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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Change We Can Believe In

November 29th, 2009 - 9:24 am

So, fellow critics of Obama, what would we do instead? It is easy to harp, as Obama did in 2007-8, but hard to govern, as Obama learned in 2009. So for all the criticism, let us put up some sample proposals of our own.

Ok, try the following.

1. Pay as you go, balanced budget—whatever you wish to call a return to fiscal sanity. Conservatives need to stop talking about tolerable deficits in terms of GDP; and liberals should cease the charade that trillion-plus annual borrowing is great stimulus.

The psychological effect on the American people of paying down the debt through annual surpluses would be incalculable. “Decline” is as much psychological as real, and begins with perceptions of financial insolvency. We have a $11 trillion economy, so balancing the books is not impossible. Note how Obama intends to “address the deficit” only after he has set two budgets that will increase it by nearly four trillion dollars. Note how Bush’s sin of running up large annual deficits is used to excuse Obama’s mortal sin of doubling them. Note how Democrats, after lining up for a trillion-dollar federal take-over of health care, are worried about a multi-billion dollar expense in Afghanistan.  Cuts in defense, as the later Romans knew, are always the first reaction to profligate domestic spending and entitlement.

2. Freeze federal spending at the present rate, and let increased revenues balance the budget. The idea that we could ever cut outright the budget seems long ago impossible—given the culture of complaint and the melodramatic rants about starvation and murder if another entitlement is not granted. Still, some sort of leadership is required to remind the American people that much of what their government does is not just unnecessary, but counter-productive and they would be better off without it.

Apparently, Obama simultaneously believes (a) he can create a permanent loyal constituency of millions who either receive or disperse federal “stimulus”, in the fashion of the old Roman turba; (b )he can borrow so much money that higher taxes will be seen as vital and therefore the original intent of income redistribution accomplished; (c) that, having had little experience in the private sector, but much financial success as a community or government employee, he can assume that money comes out of thin air and is to be dispersed non-stop through public benefaction; (d) the upper-middle class, which strives to be as rich as he is, is somehow culpable. A common theme throughout history is a paradoxical hatred of the equestrian, productive class, by both the idle aristocratic and entitlement constituents, who hand in glove need each other.

3. Some sort of fair or flat tax that ends the trillion-dollar industry of tax preparation, avoidance, and fraud.  For about a quarter of the population April 15 is a spooky sort of Halloween. Instead, we need a tax system in which one can complete the necessary preparation in about 2 hours. Whose bright idea was it to excuse nearly half the American households from income tax exposure (Clinton and Bush, and now Obama?)—a fact that explains why in Pavlovian fashion recently Senators have been saying that we can add on a new war tax, a health-care surcharge, and a new high rate on “them”? The justification of a 40% income tax, 10% state income tax, 15.3% payroll tax, and new war and health care surcharge taxes can only be that one’s income was undeserved, ill-gotten, and thus better “rectified” by more enlightened federal redistributors.

4. Close the borders to illegal immigration, through completion of the fence, biometric IDs, employer sanctions, beefed up enforcement—coupled with a radical change in legal immigration law that favors education and skill, rather than simply family ties. The present mockery of existing law undermines the sanctity of every law. Those who knowingly break immigration laws, and know that they will not in the future be enforced, naturally assume that other laws likewise will not apply to them, from tax reporting to the vehicle code. We really must ask—why the national outcry over whether illegal aliens will be included in the new health care plan when $50 billion is sent back as remittances to Latin America each year? In rough math, each of the supposedly 11 million illegal aliens sends out on average around $4000-5000 per year southward. Perhaps we could tax remittances to fund their health care? Something is strange about the attitude of “I must send $400-500 a month home to support my family, but now I am broke and need someone to pay for my care at the emergency room, etc.”

5. A can-do energy plan. Offer tax incentives for development of nuclear power. Promote exploitation of gas and oil reserves in, and off, the United States, as a way to transition over 20 years to next generation fuels without enriching our enemies or going broke in the process. I never understood why nuclear power for electricity and natural gas/hybrids for transportation—we could be nearly energy independent through both—were declared environmentally incorrect when dotting pristine fields, deserts, and mountain passes with ugly wind turbines, acres of solar panels, and miles of access roads was considered “green.” Does Obama really think that the truther Van Jones knows more about power production than the head of a natural gas or oil company, or the engineer of a nuclear power plant?

