Re-building old stereotypes

When Hillary cried the first time, it apparently humanized her for some. When she cried the second time, she began to look a little weak and self-centered. And now that she’s cried the third time (this time, wisely, for someone other than herself) it seems to me she’s feeding into the worst old-fashioned stereotypes of what happens when you place women in politics. This is starting to look like an old I Love Lucy episode only, instead of Lucy trying to wiggle out a tough spot with a sob and and “Oh, Ricky,” we’re getting Hillary doing dong the wiggling, with a pathetic “Oh, media! Look at me. I’m human.”

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.

Are McCain and Hillary/Obama really the same?

I do wonder if my ability to accept McCain is fairly easy because I’m a pragmatist, a neocon or a simplistic thinker. The first is the argument I make: McCain’s not perfect, but he’s better than the Democratic candidates. The second argument is that, because I’m a neophyte conservative, I’m more easily able to back away from core conservative matters and contemplate a more liberal conservative (if that last isn’t an oxymoron). Maybe so. And finally, one could argue that I’ve just got a fairly primitive brain that can’t handle too many complex ideas.

For example, in comments to my posts about McCain, Earl has taken a very interesting, thoughtful and nuanced position. As I understand it, he feels that, if Hillary is in the White House, the Republicans in Congress will act as a strong bulwark against her more liberal policies. However, if McCain is in the White House, he’s inevitably going to drag these same Republicans to the Left, because they won’t be able to form a strong opposition — he is, after all, of their party — and there will be an inevitable drift into the Democratic camp. As for me, probably because I’m not a very nuanced thinker, while I can understand what Earl is saying, I just have a hard time envisioning it actually happening. I think that’s more a limitation in my thinking than a practical statement about the realities that we may face in 2009 if McCain is President. Nevertheless, for every person who thinks in the complex, strategic way that Earl does, I suspect that there are at least two blockheads like me who will be voting in the Fall.

Because Earl is looking beyond McCain and examining McCain’s interaction with Congress, I thought that William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn had a very interesting point about Congress’s impact, not on McCain, but on Hillary, who has suddenly become the candidate of choice for conservatives worried about McCain:

There is a great deal of difference between Senators McCain and Clinton (and Obama), and those records become important as we recognize a few simple facts: We are in an existential war against Islamic terrorists throughout the world. This very week, Senator Clinton was asked what her first act in office would be. She stated that first act would be the beginning of the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq within 60 days. Her first act. That is a surrender to the enemy — there is no other way to portray such a withdrawal and there is no other way it will be portrayed by our enemies and other observers around the world.

Some will say, “She can’t mean it, she’s stronger and more sensible than that.” Caution: Recall that Senator Clinton will be our commander-in-chief from a party that also runs the Senate and House — and the leadership in the Senate and House, not to mention the most active members in them, want us out of Iraq. Even on her most “sensible” day do we think she can be relieved of that pressure? The Democrats on the Hill have been chomping at the bit to make good on their 2006 promises; will she really turn on them? Can she?

In other words, if one assumes — as one must — that Congress will continue with a Democratic majority, even a small one, that majority will push the Commander in Chief — that is, Hillary — to exercise her unique prerogative to end the war. No Republican coalition, no matter how vocal and coordinated, can stop that from happening. Since I believe, as do Bennett and Leibsohn, that the War against Islamism is the most serious existential issue of our time, that’s kind of the end of the argument. Hillary = dangerous when it comes to Islamists; McCain = fairly solid when it comes to Islamists. (And maybe that’s the neocon in me speaking again.)

Bennett and Leibsohn are also more sanguine than are my “I’m an ardent conservative but will vote for Hillary” readers when it comes to the Supreme Court:

Second, we come to the realization that at least one Supreme Court justice is about to retire, and several others will be over age 70 come January 2009. Do we really think the nominees Senator McCain or Clinton (or Obama ) would appoint will be no different?

Let’s go to their records, to the very time-period opponents of Senator McCain cite in their indictment of him.

McCain voted to defund Planned Parenthood last year, Clinton didn’t and would likely expand Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding.

McCain voted to ban partial-birth abortion, Clinton didn’t and would likely reverse the partial-birth abortion ban.

McCain voted for Roberts and Alito and made the case for them in the media, Clinton didn’t.

And in recent spending votes, McCain is also distinguishable from the Democratic herd, even though he’s not as much as a hardliner as solid conservatives would wish:

McCain has never voted for a tax increase, Clinton will increase taxes.

McCain will continue the Bush tax cuts, Clinton will end them.

McCain will end pork-barrel spending, Clinton supports the endowment of projects like the Woodstock Museum with taxpayer funding.

Even on free speech, as to which McCain bears the huge black mark of McCain-Feingold, it will still be worse under Hillary: “McCain sponsored legislation to keep the Fairness Doctrine from rearing its head again, Clinton has not and has signaled moves to revive it.”

The differences that Bennett and Leibsohn point out between the two candidates go on and on and on. It’s worthwhile to read these differences because I think McCain has become something of a bogey-man. He’s certainly not a conservative purist, but he’s no liberal.

Also, as you read the comparisons, it’s important to keep in mind that we internet geeks are the ones who care most strongly about politics, so we’re most likely to stake out carefully thought through ideological positions that are probably going to be more . . . extreme? pure? rigid? Pick your word or add one of your own. The same doesn’t hold true for the vast number of voters, people who want someone who is pretty much like them on most issues, and who isn’t planning on walking away from a war or turning our laws over to the sharia courts. As for all the other issues? Well, as far as those voters are concerned, the other issues are for the blogosphere to argue about.

And as I’ve said in other posts, there is a very good chance that people are clustering in the McCain center because they find almost impossible to contemplate another four years (or more) of the intense political hostility that characterized both the Clinton and Bush presidencies.

I’ll give Bennett and Leibsohn the last word, one that looks to the two alternatives of a McCain presidency and that opts for the more optimistic one:

Let’s admit the concern: Some people predict that a President McCain will open the borders, close Guantanamo, and tie our policies to some false premises related to global warming. We hope he doesn’t, but even critics must admit it is just as likely — if not more so — that his legacy will be the following: He pursued al-Qaeda to the ends of the Earth and vanquished them; he cut deficit spending and vetoed pork-barrel spending over and over again; he appointed four good justices to the Supreme Court; and he reinvigorated a sense of thoughtful patriotism, citizenship, and unselfish devotion to the Republic.

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

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.

Devoid of inspiration, so here’s Genesis

I’m summarizing deposition transcripts and it is a mind numbing experience, to say the least.  I’m also utterly uninspired by anything in today’s news.  For example, I believe Hillary when she says she has absolutely no memory of meeting Rezko.  It’s clearly an old photo (check out Hill’s hair); I’m sure she did take hundreds, if not thousands, of these “I met the President and his wife” photos; and she’d never have raised the matter against Obama if she thought it could bite her.  So no news here.  Everyone move along.

As for the upset about the polite Republican debate, why are people fussing?  I think it’s great.  I want to elect the candidate who can best beat the Democrats, not the candidate who can be nastiest to his fellow Republicans — especially since that same nastiness can later be used as fodder by the Dems during the general election.  It’s great that they were talking about their experience and abilities and comparing those to Hillary’s lack of same.  The only thing about which I quibble is that they failed to attack the Democratic agenda more globally.  It would have been smarter than piling on Hillary.

And now, with a brain sucked completely dry by depositions that leave me wondering if my side or the other side in the case boasts the more skilled sociopathic liar (since they’re all spinning whoppers), I give you Genesis:

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?

What to expect from a Hillary White House

I meant to blog about this last week and never got around to it, “this” being the fact that Judicial Watch finally obtained just a few of the 3 million pages of hidden documents related to Hillary’s ill-fated attempt to nationalize health care.  Actually, I wasn’t going to blog at all.  Instead, I was going to send you to the Captain’s Quarters to see what he had to say on the subject.  Given Hillary’s pattern and practice over the decades, what is revealed probably won’t surprise you too much:  rather than allow a debate on the merits, Hillary and her minions were trying to figure out ways to use the federal government to smear opponents so that they would be afraid or unable to challenge the task force’s recommendations.  So, in a way, it’s not news, it’s just more of the same.

