Help wanted re executive order analysis

imageOne of the things making the rounds on my “real me” Facebook is a poster claiming that Bush signed off on many more executive orders than did Obama. Since the poster is obviously out of date (not to mention the fact that it compares Bush’s 8 year term to Obama’s 1 or 2 year term at the time), I went to Wikipedia and found some interesting numbers.

Over eight years, George W. Bush issued 291 EOs, with the largest number in 2001 (presumably because of 9/11). That’s an average of slightly more than 36 per year. In the course of five years, Obama has issued 167 EOs, or an average of almost 21 per year. Under that metric, Progressives are absolutely right that Bush was the bigger offender.

It seems to me, though, that a numerical argument is a red herring. I’m under the impression — and I’m asking you, please, to correct me if I’m wrong — that conservatives’ objection to Obama’s EOs stems from the nature, not the number. That is, Obama is using EOs to void legislation, rather than as directives to effectuate legislation. In doing that, he’s unconstitutionally usurping Congress’s power (although Democrat Congress people seen fine with waving — or waiving — their prerogatives goodbye).

Please let me know if I’m right or wrong, and please direct me to articles with more information about this subject.

(And yes, I know I’m being lazy “crowd sourcing” this question, rather than doing the research myself. The thing is that I’ve learned from experience that you guys, individually and collectively, have extraordinary funds of knowledge. I’d be crazy, therefore, not to tap into those funds.)

Is Joe Biden actually Obama’s brain?

Joe Biden

You all remember from the Bush-era how we were told repeatedly that Dick Cheney was George Bush’s brain.  That notion arose when the Left couldn’t square Bush’s effectiveness as an executive (never mind his years of executive experience) with their certainty that he was, in fact, an idiot.  They were so relieved when they decided that Cheney was Bush’s puppet master.  I won’t debate the truth of that.  Suffice to say that I believe that George Bush was fully capable of handling the job.

Seth Mandel, however, floats the interesting notion — with actual facts supporting it — that Joe Biden has become Obama’s brain:

In October 2008, in a highly publicized and eagerly anticipated vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, Biden said something that would have been notable were it not for his reputation for bluster and braggadocio. When moderator Gwen Ifill asked the candidates about the job description and value of the vice presidency of the United States, Biden said this:

With regard to the role of vice president, I had a long talk, as I’m sure the governor did with her principal, in my case with Barack. Let me tell you what Barack asked me to do. I have a history of getting things done in the United States Senate. John McCain would acknowledge that. My record shows that on controversial issues. I would be the point person for the legislative initiatives in the United States Congress for our administration. I would also, when asked if I wanted a portfolio, my response was, no. But Barack Obama indicated to me he wanted me with him to help him govern. So every major decision he’ll be making, I’ll be sitting in the room to give my best advice. He’s president, not me, I’ll give my best advice.

This was Biden promising–and on the heels of the tenure of Dick Cheney, criticized volubly by the left for his active role in the White House–that he would be an unusually powerful vice president. And it was Biden’s way of reassuring those who were concerned about Obama’s inexperience. Obama may not be ready for all the challenges of the presidency, Biden was saying, but don’t worry: I’ll be in the room. And Obama may not have the kind of relationships with Congress that can get difficult legislation passed, but don’t worry: Uncle Joe will get it done.

It’s striking just how correct Biden was. Obama has bungled one negotiation with Congress after another, and Biden has stepped in. And when it comes to national security decision making, Biden has, in fact, been in the room.

[snip]

And Biden’s success in this White House has raised another uncomfortable truth: that President Obama so often needs to be saved from himself. As Pete wrote yesterday, Obama’s press conference on the debt ceiling was filled with reprehensible, shameful slanders about Obama’s political opponents. Such was the case when Obama called that absurd rally/standup comedy routine to taunt Republicans while a deal on the fiscal cliff was still being hammered out by those who were working instead of kicking dirt at their opponents. Obama’s behavior should embarrass both the president and the Democrats, but it’s also the result of a moral hazard: Obama can refuse to engage intellectually with is opponents because someone else will do it for him. And he can work to destroy any progress on the problem solving others are conducting because Biden will clean up his mess.

If this doesn’t scare you, it should.  It’s like the movie Dumb and Dumber, with Dumber pulling the strings.  Or maybe it’s a movie called Evil and Dumber, and we should just be grateful that it’s Dumber who’s in charge.

Puppet on a string

Mandel notes that Biden’s increasing power makes him a good candidate for the 2016 presidential race.  Biden’s problem is is toxic public statements that manage to offend one and all.  However, he’s always been liked in D.C., and he now (finally) has a resume.

As with so many things shaping up this year, I don’t like where this is going.

Obama’s dangerous expansion of the use of executive orders

Years ago, during the Bush administration, Terry Gross, of NPR’s Fresh Air, interviewed a writer who was in an absolutely tizzy about Bush’s use of executive orders.  Sadly, for the life of me, I can’t find that interview.  What I also can’t find is any evidence that this author has again gone onto Terry Gross’ show to complaint about Obama’s extraordinary use of executive orders, a use that overwhelms Bush’s small efforts in that area.  Obama has vastly enlarged the nature and number of those orders, so much so that he’s becoming his own little legislature.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has written a lucid, interesting article detailing everything that is wrong with Obama’s abuse of the executive order:

Let’s focus on the supposed authority of the President to simply enact laws by the stroke of his pen. Article I Section I of the Constitution vests all legislative powers in Congress. All.  None are given to the President or the Courts.  All government acts need to be evaluated on whether they are consistent with our Constitution.

