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Monthly Archives: September 2009

Some Signs of the Times

September 30th, 2009 - 6:09 am

How to distill the news? After watching it far too much the past nine months, I offer five random conclusions from what I think is going on in the age of Obama.

1. Disconnect. There is little semblance between how one lives and how one envisions others should live. We saw that with the cabinet nominees. Tom Daschle, cheating on the taxes on his free limousine service, was the obvious caricature of someone who likes the high life, has found a way through tribuneship to get it, and makes so much money that he easily has enough money to pay for the taxes he wants to raise on others—but would prefer, given his status, not to pay them at all. A Geithner, Dodd, or John Edwards typify a rather large influential class of such moralists who suffer on our behalf. The more influential the environmentalist, the more likely his house does not meet his own green requisites he wishes to impose on others, so that he might better think on our behalf. The more a Charles Rangel talks of affordable housing, the poor, and social justice, the more he suddenly finds hidden bank accounts, unreported income, and subsidized apartments in his name, so that he might better agitate on our behalf. Hypocrisy is a human, rather than a partisan sin (note the philandering evangelical or the capitalist who wants government money to rig the game), but the man on the barricades shouting about social equality is especially prone to it—since it pays so uniquely well both materially and psychologically.

2. Abroad. Foreign policy now starts with the assumption the world is not naturally chaotic, but tranquil—if not for the obtrusive presence of a largely ignorant and selfish United States. The past is selectively invoked—Native Americans, slavery, sexism, racism, imperialism—and always without consideration of the far greater sins of other comparable societies or the astounding achievements of American society that allow our present spokesmen their exalted status and influence. By reaching out to troublemakers, and airing our pathologies, we are supposed to calm the misunderstood and demonized, as we insidiously try to address their complaints. A Chavez or Ahmadinejad should be less hostile once they learn that we too are moving to socialized health care, income redistribution,  high taxes, blanket entitlements and becoming more part of the statist solution rather than of the cowboy capitalist problem. To understand  such a policy, shorn of its pretensions, as old-style appeasement is considered a smear. Or to think that a Syria, Venezuela, or Cuba hates individual freedom and exists for a professional cadre of elite autocrats is considered naïve and simplistic. The greatest defenders in America of a Castro or Chavez are precisely those whose lifestyles and income would be impossible under such regimes.

3. Top and bottom. Obama is the embodiment of the new Democratic Party that appeals to the very poor and the upscale, the one reliant on federal largess, the other making enough money not to care all that much about the taxes necessary to fund it. On almost every issue—environmentalism, social issues, larger government—there is a new alliance that simply downplays the ordeal of the larger middle class of all races and ethnicities, especially those who are self-employed and wedded to more traditional values. The hardware store owner, dentist, real estate salesperson, and farmer, are seen as the “boss” with capital to dispense to others, rather than the critical but harried entrepreneurs who get up each morning with no certainty of an income or benefits. The chief difference between the support for the new Obamism among those in the gated community (tastefully gated) and the barrio was the level of vehemence and near anger in which it was expressed—far greater the more upscale the neighborhood.

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The Past Is Not Quite Past

September 26th, 2009 - 4:37 pm

War II Thoughts

We can learn a lot about our present dilemmas through looking at the past. This month I’m teaching an intensive class on World War II, and again reminded how history is never really history. One lesson: do not judge past decisions by present considerations or post facto wisdom from a Western point of view, but understand them given the knowledge and thinking of the times from an enemy perspective.

We ridicule the disastrous Japanese decision to go to war against the American colossus on December 7, 1941. But that correct analysis enjoys the benefit of hindsight, and does not explain why rather intelligent militarists for some reason believed that they could win, or at least within six months of aggrandizement obtain a truce. That they could not, and destroyed their country in the bargain, is not the point.  Nor is “fanaticism” a completely adequate exegesis for Pearl Harbor; logic of a sort is.

Why Did Japan Attack (or Rather Why Not?)?

