That out-of-tune brassy sound you hear is me tooting my own horn

Real Clear Politics, Sunday, September 30, 2012:


I’m excited not only for myself, but for Laer Pearce, whose book, Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America, is the subject of the post that RCP picked up.  It’s a great book, and as many Americans as possible should read it, so that they can fully understand what Progressive politics will do to the American landscape.

Marin County demonstrates the one-party totalitarianism that flows from open primaries

Yesterday, I posted about the result of California’s open primary in Marin:  two Democrats running against each other for the California Assembly.  My post was about the problem that this creates for those people whose party has been shut out of the election.  The net effect of open primaries is that, rather than allowing parties to choose their own candidates, the primary just becomes a “pre-election election,” with the November election serving as a run-off.

It turns out that the open primaries are also a problem for the candidates facing off against each other in November, because it’s hard for voters to distinguish between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.  In the article I quoted yesterday,the Marin IJ tried to help, by painting Marc Levine as more “pro-business,” which can be translated as “Mitt Romney surrogate.”

The IJ needn’t have made the effort, though.  I didn’t realize it when I wrote yesterday’s post, but I had waiting in my mail box a flyer from the California Democratic Party making the difference between the two candidates as clear as a bright summer day (click on thumbnails to enlarge):



On the flyer’s front, you can see the Republican elephant superimposed in the middle of what is clearly a group of people standing in line.  The text reads:

Marc Levine Doesn’t Want You to Know About the Elephant in the Room . . .

Because the elephant in the room is MARC LEVINE

Turn the flyer over and the message gets more specific:

The MITT ROMNEY CAMPAIGN KICKOFF in San Rafael was described as “LIKE MINDS COMING TOGETHER…”

[Quoting a female attendee] “We’re a bunch of red folks . . . and we find comfort with our own.”

Marin County Republican Chair Kevin Krick dismissed Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments as “a speed bump on the way to the White House.”

And the applauding Elephant in the Room was Marc Levine!  [With a big red finger arrow pointing to a picture of Levine attending the kick-off, with the Levine picture cropped in the shape of an elephant.]

What’s next — campaign contributions from Republican Special Interests?  Is this the kind of “Democrat” we want representing us in the State Assembly?

One can guess what happened.  Marc Levine, in an effort to distinguish himself from a Democrat opponent who is pure Progressive, sought to make himself known to a broader coalition of Marin County voters.  Since Marin has no subway or train stations outside of which the candidate can stand to introduce himself to voters, he goes from one political event to another.  This one was a Republican event.  He probably thought it was a smart move, because Republicans, having been denied a candidate by the open primary system are, theoretically, an up-for-grabs constituency.  They’ve got to vote for someone, so why not Levine?

Poor Levine.  His tactical outreach effort backfired, but it had the salutary effect of exposing the anti-democratic effect of open primaries:  Because of the open primary, which denied Marin County Republicans the right to choose their own candidate, the Democrat Party in California filled the vacuum by anointing a “Republican” candidate.

This whole thing has become a travesty.  What we’re seeing isn’t democracy in action.  Instead, it’s one-party rule, complete with infighting, without even the pretense of open elections.

The Hobson’s choice in Marin County elections; or, choosing between Left and Lefter

The theory behind Open Primaries is that it will encourage moderation in districts that are extremely Democrat or extremely Republican.  Without Open Primaries, minority opposition votes are symbolic throwaway votes.  Whoever is the majority candidate wins, regardless of the details of that candidate’s platform.  With Open Primaries, which inevitably result in two majority candidates going head to head, the minority opposition must either refrain from voting entirely or vote for the least bad of the other party’s candidates.  The hope is that, if minority party voters do the latter, they’ll vote for the opposition candidate who is least extreme.  I suspect that’s what’s going to happen in the upcoming Marin County election for 10th District in the California Assembly:

Due to California’s new open primary law, two Democrats will compete for the 10th District Assembly seat in the Nov. 6 general election.

Because the 10th District is overwhelmingly Democratic, in past years the general election has been little more than a formality; for all practical purposes, the eventual winner had already been decided in the Democratic primary election.

[snip]

The incumbent in this race is Michael Allen, who was elected to the Assembly in 2010 to represent the 7th District. Allen, 65, moved from Sonoma County to an apartment in downtown San Rafael after the 7th District was splintered by redistricting in 2011. Currently the assistant majority leader in the Assembly, Allen is a labor lawyer who has served as executive director of the Service Employees International Union Local 707 as well as president of the North Bay Labor Council and district director for state Sen. Patricia Wiggins. [Bookworm: In other words, way Left.]

His challenger is Marc Levine, 38, who has served on the San Rafael City Council since 2009. McCuan said Levine is known as a more business-friendly Democrat, and Levine’s endorsements and campaign donors indicate that. Levine angered some more liberal Marin Democrats in 2011 when he supported the opening of a Target store in San Rafael.

“Levine’s supporters are Joe Nation Democrats,” McCuan said, referring to the former assemblyman from Marin who once tried and failed to upend U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey in a Democratic primary election. [Bookworm: In other words, slightly less Left, thereby marginally avoiding fiscal insanity.]