What is a bit more newsworthy, and it’s something the Captain blogs about this week, is the fact that the MSM has resolutely ignored these documents.  Considering that she is the Democratic front runner today,  and that there has actually emerged a White House record on which she can run (since she’s boasted about her White House experience), one might think the press would be interested.  And if one thought that, one might be wrong.  Here’s a very upset Captain on the problem with our Fourth Estate:

Where are the media organizations that style themselves as the bulwark against governmental abuses of power? Why haven’t they reported on these memos, which clearly delineate a type of attack on government opposition that hasn’t been this baldly proposed since the Nixon administration? Given Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency — one on which she relies on her experience in her husband’s administration for her qualifications — isn’t all of this terribly relevant to the question of how she will run the White House, and what kind of treatment her critics can expect to receive?

The silence from the Fourth Estate is deafening. It screams either cowardice or collaboration.

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.)

It’s the economy, Stupid!

The title of my post should ring a few bells in the minds of those old enough to vote in 1992. It was, after all, Bill Clinton’s official campaign theme (with “I feel your pain” being the unofficial theme). Perhaps the economy will be the undoing of Hillary’s campaign — although it should, by the same measure, be the undoing of the Obama campaign, or any Democratic campaign. Here’s the Captain:

Which spectre haunts financial advisers the most? Terrorism? Global unrest? Not even close. According to a survey of over 200 financial advisers taken in December, their biggest worry is that Hillary Clinton will win the presidential election in November:

Nothing worries financial advisers more than the prospect of a Democrat’s being elected president in November, according to a quarterly poll by Brinker Capital Inc.The fourth-quarter edition of the Brinker Barometer, which polled 236 advisers in December, found that 22% indicated that a “Democrat in the White House” worried them more than all other economic or geopolitical concerns.

Rounding out the list of concerns was “global unrest” (15%), “U.S. economic growth” (15%), “a terrorist attack” (13%) and “a recession” (13%).

They’re less concerned about recession than dealing with the economic policies of a new Clinton administration. They fear that a big increase in taxes will erode equity investments, especially given the proclivity of Democrats to target equity funds for new taxes to pay for their increased spending. Eighty-one percent feel that Democrats will raise capital gains taxes, income taxes, and dividends.

Interestingly, Rudy Giuliani gets the biggest endorsement in the survey. One might have expected Mitt Romney, with his extensive experience in investments, would have generated the most enthusiasm.

Great minds think alike

Nothing makes me purr like a cat more than discovering that one of my ideas parallels an idea emanating from someone I admire.  One of the people I admire very much in the blogosphere is Chris Muir, who writes the Day By Day Cartoon.  Here’s his cartoon from today:

And here’s my post from last Monday. To which, gloatingly, I have only one thing to say:  Hah! I’m purring now.

The politics of perpetual outrage

As many have commented before, and as I’ve commented here, politics is ever more becoming a process of analyzing ones own “feelings,” rather than actually looking at the candidates’ positions and history. Hillary bore the brunt of just the latest “you hurt my feelings” attack against her (which is a nice irony, I guess, because it was her husband who trail blazed the emotional style of politicking). This political kerfuffle arose, as far as I can see, because a South Carolina leader was personally offended that Hillary didn’t hit precisely the right note when speaking of Martin Luther King:

As the issue of race takes centre stage in the Democratic presidential contest, Barack Obama had a boost yesterday as he and Hillary Clinton compete for black and Hispanic votes.

In South Carolina, scene of a key showdown on January 26, where half the Democratic electorate are African Americans, one of the state’s most influential black congressmen hinted that he might endorse Mr Obama. He said he was angered by what he claims were were dismissive comments about Martin Luther King by Mrs Clinton.

James Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress and a veteran of the civil rights movement, referred to comments made by Mrs Clinton on Monday, the day before her stunning comeback in New Hampshire set up a brutal nomination battle with Mr Obama.

Mrs Clinton, trying to make a point about presidential leadership and Mr Obama’s constant references to Dr King, the civil rights icon, said: “Dr King’s dream began to be realised when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done.”

In fact, while I agree with little Hillary has to say, she was right in this case. King was the standard bearer for the desegregation battle but he was not, in fact, the one who accomplished desegregation at the federal. That job did, in fact, belong to the federal government, with Congress passing an act that Johnson then signed. For Clyburn to take umbrage at Hillary’s pointing out a historical reality, and to use that as the basis for withdrawing his support is the politics of the personal taken to the point of idiocy. It’s one thing to disagree with Hillary because you don’t believe her future plans or past practices provide the political benefits you desire; it’s another thing entirely to turn your back on her because you think that, by stating a historical fact, she damned with faint praise someone whose memory you think you own.

UPDATE: And more of the same:

A series of comments from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her husband and her supporters are spurring a racial backlash and adding a divisive edge to the presidential primary as the candidates head south to heavily African-American South Carolina.

The comments, which ranged from the New York senator appearing to diminish the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement — an aide later said she misspoke — to Bill Clinton dismissing Sen. Barack Obama’s image in the media as a “fairy tale” — generated outrage on black radio, black blogs and cable television. And now they’ve drawn the attention of prominent African-American politicians.

“A cross-section of voters are alarmed at the tenor of some of these statements,” said Obama spokeswoman Candice Tolliver, who said that Clinton would have to decide whether she owed anyone an apology.

“There’s a groundswell of reaction to these comments — and not just these latest comments but really a pattern, or a series of comments that we’ve heard for several months,” she said. “Folks are beginning to wonder: Is this really an isolated situation, or is there something bigger behind all of this?”

In a race that’s getting bogged down in ugly racial overtones, everyone involved in this fight would do well to remember King’s words:

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.

Of course, considering how little character the involved parties seem to be able to rustle up amongst themselves, maybe it’s no surprise that this is where things have ended up.

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.

Hillary’s new theme song

Michelle Malkin is soliciting submissions for Hillary’s new theme song.  Here’s mine:

Still waiting for the dust to settle *UPDATED*

The talk amongst the Moms is the neighborhood is “Will this vacation never end?” Actually, it will, but only tomorrow, so I’m still marking time. This morning, I got the kids rallied and we scrubbed the house from top to bottom — almost. I was about to vacuum, when I suddenly had a deluge of neighborhood kids and decided that the smarter thing would be to vacuum after they left. I impressed upon all of them that terrible things would happen, though, if they made a mess in the house, so they’re all playing rather peacefully right now.

I haven’t yet had the chance to do my morning reading, and probably don’t have the full complement of brain cells to make anything of any reading anyway — which is a rather scary though when you think that I’m about to embark on some heavy duty legal research regarding the true meaning behind some completely unintelligible statutes. Nor do I think the statutes’ unintelligibility is a coincidence. They all show up in the statutory material that governs suing State government, and I have no doubt that the Legislature made the material impenetrable to ensure that unwitting claimants will invariably have committed a procedural error that enables the Court to do some equitable calculations when deciding whether to keep or not keep the case. That is, because the statutes are intentionally fuzzy, the Court can decide whether it’s a good case or not, and then use the fuzzy rules either to give the case a pass or dismiss it — right at the get go, without the necessity for any other procedural or substantive motions. Since my client is a state employee who is being sued, I’m hoping that the Court decides the case against him is a bad one and uses the rules in his favor.

Since I’m not offering anything useful here, let me direct you to Blackfive (thanks Y, for the tip), which has a great two part post. The first part tricks the mind, and the second part points out the sleight of hand Hillary is trying to get past voters. (And please remember, that much as I seriously dislike Hillary, I still find her the better candidate than either Obama or Silky Pony, given that I think she’s vicious enough to wage war against Islamists, while the other two can rise to some serious nastiness, but are incapable of a fight.)

Oh, one other thing! The Anchoress has proven that she is not only intelligent and witty, but also prescient. On January 2, 2008 (that is, almost a week ago), she wrote these words:

What I dread most in this political season is the “genuine” moment – and it is coming, soon, sometime between today and tomorrow, or tomorrow and New Hampshire – when Mrs. Clinton, in her ongoing effort to turn herself into whatever the polls says she must be, cries in public. It’s going to be genuinely ghastly.

