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Archive for June, 2009

Friend of Fascists

First Obama takes the side of the Palestinians against Israel.  Then, the mullahs against the people of Iran.  Now, the leftist President of Honduras against the Constitution, Supreme Court, and people of HondurasCaroline Glick writes,

So if Obama’s foreign policy has already failed or is in the process of failing throughout the world, why is he refusing to reassess it? Why, with blood running through the streets of Iran, is he still interested in appeasing the mullahs? Why, with Venezuela threatening to invade Honduras for Zelaya, is he siding with Zelaya against Honduran democrats? Why, with the Palestinians refusing to accept the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, is he seeking to expel some 500,000 Jews from their homes in the interest of appeasing the Palestinians? Why, with North Korea threatening to attack the US with ballistic missiles, is he refusing to order the USS John McCain to interdict the suspected North Korean missile ship it has been trailing for the past two weeks? Why, when the Sudanese government continues to sponsor the murder of Darfuris, is the administration claiming that the genocide in Darfur has ended?

The only reasonable answer to all of these questions is that far from being nonideological, Obama’s foreign policy is the most ideologically driven since Carter’s tenure in office. If when Obama came into office there was a question about whether he was a foreign policy pragmatist or an ideologue, his behavior in his first six months in office has dispelled all doubt. Obama is moved by a radical, anti-American ideology that motivates him to dismiss the importance of democracy and side with anti-American dictators against US allies.

For his efforts, although he is causing the US to fail to secure its aims as he
himself has defined them in arena after arena, he is successfully securing the support of the most radical, extreme leftist factions in American politics.

Like Carter before him, Obama may succeed for a time in evading public scrutiny for his foreign-policy failures because the public will be too concerned with his domestic failures to notice them. But in the end, his slavish devotion to his radical ideological agenda will ensure that his failures reach a critical mass.

And then they will sink him.

As I’ve been arguing, he’s on the other side.  Tegucigalpa 2009 = Washington 2012? 2016?

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Some Rude Questions

These questions are rude, politically incorrect, and naive.  But they pop into my brain from time to time, and I honestly don’t know the answers.  Help me out.

  1. The Iranian Green Revolution seems to be withering in the face of the mullahs’ brutality.  It’s hard to topple a regime with rocks when it has AK-47s and tanks.  Question: Why haven’t we been arming the Iranian opposition?  Why didn’t the people in the streets have AK-47s, grenades, rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons, and other arms of the kind that Iran has been channeling to the Iraqi resistance?  What do we have a CIA for, anyway?
  2. The mullahs started their war against the United States in 1979 with the seizure of the American embassy.  Once the hostages were released on January 20, 1981, we could have struck back at them without endangering Americans.  There would have been overwhelming public support for such a move.  (I remember the bumper stickers: “The Ayatollah is an assahollah.”)  Why didn’t we?  Why are the mullahs still alive?  Have we no cruise missiles?  Drones?  Have we, over the past 28 years, had no idea where they are?
  3. “No blood for oil.” I used to see that bumper sticker on a certain car all the time on my way to work.  It betrays an utter lack of understanding of the Iraq War.  (Where, I used to think, was all this oil supposed to have gone?  Why was gasoline over $3 a gallon?)  But from one point of view it’s a good idea. We have transferred trillions of dollars to our ideological enemies over the past forty years, turning them from backward wastelands into world powers.  Why?  We and the British developed their oil fields.  They then unjustly seized them, taking over the oil companies and seizing the profits.  Why did we let that happen?  Why don’t we take the oil fields back?
  4. The Saudis have been financing radical Wahhabi Islam and terrorism for years.  Most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudis.  Why haven’t we retaliated?  Why haven’t we killed or imprisoned the Saudi royal family, seized their wealth, and taken over the oil fields?
  5. Why did George Bush wait a full year before attacking Iraq in the vain hope of getting France and Germany on board?  It only heightened the bogus “acting unilaterally” meme.  Why did we then stop in Iraq?  Why didn’t we topple the government in Syria?  To get back to question 1, why weren’t we actively trying to undermine the government of Iran?  Why didn’t we remake the map of the Middle East?

I realize that all these courses of action would have been risky.  They would have risked American lives.  They would have generated significant hostility in the Muslim world.  They would have been denounced as aggression.  Given that the Iraq War already generated most of those consequences, however, it isn’t obvious that we had much more to lose in the realm of international politics.

