Tuesday night stuff (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesJust a few quick links I don’t want to leave on the table before I head down to my perpetual motion machine for the rest of the evening.

Earlier today, I bought a Mark Steyn gift certificate to help fund his legal battle against Michael Mann, a man who rejoices under the title of being a scientist, but is in fact a First Amendment terrorist. Not too long after that, I read Dennis Prager’s article about Bryan Stow. Living in the Bay Area, I had heard about Stow, a SF Giants fan beaten almost to death by some L.A. Dodger’s fans. In the intervening years, I hadn’t realized that his injuries were so devastating. I also didn’t know until today that the men who did this to him got off with prison sentences equal to a slap on the hand — sentences that made them smirk happily when handed down. Please consider donating to the Bryan Stow fund. I did, and only regret that I hadn’t done so sooner.

***

When Victor Davis Hanson is good, he’s really, really good. He’s all that in his post about the Bizarro World of Barack Obama’s presidency, in which every manifest failure is presented to Americans as a glowing success. Lincoln famously said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” He was wrong. We live in a P.T. Barnum world, where there’s a sucker born every minute — and they’re all supporting Barack Obama and his administration.

***

No link here, just an observation: I was speaking to my fairly apolitical sister about political correctness, education trends, national security, etc. I asked her, “Am I so exercised about this stuff because I’m an old fogey, like the old Yorkshire men famous for beginning each sentence by saying ‘When I were a lad,’ or has the world really gotten weird lately?” She answered, “It’s gotten really weird. The changes are fast and they are strange.”

***

It’s not just that Andrew Malcolm wrote a good article about Barack Obama’s myriad foreign policy failures and the disdain in which this Nobel Prize winner is held around the world. It’s also the side by side photos of presidents Bush and Obama with the Dalai Lama. It makes me steam to think that, probably without exception, the Dalai Lama’s supporters voted for Obama. I’m not a fan of the Dalai Lama who, despite China’s constant depredations against his land, has announced that he’s a Marxist, meaning he’s dumb as a post, but I do admire his steadfast fight for his country’s independence (a fight he apparently carries out so that his country, too, can become a large socialist workers gulag). And yes, that was one of the longest sentences I’ve ever written, but I kept my clauses in nice order.

***

If the name Margalit Fox is familiar to you, it’s because you pay attention to the bylines on New York Times obituaries. In my humble opinion, the New York Times obituary section is the only section in that paper worth reading — and what makes it worthwhile in significant part is Fox’s delightful writing. Knowing what a good writer she is, I didn’t think twice about picking up The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code when I saw that she was the author. My instincts were good. Fox brings to life the decades’ long (and eventually successful) effort to decipher the Linear B writing found at Knossos, home of the many King Minoses and the famous Minotaur. I’m halfway through the book, and am finding it difficult to put it down.

***

If the Thomas Jefferson quotation at Doug Ross’s site is apocryphal, please don’t tell me. I want to believe it’s real. (No, I take that back. Intellectual honesty matters more than wishful thinking.)

***

I’ve never managed to be that thrilled by Sen. Marco Rubio. I think with a bit of time at his back, he’ll be something wonderful, but right now he’s not quite all that — except that is, when it comes to ripping apart old Leftists and their sorry love affair with Cuba. That fire is the promise that he can become a great statesman, although he isn’t one yet.

***

Speaking of statesmen, I’m beginning to put more and more faith in Scott Walker as a serious potential presidential candidate. If the worst that the Democrat attack dogs can come up with about him as that, back in college in the late 1980s, he announced in advance that he was running for student body president, rather than waiting until the official announcement day to do so, the media is going to have to work hard to discredit him. Add the lack of bad stuff to all the major good stuff in Wisconsin, and you’ve got Candidate Squeaky-Clean-and-Principled. Indeed, my only complaint about him will be the fact that he’s younger than I am. How in the world did it happen that I got to be older than the guys running for president? (Obama is only a month younger than I am, so that doesn’t count.)

