Monthly Archives: November 2008

Floundering For Explanations

As usual, Melanie Phillips gets it right:

The atrocities in Mumbai have left reporters and commentators floundering for explanations. Why India? Was this a local terrorist group or al Qaeda? Why single out Americans and Brits if they also targeted Indians in the railway station? Why attack some obscure Jewish organisation? And so on. They are floundering because they still just don’t get it. The atrocities demonstrated with crystal clarity what the Islamist war is all about – and the western commentariat didn’t understand because it simply refuses to acknowledge, even now, what that war actually is. It does not arise from particular grievances. It is not rooted in ‘despair’ over Palestine. It is not a reaction to the war in Iraq. It is a war waged in the name of Islam against America, Britain, Hindus, Jews and all who refuse to submit to Islamic conquest…

As does Mark Steyn:

…we’re in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It’s the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK-47 and shoot up a hotel lobby. Or, if active terrorists are a bit thin on the ground, whether you can count at least on some degree of broader support on the ground. You’re sitting in some distant foreign capital but you’re of a mind to pull off a Mumbai-style operation in, say, Amsterdam or Manchester or Toronto. Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological front organizations. You’ve already made landfall.

It’s missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the “Deccan Mujahideen” or the ISI or al-Qaida or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That’s a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It’s not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That’s what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the central Asian ‘stans to Yorkshire, and co-opted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.

Many of us, including the incoming Obama administration, look at this as a law-enforcement matter. Mumbai is a crime scene, so let’s surround the perimeter with yellow police tape, send in the forensics squad, and then wait for the D.A. to file charges.

There was a photograph that appeared in many of the British papers, taken by a Reuters man and captioned by the news agency as follows: “A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station.” The photo of the “suspected gunman” showed a man holding a gun. We don’t know much about him – he might be Muslim or Episcopalian, he might be an impoverished uneducated victim of Western colonialist economic oppression or a former vice-president of Lehman Brothers embarking on an exciting midlife career change – but one thing we ought to be able to say for certain is that a man pointing a gun is not a “suspected gunman” but a gunman. “This kind of silly political correctness infects reporters and news services worldwide,” wrote John Hinderaker of Powerline. “They think they’re being scrupulous – the man hasn’t been convicted of being a gunman yet! – when, in fact, they’re just being foolish. But the irrational conviction that nothing can be known unless it has been determined by a court and jury isn’t just silly, it’s dangerous.”

Just so. This isn’t law enforcement but an ideological assault – and we’re fighting the symptoms not the cause. Islamic imperialists want an Islamic society, not just in Palestine and Kashmir but in the Netherlands and Britain, too. Their chances of getting it will be determined by the ideology’s advance among the general Muslim population, and the general Muslim population’s demographic advance among everybody else.

So Bush is history, and we have a new president who promises to heal the planet, and yet the jihadists don’t seem to have got the Obama message that there are no enemies, just friends we haven’t yet held talks without preconditions with. This isn’t about repudiating the Bush years, or withdrawing from Iraq, or even liquidating Israel. It’s bigger than that. And if you don’t have a strategy for beating back the ideology, you’ll lose.

Whoops, my apologies. I mean “suspected ideology.”

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Assassination Porn

Today, someone mentioned to me that the number one thing she was worrying about right now is not that the Iranians will get a nuclear bomb or that the economy is on the verge of collapse, but rather that Barry will be assassinated. She referred to some network news show about a supposed Ku Klux Klan plot.

Now, I have no doubt that there are some unhinged folks out there who would like to be the next John Wilkes Booth, James Earl Ray or Lee Harvey Oswald; but there are always plots to kill whoever is president.

Were there no plots to assassinate George W. Bush? Of course there were, but the would-be assassins were almost certainly anti-war, left-wing Bill Ayers types and were thus not very interesting to the media.

I’ll bet that if you took a poll, a majority of Americans would say that Kennedy’s murderer was a right wing racist, rather than the pro-Castro communist he actually was. They would believe that because the Kennedy family and his hagiographers, out of a desire to turn the assassination into something “positive,” subtly over the years deemphasized Oswald’s communist beliefs and created a false image of Kennedy as an enthusiastic supporter of black aspirations.

