Monthly Archives: July 2012

Romney To Israel: You Built That

Since 1967, American presidents have assured us that Israel is an “ally” of the United States while, simultaneously, maintaining an “evenhanded” stance between the Israelis and the Arabs. Despite the contradiction, it has been a given among foreign policy mavens that such an “honest broker” approach is the only one that could possibly lead to a peace agreement.

After 45 years, perhaps we can safely conclude that evenhandedness has not worked.

Which brings us to Mitt Romney’s trip to Jerusalem where he committed political incorrectness by praising Israeli “culture” and dissing that of the Arabs. Could it be that Romney was signaling a shift in American Middle East policy, were he to be elected President, which would reflect what most Americans, except the loony left, actually believe?: that Israel’s open democratic culture is vastly superior to the Arab tradition of authoritarianism, violence, and state sanctioned crimes against women, gays, and non-Muslims.

Maybe what Romney is saying is that Western “tolerance” of the Islamic world is a failure in the same way that Angela Merkel, David Cameron, and former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy have declared multiculturalism (read: tolerance of Islam’s medieval traditions) an abject failure.

So maybe telling the Arabs exactly what we really think of their “culture” along with increased efforts to develop all of our energy sources at home or from Western sources would work where sucking up to Muslims and energy dependence on the Arabs have clearly failed. That seems to be the message Romney is sending, that he would approach the Israeli-Arab conflict and relations with the Islamic world in a different, more honest manner.

As Brett Stephens writes in today’s Wall Street Journal, Romney’s honesty is a welcome contrast to Obama’s disingenuousness:

…When detractors think about Israel, they tend to think its successes are largely ill-gotten: Somebody else’s land, somebody else’s money, somebody else’s rights. It’s the view that Israel gets an unfair share of foreign aid from the U.S., and that it takes an unfair share of territory from the Palestinians. It’s also the view that, as the presumptive stronger party in its dealings with the Palestinians, Israel bears the onus of making concessions and taking the proverbial risks for peace. As the supposed underdogs, Palestinians are not burdened by any reciprocal moral obligations.

By contrast, when admirers of Israel visit the country, they typically marvel at everything it has planted, built, invented, re-imagined, restored, saved. Israel’s friends think that the country has earned its success the hard way, and that it deserves to reap the rewards. Hence Mitt Romney on Sunday: “You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism. . . . What you have built here, with your own hands, is a tribute to your people.”

Animating one side of this divide is a sense of admiration. Animating the other is a sense of envy. Could Mr. Obama have uttered lines like Mitt Romney’s? Maybe. But you get the feeling that scrolling in the back of his mind would be the words, “You didn’t build that.” …

President Farbisener

Is this man likeable?

Barack Obama is campaigning as an angry black guy, a 21st century version of Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown (minus the beret and dark glasses). He has thus adopted a version of the Black Panther/Malcolm X supercilious sneer, and has even taken to using Southern black locutions which he definitely did not pick up during his Hawaiian, Indonesian upbringing.

Is this working for him? Back in 1964, Barry Goldwater ran for president as an angry conservative, and we all (that is, those of us old or informed enough to know who Goldwater was) know how that turned out. Much later, liberals rehabilitated Goldwater,once he was safely in retirement, as a loveable, if eccentric, old coot, .

The lesson of Goldwater’s campaign was that Americans don’t vote for angry presidential candidates, which is the reason that conservatives turned to happy, optimistic Reagan the next time they got the chance to nominate a conservative.

I have a hard time reconciling Obama’s supposedly high “likeability” numbers with his Herr Farbisener routine. I believe those numbers are misleading due to the documented fact (ignored by the politically correct media) that nowadays people flinch instinctively when asked whether or not they “like” a black person.

Obama’s divisive, bitter campaign (which will only get more divisive and bitter) raises a question that no one wants to confront: Should Obama lose, will we witness a new American phenomenon – the fall riot season, complete with traditional looting, burning and targeting of Jewish and Asian businesses?

Yes, I know this is all racist fear mongering on my part, but liberals should contemplate their candidate’s bitter, sneering persona and think about the possible consequences.

The Democratic “Blues”?

Four more months to go, but already just about everything that can be said about the presidential election and the candidates has already been said – to death. You have to wonder what the politicians and their media are going to do for the next four months – summer reruns?

The only thing that could prevent people from completely tuning the media out is the possibility that real events, what used to be called news, like war and/or economic collapse will intervene and spare the media from having to recycle political talking points until election day. Of course, today’s politicized “journalists” and pundits are quite capable of filtering any “big” news story through their favorite political prism (see: the Aurora murders).

Nowadays, I rarely get past the first paragraph of a column or essay in which I cannot predict exactly which ax the writer is grinding. Nor can I expect to learn anything I haven’t read many, many times before.

Mark Helprin’s op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal is one of those rare efforts that actually makes an original point, for which he deserves much credit. In the tradition of Orwell’s famous essay, “Politics and the English Language,” Helprin notes a couple of recent examples of the media’s corruption of language in the service of partisan politics:

Every day it seems, reason and the English language are ravished by contemporary American politics.