And today, this is in the news:

ABC News’ Kate Snow Reports: Campaigning in New Hampshire one day before the first-in-the-nation primary, Senator Hillary Clinton got emotional and had tears in her eyes as she spoke with voters about how hard it is to balance a busy campaign life and her passion for the country’s future.

The Senator from New York was sitting at a big table in Cafe Espresso in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with 16 undecided voters, mostly women, warmly and calmly taking questions.

Then she took an unexpected question from a woman standing in the back.

“My question is very personal, how do you do it?” asked Marianne Pernold Young, a freelance photographer from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She mentioned Clinton’s hair and appearance always looking perfectly coifed. “How do you, how do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?”

Clinton began responding, jokingly. First talking about her hair: “You know, I think, well luckily, on special days I do have help. If you see me every day and if you look on some of the websites and listen to some of the commentators they always find me on the day I didn’t have help. It’s not easy.”

But then, Clinton began getting emotional: “It’s not easy, and I couldn’t do it if I didn’t passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country just don’t want to see us fall backwards,” she said.

Her voice breaking and tears in her eyes, she said, “You know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political it’s not just public. I see what’s happening, and we have to reverse it.”

Oh, ick! Actually, I’ll give Hillary credit for really feeling those emotions. In her own mind, she’s been Queen of America since 1992, and she must have been very certain that the voters would officially crown her in 2008. For her to suffer this kind of set-back must be devastating. I do not believe, though, that she’s going to drop out. Hillary’s style is to fight back and to do so using my favorite Hillary tactic: viciousness. She’s going to make mincemeat of Obama before she’s done. Indeed, I’m kind of willing to bet that she’s willing to destroy the entire Democratic field through dirty fighting, rather than to retreat peaceably.

UPDATE:  Regarding Hillary’s capacity to think more intelligently about Iraq than her fellow Dems, see the first item in today’s Best of the Web.

Not a good sign

It seems to be me a bit desperate that the Clinton campaign is using her Mommy to promote her worthiness for presidential office. Unless you’re a truly dreadful person — and, sometimes, even if you are a monstrous person — your Mom is the person who will always step up to bat for you. The whole concept makes it look as if Hillary can’t find anyone else to speak up on her behalf.

UPDATE:  This little squiblet got picked up at Patrick Ruffini’s 2008 Presidential Wire.  If you think it deserves more prominence there, click here.

“Youths” honor decedents of “ethnic descent” by continuing to attack French police

I kid you not — the language I put in quotations in this post caption is the precise language the BBC uses to describe those who are engaged in a little bit of urban unrest In France. You know, the kind of innocuous urban rioting that results in more than 80 policeman being injured from beatings and bullets. Here, let me show you:

At least 10 cars have been burned and a fire broke out at a library in Toulouse, southern France, following consecutive nights of rioting in Paris.

There was also more violence in the capital as youths set cars on fire in the suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, the Associated Press news agency reports.

***

Relatives of the two dead teenagers, who were both from ethnic minorities, have insisted that police rammed their motorcycle before leaving them to die. (Emphasis mine.)

And that’s it. That’s all the information the BBC is going to give you about those rioters. But in this internet day and age, “ve haf vays” of finding out more information, even though it’s tough, very tough to do so. The Bloomberg report, for example, coyly hints at the ethnic nature of the “unrest” (Bloomberg’s word, not mine), by stating that “In France, poor neighborhoods and housing projects where many immigrants live tend to be far from city centers.” Hmm. Immigrants from where, I wonder? But we’re putting the pieces together. We’ve now got immigrant communities with people of ethnic descent.

AP, surprisingly is fairly forthright about the nature of the suburbs in which this year’s batch of riots is taking place, although it can’t resist implying that the poor innocents doing the attacking are doing so righteously because of their alienation: “The unrest showed that anger still smolders in France’s poor neighborhoods, where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live largely isolated from the rest of society.” And again, “Youths, many of them Arab and black children of immigrants, again appeared to be lashing out at police and other targets seen to represent a French establishment they feel has left them behind.”

I’m sorry to say that the British paper The Independent is no help at all. While it boldly calls the youthful attacks on police something akin to “guerrilla warfare,” it places the blame firmly where it belongs: on the police. You see, last year, long after the riots ended, it turned out that the two youths who were electrocuted had been acting innocently when the police chased them into the power substation, knowing it was dangerous. (It does not appear that this was known when the actual riots happened, of course.) In other words, The Independent agrees with AP that the current crop of youths is righteously upset about the two kids killed while on the motor scooters, clearly justifying anarchy.

So, both at home and abroad, the MSM narrative is as follows: Young people are rioting in Paris and, in true “if it bleeds it leads” tradition, the news reports will happily tell you that they’re organized, they’re armed, and they’re incredibly aggressive, so much so that scores of police have been injured, and we’re not even talking property damage. If you insist on knowing more about who these people are, we’ll hint that they’re friends of youths of ethnic descent, and that they live in neighborhoods that have primarily Arab and African immigrants and their children.

If you suspect that part of the problem might be that these Arab and African immigrants are Muslim, please be assured that you are wrong. In the ponderous language of social scientists, the reporters will assure you that the riots/unrest/guerrilla warfare problem is entirely due to (1) the government’s treating these youths badly and (2) the fact that it emerged after last year’s riots that the police might have lied about their run-in with two of these same types of youths.

By the way, I don’t have any doubt but that part of the reason — even a large part of the reason — that these riots happen is because French society, indeed most European society, is set up so that there is no path to integration and assimilation for immigrants. That societal failure to absorb immigrants means that they’re going to be sitting in slums that become powder kegs of anger, unrest and, eventually, violence. Believing that, though, doesn’t mean that I don’t also believe that another, possibly significant, part of the problem is that there is a connection in this day and age between Muslims and violence. And when news reports play so coy, rather than my ending up believing that Islam has nothing to do with the violence, I tend to believe that Islam does have something to do with the violence and that the press is simply avoiding an issue it does not want to address.

And by the way, this kind of media avoidance syndrome — where you have to read through scads of articles to gather the puzzle pieces that shape the whole picture — is not limited to youth violence. Over at Big Lizards, Dafydd has taken the time to investigate the hidden, and very sordid, connection between the Clintons and InfoUSA, with the latter being a database marketer that knowingly sells information about vulnerable populations (the old and the sick) to organizations that run scams on these same people. He’s also taken the time to smell a rat in the article that purports to show a racist/religious-ist Romney refusing to contemplate the possibility of a Muslim holding a high government position in his administration. (Note to MSM types: it’s the carefully placed ellipses that always end up giving you away.)

My bottom line to the media: either report the news or stop pretending that you do.

UPDATE: It’s currently hidden behind the WSJ’s subscription wall, but John Fund has written a great article about Nancy Pelosi’s current effort to make America more like France by working to ensure that the current generation of immigrants remains stuck forever in non-English speaking poverty. Consistent with fair use, I’ll give you just a taste of what Fund has to say, and we’ll hope that the WSJ soon releases the article for general consumption:

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn’t think that’s controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show “the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English.” A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it “very important” that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

UPDATE II: More on liberal efforts to keep minorities ghettoized.

UPDATE III: For a literary touch, I’ll just throw in one more thing. Because I’m feeling lazy, I’ve been re-reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night, one of my favorite novels from England in the mid-1930s. (Even though it’s a mystery, I view it as a novel because, after many readings, there are no mysteries left in that book for me.) The book takes place at Oxford, and has a healthy respect for the old-fashioned idea of academic objectivity. Sayers therefore has one of her characters, during a discussion with someone about a history book, say the following:

“I entirely agree that a historian ought to be precise in detail; but unless you take all the characters and circumstances concerned into account, you are reckoning without the facts. The proportions and relations of things are just as much facts as the things themselves, and if you get those wrong, you falsify the picture really seriously.”

The whole book, incidentally, is a testament to examining facts without allowing private belief systems or loyalties to interfere with ones understanding of those facts.

Mrs. Bill Clinton

John Hawkins has written a really scathing indictment of Hillary Clinton attacking, not her political positions, but the fact that she is doing nothing more than ride on Bill’s coattails, having no independent experience of her own that would justify making her President of the most powerful nation in the world during a time of war and instability.