The Obama assassination fear is an example of media and Obama-camp hype. It fits the civil rights martyr narrative the media and all liberals love – the Jesus Christ- Kennedy- King myth of the fallen savior.

Mark Steyn put it well a while ago:

…if you’re running for president not as an unexceptional first-term senator with a thin resume but as the new Messiah, the new Kennedy, the new Gandhi, the new Martin Luther King, you can’t blame folks for leaping ahead to the next stage in the mythic narrative. Around the world, a second instant subgenre has sprung up in which commentators speculate how long it will be before some deranged Christian-fundamentalist neo-Nazi gun-nut deprives America of its fleeting wisp of glory. Setting a new standard for fevered, slavering Obama assassination porn, Earl MacRae warned Canadians in The Ottawa Sun:

“To be black and catapulting toward the presidency on charm, intellect and popularity is unacceptable to the racist paranoid and scary in America the beautiful. … They do not want to hear that he is a better American than they are, these right-wing extremist fascists in the land of America who no doubt believe it’s God’s will Barack Obama not get to the White House, no method of deterrence out of bounds, in their zealotry to protect and perpetuate Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Mom’s apple pie and the cross of Jesus in every home.”

By this point, Mr. MacRae wasn’t so much warming to his theme as typing up his first draft for Miramax:

“Barack Obama is waving his arms. The crowd is cheering. … I see Barack Obama, one minute smiling, the people crying his name. I see Barack Obama grab his chest and his eyes widen and his mouth opens, and the crowd screams as Barack Obama, black candidate for the presidency of the United States of America, falls to the ground, dead, an assassin’s bullet inside him.”

Er, OK.

Right now Obama’s more at risk of being taken out by traces of polonium-210 left in his hotel by a Clinton operative than by Roy Rogers saddling up for Jesus.

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Never Mind!

You gotta love the New York Times. Since Barry’s elevation, they’ve run news stories about all the bad guys being detained in Guantanamo whom they previously considered innocent shepherds wrongly “swept up” on the battlefield, an editorial urging Congress to pass the Colombian Free Trade Bill which I don’t remember their urging pre-election, and now an editorial advising against talking with the Taliban.

Looks like the Times is preparing their leftist readers for an Obama administration far different from the one promised during the campaign. If I were really cynical, I’d think Team Obama is coordinating with the Times, knowing that many liberals don’t know what to think until they read it in the New York Times.

Only the insufferable Times, convinced of its power over liberal elite opinion, could do this with a straight face.

Here’s some good news:

…The average individually paid circulation of the [Wall Street] Journal rose 2.4 percent to 1.4 million as of September from a year ago, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The [New York] Times’ slid 5.5 percent to 858,985 on that basis…
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The Big Tuna

In his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove examines the political land mines awaiting Barry now that he actually has to make decisions.

At the end of the column, he mentions a “thorny local controversy” that may turn out to be a political nuclear explosion:

…Should the new president replace U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who prosecuted Mr. Obama’s fund-raising patron, Tony Rezko, and is investigating high-profile Democrats?…

The place to follow these “thorny” developments is John Kass’s Chicago Tribune column.

Here’s part of his November 16th column:

…Was I in Chicago, or in Rome before the fall?

“Not guilty,” said William Cellini, 74, in a whisper.

Cellini wore a nice blue suit. What he didn’t wear was a neon sign on his head pronouncing him the boss hog of the Republican half of the bipartisan Illinois Combine that runs this state with Chicago machine Democrats.

Bill Cellini doesn’t need a neon sign. Everybody who is somebody knows who he is. He’s said to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Not bad for public service.

To fully appreciate our politics you’ve got to look at the connections. Sadly, this task is beyond the national press and some locals besotted with our renowned vintage, Combine Kool Aid.

…So as U.S. District Judge James Zagel accepted the not guilty plea, Cellini stood with his defense lawyer, Dan Webb.

“I had a glass of beer last night,” Cellini told Zagel, saying he had no problem following the court proceedings. The three talked as if they knew each other well. They do.