American lives are another matter.  There might be good military reasons why these options were infeasible or too costly to contemplate seriously.

But why are they never even discussed in polite company?  Why do I have to be very tired to dare to raise them in this blog?

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The Death of Reason

The House has passed a climate bill—more than 1,500 pages that no one has read—to respond to a nonexistent problem with a solution that would be ineffective if there were a problem, at a gargantuan cost.  We’re already on track with the Great Depression; now we have our Smoot-Hawley, at roughly an analogous point in time after the initial crash.

Idiots.

I can’t stand to listen to the Democrats’ imbecilic arguments in favor of this bill.  “It will create more than 1.7 million jobs.”  I remember the soaring energy prices of 1973, 1979, and 2008; I don’t remember them creating lots of jobs.  The effect was quite the opposite.

Still, an optimistic thought: The Democrats, to pass this, had to set it up so that the largest costs and the biggest damages to the economy are backloaded.  Republicans will have opportunities to gut it before the worst kicks in.

UPDATE: Did they pass a nonexistent bill?  “The manner in which the Democrats have run the House since taking control in 2007 has been disgraceful.”  I couldn’t agree more.

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What would you do with Iranian Revolutionary Guard members who kidnapped and murdered American soldiers and then were caught?  I thought so– release them in exchange for dead bodies of British soldiers.  That’s what Obama would do.  Actually, that’s what he has done.

Even as the mullahs are terrorizing the Iranian people, the Obama administration is negotiating with an Iranian-backed terrorist organization and abandoning the American proscription against exchanging terrorist prisoners for hostages kidnapped by terrorists. Worse still, Obama has already released a terrorist responsible for the brutal murders of five American soldiers in exchange for the remains of two deceased British hostages….

Under his leadership, and even as the mullahs who have been at war with the United States for 30 years are engaged in a Tiananmen-style crackdown, Obama is neck-deep in terrorist-for-hostages negotiations with Iran-backed killers who have American blood on their hands.

To what end? Other than emboldening terrorists everywhere with the message that the way to gain American concessions is to kidnap Americans and American allies, all we have achieved by freeing a murderer of American soldiers is the retrieval of two British murder victims when we’d been led to believe that all five hostages still were alive. And still there is the implied threat that, if Qais Qazali and Ali Mussa Daqduq are not released soon, the other three British hostages — assuming they are still alive — will be murdered.

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No, despite the Simpsons reference, I do not welcome them.  Nor does Lee Smith, who understands the Nietzschean roots of the Left in its current incarnation, including our President.  (HT: Richard Fernandez.) Fascism was always a movement of the Left.  What is new is that fascism now dominates the Left, in Western nations, at least.

I urge you to read the entire article.  Here’s a taste:

Many of the veterans of the Western left are at pains to point out to their younger colleagues that their admiration for the Islamic Resistance is misplaced, that Hezbollah does not share their progressive values, their interest in, say, women’s rights or gay marriage. But it is the old-time leftists who are mistaken, for the rising generation that admires Hezbollah knows all that – and as I said, it is not about values. Indeed, to couch it in the terms appropriate to the matter at hand, there has been a trans-valuation of values.

To understand why the Western left admires the Islamic Resistance, it is most useful – and timely – to consider Iran’s Islamic Revolution, and its most famous Western advocate, Michel Foucault. The French historian was the most talented heir to a long line of mid-twentieth-century French intellectuals whose formative experience was World War II. Writers like Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris were among those who, in the wake of two Europe-wide wars that left many tens of millions dead, spoke of the purgative nature of violence. What the conflagration had exposed, in their view, was that more violence yet was required to cleanse the West of its hypocrisy, the sickness that started with the Enlightenment and culminated in those two wars.

The intellectuals turned against liberalism, and all it entailed. “Industrial capitalism,” Foucault said, had emerged as “the harshest, most savage, most selfish, most dishonest, oppressive society one could possibly imagine.” Foucault sought out other politics and practices, and in 1978 the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra sent him to Tehran to cover the revolution then taking shape. He wrote, “It is perhaps the first great insurrection against global systems, the form of revolt that is the most modern and most insane.” Don’t be confused by what has become mainstream anti-globalization rhetoric; the main theme is in the insanity.