I’m going to vote for Levine, because he’s better than Allen. Anything is better than Allen. But I truly resent having my voice muffled in this way. My candidate has been thrown out of the election entirely. Republicans are denied a voice and that is, I think, a complete failure of representation. It’s one thing always to lose; it’s another thing to be unable even to cry out as you do.

Watcher’s Council winners for September 28, 2012

The Council has spoken, and it is good:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Have we moved past the possibility of civility?

In the immediately preceding post, I comment on the vast chasm in American politics.  It is, perhaps, every bit as unbridgeable as the one that America saw before the Civil War.  People don’t just have differences of opinion, they have profoundly different moral compasses.

It is in that context that you should read the Anchoress’ post asking if America has gone beyond the possibility of civility in public discourse.  She writes from a religious viewpoint, one that contemplates a spiritual serenity that I admire.  Whether that serenity can ever beat back the toxic clash of ideologies we now see remains open to question.

In Lefty world, it matters not what’s being done; the only thing that matters is whether a Leftist does it

Back in 2004, when George Bush was president, Michael Moore compared al Qaeda terrorists to American Minutemen:

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not “insurgents” or “terrorists” or “The Enemy.” They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win.

Moore’s shallow brain and inadequate education left him incapable of distinguishing between people who fight for individual liberty and people who fight for world domination and mass slavery.  He’ll root for sadistic murderers as long as they’re anti-capitalists.  He has no sympathy for people like Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, Wesley Batalona, Scott Helvenston, Jerry Zovko, or Michael Teague.

Back then, Moore was not alone.  You’ll recall that he spoke for a vociferous, angry, and large percentage of Americans who vigorously opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — wars that Bush began with both Congressional and NATO approval — because we were a big mean bully harming innocent Iraqi women and children as part of our sadistic and delusional war against some amorphous “terror” thangy.  Buoyed up by a tide of anti-War righteousness, Britain’s left-wing Lancet, once a respectable medical publication, posited that Americans had killed 650,000 Iraqi civilians, a report that was quickly debunked.

The debunking, of course, didn’t stop the antiwar uproar that had Americans taking to the streets with great regularity denouncing Bush as a Hitler-esque war criminal, and calling American troops baby killers.  Underpinning all of this antiwar fervor was the Lefts’ contention that terrorists were not a problem, that we just needed to show them a little understanding, and that Bush was grossly overreacting by taking the battle to the terrorists themselves.

Fast forward to 2012.  Stories are starting to appear in the U.S. press saying that Obama’s drone attacks — each of which he allegedly approves personally, after carefully selecting the target he wants dead — are killing and wounding thousands of civilians, including women and children, in Pakistan:

U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more people than the United States has acknowledged, have traumatized innocent residents and largely been ineffective, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law calls for a re-evaluation of the practice, saying the number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — about 2%.

[snip]

“TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 – 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 – 881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228 – 1,362 individuals,” according to the Stanford/NYU study.

Based on interviews with witnesses, victims and experts, the report accuses the CIA of “double-striking” a target, moments after the initial hit, thereby killing first responders.

Did I mention that we’re not at war with Pakistan?  Indeed, it’s nominally still an ally of ours in the war against Islamic terrorists.  That hasn’t stopped Obama.  What’s worse is, that aside from a few Leftists who are unwilling to tolerate any sort of American actions against terrorists (which is a principled stand, even if often a foolish one), Progressives, Democrats, and other people on the Left are not only quiet about this, they think it’s a good thing.

On my Facebook page, I did I quick post drawing people’s attention to these drone strikes, and highlighting the huge number of collateral deaths occurring, not just on Obama’s watch, but under his direct orders.  The responses I received from my liberal friends surprised me.  Really surprised me.  I will not quote them verbatim, because I haven’t asked for permission to do so (and won’t ask), but I can accurately summarize them as follows, simply by rephrasing people’s actual words:

What can we do?  We can’t negotiate with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  If they’re hiding among civilians, innocent people are going to get killed, but that fact alone can’t stop us from going after the bad guys.  I hate that this killing is happening, but better that their kids die from drone strikes, than that our American children die in terrorist attacks.  I’m totally liberal, but I’m a pragmatist when it comes to the fact that Obama is doing a job that needs to be done, and everyone who criticizes him is a whiner who hates him.

So, to recap:  Al Qaeda kills 2,996 Americans, and boasts about it.  George Bush gets credible information that Saddam Hussein is seeking to build a nuclear weapon, and that he is funding, sponsoring, training, etc., Al Qaeda terrorists.  Bush also gets credible information that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is doing the same, except for the nuclear weapon part.  Only much later do we learn that Hussein’s nuclear weapons program may not have been as advanced as originally thought, with the misinformation in large part originating with Hussein himself, as he tried to portray himself as a regional strong man.  Armed with this information, Bush is able to create a coalition of many nations and to get Congressional approval to wage war against nations that host and aid Al Qaeda.