The executive branch has the Constitutional responsibility to execute the laws passed by Congress. It is well accepted that an executive order is not legislation nor can it be. An executive order is a directive that implements laws passed by Congress. The Constitution provides that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”  Article II, Section 3, Clause 5. Thus, executive orders can only be used to carry out the will of Congress. If we in Congress have not established the policy or authorization by law, the President can’t do it unilaterally.

That’s pretty simple: Executive orders simply give the president the power to effectuate Congress’ legislation, not the authority to make his own. Nor can the president use executive orders to prevent legislation from going into effect (as Obama did with immigration without any opposition) or to circumvent the Constitution itself (as he apparently intends to do with guns).

I urge you to read the whole thing, and then send it along to people you know who intuitively understand that what Obama’s doing is unconstitutional, but who need more facts and argument for their intellectual armory.

Why both of Obama’s hot mic moments matter

Seth Mandel compares Obama’s hot mic moments (insulting Netanyahu; cutting private deals with the Russians) to George Bush’s single hot mic moment:

[W]hen the microphones were off, Bush was–to no one’s surprise–just as supportive of our allies and as tough on our adversaries as he was in public. These moments might seem insignificant, but they reveal why some presidents are able to win the trust of our allies, and others are not. Our most candid moments will always play an outsized role in others’ approximations of our moral compass. This is even more so when they confirm a pattern of behavior.

While the cowboy’s away, the scary mice will play

Yes, that’s a wildly mixed, virtually unintelligible metaphor in my post title, but I can actually explain it.  Iran is pranking the U.S.  Considering the way in which we were assured that an Obama in the White House would inaugurate a new era of foreign policy, what the Iranians are doing is funny, but it’s also terribly frightening.  One of the good things about George Bush’s presidency was that, even though he wasn’t really a cowboy, the bad guys thought he was, and that kept them in line.  Now they know that America is under the control, not of a paper tiger, but of a paper cat, so these wacky, nuclear-armed mice are out to play.  No good will come of this.

Yes, I miss him *UPDATED*

On the one hand, we have a little man (figuratively speaking), sitting at a big, empty desk, speaking in deadened tones and flat words, as his eyes roam relentlessly back and forth between his teleprompter, desperately avoiding the single word that so aptly sums up American bravery and sacrifice:  Victory!

And on the other hand, we once had this:

I started appreciating George Bush on September 11, 2001, and came to respect him greatly in the intervening years.  And boy, do I miss him now.  He didn’t always do things with which I agreed, but he was always, always, a person of great integrity, decency, patriotism and personal warmth.  All of that shows in the speech above.

Hat tip:  Commentary’s post about Obama’s anticipated absence from Ground Zero on 9/11 this year.

UPDATE:  Turns out I’m not the only one feeling nostalgic for President Bush today.  Heck, Obama is so bad, some are even feeling nostalgic for Clinton.

Two presidents in their milieus — and how photos can lie *UPDATED/CORRECTED*

Presidents get photographed hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of time.  Each photograph captures a mere moment.  Some are flattering; some less so.  Many, however, go on to become iconic.

My generation, the 1970s generation, is deeply imprinted with this photo of Richard Nixon flashing the victory sign:

RichardNixonFarewell

Then there is this 1932 photograph of FDR, which exemplified the buoyant self-confidence that was so attractive to frightened Americans during a shatteringly deep depression:

20090101-204447-pic-810574964_t756

As a counterpoint to Roosevelt’s jaunty assurance, I kind of like this picture of Barack Obama, caught unawares [UPDATE:  FunkyPhD clues me in to something I didn't know -- the photo is a fake.  I'll keep it here, but add another immediately after of Obama smoking, just to keep the balance.  Incidentally, while the newly added photo is old, the fact is that Obama can't seem to kick the habit.]:

obama-smoking

barack_obama_smoking_weed_picture.0.0.0x0.611x404

Frankly, whether one looks at the doctored photo or the genuine one, each freezes just a moment in time, but both seem to capture so completely the essence of the man (or lack of essence, if you will).

Steve Schippert, who writes at Threats Watch, stumbled across a couple of photos that seem to get to the heart of Bush and Obama, by showing each man in a milieu in which he clearly connects with his audience. The photos make a lovely matched set (and don’t I love those matched sets?) because each is informal and, in each, the President holds a bullhorn, reaching out to his audience.

The first photo shows George Bush, at Ground Zero with rescue workers, shortly after 9/11:

Sept14_BushBeckwithBullhorn

It is, in its own small way, another iconic moment.  9/11 was the turning point in Bush’s presidency and, for at least 8 years, in America’s relationship with the world.  Bush connected deeply with middle America, the America of people with traditional values and a reverence for American exceptionalism.  This is not a chauvinism that demands the degradation of other nations.  It is simply a recognition that we are what we are — and we like it. And the rest of the world hated Bush for his unreserved love for and protective feelings towards America.