For example, as there is no God-given tax rate, when the rate increases it is an increase, not the expiration of a decrease. Were it the latter, one could say that the Bush tax cuts were not tax cuts but the expiration of the Clinton increases, the Clinton increases the expiration of the Reagan cuts, the Reagan cuts the expiration of previous increases, and so on. Such is the thinking of non-effervescent minds that see as a cut a lesser increase in spending than they advocate, or urge passage of a stupendous, juggernaut, congressional bill so that they can find out what’s in it.

The nation appears more and more able to eat whatever words are shoved down its throat. It is told, and does not protest, that Islam is a religion of peace. Islam is indeed a religion of peace, but it is also, quite demonstratively and throughout the world in proof after proof day after day, a religion of war.

As the president travels about, yelling at America and dividing the population into good people and bad people (the bad ones being, purely by coincidence, those who don’t vote for him), he has adopted an extraordinary war cry that might make both Huey Long and Spiro Agnew smile in their graves: Millionaires and billionaires. Income or net worth, he doesn’t say, the idea being to grab a billionaire, turn him upside down, and shake money out of him. But in the president’s logic, this includes, for example, a couple earning $125,000 apiece. The trick is that you can indeed get a lot of money out of such people if you call them billionaires and turn enough of them upside down.

Perhaps the most brazen language diktat has been the mischievous switch of political colors. Stalin would hardly believe it, but blue now supposedly signifies the left and red the right. According to Wikipedia and the Washington Post, so it must be true, the change came in 2000 courtesy of MSNBC and NBC’s “Today” show. It next migrated to David Letterman at CBS, and then went bacterial… Saddling your political rivals with a symbol to which they have been historically opposed is either…[a joke] or numbing cluelessness.

It is the fashion of the hip to purge emotion and elaboration from art, in favor of a cold, conceptualist detachment, whereas people in flyover country are still stuck in 5,000 years of history and tradition, and sneer neither at sentiment nor the beating of the human heart. In art, many conservatives might be red and many liberals blue, but in politics?

Red is the mobile color of passion and engagement, and blue the staid color of reason and detachment. As you may recall, the left champions radical change spurred by boundless compassion, while the right wants to check the passions of human nature as they flow into politics, and to balance opposing powers in a stable equilibrium. Over time, natural affinities for the two colors have been confirmed by adoption—communist, socialist, and labor parties almost always favoring red. But if NBC says to, we had better jump into line. Most of the country has already done so without a thought. Who says “old media” is vestigial? They are highly adaptable, or, as they might say, “Better blue than dead.”

It might be difficult to get this past Putin, but the “Today” show’s guidance would tell us that the place where communist apparatchiks reviewed and may yet review rivers of missiles and goose-stepping soldiers is now Blue Square. The Soviet Blue Army fought the Germans at Stalingrad. Mao, the leader of Blue China, wrote the Little Blue Book, which was carried by the Revolutionary Blue Guard as they sang the Blue China anthem, “The East Is Blue.” And everyone knows that the flags of countries like the former Soviet Union, the Peoples’ Republic of China, and North Korea are a brilliant, striking blue, just like the caps of the Jacobins.

The “blue towns” of Italy, run by the Italian Communist Party, shared with conservative red bastions the depredations of the Blue Brigades, which might have made Emma Goldman, famously known as “Blue Emma,” happy even during the infamous Blue Scare of 1919. Imagine if you will David Horowitz, a “blue-diaper baby,” clutching a copy of Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Blue October,” as he sits through Warren Beatty’s movie, “Blues,” which is not about music.

It may seem as silly as Dr. Seuss:

Red state, blue state!

What? Texas is red?

New York is blue?

What planet is this?

Who the hell knew?

But it’s slightly more serious, because it’s a little, ignorant tail wagging an old and venerable dog. It is also yet another example of a Fritz-Lang-like, gratuitous submission to spurious authority. There are a lot of those these days, as if it were our heritage, which it is not.

To echo Lenin, a well known Blue, what is to be done? Both change and charity should begin at home. That is, feed your own children and put your house in order before you interfere in the affairs of others. Fluffy media can do what it wants, but perhaps more astute publications might look upon their longer history, higher quality analysis, and greater seriousness than the “Today” show, and revert to tradition so that in their pages Austin is blue and Boston is red. Despite the commands of instantaneous fashion, there are a lot of people, the true blue, who will not ever believe otherwise.

Helprin is certainly correct that the Red State-Blue State shtick originated with Democratic Party media’s NBC, but my recollection is that the late Tim Russert invented the red state blue state map during election day coverage of the absurd 2000 Bush-Gore contest.

Why the color red was switched from its traditional association with the left is a matter of conjecture, but one best explained by NBC’s conscious or unconscious desire to shield the Democratic Party from any connection with communism and radicalism in the public mind.

Thanks to Mark Helprin for revealing an insidious current example of the political corruption of language that Orwell warned of many years ago.

Down The Path of Humaneness

The mass murder in Aurora, Colorado has produced the now all-too-predictable reaction from one pillar of the Democratic Party news media – ABC News and its “investigative reporter” Brian Ross, who reflexively went on the air to link the Tea Party to the murderer.