The argument from conservatives was and is that (1) al Qaeda declared war on us; (2) because it has no nation of its own, the only thing we can do is attack it in those countries that willingly and generously support it; and (3) if al Qaeda chooses to use innocents as shields that proves how depraved al Qaeda is, but cannot stop us in our righteous fights against true evil doers.  Incidentally, this is also the same argument that Israel and her supporters make:  Israel has repeatedly made concessions in order to get peace; Palestinians have made it plain that their sole goal is Israel’s destruction; and the high numbers of fatalities amongst women and children occur because Palestinians are evil enough to use innocents as their shields.

Throughout the Bush years, that argument was unpersuasive to the Left.  Now that we have a Leftist president, though, one who personally picks the day’s target in an allied country, and who supports a policy that inevitably kills innocents who are not even in a combat zone, everything is suddenly hunky-dorey.  It’s all good because Obama is doing it.

I find this sickening.  It bespeaks a moral vacuum that has no boundaries.  Leftists are incapable of clearing away the ideological brush and focusing on core moral issues.  The only core moral issue is Leftism.  You’re either for it or you’re against it.  If a conservative does things, they’re bad; if a Leftist does things that are infinitely worse, and illegal, they’re fully justified.  Just sickening.

 

“Quantum of Easing”

Another American Crossroads ad in a James Bond style, this one attacking Obama’s inflationary policies:

It’s clever, funny, and understandable, so please consider sharing it with others.  The election clock is ticking, and it’s up to citizens to counter the media’s all-out push for Obama.

Obama: Our do-nothing president

Deroy Murdock savages Obama’s do-nothing habits.  We’ve heard that before from many Obama critics, but Murdock column is particularly good, because he gives a perfect metaphor regarding Obama’s decision merely to read his national security briefings, rather than to attend that actual meetings (and that’s assume Obama really does read the briefings, and doesn’t just toss them on his desk, partially or entirely unread):

This phenomenon’s most chilling example involves Obama’s national-security-related Presidential Daily Brief (PDB). As the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) calculated, and Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen first reported, Obama attended only 43.8 percent of his PDBs between January 23, 2009 (three days after his inauguration), and May 31, 2012. Available nearly every day, the PDB allows the commander-in-chief to hear directly from top intelligence professionals about the latest threats to U.S. safety. These experts are on hand to answer questions, hear suggestions, and otherwise help Obama foil America’s enemies.

But Obama has had higher priorities.

According to GAI’s data, which was culled from the official White House calendar and Politico’s news coverage of that schedule, Obama chose to skip his PDBs and, instead, simply read his briefing book. This is a bit like studying one’s chest X-rays at home, having spurned a radiologist’s offer to interpret them and answer pertinent questions. In this sense, Obama quietly reviewed his national-security X-rays alone during 56.2 percent of the time GAI analyzed. In 2011, Obama missed 61.6 percent of his PDBs.

What makes all of this worse is that Obama is a compulsive liar, something that was already obvious on the campaign trail in 2008. His latest lie was to tell a Hispanic audience that (a) immigration reform had been his highest priority, but (b) the nasty Republicans blocked his every effort. The facts show that, when Obama owned a fully Democrat Congress that did everything he wanted, immigration reform never even crossed his radar.

I don’t actually think Obama is a slacker. I think he’s perfected the art of doing nothing in order to achieve his goals. Don’t like Israel? Ignore it. Iran will take care of it in all due time. Don’t really care about immigration reform? Ignore it, and then lie about it later in order to shift blame.

Put another way, Obama isn’t a slacker. Instead, he is the most passive-aggressive man ever to occupy the White House. His do-nothingness is carefully targeted to achieve specific ends.

Don’t let the bad polls get you down.

A lot of people have been writing to explain that the polls are heavily weighted in favor of Democrats, showing a Democrat voter turnout even higher than in 2008.  Many people think that this is a psy-ops effort aimed at depressing Republican voter turnout.  Zombie says we shouldn’t get our knickers in a twist about this one, because there’s no evidence that these psy-ops work, and lots of human nature that says they probably won’t work.

Two interesting sites and the Watcher’s Council submissions

Some people do spring cleaning.  I do fall cleaning.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve cleaned out drawers, closets, and cupboards.  That was the easy part.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been cleaning out my Quicken program.  I am not a natural born accountant, and I’ve managed to make quite a mess of things.  Actually, the blame isn’t all mine.  Some of the mess started years ago, when I didn’t have primary responsibility for the accounting, but I worsened the mess, because I wasn’t paying attention to things outside my direct frame of reference.  All of which is to say that I’ve spent the last few days going through hundreds of financial documents dating back five years, and spent a lot of time on the phone with the banks.

There is some good news:  I haven’t lost any money.  I’ve just managed to assign it to the wrong places in Quicken.  The other good news is that my financial nose is clean:  there’s nothing hinky here that should worry me or my accountant.  It’s just not as tidy as it should be.  In retrospect, I would have done better to skip Elizabeth Warren’s law class and taken a basic bookkeeping class.  My life would have been easier.

So, that’s why I’m not blogging.  However, I came across two interesting sites that I wanted to share with you.  After that, I’ll introduce you to this week’s Watcher’s Council submissions.