Cellini is accused of helping shake down a Hollywood producer and politically connected Chicago investor Thomas Rosenberg for $1.5 million in campaign cash for Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Cellini also is accused as a point man in a plot to remove U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald as federal prosecutor.

Watching Webb, Zagel and Cellini, there was nothing to tell you they go way back. The only guy missing was the bandleader, former Gov. Big Jim Thompson, Webb’s boss at Winston & Strawn. Thompson often gets miffed when I mention him, so I can almost hear him on the phone, growling, “Kass, I ain’t no bandleader.”

Cellini really began to pile up the cash when then-Gov. Thompson gave him a state gaming license. Webb and Zagel were young prosecutors under then-U.S. Atty. Thompson. Later, Zagel was director of the state’s Department of Revenue under Thompson. Webb ran the State Police.

Everybody knows somebody.

…Amazingly, Webb and Cellini are listed together on the board of directors of Lakeside Bank, run by the politically influential Cacciatore family.

One of the original Lakeside Bank investors is Fred Bruno Barbara, the Bridgeport trucking boss, waste management expert and close friend/fashionista of Mayor Richard Daley.

Barbara came up in testimony in the federal Family Secrets trial of mob bosses. A witness said Barbara, who was not charged, went along on fire-bombing runs with Chinatown crew chief Angelo “the Hook” LaPietra.

After court on Friday, I asked Webb about the bank.

“It’s not a conflict. I’m not on the bank board anymore,” Webb said. “I was on the board for a short period of time and resigned. If you’re asking me if Bill was on the board at the same time, I don’t remember that.”

But somebody forgot to tell Lakeside Bank. The bank has listed Webb and Cellini as board members in each of its annual reports since 2002. See? Even the connected can forget how they’re attached.

One of the few who isn’t connected to Cellini is the federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald.

The Combine wants Fitzgerald promoted out of town. But President-elect Barack Obama has promised newspaper editorial boards he would keep Fitzgerald in Chicago to fight political corruption.

That’s the same President-elect Obama with Mayor Daley’s guy Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, and another Daley guy, David Axelrod, as Obama’s chief strategist. The mayor’s brother Billy is one of Obama’s chief economic advisers. Whew!

Some political analysts become quite upset when “Daley machine” and “Obama” are mentioned in my column. They feel compelled to give me a vigorous corrective. But this same Flat Earth society denied the existence of a Combine for years, then shut up for a while when Obama’s real estate fairy Tony Rezko was convicted in the federal government’s Operation Board Games probe.

The case exposed the Combine in detail, illustrating how Republican and Democratic insiders stacked state pension boards to reap millions upon millions in pension investment fees. The Cellini case is fruit of Rezko’s tree.

It’s nice to be connected when things are going well, but since Fitzgerald arrived, things haven’t gone well. Some are sweating the Cellini indictment, like state Sen. James DeLeo (D-How You Doin?).

DeLeo has not been charged with anything. But the last thing he wants is his friend Cellini facing years in prison. Does Cellini have a good singing voice? Who knows?

I’m told Jimmy sees the feds everywhere these days, investigating his car leasing deals which allowed him to drive luxury Bentleys and Jaguars registered to his Springfield residence. That address just happened to be the home of Cellini’s sister and former state patronage boss Janis Cellini, where Jimmy lived for years while working in Springfield.

DeLeo’s name also came up in the Rezko trial. Cellini organized a Blagojevich fundraiser, but Cellini’s name was removed so that DeLeo and Rezko could get all the credit.

…It’s nice to be connected, but sometimes it’s not worth the federal aggravation.

This may be one of those times.

You may remember that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald took a break from his Chicago duties to prosecute Scooter Libby in the Valerie Wilson CIA leak case. Fitzgerald is like a prosecutorial Energizer Bunny: You get him started and he won’t stop until, like Sergeant Preston of the Royal Mounted Police, he gets his man.

Chicago is the perfect place for him. A veritable Pacific Ocean of corruption, Chicago provides a character like Fitzgerald with enough to occupy him for at least three life times.

But Fitzgerald was the absolutely wrong man for the CIA case since there was no crime committed and he knew who the “guilty” party was on the day he was appointed. Rather than close his operation down, Fitzgerald told Richard Armitage to keep quiet about his role in leaking Wilson’s name to Robert Novak and went off on a classic prosecutorial fishing expedition until he found a Republican whose story contradicted someone else’s story which he then presented to a jury of twelve Democrats.