The second photo shows Barack Obama, also with a bullhorn, speaking to adoring multitudes in Kenya:

Obama-Kenya-IN01-wide-horizontal

He looks so pleased and comfortable.  This crowd that unabashedly loves him.  They don’t care where he was born, they don’t ask about his grades, they aren’t worried about his past associations, they don’t look askance at his slender employment record dotted with promotions that appeared to be due to connections, not merit.  The picture captures perfectly a mindset that the American media sold to American voters in 2008:  Out in the world, away from America, Obama doesn’t have to prove himself.  He just is.  He’s Obama.

But things are never that simple, are they?  As Obama seeks world peace by cuddling up to bad actors in an effort to disarm them (think Chamberlain and Hitler), people of good will around the world are getting worried.  Certainly Poland and the Czech Republic have reason to fear; Israel fears; South Korea fears; everyone within rocket or suitcase range of Iran fears; Venezuela’s neighbors fear — this is a man who prefers the peace of the grave to the hurly-burly of freedom.

The world is realizing that it’s not enough just to “be Obama.”  The cowboy insult bestowed on Bush might have been an unwitting compliment.  After all, it was Bush who was willing to ride into town and, at great risk to himself, clean up the bad guys.

The Kenyan image of Obama is especially ironic, because Africans and other people concerned about Africa are waking up to the fact that it was George Bush, whitest of white presidents, not Barack Obama, sort-of-black poster boy, who was a real friend to that imperiled continent.

Gay Hillary supporters realize that Bush had his virtues

I’ve now received five emails bringing to my attention a post at Hillbuzz, a blog that (as best as I can tell) is written by two gay Hillary supporters.  (And thanks to all of you who did bring it to my attention.)  What makes the post at Hillbuzz so unusual is that it’s a frank appreciation for . . . George Bush:

We know absolutely no one in Bush family circles and have never met former President George W. Bush or his wife Laura.

If you have been reading us for any length of time, you know that we used to make fun of “Dubya” nearly every day…parroting the same comedic bits we heard in our Democrat circles, where Bush is still, to this day, lampooned as a chimp, a bumbling idiot, and a poor, clumsy public speaker.

Oh, how we RAILED against Bush in 2000…and how we RAILED against the surge in support Bush received post-9/11 when he went to Ground Zero and stood there with his bullhorn in the ruins on that hideous day.

We were convinced that ANYONE who was president would have done what Bush did, and would have set that right tone of leadership in the wake of that disaster.  President Gore, President Perot, President Nader, you name it.  ANYONE, we assumed, would have filled that role perfectly.

Well, we told you before how much the current president, Dr. Utopia, made us realize just how wrong we were about Bush.  We shudder to think what Dr. Utopia would have done post-9/11.  He would have not gone there with a bullhorn and struck that right tone.  More likely than not, he would have been his usual fey, apologetic self and waxed professorially about how evil America is and how justified Muslims are for attacking us, with a sidebar on how good the attacks were because they would humble us.

Honestly, we don’t think President Gore would have been much better that day.  The world needed George W. Bush, his bullhorn, and his indominable spirit that day…and we will forever be grateful to this man for that.

As we will always be grateful for what George and Laura Bush did this week, with no media attention, when they very quietly went to Ft. Hood and met personally with the families of the victims of this terrorist attack.

FOR HOURS.

Please read the rest here.  It’s an excellent post and deserves the attention it’s getting for the honest take it has on George Bush’s solid decency — and the contrast between his low-key, virtuous behavior and that exhibited by the Obami.

Hillbuzz’s post is a reminder that the very loud, politicized gay class tends to make us forget that most gays are just Americans who happen to like people of the same sex.  When things are rosy, they’re happy to trail behind the political guys, since there might be some benefits dropping off that bandwagon.  However, when push comes to shove, and when agitating but scarcely life threatening issues go by the wayside, America’s gays are Americans first — or, at least, most of them are.  That’s very heartening.

I look forward to the day when America’s Muslims figure out that, at some point they have to make a public stand between America’s deep investment in liberty and Islam’s demand that all citizens in all nations should be subjugated to Sharia’s draconian requirements.  Right now, thanks to the politically correct ideology that permeates the media, the government, educational establishes, and the top echelons of the military, American Muslims are getting a pass on having to come to terms with their own patriotism.  If they want to hew to their religion — well, that’s the moral choice they have to make, but we Americans should know, so that we can do what is necessary to protect our Constitutional rights for the vast majority of Americans (gay and straight, Catholic and Jewish, atheist and, yes, Muslim) who believe in those rights.

Get ‘er done — Bush and Obama; a study in contrasts

There’ve been accusations and counter-accusations flying about Obama fiddling while Afghanistan burns.  Cheney accuses him of being a do-nothing.  Gibb claims Bush did nothing.  Jake Tapper looked into the matter and discovered that, while Iraq was a priority, Bush indeed did little with troop requests, struggling to fill them, but only getting bout 1/5 of the way there.

Of course, that truth does little to put Obama into a better position.  The entire point of Obama’s year-and-a-half long campaign rhetoric regarding Afghanistan was that Bush was fighting the wrong war, channeling his energies away unnecessarily from Afghanistan, and that it would take Obama to get it right.

