Monthly Archives: February 2008

O Hussein, Hussein, Wherefore Art Thou Hussein?

Tom Maguire on “What’s in a name?”:

Voter —
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;–
Thou art thyself, though not a real Hussein.
What’s Hussein? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Obama would, were he not too Hussein call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title:–Obama, doff Hussein;
And for Hussein, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Obama.
I take thee at thy word:
Give me your vote, and I’ll be new baptiz’d;
Henceforth I never will be not Hussein

Voter.
What man art thou that, thus bescreen’d in night,
So stumblest on my counsel?

Obama.
With Hussein
I know not how to tell thee who I am:
Hussein, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee.
Had I my ID, I would tear the word.

Voter.
My ears have yet not drunk a hundred words
Of that tongue’s utterance, yet I know the sound;
Art thou Obama and yet not a Hussein?

Obama.
Never Hussein, if my pollster dislike.

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Obama's Racial Teflon

Marc Zell, writing in the Jerusalem Post, on Obama and the Jews.

An excerpt:

…With all due deference to the Obama celebrity supporters like Steven Spielberg and George Soros, can Jews here in Israel and in America and other friends of Israel risk a vote for Obama in November? A quick look at the facts should switch on a big red light in most peoples’ minds.

First and foremost among the considerations that should trouble friends of Israel is the foreign policy team Obama has selected to advise him. The composition of a candidate’s advisory panel is usually a very good indicator of where the candidate will come out on the issues if elected.

This was the test this writer applied to George W. Bush in 2000 at a time when most pundits in Israel and in the Jewish community predicted that his Middle East policy would be a carbon copy of his father’s, meaning trouble for Israel. But Bush, the son, had selected a blue-ribbon team of pragmatic and conservative advisors whose views on the Middle East were markedly pro-Israel and pro-democracy. Subsequently, the W. Bush Era became among the closest allies of Israel in her 60-year history.

The opposite is the case with the Obama team. Headed up by Jimmy Carter’s (“Israel is an apartheid state”) national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama’s team includes such problematic figures as Anthony Lake, Robert O. Malley and Susan Rice.

One commentator, citing an article by the staunchly left-wing Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, has noted that an Obama presidency including a foreign policy team that included the foregoing and their ideological soul-mates, “would likely have an approach towards Israel radically at odds with those of previous Presidents (both Republican and Democrat)” and is the candidate apt to be “least supportive” of Israel.

Brzezinski has been disseminating vitriol about Israel for three decades and recently publicly defended the Walt-Mearsheimer study which concluded that US policy towards Israel was the result of Jewish pressure and inconsistent with American interests. More recently Brzezinski called for the US to initiate dialogue with Hamas, described Israel’s action in the Second Lebanon War as a killing campaign against civilian hostages and earlier this month made a trip to confer with Syria’s President Assad, ostensibly unbeknownst to the Obama campaign.

Robert O. Malley, another former Carter Administration diplomat and President Clinton’s special advisor on Arab-Israeli affairs, is an unabashed advocate for the Palestinians, co-authoring a spate of anti-Israel propaganda with former Arafat advisor, Hussein Agha, including a tract that blames Israel for the failure of the 2000 Camp David talks and another piece which blames the Bush Administration for continuing Israeli-Palestinian strife.

And then there is Susan Rice, foreign policy advisor to the ill-fated John Kerry presidential campaign in 2004, where she concocted the idea of solving the Middle East problem by appointing none other than Jimmy Carter and James Baker as negotiators, an idea which was later repudiated by her own boss as being unbalanced against Israel. Nor are these the only “bad apples” in Obama’s foreign policy bin…

Another problematic indicator is candidate’s close association with Jeremiah Wright, Jr., pastor of the Trinity United Community Church (a member of the United Church for Christ, which itself has been rebuked for anti-Israel bias), who is well known for his virulent anti-Israel remarks, including a call for a divestment campaign against Israel for the “injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.”

