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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Obama’s Folly: Censoring Americans

April 27th, 2010 - 7:48 am

Thomas Hobbes, the great philosopher of absolute monarchy, laid down the basic rules according to which tyrants should control the thoughts and actions of their subjects.  “For,” Hobbes wrote in his masterpiece, Leviathan, “the actions of men come from their opinions, and the way to govern men’s actions…is to govern their opinions.”

Therefore, the ruler must impose a rigorous censorship on all publications. He must select the censor — in Hobbes’s words, “who shall examine the doctrines of all books before they are published” and must indicate acceptable and unacceptable ideas.  In Hobbes’s ideal state it would be impossible for anyone to act against the ruler, because they could not even formulate the ideas that could underlie such an action.

No doubt all leaders have wished that one time or another that they could simply ban offensive or annoying ideas from the minds of their citizens, and even democratic leaders have tried to eliminate such words from the public square. “Hate speech” is now banned by force of law in many democratic countries, and, if its definition is sufficiently expansive, can be used to silence opponents. We see this at work in some of the recent efforts to silence administration critics by calling them “racists.”  Racism falls under the “hate speech” rubric, therefore “racists” can be silenced.

Politicians aren’t the only ones who followed the Hobbesian rules of suppressing language they don’t want to hear. “Educators” have been doing the same thing for decades, with the foreseeable results: an increasingly ignorant population, with real knowledge replaced with politically correct stereotypes and myths. Have a look at this scary report.

Efforts of this sort usually don’t work very well in America, although they have been more successful in recent years. We’re very fractious people, we love to argue, and we don’t take kindly to efforts to muzzle us.  Even newspapers and journalists who are normally sympathetic to President Obama get angry when they are locked out of major events, as they were at the nuclear security summit in Washington. This prompted the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank to erupt:  “World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had instead been transported to Soviet-era Moscow.”

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“We Are All Israelis”

April 25th, 2010 - 7:31 pm

This afternoon I spoke to a rally in New York organized by Beth Gilinsky’s Action Alliance. The big crowd, despite miserable weather, filled the sidewalk on Second Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets.  Lots of terrific speakers spoke passionately about the need to support Israel against the shocking treatment from American leaders.  Here are my prepared remarks:

We are at war. It’s a global war. It extends from Pakistan and Afghanistan to India, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and from there towards Israel and then down to Egypt, Sudan and Somalia, and west to Europe and ultimately to America. It targets Canada and Australia, Honduras and Colombia, and all those who challenge fanatical intolerance and instead advocate freedom.  It is a continuation of the ancient war of tyranny against freedom, a war that will endure so long as freedom threatens the power and legitimacy of monarchs and dictators.

That war — a war of awesome dimensions, a war with a long and bloody history — is not the consequence of this or that unpopular policy but above all of beliefs we are not even supposed to pronounce nowadays: the crazed visions of Muslim extremists who are waging jihad against us. And the beliefs of radical secular extremists who share the goals of jihad.

That war is being waged by people who hate America and Israel, as they hate Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, and those many Muslims who want to live in peace.

What? Did you forget that the Taliban destroyed statues of Buddha? Does anybody believe that they would have been spared if there were peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?

Yet there are those — people in positions of great prestige and power, some in government, some in the press, some in the universities — who insist that all would be well if only Prime Minister Netanyahu told a few Jews they can’t live in a certain neighborhood of Jerusalem. That Israel’s enemies — who are also OUR enemies — would scrap their global jihad if only there were one more Arab country in the Middle East.

To demonstrate their conviction that Israel is the problem, these people treat Israel’s enemies — who are also OUR enemies — with greater respect than they showed Israelis.  Prime Minister Netanyahu is treated as an unwelcome guest at the White House while radical Islamists are constantly asked, very politely, to be reasonable and to become our friends.

Sometimes they even receive a bow.

This is folly. It is morally corrupt and strategically misguided. Consider the case of Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terrorists. The Islamic Republic of Iran declared war on the United States in 1979, and has waged war against us for 31 years. Iranian-supported terrorists, alongside Iranian military personnel, are killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan today, at the same time that they are organizing lethal assaults against Israeli civilians and military personnel. Even today Hezbollah is receiving new rockets and missiles, new intelligence assessments, new supplies of ammunition, directly from Iran. And yet, in all these years, the United States has never directly challenged Iran, never made that dreadful regime pay an appropriate price for the murders it has committed and supported.

