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Monthly Archives: July 2010

In the last 48 hours almost everything that can be said about illegal immigration has been said. But I am more interested in a few truths that are never quite spoken.

1) Why the Sense of Exemption?
Why and how exactly do the supporters of illegal immigration justify massive disobedience of federal law? I suspect the answer is predicated in large part on the source of illegal immigration — that if it were a question of a half-million entering illegal Rwandans or Balkan peoples each year, the issue would have remained strictly a matter of legality.

I posed a hypothetical once to a Mexican consular official in a public debate, framing the request by inquiring whether he thought there would be anything wrong, say, with freighters coming ashore on the California coast, and unloading 1-2,000 Chinese nationals on average each day — few of whom would be legal, English-speaking, or with high-school diplomas.

He seemed shocked, outraged even — more so, when I added that Chinese-language facilities would be soon mandated within public services, and a sort of Chinese cultural appreciation movement would be embedded within the schools to help encourage and invigorate illegal Chinese immigrants in their own personal odysseys within California.

My own puzzlement lasted mere seconds, since the consul quickly cited Mexico’s historical affinity with, and indeed (emotional, linguistic, legal?) claims upon, the southwestern United States. Presto — here arose the unspoken assumption of the advocates of open borders (or at least of those who feel that illegal aliens should be exempt from federal immigration statutes): historical grievances have made enforcement of the law rather debatable, given that sovereignty, national borders, and the notion of a definable America altogether are “problematic.”

2) The Great Paradox. Also not mentioned is another contradiction that goes to the very heart of illegal immigration, multiculturalism, and assimilation: millions risk their lives to opt for a different paradigm (whether that is primarily economic, cultural, political, or social, as the particular case may be) that entails a sort of rejection of Mexico and acceptance of its antithesis in America.

In other words, millions (as in the case of immigration everywhere) are willing to cast aside cultural, linguistic, ethnic, familial, and tribal ties for something quite different across the border. That said, why then would not both immigrant and the host facilitate and amplify that choice by insisting on English, assimilation, and immersion within the mutually preferred host culture?

Americans are increasingly confused by the tone of the debate, in which self-appointed spokesmen for illegal aliens and indeed, on occasion, illegal aliens themselves seem so critical of policies embraced by 70% of the American populace of all classes and races that they so eagerly wish to join. In cases of the May Day parades, why would alien demonstrators appear so critical of the country (or at least its law) that they so desperately wish to stay in, and so fond and romantic about the country that they so desperately wish to leave? It all makes little or no sense, other than the emotional anger at the paradox of wanting to be in a lawful America without being lawful. Even if the Mexican flag is a symbol of ethnic solidarity, in the manner of the Italian flag for a few East Coast communities, it nevertheless conveys the message of romance for a nation that by all accounts has treated its own quite poorly. And when we get to the purported racialist charges against supporters of closed borders, it all becomes Orwellian, given that Mexico’s ruling elite is as about as racist a government as one can imagine — a Spanish heritage aristocracy glad to see its own indigenous peoples fleeing northward while charging their receptive host with racism.

3) The Distortions of Affirmative Action. I do not understand how mere transit across the border enables the illegal alien to plug into the industry of affirmative action. And, yes, that happens sometimes in the first, more often in the second generation. Someone born, raised, and living in Mexico can cross illegally into the U.S., have a child, and, ipso facto, that child is entitled to a sort of historical reparation or, perhaps, is seen as a beneficiary of “diversity” programs.

All this is predicated on the unspoken assumption that by virtue of Mexican ancestry the current alien has encountered more discrimination or adversity in a few years of the new millennium than say the Arab- or Punjabi- or Armenian-American immigrant of long duration. This is as absurd as it is an ignored consideration.

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From Rev. Wright to the Sherrod Affair

July 26th, 2010 - 9:38 am

I’ve been incommunicado on vacation during the Shirley Sherrod matter, and just reentered the depressing world of the 24-hour news cycle. Before the latest spat, I wrote a column last week that racial relations had soured. So I wasn’t surprised when I was catching up today on last week’s furor.

Here are some random suggestions to outraged liberals how to cool off the right-wing talk radio/Fox News/ Andrew Breitbart nexus: simply advise the administration not to talk about racial identity being essential rather than incidental to one’s essence. Does anyone grasp that this obsession with racial identity in an increasingly multiracial society is outright insanity, both politically and culturally? It is not as if we should be so bored with war, recession, national security leaks, and a world on the brink to turn to race relations.