Nor should bring much solace to Jewish voters and friends of Israel that Reverend Wright counts among his closest friends, the nefarious anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan for whom Judaism is a “gutter religion” and Jews are “bloodsuckers.” Obama could have picked any one of hundreds of churches in Chicago’s South Side; he picked Jeremiah Wright’s parsonage, which awarded Farrakhan with the Jeremiah Wright Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer Award in 2007. And Wright’s church is the single largest beneficiary of Obama’s charitable giving. Even Jewish columnist Richard Cohen of the Washington Post felt compelled to ask Obama to clarify his relationship with these anti-Jewish and anti-Israel community leaders, questioning why Obama has stayed steadfast in his allegiance to Pastor Wright over the years.

Unfortunately, Obama will get a pass on all this. His racial teflon is indestructible.

Ann Althouse does a great job of analyzing Obama’s Farrakhan debate response as well as the reaction of Obama apologists.

Tom Maguire of Just One Minute weighs in:

I … thought Obama was a pure weasel, but everyone let him off the hook. In what way was he a weasel? Please – if John McCain tried to explain that although he had denounced David Duke many times there was no way he could stop Duke from supporting him if that was his choice, people would have burned the stage. Yet with Obama it’s all good.

Just Imagine

Imagine we learn that George Bush has been a long-time member of a church whose pastor is a friend, supporter and traveling companion of a neo-Nazi demagogue who referred to Jews as bloodsuckers and Judaism as a “gutter religion.” And imagine that this pastor habitually makes anti-Jewish and anti-Israel remarks himself.

Do you think American Jews, the “mainstream media” and other liberals would be as supine as apparently they are about Barack Obama’s membership in a church whose pastor has a similar relationship with Louis Farrakhan and who also has a long record of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel demagoguery?

Will Jews be as skeptical of Obama as they are of evangelical Christians who actually support Jews and Israel?

Melanie Phillips examines Obama’s limp response last night to questions about Farrakhan.

Byron York comments:

What if, the blogger Andrew Sullivan asked, it had been a question to John McCain about David Duke? And what if McCain had answered, “You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Dr. Duke’s racist comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in a white man who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can’t censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we’re not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally, with Dr. Duke.”

And what if then, after the debate, McCain’s top campaign aide explained by saying, “The point is this: David Duke said kind things about [McCain]. From what I read, he didn’t say it was an endorsement, and I think Sen. McCain made clear what his position on Duke’s racist statements was.”

Know Thine Friend

Writing in the City Journal, James Q. Wilson examines why Jews don’t like the evangelical Christians who like them.

An excerpt:

…Evangelical Christians have a high opinion not just of the Jewish state but of Jews as people. That Jewish voters are overwhelmingly liberal doesn’t seem to bother evangelicals, despite their own conservative politics. Yet Jews don’t return the favor: in one Pew survey, 42 percent of Jewish respondents expressed hostility to evangelicals and fundamentalists. As two scholars from Baruch College have shown, a much smaller fraction—about 16 percent—of the American public has similarly antagonistic feelings toward Christian fundamentalists.

…Mainstream Protestant groups, such as the National Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches, have a very different attitude toward Israel. The NCC, for example, refused to support Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967, and immediately afterward began to protest victorious Israel’s expansion of its territory. From that point on, the NCC’s positions ran closely with Arab opinion, urging American contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization, for instance, and denouncing the Camp David Accords because they supposedly ignored the Palestinians’ national ambitions. In 2004, the Presbyterian Church decided to study a proposal to divert its investments from firms doing business with Israel. Within a year, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and parts of the Methodist Church followed suit. As Paul Charles Merkley sums up in his book about Christian Zionism, mainline Protestant churches’ “respectable leadership had backed away from Israel; all of her constant friends were seated below the salt.”