Site 1 is a listing site called “Shared List.”  The internet and lists just seem to go together.  After all, computers make compiling and updating lists fairly easy.  I’ve been thinking about lists a lot, because I can get paid real money if I can create posts built around lists.  The only problem for me is that I’m not a natural list-maker.  I tend to have a more free form approach to ideas.  If I have a thesis, I can present it in organized, linear fashion, but I’m just not someone who goes around thinking “top five reasons for X” or “top ten best things about Y.”  A site that encourages list making fascinates me, because I might be able to hone my skills there, or at least get ideas about what kinds of things interest people.

Site 2 is a new site called “PlaceGuides.”  The theory behind place guides is that traditional maps are quite limiting.  They show geography, street names, and things of general and generic interest to all people.  Thus, a map will designate the site of a theater, park, university, restaurant, etc.  What a map won’t do is show that this is the park where you kissed your first boyfriend, or that here is the theater where the Tubes first performed.  PlaceGuides allows individuals to take a map template one that shows geography and street names, and to layer over it their memories, or their interests.  For example, if you’re a Chinese food aficionado, you could create a PlaceGuide listing all of your favorite Chinese restaurants in the Sunset district.  More than that, you could include pictures, music, videos, and your own personal reviews.  I tried it out and, while I was initially a little leery of it, I really got into the act, and had a wonderful time strolling down memory lane.  Then, once you’ve got your PlaceGuide set up, you can share it with friends, fellow hobbyists, students, etc.  It’s pretty cool.  Right now, PlaceGuides is beta, so it’s only got San Francisco neighborhoods, but you might want to keep an eye on it.

And now, the Watcher’s Council’s submissions for this week:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

My review of Laer Pearce’s Crazifornia is up and running at PJ Lifestyle

I galloped through Laer Pearce’s Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America, which is a great book.  My review is at PJ Lifestyle:

Reading my friend Laer Pearce’s book Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America made me crazy. Laer is a wonderful writer with straightforward, prose, a witty sense of humor that doesn’t overwhelm the narrative, and a commanding mastery of facts about California’s politics, business, education, and public policy. In theory, I should have galloped through Craziforniain three hours. In fact, it took me three days to read.

Why did I have a problem with this fascinating book? Because, when I started I did not know how deep the Crazifornia rot ran in the state, nor was I aware quite how infectious the insanity is when it comes to the rest of America. To keep up with the deluge of evidence proving that California is indeed crazy, I repeatedly stopped reading so that I could scratch out little notes to myself: “California’s all-powerful bureaucrats are an army of Leftist Rube Goldberg’s with guns.” “This is a perfect example of voter credulity and bureaucratic overreach.” “California takes a legislatively created energy crisis and makes it worse with more legislation.” The scariest note I wrote was also the shortest: “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

That last note is why you should read the book — and give it to friends and family — in the days remaining before the election. California isn’t just a basket case, it’s a proselytizing basket case, with its environmental zealots, community organizers, and wishful economic thinkers aggressively selling their ideas to other states and to the federal government. As Laer demonstrates, while the recession is slowing the other forty-nine states from buying into California’s governing philosophy, the Obama government is an enthusiastic supporter. Another four years of Obama, and California won’t be the only bankrupt crazy place in America.

Read the whole thing here.

Does Romney’s slip in the polls change your view of the likely outcome in November?

According to Gallup, Romney has slipped from dead even to 6 points down in the last four or five days.  It is debatable whether these day-to-day changes mean anything at all, but such a quick shift is pretty dramatic.  It raises at least two questions, which I’m eager to hear your thoughts on.  First, why the sudden shift?  And, second, does it change your view of the likely outcome?

As to the first question, I had already mentioned to Book that I thought, at least here in Florida, that Obama’s ad campaign was much more effective than Romney’s.  Obama has taken two of Romney’s ads (one about jobs moving to China and one about whether things have improved since 2008) and answered them directly and aggressively.  Romney has not answered Obama’s ads at all.  Perhaps we are seeing the effects of this.

As to the second question, last week, when Obama was clinging to a slim lead and Romney was gaining, I made a November prediction for the first time, telling Book that I expected Obama to win by five points.  Such opinions are obviously subject to change without notice, depending, among other things, on the performances in the debates.  But, for now, my opinion has not changed.

What do your think?

Sort of as a P.S., what do you think will happen in the House and Senate races?

Comcast leaving the Bay Area

The movie said “if you build it, they will come it.”  More and more California businesses say, “if you tax it, we will go“:

Comcast announced Tuesday that it would shutter three Northern California call centers and consolidate them into other western U.S. centers in a few months, a move that will affect as many as 1,000 jobs.

Operations at the cable company’s call centers in Livermore, Morgan Hill and Sacramento will be shifted to centers in Oregon, Washington and Colorado at the end of November, Comcast said.

[snip]

The company’s announcement of the consolidation cited the “the high cost of doing business in California” as the impetus for the decision.

If you haven’t already, please buy yourself a copy of my friend Laer’s book, Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America.  It will explain everything you need to know about Comcast’s decision.