And here we have Obama, ten months into his presidency, and he still can’t get it right — on the war he himself tapped as the single most important battle front.  No wonder Lucianne is getting reams of hate mail just because she put on her home page that macho picture of Bush in a flight suit.  That picture is a brutal reminder that, when it came to his primary goal (Iraq) Bush accomplished his mission; Obama, meanwhile, accomplishes nothing.

Paul Krugman, hypocrite

Paul Krugman is shocked! shocked! (albeit not surprised) that Republicans are exhibiting a certain amount of Schadenfreude when it comes to the rebuff the IOC delivered to Barack Obama:

So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.

But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it — whether or not it’s good for America.

To be sure, while celebrating America’s rebuff by the Olympic Committee was puerile, it didn’t do any real harm. But the same principle of spite has determined Republican positions on more serious matters, with potentially serious consequences — in particular, in the debate over health care reform.

Mr. Bookworm thinks Krugman is right.  Principled Americans, he says, would never insult the president or wish him ill, nor would they turn their back on a policy simply because they don’t like the president advancing the policy.  (This from the man whose political argument for four years was alternately “Bush is an idiot” or “Bush is the worst president ever.”)

I might give actually give Mr. Krugman’s spiteful, partisan insults some credence if, during the eight years of Bush’s presidency, we had ever seen him side with the president on policies or even speak nicely of the President, his administration and his allies.  Indeed, we might give him credence if he’d just spoken of those on the opposite side of the aisle with some minimal level of civility and respect.

As it is, hearing preaching about politeness from Krugman is like having Homer Simpson giving you diet advice — it doesn’t sit well, considering the source.  During the past administration, when Krugman might have put his personal prejudices aside to advance his country’s interests his whole focus was on denigrating the president, personally and politically, often in the crudest, most insulting terms.  In just one year alone, we got things like this:

March 6, 2006:

Why doesn’t Mr. Bush get any economic respect? I think it’s because most Americans sense, correctly, that he doesn’t care about people like them. We’re living in a time when many Americans are feeling economically insecure, but a tiny elite has been growing incredibly rich. And Mr. Bush’s problem is that he identifies so totally with the lucky, wealthy few that in unscripted settings he can’t manage even a few sentences of empathy with ordinary Americans. He doesn’t feel your pain, and it shows.

May 8, 2006:

A conspiracy theory, says Wikipedia, “attempts to explain the cause of an event as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance.” Claims that global warming is a hoax and that the liberal media are suppressing the good news from Iraq meet that definition. In each case, to accept the claim you have to believe that people working for many different organizations — scientists at universities and research facilities around the world, reporters for dozens of different news organizations — are secretly coordinating their actions.

But the administration officials who told us that Saddam had an active nuclear program and insinuated that he was responsible for 9/11 weren’t part of a covert alliance; they all worked for President Bush. The claim that these officials hyped the case for war isn’t a conspiracy theory; it’s simply an assertion that people in a position of power abused that position. And that assertion only seems wildly implausible if you take it as axiomatic that Mr. Bush and those around him wouldn’t do such a thing.

May 29, 2006:

[Regarding James Hansen, the NASA climatologist who was discredited] And it’s a warning for Mr. Gore and others who hope to turn global warming into a real political issue: you’re going to have to get tougher, because the other side [that would be us] doesn’t play by any known rules.

[snip]

John Kerry, a genuine war hero, didn’t realize that he could successfully be portrayed as a coward. And it seems to me that Dr. Hansen, whose predictions about global warming have proved remarkably accurate, didn’t believe that he could successfully be portrayed as an unreliable exaggerator. His first response to Dr. Michaels, in January 1999, was astonishingly diffident. He pointed out that Dr. Michaels misrepresented his work, but rather than denouncing the fraud involved, he offered a rather plaintive appeal for better behavior.

July 21, 2006:

Today we call them neoconservatives, but when the first George Bush was president, those who believed that America could remake the world to its liking with a series of splendid little wars — people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — were known within the administration as “the crazies.” Grown-ups in both parties rejected their vision as a dangerous fantasy.

But in 2000 the Supreme Court delivered the White House to a man who, although he may be 60, doesn’t act like a grown-up. The second President Bush obviously confuses swagger with strength, and prefers tough talkers like the crazies to people who actually think things through. He got the chance to implement the crazies’ vision after 9/11, which created a climate in which few people in Congress or the news media dared to ask hard questions. And the result is the bloody mess we’re now in.

August 11, 2006

After Ned Lamont’s victory in Connecticut, I saw a number of commentaries describing Joe Lieberman not just as a “centrist” — a word that has come to mean “someone who makes excuses for the Bush administration” — but as “sensible.” But on what planet would Mr. Lieberman be considered sensible?

[snip]

The question now is how deep into the gutter Mr. Lieberman’s ego will drag him.

There’s an overwhelming consensus among national security experts that the war in Iraq has undermined, not strengthened, the fight against terrorism. Yet yesterday Mr. Lieberman, sounding just like Dick Cheney — and acting as a propaganda tool for Republicans trying to Swift-boat the party of which he still claims to be a member — suggested that the changes in Iraq policy that Mr. Lamont wants would be “taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England.”

In other words, not only isn’t Mr. Lieberman sensible, he may be beyond redemption. [This is polite political rhetoric?]