Chicago, however, is awash in real crime and real criminals- the perfect place for a mad monk like Patrick Fitzgerald.

The question is: Will Fitzgerald be allowed to reel in the Big Tuna?

Speaking of Fitzgerald and the Valerie Wilson affair, Robert Novak is interviewed and shows why he’s the most honest political reporter there is.Propecia
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What's A Mocker To Do?

I’m worried about Maureen Dowd (Modo). How will she employ the only talent she has -a gift for bitchy derision- during an Obama administration that allows only worshipful piety. It was the election of FDR that led the greatest mocker of all, H.L. Mencken, to retire from writing his column. Mencken sensed that the skepticism and scorn he employed against Coolidge and Hoover just wouldn’t do when it came to Roosevelt.

Since Barry’s elevation, Modo has emitted two columns of Oprahistic kvelling over Barry’s success, another column trashing Sarah Palin, and now two columns of scorn for her pre-Bush targets – the Clintons.

She’d better hope that Barry appoints Hillary to head the State Department, or as I have said previously, it’s going to be a long four to eight years for her. Even if Hillary gets the job, Modo can’t spend those years trashing just Hillary, can she?

Here’s a bit of today’s column in which she manages to insult the Clintons while remaining true to her new boyfriend (Am I allowed to say “boy”?):

…At least Bill has the satisfaction of seeing that he has roiled the previously serene and joyous Obamaland. It may be Obama’s very willingness to take the albatross of Bill from around Hillary’s neck and sling it around his own that impresses Bill. Obama is overlooking all his cherished dictums against drama and leaking and his lofty vetting standards to try and create a situation where the country can benefit from the talent of the Clintons while curbing their cheesy excesses, like their endless cash flow from foreigners…

If you read the entire column, you’ll get to the part where she quotes, with a straight face, none other than show biz mogul David Geffen on Hillary’s qualifications to be Secretary of State. Pure Modo.

Looks like the only ones willing to insult Barry belong to Al Qaida. I guess you have to live in a cave in a remote area of Afghanistan to get away with it:

Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites.

The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.

In al-Qaida’s first response to Obama’s victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect — along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — “house negroes.”

Secretary Hillary: Serious Doubts Are Warranted

Since Hillary conceded defeat in the primaries, her reputation as a serious maven on everything has been established as proved-to-the-hilt fact. Somehow we forgot that there was little evidence that Hillary was involved in any serious decisions during her husband’s administration and that the things she did do were disasters, like her health care plan, the “travel office” fiasco, the Rose Law Firm billing records and more. Despite her Joe Biden-like invention of coming under fire while landing somewhere in the Balkans and her lack of real foreign policy experience, everybody thinks she’s a great choice to be Barry’s Secretary of State.

I couldn’t think of an instance where an elected politician was appointed Secretary of State, but Justin Shubow, writing in Commentary’s blog, notes that there were a couple of such appointments and one of them didn’t work out very well:

…Of the 18 (non-acting) Secretaries of State who have held office since the end of World War II, only two were chosen from the ranks of elected politicians: James F. Byrnes and Edmund Muskie. The performance of one of the two offers a cautionary tale.

To take the less relevant of the two first, Muskie served in Maine’s House of Representatives before being elected the state’s Governor in 1954. He would go on to serve as a U.S. Senator for over 40 years, and was a serious Presidential candidate in 1972. Muskie replaced Cyrus Vance as Secretary of State only after Vance resigned out of disgust with Carter’s bungled mission to rescue the American hostages in Iran. Muskie served in the position for only the last seven months of the administration. After leaving the State Department, Muskie acted as an elder statesman but never ran for office again.

The case of Byrnes, however, is far more suggestive of what we might expect from a Secretary Hillary. Byrnes had already been a member of the House of Representatives, a Senator, and even a Supreme Court Justice before FDR made him, in 1943, head of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, a superagency whose role was to “initiate policies, plan programs, and coordinate all federal agencies in the production, procurement, and distribution of all war materials – military and civilian.”

