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[Candidate Obama] shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make.

—Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2008.

[President Obama's] essential problem is that he has very poor judgment.

—Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, yesterday.

As juxtaposed by the Hot Air commenters last night.

The Beltway and Park Ave. chattering classes gave us Barack Obama because he flattered them first, and in the case of formerly stalwart GOP types such as Noonan and Christopher Buckley, and the Axis of Davids (RINOs Gergen, Brooks and Frum), because they didn’t want to lose their place at the endless cocktail party when it was obvious by mid-October of 2008 that Obama would be the likely winner thanks to McCain’s disastrous “suspending his campaign” tactic late in the previous month. It will be fascinating to watch their prognostications going forward into 2016.

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

I have been in the White House on a number of occasions when military operations are launched and once the decisions are made and the orders have been issued the people in the White House from the President on down are really out of the action, at least is they are smart. And President Bush was especially good as was President Reagan of giving the military their mission, their orders and staying the hell out of the way. And not trying to micro-manage the conflicts, so you don’t have a Lyndon Johnson going down the situation room picking targets as he did in Vietnam. Bush and Reagan stayed out of the way, so when the land war started we were basically in the receive mode, just waiting for information to be past in the Presidents case from either Powell or Cheney and in our case the same way, about how things were going and the only information we really had after the beginning of the ground war was simply that it was going well and that the units had broken through the lines very fast.

– Robert Gates, then-Deputy National Security Advisor, quoted by PBS’s Frontline as part of their “Oral History of the [1990-1991] Gulf War. Flash-forward to the present day:

“The U.S. military campaign against Islamic militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Obama to exert a high degree of personal control over the campaign, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential sign-off for any strike in Syrian territory,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The requirement for the Syrian strikes will be far more stringent than those in Iraq, at least at first, to assure the Syrian air campaign remains strictly limited, in an attempt to mitigate the threat that the U.S. could be dragged more deeply into the conflict, according to the U.S. officials.”

“Obama to Personally Control Strikes in Syria,” Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire, yesterday.

As Moe Lane writes in the headline of his blog post linking to the above story, “Attention, whoever in the White House monitors this site. Google ‘Lyndon Johnson micromanagement Vietnam’ — Google that RIGHT NOW:”

Speaking dispassionately, you can understand – sort of – why LBJ and Richard Nixon both were very bad about trying to run the Vietnam War by themselves: it was probably the first real war we had where a President could, in something approximating real time.  And it obviously was a major temptation, given the way that both men and their staffs succumbed to it.  But also note that Presidents since have largely learned from that particular set of catastrophic mistakes and tried to keep their oversight restricted to strategic goals, not tactical ones.  Largely.  Most of the time.  Good faith efforts were made.

Alas, nobody explained any of this to Barack Obama.  Or, more likely? Somebody did, but he didn’t bother to listen, because whoever was doing the explaining wasn’t Barack Obama.

After the New York Times reported the other day that the recently retired president was offering freelance consulting advice over the transom to ISIS, Iowahawk tweeted:

And now he thinks he’s a better strategist than his generals. And speaking of whom: “Remember When Democrats Were Saying ‘Listen to the Generals?’”

Related: At Ricochet, Jon Gabriel posits, somewhat conspiratorially, “Obama Can’t Afford to Win in Iraq:”

The only reason that Obama acted at all is politics. Polls showed that midterm voters demanded a military response to ISIS’ beheading of American journalists and repeated threats to our homeland. Drones, air strikes and military advisors are merely a PR campaign to assuage moderates that their Democratic president is “doing something.”

Obama does not want to win his new Iraq war. He can’t afford to. If the projection of American military power successfully solved the problem of Islamic terrorism, it would shatter Obama’s entire worldview.

Well, so far, the recently retired president is doing everything he can to live up to that impression.

No Doubt Running on Windows ’39

September 15th, 2014 - 1:52 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

 


Of course, if you’d like to buy a tank or other armored surplus military vehicle for yourself, a payment plan can be worked out; they’re not just for heavily-armed school districts anymore.

“That awkward moment when the President of the United States pretends he’s an ISIS terrorist:”

Moe Lane brilliantly juxtaposed that tweet with this reminder of Barry’s galaxy-sized hubris from Iowahawk:

Another Twitter user questions the timing:

As Moe writes, “:rubbing head in hands: Please make President Barack Obama stop talking, OK, Democrats?” Maybe Obama could simply write ISIS a nice letter. That worked so well for Lyndon Johnson

Update: Meanwhile, in what is perhaps a much more difficult role to game out, former President Obama is also pretending what it’s like to be former President Bush, Ann Althouse writes today:

Another way to put that is: Obama feels like George Bush, yet he must not be George Bush. Obama feels compelled to go to war in Iraq, but it must not be the same as what George Bush did. So he’s grasping at distinctions: 1. He’s taking it more slowly, being deliberate, and thoughtful. (Remember: Bush had no brain and was a cowboy.) 2. He doing it all from the air, so lofty and elevated. (Remember: Bush put boots on the ground. Ugh! Boots, so brutal! The ground, so lowly and filthy!)