Now the symbolic and randomly odd suggestions:

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Riding the Back of the Tiger

November 25th, 2009 - 11:00 pm

…is what America has done since 1941. Obama wants to get off. Fine. Many of our countrymen are tired of the ride. But what makes him think that on the ground with the gnashing beast is any safer than on his back?

What Causes Wars?

I do not mean here the existential reasons for strife, brought about through pride, status, envy, honor—or even the supposed desire for riches and natural resources. But rather, less grandly, what allows those aggressions to devolve into legalized murder on a vast scale?

I ask that question, because I am not sure our President or his advisors have ever raised it. But in almost every case in the past, wars were not caused by Bush-like ‘smoke-‘em-out’ rhetoric—no more than they were prevented by “reset” button outreach or bowing to thugs or the League of Nations or the United Nations or things like the Wilsonian Cairo speech.

Usually aggression, bullying, and nationalist agendas evolve into wars—when the aggressive party is convinced it has more to gain through war than lose. And such perceptions, wrong or not, emerge when a Xerxes, a Napoleon or a Hitler are assured that their targets either cannot or will not stop them. Or, if they belatedly try to roll the dice, the resulting losses will be small in terms of what might be perceived as gain.

I am not discounting error and miscalculation. Hitler, after all, got more natural resources through purchase from the Soviet Union (a willing ally) for the Reich between late summer 1939 and June 1941 than he ever did by looting Russia between mid 1941 and 1945.

Hitler also would learn that only postfacto. By June 1941 he was convinced that given Stalin’s poor performance in the recent Finnish War, the Red Army’s so-so record in splitting up Poland in 1939, and the well known past purges of the Soviet officer corps—all collated with Stalin’s mysterious efforts to placate Hitler, and denials of the impending threat—the Soviet Union would be impotent, like Norway or France. He deemed its finish a 4-5 week cakewalk. (Remember, Hitler was also using WWI (faulty) analogies: 4 years /defeat in France vs. 2 years /victory in Russia meant 23 years later, a 6 weeks /victory in France would mean 3 weeks / triumph in Russia.

In the Arena

Take a war. Even the trivial can create dangerous impressions.

Korea? Dean Acheson’s inadvertent slip that South Korea lay outside the US protective shield, coupled with (wrong) impressions about Truman, who was on record as wanting to diminish US conventional forces (remember the ‘revolt of the admirals’?)—all that and more helped to convince the communists that the US would not or could not react to aggression, a perception almost confirmed by the time we were encircled at Pusan.

How about the weird Falkland War (‘two bald men fighting over a comb’)? Why would Argentina take on the reputation of the centuries-old British navy over a few windswept rocks?

Let us count the ways: the sinking Argentine dictators needed a nationalist distraction? They thought the new “female” Thatcher would not be so macho? They thought the withdrawal of a British minesweeper from the Falklands would mean that their invasion would be seen as a fait accompli, not as something the far away, supposedly decadent British would fight over.

Hitler could have been stopped during the Rhineland crisis, during the Anschluss, and in Czechoslavakia, given the paucity and vulnerbality of the late 1930s Panzers. But he gambled that the French and UK were far more traumatized as winners in the Great War’s killing fields than were the defeated Germans.

What is the point of this pop historicizing?

Like it or not, the fragile postwar order was largely enforced by the US and its Western allies, along with a general understanding that the ‘system’ had allowed a Russia, China, or the Gulf monarchies to thrive through maintenance of the “rules”.  We spent trillions because we thought it cheaper for us and the world than what started in 1914 and 1939. And we were largely right.

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Where Has the Thrill Gone?

November 22nd, 2009 - 9:04 pm

The Harder They Fall?

Who appointed over 40 ambassadors on the sole basis of campaign contributions, or has as many lobbyists in government as did any President in memory?  And who releases touchy news—whether increased unemployment or trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civil courts—on Friday nights, or wants his Democratically-controlled Congress to debate unpopular legislation on Saturday nights?

You see where this is going. Prophets fall harder than normal politicians. When you claim that seas recede and planets cool before your presence, and that Latin mottos, new presidential candidate seals, neo-classical victory trophies, and faux-Greek temple sets are the appropriate backdrops for Your speeches, then you raise the bar a bit high. Obama is not necessarily any more partisan than a Nixon or Reagan or Bush, only just as partisan—but when he claimed something quite different.