Democratic front runner to be immune from attack

This is a developing story on Drudge:

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer has been warned not to focus Thursday’s Dem debate on Hillary. ‘This campaign is about issues, not on who we can bring down and destroy,’ top Clinton insider explains. ‘Blitzer should not go down to the levels of character attack and pull ‘a Russert.” Blitzer is set to moderate debate from Vegas, with questions also being posed by Suzanne Malveaux… Developing…

So, if I understand this correctly, because the front runner is a girl, she cannot be subject to political scrutiny.

Somehow I highly doubt whether, in a fraught world, Americans want a leader and commander in chief who is afraid to tangle with the big boys.  It scares holy heck out of me to think that someone with that wimpy, defeatist, I-am-a-helpless-victim attitude might become the leader of the free world.  It will be Jimmy Carter all over again, except with a level of financial corruption that was never a Carter trademark during his presidency.

Peggy Noonan brilliantly deconstructs Hillary Clinton

I almost blush to admit that I am not a Peggy Noonan fan. For a conservative (even a neocon), it seems almost unpatriotic not to find her thoughts deep and her prose perfect, but there you have it — I don’t. Today, however, I am a Peggy Noonan fan, because I think she did a wonderful job of seeing Hillary through the prism of the last debate:

The story is not that Mrs. Clinton signaled, in attitude and demeanor, who she believes is her most dangerous foe, the great impediment between her and an easy glide to the nomination. Yes, that would be Tim Russert.

The story is that she talked about policy. Not talking points, but policy. In talking about it she seemed, for the first time, to be revealing what’s inside.

It was startling. It’s 1993 in there. The year before her fall, and rise.

I spent a day going over the transcripts so I could quote at length, but her exchanges are all over, it’s a real Google-fest. Here, boiled down, is what she said.

Giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses makes sense because it makes sense, but she may not be for it, but undocumented workers should come out of the shadows, and it makes sense. Maybe she will increase the payroll tax on Social Security beyond its current $97,500 limit, to $200,000. Maybe not. Everybody knows what the possibilities are. She may or may not back a 4% federal surcharge on singles making $150,000 a year and couples making $200,000. She suggested she backed it, said she didn’t back it, she then called it a good start, or rather “I support and admire” the person proposing such a tax for his “willingness to take this on.”

She has been accused of doubletalk and she has denied it. And she is right. It was triple talk, quadruple talk, Olympic level nonresponsiveness. And it was, even for her, rather heavy and smug. Her husband would have had the sense to look embarrassed as he bobbed and weaved. It was part of his charm. But he was light on his feet. She turns every dance into the polka. And it is that amazing thing, a grim polka.

But the larger point is that her policy approach revealed all the impulses not of the New Centrism but the Old Leftism. Her statements were redolent of the 1990s phrase “command and control.” They reflect a bias toward the old tax-raising on people who aren’t rich, who aren’t protected, the old “my friends and I know best, and we’ll fill you dullards in on the details later.”

***

The problem for Mrs. Clinton is not that people sense she will raise taxes. It’s that they don’t think she’ll raise them on the real and truly rich. The rich are her friends. They contribute to her, dine with her, have access to her. They have an army of accountants. They’re protected even from her.

But she can stick it to others, and in the way of modern liberalism for roughly half a century now one suspects she’ll define affluence down. That she would hike taxes on people who make $150,000 a year.

Wow! But I wonder about its truth….

If rumor is right, this is the scandal to end all scandals. But if I were a betting woman, I’d bet against this. Hillary is the most calculating person in the world, and I do not believe that she would jeopardize her life long dream of ultimate power by getting involved in a sordid scandal. If the Clinton involved were Bill, I would believe it, but I cannot accept the idea that Hillary is incapable of subordinating her libido to her desire for for the White House.

Hat tip: LGF

UPDATE:  I thought it wasn’t true and — it’s probably not true.  Too out of character.

How to listen to Hillary *BUMPED*

(I think I finally got the image to show up, so I’ve bumped this back to the top)

WS sent me this wonderful picture of one of the vets listening to Hillary address the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

UPDATE: Normally, when I get “too good to be true” emails, I check them out at Snopes to see if they’re urban legends.  I should have done that this time.  Not only is the vet not listening Hillary, he’s listening to George Bush!  It’s still a great picture, though, isn’t it?

Friday quickies

My paying clients continue to give me work in vast amounts, which is severely curtailing my ability to blog — especially in the morning, which used to be peak blogging time for me. If it weren’t that my clients are such great people, the projects (for once) interesting, and the pay good, I’d say the heck with it! As it is, my blogging compulsion still urges me to give you some quick info about things that caught my eye this morning:

Would it surprise you to learn that Hillary has raked in huge amounts of money from Chinese bus boys and waitresses, or that many of these people have vanished, or that those who can be found admit that they are not citizens and cannot contribute to a campaign? It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes for interesting reading.

In my ever growing “England is dead” category, Alan M. Dershowitz writes an obituary for the once important and honorable Oxford Union Debating Society.

Charles Krauthammer analyzes the potentially malevolent motives behind Pelosi’s failed attack on Turkey through the Armenian genocide resolution.

Carl Bernstein spoke about his new Hillary book, dishing out nuggets regarding the lady: devoutly religious, in love with Bill (so much so that she refused to let him leave her for a woman he loved, which may explain a lot of his compulsive womanizing now as payback), bar exam drop-out, etc.

Perhaps it keeps the Dems too busy to get into further trouble with such things as the dangerous Armenian genocide resolution, and it certainly makes for funny reading, as different classes of victim groups duke it out with each other. I’m talking, of course, about the GLBT anti-discrimination bill working it’s way through Congress, with deep rifts over transgendered people. As for me, I’m deeply opposed to what I view as extraneous legislation that just creates more hurdles for businesses. Please don’t mistake this for me saying that people should be discriminated against for their sexual orientation. I just don’t think sexual orientation should become the subject of a special bill enacted by Congress and imposed on American business, as an overlay to already existing, more generally stated anti-discrimination legislation.

Who can resist Jonah Goldberg’s funny take on the degradation of American culture courtesy of some of Hollywood’s more famous, and sleazy, blonds?

I’m not a big TV watcher, nor is DQ. However, when we do watch, we watch different shows from each other, and then trade stories. Although I trust him absolutely, I found it hard to believe when he told me that the latest trend in TV is to portray abstinence is evil. I shouldn’t have doubted him. Brent Bozell makes the same point, and even cites to one of the shows DQ mentioned. Hollywood is a very counterproductive force when it comes to trying to instill values in our children.

Anne Bayefsky, the best UN watcher in the world, shows that, if you’re the UN, even after you seem to have hit rock bottom, you can still fall further.

The WSJ takes a look at the propaganda use of the fake Haditha massacre and suggests a rethinking of the whole thing in the public mind (as if that’s going to happen with the MSM as the gatekeeper for what many in the public are allowed to think).

I wanted to start this next paragraph, “and speaking of transgendered,” but realized that was too nasty, no matter how I look at it.  It is weirdly appropriate, though, given Peggy Noonan’s astute column about how being a woman is, in fact, a political asset for Hillary.  Her problem, though, is to convince voters that she is, in fact, a woman.

Hillary caught in the act — but you’d never know it to watch the news

Peter Paul, who has an ongoing lawsuit against the Clintons based upon a campaign finance scandal, has published a video that’s been making the internet rounds for a while. I finally caught up with it on Hot Air. The video makes a good case that, not only did Hillary’s campaign violate financing laws, but Hillary knew about what was going on. Here — See what you think, with the caveat, of course, that this is only Paul’s side of the story:

Mostly, I find the above interesting because of the MSM’s complete silence about this side of the story.

Maybe he’s afraid of a vast Clinton conspiracy

Al Gore is refusing to run:

The win is also likely add further fuel to a burgeoning movement in the United States for Gore to run for president in 2008, which he has so far said he does not plan to do.

Kenneth Sherrill, a political scientist at Hunter College in New York said Gore probably enjoys being a public person more than an elected official.

“He seems happier and liberated in the years since his loss in 2000. Perhaps winning the Nobel and being viewed as a prophet in his own time will be sufficient,” says Sherrill.

