Roger L. Simon

Roger L. Simon

John F. Rubio?

April 13th, 2015 - 9:45 pm

rubio_jfk_4-13-15-1

Okay, I ripped up what I was writing about Marco Rubio before he gave his excellent, emotional, even a bit endearingly nervous speech announcing his candidacy at Miami’s iconic Freedom Tower Monday.  Senator Rubio does have a serious problem.  He is in grave danger of peaking too early, because I have a strong suspicion that in a very short time he will be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

Not only is Rubio the best speaker and the most attractive candidate, the buzz machine is right.  He could be a Republican JFK.   (Let’s leave aside  whether JFK himself was JFK.  We’re talking myth here.)  He has youth, brains and charm.  As of now he is easily the most charismatic candidate the GOP has had since Ronald Reagan.  I know that’s not saying much.  The GOP hasn’t been long on charisma.  But Rubio clearly has got it.

During his speech, he went straight for Hillary Clinton, using his youth to highlight how Hillary (and also Jeb to some degree) was “yesterday’s” news. No doubt the Clinton machine took notice.  Standing on stage next to Rubio, Hillary will need more than Fleetwood Mac or some trendy video to appear a future-oriented candidate.  She’ll seem like what she is — an extremely wealthy, somewhat starchy senior citizen relying on her husband’s reputation to defeat a 43-year-old guy with vig-ahhhh.  Rubio’s up-from-the-bootstraps life story is not going to help Hillary either.  And that he is a Hispanic (who actually speaks fluent Spanish, unlike some candidates) may actually trump or cancel out Clinton’s number-one advantage — that glass-ceiling thing (how old is that?  Calling Golda and Lady Thatcher?).

So Marco, as they call him, does have a problem.  Frontrunners very quickly get in everyone’s crosshairs — and we’re still nineteen months from election day. [Self-promo alert:  Don't forget to follow the ups and downs of this on the forthcoming "Diary of a Mad Voter" by your not-so-humble scribe.]  Remember what happened to Governor Rick Perry, once a frontrunner himself?  I don’t expect the wonkish Rubio to have problems recollecting his policies, but there are myriad ways to fall from a pedestal, especially when everyone’s gunning for you.

The most  serious accusation against Rubio is that he was too soft on immigration, having been a member of the reformist “Gang of Eight.” Rubio reconsidered, apologized and now says he favors an incremental approach to the issue, starting with border security. It’s hard not to take him seriously on that, considering his hawkish foreign policy views.

But the real question  is how people feel about those who change their minds. A fair number are pretty unforgiving about that, writing off forever those who once said or did something they don’t approve of. (Hello, Ann Coulter!) I don’t agree.  I actually prefer people who do change their minds once in a while (up to a point). Those who never change spook me. Reagan, as we know, changed his mind.  He was a Democrat.  I recently finished reading Lynne Cheney’s superb biography of James Madison. It was hard to count how many times the father of our Constitution changed his mind, not to mention his co-authors of The Federalist Papers.

But that should be obvious.  It’s democracy, isn’t it?  We debate and we try to persuade each other.  I liked (a lot) what I heard from Marco Rubio Monday. He seemed like a man of passion who could persuade others. But it’s only the beginning, of course.  So far, so good.

bill_hillary_clinton_4-12-15-2

Shhh—don’t tell anyone I’m running for president! (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)

America rejoice!  A multi-millionairess serial liar married to a multi-millionaire serial adulterer has just announced for the presidency of our country to save the middle class from impoverishment! (Or was it “income inequality”?) (Or was it “Chelsea Clinton in a Gucci dress, Mateo New York bracelet, Cartier bracelet, Garland Collection ring, Halleh ring,” as appears in this month’s Elle?)

Better tell Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky, not to mention Gil Scott-Heron.  His song got it wrong.  The Revolution is going to be televised (until we’re blue in the face) and it will start in tony Chappaqua on a posh gated estate with pool and tennis court, guarded by the Secret Service with its own (exceptionally) private email system, infinite closed-circuit video surveillance and who knows what else?  