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Gates and Iran

April 19th, 2010 - 8:21 pm

Secretary of defense Robert Gates told the president last winter that we had no effective strategy for dealing with the Iranian nuclear weapons program.  According to the New York Times Secretary Gates thoughtfully made some suggestions, the details of which we do not know. However we do know something about some of the topics he addressed: secret actions that might be taken, how to present in Iran’s strategy to other countries in the region, and what to do if, despite all our efforts, Iran does in fact build and perhaps even deploys nuclear weapons.

It was only logical; Obama had set a late December deadline for an Iranian response to his offer for negotiations and the deadline had passed. Nor should anyone be surprised to discover that the president had not crafted any long term Iran policy. No president has done that since 1979. I am told that Obama in fact had anticipated that his call for a new start in the relationship with Iran would be rejected, and he intended to move on to organize effective international sanctions against Tehran. He hoped that, having demonstrated a genuine willingness to negotiate, it would be easier to gain international support for “tough” measures.

But even sanctions were clearly destined to fail.  So the Secretary of Defense felt obliged to deliver his unwanted message:  “your hopes have been dashed, and you can’t kick the Iranian can down the road any further.  It’s time to fish or cut bait.”  I hope that he also said, “in the meantime, our guys are getting killed and maimed by Iranian weapons used by Iranian, Afghan and Arab terrorists who have been trained in Iran.”

Bob Gates’ most recent service demonstrates, once again, that God has a very refined sense of humor.  Gates entered the Bush Administration to oversee the retreat from Iraq.  Shortly thereafter, W opted for the surge, so Gates oversaw that.  In so doing, he developed a proper appreciation and considerable affection for our fighters.  I have seen him fighting back tears when speaking of the dead and wounded.  He seems now in many ways the opposite of the guy who once talked as if we had lost Iraq and should make a deal with Iran.

Destiny has a funny way of playing pranks on us.

The Iranian Bomb: Within a Month?

April 14th, 2010 - 8:35 pm

A couple of days ago, I came across an odd story in Agence France Press, wherein I learned that Iran’s fanatical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — increasingly known by his derogatory nickname “the chimpanzee” — is calling for 5 million people to move out of Tehran.  Why?  Because, he said, “Iran’s capital sits on several fault lines and is threatened by earthquakes.” With five million fewer people, Tehran would be “more manageable in case of an incident.”

Ahmadinejad said that, while he couldn’t order anyone to move (although that’s precisely what he’s doing to the Ahwazi Arabs down in Khuzestan), the government was prepared to be very generous to anyone who chose to live in the countryside:  free land, “substantial subsidies,” and cheap loans.

What’s going on?  At first, I thought it was a scheme to make it easier for the regime to control the capital, and to deprive the Green Movement of millions of supporters in the ongoing struggle against the Islamic tyranny.  And maybe that’s what it’s all about.  But there’s another possibility, suggested by the remarkable statement of the #2 at Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.   The headline screamed it all:  “Iran to Join Nuclear Club.” The happy event is supposed to take place within a month.

The reporters at the official Fars Agency were so excited that they made a mess of his name at their second opportunity.

No country would even think about attacking Iran after Iran’s membership in the club,” Deputy Head of AEOI for Research Behzad Soltani said on Tuesday.

Behzadi, who is also Secretary of the AEOI’s Scientific Cooperation Council, further pointed to the construction of 360 MW nuclear power plant and a 40 MW research reactor in Iran’s central city of Arak, and added that the projects are complete by 70%.

What if Mr. Soltani is saying that there’s going to be a nuclear test within a month?  This might explain Ahmadinejad’s sudden concern about earthquakes shaking Tehran.  And then I got an email from an Iranian nuclear physicist working in the West, which said, in part:

During last few weeks Iranian officials claimed a possibility of big earthquake in Tehran. Ahmadinezhad, Governer of Tehran, and several other officials repeated this earthquake is serious and it will be happened in next one month…

Deputy of iranian Atomic Energy yesterday in Kashan University claimed that in one month Iran will be 9th country in nuclear club and after the test the possibility of attack to Iran by any country will be zero.

Today Alzahra University in Tehran was evacuated and in next couple of days the regime has plan to evacuate very sensitive places in Tehran.

Alzahra, by the way, is an all-female university, where Green Leader Mir Hossein Mousavi’s wife was chancellor from 1998 to 2006.  Why would the infamously misogynist regime decide to evacuate it?  Because they want to save young women from quakes caused by a nuclear test?  Or because they fear it’s a center of the revolution?  Or because they think there are too many women getting college degrees?

I report, you decide.  But all that talk about earthquakes is sure interesting.  And if the mullahs are really going to “join the nuclear club in a month,” it’s not a long wait.