Why do mainline Protestant leaders oppose Israel? That question becomes harder to answer when one recalls that Israel is a democratic nation with vigorously independent courts that has not only survived brutal attacks by its Arab neighbors but provided a prosperous home for the children of many Holocaust survivors. As with any other nation, Israel has pursued policies that one can challenge. Some may criticize its management of the West Bank, for example, or its attacks on Hamas leaders. But these concerns are trivial compared with Iran’s announced desire to wipe Israel off the map by using every weapon at its disposal, including (eventually) a nuclear one.

The answer, I think, is that many Christian liberals see Israel as blocking the aspirations of the oppressed—who, they have decided, include the Palestinians. Never mind that the Palestinians support suicide bombers and rocket attacks against Israel; never mind that the Palestinians cannot form a competent government; never mind that they wish to occupy Israel “from the sea to the river.” It is enough that they seem oppressed, even though much of the oppression is self-inflicted.

After the Marxist claims about the proletariat proved false and capitalism was vindicated as the best way to achieve economic affluence, leftists had to stop pretending that they could accomplish much with state-owned factories and national economic plans. As a result, the oppressed replaced the proletariat as the Left’s object of affection. The enemy became, not capitalists, but successful nations.

That shift in focus has received encouragement from certain American academics, such as Noam Chomsky, and from the European press, including the BBC, the Guardian, the Evening Standard, and Le Monde. All tend to denounce Israel in the most unrestrained terms. When Israeli ground forces sought to root out terrorists hiding in a Jenin refugee camp, they lost 23 soldiers and killed 52 Palestinians. Among other press critics, the British writer A. N. Wilson, uninterested in the facts, called the episode a “massacre” and a “genocide.” The Left will always have its enemies; Israel has merely replaced John D. Rockefeller at the top of the list.

But why do so many Jewish groups and voters abhor their Christian evangelical allies? To answer that question carefully, we would need data that distinguish among Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and secular Jews. It is quite possible that Orthodox Jews welcome evangelical support while Reform and secular ones oppose it, but I could find no data on which to base a firm conclusion. Most Jews are political liberals, devoted to the Democratic Party and liberal causes generally. As Milton Himmelfarb once put it, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” Such voting habits are not hard to explain in a population that historically includes victims of discrimination, oppression, and mass murder. By contrast, evangelicals tend to be conservatives to whom politics seems less important than their dispensationalist beliefs.

That liberal politics trumps other considerations—including worries about anti-Semitism—for many American Jews becomes clearer in light of other data. The most anti-Semitic group in America is African-Americans. This wasn’t always the case. Many early black leaders, including W. E. B. Du Bois and Ralph Bunche, were quite supportive of American Jews. Du Bois even criticized Bunche for being “insufficiently pro-Zionist.” The NAACP endorsed the creation of Israel in 1948, and the Jewish state received continued support from Paul Robeson, Bayard Rustin, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But by the time of the 1967 war, much of that leadership had left the scene. Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, James Forman, Malcolm X, and Shirley Du Bois (widow of W. E. B. Du Bois) were critical of Israel. At a New Left convention in the late 1960s, black delegates insisted on passing a resolution condemning the “imperialist Zionist war.” Nowadays, according to several polls, about one-third of U.S. blacks have very anti-Semitic attitudes, and this hasn’t changed since at least 1964, when the first such poll was conducted. And it has been African-American leaders, not white evangelicals, who have made anti-Semitic remarks most conspicuously. Everyone recalls Jesse Jackson’s reference to New York as “Hymietown,” to say nothing of Louis Farrakhan, a great admirer of Hitler, who has called Jews “bloodsuckers.”

Yet African-American voters are liberals, and so often get a pass from their Jewish allies. To Jews, blacks are friends and evangelicals enemies, whatever their respective dispositions toward Jews and Israel.

But another reason, deeper than Jewish and evangelical differences over abortion, school prayer, and gay marriage, may underlie Jewish dislike of Christian fundamentalists. Though evangelical Protestants are supportive of Israel and tolerant of Jews, in the eyes of their liberal critics they are hostile to the essential elements of a democratic regime. They believe that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and worry about the decay of morality; they must wish, therefore, to impose a conservative moral code, alter the direction of the country so that it conforms to God’s will, require public schools to teach Christian beliefs, and crush the rights of minorities.