August 14, 2006:

We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited. The story of the latest terror plot makes the administration’s fecklessness and cynicism on terrorism clearer than ever. [Never mind that, on this same administration's watch, we were spared another attack on American soil.]

September 18, 2006:

So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?

To show that it can.

The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

So this is how Krugman’s game is played:  to insult Bush at every level is not impolite, destructive political discourse, because Bush deserved it.  Anyone who would challenge such liberal shibboleths as global warming, John Kerry’s heroism, the need to extend Constitutional and Geneva protections to un-uniformed Islamist terrorists, America’s base nature, etc., is evil, so its okay to pick on them.

To insult Obama at any level or to disagree with his policies, however, is tantamount to treason and corrupts political discourse, because every Obama initiative is, by its very nature and source, good for America.   This is so because Obama stands for truth, justice and the American way, provided that the American way is to destroy the American economy to prevent the increasingly chimerical global warming, to grovel to dictators and tyrants, to be extraordinarily boastful and infused with hubris, to offend America’s long-standing allies, and to have a government takeover of the American health care system.

Krugman’s standard for political discourse is “free speech for me, but not for thee.”  He should be laughed at, not lauded.  Krugman shows, once again, that he is an intelletual joke, whose partisanship is so overwhelming it blinds him to his gross hypocrisy.

Getting past the “idiot,” “nuts” and “wacko” factor so that liberals have their moment of cognitive dissonance *UPDATED*

I’ve been thinking a lot about responses to my post regarding the gal who is running for town council, the one who donated to Obama, and who nevertheless seems to be a fiscal conservative.  I asked how she can live with the cognitive dissonance.  Several of you pointed out, in one form or another, that it’s not cognitive dissonance if you don’t know facts sufficient to create that dissonance.  In other words, if this gal lives in the traditional liberal world, watching CNN or MSNBC, listening to NPR, and reading the New York Times and The New Yorker, she went into the election cycle with a “unified theory of Obama” that included the belief that Obama had the intelligence, the temperament and even the experience to bring fiscal control to Washington, D.C.  In other words, the media was feeding her (falsified) data entirely consistent with her fiscal beliefs.  Cognitive dissonance, if she feels any, should be hitting about now, when even the most loving media cannot hide the disconnect between Obama “as sold,” and Obama “as is.”

I had this point — namely, that liberals are incapable of making rational decisions because they’re relying on intentionally faulty data — dramatically illustrated to me this morning when my husband was just kvelling about Thomas Friedman’s column saying that he thinks incivility on the right is building up to the same levels that characterized the time preceding Rabin’s assassination.  I countered by saying that Friedman had no credibility because, during the Bush years, he completely ignored all the death threats against and assassination fantasies about Bush, and that even now he is still ignoring the vile insults major political figures are raining down on people opposed to ObamaCare.  My husband’s response:  I was “nuts,” an “idiot” and “wacko.”  Why?  Because I was making all of that stuff up.  My husband’s mental furniture didn’t include any death threats against Bush, and there were no fantasies about his assassination.  And as for the debate now, nobody’s been hurling insults at conservatives.

And you know what?  In my husband’s completely insular media universe, everything he says is absolutely true.  None of that has happened.  He has been completely protected from any words or images showing ugliness emanating from the Left.  And now he’s seeing only ugliness emanating from the Right.  Therefore, in my husband’s mind, Friedman is absolutely correct to write a column about the horrors of conservative hatred, because it’s the first time political hatred has happened.  Now, my husband has a small excuse for this type of ignorance, because he doesn’t work in the media.  Further, since he religiously reads the paper and magazines, and listens to the radio, he believes he’s informed.  Friedman, who works in the center of New York’s media, has no such excuse.

This why the type of work O’Keefe and Giles did, with Andrew Brietbart’s help, is so incredibly important.  They are breaching the heavily fortified walls guarding the media universe, and forcing the gatekeepers to acknowledge the existence of data inconsistent with its prevailing world view.  And as more of that data leaks into the liberal kingdom, more and more of the liberals trapped within those walls are going to start figuring out that they’ve been on the receiving end of the big lie.

UPDATE:  Dan Rather perfectly illustrates, not just life in the bubble, but the refusal to venture out of the bubble.

Why Obama scares us so much *UPDATED*

I belong to a wonderful — indeed, scintillating — email group.  Today, the group has been having a healthy debate about comparing Obama’s latest decision to talk directly to children (no parents necessary) to Hitler’s deliberate plan to wean a generation away from its parents and into the Nazi party.  My current position is that we’re not at that stage yet.

Obama has done nothing but talk all summer.  He’s had more press conferences than any president in history.  Not just that, his primary claim to fame was his marvelous ability to communicate.  And what’s happened?  People are turning against him in droves and turning even more strongly against his initiatives.  I think he’s just trying to stroke his ego by speaking to the only audience still impressed by him — or, at least, impressed by the office he represents.  I will continue to monitor the situation closely, though, and I certainly won’t get complacent.

But back to that email debate.  A by-product of every debate is a slew of good posts.  The one on which I want to focus is Bruce Kesler’s post at Maggie’s Farm, in which Bruce argues strongly that Obama should be given the benefit of the doubt regarding his commitment to education and that he definitely shouldn’t be compared to Hitler.  (You’ll find Bruce’s own words here.)  I’m not as convinced as Bruce is about Obama’s pure motives, simply because, as Melissa Clouthier points out, he’s never had pure motives before.  I’m not finding him guilty; I’m just reserving judgment.  [Bruce wrote me that he's not convinced about Obama's pure motives but, instead, prefers "trust, but verify."  That's cool.]