***

Islamists kill. That’s what they do. And they especially love killing children because, even for psychopaths, soft targets (baby-soft targets) are the best. Or maybe I mean “especially for psychopaths.” Regardless, even as these monsters continue to array themselves in ever greater numbers against the West, our administration announces that it’s going to shrink the Army back to its 1930 size. We saw, of course, how well that worked back in the day.

***

This is what Obamacare is all about (from a son’s WSJ article about Obamacare’s death sentence for his mother):

[T]here is something deeply and incontestably perverse about a law that so distorts and undermines the free activity of individuals that they can no longer buy and sell the goods and services that keep them alive. ObamaCare made my mother’s old plan illegal, and it forced her to buy a new plan that would accelerate her disease and death.

[snip]

The “Affordable” Care Act is a brutal, Procrustean disaster. In principle, it violates the irreducible particularity of human life, and in practice it will cause many individuals to suffer and die. We can do better, and we must.

***

Sultan Knish makes a point that is obvious only in retrospect, after having read his post: just as raw power isn’t concentrated in corporations’ hands but is, instead, concentrated in a centralized government’s hands, so too is wealth concentrated, not in corporations or amongst a wealthy few, but in a centralized, socialized or semi-socialized government’s pocket.

Pitbull — Middle aged suburban mom loves the music and respects the man

It’s a standing joke in our family that Mom — middle-aged suburban housewife that I am — really, really likes Pitbull.  I love the way he does mash-ups of classic songs from the 50s through the 80s, and I like his cheerful, self-deprecating rap.  He’s on my playlist, and I don’t care if the children groan when we’re driving in the car and, suddenly, there’s Pitbull.  As you can see from these videos, he’s rather salacious, but that’s hard to avoid nowadays, and I just . . . well, I just like him:

Today, I also find myself in the rare position of not just liking a musical artist’s performance, but actually respecting his views.  Why?  Because Pitbull was disgusted with pop stars Beyoncé’s and Jay-Z’s much talked-about trip to Cuba.  Jay-Z said of his visit:

“I done turned Havana into Atlanta,” Jay-Z raps. “[…] Boy from the hood, I got White House clearance… Politicians never did s— for me except lie to me, distort history… They wanna give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime.”

[snip]

Jay Z later raps: “Hear the freedom in my speech… Obama said, ‘Chill you gonna get me impeached. You don’t need this s— anyway, chill with me on the beach.’”

Both of those vapid airheads (Jay-Z and Beyoncé) seemed very pleased with themselves for having visited a communist country that keeps its people imprisoned in grinding poverty, under the constant eye of the state police.

Pitbull was not impressed.  He did a pro-American rap, which he promoted on his Twitter account (click on image to get to Pitbull’s tweet):

Twitter  Pitbull I'm cuban american i was born ... - Mozilla Firefox 4142013 81836 PM.bmp

Pitbull — thank you!!! Next time my children tease me about loving your music, I’m going to tell them that you’re not just a great rapper/musician, you’re also a principled and decent man. Woo-hoo!

Yes, Obama is a Marxist, but the MSM has blunted America’s ability to care

At YID with LID, you get to see proof of something we all knew intuitively:  Obama is now and long has been a Marxist.

The problem is that this news, which ought to be staggering, doesn’t matter.  Even if one strips away the MSM’s reflexive denial about Obama’s Marxism, the fact that he is a Marxist still doesn’t matter.  I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, that forty years of Leftist education and media indoctrination have resulted in an America that views the word without fear.

After forty years of being taught aggressively that America is an evil imperialist; that American values are not only no better than other values but are actually worse; that women and all non-white races are superior to men and the white race (a form of reverse racism, rather than a step toward true equality); that capitalism destroys humans and the planet; that traditional religion is a form of white capitalist dominance; and on and on.  America may not yet be a Marxist nation in fact, but it will be because we’ve had two generations that have been inculcated in Marxist ideology.  It’s what they know and where they go.