Christian Smith, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina, analyzed four surveys of self-identified evangelicals and found that, while they do think that America was founded as a Christian nation and fear that the country has lost its moral bearings, these views are almost exactly the same as those held by non-evangelical Americans. Evangelicals, like other Americans, oppose having public schools teach Christian values, oppose having public school teachers lead students in vocal prayers, and oppose a constitutional amendment declaring the country a Christian nation. Evangelicals deny that there is one correct Christian view on most political issues, deny that Jews must answer for allegedly killing Christ, deny that laws protecting free speech go too far, and reject the idea that whites should be able to keep blacks out of their neighborhoods. They overwhelmingly agree that Jews and Christians share the same values and can live together in harmony. Evangelicals strongly oppose abortion and gay marriage, but in almost every other respect are like other Americans.

Whatever the reason for Jewish distrust of evangelicals, it may be a high price to pay when Israel’s future, its very existence, is in question. Half of all Protestants in the country describe themselves as evangelical, or born-again, Christians, making up about one-quarter of all Americans (though they constitute only 16 percent of white Christian voters in the Northeast). Jews, by contrast, make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, and that percentage will shrink: as many as half of all Jews marry non-Jews. When it comes to helping secure Israel’s survival, the tiny Jewish minority in America should not reject the help offered by a group that is ten times larger and whose views on the central propositions of a democratic society are much like everybody else’s.

And why do Jews like people who hate them? Ed Lasky writes in the American Thinker:

…There are literally hundreds of churches on the South Side of Chicago that Barack Obama could have chosen from. He selected one that was headed by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Junior. The anti-Israel rants of this minister have been well chronicled. Among the gems:

“The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for almost 40 years now. It took a divestment campaign to wake the business community up concerning the South Africa issue. Divestment has now hit the table again as a strategy to wake the business community up and to wake Americans up concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.”

Pastor Wright is a supporter of Louis Farrakhan (who called Judaism a “gutter religion” and depicted Jews as “bloodsuckers”) and traveled with him to visit Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi, archenemy of Israel’s and a terror supporter. Most recently, as head of the UN Security Council, Gaddafi prevented condemnation of attacks against Israel. As Kyle-Anne Shriver noted,

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan received the “Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer” Award at the 2007 Trumpet Gala at the United Church of Christ.

Wright routinely compares Israel to apartheid South Africa and considers blacks “The Chosen People”.

Capitulating in the War For Civilisation

Is recognizing Kosovo as an independent state “mind-blowingly stupid and suicidal”? Melanie Phillips explains.

He's The One We've Been Waiting For

I feel about the Democratic contest the way Henry Kissinger felt about the Iran-Iraq War, that it’s a pity they both can’t lose. As much as I am revolted by the prospect of a second Clinton era, I fear the Obamas would be even worse in that they would embody and encourage the worst of the left’s resentment, self-pity and solipsism.

Bill Kristol gets to the heart of Obamaism: It’s all about him.

An excerpt:

[Obama’s wife said recently:] “Barack knows that at some level there’s a hole in our souls.” This was a variation of language she had used earlier on the campaign trail: “Barack Obama is the only person in this race who understands that, that before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.”

But they can be repaired. Indeed, she had said a couple of weeks before, in Los Angeles: “Barack Obama … is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”

So we don’t have to work to improve our souls. Our broken souls can be fixed — by our voting for Barack Obama. We don’t have to fight or sacrifice to help our country. Our uninvolved and uninformed lives can be changed — by our choosing Barack Obama. America can become a nation to be proud of — by letting ourselves be led by Barack Obama.

John Kennedy, to whom Obama is sometimes compared, challenged the American people to acts of citizenship and patriotism. Barack Obama allows us to feel better about ourselves.

Obama likes to say, “we are the change that we seek” and “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” That’s a democratic courtesy on his part, and one flattering to his followers. But the effectual truth of what Obama is saying is that he is the one we’ve been waiting for.