It’s bizarre that these intellectuals turned against democratic liberalism in the aftermath of World War II, as if Churchill and Roosevelt, rather than Mussolini and Hitler, had been the ones responsible for the disaster.  What sort of reading of history does such a response require?  And is it any surprise that these intellectuals turned their sights not only on democracy and liberal values but also on truth, evidence, and objectivity, since no objective or even vaguely reasonable account of history could support their interpretation of events?

Foucault’s hero was Nietzsche, apostle of the will to power. In the view of the European post-Nietzscheans, the real problem with liberal humanism wasn’t its repressive nature, but that it repressed the wrong people. It leveled the playing field with the result that everyone was mediocre. What Nietzsche called slave morality meant in effect that slaves were to be granted the same rights as their masters, the bourgeois were entitled to the same privileges as the aristocrats of spirit. Democracy and liberalism had stripped the world of its primordial magic. Rather, the authentic life was to be found in the charisma of the great leader and his stark displays of power, the superman who transcended bourgeois values.  It is said that Foucault was later disappointed by the Iranian Revolution, but make no mistake: He knew exactly what he was looking at in the orgiastic violence and the bright blood spilled in the streets of Tehran.

Thirty years after the Islamic Revolution and a quarter century after the death of Foucault, an entire generation of Western Europeans and Americans, the cream of our cultural elite, has been shaped by an intellectual current that despises liberalism and dismisses as mediocre the universal humanism that prizes the same values across cultures, from the US and Europe to the Middle East. Instead, it welcomes the return of the magic, the blood and power, the violence of the strongman.

Smith’s analysis insightfully points to the Romantic foundations of the Leftist worldview.  Marx and Engels, Mussolini and Hitler, Foucault and Fanon, Marcuse and Obama—all are essentially heirs of the Romantic movement, its hostility to Reason and objectivity, its admiration for subjectivity, authenticity, and passion, and its longing for a mythical, mystical, meaningful past.  The Left, not even remotely progressive, yearns to return to a golden age that never was, and is willing to to pay any price—even, or perhaps especially, in blood—to get there.

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David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey present an interesting argument that the right to privacy recognized in such cases as Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade rules out government control of health care:

If the government cannot proscribe — or even “unduly burden,” to use another of the Supreme Court’s analytical frameworks — access to abortion, how can it proscribe access to other medical procedures, including transplants, corrective or restorative surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, or a myriad of other health services that individuals may need or desire?

This type of “burden” analysis will be especially problematic for a national health system because, in the health area, proper care often depends upon an individual’s unique physical and even genetic history and characteristics. One size clearly does not fit all, but that is the very essence of governmental regulation — to impose a regularity (if not uniformity) in the application of governmental power and the dispersal of its largess. Taking key decisions away from patient and physician, or otherwise limiting their available choices, will render any new system constitutionally vulnerable.

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Michael Barone describes Obama’s style of governance—”Dodge facts, skip details, govern Chicago-style”—in characteristically direct and insightful fashion, adumbrating Three Rules of Obama:

First, Obama likes to execute long-range strategies but suffers from cognitive dissonance when new facts render them inappropriate. His 2008 campaign was a largely flawless execution of a smart strategy, but he was flummoxed momentarily when the Russians invaded Georgia and when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. On domestic policy, he has been executing his long-range strategy of vastly expanding government, but may be encountering problems as voters show unease at huge increases on spending.

His long-range strategy of propitiating America’s enemies has been undercut by North Korea’s missile launches and demonstrations in Iran against the mullah regime’s apparent election fraud. His assumption that friendly words could melt the hearts of Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been refuted by events. He limits himself to expressing “deep concern” about the election in the almost surely vain hope of persuading the mullahs to abandon their drive for nuclear weapons, while he misses his chance to encourage the one result — regime change — that could protect us and our allies from Iranian attack.

Second, he does not seem to care much about the details of policy. He subcontracted the stimulus package to congressional appropriators, the cap-and-trade legislation to Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, and his health care program to Max Baucus. The result is incoherent public policy: indefensible pork barrel projects, a carbon emissions bill that doesn’t limit carbon emissions from politically connected industries, and a health care program priced by the Congressional Budget Office at a fiscally unfeasible $1,600,000,000,000….

Third, he does business Chicago-style. His first political ambition was to be mayor of Chicago, the boss of all he surveyed; he has had to settle for the broader but less complete hegemony of the presidency. From Chicago he brings the assumption that there will always be a bounteous private sector that can be plundered endlessly on behalf of political favorites….

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