Two Gore advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to share his thinking, said the award will not make it more likely that he will seek the presidency. If anything, the Peace Prize makes the rough-and-tumble of a presidential race less appealing to Gore, they said, because now he has a huge, international platform to fight global warming and may not want to do anything to diminish it.

One of the advisers said that while Gore is unlikely to rule out a bid in the coming days, the prospects of the former vice president entering the fray in 2008 are “extremely remote.”

Frankly, that’s all a lot of blah-blah. The guy’s been lusting after the President Presidency since 1991, and he’s felt since 2000 that it was stolen from him. (And on that last, you might find interesting this Big Lizard’s post.) With this kind of momentum push, you’d think he’d leap for the ring.

Thinking on that this morning, it occurred to me that, perhaps, just perhaps, Gore doesn’t want to have to go up against Hillary Clinton. And that’s not just because she’s a fierce campaigner, but because she knows him. With Edwards and Obama, Clinton is digging around, trying to learn things about them. With Gore, however, Hillary shared the White House with him for 8 years.

It’s not inconceivable that Hillary has information about Al that he simply wouldn’t like to have come out. And by that I don’t mean blackmail type information, which could start an ugly tit-for-tat that Hillary wouldn’t want any more than Al, but more what I would call intellectual information: stories about bad decision-making, ill-thought out remarks, etc. Little bites, not big chunks, but things that would, nevertheless, work to Al’s serious detriment over the course of a long campaign.

The inimitable Mark Steyn on Hillary Care

After pointing out Hillary’s draconian get insurance or be unemployable, Steyn analyzes the numbers of uninsured:

Nobody really knows how many “uninsured” there are: Two different Census Bureau surveys conducted in the same year identify the number of uninsured as A) 45 million or B) 19 million. The first figure is the one you hear about, the second figure apparently entered the Witness Protection Program. Of those 45 million “uninsured Americans,” the Census Bureau itself says over 9 million aren’t Americans at all, but foreign nationals. They have various health care back-ups: If you’re an uninsured Canadian in Detroit, and you get an expensive chronic disease, you can go over the border to Windsor, Ontario, and re-embrace the delights of socialized health care; if you’re an uninsured Uzbek, it might be more complicated. Of the remaining 36 million, a 2005 Actuarial Research analysis for the Department of Health and Human Services says that another 9 million did, in fact, have health coverage through Medicare.

Where are we now? 27 million? So who are they? Bud and Mabel and a vast mountain of emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules? No, it’s a rotating population: People who had health insurance but changed jobs, people who are between jobs, young guys who feel they’re fit and healthy and at this stage of their lives would rather put a monthly health-insurance tab towards buying a home or starting a business or blowing it on booze ’n’ chicks.

That last category is the one to watch: Americans 18-34 account for 18 million of the army of the “uninsured.” Look, there’s a 22-year-old, and he doesn’t have health insurance! Oh, the horror and the shame! What an indictment of America!

Well, he doesn’t have life insurance, either, or homeowner’s insurance. He lives a life blessedly free of the tedious bet-hedging paperwork of middle age. He’s 22, and he thinks he’s immortal – and any day now Hillary will propose garnishing his wages for her new affordable mandatory life-insurance plan.

So, out of 45 million uninsured Americans, 9 million aren’t American, 9 million are insured, 18 million are young and healthy. And the rest of these poor helpless waifs trapped in Uninsured Hell waiting for Hillary to rescue them are, in fact, wealthier than the general population. According to the Census Bureau’s August 2006 report on “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage,” 37 percent of those without health insurance – that’s 17 million people – come from households earning more than $50,000. Nineteen percent – 8.7 million people – of those downtrodden paupers crushed by the brutal inequities of capitalism come from households earning more than $75,000.

It ain’t broke, so Hillary’s definitely going to “fix” it.”  Read the rest (you know you want to) here.

Just a reminder that Rudy’s marital history probably shouldn’t matter

If I didn’t say this would happen over and over again, I certainly hinted at it or, at least, laid the groundwork for its inevitability.

I’ll just add here that it’s the height of chutzpah that Hillary (by proxy) is leading the attack against Rudy Giuliani on marital grounds.  Unlike the other Demo candidates who appear to have pretty strong and apparently normal marriages, Hillary’s marriage with Bill, while it has lasted, falls a little too neatly into the traditional paradigm of the abused, weak women clinging desperately to her abusive, womanizing husband.  (This citation will lead you to the some of the worst that has been said about the marriage.  Even if some of it is false hearsay, Bill’s repeated, public sexual transgressions lead to the inevitably conclusion that at least some of it is true.)  Is Hillary really the candidate who wants to have marriage made fair game?

(And sorry for the light blogging today, but work called and I had to answer.)

Joe Klein isn’t as smart as he thinks he is

Drudge proves himself to be a good sport by linking to a Joe Klein post at Time Magazine’s website, in which Klein savages Drudge. Drudge is probably more than a good sport, though. He’s smart, too, because all that the post does is make Klein look like an idiot. Here is Klein’s post, in its entirety:

I know this is old news, but this guy is shameless. The headline, with a photo of a three-quarters crazed Hillary, is HEALTH INSURANCE PROOF REQUIRED FOR WORK but the linked story says this:

At this point, we don’t have anything punitive that we have proposed,” the presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We’re providing incentives and tax credits which we think will be very attractive to the vast majority of Americans.”She said she could envision a day when “you have to show proof to your employer that you’re insured as a part of the job interview — like when your kid goes to school and has to show proof of vaccination,” but said such details would be worked out through negotiations with Congress.

How stupid does he think we are? Answer: Extremely dumbolic.

I’ll have more about Clinton’s health plan in this week’s print column.

Ah, Joe. I don’t know how to tell you this, but your post shows that Drudge’s headline was entirely accurate. Drudge says Hillary would have “health insurance proof required for work.” And Hillary says she can easily imagine the day, under her plan, when “you have to show proof to your employer that you’re insured as a part of the job interview.” Now, I know I’m not as smart as a writer at an intellectual hot spot like Time Magazine, but even my limited mind has figured out that Drudge’s summary and Hillary’s quotation say the same thing.

I assume Joe is trying to make the point that Hillary’s requirement that adults enter her health plan as a precondition of employment is entirely innocuous because we already require kids to show proof of vaccination to go to school. That’s not a very good point, either. First off, a lot of people are very resentful of this requirement, feeling that vaccinations are more dangerous than the risk of disease. I happen to disagree with them, as I’m very pro-vaccination, but their attitude already goes to show that many people are less than thrilled by having the government push them around in a medical sense for them to gain entry somewhere.

But Joe also ignores the public safety issue involved here. The reason kids have to show proof of vaccination is to prevent the spread of deadly epidemic diseases of the type the used to ravage the school populations in America (polio being the most obvious example). Hillary, however, is saying that her dream is to see every private employer become a government agent by withholding employment opportunities from adults who haven’t meekly lined up for their doctor’s appointment under Nanny Hillary’s Care.

How stupid does Klein think we are?

Freedom, but from what?

More than twenty years ago, I attended a speech that famed legal scholar Arthur Miller gave, in which he decried the fact that the zone of privacy surrounding ordinary citizens was shrinking rapidly with the dawn of the computer age. What he pointed out then is even more true today: unless you step entirely off the matrix, every time you engage in any type of commercial transaction, whether it’s using your ATM or credit card to buy a latte, using your cell phone to call your mother, or buying an airplane ticket, your transaction creates a record that a corporation owns and that the government can find. Theoretically (and in actual fact if the authorities are after you with the right warrants), someone can put those transactions together and create a comprehensive picture of every detail of your life.

I walked out of Miller’s talk knowing that he was correct and yet curiously unimpressed. I could not then and cannot now work myself into a lather knowing that some clerk in Dubuque or Bombay can have access to information about my grocery shopping habits or the number of times I called my mother. Of more concern to me has always been what people who know me might think of me if they could pry into the small details of my life. While I may be unmoved by the Dubuque or Bombay clerk knowing about my grocery list, I’d find it very unpleasant if my next door neighbor, colleague or classmate were to learn too many of the details of my life. In other words, for me, privacy is local.

