People see Syria through their own prisms, and they still don’t like it

Yesterday, I put up an image that tied together the significant differences between Obama’s response to a direct attack on America and Americans in Libya, versus a mass civilian murder in a country that’s already killed more than 100,000 of its, and created millions of refugees.  I think its worth repeating here:

The red lines Obama chose to ignore

Early this morning, I came across another poster that sounds the same theme, this time raising suspicions about the Obama government’s fact-finding regarding Syria, versus its fact-finding regarding Benghazi (h/t Bluebird of Bitterness):
barry-kerry
This is the prism through which many conservatives who oppose the war view Obama’s sudden desire to marching America into the black hole of a killer nation’s civil war.

What fascinates me is that so many Leftists who oppose Obama’s proposed invasion view the whole thing through a completely different filter. Exhibit A for today is the non-GMO movement’s opposition to the war:Obama should bomb Monsanto

We are all united in our opposition to having the United States engage in Syria.  It’s just that we are completely divided when it comes to the reasons for our opposition.

And of course, if you’re MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, you have to listen to the dog whistle of racism to make sure that, God Forbid, you don’t end up in the same bed as your former political opponents.  Watching Schultz’s contortions, which see him agreeing Republicans regarding their anti-War stance, while simultaneously ascribing them to an unexpressed racism (that’s the old dog-whistle) is actually amusing.  (Warning:  video plays when you load the page.)

A writer who understands how the Left operates

I’m reading a very enjoyable novel right now that is completely tuned in to the way in which the Left operates, especially when it comes to the media and academia.

The writer is completely tuned into the name calling that substitutes for informed debate. For example, when the book’s protagonist, Paul, learns that Leftists starting submitted articles to a magazine that contained misstatements of facts in an effort to shift political sentiment (a la Climategate, although this book predates that effort), the following dialog ensues between Paul and Bill Weider, the magazine’s editor:

“But – Bill, why don’t you publish the story you told me? Just as you’ve told it to me? Let your readers know. Let the public see what is happening.”

Weidler’s frown came back. “You know what will happen? There will be a campaign against us. We’ll be called fascists, war-mongers, American imperialists, witch-hunters.”

“You’ve forgotten to add ‘hysteria-inciters,’” Paul said, smiling. “Strange how often they’ve been using hysteria recently – almost hysterically, in fact.”

On the subject of claims about hysteria, my sister, much impressed, sent me this Glenn Greenwald article deriding American hysteria about the Flaming Panties bomber.  I wrote her back that Americans would be less inclined to be hysterical if the Administration would identify and focus upon an enemy – that would be radical Islam, by the way. As long as the Administration (and this goes for the past Administration too) refuses to identify the enemy, all Americans are suspect, and all must be exposed to searches, stupid restrictions, and other limitations on civil liberties.

In a charming aside, the book tackles the root cause question. When the book’s heroine, Rona, and her sister, Peggy, talk about an unpleasant acquaintance, they have this to say:

“She isn’t a friend of yours, is she?” Peggy was now very much the elder sister.

“Not particularly,” Rona said, which was a miracle of understatement. “Scott says she’s a product of her environment,” she added.

“Strange how we never use that phrase when we are describing pleasant people,” Peggy said….

Do I need to remind you that one of the first things Obama did after the Flaming Panties bombing was to emphasize the poverty in Yemen? Yes, it’s true that poor, corrupt countries are great hosts for radical Islamists, but there is no doubt but that the bombers, whether they’re the fabulously wealthy founder of Al Qaeda, young dilettantes flying airplanes into the World Trade Center, ordinary Yorkshire youths blowing up British subways, educated psychiatrists shooting soldiers at Fort Hood, or fabulously wealthy Nigerians setting their underwear on fire are products of only one environment, one that the Left never dares to acknowledge: Islam.

Using a conversation between Paul and his friend, Jon, a professor, the writer has a long riff on the way in which the Left deliberately targets universities and newspapers – indeed, all media of mass communication – as a way in which to manipulate the public:

“You’re in education, Jon. Do you think propaganda is a powerful force? Could it be dangerous? Supposing an enemy of this country had its sympathizers carefully planted here? Supposing these propagandists were trying to infiltrate such businesses and professions as radio, the press, films, schools and colleges, the theater, publishing?”