Add in the hope/change mantra, and a cadre of lackeys talking about tingling legs, his majesty Caesar, and apotheosis into a “god”, and our young Icarus was simply soaring too near the sun for his own fragile wax-feather wings. The problem is not just that Obama is proving Clinton-like in his Chicago hardball partisanship (cf. the trash-talk of Rahm Emanuel, Mao-admirer Anita Dunn, or the Truther Van Jones), but that his entire persona was fabricated on a touchy-feely “there is no red state, no blue state America.”

Despite Obama’s vows to restore science to its rightful place in government (I think that was his dig at George Bush’s opposition to human embryo, stem-cell research), we get superstition. Instead of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ non-partisan, depressing unemployment figures, we are instead to rely on a new unproven notion of jobs “saved” and “created”, and in nonexistent, made-up congressional districts, listed, no less, on a government recovery.gov official website. War against reason?

Remember the “reset” button promises abroad? Do we have a safer, saner relationship with Putin? Is Iran closer to disarmament? North Korea quieter? Did George Mitchell transform the Middle East? Is the “good” war still good, the “bad” one still bad? Do the Brits feel the special relationship is stronger? Maybe Sarkozy is more impressed now with America, or are the Poles and Czechs?

And do Chavez, Castro, Ortega, Morales, Zelaya, and others in Latin America feel more pressure to be democratic or less? Is one third of the planet in India and China more comfortable with the messiah Obama or with the hated Bush?

At Home

And the future? Will the country look eagerly forward to cap-and-trade taxes? The new income tax rates? Will small businesses like the caps off FICA taxable income, and health care surcharges? Perhaps the people can get behind impending “comprehensive immigration reform” (in the way we are now for “comprehensive health care”), which will de-emphasize enforcement and emphasize amnesty?

As Obama’s popularity falls, expect his own partisanship to increase, and the Chicago brass knuckles to be more evident. Obama knows that he can hope and change only until he hits 35-40% approval ratings, and is rendered shouting to half-empty audience halls and a triangulating congress.

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Palin-odes?

November 18th, 2009 - 3:24 pm

The furor

The AP supposedly hired 11 fact-checkers to discredit Ms. Palin’s memoir (Did Fox News hire 11 to question the very questionable things found in the two Obama memoirs?)

Bloggers post on Palin’s live interviews minute by minute; few, if any, opponents of Barack Obama do the same.

Every statement she makes is parsed, to prove she is ignorant or parochial—though most of her so-called lapses are the sort of things Biden and Obama are accustomed to committing weekly.

So what?

The list could go on, but two fundamental questions arise:

1)   What drives this fear and loathing?

2)   How does one, then, assess the Palin phenomenon?

Question one is easy, and we can be systematic in our exegeses:

1. Why does she create hysteria?

i). Feminists are enraged that her can-do, have a Down’s Syndrome child in her 40s, shoot-moose persona will be used as a paradigm of a liberated women. She is quite attractive, fertile, and married to a Jack-Armstrong 19th-century man.

Her success as an independent female, who was an up-from-the-bootstraps small-town council member, mayor, state regulator and governor, is antithetical to doctrinaire feminism. The latter devolved into a political and grievance-based creed. It is often whiny, and increasingly dominated by single, childless shrill elites. Many try to equate their own unhappiness in matters of family and sex into some sort of cosmic complaint against male patriarchy—as a way of leveraging influence, access, money, and power or simply justifying now regrettable life choices made in their 20’s and 30’s.

Feminism is not about ensuring that Dorothy at K-Mart is not fired because she is female. It is more about an upper-middle-class Dedi Wilson-Reynolds getting to the top of the university food chain, law firm, or government bureaucracy, on the assumption that her gender deserves compensation, in the manner of being non-white or foreign-born or non-Christian.

In such a climate, here comes snazzy, breezy, winking Sarah—happy, good-looking, a mom, and in no need of a rich husband or well-connected dad (in the manner of her critics like a Andrea Mitchell, Sally Quinn, Nancy Pelosi, etc). She inherently exposes feminism as a liberal advocacy movement rather than a bipartisan effort to ensure equal opportunity for women in the workplace and society at large.

ii). Liberal elites are, well, deemed elites because they predicate their stature on things such as where they went to school, where they live, how much money they have access to, where their children attend university, and whom they know—all done in a sort of understated, coded fashion. The best snobbery is the least stated.