In the years since I first heard Miller’s speech, I’ve often had reason to think about his thesis and about my response and I’ve come to the conclusion that I haven’t changed my viewpoint since then. Indeed, my blog is a perfect example of that fact. I’m more forthcoming with you, my readers, than I am with my immediate neighbors because I won’t run into you on the street. If I’m grumpy, I grouse on my blog, whereas I make an effort to present a cheerful face to my neighbors. If my kids are driving me up a wall, I wail in cyberspace, but make light hearted jokes to the parents I see during the day. And of course, I talk politics on my blog in a way that I never would to the flesh-and-blood people around me who believe that conservatives aren’t just misguided, but are evil. Privacy is therefore often on my mind insofar as it relates to me.

The privacy issues I’ve discussed above can, of course, be reframed as the flip side of freedom: freedom from oversight and intrusion. And in our world, there are three basic categories of people or institutions that infringe on that freedom: individuals, corporations, and the government.

Traditionally, individuals infringing on your freedom from oversight and intrusion have been the nosy next door neighbors who physically peer into your world. (For purposes of this discussion, I’m going to ignore the Peeping Toms or stalkers, who are committing out-and-out criminal acts — that is, acts that can be characterized as visual assaults.) Corporations, as I noted above, have become an increasing infringer on that same freedom. As Miller argued so long ago, the computer records they keep mean that, with a push of a button, corporations (especially banks and credit card companies) can create a comprehensive record about you.

Whether it’s a nosy neighbor or a data collecting computer, we are usually willing to put up with the infringement on our freedom because of the benefits that come with those intrusions or, at most, we place small, almost symbolic barriers in the way. As to our neighbors, we may determine that their help with the children is the price we pay for their knowing how messy our house is. Alternatively, we may close the windows when we argue or draw the curtains when we let our hair down. And as for the corporations, most of us have long ago sold our soul to that Devil, recognizing that the convenience of credit card purchases or the discounts from our grocery store’s “Club Card” are more than worth the information those Dubuque or Bombay drones (and their computers) are collecting about us. Any barriers we attempt are likely to be minimal, such as refusing to give our phone numbers to the blank eyed clerk at the local store (after having first paid with our credit card, of course). Certainly that is my world view, and one I’ve consistently held to for decades, as I believe most other Americans have.

But when it comes to the government, our relaxed attitude to these assaults on privacy suddenly vanishes, and we see ever escalating levels of paranoia about our right to freedom from oversight and intrusion. The government, after all, is huge; it has the ability to engage in spying and data gathering at an unparalleled level; and, worst of all, it has punitive powers that even the most gossipy, vindictive neighbor or the most aggressive corporation lack. And as we’ve seen, most notably in East Germany, but also in other Communist and totalitarian countries, when the government gets into the business of invading our privacy — removing all those safeguards to freedom from oversight and intrusion — individual freedom is effectively at an end.

Most of us, of course, recognize that there is practical, personal information that we keep private from others, but that the government does get to see. For example, because the government needs to be funded (a concept separate from whether we believe it’s doing the right things with those funds), we all regularly provide it with all of our financial information, something we’d be loath to let our friends and neighbors peruse. Because the government is charged with the business of running our criminal justice system, we long ago agreed as a society that it could keep data about people’s criminal habits, as well as their fingerprints. (DNA, of course, has been a more touchy subject.) Because we all pay into Social Security (whether or not we think it’s an appropriate program in the 21st Century, as opposed to the 1930s) and we all want to get at least some of that money back, we allow the government to maintain our Social Security number, which ties into just about everything, for better or for worse.

So far, I think everyone from both sides of the political spectrum would agree with my general conclusions, above, about the dangers of government infringement into its citizens’ privacy, as well as about the basic intrusions we concede are the government’s right. What’s interesting, however, is the ideological divide between conservatives and liberals when it comes to just about any other aspects of government involvement in our day to day lives.

Liberals trust the government to manage the day to day details of their lives. The most striking example of this, of course, is the current debate about health care. And the most extreme statement of this belief that government should be trusted to take care of our bodies came from John Edwards when he announced that, “Damn it! When I’m President, I’ll force everyone to go to the doctor, whether they want to or not.” Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. What he really said was:

“It [his mandatory health care plan] requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care,” he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. “If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.”

Wow, that’s some serious government oversight. You wonder if the lovely Edwards has thought through the kind of enforcement this policy will require. Will Stasi-style health police knock on citizens’ doors and demand evidence that they saw their doctor recently? Doubtful. What will really happen is that Stasi-style health police will carefully study the records of every American citizen, diligently checking to make sure every good American visited his or her doctor and, oh, just incidentally, getting access to every detail of each citizen’s medical records to make sure they were real visits and not just feints to mislead the health police. But that’s okay in the world of John Edwards because it’s for our own good.

Hillary Clinton, of course, isn’t that far behind, although she’s smart enough to have framed her ideas to sound more moderate. Although she claims the plan is “not government run,” she nevertheless intends to have the government oversee a program that insures 47 million people, with a cool $110,000,000,000 annual price tag. If a program that costly doesn’t have oversight it should; and once it does, you’ve got government deeply involved in the health care business. (And we won’t even touch the fact that at least some of these millions of uninsured are people who could afford insurance but for their own private reasons have opted not to get it or who are merely temporarily between insurance.)

(By the way, please understand that I would like to see more people insured. However, I most certainly do not want Hillary and her friends managing that program. And as I always say, if you want to see what it looks like when government gets in the health care business, just look at Walter Reed, our “gift” to those who have sacrificed the most for us.)

Liberals also would like government to have increasing oversight in other areas of day-to-day life, such as their desire for more and more oversight for American business; their preference that government tell us what to do with our savings (hence the deep commitment to Social Security); their craving for government control over schools (hence the strong opposition to vouchers); and their abiding belief, the 1960s through the 1990s notwithstanding, that intense government interference can control poverty.

The common thread binding the liberals’ willingness to relinquish control of their health care decisions, economy, education and business to the government is a manifest belief that the government’s collective wisdom trumps the intelligence of the ordinary person. The government, made up of experts and policy wonks, must be better at taking care of people than people can be trusted to take care of themselves. (People, of course, being defined here as the Wal-Mart shopping, NASCAR loving, country-music listening masses.) And the surprising thing is that liberals cling to this belief, not only despite government’s repeated management failures over the decades, such as the failed War on Poverty or the failed care at Walter Reed, but also despite the fact that they are convinced that the administration now in charge of the government is the most evil thing since . . . well, since Satan!

Conservatives, of course, have the complete opposite view when it comes to government micromanage of just about anything. Conservatives want to be free from government micromanagement, something Fred Thompson neatly summed up here:

In 1994 when I first ran [for Senate], I advocated the same common sense conservative positions that I hold today. They are based upon what I believe to be sound conservative First Principles – reflecting the nature of man and the wisdom of the ages. They are based upon the conviction that our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution are not outdated documents that have outlived their usefulness. It is a recognition that our basic rights come from God and not from government. That government should have its power divided, not only at the federal level but between the federal government and the states. Federalism is the belief that not every problem should have a federal solution. Essentially it’s about freedom. A government that is big enough to do everything for us is powerful enough to do anything to us.

“These principles lead me to believe in lower taxes, which foster growth and leave more power in the hands of the people. They also respect free markets, private property, and fair competition. They honor the sanctity of life – the great truth every life matters, and no person is beneath the protection of the law. These principles made our country great and we should rededicate ourselves to them, not abandon them.

In other words, conservatives do not want the government telling them how to run their businesses, how to educate their children, how to invest their money, how to allocate resources for their needs (such as insurance), what kind of property they can buy, what medical care they can seek, etc. To conservatives, those are private decisions that ought to be free from government diktats. Conservatives believe individuals are better equipped to make these decisions for themselves, with an eye to their own particular circumstances, and accept as a price of freedom the inevitable fact that some individuals may make bad decisions.