Let me go back a few months, and elaborate how we got here in just 18 months to national hysteria that now breaks out at any given moment over any given otherwise minor incident.

1) Rev. Wright Was No Niebuhr. No one put a gun to Rev. Wright’s head when he went off on Italians, Jews, and whites in a spate of 19th-century racial quackery. What was unusual about the Wright buffoonery was not just his street-corner venom (a 7 on the Farrakhan and old Al Sharpton scale), but two little remarked on phenomena. One, the Trinity Church congregation in the video background seemed to give him a standing ovation at his most hateful moments — and it shocked America that such a villain could find so many willing listeners. And in both his book, The Audacity of Hope, and in the pre-public discovery of Wright, the would-be president of the United States had seemed to think Wright was not only a spiritual font, but some sort of modernist philosopher, an undiscovered Chicago Niebuhr of sorts. That was the issue — that the hateful Wright was winning audiences and influential devotees and well may have continued to do so before his exposure — not just the Hannity/Beck hype every night.

2) Van Jones Is Always Back. He popped up as perennial victim to piggyback on the Sherrod matter in the New York Times. We have had a few months of peace from Jones, and it could hardly continue. He has now evolved into a bespectacled Ivy-League version of Al Sharpton. Please spare us the wounded fawn routine about how his truther signature misrepresented his views and how he was Becked over his once overtly stated communist sympathies. Van Jones was not a victim of racial demagoguery, but a political embarrassment for the sort of student lounge bombast that this middle-class opportunist had previously found conducive to his career. Suggesting that whites have a greater propensity for steering poison into the black community, or declaring that only white kids shoot up schools, was a sort of shtick that had in the past won attention. Jones’ ensuing problem was the well known paradox of controversy getting you to the notice of an administration while ensuring you can’t really serve. How odd that a veritable racialist like Jones has now achieved a sort of iconic status through public humiliation that was never possible by virtue of anything of importance he actually accomplished.

3) From “Cowards” to “Wise Latina” — We Get it Already. Had Eric Holder not accused the nation of being cowards, had the president not appealed to voters in a recent video on the basis of race, had the president not intervened to stereotype the police in a minor matter at Harvard, had the Supreme Court justice not suggested racial background can make a better judge, had both the attorney general and the president not implied, before reading the bill, that 70% of Arizonans were intent on racially stereotyping, we would not quite be where we are — in which a bankrupt country in the middle of two wars is obsessed over the NAACP calling the tea party veritable racists and the dropping of charges against a fringe crack-pot group like the New Black Panther Party.

I say “quite,” because Mr. Obama’s campaign itself had always been characterized by one too many racial Macaca moments to suggest that the media image of a healer was quite right — from Rev. Wright, to typical white person, to the clingers of Pennsylvania, to Michelle’s various editorials on a downright mean country to never been before proud, etc. I realize to review this well-trodden ground is to earn a bullseye on the left-wing NY-DC list or its successor to come, but the truth is that the administration deliberately gambled that by playing identity politics they could galvanize the base vote (it worked when over 95% of African-Americans voted along racial lines) without offending centrist devotees. But they did not quite comprehend the ugly nature of the genie they had unleashed. And now we are reduced to suicidal calls from the left to appoint more administration officials solely on the basis of race, and to become even more overt in racial referencing.

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Pity the Postmodern Cultural Elite

July 18th, 2010 - 5:34 pm

I think most of our problems transcend politics, which is increasingly a reflection of an elite, insider culture that is completely at odds with the majority of the country that it oversees.

So what is a cultural elite?

It is a sloppy term that might include the academic class in the university that educates our children in college. The upper echelons that run government departments constitute part of this cultural elite. So does an entertainment cadre that oversees television and Hollywood. Corporate managers are elites as well.

There is no racial, regional, religious, or tribal commonality. One shared allegiance perhaps is to higher education that certifies the cultural elite by diplomas of all sorts from a “good school,” as well as a respectable salary and a nice home with appurtenances. The good life of the elite is defined by both the absence of worry about necessities, and a certain status that accrues from properly recognized advanced education and sensitivity.

How would we characterize the new aristocracy? In a number of ways.

1) Untruth. One requisite to being a cultural elite, unfortunately, is a certain allegiance to untruth, to saying one thing and doing another. Consider the manifestations of falsity from ecology to race. Often exempt from worry over a weekly check, and distanced from the mechanics of how things work, the elite clamors for a green cap-and-trade revolution. It rejects compromise with a fossil fuel near future that would transition us in a half-century or so to renewable energy.