… could the American people, by November, decide that for all his impressive qualities, Obama tends too much toward the preening self-regard of Bill Clinton, the patronizing elitism of Al Gore and the haughty liberalism of John Kerry?

It’s fitting that the alternative to Obama will be John McCain. He makes no grand claim to fix our souls. He doesn’t think he’s the one everyone has been waiting for. He’s more proud of his country than of himself. And his patriotism has consisted of deeds more challenging than “speaking out on issues.”

"They Never Proved Those Charges!"

Paul Greenberg on the “illegal” whacking of Hezbollah mass-murderer Imad Mughniyeh:

In another case of gross disregard for due process, a senior leader of Hezbollah was blown apart on a Damascus street last week without even a by-your-leave, let alone being read his Miranda rights.

Imad Mughniyeh’s dossier may have been extensive, but he never got his day in court. Indeed, he seems to have done everything he could to avoid it. It’s said he was unrecognizable even before last week’s blast, having undergone plastic surgery more than once in order to avoid the kind of unpleasantness that finally did him in.

This picture released by Hezbollah media office, shows Imad Mughniyeh, the elusive senior Hezbollah commander who the group said Wednesday was killed, Lebanon, Beirut Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008. Fugitive militant Imad Mughniyeh, a top U.S. target suspected in the killings of hundreds of Americans as well as a series of infamous strikes against U.S., Israeli and Jewish targets, was killed in a car bomb blast in the Syrian capital Damascus, Iranian television and a Syrian human rights group said Wednesday. Hezbollah accused Israel for the assassination.

…From a humble peasant background, Imad Mughniyeh had risen to the top echelon of Hezbollah by dint of devoted service. His resume, aka rap sheet, goes back at least to 1983 and the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed more than 300. He’s also been credited with the murder of 63 the same year in an attack on the American embassy there.

Imad Mughniyeh is said – mere hearsay again! – to have been behind the hijacking of a TWA jetliner that went on for 17 days and included the beating, torture and eventual murder of Petty Officer Robert Dean Stethem, U.S.N., who was singled out for special treatment. (At the time, Americans swore we would never forget him, but of course we pretty much did. Just as the memory of September 11, 2001, grows dim in the American memory, and those who recall it in this election year are dismissed as, yes, fearmongers.)

Space, and the shadowy nature of a career in terrorism, a crowded field these days, does not permit a comprehensive review of the exploits attributed to the sanguinary Mr. Mughniyeh, or a full account of the blood debt he ran up. Suffice it to say that more than one intelligence agency had a powerful incentive to collect it.

But what solid evidence was there against the much sought-after Mr. Mughniyeh except a raft of investigations around the world, maybe a trial in absentia or two, and common knowledge?

…As an Arkansas legislator of my acquaintance likes to tell people who say they’ve heard so much about him, “They never proved those charges!”

On the basis of apparently only coincidental if convincing evidence, the secretive Mr. Mughniyeh’s nice car now has been reduced to a smudge on the asphalt of a fashionable Damascus street – without even a preliminary hearing, a writ of habeas corpus, or a FISA warrant. Where is the ACLU when you need it?

The sudden, not to say explosive demise of Mr. Mughniyeh is part of a disturbing pattern: Start by blowing up notorious terrorists and soon you’ll be tapping their phone conversations without a warrant.

Just imagine what might have happened to this innocent (until proven guilty) subject if he had come into American custody. Why, he might have been waterboarded!

Oh, the horror. Look what happened when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now formally accused of having been the driving force behind the attacks of September 11th, was subjected to this watery treatment. Word is it took only 45 seconds or so before the previously recalcitrant terrorist decided it would be the better course of valor to reveal al-Qaida’s table of organization in Europe, information that may have spared who knows how many lives.

But what are mere lives compared to the polemics of pundits, politicians and other such purists? Waterboarding, they have concluded, is torture, and torture is illegal, ergo waterboarding was, is and always will be illegal. No need for a court actually to rule. Yet this stubborn administration refuses to forswear its theoretical use in the always unforeseeable future, as if circumstances might still alter cases.