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Thoughts from the Later Republic

November 14th, 2009 - 9:24 pm

Contrast recent media coverage:

The furor over Dick Cheney’s past severed involvement with Halliburton—the meowing over Bush-critic, liberal icon, ex-diplomat Peter Galbraith’s present, ongoing conflict-of-interest as profiteer and pundit/advisor involving a multimillion-dollar oil scam in Kurdistan.

The son of share-the-wealth John K. Galbraith, Galbraith Minor barnstormed the air waves in the dark days of Iraq, in solemn tones predicting the end of Iraq, why Iraq must be trisected (e.g., giving the Kurds an independent country), and in general (in two books) predicting the end of constitutional Iraq. He ritually was slamming Bush, predicting ruin—all at a time when the the U.S. was trying to reassure the Iraqis we supported the territorial integrity of their country and would not abandon them. Ok, fine, well and good, it’s a free country, and pessimism is sometimes warranted.

But now we learn that a possible pay-off for opposing US policy of Iraqi unity was a stake in a Kurdish oil field worth, according to some reports, a potential $100 million. (When did stone-faced diplomats and finger-in-the-wind pundits turn into Texas-style oil tycoons or Russian oilocrats?) Why did not Galbraith from the very beginning disclose his financial interests so that his readers, other diplomats, and those who consulted him might factor his profits into his prognoses?

(And what is it with these liberal utopians and money? Do they think their sniff/sniff, aristocratic disdain for a dirty coin allows them to pile them away in the basement—couldn’t Al Gore have made, to use a liberal trope, $10 million rather than a $100 million out of scaring the daylights out of Western suburban society? I think we are in the age of the solely symbolic: you buy the gas-guzzling Volvo SUV, but put an “Impeach Bush!” sticker on the back, or put a few solar panels on the roof tiles over the 10,000 square foot addition).

For all of Galbraith’s sermonizing about the Bush disaster, the hopelessness in Iraq, etc., I think the only major politician to buy into his “divide Iraq into threes, give Kurdistan its autonomy, and me an interest in an oilfield” line was, yes, Joe Biden.

Remember, after Biden was swearing that we should trisect Iraq, Obama inexplicably sent the VP over there to reassure the Iraqis of our commitment to their unity, sovereignty, and future (sort of like having Timothy Geithner oversee tax policy at Treasury or a Charles Rangel at Ways and Means).

The furor over the inept federal response to Katrina—the quiet about the current mess with the federal government’s current swine flu vaccine.

I don’t quite know to what degree, if at all, yet the federal government is culpable for the vaccine shortage, or why it was solely culpable for the Katrina mess, given that Mississippi’s local and state response averted the sort of social chaos we saw in New Orleans under its mayor and the Louisiana governor.

I do know that had Bush been President during the current vaccine furor, and had Obama presided during Katrina—well, you can again fill in the blanks. (I just talked to two doctors who said the inability to get swine flu vaccine for staff, pregnant women, etc. was quite astounding, given the promised delivery dates).

The hysteria over the decisive decision to surge in 2006-7—the “reasoned” debate over the dithering over the Afghan surge.

Where are the “General Betray Us” ads, offered at a reduced rate in the New York Times? Are we going to see an entire subculture—Michael Moore, novels, docu-dramas, comedians, etc.—slamming Obama on the war? Or, in contrast, an entire populist, in the streets, protest over Obama voting “present” while he goes to Copenhagen instead of meeting with Gen. McChrystal? Cannot the media see that the surge in Iraq—little public support, defections in Bush’s own party, a hostile media, demagoguery from the left, campaign distortions by the likes of Obama himself—was the far harder call than granting a troop request in Afghanistan? Why was Bush’s tough call “doomed” in a “lost” war, while Obama’s “present” vote is seen as sober and judicious?

The hype about the false story that Palin faked her pregnancy—the enforced quiet about the real story of John Edwards’ illegitimate child.

Did Edwards’ get a pass for fathering a child while criss-crossing the country, relating his familial solidarity stories about his cancer-stricken wife, tugging on our heart-strings as the dutiful husband in crisis, while diverting campaign monies to a gold-digger?

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Is Fort Hood Really a “Tragedy?”