Reminiscent of Hillary’s stint as First Lady, his political influence and maneuvering extended so far outside of his official duties that members of Congress started calling him “assistant President.” And in another resonant similarity, he later seriously contended with, but lost to, Truman in the competition to become the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1944. Indeed, it was President Truman, taking office after FDR’s death, who appointed Byrnes as Secretary of State in June 1945. On its face, the choice made good sense insofar as Byrnes had been Truman’s main adviser on foreign policy. However, Truman would later admit that he made the appointment partly out of guilt over the vice presidential episode.

Byrnes’s time as chief diplomat turned out to be a troubled one. Feeling resentment toward Truman for having defeated him politically, Byrnes set foreign policy without informing the President in advance. (Complaining that he was learning of American policy from newspapers, Truman privately called Byrnes a “conniver.”) Byrnes was also seen as being too willing to compromise with the Soviets, and he made some major diplomatic blunders when it came to negotiating the status of Eastern European countries after the war. Ultimately, the personal and political tension between Truman and him became too great, and Byrnes resigned and left office in 1947. But any such internal difficulties didn’t hurt his subsequent political career. He would go on to be elected governor of South Carolina at the advanced age of 72.

Whatever Byrnes’s missteps as Secretary of State, he at least came to the job with a hefty amount of relevant experience. After all, he effectively ran the domestic war effort. By contrast, it’s hard to imagine anyone relying on Hillary for her foreign policy expertise.

In any case, whether or not Hillary hopes to have a political career like that of Byrnes’s (she is currently 61 years old), it is worth reflecting on whether any elected politician is likely to make a good Secretary of State, especially when the other names being floated for the position are Governor Bill Richardson and Senators John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and Sam Nunn. True statesmanship, it should go without saying, requires political disinterestedness. As a Senator wisely put it many years ago:

“A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.”

It is of course possible that a politician might be willing permanently to leave politics behind for unselfish public service, but when a politician has shown him- or herself to be ruthlessly partisan and ambitious, and to have known little except how to climb the greasy pole, serious doubts are warranted.

And now Washington Post media critic Howie Kurtz wonders about the media’s Barry “boosterism” and concludes:

…There is always a level of excitement when a new president is coming to town — new aides to profile, new policies to dissect, new family members to follow. But can anyone imagine this kind of media frenzy if John McCain had managed to win?

Obama’s days of walking on water won’t last indefinitely. His chroniclers will need a new story line. And sometime after Jan. 20, they will wade back into reality.

But why should they? Sure it’ll be difficult for bitchy lefty opinionists like Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd to continue to make fun of Bush and Sarah Palin or even the Republicans in Congress since none of them will have any real say in what decisions are made. With a filibuster-proof Senate, the Democrats will completely run the show and don’t have to “reach across the aisle,” although they will try to get Republicans to sign on for cover.

The media’s choice is either to bury Barry or praise him. Which do you think they’ll choose?


Mark Steyn on OOBama:

Before we close the book on this election season, let me quote one of the most dispiriting asides on the subject. Daniel Craig, the star of the new James Bond movie The Audacity Of Solace – no, wait, A Quantum Of Hope – was being interviewed by Kevin Sessums for Parade (that supplement thingie that’s free in all the local newspapers), and as a final question was asked which of the two candidates would make the better 007:

Craig doesn’t hesitate. ‘Obama would be the better Bond because—if he’s true to his word—he’d be willing to quite literally look the enemy in the eye and go toe-to-toe with them. McCain, because of his long service and experience, would probably be a better M,’ he adds, mentioning Bond’s boss, played by Dame Judi Dench. ‘There is, come to think of it, a kind of Judi Dench quality to McCain.’

Oh, great. John McCain has survived plane crashes, just like Roger Moore in Octopussy. He has escaped death in shipboard infernos, just like Sean Connery in Thunderball. He has endured torture day after day, month after month, without end, just like Pierce Brosnan in the title sequence of Die Another Day. He has done everything 007 has done except get lowered into a shark tank and (as far as we know) bed Britt Ekland and Jill St John.

And yet Daniel Craig gives him the desk job.

