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.

This kind of thing could lose Florida for Obama

Little things mean a lot, and some Cuban voters in Florida, who might otherwise have been leaning towards Obama, may back off if they get a gander of his fellow travelers — Obama campaigners who are loud and proud in their support for Castro-ite Cuba and Che Guavara. There is no indication at all that Obama authorized or even supports what’s going in Texas, but he’d certainly better disassociated himself from it very quickly.

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.

Philip’s Complaint, or Liberal political thinking in a nutshell

I’ve never been able to read Philip Roth’s novels because I cannot stand his navel gazing (or should I say penis-gazing?) characters. They are, for me, profoundly uninteresting — I find them infantile and narcissistic in their concerns. Perhaps my the problem with his writing is his thinking. Why do I say this? Because Roth unloads about politics in Spiegel interview, and pretty much highlights everything that’s infantile and narcissistic about liberal thinking with regard to the Bush administration and the upcoming elections:

Roth: Unfortunately, yeah. I didn’t, until about two weeks ago — until then it wasn’t real. Then I watched the New Hampshire primary debates, and the Republicans are so unbelievably impossible. I watched the Democratic ones and became interested in Obama. I think I’ll vote for him.

SPIEGEL: What made you interested in Obama?

Roth: I’m interested in the fact that he’s black. I feel the race issue in this country is more important than the feminist issue. I think that the importance to blacks would be tremendous. He’s an attractive man, he’s smart, he happens to be tremendously articulate. His position in the Democratic Party is more or less okay with me. And I think it would be important to American blacks if he became president.

SPIEGEL: It could change society, couldn’t it?

Roth: Yes, it could. It would say something about this country, and it would be a marvelous thing. I don’t know whether it’s going to happen. I rarely vote for anybody who wins. It’s going to be the kiss of death if you write in your magazine that I’m going to vote for Barack Obama. Then he’s finished!

[snip]

SPIEGEL: Do you actually believe that Obama could change Washington or could change politics?

Roth: I’m interested in what merely his presence would be. You know, who he is, where he comes from, that is the change. That is the same thing with Hillary Clinton, just who she is would create a gigantic change. As for all that other rhetoric about change, change, change — it’s pure semantics, it doesn’t mean a thing. They’ll respond to particular situations as they arise.

You got that? Republicans should lose because they’re “so unbelievably impossible,” as fatuous a statement about national politics as I’ve ever heard. And Obama should win solely because he’s black and “articulate,” the favorite liberal code word for a black who isn’t an embarrassing representative of his race. Incidentally, my last, italicized phrase is deliberate, and harks back to the acceptance speech Hattie McDaniel made, at the studio’s urging, when she accepted her Oscar for her performance in Gone With The Wind, the first Oscar ever awarded to a black actress:

“Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, fellow members of the motion picture industry and honored guests: This is one of the happiest moments of my life, and I want to thank each one of you who had a part in selecting for one of the awards, for your kindness. It has made me feel very, very humble; and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything that I may be able to do in the future. I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel, and may I say thank you and God bless you.” (Emphasis mine.)

You do appreciate, don’t you, the fact that Roth is completely uninterested in Obama’s abilities, background, politic beliefs, political experience, associates, ideology, indeed anything of substance? All that matters to Roth is that Obama is a credit to his race. How utterly embarrassing that our great tradition of democracy should be reduced to this kind of inane banality.

That same absence of deep thinking colors Roth’s commentary about Bush. Keep in mind that Roth, via his “profound” (but humorous) books, is considered one of the great social thinkers of the Baby Boomer generation. That “intellectualism,” however, assuming it actually exists, abandons him when it comes to describing why Bush is bad. He throws in a few conclusory statements about the war and global warming, but he just can’t get a handle on substance. (As an aside, we’ll assume, just to be nice, that this interview was recorded before recent news that the Greenies’ purported remedies are actually speeding global warming. Of course, that may not be a problem, because we’re possibly entering a period of solar induced global cooling. But let me undigress.) What you really have to do is just take Roth’s word for it that Bush is bad, really, really, really bad. Really bad.

SPIEGEL: What will remain of the current president, George W. Bush? Could he be forgotten once he leaves office?

Roth: He was too horrendous to be forgotten. There will be an awful lot written about this. And there’s a lot to be written about the war. There’s a lot to be written about what he did with Reaganism, since he went much further than Reagan. So he won’t be forgotten. Someone has said he’s the worst American president we’ve ever had. I think that’s true.

SPIEGEL: Why?

Roth: Well, the biggest thing would be the war, the deceptions surrounding the entrance into the war. The absolute cynicism that surrounds the deception. The cost of the war, the Treasury and the lives of the Americans. It’s hideous. There is nothing quite like it. The next thing would be the attitude towards global warming, which is a global crisis, and they were utterly indifferent, if not hostile, to any attempt to address it. And so on and so on and so on and so on. So he’s done a lot of harm.

Of course, it’s not all Bush’s fault he’s so appalling. It’s your fault and my fault too. That’s because we’re brutal. Did you know that?

SPIEGEL: Since your book is set in that week during the 2004 elections, can you explain why Americans voted for Bush once again?

Roth: I suspect it was the business of being in a war and not wanting to change, and political stupidity. Why does anybody elect anybody? I thought highly of John Kerry when he began, but he couldn’t stand up against Bush. The Democrats aren’t brutes, which is too bad, because the Republicans are brutes. Brutes win.

Funnily enough, a lot of the brutal behavior, lately, seems to be coming from the rank and file Democrats, not the Republicans. An easy example is the fact that Democratic speakers on the circuit don’t need to hire bodyguards. Republicans do. That’s because Republicans get physicall attacked when they speak on college campuses. Ann Coulter was attacked. College Republican student organizations are attacked. Condi Rice was threatened by a Code Pink loony tunes who got within inches of her. The list goes on and on and on. You can add your own, but you’ll be hard put to find corollaries on the other side; that is, conservatives attacking liberals. But back to Roth….

“Brutes.” “Hideous.” “There is nothing quite like it.” This man, this spokesman for a generation, clearly hasn’t thought beyond the Democratic parties’ last list of talking points. He’s got all the nasty conclusions of the kindergarten set, but with a more sophisticated vocabulary:

“Mommy, I hate Tommy.”

“Why, darling?”

“Because he’s a meanie.”

“But what makes him a meanie?”

“He does mean things.”

“What mean things does he do, darling?”

“He’s mean to me.”

And so on, ad nauseum. It’s tolerable in a child because you know they’ll attain reason and leave that phrase behind. It’s intolerable in a literary lion, a spokesman for his generation, who has never been able to emerge from his prolonged and clearly debilitating adolescence.

I’ve vented my spleen, so I’m going to leave the last words to that great philosopher, Bugs Bunny: “What a maroon. What a nincowpoop.”

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.

UPDATE II:  I rejiggered the first paragraph of this post to reflect a point Boran made which, when I finally understood it, was a good one.

I’m a gal ahead of my time when it comes to Obama

On December 12, 2006, I wrote the following:

My personal feeling is that, while Obama may one day turn into a something, right now he’s pretty much a nothing: a very intelligent, but as yet untried man, with limited experience, and superficial views. What I’m gathering, though, is that on the Left, this very blankness is what makes him so appealing. He becomes a projection of everyone’s beliefs, hopes and desires. He’s a charming, smart, living version of Jerzy Kosinksi’s Chance the Gardener, in Being There. (Emphasis added.)

On February8, 2008, Joel Stein got a big column in the LA Times to write a pop culture laden critique of the increasingly creepy Obamamania, which includes this observation:

My mom, a passionate Hillary Clinton supporter, immediately attacked Obamamania. “Some part of me wants to say, ‘People wake up. He has no plans.’ I get frustrated listening to his speeches after awhile,” she said. She also said that the new vacation house in Key West is really great and her vertigo hasn’t been acting up.

I started to feel a little more grounded again. Did I want to be some dreamer hippie loser, or a person who understands that change emerges from hard work and conflict? “People are projecting an awful lot onto him,” Mom said. “Almost like what was that movie with, oh, the movie, oh God. That English actor, he practically said nothing. Oh shoot. He was the butler and everybody loved him and what he was thinking and feeling. Do you know the movie I’m talking about? You don’t.” Hers, of course, is the demographic most likely to vote.

But she’s right. Obama is Peter Sellers in “Being There.” (Emphasis added.)

I’m patting my own back at my prescience in recognizing Obama’s charm for the average, self-involved Democratic voter: they project on him their own desires. He’s the ultimate candidate for the narcissistic voter.

Idle thought about a McCain v. Obama race

John McWhorter, who supports Obama, has pointed out what he sees as a profound problem with the Obama campaign, which is the way identity politics has made it impossible to treat Obama as an adult, rather than a child, for fear of being called “racist”:

Yet there is an element of surprise, a tincture of dismay, in how many view the sliming of Mr. Obama. If Grover Cleveland or John Kerry got slimed, what do you expect? But if Mr. Obama gets slimed, well.

There is a tacit sense that decent people would make an exception for him. Otherwise, why would so many think of it as news that the Clintons or anyone else would get nasty in trying to push past him?

Let’s face facts: People see this commonplace phenomenon as news because of a tacit idea that as a black man, Mr. Obama should be treated with kid gloves.

Lawrence Bobo, professor of sociology at Harvard, gives it away comparing the Clintons’ attacks on Mr. Obama to, specifically, the Willie Horton ad and the 2000 vote count. That is, events traditionally classified as “racist” — as if Republicans have not sought to best Democrats in ways disconnected to race. Upon which the Swift-boat thing is germane. Mr. Bobo appends that to his list, too — but misses that the guiding theme is not racism but hardball.

Welcome to reality: being judged by the content of our character means that we black people will not be exempt from hardball. We should not be seduced by the fantasy that we must pretend to be fragile.

Well, yes. This is what I’ve been saying all along. I recently wrote a post saying that one of my fears about Obama as a candidate is that it would be impossible to run against him in the ordinary rough and tumble way we’ve come to expect in a Democracy. Any negative comment would be deemed “racist,” and the Republican candidates, all carefully groomed and controlled by their handlers, wouldn’t even want to get near that.

It did occur to me, though, that McCain might be the candidate who would stand up to Obama, who would not fear being called a racist. He is a man confident and feisty enough to get into a fight on its merits, and not pull his punches for fear of collateral damage. I don’t know how well those qualities would serve in the increasingly surreal world of the White House, but it might be just what is needed to level the playing field against America’s first black presidential candidate (something that would be more fair to Obama, too, since it would treat him like an adult and not a child or a half wit).

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.

Racism starts young

My 5th grader came home from school and told me that all the kids were saying that people should vote for Obama because he’s black.

I asked, “Do they know anything else about him?”

“No,” she replied.  “They’re just saying [read:  their parents are just saying] that people should vote for him because he’s black.”

My next question:  “Should people vote against him because he’s black?”

“Oh, no,” she answered.  “That’s racist.”

“Then why,” I asked, “is it any less racist to vote for him simply because of the color of his skin?  Any decision we make about someone solely because of their skin color is racist. People should be voting for him based on his experience, skill, and beliefs, not because of his skin color.”

