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Archive for July, 2008

The Gospel according to Gerard

Lo, he hath witnessed the Child walk through the Holy Land, and hath recorded the Gospel that others might believe.

BUT… did he feed 200,000 or 20,000?

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Caroline Glick gets to the essence of the incoherence of what Obama says about Israel:

His repeated assertions of his commitment to Israel’s security were repeatedly contradicted by the policies he wishes to adopt if elected. On the one hand he opposes permitting Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, but on the other hand, he insists that the way to make this happen is to sit down and talk to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has made annihilating the Jewish state one of his main goals in office. He says he understands Israel’s need to protect its citizens from terror attacks but then he says that Israel’s interests are served by strengthening the Palestinian terror groups by extending Palestinian sovereignty from Gaza to the West Bank. Gaza is ruled by jihadists from Hamas who are bankrolled, trained and armed by Iran. How are Israel’s interests served by importing jihadist control to the outskirts of Tel-Aviv and to Jerusalem?

She has Obama’s number:

His statements about Iraq being a “diversion” alone are proof that he fundamentally refuses to acknowledge that there is a global jihad raging, that Israel is a frontline state in the jihad and that the U.S. cannot allow jihadists to gain control of any territory and particularly territory as strategically vital as Iraq or Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Obama is a quintessential leftist who thinks that war can be wished away by blaming the U.S. for its enemies’ hatred and malicious designs. This is the type of person who will push very hard not only for America to stand down from the war and ask the Iranians for forgiveness while enabling them to get the bomb, but will blame Israel for the Arab world’s refusal to accept its right to exist.

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German Sermon

Obama’s speech in Berlin.

UPDATE: Scott Johnson dissects it.

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Banking on the Media

Barack Obama claims to be a member of the Banking Committeehe’s not—to take credit for something it did. Good grief. If a Republican had done this, it would be front-page news all over the country!

UPDATE: John Hinderaker asks whether Obama could be a serial liar. Today he lied about his own prediction about the success of the surge. Something interesting is going on here. Democrats have to change positions in Presidential elections; they have to swerve to the left for the primaries and then swing to the center-right for the general election. This poses a problem: How do you explain the shift? John Kerry earned the “flip-flop” label in 2004 because he couldn’t answer that question. Obama now seems to be trying to address it by denying that he ever held his earlier positions. Since many of them are well-known, and since many of them are documented on YouTube and in other ways, this doesn’t seem like a very promising response.

FURTHER UPDATE: Is the media becoming disenchanted?  Gabriel Sherman says so.  I doubt it, myself—or, at least, I doubt that it matters, since I think even those media members who do become disenchanted will suppress it for the good of the cause.  There is a limit to that, however, for the one thing the media care about more than the cause is themselves.

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John McCain’s editorial on Iraq, that is. Here it is:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military’s readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

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Americans for Prosperity

Today I was at an Americans for Prosperity conference. Some quotes and observations:

  • John Fund: “If we fight, we win. If we flinch, we lose.”
  • Grover Norquist, contrasting left and right: “Around their table aren’t friends and allies, but competing parasites.”
  • Michael Steele and Michael Williams are exceptionally fine thinkers and speakers who deserve national exposure. They beat Obama on style—Williams, by a mile!—and crush him on substance. I haven’t heard his name bandied about, but it should be: Michael Williams for VP!
  • Michelle Malkin is even more dynamic as a speaker than she is as a writer. (And, she’s even better looking in person than she is in photographs and on TV.)
  • Judging by audience reaction, energy is a great issue for conservatives. “Drill more, drill now, pay less” is a winner.
  • John Fund had an optimistic message for conservatives. Since 1944, only one Democrat has won more than 50.1% of the vote: Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Without a third party candidate to confuse things, it’s very difficult for a Democrat to win. Republicans do well when they articulate a conservative message and differentiate themselves clearly from Democrats.
  • A number of speakers sought primarily to get people motivated for the November election. They’re right that it’s important—think an activist Supreme Court, redistricting in 2010, nationalized health care, a nationalized oil and gas industry, same day voter registration, massive electoral fraud, the end to secret union balloting, defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in Iraq, etc.—and they did a good job. But it’s striking that, faced with the most left-wing major party candidate for President in United State history, it’s necessary to work to motivate the troops.

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“Dangerous Fantasy”?

I noticed this a while ago but didn’t write anything about it because, like Ed Morrissey, I didn’t understand what on earth he was talking about. Here’s what Obama said in a July 2 speech:

We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.

Paul Mirengoff thinks he does understand, and that it’s deeply disturbing:

Hugh Hewitt views this as Obama’s latest “pratfall” and a sign of his inexperience. Ed Morrissey finds Obama’s meaning to be unclear and calls for an explanation. Both, I think, underestimate the sinister quality of Obama’s comment, the meaning of which seems clear enough.

I’m not suggesting that Obama would actually try to establish a domestic security force as powerful as our current military, only that deep-down it appears he would like to do something of the kind. That impulse seems like a threat to our freedom regardless of whether Obama attempts to hatch the full-blown object of his fantasy.

I still don’t understand. The idea is absurd: Where is an extra $500 billion supposed to come from? The real question, however, is what this domestic security force is supposed to do. Is he talking about Homeland Security? It’s unclear. Obama compares this force to Teach for America; maybe they’re supposed to do things Obama wants government to do: go into inner city schools and teach, fix bridges, clean up parks, work at social service agencies, etc. But then why call them a “security force”? Is he proposing a massive group of “Obama youth” who will do the leader’s bidding? Recall the purpose of the Hitler Jugend: “to prepare its members to serve faithfully the cause and the needs of … Socialism.” Let’s hope that’s not even a fantasy. Quite a few thinkers on the left, of course, have proposed national compulsory service, to have an army of conscripts to do their bidding. Perhaps that’s what he has in mind?

UPDATE: Mirengoff adds “Obama’s Dangerous Fantasy, Part 2,” in which he provides a video of Obama advocating disarmament. So, maybe it isn’t that Obama wants a large domestic security force; maybe it’s that he wants a small military!

FURTHER UPDATE: Here‘s the poster!

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Survival Skills

Here‘s an excellent article on how to survive disaster—and cope with the lesser problems and annoyances that most of us are much more likely to face. (HT: Brian Lollar)

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Plato on Craigslist

First edition! Signed copy! Thanks to Matt for telling me about it.

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Shrinkwrapped has an excellent post on the temptation to try to make people better, and the misery it inevitably entails. I trace the tendency to Rousseau’s second Discourse, which argues that private property makes people artificial, making them try to seem to be what they are not. This leads to Marx’s concepts of alienation and false consciousness, Sartre’s notion of bad faith, and massive, disastrous attempts in the twentieth century to remake human nature. I see a similar motive behind much of contemporary leftist thought, which seems to assume that, if only we make certain political reforms, people will no longer be selfish; they will no longer coalesce into factions; civil society will yield to a “socialized humanity”; and we will have a new politics where people are filled with hope and their lives are filled with meaning. It stands in stark contrast to my own Calvinist belief in the total depravity of man, which sees no redemption for our fallen state within the confines of this world.

The post begins with a quote from one of my favorite movies, which critiques the same idea:

Y’all got on this boat for different reasons, but y’all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this – they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.

Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) Serenity

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