Let us count the ways: 1) The US had not intervened in Europe, despite over two years of seeing Nazi Germany overrun its democratic allies in Western Europe and blitz London. The Japanese were convinced that we simply could not be provoked, or did not have it in us to fight for long under any circumstances;

2) It had just signed a non-aggression  neutrality pact with Russia (tit-for-tat payback to Hitler’s earlier perfidy). That April 1941 deal ensured there would not again be a bloody August, 1939-like border war in which thousands of Japanese (50,000?) perished. So Japan would now have a one-front war against the U.S. and Britain; but the latter would have a two-front war against Germany (and Italy) and Japan;

3) The Japanese coveted oil, rubber, tin, rice, and other strategic commodities. And now the Dutch East Indies were without their colonial masters after the fall of Western Europe. Vichy France was compliant in Southeast Asia. In other words, a world of raw materials was at last at Japan’s doorstep, much of modern-day Malaysia, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, ready for the taking if it had a convenient short war. Britain was tied down in North Africa (soon to lose Tobruk), and Burma and then India were also ripe for the picking;

4) By late November 1941 Germany was at the gates of Moscow, Leningrad was cut off; the Crimea was to fall. German U-boats were reaching records in destroying British convoys. Not only would Hitler certainly win the European war, but there was a good chance that the Japanese might meet him either through Suez or in the Persian Gulf. And why fight Russia, when soon Russia would be no more?

5) The Chinese front was mostly quiet, long-term occupation either run by puppet governments or made easier by Nationalist-communist rivalries;

6) The U.S. was still in a depression, its industry under-utilized and its military infrastructure largely embryonic. It had a bad habit of lecturing Japan, embargoing Japan, but not proving to Japan that it had the force to deter Japan and the willingness to enforce its edicts;

Almost all six calculations within a few months (say after the pivotal Midway and Guadalcanal battles) proved flawed. But that again is not the lesson. At the time, the Japanese, being aggressive militarists, drew logical conclusions about their self-interests, which only in hindsight seem preposterous, and largely because of the phenomenal, but easily unforeseen response of the United States.

And Today?

We should remember the past these last few weeks as we watch U.S. foreign policy turned topsy-turvy.

Consider Obama’s outreach to Russia. He assumes Bush gratuitously polarized Russia, a state that otherwise had few post-Cold War preexisting problems with the U.S., despite its oil wealth, autocratic government, policy of serially assassinating dissidents at home and abroad, and loss of face with the breakup of the former Soviet republics. So we blamed Bush with the monotonous “reset” refrain.  Then we threw the eastern Europeans under the bus with the vague “we have a better mobile missile system anyway” defense. Then we claimed a thankful Putin will appreciate such magnanimity and help on Iran.

Thinking like a Russian

But we are looking at all this from our postmodern eyes. Try, as in the case of 1941 Japan, seeing it from theirs.  Bush’s friends are now America’s expendables—whether a Poland, Israel, Honduras, Columbia, or Iraq’s Maliki. Bush’s enemies are now its friends or neutrals—suggesting that Obama agrees that to be angry with America, as Russia was, was once understandable, and during 2001-9 to be friendly with it logically suspect. All the past Russian sins from assassination to oil leveraging of Europe are now washed away as “Bush did it.”

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Sleeping Through Speeches

September 23rd, 2009 - 4:37 pm

The World’s President

The President’s UN* talk was more of the same, same old formula: Me, me, me / then Bush blew it / then I came /and, presto, the waters parted.

There is no need to listen to these speeches anymore:

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentleman: it is my honor to address you for the first time as the forty-fourth President of the United States. I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people have placed upon me; mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history; and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at home and abroad.

I have been in office for just nine months, though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me….

I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others.

I think “acted unilaterally” does not refer to all the allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, but something like simply calling the Poles late at night to say the missile deal is off, and we’re cutting our own deal with Putin.

If Obama is right, and American exceptionalism is over, and we are just one of many, why, then, does he expect to garner the world’s attention and to seek the world’s limelight? What is it about America that gives him, the two-year Senate veteran, such prominence?

In fact, it is America’s 20th century of achievement, its wealth, its singular morality, its competence — all the things that Obama either takes for granted or snarls about — that alone explains everything from his enormous Air Force One to the influence he enjoys. Put mellifluous Obama as president of Sweden or Slovakia and the world, rightly or wrongly, snores. Obama tragically does not understand that America made him — he does not make America.

Here is the synopsis of the president’s speech: “Ok, I came in, dissed Bush, offered hope and change, and deigned to sacrifice myself, the smartest you’ll ever meet, for you, the world. So now  we aren’t Bush’s America, but Obama’s America, and therefore I expect you to reciprocate in kind — since you only have one last chance to get a divine American president of my caliber.”