Either because she’s smart, or because she’s a “yes” girl when it comes to her own mother, my daughter agreed that I had a point.  That’s good.  What’s sad is that it seems as if a substantial number of kids in her school are being taught that the only thing that matters is a person’s race.  Martin Luther King is rolling in his grave at this inversion of his Dream.

From the “is it just me . . .” department

Is it just me, or is this precisely the way the media covered Theresa Heinz Kerry when it became apparent that John Kerry was the frontrunner?

Once reticent Michelle Obama is big campaign asset

Michelle Obama’s fiery campaign style belies the fact that she was hesitant at first about getting involved in her husband Barack’s bid to become U.S. president.

Obama says she never expected to be on stage extolling her husband’s virtues, but she is revving up crowds as she tells them he is the Democratic candidate who offers the best option for change in the United States.

“I am very passionate about change in the country and that’s what you see,” the 44-year-old Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer from Chicago told Reuters in an interview last year.

I’m in the midst of a project right now, so I’m no going to spend my time using Google as a “way back machine,” but I have a distinct memory that Mrs. Kerry was presented in precisely the same way. What say you?

The little voice in Obama’s ear

It’s okay to have eclectic, even wacky friends — but if you have friends such as this, you’d better explicitly disavow their wackier beliefs — not just in vague generalities, but specifically. Otherwise, you risk getting tarred with that same brush. And so it goes with Obama’s beloved mentor, Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., who is a long-standing socialist, anti-American, black supremacist, antisemite — as John Perazzo carefully documents in this article. This isn’t news to you, my readers, but what’s disheartening is that it would undoubtedly be news to American voters, if only they could have this information brought to the forefront of their brains.

What was news to me, though, since I don’t watch TV, is what Wright looks like. When it comes to objective complexion, he’s practically white, which I find ironically amusing considering that this is a man so deeply invested in black supremacist thought. He reminds me of those pathetic Jews who tout antisemitism. There’s something deeply wrong with the psychology of a man who essentially attacks himself:

A distinction without a difference

I’ve noted before, based on instinct that, when it comes to substance, nothing distinguishes Obama and Clinton from each other, in that they’re each extremely liberal. That, I said, is why they’ve had to fall back so frantically on their racial and sexual identities. It’s not just the “identity politics” chickens coming home to roost; it’s also the only way you can tell the two apart. My instinct regarding this matter is right on the money: according to the National Journal’s nonpartisan rating of Congress people, both are to the far left politically.  In addition, “‘The policy differences between Clinton and Obama are so slight they are almost nonexistent to the average voter,’ said Richard Lau, a Rutgers University political scientist.”

Also according to the National Journal, McCain has a lifetime rating as a conservative, although he’s grown less conservative with the passage of time.  He is something of a centrist which means, ironically, that if he’s elected, he could be the uniter, which is the mantle Obama currently claims for himself.  That is, Obama speaks unity, but operates at the fringe.  McCain really does seem to function out of the center.

Hat tip: Captain’s Quarters

The great bloviator

You all know that I’ve been singularly unimpressed with Barack Obama’s rhetorical gifts. To me, he is just throws out platitudes — and he does that in an increasingly condescending manner. John Derbyshire is as unimpressed as I am, and has taken some time to dissect Obama’s language (h/t Paragraph Farmer):

I dunno, I must be missing a gene or two. Everybody, including even some conservatives, is telling me what a fine uplifting orator Barack Obama is. All I see is great gusts of hot air. When he says something that actually has any semantic content, either it is just false, or else it is naked socialism.

I was just looking through Obama’s latest oratorical masterpiece. It strikes me as obnoxious, where it is not just flatulent.

… we’ve got young people all across this country who have never had a reason to participate until now.

The “reason to participate,” for people of any age, is the sense of citizenly duty. This sense didn’t exist before Obama showed up?

We’re up against the belief that it’s all right for lobbyists to dominate our government, that they are just part of the system in Washington.

But lobbyists are part of the system in Washington. It says so in the First Amendment: “… to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Obama wants to repeal the First Amendment?

We’re up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House.

That’s the conventional thinking? So how did Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush get elected President? None of them had any “longevity in Washington” — not even as much as you, Senator. Sure, I understand, this is throwing some of Hillary’s stuff back at her, but it’s still nonsense.

… real leadership is about … the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose, a higher purpose.

Not just cant, but Leninist cant. We are a republic of free people, not the tools of some “leader” pursuing a historical “purpose.” What is your “higher purpose,” Senator? And what happens to those of us who decline to rally around it?

You should read the rest of Derbyshire’s dissection here.

Interestingly, DQ and I were just talking about Obama’s speech making the other day, and it tracked somewhat along what Derbyshire was saying. DQ harked back to a childhood in the Southeast when people believed that it was okay to be proud to be an American. That viewpoint has vanished from much American discourse, especially on the Left. He thinks that Obama is telling people that they can feel good about themselves. DQ thinks that this means that they can feel good about being Americans.

I think DQ is being altogether too generous. Obama is spouting the same Leftist stuff as always: Capitalism (the American system) = bad. The War in Iraq (America’s active line of defense against Islamic terrorism) = bad. Lobbyists (the American medium of free speech in Washington) = bad. And so on. Dig into what Obama is really saying, and you’ll realize that he wants to change everything and model us on some semi-failed European system. So, when he voices vague phrases about feeling good, he doesn’t sound to me like a patriot; he sounds to me like a cross between Dr. Phil and Oprah. It’s all about meaningless self-esteem cant, with no substance to support it.

The whole thing reminds me strongly of the self-esteem movement in American education, a movement so silly that even Gary Trudeau lampooned it in his comic strip. If I remember the details correctly, California started the whole thing off when it decided to spend lots of money at schools to encourage kids to feel good about themselves. Understand that this did not mean actually teaching students skills that would justify their feeling good about themselves. Instead, it was a fortune in tax payer money to teach kids the Stuart Smalley mantra: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me!” Other school systems quickly followed suit, and now these affirmatives are a constant diet for American students. If you doubt me, just visit any American school and read the posters on the walls.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to discover that, when someone actually looked at the hard benefits of this approach, there were none. The students raised on this constant diet of meaningless affirmations thought extremely well of themselves, functioned badly, and could not deal with adversity. Frankly, it seems like a bad political model to me, but it’s about the only thing Obama has to offer that sets him about from Hillary (aside from his race, as compared to her sex). But don’t worry. When we’re all completely dysfunctional — but feeling really good about ourselves – the government will be there to help.

UPDATEJames Taranto also catches Obama the Demagogue in the act of saying . . . nothing.

On McCain’s apparent front-runner status *UPDATED*

Compared to Romney, I don’t like McCain. Compared to Obama or Hillary, I adore McCain and would happily vote for him — heck, if I were voting in Chicago (home turf for both Obama and Hillary), I’d vote for him twice, and have my ancestors vote for him too. You dance with them whut brung ya’, and it looks as if McCain may be the Republican dance partner in the 2008 Presidential election.

So, if you’re one of those conservatives who who thinks McCain is too liberal (and, compared to your candidate of choice, whoever he is, I’m sure you’re right), or who worries about the Gang of 14 (although reading this may allay some of your concerns), or who hasn’t forgiven him for McCain-Feingold, or who just plain doesn’t like him — get over it! He may not be the perfect Republican candidate, but he’s so much better than either Hillary or Obama that it really doesn’t matter. If you believe in conservative principles and fear the fall-out from Democratic policies, you have what amounts to a moral obligation to get out there in November and vote for him. Do not, I repeat, do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Also, if it makes you feel better about casting your vote, there are some indications that he is truly a winning candidate. That is, you won’t be compromising your principles with a vote that is ultimately wasted. A Rasmussen poll that the Captain discusses has him beating out both Obama and Hillary if an election were held today. Now, that may change when one of the Dems emerges victorious from the primary process, in which case more voters may coalesce around the winner, but it’s still good news for those who feel that it’s as important for a Democrat to lose as for a Republican to win.

And if you think I’m being exceptionally vindictive in devoutly wishing for a Democratic loss, here’s my defense: While I think we as a nation are a robust enough to fix any economic messes the Democrats may cause, I also think that we have a one shot deal to remain ascendant when it comes to the World War that the Islamists are waging against us. If we have a Democrat in the White House, especially Obama who can’t get out of Iraq fast enough, we’ll have wasted that shot.

(I have to admit I’m not pleased with Michelle Malkin for hinting that she’d rather see Hillary win than help out McCain. Hmmm….)

UPDATEBig Lizards has a very compelling post about McCain’s charisma — an important intangible we often overlook.  I have to say that, when I catch McCain’s speeches on the radio, I enjoy listening, which is not something I can say about any other politician’s speeches, including those of my man Romney.

Eating our own *UPDATED*

I caught a minute of Mike Gallagher today, and he was talking about the fact that Republicans are more critical of Republican candidates than Democrats are critical of Democratic candidates. It occurred to me that, at least in this election cycle, that may be because there are real, substantive differences between the Republican candidates. We’ve got Ron Paul, who is a pure libertarian and possible white supremacist; John McCain, who is strong on defense, but weak on free speech, and spineless to environmental extremists; Mitt Romney, who has positioned himself as a traditional conservative who is for strong borders, a strong national defense, pro-life, etc., with a sound grasp of economic issues; Mike Huckabee, who is loudly Christian, a social conservative, and a big government liberal; and Rudy Giuliani, who is a social liberal and a hawk. With the exception of Ron Paul, all have had leadership experience, but of a very different type: McCain was in the military; Romney ran businesses and the Massachusetts government; Huckabee governed Arkansas; and Giuliani ran huge criminal prosecutions and New York. So, just as there are differences in their approach to conservative politics (and all are more conservative than not), there are also significant differences in their practical experience. Republicans have a real choice, and real choice begets real debate.

It’s different with the Dems. For one thing, none of them have any managerial experience. They’ve all been Senators, which means working with a group of 99 other people. None have them has taken the lead in the Senate, so they can’t even point to leadership experience in those august chambers. John Edwards has a bit more private sector experience than the other two but I can tell you that even the most successful lawyer cannot be compared to a manager. Managing a case is not the same as manager a system — whether that system is a business or a government. Obama was an academic, which is the antithesis of management, and Hillary was, well, Hillary managed Bill, I guess. They’re all good at manipulating people, Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer, and Obama and Hillary because they’re Alinsky disciples, but that’s not leadership or management. So, they’re pretty much the same looked at from that point of view.

In terms of politics, they’re peas in a pod: they want out of Iraq, they deny that Islamists pose a threat to America, they like open borders, and they want more government involvement in everything (parenting, health care, education, managing people’s money, controlling businesses, etc), which means more taxes on people they decide are “rich.”

The fact that Edwards, Obama and Hillary are virtually indistinguishable on paper may explain why identity politics has become so important. It’s not just Hillary’s dirty politics and it’s not just that the “identity politics” chickens are coming home to roost. The preeminence of racial or sexual identity in this race has become the only way you can tell one Democratic candidate from another. And poor Edwards, distinguished by being white and male, is precluded by political correctness from trumpeting that fact. In other words, identity, by being the only difference between the candidates, is also the only area of debate left for the Democrats. And it’s no surprise that it is in this area — the substance-free area that will have absolutely nothing to do with the way in which a Democrat, if victorious, will govern — that the Democratic debate has become most heated.