I was the first generation.  I struggled with the cognitive dissonance of “the Communists are people just like us, and they want happy families, and they have elections, and we’re the warmongers, and fairies and unicorns,” even while contrasting that with meeting people from the Soviet Union, or getting reports out of China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other Marxist paradises putting the lie to these assurances.  Since 1989, though, Communism has been on the decline at the national level.  The Soviet Union is gone, China has gone to a weirdly capitalist economy, and we’re told that Cuba is a happy, sunny, laid-back, 50s-car driving Caribbean paradise, while the horrors in North Korea aren’t because of Communism, but simply because the Kim family is evil.  It’s Peyton Place on steroids, rather than the logical outgrowth of an evil ideology.  The cognitive dissonance with which I struggled is gone, because the past few generations have had no truth to balance against the lies.

So at the end of the day, no one in America cares that Obama is a Marxist.  The concept has been leached of meaning.

But, just so you know, he is a Marxist.

All of which gets me back to the point I made in the preceding post:  Andrew Breitbart got that the problem isn’t Obama.  He’s a symptom.  The problem is a media establishment that’s created a virtual Newspeak world.  It’s that ideological hegemony that we need to destroy, so that future generations of America can actually struggle with cognitive dissonance, rather than being fed a pure diet of lies and misinformation.  Then, if they’re lucky, they can choose actual facts rather than Marxist unicorns and fairies when they make the political choices.

Yes, #OWS is antisemitic. Bill Whittle explains why. And I explain why there is no 99%.

This is as pithy a summary as any I’ve seen about the antisemitism permeating Occupy Wall Street, and binding together the Left, the Islamists, and the White Supremacists:

(If the video isn’t showing up, watch here.)

By the way, why is no one commenting on the fact that the so-called 99% are not a monolithic block, but range from the 1% crazy guy eating food out of a garbage can, all the way up to the 98% gal who was raised in poverty, but worked her way up to splendid financial independence?

This whole 99% versus 1% thing is insanely stupid.  The American reality is that we don’t live in the Middle Ages, we don’t live in a totalitarian dictatorship such as North Korea or Cuba, we don’t live in pre-Revolutionary France, or in any other time or place where the vast majority of citizens are or were a monolithic block of nasty, brutish and short lives, rules over by a few vastly wealthy despots.

Yes, there are some vastly wealthy people in America, although the ones such as Bill Gates and Larry Ellison are singularly disinterested in political power, instead just wanting toys (Ellison) or to save the lives of Third World children (Gates).  Mostly, America represents a rare economic continuum.  There is no 99%.  Instead, in America, we have the 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5% . . . 50%, 51%, 52%, 53% . . . 87%, 88%, 89%, with the vast majority living in the middle of the percentage bell curve, a bell curve that has nothing to do with either Wall Street wealth or Zuccotti homelessness or even spoiled brat student loans.

Hat tip:  Ed Driscoll

Yet another Tom Lehrer song proves to be prescient

I blogged the other day that Tom Lehrer’s MLF Lullaby, although about Germany, worked well with Islam in the starring role.  It turns out that Tom Leher was prescient about folk songs too.  First, the New York Times story:

When one of Cuba’s best-known musicians landed in the United States, his first appearance was not onstage, but on Capitol Hill.

Carlos Varela, often referred to as Cuba’s Bob Dylan, had come to remix an album with his good friend Jackson Browne. But he also hoped to help reshape relations between the United States and his homeland.

So before going to Hollywood to work on the album, he stopped in Washington early this month for meetings with legislators and a lunch with a senior White House official. Later he held a jam session in the House Budget Committee meeting room.

Almost everywhere Mr. Varela, 46, went during his weeks here, including at universities and policy institutes, small talk about music gave way to pressing, albeit polite, questions on policy.

“I don’t represent any government or political party,” he said. “But perhaps that’s why governments and politicians might be willing to listen to what I have to say.”

Yes, it is a Cuban folk song army. And yes, Tom Lehrer wrote more than forty years ago about folk song armies:

One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk-song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on. The nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good. I have a song here which I realize should be accompanied on a folk instrument in which category the piano does not alas qualify so imagine if you will that I am playing an 88 string guitar.

We are the Folk Song Army.
Everyone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs.
Yeah, but we regard ‘em with scorn.
The folks who sing ‘em have no social conscience.
Why they don’t even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don’t have to be clever,
And it don’t matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English,
And it don’t even gotta rhyme–excuse me–rhyne.