“We Are Hungry” video; and is Fun.’s “Some Nights” a pro-life song?

How can I not show the “We Are Hungry” video that’s making the rounds?  I have to:

You probably recognize that the song the video parodies is Fun.’s “We Are Young.” I really liked that song.

Fun. n0w has a new song out that I find equally appealing.  It’s called “Some Nights.” The video is a peculiar mish-mash of Civil War battle scenes that don’t seem to me to have anything at all to do with the song’s lyrics.

The song’s lyrics are pretty mysterious. Nevertheless, I keep getting caught by the last stanza which — forgive me for me overreaching here — seems to strike a blow at young people’s abortion culture. Here’s the video:

If you missed it, at the end of a song about how meaningless life is, you get this stanza:

My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called “love”
Man when I look into my nephew’s eyes…
Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from…
Some terrible lies…

I don’t know, but I see that as very life affirming.  No matter that he (whoever “he” is) lied to get her in bed, the child that results is a miracle….

Something interesting in Marin

I do not expect Marin to vote for Romney.  Indeed, if I had to predict the race, I would say that Romney has a snowball’s chance in Hell of taking Marin.  Nevertheless, something interesting is happening in Marin:  No new bumper stickers.

Marin-ites do have Obama/Biden bumper stickers, but they’re almost all leftovers from the 2008 campaign.  I think I’ve only seen about ten or twenty stickers for the 2012 election.

I’m not prepared to say whether Marin’s naked bumpers bespeak apathy or over-confidence.  I just believe that either condition might depress voter turn out.  I also hope in my heart of hearts that, if we are indeed l0oking at apathy, we’re seeing voters who, while they would never dream of voting for Romney, have already made piece with a decision not to vote for Obama.

Proof that Obama has lost his love for the little country of Israel *UPDATED*

[Update:  I thought I'd managed to ooze so much sarcasm here that I didn't need to establish first that I was being sarcastic.  From comments I've received, I've learned that a failed in Writing 101, because I did not make my sarcasm t obvious enough.  My apologies.  I know that Obama dislikes Israel.  He always has (we can certainly make educated guesses about the contents of that missing Khalidi tape) and he always will.  I was just trying to show that Obama is now dropping even his slender pretense of being Israel's friend in the White House.]

Obama went on 60 Minutes this past Sunday and had a few choice words about Israel.  For one thing, he characterized Israel’s existential fears (as in “If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, we cease to exist”) as “noise,” which he works hard to ignore:

STEVE KROFT: “How much pressure have you been getting from Prime Minister Netanyahu to make up your mind to use military force in Iran?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Well—look, I have conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu all the time. And I understand and share Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon, because it would threaten us, it would threaten Israel, and it would threaten the world and kick off a nuclear arms race.”

STEVE KROFT: “You’re saying, you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “When it comes to our national security decisions—any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out—any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis—on these issues. Because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.”

Now, some might say that referring to Israel’s concern about a second Holocaust as noise is pretty good evidence that Obama is no friend to Israel.  However, his supporters, whether direct employees or media shills, assure us that Obama simply misspoke:

But according to White House spokesman Jay Carney, what you really heard was Obama professing his deep and unwavering affection for Israel, his his best friend in the world:

“The president was making clear that his commitment and this country’s commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is as strong as ever and unbreakable in nature,” Carney said. “There’s obviously a lot of noise around this issue at times. His point was clearly that his objective is to take every step possible to enhance Israel’s security as part of our strong relationship with Israel. It is demonstrated by the unprecedented level of cooperation this administration has had with Israel on matters of defense and security.”

Carney’s explanation bears little resemblance to what Obama actually said, but it doesn’t matter — we expect the press to report this uncritically, then lose interest in the story until it’s time to “fact-check” a Republican for taking Obama’s remarks “out of context.”

Poor Obama. It’s tough to live up to the expectations you set when you became the most skilled rhetorician in America since Lincoln to occupy the White House.

Because I’m in a forgiving mood, let’s take Carney’s lame excuse at face value. The Great and Mighty Obama would never ignore Israel’s genuine concerns. He loves that country. Or does he?

I’m sorry to say this, folks, but I’ve finally found definitive proof that Obama’s frequently professed bromance with Israel is over.  You see, during his 60 Minutes interview, Obama put his opinion about that country front and center: Israel, he said, is “one of our closest allies in the region.”  Oooh, the pain!  The pain when the love goes away.  Those words are a slap in the face.

Let’s begin by ignoring the factual disconnect in what Obama said because, honestly, right now, I’m not sure that America is feeling the love from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, etc., etc., etc.  Who cares if I feel the love?  Hasn’t Obama just said that he thinks of Israel as one of a number of closest allies.  Shouldn’t that be good enough for those who support Israel?  I mean, how often does a nation get to be called a “closest ally”?  Not too often, frankly, and it’s not a good thing when Obama does describe a nation in those terms.