So, I guess I’m happy that Republicans are focused on substance, and using their free speech rights to hammer out important issues that will have a lasting effect on America (if a Republican wins). And I’m desperately sad that the cookie-cutter Democrats, in order to have a debate and distinguish themselves in the eyes of the voters, have almost completely backed off from any substantive issues (as to which they have no meaningful differences), and devolved into childish racial and gender name calling. If Americans elect one of them, the Country will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE: Regarding the enthusiasm gap the media professes to find between Dems and Republicans, if one does indeed exist, I suspect that has more to do with the enthusiasm Democratic voters have for a shot at the White House than with anything else. That is, I think that, even more than feeling excitement about their own candidates, Democrats are simply excited about a possible chance to defeat Republicans.

UPDATE II: For another reason why there might be an “enthusiasm gap,” keep in mind that, while Bush’s presidency is almost over, Bush Derangement Syndrome continues in full force. Indeed, with the inevitable end of his presidency drawing near, Bush haters seem to be drawing on after burners for some new energy.

What will Obama change?

The mantra for Obama is change. I admit he’s a new face and a new color, but can anyone clue me in on how, politically, he is different from the other candidates? I mean this as a serious question, and I’d appreciate serious answers. So far, Teddy Kennedy seems representative of those who flock to the Obama standard, in that they’re mesmerized by what he’s not — he’s not a Republican, he’s not Clinton, and he’s not white — but no one seems to articulate what he is. And as a voter, since I think there’s a good chance I’ll be stuck with him as my President, I’d like a strong handle on what he actually stands for.

His website, by the way, does not help. I’ve gone to his issues page and discovered a few things that indicate that he’s almost identical to every other Democrat, except in the area of Iraq, where he’s not just a fool, but a damned fool.

First off, to the extent he has a little quotation at the top of his web page, what the heck does it mean? “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington . . . I’m asking you to believe in yours.” My what? My believing in belief? My personal ability, as a Mom in Marin to change Washington? I keep thinking of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, with that theory going along the lines of “If you believe in fairies, clap your hands.” This supports my belief that he’s a master of meaningless platitudes, a demogogue who says nothing but who, like Chance the Gardener, enables people to attach their own meanings to his banal statements.

But back to his issues page. As far as I can see, when it comes to the economy, he’s promising to expand the government, which strikes me as same old, same old Democratic stuff. He’s going to give a large rebate to those who pay the least in taxes (which means he’s going to raise taxes against everyone else). He’s going to force government preschools, something that was tried in California and that, thank goodness, failed. There aren’t a whole lot of details, but there are promises: I’ll make schools better; I’ll be a tough negotiator, I’ll sneak a national health care plan in under the guise of benefitting small businesses. And on and on. It sounds like a typical Democratic plan for more government involvement in people’s lives and finances. No change here.

On Iraq, he opens by announcing that yeah, well, the Surge worked, but it didn’t work well enough to suit Obama’s high standards (whatever the heck they are when it comes to Iraq). Obama does assure us that he knows what he’s doing in Iraq, not because he’s studied military strategy, or the political situation in Iraq, or Islamic fundamentalism, or the Middle East, but because he voted against the war. Even if I agreed with his “no” vote, which I don’t, I’d feel compelled to add that even a stopped watch is right twice a day. It doesn’t mean Obama has any understanding of the complex situation in Iraq. Also, to the extent someone is whispering in his ear, I’m not thrilled about the radical pro-Palestinian whisperer he’s chosen. Since Obama has professed that his only qualification to deal with Iraq is his “NO, NO, NO” stance it’s scarcely surprising that his entire Iraq strategy is to bring all Americans home ASAP. It didn’t work in Vietnam, when it paved the way for the Killing Fields, and I’m quite sure that, if Obama succeeds in this plan, Vietnam and Cambodia will look positively benign compared to what happens in Iraq when he whistles the troops home. Oh, and by the way, once he’s removed the iron hand, Obama assures us that he’ll use his empty velvet glove to really, seriously, pretty-please ask the Iraqis to get along with each other. I’m sure that will work. I lost heart about here and couldn’t make myself read the rest of his Iraq page. The man is a lightweight. He’ll certainly change things in Iraq, but only for the worse.

On homeland security, which marches hand in hand with Iraq, Obama makes a few obvious promises, none of which are harbingers of change: he’ll guard chemical plants and water supplies, help families unite in emergencies, and track nuclear waste. Laudable goals all and, as far as I know, they’re already part of national homeland policy. Obama makes no reference whatsoever to the reason why we might need homeland security, something that was not on the political agenda ten years ago.  Apparently we’re protecting these things against chimerical beings, without form or identity.  Change? For a Democrat with a head buried deeply in the sands of denial, I don’t think so.

Healthcare? He’ll nationalize it, an idea that’s old (think Hillarycare), so I’m still looking for change.

On faith, Obama assures us he has it, but I have to admit to being a bit worried about the company he keeps, given that his minister is an outspoken antisemite and black supremacist. Kind of makes you wonder about Obama’s own deeply held beliefs. This really isn’t a change issue, unless you think it’s a change to have a closet antisemite, black supremacist in the White House.

And how about the judiciary? Well, Obama doesn’t really say. That is, he has no tab for “judiciary,” so you kind of have to guess. Considering that he supports unlimited abortion rights, and considering that, whether you support abortion or not, you have to concede (if you’re honest) that it’s not a right hidden in the Constitution, one has to assume that he will advance judges who believe in creative Constitutional interpretation. As you know, I am someone who forces myself to be honest here, because I’m ambivalent about abortion. I’ve grown up believing in it, and I think there is a narrow place for it (which doesn’t mean it’s an alternative for birth control), and would hate to see it vanish entirely. I’m enough of a Constitutional purist, though, that I believe we should arrive at abortion rights (whatever they end up being) either through appropriate states’ rights action or through a national Constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court’s cheating in 1973 cheapened the Courts and the Constitution.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to go on for such a long time about Obama, but I truly don’t see any “change” in him, aside from the fact that his election, if it occurred, would change us over from a Republican to a Democratic administration, with all the accompanying ideological changes that would inevitably occur with such a shift. As far as I can see, the only differences he has from Hillary are that he’s black and she’s white; he’s male and she’s female; and he’s an idiot when it comes to Iraq, while she’s a pragmatist. Oh, and he’s quite possibly a closet black supremacist and antisemite, neither of which are labels I like to see near an American president.

So, if you can offer concrete reasons why Obama is a genuine agent for real change (as opposed to snarky comments or meaningless adulation), please use my comments section for that purpose. Otherwise, I still think Obama’s a stuffed shirt, with little to offer in any significant areas of government, except for a real chance to be profoundly, dangerously stupid when it comes to America’s security. And if you can’t offer any reasons, can you explain to me why everyone is jumping on the Obama bandwagon when he’s precisely the same as the other candidates, only with even less experience than Hillary (who at least knows how to find her way around the West Wing). God knows, I never thought I’d promote Hillary’s candidacy but, compared to the others, she looks less scary.

UPDATEMitt Romney offers a bit more substance when it comes to (a) acknowledging the terrorism against us and (b) having a plan.

Slogans for Democrats *UPDATED*

Okay, this is my third try at this post, because WordPress has eaten the previous two attempts (which accounts for the low level of blogging this morning).

I was listening to Dennis Prager yesterday, and he was fulminating about the calls for “unity” that are echoing through the Democratic side of the spectrum, especially with reference to Obama. As Prager has pointed out before, and as I have blogged about before, “unity” is Democratic code for “agree with me or else.” There is no evidence that the Democrats have any desire to find common ground, and it’s questionable whether there is common ground on such contentious issues as Iraq and abortion. Likewise, the hope that Democrats will “end dogma” is equally laughable. Do the Dems and their sycophants in the media really want to end all fixed doctrine? Fine, I guess we no longer have to hew to such dogmatic ideas as “all people are created equal,” “equal pay for equal work,” or “no taxation without representation.”

Listening to these vapid platitudes, it occurred to me that I could do better — or come up with something at least as good as what’s currently emanating from the Dems. You too should feel free to join in:

“Now more than ever!”

“Peace through harmony!”

“Prosperity through wealth!”

And as you think about those slogans, take a minute to read this Spiegel article proposing a Clinton-Obama ticket for ’08. The author thinks it would be a fantastic ticket, not because of any harmony of ideas or style, but because it would neatly tag all identity politic demographics. It envisions the perfect election cycle for Democrats, where they don’t have to address the issues at all — they can just stand there and be. (What’s really scary is I heard precisely this idea voiced with great approval at my bus stop a couple of months ago. The neighborhood consensus was that this was a ticket they could go for.)

UPDATE:  And here’s an article that perfectly describes the world behind the Democratic slogans.

Hitchens is almost right

Christopher Hitchens is totally right when he notes that Mike Huckabee’s defense of the Confederate flag harmonizes perfectly with racist views.  That is, a person could argue that the defense of the flag is all about States’ rights, but the fact is that the Confederate flag is so inextricably intertwined with the KKK and Jim Crow that such an argument is stupid or disingenuous at best, and fraudulent at worst.  Hitchens is also right that the press gave Huckabee a pass for this nasty remark.  Assuming that the pass was deliberate, and that the Huckabee story didn’t simply get swamped by the infinitely more fascinating fight between Clinton and Obama, one has to ask why the press was so passive.  Hitchens thinks it’s because it was afraid of offending racist Southern rednecks:

But when real political racism rears its head, our easily upset media falls oddly silent. Can you guess why? Of course you can. Gov. Huckabee is the self-anointed candidate of the simple and traditional Christian folk who hate smart-ass, educated, big-city types, and if you dare to attack him for his vulgarity and stupidity and bigotry, he will accuse you of prejudice in return. What he hopes is that his neo-Confederate sickness will become subsumed into easy chatter about his recipes for fried squirrel and his other folksy populist themes. (By the way, you owe it to yourselves to watch the exciting revelations about his squirrel-grilling past; and do examine his family Christmas card while you’re at it.) But this drivel, it turns out, is all a slick cover for racist incitement, and it ought not to be given a free pass.

I actually don’t think that’s the case.  Just as I’d prefer Hillary to win the Democratic primaries because I think she’ll be easier to beat than Obama, the press would prefer that Huckabee win the Republican primaries, because they know he’ll go down in flames in the Presidential election.  That’s why they’ve handled him with something approaching TLC — he’s their favored candidate because he’ll lose.

Speaking of different press approaches to the different parties and their candidates, Patrick, my favorite Paragraph Farmer, has an elegantly written article up at the American Spectator examining the way in which reporters delve deep into Romney’s and Huckabee’s theological beliefs (something that may be fair game because their beliefs stand out), while treating with kid gloves rather unusual theological revelations from candidates on the left.  Even if one pulls back from specific theological peculiarities, there is no doubt that the press has carefully ignored Hillary’s politically activist Methodism, which has more to do with socialism than God, and Obama’s truly unfortunate, and very strong, ties to a black supremacist church.  Likewise, a speech from a pulpit is non-news if you’re on the Left, and a threat to the separation of church and state if you’re on the right.  Double standards, anybody?