Remember the war against Franco?
That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

So join in the Folk Song Army,
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready! Aim! Sing!

The New York Times takes off the mask

This morning, Mr. Bookworm asked me “Who is Charles Freeman?”  Because he reads only the Times, he’d never heard of him before today.  I gave a brief summary of Freeman’s views re China, the Middle East and 9/11, as well as the fact that he lives in Saudi and Chinese pockets financially.  Mr. Bookworm listened silently, and then said, “Well, I’ve never heard of him, but it’s all over the front pages today that the Jewish Lobby destroyed him.”

I thought this was hyperbole on Mr. Bookworm’s part, but it’s not.  Despite the fact that the past three weeks revealed vast amounts of irrefutable evidence about Freeman’s China connections, his 9/11 pronouncements and his general malevolent wackiness, the Times, now that it finally deigned to cover the matter, actually parrots Freeman and blames the Jews.

The Times titles its “story” (and I use that term deliberately, in the way one refers to a falsehood) about Freeman’s political demise thusly: “Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post.”  The story begins with a bizarre first paragraph that explains that the White House really had no idea what was going on and was kind of worried about Freeman, but ultimately was just as blindsided by the Freeman nomination as anyone else.  As for me, I don’t find this “excuse” comforting.  I find it a scary sign that, again, the White House is either utterly incompetent or was complicit in this failed nomination and is now using incompetence as an excuse.

Having done their best to trumpet the Bush administration’s innocence in this mess, the article’s authors just pile it on Israel, as seen through the Freeman lens:

Just how controversial the choice would be became clear on Tuesday, when Mr. Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush, angrily withdrew his name from consideration and charged that he had been the victim of a concerted campaign by what he called “the Israel lobby.”

Mr. Freeman had long been critical of Israel, with a bluntness that American officials rarely voice in public about a staunch American ally. In 2006, he warned that, “left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them and enrage those who are not.”

He did not soften his tone even on Wednesday, saying in an interview that “Israel is driving itself toward a cliff, and it is irresponsible not to question Israeli policy and to decide what is best for the American people.”

The critics who led the effort to derail Mr. Freeman argued that such views reflected a bias that could not be tolerated in someone who, as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, would have overseen the production of what are supposed to be policy-neutral intelligence assessments destined for the president’s desk.

Some of Mr. Freeman’s defenders say his views on Israel are extreme only when seen through the lens of American political life, and they asked whether it was possible to question American support for Israel without being either muzzled or marginalized.

“The reality of Washington is that our political landscape finds it difficult to assimilate any criticism of any segment of the Israeli leadership,” said Robert W. Jordan, who was ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2003.

The above is just a representative sample.  The article never actually examines Freeman’s problems.  It engages in a he said/she said approach, giving equal airtime to his supporters, and leaving the very strong impression (supported by the story’s title), that all-powering Jews destroyed Freeman — just as Freeman claimed.

Only in the last third of this lengthy article covering Freeman’s views about Israel and the effort Jewish groups made to derail him does one actually hear about China, and then only in the most cursory fashion, and spread out over myriad paragraphs:

In the days after Senator Schumer’s first phone call, other lawmakers and pro-Israel groups began applying pressure on the White House. Representative Steve Israel, a New York Democrat, also called Mr. Emanuel about the pick, and pushed Mr. Blair’s inspector general to examine possible conflicts of interest surrounding Mr. Freeman’s relationships with the Chinese and Saudi governments.

[snip]

Before his ambassadorship, Mr. Freeman held a variety of State Department posts. Since leaving government, he has worked with nonprofit groups and on the board of the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation, a past position that his critics said could be a conflict of interest in his new job.

[snip]

Critics also unearthed e-mail messages attributed to Mr. Freeman that seemed to support the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, saying it was not “acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be.”

Mr. Freeman said Wednesday that the passage was taken out of context, and that he had been describing the dominant view in China in the years after the crackdown.

I won’t even dignify what theTimes did by calling it journalism.  I can easily call it biased, disgraceful and dishonest, though.