“This will be a problem for the next president,” Mr. Obama said ruefully…

Ruefully…. see? Obama is not like Bush, he and his friends in the press are desperate to have you know. I’ve long seen “ruefully” an absurd adverbial boost to the good old verb “said.” (Ask my ex-husband, the novelist, who I don’t think ever used “ruefully” again after that one time I pointed it out, though I adopted “he said ruefully” to add punch to subsequent conversations. By the way, one of Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules for writers was: “Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue.” I’d add: Especially not “ruefully.”)

Of course, some reporters are much more desperate than others to remind their readers — perhaps themselves — that Obama isn’t his evil, scary, warmongering Texas predecessor, even if takes Orwellian Ministry of Truth-level airbrushing of history to do so.

That’s a lie worthy of Jay Carney’s career as a journalist — somebody’s clearly angling to be the next press secretary for Mr. Obama.

Obamaville, RFD

August 29th, 2014 - 5:33 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Documents obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services reveal that the Obama administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air national television ads promoting Democrats’ health care overhaul plan.

The ads, starring television icon Andy Griffith, were meant to educate “Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers and family members about forthcoming changes to Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act.” However, multiple media outlets, including the nonpartisan FactCheck.org, called the ads misleading.

“How Much Did Taxpayers Pay for Andy Griffith to Promote ObamaCare?”, the Blaze, December 1st, 2010.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) slammed President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and characterized him as “Barney Fife” who has “his head buried in a hole somewhere on the first green” on Thursday’s broadcast of “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel.

He reacted to Obama’s announcement that the United States does not have a strategy on ISIS by saying, “He did say we don’t have a strategy, but he followed that up by saying the strategy is to nip it in the bud. Well, unfortunately it’s not in a bud, it’s full blossomed, and do you know who made that line famous? Barney Fife. We have Barney Fife running our foreign policy now.”

“Gohmert: Obama Is ‘Barney Fife’ on Foreign Policy,” Breitbart TV, yesterday.

Elia Kazan’s classic A Face in the Crowd is a good primer on Barack Obama’s rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes [played by an astonishingly manic Andy Griffith in an early star turn -- Ed] arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways — confident that he should never be held to account. Kazan’s point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the “folks” are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth. Rhodes’s new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes’s true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes.

–”Our ‘Face in the Crowd’”, Victor Davis Hanson, August 17th, 2014.

I’d ask when we can expect the ghost of Aunt Bee to become intertwined with the hapless Obama administration, but she appears to be shilling for Elizabeth Warren these days.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate Customers

August 26th, 2014 - 6:35 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

“Today’s elite loathes the public. Nothing personal, just a fundamental difference in world view, but the hatred is unmistakable. Occasionally it escapes in scorching geysers. Michael Lewis reports in the New Republic on the ‘96 Dole presidential campaign: ‘The crowd flips the finger at the busloads of journalists and chant rude things at them as they enter each arena. The journalists, for their part, wear buttons that say ‘yeah, I’m the Media. Screw You.’* The crowd hates the reporters, the reporters hate the crowd — an even matchup, except that the reporters wield power and the crowed (in effect) wields none.”

David Gelernter, from his book Drawing Life, 1997.

Unless you have a monopoly, you can’t get away with sneering at your customers for very long. The newspaper’s monopoly died in 1995, when the internet brought information to the fingertips of anybody with a modem. The dinosaur media never understood that they were in a tar pit from that moment on, and now it’s too late for them to change their ways and crawl back out.

—Blogger Will Collier, 2009.

Print newspapers are going to die; at this point they’re living off coupons, on the print side, and old people, on the readership side. Newspaper circulation has fallen only a little bit among readers older than 65, but it has started low and fallen lower among the under-35 demographic. It doesn’t seem reasonable at this point to believe that those folks will ever pick up the newspaper habit. So as the readers die, and the advertising fades, the newspapers, too, will die one by one. The magazines, which already look anorexic compared with their earlier ad-stuffed selves, will undoubtedly follow.

“Stick a Fork in Your Newspaper,” Megan McCardle, Bloomberg View, yesterday.

*The late journalist and editor Ginny Carroll wore a button with that exact slogan when she appeared on C-Span in 1992:

“My reaction to that button [`Rather Biased'] and others, in part, is a button I bought yesterday that says `Yeah, I’m In The Media, Screw You!’….I do understand why a lot of people are upset with us, why we rank somewhere between terrorists and bank robbers on the approval scale. We do criticize. That’s part of our role. Our role is not just to parrot what people say, it’s to make people think. I think that sometimes I want to say to the electorate `Grow up!’”

