDATED
UPDATED with a clarification; see below.
Former Lieutenent General Karl Eikenberry, now Barack H. Obama's Ambassador to Afghanistan, promises to "change tactics" so that minimizing "civilian" casualties, rather than destroying the enemy, becomes paramount:
In a face-to-face meeting Tuesday with the Afghan survivors of a recent bombing in the western province of Farah, the new American ambassador to Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, promised that the coalition forces would change their tactics in order to prevent civilian casualties in the future.
Acknowledging the hurt inflicted on the Afghan people by American airpower, General Eikenberry called the May 4 aerial bombardment in Bala Baluk district a tragedy and pledged to sharply reduce the chances of civilian casualties in future operations.
Lest you think this is just empty rhetoric, Ambassador Eikenberry expanded upon his theme:
The American ambassador said he had been shocked when he learned about the bombing, Mr Khedmat said by telephone. “It might have happened due to a mistake, so we will not repeat it in future and we will be much more cautious about civilian life in the future,” he said Mr. Eikenberry told the crowd....
General Eikenberry questioned the wisdom of dropping 2,000 pound bombs on houses when it is unknown who might be inside, and the balance between the short-term gain [!] of eliminating enemy fighters and the larger danger of alienating the general population, the former general said.
“We have to look very carefully at the military tactics that are being used,” he said. “We have to avoid having tactical victories that translate into a strategic loss.”
Several realities here point up the risibility of enacting such restrictive rules of engagement:
- The Taliban's main tactic is to hide among civilians, specifically hoping to force us to inflict death and injury upon non-combatants.
- Technically, the Taliban themselves are "civilians," since they're not members of any official military.
- Taliban supporters in the Afghan media, in hospitals, and even in the Afghan government itself routinely exaggerate civilian casualty counts; so do Afghans who do not support the Taliban but also do not support the American presence there.
The third point above demonstrates why it's impossible to eliminate reports of civilian casualties, no matter how hesitant and tepid we become: If we fail to massacre women and children, the usual suspects will simply fabricate such incidents -- again.
As we should have learnt by now, hamstringing our troops in combat by overreacting to "atrocity" claims (real or imaginary) has very real, very predictable consequences. We're been down this road before, and it ends only one way: In a Vietnam-style snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory.
I'm shocked that the "father of the Afghan National Army" believes we can fight terrorists without inflicting civilian casualties. Certainly that was never the policy of Gen. Petraeus in Iraq; he used his army to protect civilians... but that did not mean abjuring from any combat unless we had absolute assurance that no non-combatants would be harmed.
I suspect that Eikenberry is taking his cue from his Commander in Chief; he reiterated America's, Secretary Hillary Clinton's, abject apology for not sanitizing the Afghan war so that nobody but the bad guys died (particularly since the "bad guys" dispute being the bad guys and insist that they are themselves innocent non-combatants).
This is yet another example of the adolescent "teen logic" of the Obama administration.
UPDATE 23:49: Commenter Binder, defending the decision by Ambassador Eikenberry, called my attention to an opinion piece by Lt.Col. David Kilcullen, Gen. David Petraeus' top expert on counterinsurgency warfare, calling for an end or dramatic scaling back of Predator drone attacks in Pakistan; the same piece was referenced by Ambassador Eikenberry in response to the incident above:
“It is clear to me that if we don’t get this right, we do run the risk of alienating the Afghan people and creating what David Kilcullen has called the accidental guerrilla,” he said, referring to a counterinsurgency expert who has advised Gen. David H. Petraeus. “Unwittingly and unintentionally we are driving away the Afghan on the ground, we are driving them away and consequently weakening the Afghan government.”
But if you investigate the incident itself, briefly sketched in the Times piece linked up top and discussed fairly extensively over the past few days (weeks?), three significant differences between it and the sort of thing Kilcullen decries are apparent:
- The incident above took place in Afghanistan, not Pakistan; unlike the latter, the government of Afghanistan is in no danger of collapsing anytime soon.
- The Afghanistan bombing had nothing to do with Predators remotely firing missiles to assassinate suspected "high value targets," which is what Kilcullen was talking about. It used 2,000-lb bombs, while Predators carry Hellfire missiles. In fact, the Afghanistan attack comprised a series of bombs by airplanes with American crews inside.
- Most important, however, is this: The Afghanistan attack was an airstrike called in to end a firefight -- not a remote assassination attempt.
As I understand it, the Afghan police made first contact with the Taliban group. They called in the Afghan National Army when then realized they were outgunned. But the huge Taliban military unit was even pushing the army units back... so they called in the Americans.