There must be some Microsoft automatic program that writes these speeches.

America’s College President

I wrote today about Obama running the country as if he were an Ivy League president and we were his faculty.

If one wonders why Americans are asked to send in fishy people to the White House, or why  the NEA now wants to correlate artistic grants to political obsequiousness, or why those who disagree are deprecated as mob like and worse, or why Eric Holder calls us “cowards,” or why Dr. Chu says we are like teenagers, the answer is that we are to be run like a campus, and Obama is our all-knowing paternalistic president.

Good Wars and Bad Wars

A year ago also I wrote an article predicting that the Democrats’ good war/bad war prism was a profound mistake, and that if elected Obama was going to have a hard time matching campaign rhetoric with presidential decisions. The truth is that Afghanistan — no harbors, landlocked, next to nuclear Pakistan, terribly difficult terrain, opium, harsh winters, 7th century tribal infrastructure — was always the more difficult challenge than Iraq: on the gulf, oil-rich, some secular and educated segments of the population, flat and clear weather, strategic location.

I don’t think I wrote anything a year ago that would not be entirely applicable right now:

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A Devolving, Depressing, and Debased Debate

September 20th, 2009 - 12:39 pm

Policies no, Obama maybe…

Barack Obama is charismatic. He can charm, and has mastered the art of set cadence, pause, articulation, and voice modulation, in the manner of a JFK.  He has appeared on television far more in nine months than have prior presidents in an entire administration. But his problem is that his policies—cap and trade, nationalized health care, $2 trillion deficits, fringe-politics czars, therapeutic foreign policies, etc.—poll below 50 percent. So his advisors quite understandably  assume that by sheer magnetism Obama can still sell the public a product they doubt—sort of like GM’s top salesman thinking he can sell a Honda Accord buyer a new Malibu. (trust me, it does not work)

In response to his own declining polls, his initiatives are stalled—and, more importantly, his centrist Democratic supporters are themselves dug in, fingers in the wind, waiting until his polls go back up to 55%.

When in doubt…

Barring sudden changes in the economy, or a Clinton-like 1995 flip to the center, the Obamians feel that they can still overwhelm the public through two strategies: have subordinates (but never the White House) demonize opponents as “racists”, and unleash Obama on the media, convinced that his attractive personality can become persuasive as well (the two are not the same: I like Bruce Springsteen’s music and enjoy his occasional talks, but would never follow his political advice; Tommy Lee Jones is one of my favorite actors; but would never follow his enthusiasm for Al Gore).

Wolf, wolf and more crying wolf…

A variety of liberal icons has weighed in on the racist theme. What is again sad is that many of the most prominent accusers have forfeited credibility, given their own past record of wolf-crying.

I remember in the campaign that most of the race embarrassment, in fact, was on the liberal side: the imbroglio over Bill Clinton’s charges about the “race card” played on him; Joe Biden’s “clean” black remark and Indians in donut shops; Howard Dean’s wild charges about Republicans and black servants; Geraldine Ferraro’s suggestion that being black helped, not hurt Obama; the 95% black majorities in the primaries that voted in bloc fashion against a white, very liberal candidate; Obama’s own racial baggage with Rev. Wright, “clingers”, typical white person, etc.

In other words, eighteen months ago at this time, Obama was struggling with the suggestion that his past record illustrated that he was close with racists like Wright, and saw the election in racial prisms. Meanwhile, liberal rivals had tried to emphasize those very contradictions, often in clumsy terms. Currently, he vehemently denies a racial component to criticism against his policies (he reads the polls that to do so is political suicide), but oddly apparently does not privately send the word out to his operatives in the media and in Congress to cool it, since he also sees political advantage if such charges blunt criticism of his unpopular initiatives.  (A note: part of the problem is that elites dominate the issue: calling someone “racist” does not work in the workplace for most people who are not so easily intimidated; but our talking heads and journalists are themselves passive-aggressives who are as timid in real life as they chest-thump in public.)

But is there any credibility?

Fast forward: I just read the charges of Bob Herbert, the New York Times columnist, who now swears racism fuels anger at the Obama new deal. He even cites the Kenney assassination as dire warning. But, wait—JFK  was killed, as the Warren Report detailed, by a pro-Soviet, Fair Play for Cuba Marxist.