When Carroll died in May of 2001 of hypertensive cardiovascular disease at age 53, the Chicago Tribune reported the above quote in her obituary, and that she had spent a decade as Newsweek’s bureau chief in first Detroit and then Houston.

Newsweek was founded in 1933 by a former editor of Time. The Washington Post purchased the magazine in 1961 for $8,000,000, and offloaded it for one dollar in 2010, perhaps having concluded that they had sufficiently alienated enough former and potential customers. Its new ownership would cease publishing a print version of the magazine at the end of 2013, and offload the tainted brandname itself last year.

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

It’s baffling that they hold themselves in such high regard. Take President Obama, an academic socialist who’s never competently performed an executive function in his life, including during the last five years. Yet he somehow still believes himself to be himself to be God’s gift to humanity. Literally. Except, instead of turning water into wine, he was going to make the oceans recede and cool the earth. We do need to give him credit, I guess. While the oceans haven’t receded, the Earth isn’t getting any warmer, which naturally doesn’t stop the slack-jawed global warming sucker caucus from insisting that the planet will turn into Hades if everyone besides them doesn’t ditch their SUV.

I guess it’s easy to be moral when morality is defined as whatever you need at that moment. Still, it’s annoying to listen to people with such a weird, unearned sense of their own moral superiority. In truth, they are utterly morally illiterate. These are folks who draw parallels between Hamas and Israel when the only parallel between the Israelis and the jihadist degenerates is that they share the habit of breathing oxygen.

You’d be better off discussing ethics with your terrier. At least your dog isn’t going to come up with excuses for Ted Kennedy.

They’re delusional in that they really believe they’re somehow better than people who actually contribute to society. This reinforces the fact that liberalism has become a mere affectation, an act, a pose. It’s like a hipster’s trendy pork pie hat, except it’s an attitude – by having it you send some sort of message about your own awesomeness. Advocating liberalism is the “I only listen to music on vinyl” of American political thinking.

“‘Liberal’ Is Just A Synonym For ‘Smug,’” Kurt Schlichter, Townhall, yesterday.

And while there are some thinkers scattered around town, Miami is overrun with lawyers, jewelry designers and personal trainers, all trying to sell services to one another.

That’s right: She knows who Miami’s thinkers are — all of them, apparently — and also knows where they are! “Scattered around town.”

I wish the Times had printed a map, so I could go see them.

This is from her final paragraph:

There was a lot of pleasure in Miami, but not enough surprising interactions and ideas. Miami may one day be the city for normal-looking people with semi-intellectual aspirations and a mild social conscience. But it’s not there yet.

So she’s saying we have a chance! Not to be New York or Paris, of course, but some day — if we have a few more “surprising interactions and ideas” thanks to enlightened visitors who deign to visit us — we might develop semi-intellectual aspirations! And a “mild” social conscience!

I don’t know what we would do down here without the New York Times.

“Thanks, New York Times!”, Dave Barry, yesterday.

Didn’t South Park warn about the dangers of “The Perfect Storm of Self Satisfaction,” leading to massive smug cloud formations over major metropolitan areas, back in 2006?

Oh, and for my April interview with Dave Barry, click here.

Funny How This Keeps Happening to CNN

August 8th, 2014 - 11:36 am

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Our crew explored Tehran and Isfahan, eating some spectacularly delicious and sophisticated food. We were welcomed with open arms at every restaurant we visited. (The proprietors of our hotel in downtown Tehran must have found out from our visas that it was my producer’s birthday, because they invited us all down to the office, where they surprised us with a cake.) It was at one of these long lunches where I met The Washington Post’s correspondent, Jason Rezaian, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi. They were well-known and liked in Tehran and were referred by mutual friends who knew that experienced English-speakers — with a unique perspective from straddling both worlds — would be helpful to our production.

A few weeks later, they were mysteriously arrested and detained. Based on what they told me, I cannot possibly understand why.

—”These people I interviewed in Iran clearly loved the country. So why did it put them in jail?”, Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef and host of CNN’s “Parts Unknown” series, in the Washington Post on Tuesday, (found via our friendly neighborhood Vodkapundit and bon vivant, Steve Green.)

Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.

For example, in the mid-1990′s one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government’s ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency’s Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.

Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers.

We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger Iraqis not on our payroll. I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails).

“The News We Kept To Ourselves,” then-CNN president Eason Jordan’s mea culpa in the New York Times for his network serving as shills for Saddam Hussein for well over a decade, April 11, 2003.