Is everyone throwing up yet?  Not even Maureen Dowd is buying.  Oh, well, American “liberalism” has been screwing the lower classes for the last fifty years.  Why stop now?

But maybe we are reaching a new low.  It couldn’t be more obvious why Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy on Twitter and a disingenuous video.  She’ll do anything not to take questions.  Her last encounter with the press, over her vanishing emails, made Richard Nixon seem like Diogenes.  In fact,  Nixon is Diogenes compared to Hillary.  Imagine how the press would have reacted if Nixon had lied about being under fire in Bosnia… or anywhere.  Or had claimed that “the great leftwing conspiracy” was the cause of “Pat’s affairs.”  (Well, scratch that.)

Hillary is also probably the most immoral person to run for president.  Anyone who could tell the father of Tyrone Woods, the Navy SEAL murdered in Benghazi, that they would “get the man who made that video” at his son’s own funeral is capable of just about anything.

Liberals should be disgusted and embarrassed — and maybe some are … but not enough to disrupt their lives or take any risks.  These days the New York Times is too busy accusing Republicans of racism for opposing Obama’s horrendous Iran non-deal to do anything approaching sanity.   It’s up to us Republicans to put a stop to this before Western civilization goes down the tubes  (he says blithely, but it’s the truth, unfortunately).

Pages: 1 2 | 62 Comments»
YouTube Preview Image

Rand’s Debut

April 7th, 2015 - 9:07 pm
rand_paul_4-7-15-1

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., joined by his wife Kelley Ashby, arrives to announce the start of his presidential campaign, Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

I have always been of two minds about Rand Paul.  I like him domestically, but worry about him when it comes to foreign policy.

That mirrors what I think about libertarianism, which has had considerable influence on me, but which, like every ideology, will eventually kick you in the head if you believe in it too slavishly.  Two cheers for libertarianism — much as E. M. Forster said in Two Cheers for Democracy back in 1951.  It’s a good thing but it’s not perfect.  What is?  Absolute belief in libertarianism is what made father Ron sound like a kook.  That and some unsavory associations.

Listening to Rand Paul’s speech Tuesday announcing his presidential candidacy, it seemed the Kentucky senator had learned that lesson and was fairly strong on foreign policy, going so far as to name radical Islam as the enemy, something that would give the incumbent hives or maybe even epileptic fits.  (I know some prefer naming Islam itself, but if you think any major party candidate is going to do that, I’ve got the proverbial bridge to sell you.  He or she would also lose the election, which wouldn’t help anybody.)

Rand also did not spend a lot of time talking about social issues. He showed us how he lived his values instead, going to Guatemala in his first profession as ophthalmologist to perform eye operations on the poor.  You could criticize this as a stunt, designed for electoral popularity, but he actually did it and apparently did it well.  This leading by example strikes me as a good approach for social conservatives in general.  It impresses me more than rhetoric, as I think it would most Americans.  And how many politicians can cure cataracts? (Well, Bashar Assad, but he has other problems.)

Rand also repeated his proposals for reduced tax zones for impoverished areas and cities.  As most will recall he has been to African-American neighborhoods and universities, making his pitch.  This is his great contribution to the GOP and I strongly urge all Republican candidates to follow suit.  No group has been more deeply wounded by the Democratic Party than African-Americans, and Republicans are nincompoops if they don’t try to make that clear and offer them an alternative.   That goes for several other communities Republicans have abjured.  Rand’s right when says the GOP people need some people with tattoos and earrings. Expand, expand.

He also made the point in his interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening that those who oppose gay marriage should do so morally and not electorally, a smart position for a Republican on the one issue that might be lethal for that party in the general election.

But watching that interview, a little of my old ambivalence toward Rand returned.  He made some attacks on neocons, without specifying who or what they were, that seemed weirdly rote and reminiscent of his father, as if Old Ron was lodged somewhere in his cerebellum, fighting some long gone feud with Irving Kristol that misconstrued Kristol in the first place.  Oh, well, I guess it’s that apple and tree thing.

Still, his attitude toward Israel seemed healthy.  He was quite clear about leaving the question of the borders of a putative Palestinian state, if any, to the Israelis themselves, something miles from the position of Rashid Khalidi… excuse me, Barack Obama.