That said, it is hard to find cultural elites who live green lives. Most use their money at times to fly on jets or boat (like the president this weekend). As in the manner of the tastes of a John Edwards or Al Gore, the bigger and more impressive the home, the better to contemplate how lesser others use too much carbon-based power. Usually green sacrifice is to be made by coal miners, oil drillers, and timber men of politically incorrect industries — the distant horny-handed classes whose unmentioned work brings us instant convenience.

On matters racial, it gets complicated since advocacy is one thing, living another. The cultural elite use “pull” to get their kids into college, money to live in a “good” neighborhood, and “networking” to marry and “place” like others from a good background. All that remains unspoken and rarely articulated. Why so? Because otherwise the logical ramifications of such a liberal belief system would be to live in the San Jose or Fresno mixed suburbs, to have their children school with the “other” at Cal State Stanislaus or Indiana State, and to marry their children to Rick Lopez or Tyrone Hiller to encourage “diversity.”

In short, money, privilege, and status create in the cultural elite both a fear of mixing it up with others that might jeopardize position and placement, and yet guilt for that very sense of entitlement and exemption. All that, in turn, only heightens the shrill and sanctimonious rhetorical demands on less blessed others to prove their morality.

Barack Obama was a genius in recognizing all this, and at a very early age no less. The subtext of Dreams from My Father, and indeed Obama’s life from 18 to 45, was to allay elite fears, guilt, and suspicions. And by proving to be a calm, charismatic, minority wannabe fellow elite — who could ipso facto offer instant penance for rather isolated and shamed cultural elite s— Obama in return grasped that the rules simply would not apply to him (elites having few real unchanging principles and values): graduate admission without commensurate grades and test scores (their release to the public could in theory prove my hypothesis wrong), law review without a paper trail, teaching and offers of tenure at law schools without normal publication, community organizing without worry of tangible results, running for office without repercussions from tawdry attacks ranging from suing to invalidate petitions to leaking divorce records.

2) Nature. The cultural elite class tends to romanticize nature, since it has little contact with it. Energy Secretary Steven Chu cheaply announces that California farms will dry up and blow away, with no clue how the tomatoes in his salad or the lamb chops on his plate are grown, cleaned, shipped — and land in his mouth.

The elite like big hiking boots and four-wheel-drive SUVs that can go anywhere, and — once that is exhibited — usually stick to the hallways and freeways. The further the distance from nature, the greater the desire to experience it vicariously, symbolically, or representationally. The more we don’t clean and eat the fish we catch, the more we don’t know an apple from a cherry tree, so the more we idolize something like a three-inch Delta smelt and shut down 500,000 acres of icky distant irrigated land to ensure the minnow-like, but beloved, fish has enough oxygenated water in the California delta.

I think that instead of SAT camp or a summer tutorial in estuary biophysics, it would be far better to assign Jason to apprentice with Mott’s septic service or Wright’s tree-trimming. All during the BP mess, I tuned out the Steven Chus and Barack Obamas, and instead wondered what sort of people can weld, or lift, or hammer these massive derricks, casings, drills into place, and what will it take from them to plug the leak thousands of feet below? We just assumed that once the proper strategy was finally formulated, its implementation was assured. But any military historian knows that even the greatest generals sometimes failed for the lack of one brilliant major or lieutenant to take a hill or calm a shaky brigade and so reify a good plan.

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A Ten-Step Reset Regimen for the President

July 14th, 2010 - 4:33 pm

I offer a ten-step healing program for our president in the spirit of our therapeutic age.

I am trying to be disinterested here, with no particular interest in what follows of either seeing his recovery in the polls, or even watching them sink further. My aim is only to point out how and why he is turning off thousands by the day.