(An aside here about the beneficial flexibility that comes with allowing people on the ground to make decisions. Some crosswalks are being installed near my house. It is a huge job, because it doesn’t simply involve drawing lines on the street to mark where people will cross and cars should stop. Instead, because of ADA requirements, all new crosswalks must have curb ramps installed, which involves destroying the four existing corner curbs and pouring new concrete ramps at each corner. Ramps are a great thing, not only for the handicapped, but also for women with strollers. But you see, in our neighborhood, there are existing ramps within 10 feet of each of the corners being destroyed and rebuilt. Admittedly, these ramps are driveways, but they’re still ramps, and they provide easy access to the new crosswalks, especially since the streets are wide and the traffic flow very low.

If the ADA rule had simply said that people in wheelchairs need to have easy or reasonable access to the crosswalks, and then allowed the people on the ground to review the situation, these driveways would have been more than adequate, and saved a heck of a lot of tax payer money. Since people who love government don’t trust individuals, though, and put their faith instead in government rules, we now have two ramps per corner, for a total eight ramps near the new crosswalks. And now back to our regularly scheduled ranting….)

There is one area, however, in which conservatives do want the government around, and this area falls within the traditional purview of government, so much so that the Founders would easily have recognized it: security. Because conservatives believe that it is the government’s job to protect them against external enemies and, even more so, against external enemies who are trying to infiltrate our internal structures, we tend to be more sanguine about government programs aimed at catching those who wish to harm us. We also seem to take a longer view, recognizing that the country has always recovered from the limitations on freedom our government has imposed during times of war, whether we’re talking Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, the drastic wartime powers Wilson assumed during WWI, or the ill considered decision to imprison anyone who was Japanese or of Japanese ancestry during WWII. In each case, when the threat ended, America’s Constitution and her basic commitment to freedom was sufficiently resilient to come back from these assaults on liberty.

Liberals, on the other hand, who are willing to hand over to the government so many aspects of their private lives, are loath to surrender their security to the government. Instead, when it comes to security, they look at the same government they trust to examine their bodies, make their health care decisions, educate their children, rescue their poor, and control their businesses, and suddenly start ranting that it is out to get them, whether to destroy their buildings and their citizens, listen to their phone calls, or read the same library books they do. They demonstrate a bizarre love-hate relationship with the government, that sees them on the one hand practically handing it their first born, while on the other hand having paranoid nightmares about wiretapping.

Frankly, I’m at a loss to explain this inconsistency. Whether you agree with their viewpoint regarding freedom and privacy, when it comes to government, conservatives at least are consistent — they want the government out of their lives as much as possible, except for the one thing the government does best, which is securing the nation as a whole.

(I’ve developed a rather inexplicable fascination with Patrick Ruffini’s 2008 Presidential Wire. Getting a high score there doesn’t increase my traffic, but I still find it very gratifying. So, if you think this post is worthy of a high score at the Wire, please click **here**.)

UPDATE:  Hillary continues to make my point about liberals’ willingness to bring the government into your day-to-day life, this time envisioning a situation in which you’re required to show a prospective employer that you have GovInsur as one of the conditions of employment.  And just who is going to enforce that and what kind of weird employment black market is going to develop?

A cold day in January 2009

William Katz, a man of many careers, including a long stint on The Tonight Show during the Carson years, was also a comedy writer. He’s been feeding bits and pieces of his memoirs to the guys at Power Line, intermixing old memories with new facts, especially political facts. In a post published today, he remembers one of his first comedy pieces, written in 1968, which was a dialog imagining how Richard Nixon’s oath taking might have gone after the 1968 elections. Rather than reprint that, he decided to take that idea and update it, to a possible oath taking in January 2009:

It is the U.S. Capitol, outdoors. Chief Justice John Roberts rises from his seat and takes his place. The president-elect then stands and faces the chief justice. The presidential spouse places a Bible between them.

CHIEF JUSTICE: Please raise your right hand and repeat after me. I, Hillary Rodham Clinton…

HILLARY: I, Hillary Rodham, and, when I need it, Clinton…

CHIEF JUSTICE: do solemnly swear…

HILLARY: do vaguely commit…

CHIEF JUSTICE: that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States…

HILLARY: that I will be President of the United States, and execute whom I please…

CHIEF JUSTICE: and will, to the best of my ability…

HILLARY: and will, with my charm and cash…

CHIEF JUSTICE: preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States…

HILLARY: get Scalia’s butt off the Supreme Court, followed by yours, pal…

CHIEF JUSTICE: so help me God.

HILLARY: So help me me.

CHIEF JUSTICE: Congratulations.

HILLARY: Now take off the black dress and sit down.

Cannons fire their salute. The Marine band plays “Hail to the Chief.” Bill Clinton cabs to the White House to check the fridge.

You can read here the rest of Katz’s thoughts about political humor and the upcoming elections.

This is how they decide to celebrate the High Holy Days?

Through a reader, I just got wind of the shenanigans (or, should I say, the Sheehan-igans) going on at Beyt Tikkun, the ultra Left wing synagogue in Berkeley. It turns out that the special guest at this year’s High Holy Days is going to be none other than Cindy “get Israel out of Palestine!” Sheehan.

Let me backtrack a little so that you can see what a travesty this whole thing is, and how (to my mind) it really shockingly mixes religion and politics — or, should I say, uses politics to destroy religion.

First, let’s talk about the High Holy Days. As the name implies, these are not little holidays in the Jewish calendar. In the middle and at the end of September we’re coming up to the big ones: Rosh Hashanna, or Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. One Jewish website neatly summarizes their importance:

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most important of all Jewish Holidays and the only holidays that are purely religious, as they are not related to any historical or natural event.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is celebrated the first and second days of Tishri. It is a time of family gatherings, special meals and sweet tasting foods.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn day of the Jewish year and is observed on the tenth day of Tishri. It is a day of fasting, reflection and prayers.

Thus, while American merchants in December are kind enough to decorate their stores with Menorahs, all of which remind us of a great military victory (that would be Chanukah), it’s these Fall holidays that are the real deal for even the most marginally observant Jew.

Second, let’s talk about Michael Lerner, a man who is both a far Leftist and (at least in his own mind) a rabbi. Lerner has long been a well-known figure on the Left, especially since he always favored highly wrought symbolic acts to make his various political points:

A former 1960s Berkeley radical, Michael Lerner (b. 1943) is the founder of Tikkun magazine, a publication whose philosophy is an admixture of Old Testament teachings, medieval cabala mysticism, and 1960s-style campus Marxism. Though Lerner identifies himself as a duly ordained rabbi, many of his critics dispute that claim – on grounds that he was given a controversial private rabbinic ordination by “Jewish Renewal” rabbis, whose ordinations are recognized only by those within the Jewish Renewal community and Reconstructionist Judaism. Orthodox Judaism, the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly all consider such ordinations invalid.

Lerner’s radical politics and counterculture mindset were nourished during his years at Berkeley and have remained with him ever since. At his wedding reception, the wedding cake was inscribed with the words, “Smash Monogomy,” a slogan popularized by the Weathermen terrorist group that rose to prominence in 1969. During the marriage ceremony itself, Lerner and his bride exchanged rings fashioned out of metal extracted from a downed U.S. military aircraft. Shortly after the birth of the Lerners’ first child, the couple separated – the mother and son going to live in Boston, and Mr. Lerner returning to Berkeley. When asked why he had chosen to move so far from his young son, he answered without hesitation, “You don’t understand. I have to be here. Berkeley is the center of the world-historical spirit.” (Sha’i Ben Tekoa Israel National News – “Deprogram Program” June 4, 2001).

Lerner might have remained a fringe figure, running the Berkeley beat, if it weren’t for the fact that, during the 1990s, he sprang into the public view as the Clintons’ rabbi friend:

For some time, Lerner had a warm relationship with Hillary Clinton – and, by extension, with Bill Clinton also. Lerner’s 1997 book titled The Politics of Meaning was the source of Mrs. Clinton’s widely publicized use of that phrase. In a spirit reminiscent of the inscription atop Lerner’s wedding cake, one of his book’s chapters is entitled “The Tyranny of Couples.” In Hell To Pay, her biography of Hillary Clinton, author Barbara Olson reports that Lerner, during his years of friendship with Mrs. Clinton, liked to frequently invoke the phrase, “Hillary and I believe” as a prelude to identifying points of agreement he shared with her. However, as the Clinton presidency progressed, Lerner, a devoted far-leftist, lost interest in Bill and Hillary when he saw that polling data and focus groups were leading the administration toward moderation on such issues as welfare reform and social welfare spending.