Bob Hebert himself not long ago alleged on television that a McCain ad was abjectly racist because it had two supposed phallic symbols in the background: those Freudian bogeymen, the leaning tower of Pisa and the Washington Monument.

The racists in the McCain campaign, Herbert swore, used subliminal imagery to scare us about purported black sexual prowess. But wait once more: Herbert crafted all this. The image was simply the Victory Column in Berlin. It was chosen as a backdrop to remind viewers of the pomposity of Obama himself using the icon (after being turned down for wanting the more presidential set of the Brandenburg Gate). Even grade school students can distinguish the Washington Monument—and most likely the leaning tower of Pisa as well. (By the way, given the hysterics of the New York Times in its Obamania and the lengths to which it has gone, and given its dire fiscal condition, and given the federal bail-outs under Obama, and given the spread of czardom, we know what will follow very soon….)

And on and on…

Maureen Dowd had no evidence of racism either. No matter once more—she inserts the word “boy” into Joe Wilson’s unfortunate “You lie” rude interruption, to invent a racist rather than a merely boorish remark. But with all due respect once more, why believe Ms. Dowd, who just recently lifted sentences from another writer, used them as her own, and then, when caught, claimed she absentmindedly cut and pasted from an email?

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The Rise of the Uncouth

September 14th, 2009 - 7:20 pm

American Stasis

The historian Thucydides warned about the escalating violent language and behavior that we are witnessing. More on that later.

For now, tes, I thought Rep. Joe Wilson was a boor to scream out at the President during a Joint Session. If everyone were to do that, we’d descend into some sort of Third World Parliament in short order, or end up caning each other, as on the eve of the Civil War. He apologized to the President, and should have.


But sadly, I put no credence in liberal outrage. Dozens of Democrats booed Bush during his State of the Union address in 2005; an unhinged Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) called him a liar from the House floor. The currently outraged, like Maureen Down and E.J. Dionne, said little about the 2005 interruption of the President of the United States with catcalls. Congressional efforts at censure failed. Stark, for all I know, remains not an albatross, but an icon of the Left.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

President Obama called for more civility on 60 Minutes the other night. A noble effort, all would agree. But he has himself been serially accusing his opponents of disinformation  and lying about his health care plan—even as his own accounts of how many are currently uninsured, the status of illegal aliens under his plan, or the nature of his end of life counseling programs seem to change weekly.

The President in his calls for moderation, of course, said nothing about Van Jones’s profanity and racism—or his czar’s charging Bush with planning the deaths of 3,000, charging whites with being mass killers in the schools, and polluters, and on and on.

Wasn’t There Someone Once Upon a Time Called Van Jones?

Any President devoted to the notion of restoring civility would have never nominated such a boor. Imagine instead a contrite Obama saying: “We have got to do better in the way we talk to each other. My own White House green jobs advisor should never have said the things he did, and that’s why he had to go.” Instead, Jones got out of town, screaming about smears at midnight. Obama voted present as the Left charged racism at Jones’s departure—although the President warned school children not to post things on the Internet, the implication being you too can be a poor Jones done in by Google.

The Wages of the Sixties

The truth is that a new generation of boors has come of age without sober wise people to teach them how to act. A Rep. Stark or Rep. Wilson, whether left or right, were Sixties people, a generation known for its hip crassness and uncouthness. The baby boomers themselves abdicated the role of elder statesmen, and instead need in their dotage to be taught before they can teach anyone. The proper censors are in the graveyards, a better mannered generation used to hardship and war, whose legacy of  standards we have squandered.

Boors Everywhere

The result? Turn to tennis and we see this week a pathetic Serena Williams in a profanity-ridden rant, because she is being beaten badly on the court and apparently cannot handle the self-induced humiliation, and so goes ballistic over an apparently bad call. I am sure she would have preferred, as in the past, the racist- to the profanity-card, had not the targeted umpire herself been a person of color. Of course, John McEnroe, Ilie Natase and Jimmy Connors set the present low standards in tennis. Ms. Williams is only following in their ends-justify-the-means footsteps. In about a week, her father will weigh in with his customary slurs on spec. Who knows, maybe even McEnroe will claim, “Even I would never do that!”