So the jury is out on Rand, as it should be. It’s VERY early.  But we’re sure to be watching.  And it certainly will be fun.

obama_surrenders_iran_4-5-15-1

When Barack Obama told us on dozens of occasions that we could keep our previous health plan and doctor under the Affordable Care Act, he was doing it for one of two reasons.  Either he was ignorant of his own legislation (unlikely) or he was deliberately lying to get it passed. He knew best what was good for us and if he had to prevaricate, so be it.

The so-called  framework agreement on Iranian nuclear activities is almost exactly the same.  Obama again believes it is best for us, but if we are to believe Amir Taheri (and I do), this “agreement” (that the Iranians are calling merely a press release) is understood completely differently by both parties.  We have been told another series of lies in order to get something passed — or in this case not to oppose it. 

Only there is one huge difference. Obamacare is reversible.  Nuclear armageddon is not.

Taheri (bilingual in Farsi and English)  has extensive comparisons between the Iranian, American and Europeans versions of what was supposedly agreed to.  A sample:

The Iranian text opens by insisting that it has absolutely no “legal aspect” and is intended only as “a guideline for drafting future accords.”

The American text claims that Iran has agreed to do this or that, for example reducing the number of centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,500.

The Iranian text, however, says that Iran “shall be able to . . .” or “qader khahad boud” in Farsi to do such a thing. The same is true about enrichment in Fordow [underground reactor]. The Americans say Iran has agreed to stop enrichment there for 15 years. The Iranian text, however, refers to this as something that Iran “will be able to do,” if it so wished.

Sometimes the two texts are diametrically opposed.

The American statement claims that Iran has agreed not to use advanced centrifuges, each of which could do the work of 10 old ones. The Iranian text, however, insists that “on the basis of solutions found, work on advanced centrifuges shall continue on the basis of a 10-year plan.”

The American text claims that Iran has agreed to dismantle the core of the heavy water plutonium plant in Arak. The Iranian text says the opposite. The plant shall remain and be updated and modernized.

It goes on.  It’s worth reading it all, if you haven’t. It’s almost like an episode of Fawlty Towers.

What we have here is not “a failure to communicate,” but Obama’s moral narcissism gone berserk.  Forget his former proclaimed views on Iran.  Driven by his need for legacy and his conviction that “he knows best” about world peace, the future, whatever, he has reversed course and powered through to what he thinks, or  wants us to think, is the framework for a deal that would prevent Iran from fabricating nuclear weapons.   Only — as in Gertrude Stein’s Oakland and Amir Taheri’s translations — there’s no there there.

But never mind.  His troops seem to be rallying. Democrats who were initially skeptical are apparently folding in and  Senator Menendez, Obama’s greatest thorn on the Democratic side, is currently and conveniently being hounded out of office and possibly into prison.

Meanwhile, Dianne Feinstein — whose greatest worry is making sure her and her husband’s hundreds of millions are kept legally separate — is telling Benjamin Netanyahu — whose greatest worry is a second Holocaust –  to “contain himself.” (Anyone who thinks a new Holocaust unlikely should read Howard Jacobson’s magnificent new J: A Novel.)

And Iran, the mending of whose evil ways was never addressed by the negotiators, is up to its usual mischief, not just expanding across the Middle East from Iraq to Syria to Yemen (we know that), but now — at the same time Obama has told his lap dog Thomas Friedman that America “has Israel’s back” — is making a new alliance with Hamas:

Iran has sent Hamas’s military wing tens of millions of dollars to help it rebuild the network of tunnels in Gaza destroyed by Israel’s invasion last summer, intelligence sources have told The Sunday Telegraph.

It is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks used to bombard residential neighbourhoods in Israel during the war, code-named Operation Protective Edge by Israel.

Munich, anyone?

(Artwork created using multiple Shutterstock.com elements.)