On the other hand, Barack Obama has spent his entire adult life chit-chatting with “community organizers” and campus lefties – and he’s the last action hero? It’s true he’s offered “to quite literally look the enemy in the eye” without preconditions. But, given that he looked the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in the eye for 20 years and failed to notice he was an ugly neo-segregationist race-baiter peddling insane conspiracy theories, and that he looked William Ayers in the eye for almost as long and failed to notice he was an unrepentant terrorist, and that he looked Tony Rezko in the eye for an extremely beneficial real estate deal and failed to notice he was already being mentioned in the Chicago papers for various unsavory activities, I’m not sure Senator Obama is the go-to guy for in-the-field intelligence work…

It's God's Will, Not Mine

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Lee Siegel thinks about Obama and Lincoln. It’s a very interesting article and I was struck by the following:

… there’s something puzzling about [Obama’s] obsession with a president whose tenure was entirely taken up with conducting the bloodiest war the modern world had seen, and whose eloquence and intelligence we perhaps would not be aware of if the republic’s imminent dissolution hadn’t inspired him to remarkable feats of self-mastery and self-expression. For at times, Lincoln’s mighty rhetorical gift led him into morally dangerous or emotionally disconnected waters…

.. Lincoln encouraged his generals to pursue a “total war” that would destroy 50,000 civilians along with 620,000 soldiers and cripple hundreds of thousands more, [while] his rhetoric continued to intensify in power, and in its lack of human connection. In his Second Inaugural address, justly celebrated for its potent language and its magnanimity, Lincoln also spoke these cruel and unmagnanimous lines: “If God wills that it continue… until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.'”

Yet even before the war, Lincoln had seen himself as a divinely appointed hero at the center of history. On the eve of his inauguration, he declaimed: “A duty devolves upon me which is, perhaps, greater than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington.”

Mr. Obama, like Lincoln, has a very powerful sense of himself as an agent of historical destiny. That sentiment recurs throughout his two autobiographies; it also surfaced in a slightly jarring moment in his victory speech on the night of his election, when he spoke of the election having “many stories that will be told for generations.”

Indeed, Mr. Obama’s words sometimes leap with a degree of vanity beyond a clear meaning, just as Lincoln’s own grandiloquence sometimes led him astray. There is a certain logic to this. In 2008, a political leader’s every word is subject to such scrutiny that speaking in sonorous abstractions offers protection against meticulous parsing. But the twin dangers of such rhetoric are to raise unrealizable expectations on the one hand, and to do violence to meaning on the other…

…The 16th president barely had a day in office when whatever critical political question he might have posed did not have to do with war. Insofar as Lincoln had ideas about the society and the politics of his day, his questions would have left Mr. Obama disappointed. Lincoln was a bootstrap individualist, who believed that the free market offered the most opportunities to the most people, provided that they had willpower and ambition. His domestic positions would have fitted nearly seamlessly into the Republican Party of today. Though Lincoln was kind and rich in empathy himself, he would not have cast a sympathetic eye toward redistributing wealth between lucky rich and unlucky poor.

No, Mr. Obama’s Lincoln is the wartime Lincoln who barely knew a minute’s peace; the militant Lincoln who elevated preservation of the Union over his abhorrence of slavery; the Christlike Lincoln who brooded mysteriously over first and last things; the divinely appointed Lincoln who felt that he could not escape history because he embodied history. Calm, precise, and methodical he may have been, but Lincoln was, in his own mind, that very “towering genius” that “thirsts and burns for distinction” of which he spoke when he was a young man. Not everyone, even his supporters, would agree with President-elect Obama that such an image is “soothing.”

It’s unimaginable that any politician nowadays , let alone Barry, would say anything like “every drop of blood drawn with the lash” must be “paid by another drawn with the sword” and to proclaim (astonishingly as it must be to the ears of liberals), that the resulting carnage is due not to his own decisions but to the “righteous and true judgments of the Lord.”

And they say George Bush is a religious fanatic who imagines God is on his side. And remember the outrage over Sarah Palin’s comment that she prayed we were doing “God’s will” in Iraq?

Of course, it turned out that the amount of blood drawn by the sword was unimaginably greater than that drawn by the lash (more than six million in today’s population), but that was all a long time ago.