The problem with Obama’s race

The problem with Obama’s race is that you’re not allowed to dislike him simply because you don’t like him. From my point of view, irrespective of skin color, I find Obama boring and platitudinous, I dislike and distrust his friends, I find appalling his lack of practical experience, and I disagree with him from top to bottom when it comes to his political positions. He is, to me, an utterly undesirable candidate. However, in the world of identity politics, all of this is clearly a front for my unspoken racism. It is impossible for those on the Left to believe that, if someone is in a politically correct minority, he can be disliked for reasons other than his minority status. Cynthia Tucker, a liberal columnist, is upfront about this belief:

After a recent column describing Barack Obama as “a presidential candidate who happens to be black — not a black presidential candidate,” I received countless responses from readers, a handful of them odd. That odd handful declared they take no notice of superficial traits such as skin color, and they took me to task for making any reference to Obama’s race.

“I thought of (Obama) as a person. I did not see black or white or Hispanic or that he was a man — I saw a person! If people really, truly want racial equality, then the first step has to be to STOP looking at skin color,” wrote one reader.

“When I look at a person, the last thing I think about is skin color or heritage,” wrote another.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it. While I am sympathetic to any desire to get past dated and useless habits of mind — especially the contentious politics of the color line — that’s just nonsense. None of us, black, white or brown, is colorblind.  (Emphasis mine.)

Sorry, Cynthia, but I’m not buying that. I refuse to be denied the right to dislike someone based upon the content of their character. More to the point, given Obama’s church, his verbal vapidity, and what’s emerging about his somewhat checkered Chicago political past, I’m not even sure precisely how much character the man has. And that is entirely separate, of course, from my disliking his political positions.

Nor do I think I’m deluding myself about my innate racism. The fact is, I’ve never seen Obama speak. I get my news through the written word. Or, if I’m getting my news through the spoken word, I hear it on the radio. I never watch the candidates on TV, ever. That is, my impressions of Obama are purely cerebral. And I still don’t like him.

Hillary, interestingly, doesn’t have quite the same protection Obama does. People have gotten so used over the years to finding her entirely dislikeable that it’s pretty darn hard to attribute negative feelings to her sex, rather than her personality. With Obama, though, we don’t have a past history with him to justify broad dislike. That is, while Obama has a personal history (which I don’t think holds up to scrutiny), there hasn’t been a long-term relationship between the man and the American public that could lay the groundwork for disliking him without a concurrent charge of racism. For example, we don’t hear too many cries of racism if we dislike Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, both of whom have shown themselves to be completely disreputable personally and politically for too many years to be entirely immune from attack (although we may well be accused of being racists for not supporting their race-based political agenda). That is, most people, left or right, seem to concede that the guys lack broad personal appeal.

It will be interesting, assuming Obama continues in politics for a while (whether as a 2008 presidential candidate or a 2012 candidate), to see if we’re allowed to dislike him without being tarred with the racist brush. It will also be interesting if, God forbid, he wins the 2008 presidential primaries, to see if the press will be able to make itself write anything even slightly negative about him. And considering the horror with which Hillary’s attacks against him are being greeted, will the Republican candidate be able to say anything negative, no matter how substantive, without being tarred with the racist brush?  The one thing I can promise you is that, if Obama loses, it won’t be because he’s boring, antisemitic (or, at least, his friends are), uninformed, unexperienced and a leftist. In the eyes of the MSM, whose opinion will be disseminated around the world, he can lose only because he’s black. And that’s the problem with Obama’s race.

The real problem with Obama’s candidacy

Okay, I promise that this will be the last post today in which I mention the name Jonah Goldberg, but I simply can’t resist sharing with you his take on the problem with Obama’s candidacy:

Obama’s whole campaign is based on some of the most noble and inspiring sentiments in political life: hope, togetherness, bipartisanship. As he proclaimed last February at a Democratic National Committee meeting: “There are those who don’t believe in talking about hope. They say, ‘Well, we want specifics, we want details, and we want white papers, and we want plans.’ We’ve had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we’ve had is a shortage of hope. And over the next year, over the next two years, that will be my call to you.”

He’s stayed true to that pledge. Not only does he talk about hope — a lot — he talks about the importance of talking about hope. He talks about how he hopes to talk more about talking about the importance of talking about hope. Hopefully.

He touts unity the same way. If we all buy into his “message of hope,” he explains, then everybody — blacks and whites, men and women, Republicans and Democrats, lions and gnus, bears and park rangers, Superman and Lex Luthor — will be united!

But united toward what end, exactly? Or does it all boil down to being united about being hopeful and hopeful about being united?

Obama’s fairy tale is the idea that we can get beyond disagreement. But Democracy is about disagreement, not agreement. We have real arguments in this country, and the political arena exists for us to hash them out peacefully. Obama’s — and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s — “post-partisan” snake oil promises to take the disagreement out of democracy. You can’t do that.

What if you disagree with Obama’s ideas? Are you suddenly against hope? Given recent events, it seems that if you’re not with the Obama program, you’re fair game for tarring as a crypto-racist. And that’s what Obama supporters are willing to say about the Clintons! (Of course, I can barely scrape together two molecules of sympathy for the Clintons. They’ve been playing games with race for years, using the same tactics against their enemies that the Obamans are now using on them.) If Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, imagine what hairballs will be coughed up at the Republicans.

Unity around an issue — war, health care, education — is a legitimate appeal. But you can’t defend America with hope; you can’t heal people with unity. Further, it is morally antithetical to democratic values to demand unity for unity’s sake. And it is quite literally impossible to govern that way.

Obama, Israel and the Jews

If you’re a liberal Jewish voter, and tremendously excited about Obama’s candidacy as the fulfillment of the civil rights movement, slow down, Pardner.  Jews have always assumed that, because they supported the civil rights movement with enthusiasm and hard work, there would be a quid pro quo by which blacks, recognizing Jews as fellow victims, would be equally supportive of Jewish issues.  Jews have held to this viewpoint despite regularly occurring proof of the fact that African-Americans, perhaps resentful of having to share the “victim” limelight with the Jews, are not supportive of Jews or Jewish causes.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in Obama himself, a man who has aligned himself with anti-Semitic churches and causes his entire adult life.  If you think this will change when he reaches the White House, I would suggest that you think again.  And if you believe that Israel, a small island of democracy surrounded by hostile tyrannical nations should exist without anyone questioning her legitimacy, you may not want to vote for Obama.  (Of course, if Israel’s security matters to you, you also might want to rethink any vote for Hillary, either — not just because she mouths the usual liberal pieties about a Palestinian state, but because she kissed Suha Arafat immediately after the latter spouted vicious antisemitic lies.)

More gold in Goldberg *UPDATED*

I’m still enjoying every page of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and I thought I’d share with you a few more points that I thought either summed up perfectly something most of us have already figured out or explained why I’d been suffering from cognitive dissonance for so long trying to understand the liberal historic paradigms offered up in college and beyond.

I think Goldberg has summed up as well as anyone can the liberal view of race, and the liberal view of conservatives vis a vis race. Here is his summary of liberals and race:

Even on the liberal left [as opposed to the black supremacist left, which speaks in terms surprisingly reminiscent of Nazi racial ideology], where the poisonous notions are far more diluted, it is axiomatic that there is something inherently and distinctly good about blacks. How so? Well, it must be so. If you buy into the various doctrines of multiculturalism and identity politics you already believe that blackness is distinct, immutable, and unchanging. Once you accept this logic — and the left obviously does — you are then left with a fairly simple choice. If race is not neutral, if “race matters,” as Cornell West says, then how does it matter? Given the choice between assigning a positive value or a negative value, liberals opt for the positive. (p. 278.)

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to believe race is a matter of skin color. They keep in mind two important historic phrases: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” and “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This is what Goldberg calls “race neutrality.” How is it that an outlook that says race doesn’t matter routinely gets transformed into cries of “racist”? Jonah answers that question too:

There are only three basic positions. There is the racism of the left, which seeks to use the state to help favored minorities that it regards as morally superior. There is racial neutrality, which is, or has become, the conservative position. And then there is some form of “classical racism” — that is, seeing blacks as inferior in some way. According to the left, only one of these positions isn’t racist. Race neutrality is racist. Racism is racist. So what’s left? Nothing except liberalism. In other words, agree with liberals and you’re not racist. Of course, if you adopt color blindness as a policy, many fair-minded liberals will tell you that while you’re not personally racist, your views “perpetuate” racism. And some liberals will stand by the fascist motto: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Either way, there are no safe harbors from liberal ideology. Hence, when it comes to race, liberalism has become a kind of soft totalitarianism and multiculturalism the mechanism for a liberal Gleichschaltung. If you fall outside the liberal consensus, you are either evil or an abettor of evil. This is the logic of the Volksgemeinschaft in politicaly correct jargon. (p. 283.)

Goldberg also explains why I’ve always suffered from cognitive dissonance when being told that the Nazis were capitalist fat cats, so that people who believe in capitalism, and don’t view corporations as enemies, are fascists. This clashed head on with a few things I knew about Nazis: they hated capitalism, which is part of why they loathed Jews; they were socialists; they semi-nationalized most industries; and they were a populist movement that started with the Volk in Munich. As to this last, they were very hostile to aristocrats (who created the group that came up with the plot to assassinate Hitler) and industrialists. Those aristos and industrialists who became ardent Nazis did so because they shared its antisemitism and its Aryan racism, or because they saw that the Nazi nation was a profitable entity, with a good government trough. All that being the case, why did Nazism, and therefore “fascism,” get tied up with capitalism? Here’s why:

Doctrinaire Marxism-Leninism defined fascism as “the most reactionary and openly terrorist form of the dictatorship of finance capital, established by the imperialistic bourgeoisie to break the resistance of the working class and all the progressive elements of society.” Trotsky, an admirer of Mussolini’s, conceded that fascism was a “plebian movement in origin” but that it was always “directed and financed by big capitalist powers.” This interpretation was foreordained because by the 1920s communists were convinced that they were witnessing capitalism’s long overdue collapse. Marxist prophecy held that the capitalists would fight back to protect their interests rather than face extinction in the new socialist era. [The Marxist version of the "left behind" theory, I guess.] When fascism succeeded in Italy, communist seers simply declared, “This is it!” At the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922, less than a month after the March on Rome — long before Mussolini consolidated power — the assembled communists settled on this interpretation with little debate over the actual facts on the ground. (p. 286-287.)

In other words, because Marxism assumed that there would be a last gasp of capitalism before the inevitable communist take-over, and because fascism appeared when the Marxist chronology had dictated that this last gasp would occur, therefore fascism was the last gasp of capitalism — a false syllogism if I ever heard one. It sure does explain, though, why I never could make head nor tail of the line taught me at Berkeley — namely, that fascism is simply capitalism carried to the extreme.