Of course, really, it’s all part of a pattern.  In one of the local Marin papers, The Twin Cities Times, the front page has a glowing encomium about Cuba (although, interestingly, the article isn’t available on line).  A local Marin-ite wrote the article after a trip to Cuba.  To give the writer total credit, he did something the Times would never dream of doing:  he spelled out his bias in the article as well as the fact that a “tour” guide accompanied them the whole time (although you had to read pretty far down to get to that information):

Most [on this trip] were activists trying to end the embargo and get a better view of the realities of life there.  All our activities included a bus and our guide, Arturo, who translated everything for us.

After the usual about the people being very nice (which I believe), and very ingenious (which I believe), we start getting the useful idiot shtick:  full employment, fabulous health care, state funded exercise classes, amazing women’s rights, etc.  It doesn’t seem to occur to our local naif that, since he’s getting a government guided tour of a police state, he might just be seeing a Potemkin village and that people the guide interviewed on the tourists behalf might not have been speaking honestly for fear of state retribution.  (And you have to assume that, even if our innocent writer didn’t understand it, the ordinary Cubans knew that the  “guide” was almost certainly a member of Cuba’s secret police.)

I wonder if the author’s article knew, or cared, that anyone who criticizes the Cuban government is summarily imprisoned.  (Jay Nordlinger, at Impromptus, regularly reports on the terrible treatment meted out to Cuban dissidents.)  I wonder if he ever wonders why people are so desperate to leave Cuba that they’ll risk their lives to do so — or if he wonders why people are forbidden to leave.  If the country is as great as the government shills assure him it is, why is it one giant prison?

I’ll excuse the local guy of being a useful idiot.  The Times, however, is actively malevolent.

Random thoughts about Obama *UPDATED*

Obama made much of the fact that his father was an African immigrant from a small village with goats (or something like that).  Few people have made anything of the flip side of that little bit of bio, which is the fact that the first black president has no connection to America’s slave culture.  This is consistent with the fact that the blacks who get ahead in America tend to be the children of recent immigrants from Africa and the Carribean (think:  Colin Powell), rather than from blacks who trace their American roots much further back than I can trace mine.  I draw no conclusions from this; I just observe.

Obama’s decision to close Gitmo (sort of, maybe) in a year is nicely symbolic, but creates more problems than it solves (and what it solves is merely symbolic too, in that it placates the nutroots).  Closing Gitmo means shutting down a physical site, but one is still left with the problem of the prisoners.  American prisons don’t want them, especially because they’re already struggling with the rise of Islam in prisons, a rise that does not make for docile prison populations, but rather, one that increases the sense of aggression and entitlement.  Releasing these prisoners who, in their own minds, continue to be at war with us, simply puts them back on the field.  The 18th Century concept of a parole (which saw released prisoners promise to refrain from fighting for 18 months) really isn’t a workable concept today.  The most logical option is to build a new facility that’s like Gitmo in all ways except that it’s not called Gitmo — which would be a perfect triumph of form over substance, something I suspect we’ll see with increasing frequency in the “image is everything” Obama presidency.

Also on the subject of Gitmo, this is precisely what John Kerry promised back in 2004 — we’ll turn this icky, politically incorrect war into a police action.  Releasing Gitmo detainees into the criminal justice system is just the first step.  But as many commented back in 2004, police actions are ex post facto.  The person commits the crime and then you catch him.  Bush’s system, mercifully for Americans for all these years, was pro active, stopping terror before it started.  You’re right, Bob, about the inevitable consequences of Obama’s instant back-down.

One more thing:  Suek is absolutely correct that this decision is going to give American troops a much greater incentive to “take no prisoners.”  The POW concept, which is a fairly recent and humane one, removed fighters from the battlefield without killing them.  If the battlefield is going to be turned into a revolving door, the only way American fighters can assure themselves that they won’t find themselves staring down the barrel of the same gun a second time is to disable that gun (and its operator) permanently.

Are any of you surprised the Obama is refusing to speak to the press?  I’m not.  He was able to leapfrog from being a nobody to being a president thanks to the gift the press gave him during the candidacy, which was their willingness not to make serious efforts to speak to him.  He still has nothing to say, but he’s now in a position to impose the cone of silence from above, without being dependent on their slavering good will.