But CNN will continue to back kleptocratic totalitarians, religious fundamentalist headchoppers, and radical chic terrorists — it’s in the very lifeblood of the channel’s corporate history.

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

He told one protesting black delegation that “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.” When the startled journalist William Monroe Trotter objected, Wilson essentially threw him out of the White House. “Your manner offends me,” Wilson told him. Blacks all over the country complained about Wilson, but the president was unmoved. “If the colored people made a mistake in voting for me,” he told The New York Times in 1914, “they ought to correct it.”

Wilson appears to have perceived his presidency as an opportunity to correct history, and to restore white Americans to unambiguous supremacy. That is apparently the reason he embraced the poisonous message of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation; it offered a congenial narrative.

Griffith’s notorious film portrays the overthrow of debasing black rule in the Reconstructionist South by the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. The film’s black characters (most of them white actors in blackface) are either servile or savages; Klan members are represented as both heroic and romantic. The movie was based primarily on The Clansman, a novel written by Thomas Dixon in 1905. Not only was Dixon a personal friend of Wilson’s, he had been pushing for a Wilson presidency for years, and Wilson regarded himself as being in Dixon’s debt.

Wilson discharged that debt by helping Dixon and Griffith publicize their movie. He arranged for preview screenings for his cabinet, for Congress, and for the Supreme Court, and he gave Dixon and Griffith an endorsement they could exploit. “It is like writing history with lightning,” Wilson said of this KKK celebration, “and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” The first half of Wilson’s endorsement is still affixed to prints of the film that are screened for film students studying Griffith’s advances in editing.

Obviously, Southern hopes that Wilson could force blacks into servility were always delusional. Nevertheless, Wilson’s Jim Crow presidency remained an available model for segregationists and supremacists who came later. Thurmond and his fellow Dixiecrats didn’t necessarily require a model of triumphalist racism, but the point is that in Wilson they had one. The Lott Affair has been treated as if its origins lie in 1948; they don’t. The past isn’t dead, said Mississippian William Faulkner. “It’s not even the past.” He might have added that the past we attempt to grapple with usually isn’t even the real past.

“Dixiecrats Triumphant: The menacing Mr. Wilson,” Charles Paul Freund, Reason magazine, December 2002.

Which might help to explain Jim Geraghty’s query today on Twitter…


…And this headline from yesterday: “Democratic activists were behind controversial Klan ads in Mississippi.”

(Bull Connor could not be reached for comment at the Democratic National Committee.)

Oh, and speaking of Mr. Wilson’s menacing era, in USA Today, Jonah Goldberg writes, “George Kennan observed that when studying the maladies of the 20th century, ‘all the lines of inquiry lead back to World War I.’ A century from now, people might say the same thing of the past two centuries:”

Without World War I, you don’t get the second — a poignant irony given that the former was sold as the “war to end all wars.” The terms imposed on Germany, described as a “Carthaginian peace” by John Maynard Keynes, made another war virtually inevitable. Much as Adolf Hitler found his life’s mission while fighting in World War I. Benito Mussolini’s fascism was a direct adaptation of what he called “the socialism of the trenches.”

Without the first war, the Bolsheviks almost surely would never have come to power in Russia. That led to the Soviet Union’s mass murder, Eastern Europe’s enslavement, the Cold War and, of course, Vladimir Putin’s career.

The Middle East’s travails can be traced in no small part to the Ottoman Empire’s dissolution at the end of WWI. Dividing their spoils, the British and French drew most of the contours of the Arab world to their benefit. According to a surely false legend, the line between Jordan and Saudi Arabia takes a crooked turn because someone bumped Winston Churchill’s elbow while he was drawing it. (Churchill himself blamed his errant pen on a liquid lunch.) What’s not disputed is that the resulting maps have fed countless conflicts and resentments ever since.

* * * * * * *

“I believe it is no exaggeration,” wrote sociologist Robert Nisbet, “to say that the West’s first real experience with totalitarianism — political absolutism extended into every possible area of culture and society, education, religion, industry, the arts, local community and family included, with a kind of terror always waiting in the wings — came with the American war state under Woodrow Wilson.”

Read the whole thing.

Wasting Away Again In Obamaville

July 28th, 2014 - 4:19 pm

obamaville_11-21-11

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

On Tuesday, the chief human resources officers of more than 100 large corporations sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging quick passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

The officials represent companies with a vast array of business interests: General Electric, The Walt Disney Company, Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, McDonald’s Corporation, The Wendy’s Company, Coca-Cola, The Cheesecake Factory, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon Communications, Hewlett-Packard, General Mills, and many more. All want to see increases in immigration levels for low-skill as well as high-skill workers, in addition to a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants currently in the U.S. illegally.