Fifty Shades of Iran Negotiations

April 1st, 2015 - 9:43 pm

50_shades_of_iran_desk_4-1-15-2

How do we really explain the peculiar Iran nuclear negotiations that seem to have been going on for the better part of the last decade?  What is holding these people together?  It couldn’t be more obvious the whole thing is a charade orchestrated by the Iranians with the cooperation of Obama.  It could have been short-circuited by the inevitable — simply shipping a few nukes to Tehran on a spare aircraft carrier and kissing Israel and maybe half of Lebanon goodbye. But both sides insist on playing this game, talking the talk until our heads spin.

So what’s going on here?  Then I remembered this documentary I’d seen — In the Bazaar of Sexes — about temporary marriage in Iran.  From the website:

It is said that Muhammad once advised his followers to enter into temporary marriages while travelling. According to tradition, the Prophet approved of such short-term alliances under certain circumstances, such as during wartime or while on pilgrimage. In Arabic, this practice of temporary marriage is called mut’a (pleasure); in Farsi it is known as sighe.

[snip]

For every temporary marriage, the man has to pay a pre-determined sum to his short-term wife. The duration of a sighe is set out in the marriage contract. From just a few hours to several years; anything is possible. There is only one restriction: after each sighe, a woman must wait two menstrual periods before marrying again.

An aged mullah in the film finds this rule sensible: “If a woman is constantly getting married, then what is the difference from prostitution?”

Good question.  Nevertheless, now we know.  John Kerry and Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif have been engaged in a temporary marriage. Well, they say Zarif is charming.  And yes, there are problems.  We know what Iran does to homosexuals.  It’s a lot worse than Indiana, I can assure you.  Nevertheless, Kerry and Zarif seem to have been a happy couple — for a while anyway.  And this is 2015, the year kink came out of the closet with the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Pages: 1 2 | 23 Comments»

Ayatollah Khamenei is doing everything in his power, through extreme demands, to quash the Iran nuclear deal, which has a deadline of tomorrow night. The question: Will Obama cave anyway? Perhaps Khamenei should ask for everything the U.S. gives Israel, including its own Iron Dome system. Obama would likely do it.

In the latest mullah bait-and-switch, the Iranians are now, at the last minute, refusing to give up their enriched uranium stockpile. Don’t believe it? Well, it’s being reported by Obama’s best loyalists, the New York Times:

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — With a negotiating deadline just two days away, Iranian officials on Sunday backed away from a critical element of a proposed nuclear agreement, saying they are no longer willing to ship their atomic fuel out of the country.

For months, Iran tentatively agreed that it would send a large portion of its stockpile of uranium to Russia, where it would not be accessible for use in any future weapons program. But on Sunday Iran’s deputy foreign minister made a surprise comment to Iranian reporters, ruling out an agreement that involved giving up a stockpile that Iran has spent years and billions of dollars to amass.

“The export of stocks of enriched uranium is not in our program, and we do not intend sending them abroad,” the official, Abbas Araqchi, told the Iranian media, according to Agence France-Presse. “There is no question of sending the stocks abroad.”

Western officials confirmed that Iran was balking at shipping the fuel out, but insisted that there were other ways of dealing with the material. Chief among those options, they said, was blending it into a more diluted form.

Depending on the technical details, that could make the process of enriching it for military use far more lengthy, or perhaps nearly impossible.

Nonetheless, the revelation that Iran is now insisting on retaining the fuel could raise a potential obstacle at a critical time in the talks. And for critics of the emerging deal in Congress, in Israel and in Sunni Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, the prospect of leaving large amounts of nuclear fuel in Iran, in any form, is bound to intensify their already substantial political opposition.

You have to hand it to the ayatollah. He has played the American team to a fare-thee-well.

But can the Americans be that stupid? Yes, they can. Desperation for a deal turns you into a moron. All this talk of “blending” and “dilution” is absolutely absurd, and even the NYT is saying the administration is doing damage control. As Omri Ceren puts it in his invaluable newsletter from the negotiations:

Either way — downblending or oxidation — makes it difficult to see how the parties could stretch Iran’s breakout time to a year. Combine this new position with the Iranians’ demand to keep their fortified underground enrichment bunker at Fordow open, and the administration’s sales pitch on the Hill becomes that much harder.