And my last Goldberg point for now has to do with a rather charming irony. Do you remember liberal outrage that Cheney sat down with industry leaders to draft rules governing the industry? (And for the life of me, sitting here this morning, I can’t remember which industry it was that Cheney had the termerity to meet with.) It turns out that the close relationship between big industry and government is a long and honorable progressive tradition, one that began even before Wilson’s ultimate progressive WWI government. Goldberg explains that big industry originally encouraged government regulation for an anticompetitive purpose — it knew that small players couldn’t afford to keep up with government requirements. For example, when Upton Sinclair wrote his famous 1906 muckraking book The Jungle, about the meatpacking industry, he was being just a bit disingenuous:

The problem is that it’s [the liberal myth that progressive government forced unwilling corporations to become humane] totally untrue, a fact Sinclair freely acknowledged. “The Federal inspection of meat was, historically, established at the packers’ request,” Sinclair wrote in 1906. “It is maintained and paid for by the people of the United States for the benefit of the packers.” (p. 291.)

Originally, government was hostile to this kind of thing, because it was meant for anti-competitive purposes. However, when Wilson, the first progressive took the White House and was able to use WWI to begin his experiments, he immediately set about controlling big business — and big business went along with it, believing that it would drive out competition and increase profits:

Big business and the Wilson administration formed the Council of National Defense, or CND, according to Wilson, for the purpose of redesigning “the whole industrial mechanism . . . in the most effective way.” “It is our hope,” Hudson Motor Car Company’s Howard Coffin explained in a letter to the Du Ponts “that we may lay the foundation for that closely knit structure, industrial, civil, and military, which every thinking American has come to realize is vital to the future life of this country, in peace and in commence, no less than in possible war.”

When the war broke out, the CND was largely folded into the War Industries Board, or WIB. Run by the “dollar-a-year-men” from the world of finance and business, the WIB set prices, trade quotas, wages, and, of course, profits. Trade associations were formed along vaguely syndicalist lines. “Business willed its own domination, forged its bonds, and policed its own subjection,” wrote Grosvenor Clarkson, a WIBer and historian of the effort. The aim was for the “concentration of commerce, industry and all the powers of government.” “Historians have generally concluded,” writes Robert Higgs, “that these businessmen-turned-bureaucrats used their positions to establish and enforce what amounted to cartel arrangements for the various industries.” (p. 293.)

As Goldberg repeatedly states throughout his book, when Roosevelt’s New Deal came along, there was nothing “new” about it. Almost without exception, its policies simply resurrected the policies that Wilson had put into place during WWI. One of these policies should remind you of the infamous Cheney/industry meeting:

The propaganda of the New Deal — “malefactors of great wealth” and all that — to the contrary, FDR simply endeavored to re-create the corporatism of the last war. The New Dealers invited one industry after another to wrote the codes under which they would be regulated (as they had been begging to do in many case). (p. 293; emphasis mine.)

In other words, Cheney was doing nothing more or less than aping the Left’s idol — FDR.

If you can get a hold of a copy of Goldberg’s book, I really urge you to read it. As I noted before, it will explain how liberals ended up where they are, and why it’s the conservatives who wrongly get the pejorative label “fascist.”

UPDATE: It seemed appropriate to include in this post three links to good discussions about Obama and the race card, since it seems very likely that, if Obama is the Democratic candidate, anyone who does not vote for him will be castigated as a racist and, if he loses, the entire nation will be called to account for that “shame.” Article 1 is at Cheat-Seeking Missiles, Article 2 is at Commentary Magazine’s blog, and Article 3 is Charles Sykes, writing at American Thinker.

In the same vein, I had an interesting conversation with my mother, who gets her news solely from MSM television. She agreed with me that Obama lacks any meaningful experience, that he’s untried, and that he’s basically an empty shirt. She also agreed that his political positions do not represent the view of all Americans — and possibly represent the views of fewer than half of all Americans. Nevertheless, she then announced that if Obama loses, it will be because Middle America is racist and will not vote for a black. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a map of the US with me, because I think she forgot where Iowa is. My Mom is an intelligent, humane woman with a lot of common sense. Her take on Barack Obama, though, shows how even the best mind can start showing signs of cognitive dissonance if it is exposed to nothing more than the MSM.

UPDATE II: I read the Charles Sykes (American Thinker) article after I’d had the conversation with my mother and after I’d written about the conversation, above. I think Sykes must have been eavesdropping on my conversation, though, or looking over my shoulder as I blogged:

A central tenet of modern liberalism, after all, is the unshakeable conviction that white American is deeply and irredeemably racist. For three decades, America’s white liberals have invested in the belief that American is so incapable of racial fairness that society needs a panoply of laws, preferences, quotas, set-asides, and remedial programs to ensure that black people are treated fairly.

All of those policies are fundamentally based on the belief that America is deeply racist, that their fellow Americans are personally biased and institutionally prejudiced — consciously and unconsciously, intentionally and structurally; racist in history and practice.

It follows that many race-holding liberals will be among the last to believe that America will ever elect an African-American as president.

White liberals face this cognitive dissonance: if they decide that America is ready for a black president and back Obama they would also be forced to surrender or at least modify decades of convictions about American bias.

Quick picks *UPDATED*

The kids are back in school and I thought the house would fall silent and I would blog again. However, it turns out — and this is very flattering — that there were a lot of people who wanted to talk to me but felt they couldn’t while the kids were around. I’ve spent the last two hours on the phone with people who really, really needed to have my ear. So, blogging this morning will be somewhat abbreviated, and will boil down to my sharing with you somethings I found interesting.

The first thing I found interesting was the fact that both the WaPo and the WSJ expressed real dismay at the fact that the Dem candidates are engaging in truly unseemly contortions in their efforts to deny the Surge’s success. If this is just political expediency, it reflects poorly on their character. If it’s a genuine psychological inability to recognize the situation on the ground, its very scary that people who propose themselves as our Commander in Chief are laboring under that kind of mental handicap. At minimum, I’d like the person with his (or her) finger on the button to exist in the real world, and not suffer from monomaniacal delusions.

Speaking of delusions, Dennis Prager challenges the claim that Barack Obama is a “uniter.” This claim is, of course, ridiculous on its face. Obama is bound and determined to withdraw troops from Iraq instanter, if not sooner, as a colleague of mine used to say, while I’m an equally firm believer in staying in Iraq until the situation is completely stabilized for the US’s benefit. Where’s the middle road on that one? How in the heck is he going to “unite” his and my entirely disparate views? Here’s Dennis’ take on the real meaning behind the “unity” claim:

If those who call for unity told the whole truth, this is what they would say: “I want everyone to unite — behind my values. I want everyone who disagrees with me to change the way they think so that we can all be united. I myself have no plans to change my positions on any important issues in order to achieve this unity. So in order to achieve it, I assume that all of you who differ with me will change your views and values and embrace mine.”

If people from opposing viewpoints listening to Barack actually think he stands for their position, it’s because Barack is prevaricating and obfuscating. If he were clear and honest about his positions (and he is clear and honest about the War), approximately half the electorate would not view him as a uniter, but would view him as someone who could not possibly represent their interests.

Incidentally, Fred Siegel addresses much the same issue — Barack’s alleged universality — when he points out that those he knows who like Obama are completely unable to articulate what it is they like about him beyond a pretty face and nice voice. Many are also impressed by his Ivy League credentials, something that utterly fails to impress me. As I’ve mentioned before, while I’m sure there have been lots of good lawyers who emerged from Harvard Law in the last 20 years, I haven’t met them. Without exception, the Harvard lawyers I have met, have been almost stunningly inept. Many have been smart and nice, but all of them have ranked in the bottom 5th of lawyers I’ve worked with or appeared against. For me, a Harvard Law degree is like a big red warning sign. And if you are a wonderful, intelligent, incredibly competent Harvard lawyer reading this, my apologies. Clearly, I just haven’t met you, so you haven’t been able to un-skew my view.

On a completely different subject, let’s talk about vaccination. I’m a huge proponent of vaccination, something I think results both from the fact that I’m a history lover and I have older parents. The history part means that I’ve read about all the horrible epidemics that decimated childhood populations. Even in the 20th Century, although the US was able to reduce the 50% child mortality that existed in all prior eras and other places, polio was still a nightmare disease that hung over childhood until the Salk vaccine came along. My parents had measles, scarlet fever and diphtheria. I carry a discrete chicken pox scar on my face. The diseases are real and the consequences can be significant. As the diseases receded, though, people started fearing the vaccines’ side effects, even though those side effects, in all cases, have been minute compared to the disease risks. The latest fear was the fear that the preservative in many childhood vaccines caused autism. Yet another study has dis-proven this fear. I hope that finding encourages parents who were holding off on vaccines to give the subject another thought.

Here’s another wild jump in topic. The New York Times has a moderately interesting article about gephyrophobia — the fear of bridges. I’ve always found bridges concerning, perhaps because I grew up in earthquake country. My vague fear solidified completely when I saw the first Superman movie, back in 1978. (PLOT SPOILER HERE FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T SEEN THIS MOVIE.) As you may recall, Lex Luthor’s nefarious plot involved creating a massive earthquake to get rid of California entirety, so that the Nevada property he’d purchased cheap would become valuable beach front property. When he successfully gets an earthquake going, the Golden Gate Bridge collapses. (SPOILER OVER.) As a kid in San Francisco, that image stuck with me — and was reinforced during 1989’s Loma Prieta earthquake, when a section of the Bay Bridge collapsed, killing one woman. I never got to the point where I avoided bridges, but I can’t say that I enjoy them.

Another topical leap: Your child and mine can now get college credit — at a taxpayer funded college — learning how to be gay. Yup, it’s truly no child left behind, or no child’s behind left alone, I’m not sure which. The famous university-level Mickey Mouse classes have just risen (or sunk) to a whole new level.

Whenever honor killings occur, whether in Canada or Texas, the usual suspects emerge to explain that honor killings and other acts of abuse against women have nothing to do with Islam, and that it’s just a bizarre coincidence that they keep cropping up in the Islamic community. Robert Spencer, however, got wind of a Yemeni columnist who wants nothing to do with this politically correct horse pucky. He’s quite clear on the fact that Islam demands the physical abuse of women — for their own good, of course.

And for now, th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

UPDATE: Whoops! I missed it. Fred Barnes also tackled the Dems’ peculiar aversion to the truth about the Surge.

UPDATE II: I like Bret Stephens’ take on the silliness of Obama’s constant promise to end American division in future:

Barack Obama, still fresh from his victory in Iowa last week and confident of another in New Hampshire tonight, has as his signature campaign theme the promise to “end the division” in America. Notice the irony: The scale of his Iowa victory, in a state that’s 94% white, is perhaps the clearest indication so far that the division Mr. Obama promises to end has largely been put to rest.

Of course, Barack’s Iowa victory may also cast into the light something I’ve already noted: Barack’s not really black. Sure, he’s got a genetic black inheretence, and he likes obsessing about his blackness, but his youthful influences and his education were mainstream white — something American blacks might notice.

UPDATE IIIChristopher Hitchens also examines the icky obsession with Obama’s race and suggests that, if you have questions about his racial views, you might want to check out the website for the Church with which Obama is publicly affiliated.  (Hat tip:  The Anchoress.)