November 11th, 2009 - 12:51 pm

Something has gone terribly wrong in the entire reaction to the Ft. Hood massacres, as evidenced by the media, the administration, the military authorities, and perhaps the public at large. There seems almost a dreamy disconnect from  the terrible fate of the slain—as if we are innately impotent to stop such mayhem, or are above the fray and so like Platonic Guardians must remain deep in contemplation about how in theory we can persuade the Hasans to cease and desist—as if our therapeutic stance in the first place did not encourage and embolden such monsters to act.

Not a “tragedy”

So I am tired of the use of the word “tragedy”—the Greeks’ original invention that grew out of a “goat song”. True, it has come to mean “calamity”, but tragedy’s essence is a central character, flawed rather than inherently evil, at war with, and at the mercy of, larger, immovable forces like fate, destiny, and the gods that overwhelm an Oedipus or Ajax—through a fatal flaw, hubris, or happenstance. The horrific resulting collision can bring education and even entertainment to an audience— Aeschylus’s “learning through pain.”

Sorry, Major Hasan just doesn’t rate. He was not a “tragic” figure, just a tawdry murderous killer, who in premeditated fashion bought guns, planned his killings, and tried to locate his personal failings within some sort jihadist war against the West. Our slain soldiers were the result of an evil act, a one-sided horror story, not a collision of human and divine wills.

Enough of ‘Why did he do it?’

I am also tired of the asinine questioning, “Why did he do this?”—as if we are to be perplexed that Hasan the deep philosopher inexplicably committed mayhem. We have reached real Bathos, when talking heads ponder whether trying to contact al Qaeda is really that bad, or whether yelling “Allahu Akbar” as one blows apart human flesh is really an act connected to radical Islam.

(By the way, do we really, in the style of Mohammed Atta’s father, need another pathetic interview beamed from the Middle East with the aggrieved relative, who swears on television that his progeny could not have possibly done the crime? And do we need another Western “thinker” writing that our armed forces attacking suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban in Predator strikes is the equivalent of Hasan shooting uniformed soldiers—as if those in uniform of a democratic state, training for or in war, are the same as those out of uniform committed to theocratic absolutism through the deliberate killing of civilians or the unarmed? If we kill the non-combatant in Waziristan, it is through error mostly brought on by the deliberate terrorists’ use of “shields”; if Hasan does, it is by intent; those at Fort Dix are enlisted in a cause of freedom and consensual government; Hasan in his hour of carnage enlisted in a 7th-century cause to extinguish it.)

Motives

The evidence is pretty clear. 1) Hasan did not want either to leave the army and pay back the cost of his education loans, or stay in and deploy to a war theater that was heating up; so (2) he sought a desperate solution to both dilemmas, one that might elevate his tiny psychodramas into some sort of cosmic “meaning” through mass murdering in cowardly fashion.

(I say cowardly since his victims were (a) trapped in a confined place, (b) unarmed, (c) unaware and unsuspecting of a fellow officer—the only constraints on his death toll were the mechanics of adding additional clips until police arrived.)

That is not to say Hasan did not “believe.” He most surely did see the West as pathological, and the never-never-land of 7th Islam as paradise, one obtainable should Hasan, as others have, martyr himself for the cause.

The murderer as hero

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What If?—Mr. President

November 8th, 2009 - 10:49 pm

Not in good form

Based on a few of President Obama’s statements, this was not a particularly good week for the administration. In a disturbing pattern, we are beginning to learn far more about Obama in his impromptu moments, in periods of national crisis, or in off-the-record reported bantering, than in his set teleprompted speeches. Consider some of the things the President said the past week—and then imagine what he might have said.

A little more spirit, a little less cool

In his reaction to the horror at Fort Hood, Obama, in detached fashion, urged Americans not to rush to judgment about the motives of the killer Major Nidal Malik Hasan—despite immediate reports that Hasan had screamed out “Allahu Akabar,” as well as been known to post on the Internet inflammatory anti-American, and radical Islamic messages. Each day more incriminating information is released about a clear past record of inflammatory hate speech directed at the U.S. military.

What if the President had said something quite different?—something a little bit more angry like, “All Americans have had it with these mass murderers, whether formal terrorist plotters or individual assassins. I promise you we will find out what motivates a Major Hasan—and do my best to ensure that there are no more Major Hasans in our future.”