I’ll say. For a member of Congress to sign on to this deal, he or she would have to be either a complete nincompoop or a total administration prostitute — most likely both. Those, like Michael Ledeen, who predicted the Iranian leadership didn’t want a deal in the first place and the entire negotiations were a charade are looking better and better.

Obama the Crazy Pilot

March 27th, 2015 - 10:43 am

In the roughly ten years since I helped found PJ Media, I have been back and forth between LA and DC a fair amount of times.  I am on a plane at this moment, returning to my California home once again, but never have I been more disturbed by my trip.  Our nation’s capital has become strange, surreal and disquieting.  It’s hard to have a lot of hope.

Long gone, thankfully, are the endless booths selling Obamabilia.  But replacing that falsely optimistic atmosphere is an empty, bleak feeling. Yes, Washington is still the capital of posh, with celebrity chefs aplenty and ever-escalating real estate, the money having drained from the rest of the country  down to Foggy Bottom, but nobody seems to be having much fun from it anymore, not even the Democrats.

Obama and his minions are huddled wherever they’re huddled, busy destroying the Western World with their bizarre policies and eagerness to make a deal with Iran that is so desperate it makes the word pathetic seem pathetic. The results of this desperation have been wretched, a fascistic new Persian Empire emerging from Libya to Yemen with Obama auditioning for the role of Cyrus the Great – or is it Ahmadinejad Junior? Whatever the case, it’s horrible  Even those same Democrats know it.  They’re embarrassed – and they should be.  But for the most part they don’t have the guts to say anything. This is the kind of administration that exchanges a creepy sociopath like Bergdahl for five Islamic homicidal maniacs and expects praise for being humanitarian.  And everyone walks away shaking their heads.

It’s hard to know why Obama is doing it all.  I know it sounds like a rude overstatement but in a way he reminds me of that crazy German pilot flying that plane into that alpine cliff, only the plane is us (America and the West).  Does he hate us all that much – or is it just Netanyahu?  Whatever the explanation, it’s mighty peculiar.  At this point almost no one  in the Congress appears to be backing him up – and yet he continues.  Who knows what will happen next?

Krauthammer for President

March 22nd, 2015 - 10:14 pm

krauthammer_2016_3-22-15-1

Saturday I had the pleasure of again attending the Claremont Institute’s annual Winston Churchill Dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, one of the more impressive conservative events on the West Coast. It seemed more crowded than usual.  The line to be photographed with this year’s honoree was longer even than the very long one for the last year’s winner, Senator Ted Cruz, stretching this time almost out the door of the hotel onto the gilded streets of Beverly Hills.  The person being honored must be popular indeed.  And he was. It was Charles Krauthammer, the man many regard as America’s premiere conservative intellectual.

The group I was with grinned at the sight and almost spontaneously said to each other: “Why not Krauthammer for president?” And why not?   He probably knows the issues better than any possible candidate on either side of the aisle and could discuss them more coherently.  And when it comes to a life story, does anyone contemplating running for president have one even roughly the equal of Krauthammer’s?  In 1971, just returned from studying politics at Oxford and about to enter Harvard Medical School, he had a diving board accident that put him in the hospital for fourteen months and left him paralyzed for life.  And yet he was able to graduate from Harvard Med with his class and become a psychiatrist.  (He now describes himself as a “psychiatrist in remission… doing very well, thank you.”) Soon enough, however, he branched into politics and became a speech writer for Walter Mondale. (His wry explanation:  ”I was young.”) Eventually he become the conservative columnist, best-selling author and Fox News fixture we all know.

But could such a person — a pundit, even — plausibly be president? Although he wouldn’t be the first POTUS in a wheelchair, it sounds absurd. But the Founders did not intend our country to be governed by lifetime politicians, as it has been.  And what were Madison, Hamilton and John Jay in the first place when they wrote the Federalist Papers?  Basically, pundits.  Why not Krauthammer? A flurry of excitement has recently built around Dr. Ben Carson as a candidate from outside but some have said he is not ready on the issues.  That would never be a problem for Charles.  And would you rather have Charles Krauthammer or Donald Trump?  Get serious.