“Companies lay off thousands, then demand immigration reform for new labor,” Byron York, the Washington Examiner, September 11, 2013.

But where to house all those illegal immigrants flooding the border to replace American workers? The big box stores emptied out by the Obama economy, of course:

The Obama administration is reportedly looking to house illegal immigrant juveniles in empty big box stores and even airplane hangars across the nation.

According to a report in The New Republic, “in recent weeks, FEMA representatives have sent mass emails to advocacy networks throughout the country soliciting potential detention facilities and offering guidelines for acceptable spaces.” Suggestions for “workable locations” include “Office space, warehouse, big box store, shopping mall with interior concourse, event venues, hotel or dorms, aircraft hangers [sic].”

“Report: FEMA Looking to House Illegals in Empty Big Box Stores, Aircraft Hangars,” Tony Lee, Big Government, yesterday.

Strengthening the American economy: the parties intertwined in the deeply dysfunctional corporatist marriage between the left and big business just might be doing it wrong.

Update: As Investor’s Business Daily notes, “Democrats Admit Amnesty Is For Political Purposes,” which also explains why their enabling friends in big business are so eager to go along.

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

● “Univision anchor: No government should be in the business of deporting children.”

—Headline, Hot Air.com, yesterday.

“‘No business should ever have to turn away customers’: Nathan Fielder reveals how liquor stores can sell alcohol to minors LEGALLY.”

—Headline, the London Daily Mail today, linking to a Comedy Central skit.

Obviously, one of these headlines is a cable TV star playing a TV anchor befuddled by reality as the rest of the world knows it — the other is a headline that was sponsored by Comedy Central.

In any case, the advice proffered by future Senator John Blutarsky seems highly apropos right now given the state of the country and its media overlords.

It’s Deja Socialism All Over Again

July 21st, 2014 - 7:26 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

“Elizabeth Warren Would Be the Most Liberal Democratic Nominee Since 1972.”

– Headline, FiveThirtyEight, today.

“Study: Obama most liberal senator last year — A new study suggests Obama had the most liberal voting record in 2007.”

– Headline and lede at CNN, January 31st, 2008.

In both cases, the headline writers spelled Leftist wrong — and in both cases, the far left senators had nightmarish theme songs to kick off what seemed at the time like longshot presidential bids. And in both cases — well, if I was Hillary’s campaign advisor, I’d be more than a little worried right now.

Minor language and sanity warnings apply:

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

What explains Obama’s robust showing with white liberals?

Some elements of the answer are obvious: his high-toned oratory, his promises of reconciliation in a divisive time, a background in community organizing that suggests both idealism and a talent for problem-solving. But another clue may lie in the presidential bid of a figure Obama’s devotees love to invoke: John F. Kennedy.

When answering the charge that the Illinois senator lacks the record of achievement befitting a White House aspirant, Obama’s backers often stack him next to JFK. Obama is 44, they note, older than JFK was when he ran. Skeptics derided JFK, as they now do Obama, as callow and ill-versed in substantive issues. And yet Obama, similar to JFK, manages to inspire people with sex appeal, cerebral cool, and a message of generational change.

—”Playing the Tolerance Card: How Obama is like JFK,” Slate, then owned by the Washington Post, April 20, 2007.

Six months after becoming president, JFK had his calamitous meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna — a meeting The New York Times described as “one of the more self-destructive American actions of the Cold War, and one that contributed to the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age.” (The Times admitted that a half-century later. At the time, the Newspaper of Record lied about the meeting.)

For two days, Khrushchev batted Kennedy around, leaving the president’s own advisers white-faced and shaken. Kennedy’s Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze called the meeting “just a disaster.”

Khrushchev was delighted to discover that the U.S. president was so “weak.” A Russian aide said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.”

Seeing he was dealing with a naif, Khrushchev promptly sent missiles to Cuba. The Kennedy Myth Machine has somehow turned JFK’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis into a brilliant foreign policy coup. The truth is: (1) Russia would never have dared move missiles to Cuba had Khrushchev not realized that JFK was a nincompoop; and (2) it wasn’t a victory.

In exchange for Russia’s laughably empty threats about Cuba, JFK removed our missiles from Turkey — a major retreat. As Khrushchev put it in his memoirs: “It would have been ridiculous for us to go to war over Cuba — for a country 12,000 miles away. For us, war was unthinkable. We ended up getting exactly what we’d wanted all along, security for Fidel Castro’s regime and American missiles removed from Turkey.”

* * * * * * * * * *

So now, another Russian leader is playing cat-and-mouse with an American president — and guess who’s the mouse? Putin has taunted Obama in Iran, in Syria and with Edward Snowden. By now, Obama has become such an object for Putin’s amusement that the fastest way to get the Russians out of Crimea would be for Obama to call on Putin to invade Ukraine.

