Other places, other values

I’m down in the Central Valley right now.  Went into a Foster’s Old Fashioned freeze (love their chocolate dipped vanilla cones) and saw, right on the counter, a packet of materials from the local Marine recruiter.  Wouldn’t see that in Marin, that’s for sure.

Israel thumbs its nose at the Obama administration

The Obama administration, without making any demands on the Palestinians who haven’t abided by any parts of the Road Map, insisted that Israel freeze all settlement activity, including such little things as bathroom additions and new floors on houses.  The Israeli administration just thumbed its nose at the US:

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the building of 455 housing units in the West Bank, defying U.S. demands for a freeze on settlement construction.

Israel is saying very clearly, to an administration very hostile to its interests:  “We belong here, and we will act appropriately.  We will not allow you to turn ever more parts of our nation, ours by right of ancient history, purchase, world treaties and war, into Judenrein territory.”

Apparently The One lacks the magic touch when it comes to the Middle East.

Send your kids to school — with caffeine

Had we in the conservative world not made an uproar, I have no doubt but that the Obama speech, and the supporting teaching materials, would have encouraged children to come to the cult of Obama.  Thanks to the uproar, the speech shows that the cult of Obama is pretty much comprised of one member — Obama himself.

You can read the speech here.  My eyes rolled back into my head about 12 paragraphs in, after Obama’s umteenth reference to himself.  “I” this and “I” that.  An enterprising Hot Air reader counted 55 self-references to Obama and only four to America.  It a paralyzing speech made up of equal parts vanity and lecture.

When I was living in England, there was a running joke about Yorkshire codgers greeting every complaint about the hardships of modern life with a self-serving story beginning “When I were a lad….”  Thus:  “You call this snow?  When I were a lad, it snowed like this every day, all summer long, and we had to walk through this wearing nothing but our swimsuits and snowshoes.”

Obama has created his own “When I were a lad” speech.  Unless his personal charm comes through in the videos (and some high schoolers with lingering affection for him may see it), most students will be twitching with the desperate desire either to run or to sleep.

We must be eternally vigilant, but I think we’re safe this time.

Still on the road

I’ve been so isolated from the news this weekend I only just discovered that Van Jones withdrew. Of course, at the same time, my NYT reading husband first discovered that Van Jones existed, so I’m still ahead of some curves.

I might blog this morning, but I’m not optimistic. For now, consider this your “Happy Labor Day” open thread.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

This has been in the works for a while, so it’s not a surprise to me, but I know it will be a surprise to you.

Effective immediately, I’m switching servers, so my blog will operate at a new address: http://www.bookwormroom.com/

Henceforth, all new posts will be at http://www.bookwormroom.com/

There are still a few glitches at the new site, and I’d appreciate your feedback as we work them out. Overall, though, the new site is, in my eyes at least, beautiful. It will also have features that I couldn’t access on my old site and that will, I think, benefit both me and my readers. From my point of view, it has user registration, which will cut down on the hundreds of spams I get (despite Askimet). I’ll also have an easier time linking videos and uploading images. From your point of view, the user comments can be previewed, which I know a lot of you would like. Also, I happen to like the template, since I think it’s easier to read than my old one. Anyway, check it out: http://www.bookwormroom.com/

A million thanks for this change go to the Web Administrator at Webloggin who was more generous with his time and resources than you can possibly imagine. He is, in the most profound Yiddish sense of the word, a mensch — a righteous, honorable, truly good human being.

By the way, if you have me in your blog roll, I’d very much appreciate it if you would update the link.

Guess the speaker *UPDATED*

Later today, a government’s representative is going to make the following important announcements:

Western governments have “the moral imperative to intervene – sometimes militarily – to help spread democracy throughout the world.”

The same speaker says that “fostering democracy in the Middle East ‘is the best long-term defence against global terrorism and conflict.’”

He feels that keeping democracy alive is hard work and must be actively fostered: “After the end of the cold war it was tempting to believe in the ‘end of history’ – the inevitable process of liberal democracy and capitalist economics. Now with the economic success of China, we can no longer take the forward march of democracy for granted.”

Who is the speaker? John Bolton? George Bush? Nope, wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, a representative of the Labour government. Some of his other pronouncements are even more rational and surprising:

Miliband’s broad-ranging speech reflects his deep concern that a combination of factors, including widespread distaste for the American neo-conservative movement, disillusionment at the practical failures in Iraq, and a feeling that some underdeveloped countries, such as Kenya, are simply too tribal for democracy, is storing up a powerful isolationist mood in Britain.