The firefight turned into a major battle, with boots on the ground from three different services -- two local and the Americans -- all of them taking heavy casualties. It was then, with even the American forces unable to dislodge the Taliban from a number of houses they were using as nests, that we called in air strikes.
Here is a description of the sequence from an earlier story in the Times; I had to tease the factual storyline out from its literary shields of moral finger-wagging and heartstring-tugging:
Farah, a vast province in the west, contains only a smattering of foreign special forces and trainers who work among Afghan police and army units. Exploiting the thin spread of forces, the insurgents sought to seize control of Granai and provoke a fierce battle over the heads of the civilian population, Afghan and American officials say.
After hours of fighting and taking a number of casualties, the American forces called in their heaviest weapon, airstrikes, on at least three targets in the village....
Colonel Julian, the American military spokesman, said that the airstrikes hit houses from which the Taliban were firing....
The police chief, Colonel Watandar, confirmed much of the villagers’ accounts of the fighting. A large group of Taliban fighters, numbering about 400, they estimated, entered the village and took up positions at dawn on May 4. By midmorning, the Taliban began attacks on police posts on the main road, just yards from the village, they said.
The fighting raged all day. The police called in more police officers, Afghan Army units and an American quick reaction force from the town of Farah as reinforcements.
By midafternoon, the exchanges escalated sharply and moved deeper into the village. Taliban fighters were firing from the houses, and at one point a Marine unit called in airstrikes to allow Marines to go forward and rescue a wounded Afghan soldier, said Colonel Julian, the United States military spokesman. After that, Taliban fire dropped significantly, he said. [This would have been some hours before the evening bombing about which controversy ensues. -- DaH]
A villager named Multan said that one house along the southern edge of the village was hit by a bomb and that one Taliban fighter was killed there. But villagers did not report any civilian casualties until the American planes bombed that night.
So in fact, what we had here was a major (battalion-sized) enemy force ensconced in a village, pinning down a smaller combined American and Afghan force; our guys had taken significant casualties; and according to American sources, the firefight was continuing. (Locals claim the fighting had already stopped, the Taliban had already withdrawn, and we bombed houses emptied of all combatants, for no reason other than pure malice. Each of us can decide which witness to believe.)
We called in airstrikes as part of routine close-air support... which is completely different from the remote Predator "assassinations" that David Kilcullen condemns in his opinion piece. And it truly worries me that our new ambassador, a lieutenant general until Obama named him, cannot see the crystaline distinction between the types of incident.
What Eikenberry called for was for us to essentially give up the superiority and security given us by our extraordinarily effective use of close-air support during ground combat ops, in favor of -- what? He offers no clue.
But if Kilcullen thinks we should refrain from using air power to extricate our soldiers when they are being beaten or stymied, he certainly has never written such a thing... no matter what Eikenberry believes.
May 4, 2009
Sacrificial Lamb: Obamacle Sets Up Israel as Fall Guy
This was so unexpected, so out of the blue, that when I read it, you could have knocked me over with a 2,000-lb anvil:
Israel is concerned about remarks White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made during a closed-door meeting Sunday with 300 major donors of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington.
While expressing unwavering U.S. support for Israel, Israeli media reported that Emanuel also said confronting Iran depends on making progress in negotiations seeking to create a Palestinian state.
Does Emanuel believe that such an implied threat will actually cause Israel to reverse course, with newly elected (for the second time) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly transmaugrifying into former Prime Minister Ehud Barak? No; say what you will about Rahm Emanuel, he is not one of the pie-eyed fantasists with which the president has surrounded himself.
Nor does anyone else expect such a result... not even CBS:
Israel's hawkish new government flatly rejects that linkage. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to the existence of the State of Israel -- a separate and far more pressing threat than that of the Palestinians. Netanyahu will make that clear when he meets President Obama in two weeks at the White House....
Netanyahu has also said "Israel will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons -- with all the implications." In other words, Israel would consider a unilateral, preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities as a last resort.
And the citizens of the state of Israel would never permit Netanyahu to go "wobbly" on them; they elected Likud over Kadima's Tzipi Livni for precisely that reason:
The Israeli public at large is also skeptical about U.S. talks with Iran. A poll by Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv shows that, while 60 percent of Israelis have a favorable opinion of President Obama, only 32 percent approve of his policy regarding Israel.
So what on earth is going on here? Why does the Chief of Staff to President Barack H. Obama make such a point of publicly linking the two issues? I can think of only one reason: Emanuel believes that his boss' attempt to bully Israel into caving to Palestinian demands (pushed not only by Obama but also the raft of brazenly anti-Israel and antisemitic members of his administration) is doomed to failure... so Rahm Emanuel is already setting Israel up as the scapegoat.