Nevertheless, I admit, it’s a long, long shot.  Still, listening to Krauthammer’s witty, riveting address at the Claremont Institute, I wish it wasn’t.  Sometimes I wish we lived in a different world — like Seneca’s Rome — where the brightest of our society were involved in our politics instead of the consistently middlebrow bores we currently  have that make us think not at all.  It’s embarrassing, really.  That people actually believe Barack Obama is a good public speaker makes the head spin.

But more important at this moment was the content of Krauthammer’s speech.  He pointed out that as bad as Obama’s domestic policies have been, they can be corrected, some of them almost instantly, by a Republican president.  The foreign policy catastrophe we are experiencing is a wholly different matter.  It will take decades to correct this, Obama having left the world without American leadership and in a horrifying state of entropy.  Because of this expanding global disaster Krauthammer  believes the coming election will focus more on foreign policy than it has in some time. Needless to say, he didn’t propose himself as a candidate, but he did comment on some of the others.  (“Bush should change his name.”)  He liked Scott Walker, but at the moment appeared to be leaning toward Marco Rubio, citing the Florida senator’s impassioned speech about the Middle East last week. It was clear, however, that winning the election was everything.

(Thanks to Prof. Scott Soames of USC for suggesting this post and to Katherine and Frank Price for once more hosting Sheryl and me at the Claremont dinner.)

Imagine if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in 2016. What would it actually be like?

Roughly forty percent of the country will consider the incoming first-term president an extreme serial liar with a sense of entitlement the size of Australia. Another forty percent will think, yes, she may be dishonest, but all politicians are and we support her anyway. The middle twenty percent will be some muddle of the previous two views.

And this is before she is even inaugurated. And unlike with Obama, she will not ride the crest of being the first black (or mixed race) president. The whole “first woman” thing reeks of moral narcissism and grandiosity. Israel had its first woman prime minister decades ago (Golda Meir, 1969) as did the UK (Margaret Thatcher, 1979). Even benighted Pakistan elected Benazir Bhutto in 1988. It’s no big thing. In fact, the idea of electing Clinton because she is a woman is both sexist and insulting.

Yet that is undoubtedly the only reason that she would win.

What a monumentally depressing way to come into office in a country that is already divided as never in our time. The idea that Clinton could bring us together is not only illogical, it’s absurd.  ”Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”? How about national hari-kari? How would this person begin to unravel the monstrous global situation left to her by Obama? It’s virtually impossible to comprehend.

And then her presidency begins. What if something untoward happens, if, for example, more information appears about the involvement of her husband and the unconscionable Jeffrey Epstein, purveyor of underage girls? The national distraction would be huge and endless.  Meanwhile, the Islamic State and its seemingly endless avatars will be functioning (how could it be otherwise?) and Iran (nonsensical deal signed or not) will be plotting how to expand its empire into Europe and South America while building its nuclear arsenal. Who knows what the Russians and the Chinese will be up to?

Western civilization? Forget it. We’ll be lost in endless cable news soap operas as described by Geraldo Rivera. And that will be the best of it.

Worth noting, too, is that by the time Hillary is in office we will have been subjected to a prodigious amount of rehashing of scandals, many of which we don’t know about yet. Some of those will have vast character implications, like the terror attack on U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya. From what we already know of that scandal, Hillary and Obama were well aware within hours that this was an attack by al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam and not caused by some amateurish video virtually no one saw. Still, Clinton assured Charles Woods — father of murdered Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods — only a couple of days later that they would “arrest” and “prosecute” the man responsible who made that video. She did this at Woods’ son’s own funeral.  What kind of human being actually does something like that?

I don’t know anybody personally who would, at least I hope I don’t. And I certainly hope that kind of person wouldn’t be president of the United States.

So as one who once was a Democrat, I implore the Democratic Party to do anything possible to avoid nominating Hillary Clinton. I say this not as someone who is desperate to see a Republican elected, although I would definitely prefer that. I say this first as an American concerned for our culture and civilization, no matter what party is in power. A Hillary Clinton presidency would place that in serious jeopardy. It may already be too late.