The foreign secretary, who has just returned from Afghanistan and Bangladesh, believes there is an urgent need to restate the case for the universal value of democracy.

He will argue that interventions in other countries must be more subtle, better planned, and if possible undertaken with the agreement of multilateral institutions. But “we must resist the argument of the left and the right to retreat into a world of realpolitik”.

Miliband believes that in the 1990s “something strange happened.

“The neo-conservative movement seemed more certain about spreading democracy around the world. The left seemed conflicted between the desirability of the goal and its qualms about the use of military means.

“In fact, the goal of spreading democracy should be a great progressive project; the means need to combine both soft and hard power. We should not let the debate about the how of foreign policy obscure the clarity about the what.”

This is not what one expects to hear from a Briton, nor from a member of the Labour party and, especially, a member of the Labour government. I wonder if he represents official government policy, if he is running ideas up a flag pole to see if any one salutes, or if he is that bizarre thing, a principled moralist in a politically-correct, Leftist government.

UPDATE:  Welcome, American Thinker readers!  Ironically, because I’m getting so many lovely hits here, today is the first day I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Dumb question

I’m about to show my youth and ignorance here with regard to the Vietnam War (’cause even though I lived through it, I was truly a child then). But first, let me back up a bit. Mr. Bookworm rented Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a film with an interesting conceit: Ms. Taymor takes 33 of the Beatles songs and interweaves a story around them. As a musical, it’s pretty successful. Bucking trends in musicals for the last 40 years, she chooses actors who actually have really good singing voices. Also, showing her background in theater and puppet work, it’s a visually impressive movie, if you don’t mind that she goes over the top sometimes. That’s the praise.

Now for the criticism: The movie is set during the Vietnam War era and is totally anti-War. American soldiers are shown as brutal robotic types who work for a military that takes sweet, innocent young men and throws them into the maw of hell. Anti-war protests are shown as seminally important events that simultaneously reveal the grossness of American policy in Vietnam and that allow wholesome, moral young Americans to find a place for themselves in opposition to the evil war. In this regard, the movie is both a babyboomer nostalgia trip and a nudge-nudge wink-wink anti-Iraq War movie. So, even as the movie is beautiful to look at and lovely to hear, it offends me. It’s blithe acceptance of the 60s Leftist tropes is so facile as to be almost grotesque — but it did leave me thinking.

The street protest I mentioned above culminates with a speaker talking about American imperialist aggression and Americans as baby killers. What I wondered very much was how and where this angle on the war started. Truth to tell, it sounds precisely like the kind of talking points you can see brooded over by a handful of people attending some secret Communist meeting in a grimy NY basement apartment.

Looked at objectively, from the point of view of a whole nation, the “our nation is evil” idea is kind of fringey. That being the case, how did it gain so much currency? Why did Americans embrace this paradigm about the war instead of viewing the War — as John F. Kennedy, their hero, viewed it — as a necessary (for America) way to stop worldwide Communist aggression and as an act of decency to keep the Vietnamese free? Where did Americans get the idea, stated in this movie, that the Vietnamese wanted us to go? Maybe the North Vietnamese, who were Communist puppets did, but I was under the impression that the South Vietnamese were desperate for us to stay there and protect them from a Communist takeover — a takeover that, when we pulled out, was even more horrific than anyone had anticipated. (One of my most vivid pre-teen memories is of the extraordinary panic on the ground, amongst ordinary Vietnamese, when the Americans pulled out.)

In the current War, from the first second, the Leftists just leapt upon the Vietnam War template, dragging their old signs out, and replaying the identical scenario, with a sympathetic media to help out and spread it amongst people who normally wouldn’t give too much of a rat’s ass one way or another. It’s been like watching a re-run. But who created the original 1960s script, and how did it spread so rapidly and effectively that it became the accepted view that our American men and boys were brutal, imperialistic babykillers — end of story?

Did the original script come from the Kremlin, which was gleefully spreading misinformation, or was it an organic, homegrown Leftist process? Was it embraced so quickly because, after the Korean War, we were sick of getting involved in jungle fighting in the Far East? Or was the draft the problem, with articulate, well-read, generically liberal/Leftist students suddenly having a vested interest in saving themselves — and shooting further Left in the process? And if it’s the latter explanation — that is, the draft created self-interested young people who would rather attack their own nation and leave the Vietnamese in hell than put themselves at risk — why didn’t the draft create precisely the same problems with WWII?

I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but it suddenly occurred to me that, while I’ve always seen the end result of anti-Vietnam War agitation, I’ve never understand how the theme came into being and how it got a toehold in the American psyche and the American body politic.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

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