The “What Is Barack Obama” Debate

April 13th, 2010 - 3:00 pm

On the one side, David Goldman (aka Spengler) of First Things. On the other, John Podhoretz, of Commentary.  Both longstanding friends, both talented writers, both critical of President Obama.  But John is very upset about the last paragraph of an essay by David.  Here’s the graph by David:

I’ve been screaming about this for more than two years: Obama is the loyal son of a left-wing anthropologist mother who sought to expiate her white guilt by going to bed with Muslim Third World men. He is a Third World anthropologist studying us, learning our culture and our customs the better to neutralize what he considers to be a malignant American influence in world affairs.

And here’s John’s critique:

This is…disgusting. In the first place, Obama is not responsible for his mother or her political views, any more than Ronald Reagan should have been held accountable for the fact that his father was a drunk. In the second place, Goldman’s speculation about her sexual history is appalling …the idea that the lower-middle-class daughter of a furniture salesman from Mercer Island, Washington, would be awash in “white guilt” — far more a species of upper-middle-class Northeastern opinion — speaks more of Goldman’s inability to achieve imaginative sympathy with someone from circumstances different from his than it does anything about the president or his family.

Finally, there is Goldman’s casting of Obama, who lived for less than a year in Indonesia, as a “Third World anthropologist studying us.” Casting Obama as a malign foreign influence is a particular and unforgivable intellectual madness on the Right over the past two years. There is nothing foreign about Obama’s ideas or ideology, alas, which can be understood, in my view, almost entirely from the curricula and extracurricular ideas endemic in the American university in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he was in college.

David has been saying these things for quite a while, and has offered plenty of evidence to explain why he believes them.  John hasn’t felt obliged to pick a fight before,  and I think he would have done better if had taken a bit of time to study the facts of Obama’s life.  Contrary to John’s dismissal of any Indonesian influence (he was only there for “less than a year”), for example, young Barack spent four important years (from age 6 to 10) there, and attended a Muslim school (which wasn’t “very Muslim” actually, but I digress).  And his characterization of Mrs Obama’s family as “lower middle class from Mercer Island, Washington” is not quite right either:  the parents were from Kansas, and lived briefly on Mercer Island (which is a pretty pricey neighborhood, at least in recent years);  the mother was a bank vice president, and I can’t find an account suggesting that Obama’s mother had an economically challenged childhood.  That came later, as a result of moving to Indonesia.

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What Is Barack Obama?

April 6th, 2010 - 8:18 pm

Roger L. Simon thinks Obama’s deranged, and Roger’s the son of a good psychiatrist, so he knows what he’s talking about.  I don’t doubt that our president has his issues–just look at his nutty mother, consider the impact of being abandoned by dad–but I don’t think that just putting Obama on the couch is the best way to understand him.

Put him in the classroom instead.  Because he’s the stereotypical American undergrad at a stereotypical Ivy League college in the age of political correctness.

He doesn’t much like America or Americans, or the “former colonial powers” like Britain.  Like so many would-be intellectuals, he admires lefty writers and screenwriters and actors and actresses.  He likes the downtrodden, like the Palestinians, but he’s overcome with awe for the occasional cool (non-Western) monarch or emperor (whether Arab or Chinese).  He probably has a Che tee shirt tucked away in a drawer, don’t you think?

He doesn’t know much history (he thinks Muslims invented printing), geography (his America has 57 states), or economics (he believes you can reduce health care costs by adding millions to the public rolls).

The most important thing to this president is how you feel and what you say, not all those annoying facts (50 states, the Chinese invented printing, and you increase deficits when you spend more).  And, like most students, when the debate goes badly for him, the president makes fun of his critics–when he actually lets them talk a little bit.  Remember when he hosted a few Republicans in the White House so he could listen to what they might say about health care…and then talked twice as much as they did?

As a typical undergrad, Obama loves to talk, and loves to talk about peace and justice.  You know, the really important things.  His new nuclear policy is right out of a college bull session:  “Why don’t we just promise not to use them?”  Nukes are bad, ugly things. Doesn’t everyone agree that the world would be better off without them?

Well,  grownups don’t necessarily agree.  It all depends how you get there, and what the others do along the way.  We do have real enemies, but our undergrad-president understands their ire and shares their pain.  It’s up to us to make things right.  And so he apologizes, worrying more about our nukes (about which he has done something) than Iran’s (we haven’t done a thing).

Finally, he doesn’t seem to realize what a mess he’s making.  And when he gets his grades, he blames the professors (we the people, in this case) for being unfair.

That’s the sort we’ve been graduating for a generation or more, isn’t it?  Did you really think we’d never get one as president?