We are not asking Obama to rush to judgment before the facts are in (e.g., in the manner of the Professor Gates mess, in which he, in Pavlovian fashion, immediately condemned the Cambridge police as acting “stupidly” through stereotyped racial profiling)—only that he express some sort of visceral outrage at this serial killing of innocent Americans.

Dumb analogies

President Obama also reportedly gave a pep talk to Democratic legislators on the eve of last Saturday night’s successful passage of the House version of his government medical plan. According to Rep. Robert Andrews, D-NJ, Obama at this juncture referenced the Fort Hood massacres. His “remarks put in perspective that the hardships soldiers endure for the country are ‘what sacrifice really is,’ as opposed to ‘casting a vote that might lose an election for you.’” (This from a politician who voted “present” for political reasons as a matter of habit, and compiled the most partisan voting record in the U.S. Senate.)

And according to Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, President Obama also quipped, “Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care? All it will do is confuse and dispirit.” … “and it will encourage the extremists.”

Surely the President has learned that “tea-bag” has become a derogatory sexual slur, used by those on the Left to deride any who attend the so-called Tea-parties—the vast majority of whom are neither “extremists” nor  intrinsically “anti-government people.”

Instead of all this, what if the President of the United States had not called for a Saturday night vote on health care, in which he used the outrage over the Fort Hood horror to win back wavering votes, while slurring his enemies. What if instead he had said something like, “Let’s have the debate and vote take place in prime afternoon time, to encourage the American people to follow the proceedings. And let us conduct the entire process without calling each other names.

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Fort Hood—A now familiar horror

November 5th, 2009 - 10:12 pm

News accounts are spotty; emotions run high; reliable information is rare; rumor abounds. Nevertheless, what are we to make of Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan’s horrific rampage at Ft. Hood, Texas, where in cold-blooded fashion he murdered 12, and wounded at least 31?

I think on the one hand we will see the familiar therapeutic exegesis, in which we hear of traumatic stress syndrome, justified and principled opposition to the Iraq and Afghan wars, generic mental illness, anger at being deployed overseas, or maltreatment from fellow soldiers due to his Muslim faith and various other efforts to “contextualize” the violence. (I am watching Major Hasan’s cousin on the news right now  [I think], on spec, explain that the otherwise normal killer was a victim of bias and was ill at ease with firearms (after shooting over 40 victims and surviving the carnage). I cannot imagine the trauma of family members of the dead hearing such sentiments aired, or knowing that the killer apparently had voiced prior  extremist sympathies.

On the other hand, one could instead see Hasan in a long line of killers and would-be murderers of the last decade that in some loose way express an Islamic anger at either American culture or the United States government or both, as a way of elevating their own sense of failure into some sort of legitimate cosmic jihad.

Prior to 2009, there have been at least 20 terrorist plots broken up after September 11, 2001—aimed at subways, malls, military bases, airports, bridges, and synagogues. Those foiled cabals are in addition to more common scattered murdering by freelancing angry killers, who in some very general way either evoked radical Islam, their own faith, the Palestinian cause, al-Qaedistic Islamism, or solidarity with worldwide Islam (from the Beltway sniper to the UNC and the San Francisco car murderers), and a number of lethal attacks on Jewish centers and temples resulting in numerous deaths (from the LAX attacks to the San Francisco and Seattle shootings).

In 2002, long ago, I wrote an article in which I called this al Qaedism and updated it with more recent examples in 2007.

In this year alone, aside from the recent mass murdering at Ft. Hood,  there have been four more terrorist plots uncovered. Colorado resident Najibullah Zazi  was recently indicted for conspiring to use explosives in the U.S., apparently as part of a plot to let off a bomb in New York on the anniversary of 9/11. In addition, North Carolina residents Daniel Patrick Boyd and Hysen Sherifi were arrested and charged with conspiring to murder U.S. military personnel at Quantico, Virginia. In Texas, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi—a 19-year-old Jordanian citizen who was in the U.S. illegally—was arrested and charged after he placed a would-be bomb near Fountain Place, a 60-story office tower in downtown Dallas.

Most recently in Boston, a Massachusetts man was arrested in connection with terrorist plots that included attacks on U.S. shopping malls and on two White House officials. Tarek Mehanna, 27, of Sudbury, Mass, was charged with plotting with other terrorists from 2001 to May 2008 to carry out overseas and domestic terrorist attacks— including killing shoppers and first responders at malls.