The historical record, including Obama’s own record towards Israel, proves that being called a “closest ally” is being damned with faint praise.  It’s not a profession of love; it’s a slap in the face, a kick in the teeth, a cold shoulder.  I’ve got the evidence:

I hope you caught that. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry little country around the globe gets praise from Obama that reveals how tepid his recent praise for Israel was.  I mean, did he tell Steve Croft that Israel punches above its weight? No! At this moment in time, Israel impresses Obama less than Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland, and the Philippines.

But wait!  It gets worse. Of other countries, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Great Britain Obama says “we have no stronger ally.” Heck, back in the day, before the Arab Spring, Obama even said that Israel is “one of our strongest allies.”

Think about that. All those countries — including, once upon a time, Israel — were stronger than each other.  Indeed, many of them were simultaneous even the strongest of them all, proving that there’s always room at the top, even for unique superlatives.

Oh, how the mighty have crumbled.  Israel is no longer a “strongest” ally, or even a “stronger” ally.  She’s just one of many “close” allies in a region notoriously hostile to America.  I mean, even a confirmed optimistic has got to admit that it’s not love when the mobs storm your embassy, take down your flag, and put up Al Qaeda’s flag, all while the Egyptian President takes his own sweet time to step in and end the rioting.

Face it folks. As Obama said, words matter.   And with his recent words, downgrading Israel from a strongest ally to a generic member of the anti-American pack, Obama has made it very clear that, if he’s reelected, Israel no longer has a friend in the White House.

Fall: mastering the possibilities

Fall is my favorite time of year.  It always has been.  Spring is beautiful and exciting — for nature.  As a spectator, it’s one of the finest shows our world has to offer.  But it’s fall that is the season of possibilities for people.

Fall is when the harvest is in and people start focusing on themselves, rather than the land’s demands.  We see this in the fact that, all over the Western world, school starts in the fall.  I know that I was always excited when the new school year started.  Summer’s pleasures had long since waned, with my delight in its freedoms having been overtaken by the stresses of dealing with a completely unstructured life.  We children were bored and overwrought.

The school year meant new clothes, thanks to the back-to-school sales.  It meant spanking new school supplies, including fresh new Pee Chee folders.  My delight in the new school year wasn’t solely mercenary, though.  I always felt as if I was opening a gift box.  I knew what would be in it — students and teachers — but I didn’t know the specifics.  Every year I was certain that this year would be the perfect social year.  This year would be the year I got a boyfriend.  This year would be the year I’d finally understand math.  This year would be the year when my teachers would dazzle me and I would dazzle them right back.  Showing that hope springs eternal, even though each school year was a disappointment (not a terrible disappointment, but still a disappointment), each fall I’d be back to feeling that same old thrill as I stood on the cusp of a new school year.

The American political scene also reflects this time of fall renewal.  Because America was a rural country, our federal election cycle really gets running when the harvest is in.  The agrarian calendar said that this is the time when people can read and think about the issues that are most important to them.   Certainly for me, a lifelong bookworm, fall is a wonderful time for contemplation.  The days draw in early, the air is chilly and, if you’re lucky, a fire crackles in your fireplace.  All that’s needed is a book, newspaper, or magazine, and perhaps a warm dog and a cup of hot chocolate. Then, you’re ready to take on the heavy intellectual tasks you avoided during the long, summer days, with their endless enticements for outdoor activities.

I am not sufficiently conversant with Jewish history to know why the Jews placed their new year in the fall, right around the time of the fall equinox.  All I know is that, for 5,773 years, Jews have seen this season as a time, not of endings, but of beginnings.  To me, it certainly seems like a more natural time for a new year than a day buried halfway through the dead of winter.

Tonight is Erev Yom Kippur, the evening before the Jewish day of atonement (which follows swiftly on the heels of Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year).  Yom Kippur is the holiest of holy days in the Jewish calendar.  On this day, Jews the world over take an honest look at themselves, judging their behavior against the standards G*d has set for them.  It’s a solemn day, but it too is part of fall’s renewal.  We cannot move forward into the new year if our souls are weighed down by our sins and our minds darkened by our inability to repent and change.

I am not in school any more, and I am not a religious Jew.  Nevertheless, I still carry within me the optimism and hope that I feel every fall.  This feeling buoys me as I look at the world situation, which is scary, and I look at our American president, who is scary.  I feel as if we are reaching a crisis, and that’s scary too.  But crises can be cathartic, and the timing on this one is peculiarly good because Americans in this wonderful fall season are being given the chance to examine their past decisions, repent of them, and beginning something fresh and new.

If you are a Republican living in Chicago, you can make a difference — a big difference

HillBuzz has a story.  It’s an important story that needs to get out as quickly as possible, so I’m quoting large chunks of it here.  If you’re a Chicago Republican, this is the year you might make a difference:

Folks, there’s a big story here that needs to make national news and I need YOUR help in breaking it wide open.

This could actually end up being the biggest story of the 2012 elections…but it’s hard to get conservative writers to focus on anything in Illinois, since the past incompetence of the GOP in our state has made it something of a laughingstock nationally.