“That’s a damned silly question,” Jon said almost angrily. “You ask how dangerous it might be?” He looked at Paul, unbelievingly, but Paul kept silent. “This is the twentieth century, with communication easier and more powerful than it’s ever been. The trouble with those who see no danger, who think we are perfectly safe if only we invent more hideous bombs is that they are still living with a nineteenth century idea of peace. Wars haven’t changed much except in bigger and better holocausts. But peace, as we are going to see it in this century, is something quite altered. A lot of new dangers are going to stay with us permanently just because we’ve invented a lot of peacetime conveniences that make life so interesting. It isn’t only armies we have to fear today: it’s words, words abused and corrupted and twisted.”

Still Paul said nothing.

“You see,” Jon went on patiently, “a hundred years ago, fewer people could read, fewer people were educated, and fewer people thought they could argue about international conditions. Also, in those days, propaganda spread more slowly and less widely. But now we’ve got a vast public who read their papers, discuss books and articles, go to the movies and the theater, listen to their radio, watch television, and send their children to schools and colleges.”

“And a public,” Paul interposed, “who have enough to do with arranging their own lives without analyzing all the things they read or hear. They’ve got to trust the honesty of those men who deal with the written or spoken word. Just as the journalist, or the movie director, or the teacher, has got to trust the honesty of the businessmen and workers whenever he buys a refrigerator or a car or a shirt. Isn’t that right?”

The above was written before the 2008 election – before the media completely abandoned its role of reporting and became an institution devoted to advocating a single party in an election. And, as Paul predicted, the public bought it hook, line and sinker, trusting as they did in the honesty of the written and spoken word pouring out over the airwaves. Nowadays, big lies get promulgated with warp speed, in myriad media, and they live forever, corrupting political discourse.

The author recognizes the way in which the Left is hostile to any wars that might conceivably advance American interests. In speaking of a college campus, she says:

“The colleges and universities were full of pickets with placards saying it was all an imperialist war. The students and faculties were deluged with leaflets denouncing war-mongers and reactionaries. Speakers were appearing on the campus, haranguing us all not to fight.”

There’s a universality to that description, since it aptly describes the Left’s anti-War tactics in 1940, 1968, 1991, 2003, and today. To the Left, the possibility of a good war, a war to maintain the line against totalitarianism and preserve freedom, is always impossible to imagine – and the easiest targets for that failure of imagination are colleges students, since it is they who must be convinced that they are fighting for something worth defending.

Speaking of fighting for something worth defending, the writer has no truck with the Leftist habit of moral relativism. Here are Rona and her boyfriend Scott having a debate about a guest at a party who Rona believes has a tiresome habit of painting everything in Left of center politics:

“His line is so old! Two years ago, or three, he could manage to get away with it. But not now.”

“What do you mean?” Scott looked across the room.

“Just that he wasn’t the least little bit the original talker he likes to imagine he is. He only succeeded in annoying most of our guests.”

“Because he thinks differently from them? Se we must all talk the same way, think the same things?”

“No, darling!” She rose and came over to him. “I don’t believe two of us in the room echoed any point of view, except in a general way – well, of believing that right is right and wrong is wrong.”

“That’s all relative,” Scott said. “Depends on each man’s frame of reference.”

“I don’t believe that,” she said, “except for the small things in life. You can find them as relative as you like. But in the big things, you’ve got to decide what is right, what is wrong. Or else you’ve no moral judgment, at all. Like Murray. He’s just a parrot, that’s all he is.”

Moral relativism, of course, is a chronic talking point for the Left, and a chronic problem for those educated and controlled by the Left. In the War against Islamists, for example, moral relativism is tightly entwined with the whole “root cause” that both the author and I mentioned above. After all, as Michael Moore said, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. The Left never seems to understand that, while the act of fighting may be the same, the reason one fights determines whether one is morally right or wrong. Fighting for individual liberty is a good reason to fight; fighting to subjugate the world to a misogynist, homophobic, antisemitic, anti-Christian, completely totalitarian religion – well, not so good.