While there is sometimes  talk of backlash and anti-Muslim hysteria since 9/11, I don’t think the number of Muslims attacked or killed is comparable to the number of non-Muslims killed by Muslims who evoked Islam in some way as a catalyst for their angers. Nor do we see comparable serial Christian, Hindu, or Jewish-inspired attacks either against mosques and Muslims or the policies of the United States government, either by single actors or more active and organized plotters. I do not quite then understand our official government statements that “the attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has (sic) led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.” In theory this sounds magnanimous and serious. In fact, I would like to see  examples of “some” and serial incidents where very many Americans out of unwarranted furor have helped breed “fear and mistrust”.

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The Discreet Charm of the Left-wing Plutocracy

November 3rd, 2009 - 5:36 pm

Gorism

The news of this week made mention of Al Gore as our soon-to-be, first carbon billionaire. Accounts included both his earlier and contemporary angry denials that he was greedy, or had used his vast network of government contacts to influence public loans, contracts, and regulations, in parlaying a 2001 net worth of $2 million apparently into a green empire of several hundred million.

In Gore’s telling, he was worried only about the planet, put meager investments into promising green companies, and then, given divine intervention, found himself worth perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars.

Still, I’m not so interested in how Gore made his fortune, or even the ethics involved of barnstorming the planet in a first wave of scare tactics, then following up with a second wave of financial reaping from what his fear mongering had sown—but rather instead the divide between the world he advocates and the life he lives. After all, with cap-and-trade, our energy is going to go a tad higher—the rich oblivious to the cost, the poor to be recipients of government subsidized help.

To distill Gorism is to live in a 1,000 sq. ft. solar house, bike to work, and take the train on long distances; but to promote Gorism, one lives in a mansion, jets on private planes, and is chauffeured from airport to conference center—a rather heavy carbon footprint indeed. I mention that because this week he has insisted that he only invested in what he believes in and is thus not a hypocrite—sort of like a 1990s Fannie or Freddie director saying he is only taking mega-bonuses because he believes in public support for housing.

A Charming disconnect

What has the liberal  leadership become? It garners more Wall Street money than the Republicans. The high-income brackets favored Obama. The shriller the populist or nihilist—think everyone from Arianna Huffington to Michael Moore to Noam Chomsky to Gore Vidal—the nicer the home. Think of the vast diversity of such celebrity hypocrisy: John Edward’s “two nations” is defined by his own vast estate—and those outside it. Michael Moore profits in the millions from, of course, damning profit-driven capitalism.

A Sean Penn or Oliver Stone praises the egalitarianism of Latin American thugs whose socialist utopias would jail both in short order if they ever moved in pursuance of their egalitarian rhetoric. The Obama populist team hires Wall Street insiders to bail out friends, whose firms they will shortly join when out of office.

Rev. Wright is back in the news. In Animal Farm, pigs-on-two-legs fashion he is sermonizing on the joys of socialism as he is ensconced in a three-story, 10,000 sq. ft. mansion, paid for by his relatively modest flock in thanks to his virulent race-baiting (the real story of his Fox-news-aired clips was not his racism or anti-Americanism, but the standing ovations he received from his congregation for his unadulterated hate.). A Nancy Pelosi shouts slogans from the barricades, while her husband subsidizes her aristocratic liberalism through a network of arcane deal-making. Chris Dodd worries about the roguery of credit card companies while he finagles an Irish getaway “cottage” through influence peddling. The list could go on.

More than hypocrisy

But everyone is a hypocrite, you object? Again, the mystery is not liberal hypocrisy—as I have written, after all, pompadour-haired, leisure-suited evangelical preachers are regularly caught in flagrante delicto or up-from-the-bootstraps corporate farmers garner vast federal ag. subsidies—but rather the apparent unconcern that revolutionary populism and the desire for great wealth and the elitism it bestows don’t mix.

What are we to make of the George Soroses and Warren Buffetts and the club of the mega wealthy preferring the populist rhetoric of Barack Obama? Why did a “redistributive change”, “spread the wealth” Barack Obama move into a million-dollar mansion, or a “truth to power” Valerie Jarrett make out like a bandit from questionable insider Chicago real estate deals, or Rahm Emanuel cash grab as a director of a scandal-plagued Freddie Mac, or raise-our-taxes Timothy Geithner in the most tawdry fashion avoid taxes?  In short, why  the liberal fascination with money and privilege—and populism?

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