I’m not the only one who is suspicious about Obama’s motives, however.  As one of Bruce’s commenters said (#4):

Obladioblada is right on with his litany of events that make us wary of this President. When we called our schools at 8:00 this morning they did not even know what we were asking about. By 3:00 pm they had had a “big meeting” and basically determined that participation in the viewing of the Obamindoctrinaton/pep talk would be voluntary. The schools were swamped with calls of concern. Obviously the Won has created an atmosphere of mistrust in the country. Additionally, the Dept of Education left school administrators out of the loop while they decided what would be on the curriculum for the beginning of the school year. The sentiment we heard from the schools was that teachers just want to teach. They do not want to lead political discussions at the behest of a partisan politician. I think the Dems are seriously overstepping themselves here, and I suspect that this stunt will backfire on them ala the Wellstone affair. (Read Powerline posts on how lame this comes across to the typical high school student)

Though keeping our kids away from school that day may be an option, I am thinking of arming my kids with a copy of the Presidents Oath of Office, a copy of the Constitution, and instructions to ask the following question: Who has greater authority, the President or the Constitution?

Let the teacher lead a discussion on that topic.

That comment got me thinking about the way in which ordinary Americans, not just vigilant blogging conservatives, but “man in the street” kind of people, are becoming deeply worried about Obama.  I think that a large part of this sense of unease — a n unease that sees us unable to accept anything he does at face value — occurs because we really don’t know the man.  We were sold a great communicator who can’t communicate; a brilliant intellectual who routinely shows his ignorance; a dynamic leader who cannot lead; a master peacemaker who seems to be presiding over an uprising of international evil; a political moderate who is, instead, an extreme Leftist; a post-partisan neo-politician who has engaged in the most partisan politics in recent memory; and, of course, a graceful athlete (remember the rippling pecs?) who can’t throw a baseball.

Bottom line:  Americans no longer have any idea who or what is in the White House, and that’s frightening.  People may not have liked George Bush, but they knew everything about him.  They knew about his Dad, his education, his military service, his wild days, his business initiatives and his political career.  There were no surprises in his world outlook.  Even his known “compassionate conservatism” helped explain why he kept spending money in a very unconservative fashion.

The opposite is true with Obama.  More and more people realize, as we blogging conservatives did in the beginning, that he is an entirely unknown quantity.  Nor is this sudden sense of a stranger in America’s house (that is, the White House) lessened by the fact that the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress is apparently loopy loo, and has turned on ordinary American people.  This Bizarro World quality rocks us.  At this rate, one of these days we’ll wake up and find the sun rising in the West.

Having said all that, I find myself mostly in Bruce’s corner when it comes to the Hitler comparisons.  The problem with such comparisons — even if they happen to be true as to a given statement or initative — is that they don’t go anywhere useful.  Mention that “Obama is Hitler” and it creates a storm of passion that overwhelms thought.  And we can’t say we don’t know that this happens, because we have before us the evidence of the eight years of the Bush administration.

As young lawyers learn, if you’ve got a good argument, never hurl personal attacks at the opposing party.  Your argument will prevail and you’ll walk out with your dignity intact too.  What Obama is doing is vis a vis our children is, at the very least, creepy and we should be vigilant.  We should arm our children with facts and critical thinking.  We should make our voices heard.  Given Obama’s overreach, that’s probably enough to do the job and do it well.

UPDATE:  Here are two views from the other side of the debate:  Noisy Room and Radio Patriot.  What are your thoughts?

Oh God! Obama.

It occurred to me that, two times in as many days, I’ve alluded to the first couple’s Messiah complex.  Yesterday, I noted that Michelle and Barack are pretty sure that John 3:16 applies to their willingness to “give” Obama to the American people and, just a few hours ago I did a post in which I mentioned Obama’s reiterated belief that his mere presence will bring peace to the world.

All of which leads to the inevitable comparison with George Bush.  You see, for all that the Left was up in arms about Bush’s religious beliefs, what made him a safer President than Obama is the fact that Bush, unlike Obama, believed in a God other than himself.

When is a bow not cause for alarm

Charles Johnson, at Little Green Footballs, has been urging less heat on the Obama bow matter because, as he and Newt both point out, Bush bowed too.  I agree with Johnson that hysteria on the subject is badly placed — although I think hysteria on any subject is badly placed.  Still, I do think the bow is important in that it’s one more piece in the puzzle of the cipher we elected for President.  Here’s the comment I left at Little Green Footballs:

I was under the impression Bush bowed his head for the mechanical act having a medal placed on his head by a shorter man. Even if one accepts, however, that it was a true bow, (a) I don’t believe it was from the waist, which is a much deeper homage than a head/shoulder bow and (b) and this is the important one, it was George Bush doing it. I know that last sounds fatuous, given that every liberal in the world thought Bush was in love with Big Oil, but even they thought of that in purely economic terms.

No one doubted but that Bush placed America front and center — in his mind and in his world. Indeed, for the Left, this was Bush’s biggest fault.