A little perspective on inevitability *UPDATED*

Democrats are euphoric and Republicans are panicking: Obama is inevitable. But not so fast, mes amis, says William Katz, looking back in time. In the rough and tumble world of American politics, nothing is inevitable and voters are never predictable. Since Mr. Katz’s hyperlinks are not working, let me quote for you here his entire post about the myth of political inevitability, a myth that starts with Hillary herself:

In the profound words of that late, great philosopher and student of human affairs, George Gobel, can we just wait a gosh-darned second, just a gosh-darned second? The way the press is reporting it, you’d think Senator Obama was about to be crowned rather than elected, and would then take time away from the White House to compete in all the events at the 2010 Olympics, including ice dancing.

Any candidate, including Mr. Obama, is beatable. It wasn’t more than a month ago that Hillary Clinton had a lock. Some of us recall President Tom Dewey, who was already being called “Mr. President” before the uncooperative voters of 1948 made their choice. Lincoln thought he would sink in 1864. Some around Jack Kennedy thought the same about 1964, especially if stories of Kennedy’s womanizing came to light. Even Ronald Reagan gave us a scare when he faltered during his first debate with Walter Mondale in 1984.

But the greatest caution against assigning god-like qualities to candidates involves 1944. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the war leader, was running for his fourth term. The election was held five months after D-Day. Victory in both Europe and the Pacific was in sight. Many could not conceive of a wartime America without Roosevelt at the helm. Even the Republicans cooperated, pulling their punches during the campaign as they bowed to the need for unity in war. Roosevelt’s opponent was the aforementioned Tom Dewey, making his first run for the presidency. Governor of New York, colorless, he hardly cut the figure of a man born to lead armies. With his mustache, he was often called “the man on the wedding cake.” This guy would tell MacArthur and Eisenhower what to do?

Well, Roosevelt did win, but ponder this: Tom Dewey got 46 percent of the vote. Almost one of two Americans voted against the man who epitomized “commander in chief.” The Battle of the Bulge, with its terrible setbacks and awful American casualties, began a bit more than a month after the election. Had it begun six weeks earlier, who knows how Americans would have reacted? It could have been Dewey announcing the defeat of the Axis the next year.

So, may we have some reason, please? Mr. Obama may win his party’s nomination. The entire electorate will have something to say in November. The word “inevitable” does not exist in politics.

UPDATE:  Mark Stricherz offers a little more historical perspective on inevitability.

Giving credit where credit is due — not

The Surge is not working. Petraeus is not worth his paycheck. American political and military resolve have nothing to do with the stabilizing situation in Iraq. How do I know this? Because Obama said so. In Obama-land, the reason for the decrease in violence and the increase in stability in Iraq is because the Democrats took over Congress in 2006. No, I’m not hallucinating, although Obama may be. Here’s Lorie Byrd’s catch of Obama’s take on the matter:

I missed the Republican debate, but am still sifting through my many emails from the candidates’ representatives. I came in on the Democrats’ debate almost an hour ago. I wasn’t going to post anything on it, until I heard the comments about the “surge.” Charles Gibson told the candidates that there is real evidence that the surge in Iraq is working. (Yep, you read that right. I wrote Charles Gibson. Of ABC News. It shocked me, too.) They showed a short piece about some of the improved security in Baghdad and the dramatic drop in U.S. casualties. He asked the candidates if they were wrong to oppose the surge. Predictably they all said the surge is a failure because there has not been political progress made. Obama said that much of the progress that has been made was due to agreements made between the tribes in the Anbar Province and that those were made (not because of the surge, but) because those in Iraq saw the Democrats win back the Congress in 2006 and decided they would be pulling the troops out so they had to step up [Update: This portion of the transcript from the debate has been added after the jump. The full transcript can be found HERE Bruce Kesler noted the "stolen valor" aspect of Obama's statement at Democracy Project .] I wanted Gibson to point out that even John Murtha had admitted the surge was working, but I guess that was a bit much to wish for.

Bruce Kesler caught it, too, and directs us to Jim Hoft for the most obvious error in that statement:

Obama also said the Anbar Awakening was an attempt by the Sunnis to make peace with the Shia.
SORRY- The Anbar Awakening was an agreement among Sunni Tribal Leaders to join together to fight Sunni Al-Qaeda terrorists.
It had nothing to do with the Shiites.
Obama showed that besides hope- he also has the audacity to make things up.

I have two comments. One is something I’m sure you’ve heard before: “If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a probably a duck.” The other is advice given to young medical doctors who, flush with newly acquired knowledge, often try to apply the most arcane diagnosis possible to any symptoms that walk through their door: “If you hear hoof beats outside your window, look for a horse, not a zebra.” My point in citing those two folksy aphorisms goes to the timing of the decrease in violence. The Democrats took Congress in November 2006 — and, as Obama himself admits, violence escalated dramatically. The Surge began in mid-year 2007 and, after a short increase in violence as the military engaged the bad guys in battle, it then decreased even more dramatically. If I were talking ducks and horses here, I’d be talking military horses, and Congressional lame ducks. (And that’s not even getting into the fact that, since the Dems ostensibly took over Congress they’ve done absolutely nothing but get a minimum wage law passed and make incandescent light bulbs illegally — neither of which are likely to strike fear into the hearts of tribesman everywhere.)

Obama has shown, again, that he’s not yet ready for prime time, since he’s both ignorant and disingenuous. I’m becoming more convinced than ever that his sudden ascendancy has nothing to do with his allgedly magical abilities on the campaign trail (something about which Bob Herbert embarrassingly swoons in an NYT op-ed), and everything to do with the fact that Iowa and NH primary voters (a) want an anti-War candidate (even as the War goes better — go figure that one out); and (b) they want the NOT Hillary candidate. This left them with a choice between the smarmy Silky Pony and the Harvard Law grad — and we know how much the party of the people hews to the Ivy League.

Others blogging: The Anchoress, Brutally Honest

Asking the wrong question *UPDATED*

The hyped question in Iowa’s (and, now, New Hampshire’s) wake is “Is America color-blind?” I think that’s the wrong question. Considering Obama’s white upbringing and his incredibly white life, he’s so much of an Oreo it’s not even funny — and that despite the fact that he keeps trying to make his race an issue. The more appropriate questions are: “Do people really hate Clinton that much?” “Are Democrats that stupid?” “Will Americans overall be buffaloed by the media into doing something incredibly stupid next November?”

I use the word “stupid” very deliberately. Ever since Obama emerged as a possible presidential contender, I’ve been hammering away at the fact that there is no there there. This man is a reflection of media desires, nothing more. Indeed, even those who like him concede that he’s a magical, mythical character who appeals more to people’s fantasies than their own the ground realities. As for me, more than a year ago, I designated him “Barack ‘Chance’ Obama” after Jerzy Kosinksi’s Chance the Gardener, in Being There. That others project onto this bland man their desires is perhaps more sad than anything else, but his missing resume is truly something to worry about. So, back to my question: are Americans really going to be stupid enough, during a time of war, internationally significant assassinations, worldwide Islamic terrorism, and economic insecurity to vote for a guy who has nothing to offer except for the fact that he’s enough of a nonentity to serve as the blank slate onto which they can project their desires?

As for me, if November 2008 sees Obama versus Huckabee, I’m staying home with a blanket pulled over my head, and a stuffed animal clutched against me for comfort. As far as I’m concerned, all hope will be gone regardless of that election’s outcome. Who knew that I’d ever wish for Hillary or McCain?

UPDATE: By the way, I’m not blind to the fact that Hillary has even less hands on experience than Obama, although I don’t think there’s any question but that she ran a weird shadow presidency while Bill was in the White House. She has, however, a vicious pragmatism that I think it more useful than Obama’s dreamy wishy-washy quality, especially when that is allied with his absence of practical experience.

It is interesting, when one thinks about it, that the Democrats have fielded nothing but Senators as their front runners. It’s as if the Democratic voters are terrified that they will inadvertently place in office someone who is actually useful.

Is it time for me to drag out the hoary old point that a Senator last took the White House in 1960?

UPDATE II:  Thinking about it some more, I’ve decided that my problem is that I really and truly don’t like any of the Democratic candidates, since I think they’re all deeply wrong for the most important issue of our time, which is national security.  I disagree with them on so much else, but could live with 4 years of them on all the other things (economy, education, health care, etc.), based on my optimistic belief that their errors in those areas can be rectified, even if only slowly.  Bad national security decisions, however, really and truly can spell the end of the world as we know it.  That’s why, while I dislike them all on domestic politics, and I think Hillary is as corrupt as can be, that vicious pragmatism that Hillary has strikes me as our best Democratic bet in case, God forbid, one of them takes the White House.

And I guess my deep upset with the Obama victory stems from the fact that it establishes conclusively that the anti-War party has gone from being the fringe-y squeaky wheel of the Democratic party to being the Dems’ center.  Weirdly, even as the War is progressing well, and genuinely positive changes are taking place in Iraq, it is the anti-War party that is ascendant.  I lived through the years after 1974, and I’m not thrilled about repeating that experience of national malaise and international disrespect, the more so as I believe that this War’s enemy is a very hierarchical one that sees things strictly in terms of top dog and kicked dog.  If we run, we’re the kicked dog, ripe for more kicking and deserving of death.

Are we willing to let little Iowa determine the entire Presidential election?

I don’t like Obama, whom I consider an empty shirt, utterly devoid of experience and elevated to his lofty position only because of his skin color, something that I consider that worst kind of racial identity politics. (I just checked and it turns out that, at this particular minute, Silky Pony, the radical rich plaintiffs’ attorney is in the lead in Iowa, a change from yesterday’s news, or even this morning’s. I find him just as distasteful as Obama, especially since I think he’s a huge hypocrite, living a life few of us can imagine, while demanding that we, in the working and middle classes, turn over our money to the government for him to manage. Pfeh!)

I’m no more thrilled about the Republicans’ potential Iowa frontrunner, Mike Huckabee. Indeed, the more I learn about him, the less I like him, despite his manifest charm. He’s a nanny stater; he’s too forgiving of sin, something that’s dangerous in a political leader, whether he’s being lenient to local killers or worldwide terrorists; he’s exceptionally ill-informed about the world about him, something scary in dangerous times; and he’s a religious bigot.

As to this last point, I have no problems with Huckabee being religious, a quality all of you know I admire. I do have big problems, however, with his exceptionally nasty remarks about Mormonism. I’m perfectly willing to concede that Mormonism has some wacky ideas but, viewed objectively, so do all religions. For example, to a non-believer, the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation does not make logical sense; the Jewish belief in some sort of ancient old covenant with God, a covenant that has caused Jews until untold suffering over the centuries, is hard to fathom; and the central Christian doctrine about Jesus’ resurrection reflects a leap of faith that the non-Christian just can’t make.

What should matter in America is not doctrine, but values. You practice your faith, and I’ll practice mine (or not). However, what I will scrutinize closely is, not your faith, but the fruits of your faith as expressed in the way you live your life and, if you’re a politician, in the direction you wish to take this nation. As to this, Mitt Romney has lived an exemplary life, one of hard and successful work, family values, and fiscal and social conservatism (especially, with regard to the latter, in the last few years). Nor has he ever given any indication during his very long public and private careers that he intends to use either his wealth or political power to impose his religious beliefs, doctrines or practices on anyone. In that, he differs substantially from, say, a devoutly religious Muslim, whose faith obligates him to try to impose Sharia law against one and all, including stoning, veils, amputations, etc. Whatever Mormon doctrines are, there’s no indication that those doctrines would affect Mitt’s governance. For Huckabee to run a campaign implying otherwise is just dirty campaigning.