One woman — a mom from the suburbs of Chicago — took it upon herself to mount a crusade against voter fraud here in Illinois and she is close to shutting down at least two major avenues of fraud that Democrats have relied on for DECADES in Chicagoland.  She’s been threatened, bullied, maligned, and stonewalled…and that’s just by the cocktail-party-Republicans here who are still in the mindset of “let’s not upset the apple cart”.  Democrats hate this woman because systematically she’s gone after one avenue of voter fraud after another, removing layers of fraud that Democrats have built into Illinois elections since the first Mayor Daley was magically finding boxes of votes to give John F. Kennedy the edge in 1960.

Her name is Sharon Meroni and she needs your help today.

It’s down to the wire and Sharon still needs 500 Republican election judges in Cook County…and she needs them by this coming Thursday.  If she doesn’t find 500 more judges, then Democrats will get to fill those positions…just like they have in previous elections.  Democrats use those slots as patronage pay-offs and also enjoy having complete control of polling places…which is how the dead are allowed to vote in many cases or how, mysteriously, people who didn’t actually show up to vote end up voting anyway if Democrats need them to in tight elections.  Without a Republican judge in a polling place to prevent this from happening, fraud is institutionalized in Cook County elections.

The task of filling these election judge slots has been so monumental that it’s no wonder the GOP in Illinois has never even tried before…but Sharon Meroni is close to succeeding.  She is a living, breathing American hero and something close to a wonder woman for getting this close…but she is still 500 judges away from meeting her goal.

How you can help:

Please contact every conservative writer you can think of by email or fax today.  Let’s start making a list in this thread, and start putting the contact numbers down so others can write these people too.  We need to send out an S.O.S. to every big name out there and ask him or her to help Sharon get the 500 judges she needs.  In the past, this would have been a moment where I could call up Andrew Breitbart and ask him to help and he would have blasted his network and ultimately delivered the volunteers.  With Andrew gone, though, I don’t know anyone who’s filling that niche when action is needed.

Here is what Sharon needs:

* 500 people who live in Cook County who voted Republican in the past (which means they are registered as Republicans in Illinois, because party registration is determined by which ballot you pull in the primaries)

* Get the word out that these 500 people need to go to www.ElectionJudges.us to apply to be election  judges in Cook County

* Election judging requires being on site at a polling place for the entirety of November 6th, 2012.  This might mean taking a sick day to do this…but you will be compensated $170/day for doing this.

* People who have questions about whether they would qualify need to call:  312-242-1818

Please read the rest here.  If you have a blog, link or write about this.  If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, post or tweet.  And if you’re in Chicago, try to be an election judge.  Remember, enough small pebbles can divert a large stream.

An American high school band celebrates the Russian Revolution, complete with hammer and sickle

So now we know what historical ignorance looks like:

A Pennsylvania high school marching band is raising eyebrows with a halftime performance that commemorates the Russian revolution, complete with red flags, olive military-style uniforms, and giant hammers and sickles.

“St. Petersburg: 1917” is the theme for the New Oxford High School Marching Band. Ironically, the school’s athletic teams are called the Colonials and their colors are red, white and blue. The band’s website features a picture of the group with students holding a hammer and sickle.

[snip]

Rebecca Harbaugh, the superintendent for the Conewago Valley School District, told Fox News that the band’s performance was “not an endorsement of communism at all.”

“It’s a representation of the time period in history called St. Petersburg 1917,” she said. “I am truly sorry that somebody took the performance in that manner. I am.”

“If anything is being celebrated it’s the music,” she said. “It is what it is. I understand people look at something and choose how to interpret that and I’m just very sorry that it wasn’t looked at as just a history lesson.”

Besides, she explained, “in 2008 we did an entire show on freedom.”

But some critics said it’s outrageous for any American school to be celebrating such a violent era.

“It would be tantamount to celebrating the music of 1935 Berlin,” the parent said. “If I was Lithuanian, Estonian, or Ukrainian, I’d be a little hot. I’d be really hot. It’s insulting to glorify something that doesn’t need to be glorified in America.”

(Read the rest of the story here.)

Maybe next year they can celebrate the famine Stalin created in the Ukraine, killing something in the neighborhood of 20 million of his own citizens. And the year after that, perhaps a “Party in the Gulag” theme.

Actually, I believe that these kids weren’t endorsing Communism.  What they were endorsing was something different:  the forty year march of  a values-free approach to education, one that manages to leave both students and their teachers incapable of understanding what they teach or learn.  To them, what happened is an “event,” without meaning or consequence.  This goes beyond moral relativism into absolute meaninglessness — and if that isn’t sad, I don’t know what is.

A bowdlerization of Chesterton has him saying:  “When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.”  That saying isn’t quite on point, but it somehow seems appropriate here, when we have a group of well-intentioned young people incapable of understanding the meaning of what they study.  They know nothing, and misunderstand everything.

Parenting and the binding of Isaac

A little boy was having problems accepting his parents’ authority.  In response to simple, ordinary parental instructions (“take a bath,” “clear your place at the table,” “do your homework”), the little boy raised fierce opposition:  “I don’t want to,” “You’re not the boss of me,” “No one else I know has to.”  The parents cracked down.  All of his favorite privileges were now gone.  He could earn them back only with several consecutive days of military obedience to orders:  “Take a bath” had to get met with “Yes, sir.”  “Clear your place at the table” also needed a terse “Yes, ma’am” response.