In the last section of the book from which I’ll quote, the writer also tackles the Left’s habit of targeting individuals by appealing to their sense of victim hood. Multiculturalism isn’t a means of preserving what’s special about a group’s ethnicity. Instead, it’s a political tool aimed at dividing Americans from each other, and making them dependent on the Left as their only savior.

While today’s victims are mostly blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, women (when it’s still useful), Muslims, etc., in the book, the man targeted to be a victim who can be saved only by the Left is a Jew:

“I’ve a battle on my hands right now. They want us to keep different, and I’m telling them the hell with that, we’re Americans. That’s what we are. Stop building a wall around us, stop emphasizing differences, that’s what I keep trying to tell them. And they look at me as if I were some kind of traitor.” He looked at Jon Tyson. “But I’m building no wall, and no one is going to persuade me to do it.”

Obviously, I’ve been playing coy with you, keeping secret the book’s author, title and date of publication. Those of you who know my weakness for Helen MacInnes’ Cold War novels might already have figured out that I’m quoting from one of her books. The book in question is Neither Five Nor Three, published in 1951. It focuses on the Left’s infiltration of the media world and college campuses.

This was the beginning of the Cold War, of course, so Helen MacInnes couldn’t look ahead and realize how that infiltration would be completely successful. While we were challenging the Soviet Union abroad, it was taking over our institutions at home. And now, as Leftist Professor Ward Churchill would say, “The chickens have come home to roost.” All of the nascent tactics MacInnes described then – the moral relativism, the victim-based multiculturalism, the name-calling, the anti-Americanism – have become permanently entrenched in America’s media and education cultures. In those days, people saw these things and remarked upon them. In these days, people believe in the message and approve of the messengers.

Neither Five Nor Three Cover

When violence is the answer

I love my dojo.  The teachers are, without exception, top quality and, also without exception, they are just about the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  Oh, one other thing:  without exception, they’re pro-Obama and anti-War.

What this means is that you have people who dedicate their lives to teaching fighting, and who believe passionately in personal self-defense, but who are ideologically completely opposed to the notion of national self-defense.  They believe that, at the personal level, if one can’t defuse a hostile opponent quickly, one should subdue that opponent with swift and overwhelming (although not necessarily deadly) force.  However, they believe that, at the national level, there is never any justification for a nation to go to war.  War is evil.  Bush was an evil war-monger.  Obama is good because he is the bringer of peace.

(And no, I haven’t talked to them about Obama’s decision to conduct a temporary, mini-Surge in Iran Afghanistan.  [Editor's note:  Was that a Freudian slip, or what?]  Indeed, I never talk politics with them at all.  I just listen to their conversations and read their bumperstickers.  I’ve learned that, when it comes to politics in Marin, direct confrontation is never as effective as small asides that cause people to think.)

I always wonder when the cognitive dissonance between my teachers’ personal passions and their politics will finally become overwhelming.  They’d probably be helped if they ever saw this Steve Crowder video:

Media continues to give new meaning to old ideas

There’s yet another movie coming out about the way in which the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq destroy lives and turn young men into pathetic losers:

There is a grim timeliness to the release of “Brothers,” Jim Sheridan’s movie about the effects of war on the family of a Marine serving in Afghanistan. Whatever the other consequences of President Obama’s revised strategy in that country, we can be sure that it will yield more stories like the one told in this film. And it is sobering, eight years into the war, to reflect that in 2004, the first time this movie was made — by the Danish director Susanne Bier — it was just as topical and urgent.

The review is written in terms of high art — which I translate as boring and pompous — but I gather that the brother who goes to war suffers terribly, and that his sufferings transfer to the family, and that they all suffer and are destroyed together. War is hell, people.