However, much as I may not like these guys (Obama, Edwards and Huckabee), they are still the favored candidates going into the Iowa primaries. So be it. But am I the only one who is noticing that all the punditry seems to be saying that, if they take Iowa, they’re essentially the annointed candidates for their parties in the 2008 elections? With all due respect to the wonderful citizens of Iowa, I don’t think that the outcome of a single state’s primaries — especially a state that, in terms of population, comes in 30th, behind such states as Texas, New York, California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan — should be determinative of the entire election.

While Obama/Edwards, on the one hand, and Huckabee, on the other hand, will definitely get a boost if they take Iowa, the battle between the primary candidates will — or at least should — continue from one venue to another, and really won’t be resolved until February, when the big states have had their say. I mean, do you seriously expect all the other primary candidates just to drop out, to vanish, because these guys took Iowa? To ask the question is to expose the stupidity behind it.

I also think that, as least as to Huckabee, it’s just as likely that a Huckabee victory in Iowa will so frighten non-religious conservatives in New York, Florida, California, etc., that they’ll turn out in droves to vote for someone else during the primaries. (Of course, with Republican luck, they’ll vote for Ron Paul, won’t they?)

In any event, I refuse to fall into flat despair because of the Iowa predictions, nor will I respect American voters if they simply give up after Iowa and don’t turn out to support their candidate of choice. Iowa is a great place, I’m sure, but it shouldn’t be the alpha and omega of American presidential candidacies.

UPDATE: Noooo! Say it ain’t so, pollsters! Huck is tops nationwide, not just in Iowa? Well, so was Dean once upon a time. Americans can be fickle, and they like shiny new things.

UPDATE II:  Sorry for all the typos (including the one I corrected in the post caption).  I was pretty tired last night when I wrote this, and it shows.

Is Obama Jimmy Carter or is Huckabee?

National Review has a Rich Lowry article asking if Obama is this generation’s Jimmy Carter (an article available in its entirety to subscribers only). Here’s how Lowry describes Jimmy Carter, circa 1976:

Carter wasn’t really in the McCarthy-Hart-Bradley mold. He ran a conservative, or at least an ideologically indistinct, race in the 1976 Democratic primaries. He was cagey about his abortion views, but basically pro-life; relatively conservative on economics; and somewhat supportive of right-to-work laws. (As all the qualifiers suggest, he was hard to pin down on anything). Liberals distrusted him just because he was a southerner. He vied for the George Wallace vote and benefited from four major candidates — Morris Udall, Birch Bayh, Fred Harris, and Sargent Shriver — dividing liberal support.

The article goes on to track his similarities with Obama, such as the unexpected nature of his candidacy and the limited power of his experience.

Actually, I was thinking yesterday, after reading Robert Novak’s take-down of Mike Huckabee, that it is Huckabee who is the Carter of 2008, and that despite the fact that Huckabee is running as a Republican, not a Democrat. Here, in releveant part, is what Novak had to say about Huckabee’s decidedly unconservative tendencies:

There is no doubt about Huckabee’s record during a decade in Little Rock as governor. He was regarded by fellow Republican governors as a compulsive tax increaser and spender. He increased the Arkansas tax burden by 47 percent, boosting the levies on gasoline and cigarettes. When he decided to lose 100 pounds and pressed his new lifestyle on the American people, he was far from a Goldwater-Reagan libertarian.

As a presidential candidate, Huckabee has sought to counteract his reputation as a taxer by pressing for replacement of the income tax with a sales tax and has more recently signed the no-tax-increase pledge of Americans for Tax Reform. But Huckabee simply does not fit in normal boundaries of economic conservatism, as when he criticized President Bush’s veto of a Democratic expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Calling global warming a “moral issue” mandating “a biblical duty” to prevent climate change, he has endorsed the cap-and-trade system that is anathema to the free market.

In other words, like Carter, Huckabee is a Southern governor; like Carter, he is a devout Southern Baptist, so like Carter, he is the butt of media sneering about his religious and moral outlook; and, most significantly, like Carter, he believes in big, big government.

I’m pretty sure that Huckabee is a better man than Carter (and, on the moral trajectory Carter’s taken in the two decades, he could hardly be worse).  I like his wit and I like his support for Israel.  I bet I’d really enjoy spending time talking to the man.  I’m also not too troubled by his lack of Ivy League credentials, since I think we’re tending towards a fearsome elitism if we begin to expect Ivy League degrees from all future presidents.  But do remember that Carter’s religiosity did not stop him from embarking on a tax and spend governance that led to one of the saggiest, flabbiest economies America has suffered through.  Nor did people take well to being preached at by the White House for their own good.  It’s no coincidence that many people, myself included, consider him the worst President, if not ever, then at least of the modern era.  It’s also no coincidence that it was Carter’s successor, the supply side, ebullient Ronald Reagan who captured America’s hearts and minds.  And even if Huckabee isn’t Carter, he’s also definitely no Reagan.

How would you classify this story?

DQ often says — and I know he’s correct — that I tend to be too harsh on the media, forgetting that the media’s goal is to sell the most interesting spin pm a story, even if that story doesn’t comport with my view of how the same story should be reported. He and I have had some vigorous (but always friendly and civil) debates about coverage coming out of Iraq and Israel. With regard to reports from these two regions, I often find them biased because, with regard to Iraq, the press omits good news, and with regard to the Israel, the Press (a) gives moral equivalence to Israelis and Palestinians, something I don’t think Palestinians, by their conduct, deserve; and (b) focuses obsessively (and on the front page) on Palestinian children the Israelis kill, while pretty much giving short shrift (and back page status) to any children, Palestinian or Israeli, that the Palestinians kill.

By the way, as to Iraq, I’m certainly in good company in thinking that the media reports only bad news, not good. DQ might say good news isn’t news, but I think that’s true only in “bleed and lead” local reporting. When it comes to Iraq, which is the major political issue of our time, after pounding the bad news, the fact that good things are happening should be news too.

With that in mind — the fact that I tend to be suspicious of MSM coverage — I have a question for you. The SF Chronicle just did a story about Obama, which is presented as political analysis, but which I read as a puff piece by a wishful thinking reporter. How would you classify this story?

UPDATE: Incidentally, here is what I think of as an interesting fact based news story that ought to be given prominence as an offset to the endless “grim milestone” reports that the papers like to run on a regular basis.

UPDATE IIHere’s some more news that the media doesn’t consider news.

Obama is all smoke, but no fire

The LA Times has a story today that has just an incredibly funny title:

Polls don’t reflect Obama’s star power.

Maybe, if the polls don’t reflect Obama’s star power, it’s because he doesn’t have any. In other words, what makes a star a star, at least in the Hollywood world (and that is the world geographically closest to the LA Times) is the fact that people love him, are crazy about him, flock to him, and are willing to put their support behind him, either by buying tickets to his movies or by voting for him. If people don’t want to do those things, he’s probably not a star.

The secret behind the oxymoron in the title, and the oxymoronic thinking in the whole article is right here, in paragraph 9:

No candidate in recent memory has swept onto the national political scene with greater fanfare. Obama has been on magazine covers and talk shows. Oprah Winfrey endorsed him, and Obama Girl’s unrequited urges turned him into a YouTube sensation. He has raised nearly as much money as Clinton, and in Iowa, at least, has advertised twice as much (4,244 TV spots versus 2,192, according to the Nielsen Co.)

It’s not the people who love Obama, it’s the members of the media who love Obama. They’ve been trying to make him a star, and are frustrated that the public is resisting. Again, because the article used the “star” concept, which is a Hollywood construct, let’s give a Hollywood analogy.

The whole thing reminds me of Matthew McConaughey’s career.  He’s a guy who has been hanging around in Hollywood for a decade without ever becoming a big box office draw.  He’s kind of appealing, and he definitely makes real movies, but he simply doesn’t have star power.  The reason he’s always stuck in my mind, though, is because I carry such vivid memories of the hoopla when he hit Hollywood.  Every newspaper you picked up raved about him, assuring readers that he was going to be the next Tom Cruise, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, or Brad Pitt.  They wanted him to be a star.  The American viewing public did not — and the public won because they weren’t buying enough tickets to elevate him from perfectly okay actor to STAR.

And it’s precisely the same with Obama.  The media is relentlessly trying to market him as a star and the American public is not buying.  No matter what the media says, they recognize that there’s very little there there.  This is a guy who has minimal practical experience in any area of endeavor, who has little knowledge of the world around him, and who is prone to gaffes of the type the media would savage if he were a Republican.  He has all the charm of a good 5:00 p.m. news anchor — and no matter how much I might enjoy watching one of those guys, I’d never confuse his ability to read a news feed with actual knowledge or governing experience.

So, maybe the LA Times is bewildered about Obama’s failure to ignite the American public with his “star power,” but I certainly am not.

One disgruntled Obama supporter

Obama is and, to date, always has been a small timer.  Although he’s aiming for the highest office in the land, which is pretty much the highest office in the world, his practical experience is minimal, and it keeps on showing.  His latest move, to support the DREAM act which will encourage in-state tuition fees for illegal immigrants is getting shrieks of outrage — from his own base.  Thus, Jill Chapin, a self-described Obama supporter, has this to say:

This bill resonates with your base in a way that will ensure your losing the nomination. It smacks of unfairness, of people at the end of the line getting to move up to the front. It appeases the non-citizens while enraging registered voters. It makes us question your priorities. In a perfect world, all children would have access to a first-class education. But the United States simply cannot educate the world.

So your first allegiance should be to poor, disadvantaged American citizens who would salivate at the chance of attending an out of state school at in-state tuition rates. If there are resources left over to then help legal immigrants, then it is reasonable and right to help as many of them as we can.

Life is not fair, Senator Obama. Our schools are failing our own kids; until their needs are addressed, you are not in a position to use your influence to fund the world’s education. And you should not be rearranging truths to suit your agenda. Changing the language of our immigration laws simply to allow those of illegal status to be reclassified as legal, with all the benefits that change implies, is an insult not only to Americans but to legal immigrants. They have all played by the rules and are now shoved aside as others move in front of them. Your message seems to be that our laws are pliable, subject to what is politically expedient at the time.

Your biggest supporters such as I fear that we were so desperate to find a new kind of candidate that our gullibility in believing in you has been exposed.

***

If you hope to win the nomination for President of the United States, then you shouldn’t be campaigning for President of North America.

Ms. Chapin’s analyses, both of the DREAM Act and of Obama, are completely correct.

Papa Giuliani

A woman in New Hampshire, who’s been billed in the MSM as an ordinary Mom but is, in fact, someone with a long record of liberal political activism, has thrust Rudy Giuliani’s parenting into the spotlight by stating “”If a person is running for president, I would assume their children would be behind them. If they’re not, you’ve got to wonder.” What an utterly fatuous thing to say, and what a waste of time for Giuliani to have to defend against this type of touchy feely garbage. Let me take a moment here to reprint an American Thinker article I wrote some months ago when I foresaw that the MSM would work this issue. Although I predicted the attack would come based on the Republican candidates’ divorce records, rather than their parenting skills, I think the principles are the same.