I notice that Obama is urging Israel to create a permeable barrier between itself and Gaza. In the same spirit, I think Obama should do away with the Secret Service.  Indeed, to the extent no one has yet tried to kill Obama (and I pray that no one will), he’s actually in a better position security-wise than Israel, which actually has concrete proof that the people in Gaza mean to put their murderous threats into effect.  To date, I’ve been less impressed with Obama’s much vaunted intelligence than others have been.  I have absolutely no doubt that his is a feral, not a thoughtful, mental strength.  This kind of stupid statement proves me right.

And on a totally un-Obama note, are you as impressed a I am with the progress they’re making in plastics (or is it wax) in Cuba?

UPDATE:  I like Laer’s Gitmo solution, which is sort of the mirror image of my suggestion about Obama, Gaza and the Secret Service.

The upside of technology

It’s often frightening to see how terrorists use technology against freedom. It’s therefore uplifting and refreshing to see people using technology to advance freedom. The New York Times, which has always been dizzyingly respectful of Castro, has pulled a fast U-turn and written a very good article about young people using technology to circumvent Cuba’s dictatorship:

A growing underground network of young people armed with computer memory sticks, digital cameras and clandestine Internet hookups has been mounting some challenges to the Cuban government in recent months, spreading news that the official state media try to suppress.

[snip]

“It passes from flash drive to flash drive,” said Ariel, 33, a computer programmer, who, like almost everyone else interviewed for this article, asked that his last name not be used for fear of political persecution. “This is going to get out of the government’s hands because the technology is moving so rapidly.”

Cuban officials have long limited the public’s access to the Internet and digital videos, tearing down unauthorized satellite dishes and keeping down the number of Internet cafes open to Cubans. Only one Internet cafe remains open in Old Havana, down from three a few years ago.

[snip]

Yet the government’s attempts to control access are increasingly ineffective. Young people here say there is a thriving black market giving thousands of people an underground connection to the world outside the Communist country.

People who have smuggled in satellite dishes provide illegal connections to the Internet for a fee or download movies to sell on discs. Others exploit the connections to the Web of foreign businesses and state-run enterprises. Employees with the ability to connect to the Internet often sell their passwords and identification numbers for use in the middle of the night.

[snip]

Some young journalists have also started blogs and Internet news sites, using servers in other countries, and their reports are reaching people through the digital underground.

Yoani Sánchez, 32, and her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, 60, established Consenso desde Cuba , a Web site based in Germany. Ms. Sánchez has attracted a considerable following with her blog, Generación Y, in which she has artfully written gentle critiques of the government by describing her daily life in Cuba. Ms. Sánchez and her husband said they believed strongly in using their names with articles despite the possible political repercussions.

[snip]

Because Ms. Sánchez, like most Cubans, can get online for only a few minutes at a time, she writes almost all her essays beforehand, then goes to the one Internet cafe, signs on, updates her Web site, copies some key pages that interest her and walks out with everything on a memory stick. Friends copy the information, and it passes from hand to hand. “It’s a solid underground,” she said. “The government cannot control the information.”

It is spread by readers like Ricardo, 28, a philosophy student at the University of Havana who sells memory sticks to other students. European friends buy blank flash drives, and others carry them into Cuba, where the drives available through normal channels are very expensive and scarce.

Like many young Cubans, Ricardo plays a game of cat and mouse with the authorities. He doubts that the government will ever let ordinary citizens have access to the Internet in their homes. “That’s far too dangerous,” he said. “Daddy State doesn’t want you to get informed, so it preventively keeps you from surfing.”

I consider this article a very nice companion piece to the other recent surprising Times article exposing the fact that, when trapped between a fascist local religion and Western Democracy, more and more young Iraqis are doing the politically incorrect thing and opting for the latter.