—”Column: From JFK to Obama, Democratic Presidents Have Shown Weakness in Face of Aggression,” Ann Coulter, NewsBusters, March 5th, 2014.

Moscow has since shown a new interest in Latin America and its Cold War ally Cuba and relations with the West have deteriorated amid the Ukraine crisis.

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis to spy on the United States.

Just 155 miles from the U.S. coast, it was the Soviet Union’s largest covert military outpost abroad with up to 3,000 staff.

It was used to listen in to radio signals including those from submarines and ships and satellite communications.

‘All I can say is – finally!’ one Russian source told Kommersant of the reported reopening.

—”Russia ‘to reopen Cold War Cuban listening post used to spy on America,’” the London Daily Mail, today.

Turning Japanese? I Really Think So

July 12th, 2014 - 12:05 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

What are the lessons for the U.S. from Japan’s experience? Reason Foundation policy analyst Anthony Randazzo is the co-author of the recent study “Avoiding an American Lost Decade: Lessons from Japan’s bubble and recession” and a July 2009 cover story for Reason magazine, “Turning Japanese: Japan’s post-bubble policies produced a ‘lost decade.’ So why is President Obama emulating them?”

“Turning Japanese,” Reason.com, June 23rd, 2009, the source of Nick Gillespie’s video atop this post, also from 2009.

Flash-forward to today:

“U.S. stocks will be ‘very disappointing’ for 10 years.”

—Headline at the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch column.

Unexpectedly, as Bloomberg.com would say.

If the Swastika Fits…

July 10th, 2014 - 8:56 am

Some juxtapositions juxtapose themselves. Shot:


Chaser: “A large Nazi flag was seen on Sunday flying over the West Bank Palestinian town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, only several kilometers away from a field where the bodies of three murdered Israeli teenagers were found buried last week…Residents of Beit Ummar have flown Nazi flags in their town in the past as well, including above a mosque:”

Roger Waters could not be reached to provide moral equivalence, anti-Semitism. But as a far saner Roger writes today, “Hold the Hudna” please:

We’ve all built our Arabic vocabularies a touch since 9-11, but the definition of words can often be problematic.  The meaning of concepts like, say, jihad, are notoriously difficult to pin down, even when they shouldn’t be; I think deliberately. One of those elusive terms is hudna, meaning a temporary truce or “quiet.”  A permanent truce, i.e.,  genuine peace, does not seem part of the vocabulary of jihadists whose sworn goal is to make the world Islamic, sooner or later, like it or not. They just take a time out when it looks as if they could be in trouble, like a hockey player with a twisted ankle.  As an example, Hamas is known for its hudnas, cooling down (or pretending to) and then heating up again as soon as possible  to do what the beginning of its charter always promised it would do — destroy Israel.

For years the bien pensant of the West (Europe, the U.S.) have urged, actually put strong pressure on, Israel to play the hudna game with Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and the rest of the sociopathic Islamofascist crew.  The Israelis, from a humanistic tradition and anxious to be thought well of, have acquiesced, even when they have the extreme whip hand. The results have been as one would predict: another war, another hudna and on and  onThis has been going on since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, even before that really.  In other words, for a long while.

Maybe it’s time for a different approach.  How about just…winning?

Works for me. Read the whole thing.

Life Imitates Night Shift

June 29th, 2014 - 9:15 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Wanna know why I carry this tape recorder? To tape things. See, I’m an idea man, Chuck. I get ideas coming at me all day. I can’t control ‘em. I can’t even fight ‘em if I want to. You know, ‘AHHH!’ So I say ‘em in here, and that way I never forget ‘em. You see what I’m sayin’?

[speaking into tape recorder]

Stand back, this is Bill. Idea to eliminate garbage. Edible paper. You eat it, it’s gone! You eat it, it’s outta there! No more garbage!

—Michael Keaton as Manhattan morgue attendant turned would-be pimp “Bill Blazejowski” in the 1982 film Night Shift.

I’m a weirdo who eats her cupcakes with a fork, but thanks to these new edible cupcake wrappers, I guess I don’t have to anymore! I can bite right into the side of the thing without having to worry about peeling the paper back without dropping half the cupcake onto the sidewalk (okay, wait, the visual of haphazardly chomping into a delicate baked good doesn’t sound too dignified either).

The wrappers, made by Dr. Oetker, are wafer-like, gluten free*, and can survive being baked. They can even hold up in the oven without a cupcake tray — on what planet is that a reality!? The downside is that they’re pretty pricey. A pack of six is $4, which is a bit too steep to be worth it — unless, of course, they start turning up in Pinterest recipes. Then maybe I’ll consider the splurge.

“We Obviously All Need These Edible Cupcake Wrappers,” The Frisky, yesterday.