Marriage and Politics (first run on April 30, 2007 at American Thinker)

It was only a matter of time before Democratic politicians (as opposed to just late night talk show hosts) began commenting on the fact that the leading Republican candidates have an awful lot of ex-wives floating around. Although he’s carefully vague, one has to assume that, when Howard Dean said of Rudy Giuliani that “His personal life is a serious problem for him,” he was talking about Giuliani’s two ex-wives (not to mention his sordid divorce so that he could marry his current wife), his third wife’s ex-husbands, and his son’s disdain for the whole marriage-go-round.

Many of the other Republican candidates don’t look so good either when it comes to managing their private lives. John McCain is on wife number two and may have started his relationship with her while still married to wife number one (although since his first wife and children have forgiven him, surely we should too). Fred Thompson is likewise on wife number two, and many people will either be envious of or put off by the fact that his second wife is significantly younger than he is. Newt Gingrich also boasts a spotty marital history, marred by the popular (but untrue) belief that he served divorce papers on his first wife while she was hospitalized for cancer treatments. And as with Thompson, Gingrich’s current wife (his third) is a much younger woman. Of the leading names on the Republican side, only Mitt Romney has a clean marital record, having been married to the same woman for 38 years (a commitment that may well have been helped by the fact that, just as he is an extremely handsome man, so too is his wife a very beautiful woman).

In striking contrast to the Republicans, the Democratic frontrunners can boast that they have many fewer marriages between them. Hillary Clinton’s marriage, despite its manifest peculiarities, has lasted 32 years. One can wonder what kept her with a compulsive womanizer for so long, but the fact is that she took her marriage vows seriously, and she and Bill are still together. Barack Obama also has a good track record (aided perhaps by the fact that he’s younger than the other candidates, so hasn’t had as much time to get into trouble). He and his wife have been together 15 years. John Edwards, he of the beautiful hair, has been married to Elizabeth for 30 years. Al Gore and Tipper have been married 37 years.

Usually, when faced with these numbers (both years of marriage and number of spouses), the discussion wanders off into rants about hypocrisy. As in “It’s hypocritical for conservatives to divorce.” Or, “It’s hypocritical for a feminist such as Hillary to put up with a rampant womanizer.” As for the first argument, I don’t know that any of these much-married conservative candidates have ever advocated the end of divorce, and I’m sure all would agree, with themselves as terrible examples, that stable family relationships are good things. As for the second argument, Hillary’s private decisions about love, family and (one assumes) political expediency are hers alone, and should not be used against her in a hypocrisy argument. As the Victorians used to say, “Who knows the mysteries of the human heart?”

I actually would approach this whole marriage thing another way, and (unsurprisingly to those who know my biases) it’s a way that favors the Democrats as spouses, and the Republicans as leaders. I have no doubt but that the Democrats – by which I really mean the male Democratic candidates – are much nicer husbands than the caddish Republicans. I’m sure that, in dealing with their beloved wives, they’re sensitive and thoughtful. They like to talk about their feelings and, in turn, they’re willing to listen when their wives talk about their own feelings. When there’s a big decision to be made in the family, these men make sure that their wives are full partners in the decision-making. They’re probably just dreamy husbands.

The question, though, is whether those dreamy spousal qualities are what we want in a President. That is, do we really want a President who will sit for hours listening to people in the Oval Office, whether employees, Congress people, or foreign leaders, sharing their feelings, while periodically chiming in with his own recitation of emotional moments? Do we want someone who would never be rude enough to end a discussion and simply make a judgment call? Is it appropriate for the leader of the most powerful nation in the world always to take feelings into account when he makes a decision?

I get uncomfortable when I think of our Commander-in-Chief sensitively opining that “I’m worried that it will hurt Kim Jong-Il feelings if we increase sanctions against him for going ahead with his weapon’s program.” Equally awful would be our emotionally open leader reminding his Cabinet team that “You have to understand that Ahmadinejad is throwing out these nuclear threats against Israel because he feels humiliated by their technological sophistication, despite their nation’s small size. And he’s short. We should cut him a lot of slack because it’s understandable that his psyche responds negatively to these wounds.”

You can see why, when I think of an ideal personality for an American president, I don’t think of a New Age sensitive man. Instead, I think of someone who has strong political principles; who is willing to make tough calls (“the buck stops here“); and who does what he thinks is right, not what will make people like him.

These same leadership qualities, of course, tend to make for lousy modern-day husbands. They might have worked in a pre-modern era, when the husband was the head of his home, just as the President is the executive in charge of his country, but they work very badly in today’s world, where husbands and wives are expected to be partners.

No modern woman worth her salt is going to be happy in a relationship with someone who is pretty darn sure he knows what’s right; who is more interested in the big picture (his ideas about family economics, personal job security, etc.) than in what makes her happy; and who doesn’t care if his decisions ultimately rub her, and everyone in the neighborhood or family, the wrong way, as long as he thinks they’re the right decisions. In other words, partnership and leadership are not the same things, and they call for very different qualities. Someone who succeeds in the first arena may be precisely what we don’t need in the second one.

So feel free to consider the candidates’ personal lives when you’re contemplating casting your vote for one or another, whether in the primaries or in the Presidential election itself. Just remember that, merely because one candidate is a devoted husband may not make him a powerful leader (and Americans wisely like strong leaders during times of crisis), while the fact that another candidate is a difficult spouse, although not indicative of his ability to partner sensitively (which is a luxury for peace time), may nevertheless prove the more important fact that he can lead well during a crisis.

(If you think this post deserves prominence on Patrick Ruffini’s 2008 Presidential Wire, please click **here**.)

UPDATE: It occurred to me that Romney’s enduring marriage may not be out of synch with the other Republicans when it comes to leadership abilities. My understanding is that, in a traditional Mormon marriage, the man is very much the old fashioned pater familias. If that is indeed the expectation with which the Romneys went into their marriage, and that is the dominant theme for their marriage, there needn’t be much contrast between Romney’s style and home and his style in politics — nor would there be friction in the marriage about the absence of such contrast.

The missing Obama resume

A month ago, I had published at American Thinker a long rumination about the fact that most of the Democratic candidates, whatever else they are, are not responsible adults. Of Obama, I said:

Barack Obama, of course, is a Senator squared. This is a man who has never taken on solo responsibility (although I’ll agree that he had a charmingly eclectic childhood). After a short career as a junior associate at a law firm (a position singularly devoid of primary responsibility), he went on to become a lecturer (an important job, but not a particularly brave or patriarchal one), then an Illinois State Senator and for the past two and half years, he’s been a United States Senator. This is a Peter Pan career, one in which Obama has managed to garner a lot of face time without ever actually assuming responsibility for anything or anybody.

Perhaps others are also starting to figure out that Obama has absolutely no experience, but is merely a man onto whom liberals project their wishes. Thus, John Dickerson, writing at Slate, has an article entitled “Obama’s Achilles Heel,” with the subtitle “What’s he ever done?” As part of a longer article discussion about the relative strengths of Hillary and Obama, Dickerson has this to say about Obama:

What Obama can’t grow on the campaign trail is a different life experience. And Hillary Clinton and her campaign are going to be relentless in raising the experience issue. To fix this problem the Obama team is insisting that Obama has a different kind of what they call “real” experience. They’re running television commercials highlighting his years as a community organizer and state senator. “A lot of people think that Barack Obama was born at the DNC convention in 2004,” says his communications director Robert Gibbs. (That’s probably because the campaign uses the clip so often to promote him.) The ads start with chapter headings for each of the stages of his career and plenty of black-and-white photos to suggest he has had an epic life. On the stump and in debates, Obama is also stressing his past. When he spoke about his urban agenda, he pointed out that poverty was “the cause that led me to a life of public service almost 25 years ago.”

***

By claiming a special judgment in foreign policy, Obama exposes himself to uncomfortable follow-ups. He made dramatic claims that Clinton’s conditional views on negotiating with rogue nations meant her approach was merely “Bush-Cheney light,” but Obama had expressed a nearly identical view just before the big spat. He says he wouldn’t be afraid to tell leaders like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hard truths face to face. On what past experience will he draw for these high-wire negotiations? What high pressures has he endured to prepare him for the appealing, but risky, diplomacy he promises? Obama supporters are fond of comparing him to John F. Kennedy, but they have forgotten that Kennedy’s first meeting with Khruschev didn’t go so well and his first foreign-policy adventure, the Bay of Pigs, was a disaster because of the new president’s inexperience and naiveté.

UPDATE:  Pay attention to the last words in the quotation above:  “his first foreign-policy adventure . . . was a disaster because of the new president’s inexperience and naiveté.”  With those words fixed firmly in your mind, go over to this post at the Captain’s Quarters, and read carefully as the Captain slices and dices Obama’s most recent foreign policy proposal, this one about Pakistan.  In one second, Obama has gone from being a stupid choice to being a dangerous choice for President.

Pigs in fancy dress

The Democrats are doing their annual “we’re religious too” shtick. That’s as may be.

As for me, in thinking about the Democrats’ approach to religion, in and of itself, and to the nexus of religion and politics, I’ll leave you with two things, one to read and one to contemplate.

The thing you ought to read is the religious test Democratic Senators (including Hillary) are trying to impose against the President’s nominee for U.S. Surgeon General.

The thing that you should contemplate as you consider the candidates’ claims to be religiously in synch with all moral Americans is this federal judge’s take on labels: “[A]t the end of the day, even if you put a calico dress on it and call it Florence, a pig is still a pig.” Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp., Inc., 147 F.Supp.2d 668, 671 (S.D.Tex.,2001).

Playing the race card

Apparently the “Magic Negro” is not above playing the race card:

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Tuesday that the Bush administration has done nothing to defuse a “quiet riot” among blacks that threatens to erupt just as riots in Los Angeles did 15 years ago. The first-term Illinois senator said that with black people from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast still displaced 20 months after Hurricane Katrina, frustration and resentments are building explosively as they did before the 1992 riots.

“This administration was colorblind in its incompetence,” Obama said at a conference of black clergy, “but the poverty and the hopelessness was there long before the hurricane.

“All the hurricane did was to pull the curtain back for all the world to see,” he said.

Obama’s criticism of Bush prompted ovation after ovation from the nearly 8,000 people gathered in Hampton University’s Convocation Center, particularly when he denounced the Iraq war and noted that he had opposed it from the outset.

Repeatedly, he referred to the riots that erupted in Los Angeles after a jury acquitted four police officers of assault charges in the 1991 beating of Rodney King, a black motorist, after a high speed chase. Fifty-five people died and 2,000 were injured in several days of riots in the city’s black neighborhoods.

“Those ‘quiet riots’ that take place every day are born from the same place as the fires and the destruction and the police decked out in riot gear and the deaths,” Obama said. “They happen when a sense of disconnect settles in and hope dissipates. Despair takes hold and young people all across this country look at the way the world is and believe that things are never going to get any better.”

I don’t know, but it seems to be that playing the race card is . . . well . . . just so cynical.

Hat tip: Drudge

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