The above is the usual we expect from Hollywood.  What’s so funny is the way in which the New York Times‘ movie reviewer, A.O. Scott, assures us that the movie is completely apolitical:

But this “Brothers,” like its predecessor, is in some ways less a movie about war than a movie that uses war as a scaffolding for domestic melodrama. It also follows the template of American movies about Iraq and Afghanistan in being resolutely somber and systematically apolitical: you can witness any kind of combat heroism or atrocity, and see unflinching portrayals of grief, trauma and healing. But you almost never hear an argument about the war itself, or glimpse the larger global and national context in which these intimate dramas take shape.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Scott that a movie that paints war as an evil thing that destroys, not just the enemy, but the warriors at home and, by extension, their families too, is pretty anti-war.  And that if it’s anti-war, it isn’t apolitical.  Instead, it’s standing firmly on the side of those liberals who believe that all wars, regardless of the goals, are inherently evil and destructive.  It also stands firmly on the side of those liberals who do not believe that there is a warrior class that finds fulfillment in serving, and that despite the fact that war — even a just war — can indeed be hell.

As an antidote to the liberal establishment’s firm belief that military service inevitably destroys human beings, let me replay this great video of Congressional candidate Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, which I already added to my affirmative action post:

Best analysis I’ve seen of Obama’s myriad failures re Iraq

Before today, I hadn’t heard of Frank Turek.  After today, I’m going to keep an eye out for his articles.  He’s written a really splendid article explaining how deeply, terribly wrong Obama’s every position is regarding Iraq.  Frankly, for those who are well-informed, there’s nothing in this article you haven’t seen before.  I’m just impressed by how well and elegantly he pulls it together — to the point where’d I say that, if you have to send one article to a liberal friend supporting McCain on Iraq, and opposing Obama, I’d make it this one.

For example (emphasis in original):

Barack Obama’s recent op-ed in the New York Times declares, “It’s time to end this war.” (You remember that Senator McCain tried to respond, but the Times apparently wanted to give McCain his opinion rather than allow him to express his own.   Every day I read the New York Times and the Bible just to see what both sides are doing.)

Is Obama right?  Is it time to end this war?  Maybe it is time to begin drawing down our forces and handing-off more responsibility for security to Iraqi forces.  This idea is gaining favor in Bagdad and Washington.

The problem for Obama is that withdrawal, not victory, has always been his goal.  Obama wanted to “end this war” when it would have meant an American defeat.  The only reason a slow withdrawal is possible now is because President Bush made the unpopular but wise decision to increase our efforts while Obama and the Democrat party tried to get us to cut and run.

This raises a larger question about Obama’s fitness for the presidency.  Obama has four positions related to the war which, in my view, disqualify him for the presidency.

First, how can a serious candidate for President of the United States have a long-standing goal to end the war rather than win it?  Great presidents don’t end wars—they win them. The only way the American military can be defeated is when American leaders forfeit the fight for them.  And that’s exactly what Obama has wanted to do for years.

Phone messages from crazy people

I was out this morning getting my oil changed — and learning that it will cost almost $2,000 to fix my car from its recent run-in with a low post.  When I got home, I found an interesting message on my answering machine.

It’s the recorded voice of Dennis Kucinich begging me to “Press 1 now” on my phone to be added to the “growing list” of people calling for George Bush’s impeachment.  I don’t know how to tell Kucinich this, but George Bush is leaving office, with or without impeachment, in six months.

Impeachment is, in any event, a dumb idea.  Even though Clinton used the White House as his own private cat house, committed perjury himself, and encouraged others to lie as well, I thought the impeachment against him was vindictive politics that would backfire.  I think the same holds true in this tit-for-tat attempt to dislodge Bush, or just to humiliate him, with the end of his presidency drawing near.

It’s also unusually stupid — and this is saying a lot even for Kucinich — considering the potential fall-out here.  Clinton’s crimes were his own.  In this case, however, any Democrat calling for impeachment should consider the number of Congress people (Democrats included) who had possession of precisely the same information as George Bush, and who were as gung-ho for war as he was.  Any attack on Bush is necessarily going to create a wide-ranging defense that attacks a whole bunch of Congress people as well.  (You know, thinking about it, that’s not such a bad thing, is it?)

