Belmont Club

Dover Beach

It is said that in the dungeons of Dzerzhinsky square, where many an Old Bolshevik languished before execution, the walls contain this scrawled inscription: “why?”

Disillusion for James Risen of the New York Times has come early. Risen, who is about to go to jail for revealing how Iran gained vital intelligence called president Obama “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation.”

Risen faces jail over his reporting of a botched intelligence operation that ended up spilling nuclear secrets to Iran. The Justice Department has long been seeking to force him to testify and name the confidential source of the account, which is contained in his 2006 book State of War.

Risen recently failed in an attempt to have the supreme court review an order for him to testify, and acknowledges that he has exhausted all his legal options against the Justice Department’s pursuit of him under the controversial Espionage Act. In the face of incarceration that could come as early as this autumn, he is resorting instead to journalistic defiance.

But it’s not just Risen who’s feeling cynical. Edmund Wright of the American Thinker says that for the first time in his memory, conservatives have stopped reflexively supporting law and order.

One of the fascinating layers of the Ferguson riot story is how this tragedy has exposed what is a rapidly changing attitudinal climate towards law enforcement officers (LEOs). What was for years a stable predicate — conservatives being reflexively ‘law and order’ and inherently giving cops the benefit of the doubt — while liberals with the built in ACLU type disdain for cops tending to always assume the worst of those in power – is now a vortex of confusion, cross currents,and contradictions.

It’s not a total flip-flop of the convention, but it’s moving in that direction. After all, we’ve seen Rand Paul and Eric Holder agree on this in the past week. Did I mention confusing and contradictory?

Consider: many young liberals have of course discovered a love for big government, and take to Twitter and Facebook to support cops harassing Tea Party types and Nevada ranchers just as they cheer the IRS and Lois Lerner persecuting conservative business people and political groups. Meanwhile, liberal voters in Boston cheered their ‘Boston Strong’ reaction to the Marathon bombers, which to me looked a lot like an entire city cowering from a wounded young teen — while LEOs with Seal Team Six fantasies trampled on every liberty they could for 48 hours — brandishing Kevlar, automatic weapons, neo-Nazi style helmets and riding around neighborhoods in hummers and kicking down doors.

The media, long willing to challenge the cops and take the victim’s point of view, have been silent, or even dismissive, of recent fears by the right of militarized police departments and massive ammo buys by the Feds. Worship of Obama and support for public sector unions has trumped their former concerns apparently.

Somewhere the counterculture of the 1960s crossed paths in the night with Barack Obama. The phrase “we are the people our parents warned us against” has been replaced by “we are the people we’ve been waiting for.”

Caroline Glick says “Under Obama, America has switched sides.” Which side was that?

The alternative view is that he’s on all sides at once. Leon Aron, a resident scholar and the Director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute tries to make sense of the frankly amoral posture of the modern political elites. They seem so far above the fray as to be beyond good and evil itself. In neither Ukraine nor Gaza has the West once seen fit to identify the good guy. There are no more “just wars”.  Aron thinks it’s postmodernism.

Two reasons in the post-modern canon could provide an explanation. First, while someone’s victory implies someone’s defeat, “peace” – no matter how fraudulent or short-lived – superficially has no losers, and for that reason is vastly preferable. Second, the “right” and “wrong,” the “just” and “unjust,” the “good and evil” are inherently suspect because values themselves are suspect. Western opinion makers appear to have learned from elite universities that “values” are “individual” and “subjective.” As a result, they must be taken out of political discourse and decision-making. Hence, too, the coverage by the elite media of the West of both wars as “conflicts” in which the word “just” or its synonyms never once appear, both sides are somehow equally at fault, and therefore a victory by one side is not more morally agreeable than by the other.

So strong are these ideological imperatives that not even a tragedy can influence them. Neither the downing of the MH17, almost certainly by a Russia-supplied surface-to-air missile, nor the murder of three Israeli teenagers nor repugnancy over the deliberate sacrifice of civilians by Hamas can introduce morality into these wars and make victory over evil preferred to peace.

Yet another, more cynical interpretation of the phenomenon that our dear leaders believe are “no more just wars”  — just wars; that morality is a mug’s game and the worst thing that could happen, from the business point of view, is for morality to creep back into the picture.

I can see Al Sharpton signing on to this idea. What would he do without the Michael Browns and Trayvon Martins? Under this theory one should forget the white and black hats and simply remember it’s always about the money. Riots, civil wars and epidemics are good for business.  Always follow these simple rules and you’ll be alright.

  1. Never get shot with your own merchandise.
  2. Always have a fool-proof way to get paid.
  3. Never pick up a gun and join your customers.
  4. Never go to war. Especially with yourself.

My guess is that Stalin had a version of these maxims on his desk. The only mystery is whether any of the Old Bolsheviks waiting to die in Cheka cellars ever figured it out.

One of the most difficult things in the world is, with cold eyes, to continue to believe in love.  That is the biggest gamble you can take; and the only one worth taking. “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

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The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
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Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
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