1) Impose a moratorium on all the racial talk. After the beer summit, the “stupidly,” the “stereotyping,” the “cowards,” the Van Jones rants, the “wise Latina,” the suing Arizona, the exempting the Black Panthers, the al-Qaeda-as-racists (e.g., nine years after 9/11 we at last have a reason to really hate these terrorists), etc., we get the message that race permeates the presidential worldview — and that all issues, from those of terrorism to policing to immigration to the environment, are seen largely through racial us/them lenses. This obsession has turned off an increasing multi-racial nation, and is reaching the point of caricature. Take a deep breath, Mr. President, and promise to go through one day without self-referencing yourself as black, without speaking to an identity-politics group, and without reviewing the American past in terms of race. Just one day …

2) I’d quit the golf for a while — and for two reasons. The left made the argument that golf is an aristocratic waste of time, our version of upper-class fox-hunting, as a perquisite to the narrative of a carefree Bush — alligator shirt, shades, bright slacks, colorful cap, swanky loafers — on the links while the country was mired in crises. OK, we got that message. And so now, fairly or not, a polo-shirted Obama putting around amid the spill, two wars, and depression-like economics seems, well, narcissistic and self-indulgent. And whereas Bush quit teeing off, Obama won’t, and has already trumped in 18 months his predecessor’s aggregate links outings. Will we hear a “Bush did it” on golf too — as if the evil W. cleverly created a paradigm in which presidents are now forced to play golf when they should not? Try bowling instead.

3) Don’t make any more appointments. Simply quit while you’re behind. These offices are better left unfilled. After Van Jones, Anita Dunn, Steven Chu, Hilda Solis, Eric Holder, Charles Bowden, and Donald Berwick, we got the message already: Illegal immigration is OK; farming is not. We are all racial cowards and should feel bad; Muslims in contrast should be made to feel good. Redistribution is good — Mao was even better; and George Bush was in on 9/11. In short, Obama is incapable of not appointing someone who is both hard left and unhinged in his expression of such ideology. It would be safer simply not to plant these figurative liberal land mines, since they will all inevitably go off at one time or another. Empty seats are better than empty suits.

4) With all due respect and in complete candor, I would not send Michelle Obama out anymore. After the “downright mean country,” “never been proud of my country before,” and “raise the bar” tropes of the campaign, we thought she would, as did past first ladies, speak about literacy, or her own interest in curbing childhood obesity. But now she’s been unfettered twice on the political circuit: once to speak on behalf of Sonia Sotomayor when she immediately went into a “poor me” riff on how hard it is to go to Princeton on a full ride (“And for me, the voices came from people who at first told me, ‘Don’t bother applying to Princeton, not a school like that,’ because they said I’d never get in. Then when I got in, they told me not to go because I wouldn’t be able to compete against students who would be more prepared. And then when I decided to attend, they told me that I shouldn’t go to a school so far away from home because I would have a hard time making friends; I would feel out of place and I wouldn’t make it through. Voices of people sowing seeds of doubt in my head.”). And now she revs up the NAACP on the eve of its slander against the tea party movement. Fairly or not, the image of the first lady is of someone who vents deep-seated anger, partly over her own unease that she has not quite earned her laurels, partly as a way to enhance career advancement. In short, if one were worried about the president’s tendencies to blame others, sending Michelle out is homeopathic quackery.

5) Just do not mention America in the abstract anymore. After 18 months, we know that the president simply cannot reference our founding without a “but.” He seems to have forgotten that 600,000 killed each other or died 150 years ago over slavery. The Argonne, Okinawa, and Inchon are not in his lexicon. Nor is the greatest economy and defender of freedom in civilization’s history. Edison, Bell, the Wright Brothers — they might as well be Martians. If it is a question — and it sadly always is — between evoking America as dropper of atomic bombs, genocidal hegemon, enslaver, racist, anti-Muslim, etc., and not evoking America at all, then please stay quiet. Our grandmothers tried to teach us: “If you can’t say something occasionally nice, then don’t say anything at all.” He should heed that. A simple truth that we all learned in kindergarten escaped Barack Obama: America’s sins are simply those of all humankind; but only in America is the sprit of self-critique and collective betterment such that we daily strive to address and solve our innately human shortcomings rather than accept them or give into them. Instead, Obama seems to have been taught that if America alone is not perfect, then it is essentially not very good. Millions of us wince now when the president starts in on the U.S. in the abstract, since we know anything positive will always be qualified by “nevertheless,” “however,” “yet,” and “but.”

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Our Year 2 A.B.

July 11th, 2010 - 10:38 am

Free at Last

For any of those who went into a coma around January of last year and just woke up, let me explain this new era after Bush (A.B.), variously known as “this is our moment,” “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” and the era when the “planet healed” and the seas “receded.”

In sum, in the year 2 AB, your fossilized world thankfully no longer quite exists. Global warming is “climate change” and its data is “interpreted” rather than blindly “followed.” Natural calamities like the old Katrina hurricane were really man-caused disasters; and man-caused disasters like the new BP spill and the federal reaction to it were really unpreventable natural disasters. Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Al Gore are men-of-the-people feminists who need comfort, not tawdry womanizing mansion-aficionados.