I doubt that ABC and Ross’s apology will deter the usual Democratic Party media hacks, like Paul Krugman and Frank Rich, from trying to make a similar political connection. And I am also certain that the Obama team is, as I write, trying to come up with some very tasteful and nuanced talking points that somehow implicate the Republicans in the murders. Something like: You didn’t do that, the Republicans did!

So before we go off on another deep search into the long dark night of the American soul, we should ponder what the Wall Street Journal‘s Sohrab Ahmari wrote about the trial of the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik:

…There was something very dignified about [the trial]. Breivik’s guilt was established beyond the shadow of a doubt; he readily confessed to his crimes. The point of these proceedings was to officially and in the name of the court memorialize the lives that could have been had Breivik not cut them short.

Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people last year, makes a farright salute as he enters the Oslo district courtroom at the opening of his trial.

The Norwegians are a famously austere people, not prone to emotional outbursts. The trial of their greatest mass murderer reflects the Norwegian national character.

“Every single person who’s dead needs to be presented,” Shabana Rehman Gaarder, a Pakistani-Norwegian comedian and writer who has been covering the trial, told me. “Norwegians are not giving Breivik one single feeling. They’re not looking at him, they’re not showing even a tiny bit of their anger. It’s a proud way to say to Breivik, ‘You don’t exist.'”

The Norwegian way of justice has its limits, too. “You Americans could never handle a trial like this,” a German television reporter sneered at me during a smoke break. Like many Europeans, he looked down at the U.S. justice system for its supposed violence, including the persistence of the death penalty here.

But then it’s worth remembering that the maximum sentence the court can impose on Breivik under Norwegian law is 21 years, with the possibility of renewing his detention if it’s later determined that he remains a public danger.

Norwegian prisons are often described as the world’s nicest. And as the London Telegraph reported in May, prison officials may even hire outside “friends” to keep Breivik company. Norwegian law holds that no prisoner—not even Breivik—should ever find himself in total isolation. That would be too cruel.

All this sounds outrageous—and it is. Norwegian society has advanced so far down the path of “humaneness” that it cannot put someone like Breivik to death, let alone jail him for life. It’s a society that can only deal with evil on clinical and judicial terms, not moral ones. That sensibility has never sat well with Americans, but it’s increasingly making inroads among us. The very term “evil” sounds old-fashioned. But that’s exactly what Breivik and the Colorado killer represent.

Yes, He’s A Socialist

The other day, the New York Times published an op-ed column by movie director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) in which Forman scoffs at the idea that Obama is a “socialist.” The socialism charge has been made quite a lot since Obama campaigned for and won the presidency, a charge which never fails to provoke scorn and ridicule from liberals.

But the controversy makes me think of a letter George Orwell wrote near the end of his life in answer to a question concerning the source of his inspiration for the novel 1984. Orwell answered that he got the idea while working with left-wing intellectuals at the BBC during World War II. The society depicted in 1984 is the kind of society that his BBC colleagues would create, Orwell said, if they ever were able to acquire total power.

But of course, they were not able to acquire such power in a democratic country like Britain, a source of much frustration for them. Although they did come close before Margaret Thatcher pulled Britain back from the abyss.

Which brings me to Obama: Yes, he is a socialist. The only difference between Obama and the “socialist” dictator Milos Forman lived under is Obama is prevented by the U.S. Constitution from having it all his way. And he clearly finds this frustrating.

Many have reported that Obama is detached and unwilling to engage in the give-and-take of politics. He feels that he knows best and that his critics should defer to his superior judgment.

Take the Affordable Care Act. Clearly, Obama wanted a “single payer” socialist health care law, but he knew he could not get the votes for that, despite having control of both houses of Congress and a sixty vote majority in the Senate. So he then insisted on a “public option,” but the votes were not there for that either.

Obama certainly views the Obamacare law as a major step towards the ultimate leftist dream of a single payer system, a dream he would make come true right now if only he had the power.

Similarly, Congress would not pass the so-called Dream Act, so Obama proclaimed it as a directive of the Department of Homeland Security. As Obama likes to say, he “can’t wait.”

So yes, Milos, Obama is a socialist, but unlike in Communist Czechoslovakia, he is contstrained by the Constitution and ultimately the voters.

The Audacity of Spin

I eagerly awaited yesterday’s Sunday talk shows to hear how the Obama campaign would spin the Roberts’ decision to rewrite Obamacare’s funding mechanism mandate as a tax.

I must express admiration for the Obama team’s, er, audacity. Taking a page out of Orwell’s 1984, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew simply took what we have come to know these last few years as the vast 30, 40, or 50 million poor Americans who through no fault of their own cannot afford to buy health insurance, and he re-branded them as a teensy weensy number (maybe 1 percent of the population) of freeloading miscreants who can well afford to buy insurance and therefore deserve, dammit, to be taxed to death.

So we can expect to see “the uninsured,” who only last week were so worthy of our concern as a civilized society, join Wall Street greedheads and the rest of the 1 percenters on the Obama enemies list. And hardly anyone will notice.