Found via Maetenloch at AoSHQ; truly, we live in an age of technological and gustatory miracles.

* What is Gluten?

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

“NYT Admits: ‘Somewhat Late’ on IRS Story, But Editor Swears ‘We’ve Paid Copious Attention.’”

—Headline, NewsBusters, yesterday.

“New York Times Maintains Blackout on Philadelphia Abortionist Gosnell’s Trial on Infanticide.”

—Headline, NewsBusters, April 15, 2013.

“Nothing Funny about New York Times Coverage of the Catholic Church.”

—Headline at NRO’s Corner blog, September 4, 2013.

Kate Zernike of the New York Times describes how tea-party activists explore “dusty bookshelves for long-dormant ideas” and study “once-obscure texts” by “long-dead authors.” She is of course referring to Friedrich Hayek, whose book The Road to Serfdom was excerpted in Reader’s Digest and never has been out of print, whose Nobel Prize for economics in 1974 celebrated the importance and mainstream acceptance of his thinking, and whose death in 1992 isn’t exactly ancient history. The article fails to illuminate tea-party philosophy and some of what it tries to say is bizarre. (Check out Zernike’s jaw-dropping attempt to define “the rule of law,” which is apparently a term she hadn’t heard until recently.) But it does serve the useful purpose of highlighting the biases and blinders of certain journalists.

“Obscurantism,” a post by John J. Miller at the Corner, October 3, 2010.

Or as Neo-Neocon wrote earlier this week on the NYT blackout of the IRS scandal, “what the Times is doing is ass-covering:”

They can’t think of a way to spin Obama’s abysmal failures any more (they do have certain standards, although those standards are pretty low), so they are silent.

They’re also very accustomed to setting the news agenda, and think they can get away with ignoring news they don’t like. That Times slogan “All the news that’s fit to print” takes on new meaning, doesn’t it? Up till now I’d always assumed they were conveying the idea that they cover the news thoroughly (they’d like us to think they cover it objectively, too, but that’s an absurdity). But did you ever wonder what sort of news isn’t “fit to print”? Why, it’s news that would hurt liberals and help conservatives, that’s what news. And it doesn’t matter if that news constitutes the biggest scandal since Watergate—potentially even bigger than Watergate.

The Gray Lady fancies itself a world-class newspaper, and a paper capable of covering all of America, but its output is as remarkably provincial as the worldview depicted in Saul Steinberg’s classic “View of the World from 9th Avenue” New Yorker cover from 1976. Which is exactly how Timesmen view middle America — just ask them.

But of course, all of this presumes that the Times, in classic Orwellian doublethink mode, still primarily considers itself a newspaper, and not a house organ for a political party.

Or to  put it another way, “Rush Limbaugh Was Right: For Liberals In And Out Of Media, It’s The Ideology, Stupid.”

Oh, to be in Bipolar England

June 26th, 2014 - 2:16 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Bella Mackie, a Guardian comment moderator and daughter of the paper’s editor Alan Rusbridger, recounts her own fearless, indeed Herculean struggle with an addiction to… Diet Coke: “Giving up my favourite drink was as difficult as I had feared. I set about it with a determination to go cold turkey, knowing that even one can would make me slip back into old habits.” There followed a dark downward spiral. “For the first month, I felt exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open at my desk. Then came the nerves, the feeling that something was missing.” Yes, dear reader. Feel her pain and weep.

Contrast the above (as spotted by David Thompson) with this passage from Theodore Dalrymple’s recent speech to Hillsdale College:

Withdrawal from opiates, the fearfulness of which, reiterated in film and book, is often given as one of the main reasons for not abandoning the habit, is in fact a pretty trivial condition, certainly by comparison with illnesses which most of us have experienced, or by comparison with withdrawal from other drugs. I have never heard an alcoholic say, for example, that he fears to give up alcohol because of delirium tremens—a genuinely dangerous medical condition, unlike withdrawal from heroin. Research has shown that medical treatment is not necessary for heroin addicts to abandon their habit and that many thousands do so without any medical intervention whatsoever.

In Britain at least, heroin addicts do not become criminals because they are addicted (and can raise funds to buy their drugs only by crime); those who take heroin and indulge in criminal behavior have almost always indulged in extensive criminal behavior before they were ever addicted. Criminality is a better predictor of addiction than is addiction of criminality.

In other words, all the bases upon which heroin addiction is treated as if it is something that happens to people rather than something that people do are false, and easily shown to be false. This is so whatever the latest neuro-scientific research may supposedly show.

I have taken the example of heroin addiction as emblematic of what, with some trepidation, I may call the dialectical relationship between the worldview of those at the bottom of society and the complementary worldview of what one might call the salvationist bureaucracy of the government. In the old Soviet Union there was a joke in which the workers would say to the party bosses, “We pretend to work and you pretend to pay us.” In the case of the heroin addicts, they might say, “We pretend to be ill, and you pretend to cure us.”