Sleight of hand in the Obama campaign

Obama campaign is clearly a masterful example of the illusionist’s art.  As you may recall, he managed to get the press to tout one of his rallies as one of the largest political rallies ever, although it subsequently emerged that it was mostly a big rock band event.  He’s also barred women in Islamic veils from standing too close to him.  It’s likely that he has professional fainters on hand to enhance his aura, too.

And now he’s done it again.  The lastest example of Obama’s image manipulation occurred when he made a big speech about the War to an invitation only event, a speech that was intended to establish his bona fides to lead the American military.  One might think that he’d actually make this speech to members of the military whose trust he needs to earn.  Instead, he packed the event with an extreme anti-War veterans group.  The press reported that he spoke to veterans but, of course, neglected to mention that these are vets who have taken a far Left stance at odds with the average service person’s political views.  I suspect that, when all is said and done, Obama will have run the most dishonest campaign in American history.

Quick! Someone tell the American voters about this news from Iraq.

The story is amazing and the source — the normally anti-American Spiegel (a German magazine) — is equally amazing.  According to this story, things in Baghdad are going really well, and the citizens have a renewed sense of well-being and purpose:

There is an unexpected air of normalcy prevailing in Baghdad these days, with consumption flourishing and confidence in the government growing. The progress is astonishing, but can it last?

Pork is available in Baghdad once again. Not just in the Green Zone, where US diplomats can enjoy their spare ribs and Parma ham, but also across the Tigris River, in the real Baghdad, at “Al-Warda” on Karada Street. Bassim Dencha, 32, one of the few Christians remaining in Iraq and the co-owner of Baghdad’s finest supermarket, has developed a supply line from Syria. As a result, he now has frozen pork chops and bratwurst arranged in his freezers, next to boxes of frozen French fries and German Black Forest Cakes. And the customers are buying.

For four years, selling pork or alcohol in Baghdad was a security risk. But the acts of terror committed by Islamist fundamentalists, who once punished such violations of their interpretation of the Koran with attacks on businesses and their owners, have gradually subsided. The supply of imported goods is also relatively secure today, now that roads through the Sunni Triangle are significantly safer than they were only a few months ago.

“It’s worth it again,” says businessman Bassim Dencha. “All we need now is enough electricity to reopen our refrigerated warehouse.”

And on and on, with details of progress and optimism.  The story (of course) points to the fragility of this renewal, and has doom and gloom statements about its sustainability, but the story’s general tenor is cautious optimism.

Do you think Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama have read this?  Do you think they care?  How about the New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Newsweek, Time, etc., ad nauseum?  I doubt any of them want to see stories like this published in America between now and November.  It will be devastating to their oft repeated message that the Iraq War is unwinnable (since this report allows for the possibility that we won), and that Bush was a horrible, malevolent idiot, whose wrongful conduct taints all Republicans, practically mandating an Obama victory.

Please go to the Spiegel story and email it to your friends.  More people should read it and see what they’re missing when they open America’s papers and magazines, or turn on the news channels.

Prescient versus naive? stupid? ideologically blind?

Frederick Kagan has a fascinating comparison of the specific Iraq policy plans McCain and Obama advanced before the Surge.  McCain actually envisioned a surge-like event, and described all the positive benefits that would flow from it — and his predictions proved to be completely accurate.  Obama, of course, demanded retreat and defeat.  Given the success of the plan McCain envisioned, it is not unreasonable to assume that Obama’s opposite plan might have had a very opposite outcome.  I love Kagan’s conclusion:

For any voter trying to choose between the two candidates for commander in chief, there is no better test than this: When American strategy in a critical theater was up for grabs, John McCain proposed a highly unpopular and risky path, which he accurately predicted could lead to success. Barack Obama proposed a popular and politically safe route that would have led to an unnecessary and debilitating American defeat at the hands of al Qaeda.

The two men brought different backgrounds to the test, of course. In January 2007, McCain had been a senator for 20 years and had served in the military for 23 years. Obama had been a senator for 2 years and before that was a state legislator, lawyer, and community organizer. But neither presidential candidates nor the commander in chief gets to choose the tests that history brings. Once in office, the one elected must perform.