And the New York Times quotes far left “human rights” lawyer David Cole on preventive detention:

…Even some liberals are arguing that to deal realistically with terrorism, the new administration should seek Congressional authority for preventive detention of terrorism suspects deemed too dangerous to release even if they cannot be successfully prosecuted.

“You can’t be a purist and say there’s never any circumstance in which a democratic society can preventively detain someone,” said one civil liberties lawyer, David D. Cole, a Georgetown law professor who has been a critic of the Bush administration…

For years they’ve been telling us that only innocent shepherds have been detained in Guantanamo, but apparently they’ve discovered since the election a number of whom they deem “too dangerous to release even if they cannot be successfully prosecuted.” Never mind!
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Krauthammer does a masterful job analyzing the Democrats’ urge to “save” the “big three” auto makers:

..Now clarity is emerging. The fault line is the auto industry bailout. The Democrats are pushing hard for it. The White House is resisting.

Underlying the policy differences is a philosophical divide. The Bush administration sees the $700 billion rescue as an emergency measure to save the financial sector on the grounds that finance is a utility. No government would let the electric companies go under and leave the country without power. By the same token, government must save the financial sector lest credit dry up and strangle the rest of the economy.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is willing to stretch the meaning of “bank” by extending protection to such entities as American Express. But fundamentally, he sees government as saving institutions that deal in money, not other stuff.

Democrats have a larger canvas, with government intervening in other sectors of the economy to prevent the cascade effect of mass unemployment leading to more mortgage defaults and business failures (as consumer spending plummets), in turn dragging down more businesses and financial institutions, producing more unemployment, etc. — the death spiral of the 1930s.

President Bush is trying to move the Libor or the TED spread, which measure credit flows. The Democrats’ index is the unemployment rate.

With almost 5 million workers supported by the auto industry, Democrats are pressing for a federal rescue. But the problems are obvious.

First, the arbitrariness. Where do you stop? Once you’ve gone beyond the financial sector, every struggling industry will make a claim on the federal treasury. What are the grounds for saying yes or no?

The criteria will inevitably be arbitrary and political. The money will flow preferentially to industries with lines to Capitol Hill and the White House. To the companies heavily concentrated in the districts of committee chairmen. To clout. Is this not precisely the kind of lobby-driven policymaking that Obama ran against?

Second is the sheer inefficiency. Saving Detroit means saving it from bankruptcy. As we have seen with the airlines, bankruptcy can allow operations to continue while helping to shed fatally unsupportable obligations. For Detroit, this means release from ruinous wage deals with their astronomical benefits (the hourly cost of a Big Three worker: $73; of an American worker for Toyota: $48), massive pension obligations and unworkable work rules such as “job banks,” a euphemism for paying vast numbers of employees not to work.

The point of the Democratic bailout is to protect the unions by preventing this kind of restructuring. Which will guarantee the continued failure of these companies, but now they will burn tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. It’s the ultimate in lemon socialism.

Democrats are suggesting, however, an even more ambitious reason to nationalize. Once the government owns Detroit, it can remake it. The euphemism here is “retool” Detroit to make cars for the coming green economy.

Liberals have always wanted the auto companies to produce the kind of cars they insist everyone should drive: small, light, green and cute. Now they will have the power to do it.

In World War II, government had the auto companies turning out tanks. Now they would be made to turn out hybrids. The difference is that, in the middle of a world war, tanks have a buyer. Will hybrids? One of the reasons Detroit is in such difficulty is that consumers have been resisting the smaller, less powerful, less safe cars forced on the industry by fuel-efficiency mandates. Now Detroit would be forced to make even more of them.

If you think we have economic troubles today, consider the effects of nationalizing an industry of this size, but now run by bureaucrats issuing production quotas to fit five-year plans to meet politically mandated fuel-efficiency standards — to lift us to the sunny uplands of the coming green utopia…

What Krauthammer doesn’t mention is the government’s culpability in bringing about the financial crisis. The Democrats forced the banks to lend money to members of groups who voted for them, but who were unlikely to pay back the loans. The Democrats applied the pressure and the Republicans didn’t do enough to stop them. But then who wants to be accused of being against “affordable housing” for “poor minorities”?