When talks to create a "two-state solution" collapse again -- as they invariably do, given that only one side has any interest at all in there being two sovereign states west of the Jordan River -- the administration plans to blame Israel for Barack Obama's failure. The One the Palestinians and Eurolefties Have Been Waiting For may even lead a crusade against Israel in the court of world opinion, perhaps even refusing to veto some of the continuous anti-Israel resolutions that splash into the U.N. like sewage into a septic-tank.
That will serve three purposes:
- It will overjoy the Jew-hating Left in both the United States and in Europe, leading to an outpouring of money and electoral support for B.O.;
- It will make it easier for Obama to hold his unconditional-appeasement talks with Iran, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda;
- And it will give the president someone to point his finger at in respose to all the bloody horrors that will befall the Middle East (and the rest of the world) when Iran tests its first working nuclear missile.
With one cold-blooded, narcissistic set up, Emanuel could bring about a Middle-East war the likes of which the world has never seen before, possibly resulting in the complete destruction of Israel and the energy and economic collapse of the rest of us. Interesting, considering the Chief of Staff's last name.
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 8, 2009
We'll Be the Jug of That!
Via Politico, it appears that the White House now denies that President Barack H. Obama bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia:
The White House is denying that the president bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London, a scene that drew criticism on the right and praise from some Arab outlets.
"It wasn't a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he's taller than King Abdullah," said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The White House line is that Obama did not bow; heavens, no real American would bow to a foreign king, emperor, sultan, or other potentate! Rather, it's merely that Barack H. Obama is a giant, a colossus among men, who bestrides the world like Ozymandias (I mean the Percy Bysshe Shelly poem)... whereas Abdullah is a wizened, shrunken old gnome with bootblack in his beard, whose cranium barely rises to the height of the One's majestic sternum. Obama didn't bow... he merely condescended to lower himself to the king's Lilliputian stature so that the latter wouldn't get a crick in his neck looking heavenwards to behold the beaming countenance. You see.
Aha, but the fact is, we can see. We can see right here:
I've watched it several times now. Barack, baby -- that was a bow. The president bends low from the waist until his head is beneath that of the king, who accepts the homage graciously (while remaining erect himself).
(And by the way, Abdullah actually looks to be only about four or five inches shorter than Obama, six at most... probably as tall as I; would the Lightbringer bow to me if we met?)
Perhaps now that the White House has denied the claim, albeit dishonestly, the elite media will finally bow to reality and show the damned clip on TV. You think?
March 31, 2009
The Great Dictator, part Deux
In the Great Dictator -- which won the Watcher's Council award for non-members, only the second time we've ever managed that! -- we wrote:
But the Great Dictator of 2009 may turn out to be glib huckster from Hawaii by way of Chicago named Barack H. Obama; for the administration appears poised to enact rules that could end up completely controlling all executive compensation for every major company that has anything to do with financial matters, or is publicly held, or has any sort of requirement to report anything at all to the SEC -- even including companies that never took a dime of TARP or stimulus money.
Today, we read the following chilling report of our Childe President finding he has some new powers, hitherto unknown to be in the Constitution:
President Barack Obama asserted unprecedented government control over the auto industry Monday, rejecting turnaround plans from General Motors and Chrysler and raising the prospect of controlled bankruptcy for either ailing auto giant. Eager to reassure consumers, Obama also announced the federal government would immediately begin backing the warranties that new car buyers receive -- a step designed to signal that it is safe to purchase U.S.-made autos and trucks despite the distress of the industry.
In a statement read at the White House, Obama said he was "absolutely committed" to the survival of a domestic auto industry that can compete internationally. And yet, "our auto industry is not moving in the right direction fast enough," he added.
With his words, Obama underscored the extent to which the government is now dictating terms to two of the country's iconic corporations, much as it has already taken an ownership stake in banks, the insurance giant AIG and housing titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
In an extraordinary move, the administration forced the departure of Rick Wagoner as CEO of General Motors Corp. over the weekend, and implicit in Obama's remarks was that the government holds the ability to pull the plug on that company or Chrysler.
The New York Times gives a little more detail about the detailed level of the terms that Barack H. Obama is now "dictating" to a private company:
“And so today, I am announcing that my administration will offer G.M. and Chrysler a limited period of time to work with creditors, unions and other stakeholders to fundamentally restructure in a way that would justify an investment of additional tax dollars; a period during which they must produce plans that would give the American people confidence in their long-term prospects for success,” Mr. Obama said.
Speaking a day after the White House pushed out the chairman of G.M., Mr. Obama said Chrysler has been instructed to form a partnership with the Italian automaker Fiat within 30 days as conditions for receiving more government aid.