…But that was before we had all these diviners who know the United States of America is so secure that such means will never be necessary to protect it. Call it a September 10th cast of mind. It was widespread before December 7, 1941, too.

As for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who did fall into American hands, he is now to be tried by a military commission. But military trials for illegal combatants, even if they go back to George Washington’s continental army, have come under fire, too, and by the time all the lawyering is done, the accused my have died peacefully of old age in some Club Fed.

Times have changed since Franklin Roosevelt used military commissions to try a group of German saboteurs, including one U.S. citizen, who’d been apprehended on these shores. Their trial took all of three weeks and promptly led to a number of summary executions. But of course that war was different; we intended to win it.

…This latest, shocking disregard for the rights of a long-sought suspect finally tracked down in Damascus bears all the marks of a CIA operation, except of course that it was effective. Congress needs to round up the usual suspects at once, issue subpoenas all around, roundly condemn the Bush administration for its disregard for civil liberties, and begin a full-fledged investigation in that order. Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards!

But suspicion already has shifted to the Israelis, as it always does. To quote Yossi Alpher, a former Mossad agent, “No matter who did it, they’re going to blame us.” Why not? It’s tradition!

…Clearly an emergency session of the UN Security Council needs to be called at once and still another solemn resolution passed condemning Israel for another heinous act of self-defense. Once again it seems to have assassinated a terrorist leader for no better reason than his dedication to its destruction and to violence in general.

Surely no one can claim that justice was done in the murderous Mr. Mughniyeh’s case. Considering the almost instantaneous effect of a well-placed car bomb, he scarcely suffered.

Little Change and Less Hope

A fine piece by Victor Davis Hanson on the doom-and-gloom rhetoric of the more-than-comfortable Democratic presidential candidates.

Hanson notes:

In the new pessimistic indictment, the home mortgage meltdown has not occurred because too many speculative buyers were hoping to flip houses for quick profits. It had nothing to do with misguided attempts of government and lending institutions to put first-time buyers in homes through zero-down payments, interest-only loans, and subprime but adjustable mortgage rates – as part of liberal efforts to increase home ownership rates.

And there apparently are few Americans who unwisely borrowed against their homes a second and third time to remodel or purchase big-ticket consumer items – on the belief that their equity would always be rising faster than their debts. Nor are we to look at this downturn as part of a historical boom-and-bust cycle in the housing industry – the present low prices and non-performing loans the natural counter-response to the overpriced real estate of the last five years.

Likewise, students are failing to graduate from college because there are too few government-guaranteed student loans. We don’t hear that thousands enter public universities without basic reading and mathematical skills – or that their college problems might in part be the fault of their own misplaced priorities in high school, and in part the fault of an educational system that is mostly therapeutic, offering fluffy courses and self-esteem training rather than rigorous math, science, literature and history classes. Nor is there ever mention of teachers’ unions, the system of tenure, or a vapid, politically correct curriculum, as explanations why our students are not competitive in the global marketplace.

We also hear that oil prices are sky high and our own automobile industry is failing due to windfall profits and corporate greed, but there’s no discussion of the fact that oil-rich autocracies like Russia, Venezuela and the Gulf monarchies have obtained a stranglehold on the global petroleum supply.

For Hillary and Barack, our automobile manufacturing crisis is not the result of uniquely lavish union health and retirement packages for American autoworkers. The government is somehow mostly to blame for Detroit’s meltdown and the energy crisis, not Americans’ own tastes in the 1990s for large gas-guzzlers and big homes, and their concurrent opposition to nuclear power plants, oil drilling off the coasts and in Alaska, and conservation of resources.