The little boy tearfully acquiesced, but then offered one further complaint:  “You at least give me reasonable orders, Mommy.  Daddy keeps giving stupid orders, like “clean up after your sister.”  I hate that.  He’s testing me.”  If the little boy was looking to triangulate Mom and Dad in order to gain sympathy or leniency, he was looking in the wrong place.  Mom had a simple response:  “Pass the G*d damn test!”

The story I just told reminded me of a another story, a very old one, known to you all:

1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

I actually don’t have a point to make, beyond the obvious:  An authority figure sometimes needs to do something to ensure that the person over whom he exercises that authority truly understands who is ultimately in charge.  It seems like a petty thing, even when God does it, but that’s only when things are going along swimmingly.  When life gets tough, the follower needs to look reflexively to the leader for moral guidance, for justice, and for comfort.  Testing the follower is a way of reinforcing the follower’s understanding of that relationship.

Monday morning quick links

I spent a very family-centric weekend, which inhibited both weekend blogging and weekend information gathering.  So today, I’m playing catch-up.  Nevertheless, I do have a few interesting things to highlight.

Dennis Prager is one of my favorite political commentators.  His approach to morality and politics can be summed up in one sentence that he frequently uses:  “I prefer clarity to agreement.”  So often, as Prager demonstrates on his show, and as I find in my own life, if one brings clarity to a subject, people find themselves agreeing — and what they agree with are traditional moral principles and a constitutional world view.  That is, if you force people to look beyond what Jonah Goldberg calls “the tyranny of cliches,” you find that they’re still capable, not only of independent thought, but intelligent thought too.

Dennis now produces a video series that he makes available at Prager University.  He’s invited people who have something worth saying, and who can say it clearly, to expound upon basic factual or moral principles.  The latest video has Adam Carolla talking about “luck.”  It’s a great video since it distinguishes random chance (a coin in a slot machine) from hard work.  The “lucky bastard” who lives in a huge home in a rich neighborhood, might have won it in the lottery, but he is much more likely to have created his own luck by studying hard, working hard, taking risks, etc.  This is the kind of thing you should show your kids when they whine to you “but that’s not fair.”  Here, see for yourself:

Here are a few more interesting things I’ve found today:

At PJ Media, David Swindle shows that in this election, unlike the 2008 election, no voters can pretend that they don’t have at least a suspicion that Obama is a corrupt man who is advancing a political agenda antithetical to America’s traditional trajectory.

Also at PJ Media, David Steinberg calls out those Leftist Jews who cannot forgive the Germans for the 1972 Munich Olympics, but happily turn a blind eye to the Obama administration’s Benghazi fiasco.

And also at PJ Media (which had a spectacular run of good posts in the last 24 hours), Victor Davis Hanson examines Obama’s political fantasies (and it’s not just “hope and change”).

My own Watcher’s Council has a forum about clipping the wings of the teacher’s unions.  I didn’t participate in this one (see my excuse about the family-centric weekend), but I wish I had, because then I could boast about having my ideas appearing amongst the thoughtful, intelligent, and practical ideas my fellow Council members advance.

Legal Insurrection has a pretty viral post about the fact that Elizabeth Warren had a continuously operating law practice in Massachusetts for nigh on a decade, although she isn’t licensed to practice law in that state.  The only way Warren can douse this fire is to prove absolutely that she only practiced in federal courts (including the United States Supreme Court).  I’ll be interested to see how this one plays out.

Consider this an open thread, and please add anything you’ve found today that’s interesting.

 

 

War’s enablers

So why would the Obama administration overtly lie about what transpired in Libya?

Because, on the anniversary of 9/11, Al Qaeda won a “battle” and this administration could only pretend otherwise.

What most of the pundit media seems to have missed, including the inestimable Mark Steyn and John Bolton, is that it isn’t just that fact that the Obama Administration’s foreign policy has failed but that they have effectively reversed years of successes against our declared enemies won through blood, sweat and tears. Under George Bush, we vowed to hunt Al Qaeda down to the ends of the earth. There would be no rock or cave in the world under or in which they could hid from us. We would find them and we did find them. In appreciated, GW Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were excoriated. Today, after 3-1/2 years of Obama’s foreign policy delusions, Al Qaeda has been resurgent and, on September 11th, they scored an important “victory”.

I don’t blame Obama and his acolytes. They are what they are. I do blame those people who voted them in that actually believed, after 9/11, that we could simply pretend our enemies away with fluffy speeches, acquiescence to their demands and the freeing of Al Qaeda prisoners. Today our enemies are resurgent and, with the help of the Obama administration, empowered. Not just our enemies in the Middle East, but those in the Pacific as well.

It looks like those people who spent the first decade braying “no more war!” have pretty much guaranteed that we will face war for decades to come. Whether we have the collective national will to survive, crush our enemies and win, only time and events will tell.

The Obama administration couldn’t tell the truth. To do so would require that they admit that the GW Bush Administration was right and that they were horribly, horribly wrong.