Thumbing our noses at tyrants

One of the things that puts the Kumbi-ya crowd into an absolute frenzy is President Bush’s refusal to deal directly with murderous dictators. Forgetting the example set by Neville “Peace in Our Time” Chamberlain, this crowd is certain that, if they can just wrest a smile from someone evil, they’ll be halfway to ending all the wars in the world. To that end, Nancy Pelosi gets pally with Syria’s Assad, Columbia rolls out the welcome mat for Ahamdinejad, the New York Philharmonic makes beautiful music for Kim Jong-Il, and presidential contender Barack Obama announces that dictators of the world should line up at his office, because he’d just love to have a chat with them.

Right off the bat, it’s apparent that, for a supposedly smart man, Obama is pretty damn stupid. Negotiation works when both parties have a goal that, in a rational world, can be achieved without destroying the other party to the negotiation. Each side may have to give a little to get a little, but both will walk away have achieved their primary ends. But how do you negotiate with someone whose primary end is your own destruction? What Neville Chamberlain learned, and what Israel demonstrates daily, is that it is impossible to have a good faith negotiation with someone like that. There are only two outcomes in such negotiations: either the other party will lie through its teeth to set the preconditions for your destruction, or you’ll just have to agree to shortcut the whole process by committing suicide.

Such statements about an open door policy for negotiation with any and all comers are especially stupid coming from a man who is not only (at least in theory) a lawyer, but also a law professor. It’s a fundamental principle of law that negotiations, to be valid, have to be in good faith. Otherwise, as any person with on the ground experience knows, they are, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, terribly destructive.

Faced with Obama’s manifest idiocy, George Bush, showing himself to be a smart and righteous man, got all hot under the collar:

At a news conference where Bush showed unusual passion for a president in his waning months, he said “now is not the time” to talk with Castro.

“What’s lost … by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs?” he said. “What’s lost is, it’ll send the wrong message. It’ll send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It’ll give great status to those … who have suppressed human rights and human dignity.

“The idea of embracing a leader who’s done this, without any attempt on his part to … release prisoners and free their society, would be counterproductive and send the wrong signal.”

Warming to the subject, Bush continued: “Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him. He gains a lot from it by saying, ‘Look at me. I’m now recognized by the president of the United States.’”

Good old horse sense, which is sorely lacking on the academic Left, demonstrates the truth behind Bush’s words — you don’t validate evil by treating it as ordinary and respectable. But I don’t need horse sense alone to reach this conclusion. I have testimony from someone who lived under one of the world’s most evil regimes — Communist Russia — and who writes with deep conviction about the strength it gave the Russian anti-Communist opposition to know that, out in the wider world, there were people and governments who willingly and loudly called out evil when they saw it. The testimony of which I speak comes from famed Soviet dissident and political prisoner Natan Sharansky, and is found in his book The Case For Democracy : The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.

Sharansky’s book is a sustained attack against “detente” or normalization of relationships between dictatorships and democracies.  (And isn’t that what Obama is really proposing?)  After detailing the various sophistic arguments (many well-intentioned) that supported the broad detente policy the West adopted vis a vis the USSR, Sharansky explains why it was such a bad policy when it came to dealing with a totalitarian dictatorship:

Fortunately, there were a few leaders in the West who could look beyond the facade of Soviet power to see the fundamental weakness of a state that denied its citizens freedom.  Western policies of accommodation, regardless of their intent, were effectively propping up the Soviet’s tiring arms.  Had that accommodation contined, the USSR might have survived for decades longer.  By adopting a policy of confrontation instead [as Reagan did], an enervated Soviet regime was further burdened.  Amalri’s analysis of Soviet weakness [Andrei Amalrik's 1969 dissident treatise explaining the fatal cost to a dictatorship of having to "physically and psychologically control[] millions of its own subjects”] was correct because he understood the inherent instability of totalitarian rule.  But the timing of his prediction [that the Soviet Union would not outlast the 1980s] proved accurate only because people both inside and outside the Soviet Union who understood the power of freedom were determined to harness that power.  (p. 11.)

Obama preaches pabulum from the ivory tower; Sharansky speaks truth learned the hard way in a totalitarian society.  Who are you going to believe?  I’m with George Bush, who accepts and understands a Democracy cannot and should not prop up dictators by treating them before the world as if they are just “regular guys.”