“Greatest achievement”

Iraq is no longer “lost,” but the greatest achievement of the Obama administration. Somehow its messy politics are proof of real democracy. Indeed, at last our influential intellectuals can talk of real “politics” going on in Baghdad.

Surging is now good. So is the architect of that policy, Gen. Petraeus. If any Republicans were now to suggest in a confirmation hearing that the Afghan ground commander “punted” on the truth, or that his testimony “required a suspension of disbelief,” or that Afghanistan should be trisected, well, he would be rightly castigated as a subversive, rather than praised as “patriotic.” Partisanship now stops at the shoreline.

The IED is on page 18 where it belongs; the discounted General Betray Us ads at the New York Times are filed away.

“Closed” is a state of mind

Guantanamo Bay virtually closed; only the Republican Congress prevented it from really being closed in the archaic sense of actually being still open. Wanting to do something is far more important than mundanely doing it.

Predator targeted assassinations are as necessary and humane as three waterboarding incidents were not. I know that because Ivy League law deans are silent about, or have signed off on, the current targeted assassinations. After all, would you rather have water illegally poured down your throat, or legally be vaporized as if hit by lightning? We are not killing “terrorists” or “Islamists” in Waziristan; instead our “overseas contingency operations” are aimed at reminding Muslims that their own past contributions to science have led to breakthroughs like Hellfire missiles.

No enemies, plenty of friends

No longer need we arbitrarily dub an Ahmadinejad, Assad, or a Chavez as “hostile” or a Colombia, India, Israel, Poland, or the Czech Republic intrinsically an “ally.” Easy labels are gone; sophisticated reset analysis is back — about what we would expect when we drop the nonsense about being “exceptional” and instead contextualize to the world our own past sins from slavery to genocide to dropping the atomic bombs.

No one now falls for “neocon” propaganda, so we wisely keep mum about Iranian protestors and their supposed “democracy” or Honduras justices and their talk of “constitutional government” — at least when authentic progressive leaders are in jeopardy from reactionary capitalists. After all, why wait 234 years for a revolutionary American president, and then when we finally get him, waste that historical occasion by not bonding with other revolutionary leaders?

The people’s “law”

In the last two years, we have evolved also beyond the old Neanderthal notion of the “law,” as if it were some moral notion engraved on stone tablets that “deserves” our “adherence.” How quaint is that?

Instead, a higher moral calling now adjudicates legal obedience. Immigration law is a construct that at times can or cannot be followed, depending on the plight of those affected. Voting fraud is really a race and class issue: one man’s “fraud” is another man’s “activism.” Big polluters can be invited to contribute billions to remedy their errors — and, lo and behold, they most certainly will if asked properly! Contracts? What contracts?

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The Ministries of Truth Weigh In

July 7th, 2010 - 9:29 am

The Hope and Change Edicts

What are we to make of our current NASA chief, the distinguished retired Marine Corps major general and astronaut, Charles Bolden, who, in an interview with al Jazeera, listed a “foremost” NASA objective as finding “a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”?

All of this, Bolden adds, expands the Obama “Cairo initiative,” those lofty revisionisms that the president offered to the Muslim world last summer in Cairo.

Surely, there is some mistake? Did a right-wing satirist hijack the transcript and insert “to help them feel good”?

Parody?

OK—if it is a correct transcription, here are four or five off-the-top-of-the-head problems with this nonsense:

1) NASA is supposed to launch rockets and other craft, study space, and travel above the atmosphere. Its duties, especially at a time of budget restraints, are not to make any one “feel good,” much less “the Muslim world.” (e.g., why not “the Latin American world” or “African world”?).

The “Muslim world,” I think, feels pretty good about itself; in contrast, I fear we in the West apparently do not. (e.g., so far no Muslim leaders that I know are reaching out to the West to assure us that they both respect Western civilization and want to emphasize their admiration for our culture).

I wouldn’t mention the “Cairo initiative.” Bad idea. That was the most embarrassing speech given by an American president in a decade. Last June Obama misled his audience on nearly every “fact” presented, from the absurdity of Muslims in Cordoba supposedly serving as beacons of tolerance during the Inquisition (there were essentially no Muslims in Cordoba by that time), to the assertion that Muslims helped to jump start the Renaissance and Enlightenment (when in fact, flight from, or reaction against, Islam in the eastern Mediterranean had far more to do with both European intellectual awakenings). An early 15th-century Greek scribe fleeing the steady year-by-year Ottoman advance toward Constantinople, bringing with him a manuscript of a previously unknown Greek author, or Romantic Enlightenment thinkers like a Lord Byron writing of the need for a Greek revolution against the Turks, is not a sign of an Islamic pedigree for Da Vinci or Voltaire. Wait — maybe the president meant that attitudes toward Islam, as in fear of Islamic absolutism, helped to foster these two intellectual movements?)