The problem with Obama for libertarians, conservatives, moderates and good ol’ patriots, is that his every utterance shows his embarrassment about being America’s representative, his belief that America is deeply flawed, and his resolve to make America over entirely. In other words, he doesn’t much like American or what it stands for (such as liberty, individualism, capitalism, etc.).

When someone like Obama pretty much abases himself before the leader of one of the most tyrannical nations in earth, it’s more unnerving than when America’s biggest cheerleader does it. Wrong in both cases; scary only in the first.

Living in an alternate reality *UPDATE*

I think I’m processing history wrong, and I need your help filling in the gaps.

As you know, Obama invited Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration (a much better choice, I might add, than Wright would have been).  Some in the gay community, however, are very upset, feeling that Warren’s support for California’s Prop. 8 means that his selection is a direct insult to the gay community.  Those are facts.

What confuses me is this statement from Kevin Nash of the Washington Blade (a publication by and about gays):

We have just endured eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality from a president beholden to bigoted conservative Christians.

I know that the Bush administration was not a particularly homophilic administration.  Mostly, it was a homo-ignore-it administration — at least, that’s what I always thought.  Naff speaks of “eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality from a president….” and I don’t know what he’s talking about.  Again, while Bush preside over a political agenda that showered new rights on gays, I don’t recall anything emanating from the White House that was hostile to gays.

One could point to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but that was a Clinton era relic.  So too was the Defense of Marriage Act.  While gay marriage became a huge issue during the Bush administration, it was an issue at the state level, not the federal level.  What am I forgetting that would see Mr. Naff feel that Bush specifically was responsible for psychic or physical insults to gays?

I should add here that I’m not seeking any input from y’all about the virtues or demerits of the gay agenda, which is a debate for another day.  I’m just wondering if I’m missing anything that the President — not the State, not individual preachers or speakers, but the President himself — did that constituted assaults on gays’ “dignity and equality.”

Hat tip:  Brutally Honest

UPDATERight Wing News has more on the reactions emanating to the Left with regard to Obama’s choice.

Politic’s private face *UPDATED*

As you may recall, Obama simply couldn’t get around to visiting wounded troops during his whirlwind European tour.  Many suspected that his unwillingness to make those visits was the fact that the cameras would have to stay outside the hospital doors.

George Bush is a different kind of politician, that’s all I can say.

Hat tip:  Rocket’s Brain

UPDATE: Blackfive has some back story that you may find interesting.

I know you are, but what am I?!

I’ve noticed an interesting trend in the comments to my Barack Obama posts lately whenever liberals wander by.  I’ll put up a post pointing out something very specific we’ve learned about Obama, despite his rather thin resume.  I might blog about his relationship with Rezko and the peculiar coincidences of his real estate purchase; or perhaps I’ll note that he’s been friends with some anarcho-terrorists; or I’ll blog about the fact that he doesn’t flip-flop (which implies an actual change in position), but simply has a new position for every audience and every occasion (witness his Jerusalem contortions); or I’ll point to the fact that his church of 20 years was a hate-filled cess pool; or maybe I’ll just point out that this man has less than a thimble-full of real world experience — you know, that kind of stuff.

What invariably happens when I get comments from liberals is that they don’t defend Obama, probably because they can’t.  Everything I blog about is documented.  He was buddies from Rezko and he did pay below market for his house as part of a Rezko related transaction.  He is friends with Ayers and Dohrn, and has sought as mentors many other arch-Communists.  He has stated three different, conflicting positions on Jerusalem.  The only way to reconcile them is to credit him with a sophisticated knowledge of rather arcane Jewish law.

His position on the Iraq War is equally open to criticism (“I was against it before I was against it except for the Surge which I was against even though I support it, but I still would vote for it despite acknowledging that it works and supporting it now. . . .  Uh, no further questions.”)  The Church kerfuffle is as well documented as anything else, and takes pride of place as the first publicity grenade that even a loving media couldn’t keep from blowing up on him.  Lastly, with regard to the experience issue, Obama’s resume speaks for itself.  I wouldn’t vote for him for County dog catcher on that slender a record of practical experience and real world competence.

Faced with the fact that I’ve never said a single untruthful thing about Obama’s failings and ugly baggage, the liberal response is unanimous:  George Bush is worse.  I’m finding this an increasingly peculiar response.

Assuming solely for the sake of argument that everything the liberals say about Bush is true — that he’s dishonest, power hungry, inept, has evil friends and entered the White House without any useful experience — what’s that got to do with Obama as a candidate?  First, Bush is not running in this election.  His day in the presidential sun is over.  With that stark fact it place, it’s clear that comparing the two is like comparing applies and spare tires.  It’s a pointless exercise.

Second, if liberals truly do hate the fact that Bush is dishonest, power hungry and consorts with evil people, and that he entered the White House as a useless neophyte with no practical experience, why in the world are they supporting Obama?  As we’ve already noticed, they never challenge the same substantive attacks against Obama, because they are heavily factually documented and irrefutably true.  This means that, if Bush is a rotten apple, so is Obama.

The smart thing to do, if issues of ineptitude, corruption, and bad friends really bother one, would be to consign both men (Bush and Obama) to the rubbish heap of history and to vote for John McCain.  I think most will concede that, while McCain is less than perfect, there is no trail of slime leading to his door comparable either to the ones liberals have concocted against George Bush or that the indisputable paper and video record shows against Obama.