Now it's certainly true that GM did, in fact, suckle from the federal teat; and that of course lends at least a little legitimacy to the White House's demand for some oversight. We all know that above everything, Obama is concerned about keeping a gimlet eye on expenditures of public funds... hence his repeated tongue-lashings of George W. Bush during the 2008 campaign for having run up deficits of $100 billion, $200 billion -- once even $400 billion!
But the new Obama plan goes far beyond ensuring that GM is using its corporate welfare wisely; Barack Obama evidently believes he knows how to build and sell cars better than do GM executives. He dictates not only how much they can pay their top brass, he wants to control who that top brass will be. What's next -- will the president assert the authority to select the next CEO directly? Does the government post of GM CEO require Senate confirmation?
(Perhaps he'll pick Chas Freeman; I understand he's between jobs right now. And realistically, Freeman is no more an ignoramus about the automobile industry than he is about intelligence, his previous and now withdrawn appointment.)
Will the president begin setting prices for various models? Choosing what color options will be available? Taking over the service contract? Oh, wait, he already did that.
The final step of a liberal fascist takeover of the industry would be to control the wages of all employees, to be able to set them however they want... thus funneling workers into favored industries or even particular companies and away from others: Imagine an earmark, inserted in the dead of night during the reconciliation phase of legislation, raising auto-worker wages at plants in one state and lowered them in an adjoining state. What effect might that have on the labor market and government control of the economy? (And what a fearsome weapon to wield against Obama's political enemies! But I'm certain that aspect of wage controls has never occurred to the One.)
By a bizarre coincidence, that scheme is exactly the subject of the Great Dictator, part (C). Stay tuned...
January 9, 2009
Low Blow to Slow Joe
Today saw the formal nomination of intelligence ignoramus Leon Panetta as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Panetta will be working under now formally nominated Director of National Intelligence designate Adm. Dennis C. Blair, who also appears to have no specific background in intelligence, other than whatever he picked up as commander of PACCOM -- mostly under Bill Clinton or George W. Bush prior to the September 11th attacks, during a period when intelligence gathering on terrorist groups was not exactly treated as a vital military task... what a team!
This strikes me as a good occasion to return to the subject of the surprise announcement of Panetta, and what it says about (wait for it) Vice President-select Joe Biden.
(Huh? What's the connection? Well hang your horses and I'll tell you.)
My friend the cybercolumnist Rich "Mullings" Galen made a brilliant point that I think worth repeating. Not because I have nothing else to say, but just because I really like it. Let's boil it down to a nuthole...
Galen notes that the VP select confessed that the incoming administration of Barack H. Obama made "a mistake" when it announced Panetta's appointment publicly without having troubled to discuss the matter with the incoming chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 90%)... or for that matter, with the outgoing chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV, 89%), either. Biden went on, in the Washington Post article linked above, to explain his fundamental philosophy on notifications:
"I'm still a Senate man. I always think this way. It's always good to talk to the requisite members of Congress. I think it was just a mistake," Biden said after being sworn in today for another Senate term (he will resign his seat in advance of the Jan. 20 inauguration).
According to Galen, who authors the wildly popular cybercolumn Mullings and a seemingly abandoned blog (which I suggested, to adder's ears, should be called "bluggings"), there are only two possibilities here, given that Biden says it's "always good" to talk to members before making such announcements:
- Obama didn't even bother to discuss the matter with Joe Biden, his own selection for vice president. If so, then Biden has to rank as one of the least important VPs in American history, only one step above those VPs who were notable mostly for being non-existent (such as Truman's vice president for his entire first term). Obviously, if the president-elect didn't even mention the appointment to the Biden-select, then Biden couldn't recommend that he discuss it with Feinstein and Rockefeller.
- Obama did discuss it with Biden. But as Galen points out, this would make the non-notification of the chairmen even worse than in case 1... because Biden would surely, given that he's "still a Senate man," have urged Obama to bring Feinstein and Rockefeller into the loop -- and Obama must therefore have said that he couldn't care less what the two Democratic chairmen of the Senate Intelligence Committee had to say about the appointment of the Director of the CIA. And Biden must have meekly said, "Oh. Okay." Wow.
Two conclusions are apparent: First, Barack Obama appears to be the most arrogant president-elect since FDR... but we already knew that.
And second, that the Vice Biden grows more transparent and wisplike with every passing day; by the inauguration, I fully expect him to be as invisible as the summer Santa Anna zephyr from the Inland Empire here in Southern California... an appropriate coda to a content-free congressional career.
I suspect folks will remember Truman's first-term vice president long after Slow Jow is consigned to the dustbin of history.
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