The car companies mostly caused their own problems.

The Nobody Nobody Sent

Amidst all of the trashing of Sarah Palin, it is interesting to compare her story to that of wunderkind Jewish genius Rahm Emanuel.

Here’s Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass on Emanuel:

…Washington media types talk about [Emanuel] as a Clinton guy, but Emanuel is really a Chicago City Hall guy. At City Hall, the unwritten rule is we don’t want nobody nobody sent. The guy who sent Emanuel to then-candidate Bill Clinton in 1991 is named Daley. Bill Daley, the mayor’s brother.

Here’s Emanuel’s resume: He was a ballet dancer (nothing wrong with that); he went to Sarah Lawrence and Northwestern and majored in “communications”; he signed on with the present Chicago Mayor Daley as (according to the American Prospect) a fund-raiser and bully; this “connection” led him to the Clinton administration for which he was a fund raiser and spin doctor, after which he returned to Chicago where he (according to the Wall Street Journal ) “earned $16.2 million in a two-year stint working …for investment-banking firm Wasserstein Perella & Co [and] also served on the board of Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant that was nationalized this year in the financial crisis.”

John Kass picks up the story:

…Loyal readers know why I put the (D-Tomczak) at the end of Emanuel’s name. It refers to the corrupt Daley administration Water Department boss, Donald Tomczak, now in federal prison in Duluth, Minn. He sits there because he was convicted of bribery. Emanuel didn’t have anything to do with that. But he was a political beneficiary of Tomczak and the Chicago Way.

Two years ago, at the federal trial of Mayor Daley’s patronage chiefs—who were eventually convicted for building an illegal political army of city patronage workers to maintain the mayor’s control on Chicago—Tomczak was a key witness.

And he testified that he was ordered to put his political regiments on the streets in 2002 to elect Emanuel and defeat a liberal Democratic grass-roots candidate. The mayor put hundreds of political hacks on the city payroll stumping for Emanuel back then. Tomczak controlled them. They were afraid not to work the precincts. It was the only way for them to get promotions.

Emanuel was elected. So if there wasn’t a Tomczak [and a corrupt Daley machine], putting the army out for Emanuel, then Emanuel wouldn’t have been in Congress…

Now another Daley machine alumnus, one Barry Obama, has summoned Rahm to the epicenter of American political power – the Oval Office.

As they say: Only in America.

Then there’s the story of Sarah Palin, who, if she lived in Chicago, could be described as “the nobody nobody sent.” The daughter of a public school science teacher and school secretary, she ran succesfully (without money or “conncections”) for two terms on the Wassilla, Alaska city council and two terms as mayor. Palin then challenged and defeated sitting Republican governor Frank Murkowski in the primary. Murkowski had been one of Alaska’s Republican U.S. Senators, who when he was elected governor resigned his Senate seat and appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, the Majority Leader-designate of the Alaska House of representatives, in his place. This led his opponents to accuse him of nepotism.

Then, according to Wikipedia:

Despite being outspent by her Democratic opponent, [Palin] won the gubernatorial election in November, defeating former governor Tony Knowles by a margin of 48.3% to 40.9%. Palin became Alaska’s first female governor, and at the age of 42, the youngest governor in Alaskan history. She is the state’s first governor to have been born after Alaska achieved U.S. statehood, and the first not to be inaugurated in Juneau; she chose to have the ceremony held in Fairbanks instead. She took office on December 4, 2006, and has been very popular with Alaska voters. Polls taken in 2007 early in her term showed her with a 93% and 89% popularity among all voters, which led some media outlets to call her “the most popular governor in America.

William McGurn, writing in the Wall Street Journal, notes:

…In the treatment of Mrs. Palin by some of the McCain staff, there is the clear whiff of condescension. That’s something a sitting American governor might understandably find hard to stomach coming from a bunch of young professional Republicans who have never themselves run for office…

And, I would add, who have never done anything risky or constructive, like, for example, starting a business; and who would never consider running for office themselves without exploiting all of the insider money, connections and influence they’ve accumulated, like, say, Rahm Emanuel.Viagra Full Moon
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