Wal-Mart, free trade and our debt to China also come in for blame. Neither Obama nor Clinton suggests that the middle classes of America have more purchasing power and have accumulated more consumer goods than any people in history. In reality, our acquisitiveness is a result not of corporate greed, but of our fondness for shopping at discounted warehouse mega-stores, whose goods are the result of hard work of hundreds of millions of low-paid Chinese. They not only toil long hours to make our cheap televisions and stereos, but their government lends us the money at low interest – through massive buying of U.S. government bonds – to buy their stuff in the first place.

To the extent that we have any social and legal problems from unchecked illegal immigration, it has nothing to do with the cynicism and corruption of the Mexican government that deliberately exports, exploits and profits off its own people. The problem is not the fondness for low-paid, off-the-books illegal labor among the upper-middle classes, nor the disdain for the law of illegal immigrants themselves, who crowd to the front of the immigration line. Instead, America’s xenophobia, blame-casting and insensitive government have made it needlessly rough on 11 million arrivals who otherwise did us a favor by coming.

As Sens. Obama and Clinton try to outdo each other in blaming government for our lack of individual responsibility and promising solutions by raising taxes to give us more government, they offer little change and less hope.

Obama's Roots: New Class Leftism

More spectacular fatuity from the Obama campaign, this time from the candidate’s wife. John Podhoretz comments:

Michelle Obama today said that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction.”

…Mrs. Obama was speaking at a campaign rally, so it is easy to assume she was merely indulging in hyperbole. Even so, it is very revealing.

It suggests, first, that the pseudo-messianic nature of the Obama candidacy is very much a part of the way the Obamas themselves are feeling about it these days. If they don’t get a hold of themselves, the family vanity is going to swell up to the size of Phileas Fogg’s hot-air balloon and send the two of them soaring to heights of self-congratulatory solipsism that we’ve never seen before.

Second, it suggests the Obama campaign really does have its roots in New Class leftism, according to which patriotism is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the first refuge as well — that America is not fundamentally good but flawed, but rather fundamentally flawed and only occasionally good. There’s something for John McCain to work with here.

I would add that Mrs. Obama’s not-so-subtle playing of the race card undercuts her husband’s carefully crafted image of being above and beyond race. The truth is that Obama’s candidacy has everything to do with race; he would not be running for president if it weren’t for his race.

Can Democrats Be Grownups?

In the New York Times, Bill Kristol cites a great Orwell essay on Rudyard Kipling to argue that the Democrats are not the grownup party.

An excerpt:

…Given Orwell’s perpetual ability to elucidate, one shouldn’t be surprised that [his] argument would shed light— or so it seems to me — on contemporary American politics.

Orwell offers a highly qualified appreciation of the then (and still) politically incorrect Kipling. He insists that one must admit that Kipling is “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting.” Still, he says, Kipling “survives while the refined people who have sniggered at him seem to wear so badly.” One reason for this is that Kipling “identified himself with the ruling power and not with the opposition.”

“In a gifted writer,” Orwell remarks, “this seems to us strange and even disgusting, but it did have the advantage of giving Kipling a certain grip on reality.” Kipling “at least tried to imagine what action and responsibility are like.” For, Orwell explains, “The ruling power is always faced with the question, ‘In such and such circumstances, what would you do?’, whereas the opposition is not obliged to take responsibility or make any real decisions.” Furthermore, “where it is a permanent and pensioned opposition, as in England, the quality of its thought deteriorates accordingly.”

If I may vulgarize the implications of Orwell’s argument a bit: substitute Republicans for Kipling and Democrats for the opposition, and you have a good synopsis of the current state of American politics.

Having controlled the executive branch for 28 of the last 40 years, Republicans tend to think of themselves as the governing party — with some of the arrogance and narrowness that implies, but also with a sense of real-world responsibility. Many Democrats, on the other hand, no longer even try to imagine what action and responsibility are like. They do, however, enjoy the support of many refined people who snigger at the sometimes inept and ungraceful ways of the Republicans. (And, if I may say so, the quality of thought of the Democrats’ academic and media supporters — a permanent and, as it were, pensioned opposition — seems to me to have deteriorated as Orwell would have predicted.)