Steal the Show

Then a buffoonish rapper Kanye hijacks a music awards show, to scream out that he prefers the loser to the poor embarrassed winner, standing mute before him with the trophy. But how can the audience that honors the violence and degradation of hip-hop / rap, then be outraged that they get a live version of such crude behavior before them of what they buy on CDs? Had Kanye only put in a plug for green jobs, he might have escaped without the boos. So we need a Juvenal (‘Who will police the police”) to note the irony of a crass music industry being out-crassed on its formal night out.

Not So Long Ago

The Left is now furious that, as the new establishment, the rules of discourse are not more polite. But from 2002-8, they (Who are “they”? Try everyone from Al Gore to John Glen to Robert Byrd to Sen. Durbin), employed every Nazi/brown shirt slur they could conjure up. NPR’s folksy old Garrison Keiler was indistinguishable from mean-spirited Michael Moore in that regard.

The New York Times gave a discount for a disgusting “General Betray Us” ad. The Democratic Party head Howard Dean flatly said he “hated” Republicans. Hilary Clinton all but called Gen. Petraeus a liar in a congressional hearing. The New Republic ran an essay on hating George Bush (not opposing, not disliking, but “hating” the President). Alfred Knopf published a novel about killing Bush. A Guardian op-ed dreamed of Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth coming back to kill Bush. And on and on.

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Last Night Didn’t Quite Do It

September 10th, 2009 - 5:54 am

Obama’s problem with warning Americans about bickering, partisan politics, lying, and misrepresentation last night is that his green advisor Van Jones just left after it was disclosed that he called Republicans “a–holes”, whites polluters / more prone to mass murder in schools, and charged the former President with involvement in 9/11. Obama said nothing about such “lying” and “misrepresentation” in his administration–other than to warn school kids to be careful what they put on facebook, twitter and the internet since it can be brought back up for the rest of their lives (i.e., poor Van Jones).

Like ‘hope and change’, ‘this is our moment’, and the now old ‘greatest time in history’ tropes, so too we  are getting used to a highly partisan president complaining about partisanship.

Yet, all the American people wanted last night was 1) the rough cost and where the money comes from (not more gimmicks that bad people will have to cut their profits or magic savings will come from waste and fraud [if the latter is really true, why not bank the savings right now?]); 2) how those who fall through the cracks will be covered (is it 30, 46, or how many million in Obama’s latest version?); and some appreciation that a great system can be improved, rather than the old anecdotes about victims of bad people that we’ve become used to on the campaign trail. (Trying to attach his agenda to the condolences of Ted Kennedy or raising the bloody shirt that more will “die” will not scare or charm a reluctant public that likes its present health and is uneasy about a state-run plan with caretakers of the likes of a Geithner or Jones. Most believe that more will in fact die if we have a Canadian or British style system that devolves into rationing care.)

The President really has to watch this constant return  to these soaring cadences that deliver banalities. One cannot sound like Lincoln if there really is no message. It is time to move on, ignore criticism, and offer something that most can work with; instead, after 9 months we are getting a ‘they are mean to me’ whine at about every speech and photo-op, in the manner of biblical prophets who lash out at doubters.

Obama never gives many concrete details, nor gets precise and concise, and now one wonders whether it is because he simply thinks he can go to the hope and change / soar like an eagle mode, and we will once more get mesmerized, or he has nothing to say at all, or both. But most caught on to all that, and now want a plan, not a prophet.

Bottom line? Obama should just borrow from the Republican plan, assure the Democrats he’s extending coverage to those uncovered, and then, and only then, go back to his eagle routine and soar with it in the stratosphere with “I alone hoped and changed health care.”

Deconstructing the “Whup Ass”

September 8th, 2009 - 10:39 am

New Communique from the Ministry of Truth

At one point, the Obama administration was bragging about bagging one Van Jones; Valerie Jarrett, in fact, even gushed that they had been scouting the erstwhile mostly unknown Jones for quite a while. The word czar was employed of his new responsibilities, and we were subsequently lectured that “over $80 million” in stimulus money was going to be under Jones’s control—given his innovative “green jobs” approach that married civil rights with radical environmentalism.

And now? The ministry has downgraded that now inoperative statement, and insisted that Jones, after all, was not really an unexamined czar, but rather a mere informal “advisor”.

Himself—or in the Stars?