Dalrymple is a daily reminder than the British used to be made of sterner stuff. Still, I can’t help but think that somewhere in the Bizarro World, a still-alive Lou Reed is busy re-writing the lyrics to “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony),” the 1971 Coca-Cola ad.

(Via Maggie’s Farm.)

Another Expiration Date Bests Obama

June 19th, 2014 - 3:28 pm

“Obama admits today what was true all along: he didn’t end the Iraq War, Iraq just refused to let the troops stay,” Trevor Timm, UK Guardian contributor tweets, linking to this article in the Washington Post, which notes that “President Obama took credit in 2012 for withdrawing all troops from Iraq. Today he said something different:”

“With regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that there should be a status of forces agreement,” Romney told Obama as the two convened on the Lynn University campus in Boca Raton, Fla., that October evening. ”That’s not true,” Obama interjected. “Oh, you didn’t want a status of forces agreement?” Romney asked as an argument ensued. “No,” Obama said. “What I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. That certainly would not help us in the Middle East.”

On Thursday, Obama addressed reporters in the White House Briefing Room about Iraq’s latest crisis. “Do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq? Any regrets about that decision in 2011?” a reporter asked. “Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me,” Obama said. “That was a decision made by the Iraqi government.”

In that same foreign policy debate, Obama scolded Romney — for failing to state his position in a way voters could understand. “Here’s one thing … I’ve learned as commander in chief,” Obama said. “You’ve got to be clear, both to our allies and our enemies, about where you stand and what you mean.”

Huh. His pre-postmodern predecessor knew that before he became commander in chief. As Mark Steyn warned when Dubya bid the world vaya con dios, “George W. Bush is who he is, and he never pretended to be anything but. Do you know how rare that is? If you don’t, you surely will after six months of Barack Obama’s enigmatic cool.”

And speaking of postmodernism, with the London Telegraph reporting, “Isis jihadists ‘seize Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons stockpile,’” now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

● “Where Are Saddam’s WMD?”

— Headline, Time magazine, September 26, 2003.

● “Iraq Militants Seize Old Chemical Weapons Facility.”

— Headline, Time magazine, today.

As one Ricochet contributor asks today, “What the heck is a WMD?”

I thought it was a weapon that killed a bunch of people at once.

Like a chemical weapon or a nuclear bomb .

If Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical weapons, how does  everybody justify the “they lied about WMD” trope?

Don’t worry, “The weapons that remain are probably useless,” Time assures us today. These aren’t the WMDs you were looking for; they can go about their business, no matter who has control over them — or wherever they ultimately end up.

Update: Speaking of headlines from 2002 and 2003 getting a fresh new spin, is the president seeking regime change in Iraq? Everything old is new again!

(Yes, the headline was written in the passive tense, which journalists are increasingly using to describe a president being overcome by events occurring on his watch.)

“The Problem With the Klinghoffer Opera” currently playing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, is explored by Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. Kudos for using the singular version of the word “problem” in Tobin’s headline:

Defenders of Klinghoffer will claim, not without some justice, that many staples of the classic operatic repertory were once politically controversial and subjected to censorship. But comparisons with the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, to take just one prominent example, which were often rightly seen as subverting repressive monarchies or promoting the cause of Italian freedom, and Adams’ excursion into the Middle East conflict, are not apt. The libretto of “Klinghoffer” rationalizes terrorism, denigrates Jews and treats the plight of the Palestinians as morally equivalent to the Holocaust. Whether or not one accepts the notion that Adams’ creation is a musical masterpiece, as the Met insists, the point of the piece is one that is not merely offensive. It is, in its own way, a part of the global campaign of delegitimization of the Jewish state and the Jewish people. As such, the decision of one of the world’s leading arts organizations as well as one of the great cultural institutions of the city with the world’ largest Jewish populations, to produce this atrocity, even if won’t be shown around the world, is deeply troubling.

The problem with Klinghoffer is not, as some of its defenders have always claimed, that it humanizes the Palestinians. But by using the story of the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship, Achille Lauro as the setting for its attempt to juxtapose the Jews and the Palestinians, it creates a false moral equivalence thought ought to offend all decent persons, especially in the city where the 9/11 attacks occurred less than 13 years ago.

C’mon — if you’re going to craft a story of Jews being murdered to advance totalitarian political goals for the New York stage, why not think big?

(Additionally, perhaps Mel Brooks should slap a “don’t try this at home, kids” sticker on DVDs of The Producers. But as it always must, reality finally catches up to even the zaniest of satirists.)

Update: Target audience for opera discovered.