Of course, in the 1990s, when the media was fawning over him, we never heard about (or we heard little about) Lerner’s Marxist politics and anti-American animus. Instead, we read fawning articles about his deep spirituality and his amazing ability to renew Jewish thinking amongst yuppies searching for meaning in their lives. And when he tired of the Clintons, the press ignored him and he just faded away.

Because Marxism always triumphs over all other religions, Lerner’s nominal role of a rabbi is always going to be subordinate to his political beliefs. Thus, while most Jews support Israel in her life and death struggle with the Palestinians (even Jews who acknowledge that Israel hasn’t always made the right practical or legal decisions over the years), Lerner, based upon Marxist misreadings of history, would see Israel destroyed entirely on the ground that she’s an imperialist U.S. puppet:

With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of recent decades, Lerner has consistently aligned himself with the Palestinian side. He characterizes Israel as a nation whose “repressive” and “fascistic” leadership uses “disproportionate force to repress an essentially unarmed population.” He exhorts Jews everywhere to “allow themselves to hear the cries of pain of the Palestinian people” – as a first step toward atonement for their own transgressions. When asked about a barbaric October 2000 lynching of two Israeli reservists by Palestinian police in Ramallah, he replied that he understood “how Israel’s occupation can lead to such violence.”

“I believe,” says Lerner, “that the Israeli people will never be safe until the Occupation ends and a new spirit of repentance and generosity spreads through the Jewish people” He urges Jews “to atone for the pain we have inflicted on the Palestinian people in [many] years of brutal occupation, and in forcing so many Palestinians out of their home and not allowing them to return in 1948-49.” “Israel needs an atonement for what it has done,” he adds, “for the way it has failed to recognize the humanity, the sanctity of life, of Palestinians.” He lists, among Israeli transgressions, their responsibility “for expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians during the War of Independence in 1948″; “for not having fulfilled the terms of the Oslo Accord, which envisioned granting Palestinians an independent state several years ago”; “for not being able to recognize themselves as the superior force with the greater responsibility to compromise and respect the needs of the less powerful”; and for “the deep racism in their society.”

Notably, Lerner does believe that the obligation to pay restitution to victims of injustice is a two-way street. Thus, while calling for Israel to provide “significant compensation for the families of Palestinians who were forced to leave their homes in 1948,” he similarly advocates a “corresponding compensation from Arab lands for Jews who fled Arab oppression in 1948-1954.”

Given all this, would it surprise you to know that the guest of honor at Beyt Tikkun’s High Holy Day services this year is going to be Cindy Sheehan, who is also completely hostile to Israel? At Free Republic, someone who is on a mailing list received this invitation to Beyt Tikkun’s services:

You may not live in the SF Bay Area, but there is a very good chance you know someone who does and who would love the High Holiday services conducted by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Cindy Sheehan will speak on Yom Kippur.

This year, all of America needs repentance and atonement, not just Jews. The failure of Americans to give an unequivocal message to their elected representatives that they must immediately cut off fund for the war, prevent a US attack on Iran, reverse the decision to expand the President’s power to tap our phones and invade our privacy, and stop the assault on immigrants provide an immediate focus for repentance, but the larger context of materialism, self-centeredness and environmental irresponsibility add dimensionality.

You don’t have to be Jewish to use the repentance and atonement traditions of the Jewish High Holy Days this year. So even if you can’t come to Rabbi Lerner’s High Holiday services, you can still use some fo the resources below, and you can tell people you know in the Bay Area about the services and expose them to a spiritual progressive version of religion. This is a Judaism of love, generosity, kindness, social justice, environmental sanity and peace. Rosh Hashanah is the evening of Sept. 12th and then Sept 13 & 14th. Yom Kippur is eve of Sept. 21 and all day Sept 22nd. Also note the course on A Judaism of Love being offered by Rabbi Lerner the weekend of Nov.9-11 (see below).

To get a better sense of what Jewish High Holidays are about, and how they can provide a spiritual practice even for people who don’t believe that there is such a thing as “spiritual” (much less God), please go to this website and download the High Holiday Guide (which also appears in Tikkun Magazine between pages 16-17. http://www.beyttikkun.org/article.php?story=HHDmain

Information and registration at http://www.beyttikkun.org. Take it from us, it’s a life changing experience for those who come to all the services and then use the High Holiday Guide above during the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (which is why some people have flown to our services from Miami, NY, Boston, Minneapolis, San Diego and Chicago?and were happy they did! So, let your friends in this area know about the services by urging them to go to http://www.beyttikkun.org. They do NOT have to be Jewish to get a huge amount out of this practice.

It’s worth traveling for!

The one bummer: we have to charge for this. We believe all religious services should be free, as should health care, higher education, utilities, the internet, public transportation and legal costs. Unfortunately, we aren’t there yet, and in order to pay our yearly expenses we have to charge (sliding fee scale). In exchange for some volunteer work and commitment to attend the Global Judaism of Love course in Nov (but see http://www.beyttikkun.org for all conditions), people 21-34 can become a member of Beyt Tikkun for free and then don’t have to pay to go to services at all.

Mearsheimer and Walt Speak on The Israel Lobby for Beyt Tikkun and the NSP

(I hope you caught that bit at the end, which has Beyt Tikkun avidly supporting Walt & Mearsheimer’s repackaged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.)

Is it just me or does this announcement have absolutely nothing to do with religion? As I read it, it’s the usual Leftist/Progressive anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Administration blather with a thin coating of religion painted over it. Why do these people even bother with the religious veneer? This is politics, pure and simple. It reminds me of the way in which the former Soviet Union used to pretend it had a Russian Orthodox Church by propping up a few old churches, and staffing them with KGB clergy.

There are a lot of people who hate Israel and who hate Jews but it always seems to me that some of the worst (sadly) are Jews themselves.

Maybe De Palma could get it released

Brian De Palma had no problem getting a ferociously anti-military film worldwide play. That might be because he was just going up against the wussy Bush crowd in the White House. If he’d been challenging the Clinton world view, things might have been entirely different, as they seem to be with getting DVD release of “The Path to 9/11, a film that indicated that a lot of the seeds for 9/11 were sown during the Clinton years. (And how could they not be, considering that 9/11 occurred only seven months after Bush took office?) Anyway, here’s the story:

Among the nearly two dozen television DVDs slated for nationwide release on Sept. 11 is the second season of “Bones,” the third season of “Grey’s Anatomy” and the miniseries “The Starter Wife” that aired earlier this year. Not on the list on that day or any other in the near future is last year’s highly controversial “The Path to 9/11.”

The $40-million, five-hour ABC miniseries, which recently received seven Emmy nominations and drew a combined two-night audience of more than 25 million viewers, is for now on the path to nowhere. Its Amazon page reads: “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.”

With no date for the release, questions are being raised about whether political pressure is behind its current status as a stalled or discarded DVD project. The reasons are murky, but the miniseries’ writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, believes it’s crystal clear: Powerful forces are out to protect Bill Clinton’s presidential legacy and shield Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) from any potential collateral damage in her bid for the White House.

Nowrasteh, also one of the miniseries’ many producers, said he was told by a top executive at ABC Studios that “if Hillary weren’t running for president, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

“Whatever anyone may think about me or this movie, this is a bad precedent, a dangerous precedent, to allow a movie to be buried,” added Nowrasteh, who received death threats even before the miniseries was broadcast last September. “Because the next time they’ll go after another movie. The Bush administration may go after a movie. The next administration may go after a movie. No matter who it is, they may go after a movie. I think this town needs to stand up.”

Even before “The Path to 9/11″ aired on ABC late last summer, the docudrama ignited a political firestorm, almost entirely from high-profile Democratic leaders who viewed its account of events leading up to the terrorist attacks as a right-wing hatchet job on the Clinton administration and its efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Attempts to pressure ABC to cancel the miniseries at the time were unsuccessful, but last-minute network edits were imposed to quell the critical outcry.

You can read the rest of the story here, but it doesn’t get any prettier.  Kudos to the LA Times for bringing to light a peculiar anomaly, which is this miniseries absence from the DVD aftermarket.

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