Jones himself, without any introspection, alleged that some vicious “smear campaign” did him in, but did not elaborate on what he meant. Is it not one thing to invoke the bogeyman Glenn Beck, but quite another to list in detail the ways in which Jones had been defamed and lied about?

Had Jones not signed a Truther petition, asking to investigate George Bush’s supposed role in 9/11 (Re: on the one hand, we are supposed to believe that Jones was a brilliant Yale law graduate,* on the other that he did not understand the simple English wording of the petition?), he might have survived the other inanities.

One Act Too Many?

We can attribute his “Republicans are a—holes” remark to lecture theatrics. I don’t care whether he fashionably claims he was some sort of radicalized communist, or even worry much about all the other silly, melodramatic self-characterizations of his own would-be importance. But the racist slurs about white polluters of the ghetto, the white mass murderers in the schools, and George Bush the petroleum crack-head were the sort of things that usually get one fired or demoted (cf. Trent Lott’s remark).

Bill Carter Redux

What we are now seeing with Obama’s coterie is a sort of Billy Carterism—after a while what seems at first outlandish gradually becomes repugnant. Half of the country is now furious at Obama because they are starting to see that Ayers, Khalidi, Meeks, Pfleger, and Wright were representational, rather than aberrational; that is, the associates that for 30 years were the natural friends and role models of Obama proved hard to shake and appear buffoonish 24/7. And stranger still, Obama himself seems surprised that they keep reappearing, as if one so easily can throw under the bus decades of choices, attitudes, and second natures.

Ward Churchillism

What do I mean by “representational”?

There is a strange pseudo-culture in America, of which Obama is a perfect example. Millionaire Michael Moore announces, “Capitalism is evil” as he hypes promotion of his moneymaking new movie. Oliver Stones praises Chavez, as the dictator shuts down voices of dissent—yet Stone himself could not make a movie in Venezuela as he does here. So too the murderer Che becomes a popular T-shirt emblem among the college elite. Van Jones calls Bush a “crackhead” but then in self-important style flashes on his website, “As a tireless advocate for disadvantaged people and the environment, Van helped to pass America’s first ‘green job training’ legislation: the Green Jobs Act, which George W. Bush signed into law as a part of the 2007 Energy Bill.” Bush is a crackhead in front of some audiences, compliant supporter to others?

Wise Moves

Otherwise quite content Americans, getting rich and famous in the free market under the aegis of U.S. freedom and security, have not only the luxury to play the court jester, but see it as a wise investment. Moore would never go to Cuba for brain surgery. Stone would never criticize the Bolivian government while he was living in Bolivia. No Harvard undergraduate would have liked to join occasionally murderous Che in the jungle.

So too it is with middle-class guys like Jones and Obama. Barack Obama, raised by white grandparents, sent to prep school, and educated at the Ivy League, realized that avenues are not so easily opened to the nerdy Barry Dunhams of the world.  Jones grasped that one Anthony Jones who was admitted to Yale Law School might actually have to study, compete for grades, and then go apprentice at a grinding law firm entry-level job.


But as Jones relates, it was far easier to be a “hell raiser” at Yale. What that meant I think was that in lieu of studying (“Yale didn’t have any grades”), Jones knew that he could say and do almost anything he wished among rather wealthy (and to be honest, rather nerdy) white and Asian people, playing on both their guilt, and on their vicarious sense of adventure and cutting-age revolutionary romance—and do pretty well. And so he did.

Very quickly, as his subsequent career attests in a variety of “organizing” jobs, Jones discovered that he could tease and provoke white liberals by posing as some sort of wild (but actually quite safe) revolutionary figure who would call America an “apartheid” system, or dream of a “redistribution of wealth” or praise the advantages of social revolution through hip hop music (“I don’t believe the true power of the people can be confined to a ballot box…We need to be about the whup-ass. Somebody’s f***in up somewhere… They have names and job descriptions. You have to be creative about how you engage the enemy, because if you do it on his terms, the outcome is already known.”)—all the while living a rather mundane bourgeois existence jetting around for princely lecture fees, hyping a book, trying to button-hole celebrities, and finally getting close to his exemplar Barack Obama—who likewise had parlayed Barry Dunham of a Honolulu prep school into Barack Obama, exotic avatar of revolutionary hope and change.