2) Worry not, Gen. Bolden, about Muslims and space. Relax — soon there will be an intercontinentally-delivered Iranian bomb. The Syrians like space — otherwise they would not be testing Scuds. And not long ago, Dr. Khan did his best to make Muslims acquainted with the potentials of nuclear energy released in the stratosphere. Where did this idea originate that Muslims are not interested in space? Was it an article from Rev. Wright’s newsletter (e.g., “Pastor’s Page”) that suggested the Jews had new bombs that could detect Arabs — a sophisticated “ethnic bomb”?

3) It is beyond the power in 2010 of even Gen. Bolden to change the Islamic history about and attitudes toward science. To read of Ottoman scientific investigation between 1500 and 1900 is to learn of real trepidation among any Muslim scientists challenging the “authority” of the Prophet, by claiming near divine knowledge about the way things work, whether at work on lighthouses or munitions. There is a reason Dr. Khan went to the West to learn bomb-making rather than to Libya or Yemen — and it had nothing to do with the failures of the West to remind Muslims of their glorious scientific past.

4) Once more, no worry, Gen. Bolden: we know you support “diversity” and wish to make the other feel good about himself. Otherwise you would not be at NASA. But al Jazeera? These were the guys that broadcasted the snuff videos of beheadings and, in Iraq, always seemed, strangely, to be right on the scene with cameras just as American Humvees were at the opportune moment blown into the sky by massive IEDs. Al Jazeera, in other words, is antithetical to everything NASA used to be.

5) There is no record that the 18-month long outreach has worked in any department. Again, 2009 saw more foiled terrorist attempts here at home than in any year since 2001. The Middle East is at the brink. Iran is more, not less, hostile for our outreach. All that has changed with Syria is that it now openly sells missiles to Hezbollah, oblivious to our courting. A Major Hasan or Abdul Mutallab does not care whether we send a video to Iran or NASA boasts of its caring to al Jazeera. Turkey is growing more hostile, and cares not a bit that Obama apologized for slavery and the treatment of Native Americans. I could go on, but to the tiny degree that anyone in the Muslim world takes note of the NASA outreach, it will mostly be terrorists who equate our niceness with appeasement, and become encouraged that ex-American generals are now redirecting NASA to educate Muslims on their supposedly glorious scientific past, and not so interested in deterring them as was true after 9/11.

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Think About It!

July 3rd, 2010 - 10:51 am

1. Some vice presidential wisdom: most might now think it to be safer to go hunting with Dick Cheney than to be in a hotel room with Al Gore.

2. Not since the era of Earl Butz and James Watt have cabinet members been as intemperately spoken as the present bunch: Eric Holder (“nation of cowards”), Hilda Solis (“documented or not”), Janet Napolitano (“man-caused disasters”), Ken Salazar (“boot on their neck”), or a Steven Chu (“no more agriculture in California”).

3. For much of his long life, a man like the now canonized late Sen. Robert Byrd made the early lives of men like Justice Clarence Thomas miserable. Contrast the present eulogies for Byrd with the past Senate hearings over Thomas.

4. President Obama gave a long, rambling speech on illegal immigration and did not mention the Mexican government once. In fact, the word “Mexico” appeared one time — in connection with a human interest story about an immigrant success story. A man from Mars might have thought the problem was as much Canadian as Mexican.

5. The federal reaction to the BP spill — weeks of initial inaction characterized by shunning offers of international help, coupled with a blanket moratorium on drilling, including the safer sorts quite unlike the BP well — will eventually cost trillions of dollars in costs that will dwarf the financial toll of Katrina.

6. We know now there is no shelf life to “Bush Did It.” If unemployment hits 12% two years from now, we will be told we are lucky to have Obama saving us from the 20% rate that would have otherwise followed from the Bush legacy. It will be as if in 2006 Bush was still blaming Clinton for eight years of appeasement that led to 9/11. It will never cease; we accept that now. In 1944, FDR was still running on the Hoover depression of 1929. So it shall be again.

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