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Not This Pig

September 4th, 2009 - 10:51 am

And On It Goes

I support the President on Afghanistan and am relieved he did not pull out of Iraq as once promised (all combat brigades out by March 1, 2008—he said during his initial campaigning).

That said, almost a year ago, I wrote that the Democratic congressional chest-thumping for Afghanistan, as the good war, would cease as soon as Bush left office and that Afghanistan, not Iraq, was always going to be the harder, messier war in the long run.

Just as the John Kerrys of the world lined up on October 10, 2002, to authorize the Iraq war to bolster their security fides in what they then thought would be another walk-through, only to bail with “Bush made me vote that way”, so too they sought cover in anti-war protest over Iraq by praising Afghanistan as the good war, thinking it was won, Iraq was lost, and Bush was in power.

Now Bush is history; Iraq is quieter; Afghanistan is heating up. So? An Obama invasion into Pakistan in ‘hot pursuit’? I don’t think any of them ever realized that they would own Afghanistan and their own bellicose rhetoric would come back to haunt them. Have there been any New York Times exposes about  our post-Jan. 20, 2009 Predator assassinations in Pakistan, in which we obliterate houses, families and all, without Miranda rights or habeas corpus (what candidate Obama himself once deplored)? (And if the State Department was supposed to oversee private guards responsible for embassy security in Kabul, and the State Department in turn was  responsible to the White House, does the administration have culpability in the fashion that the rogue sex-perverts guards at Abu Ghraib, supposedly reflected the Bush-era military? If we blow up 90 in Afghanistan is it a war crime, or an honest mistake? When you turn the media into Pravda it becomes impossible to keep the party line straight sometimes.)

But other than continuing past policy on the two wars, almost everything Obama had done is consistent with his past associates (Pfleger, Ayers, Wright, Khalidi, etc.), his past vocation (grievance organizing), and his past methodology (most partisan in the Senate, surrealistic Senate campaign in which foes mysteriously dropped out, the Axelrod/Emanuel Chicago way, etc.).

Health Care Grab

We all know what that a good health care system can be improved by increased competition, tort reform, tax credits for catastrophic insurance plans, deregulation, etc.

But Obamacare is not really about medicine. It is rather aimed at absorbing more of the private sector—once more, to create a vast new constituency of government workers and beneficiaries, to ensure an equality of result in treatment and access, and to replace private health insurers with public bureaucrats. (I got a taste of the future of the government octopus when I went yesterday to a California DMV office, and noticed that all the state employees at the windows had on purple union T-shirts with “organize” and “solidarity” emblazoned across them.)

In other words, in the Obama mind, would you want an autonomous family practitioner, entrepreneurial, keen to adopt to patient needs and tastes, juggling 10 employees and a 2-million-dollar family practice budget, grossing $400,000 a year in profits, highly opinionated and self-reliant, using his profits once in a while to ski or buy a BMW—or have him transmogrified into a GS-something, at $100,000 a year, with government benefits, unionized, docile, and waiting to go home when his shift at the dreary government clinic ends, wearing his doctor union T-shirt to work and eager to vote in politicians who ensure him lifetime tenure, generous retirement packages, and guaranteed pay raises?

The war against those who want to get rich

Then we have the “spread the wealth”, “redistributive” class warfare rhetoric, demonizing everything from Vegas to those earners who might make over $150,000 (I love the way the President keeps saying that people “like me” should pay more. Actually, few have had access to Tony Rezko’s spread-the-wealth tips, or have wives that get $100,000-plus raises when their husbands become Senators, or have had a lifetime government tenure of some sort). In just nine months, the President has created a near class war—with one provision: the technocracy like Dodd, Geithner, Murtha, Rangel, etc. are exempt from the high taxes and government monitoring that they feel is critical to inflict on others.


Gorge the Beast is the new philosophy. At a $2 trillion-a-year-deficit clip, and new borrowing for cash for clunkers, health care, cap-and-trade, etc., we will get taxes—federal, state, payroll, and surcharge—that will soon take 65% of the income of the “rich.” The IRS will grow and become more intrusive. The point?

Like it or not, by April 16 of each year we will all make about the same: those who make “too much” will return their stolen goods; those who were fleeced and “make too little” will receive it back through recycled entitlements, with the proper amount skimmed off at the top by the technocracy, immune from the very statutes they craft.

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