I have to wrap up with Pee Wee Herman, giving context to this post title:

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.

WaPo editor finally figures out that the Left lied, not Bush

There is an absolutely staggering editorial in today’s Washington Post — it admits that, John Rockefeller’s “official” indictment to the contrary, Bush did not lie. If anything, Rockefeller, in his official Senate Intelligence Committee report is lying by reaching conclusions at odds with his own evidence:

Search the Internet for “Bush Lied” products, and you will find sites that offer more than a thousand designs. The basic “Bush Lied, People Died” bumper sticker is only the beginning.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, set out to provide the official foundation for what has become not only a thriving business but, more important, an article of faith among millions of Americans. And in releasing a committee report Thursday, he claimed to have accomplished his mission, though he did not use the L-word.

“In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent,” he said.

There’s no question that the administration, and particularly Vice President Cheney, spoke with too much certainty at times and failed to anticipate or prepare the American people for the enormous undertaking in Iraq.

But dive into Rockefeller’s report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.

On Iraq’s nuclear weapons program? The president’s statements “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates.”

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president’s statements “were substantiated by intelligence information.”

On chemical weapons, then? “Substantiated by intelligence information.”

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.” Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? “Generally substantiated by available intelligence.” Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.”

As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you’ve mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to terrorism.

But statements regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda “were substantiated by the intelligence assessments,” and statements regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” The report is left to complain about “implications” and statements that “left the impression” that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.

In the report’s final section, the committee takes issue with Bush’s statements about Saddam Hussein’s intentions and what the future might have held. But was that really a question of misrepresenting intelligence, or was it a question of judgment that politicians are expected to make?

There’s more in the same vein. I suspect we should make multiple copies and start handing them out whenever we hear someone start to say “Bush lied….”

Others blogging this one: The Anchoress, Brutally Honest, Cheat-Seeking Missiles, Hot Air

Steve Schippert, writing at The Tank on National Review, has a nice parallel post which discusses what a rarity the above editorial is by focusing on an ABC news story that desperately tries to spin the success in Iraq to Obama’s benefit (“This is not the Iraq War I thought I knew.”)

The tortoise and the hare

You all know Aesop’s class tale of the race between the tortoise and the hare: At the starting gate, the hare picks up so much speed that it soon vanishes completely, while the tortoise plods on behind. Within sight of the finish line, however, when the hare looks backwards and realizes that the tortoise isn’t even in the same time zone, he decides to refresh himself with a little nap. As he sleeps, the tortoise, who has never slowed his steady pace, comes abreast of him, passes him and, before the hare has a chance to regroup, crosses the finish line, winning the race. Aesop’s moral: The race is not always to the swift.

Now tell me if that story doesn’t remind you of the current state of the Presidential race. Hillary and Obama, bickering all the way, were put on the fast track by the MSM. One after the other, each was anointed as the obvious successor to the disastrous George Bush. Neither could fail. Hillary had the unbeatable, overwhelming Clinton machine behind her; Obama had that indefinable charisma liberals lust after. McCain was shunted aside as an irrelevant old man.

Something interesting is happening, though. The bloom quickly faded from Hillary’s rose when the MSM fell in love with Obama. And while the MSM is still in love with Obama, Obama is struggling to deal with his own past. Absent any substantive political record, his associates and acolytes are coming under scrutiny, and it’s not a pretty picture. Whether he courted them or they courted him, they’re locked in an embrace on a pretty unappealing dance floor, and ordinary Americans are looking on Obama as an increasingly less attractive partner for a political romance.

Meanwhile, John McCain plods steadily on. He appears here, he appears there. He makes nice, quiet little speeches. He does what he has to do distance himself from George Bush, because he knows that, if he comes too close, he gets tarred with the BDS brush (or just with the “we’re sick of Bush in the White House after 8 painful years” brush.) As to this distancing, I’m betting that George Bush, being a gentleman, a pragmatist, and a politician, if he spoke with McCain, would say something along the lines of “Do what you have to do to win, Buddy-Boy. It won’t hurt my feelings.”

So, despite the fact that Hillary and Obama hurtled out of the starting gate, and have been helped with big, big pushes from their sycophants in the media, I’m wondering if they’re not going to be forced into something analogous to nap mode as they near the finish line. They’re being shackled by the garbage that’s being dug up about them, as well as by the fact that, under stress, his charm fails and her scolding increases. Meanwhile, McCain just keeps moving forward, slowly, steadily and, perhaps, inexorably.

Post Traumatic Bush Derangement Syndrome

It’s becoming increasingly clear that John McCain is going to have to cope with something I call PT-BDS — or Post Traumatic Bush Derangement Syndrome. Let me explain and, as is so often the case with my explanations, let me start with a personal anecdote.

I’m visiting with the in-laws right now (hence the sporadic blogging). It’s quite a nice visit. We’re in a lovely American city, the children had a rapturous reunion with their cousins, and I’ve had a stimulating time with my in-laws, all of whom have moved right, just as I have. Indeed, poor Mr. Bookworm is the only hold-out. He feels that the family is betraying decades of committed liberalism (not the mention the New York Times), and is putting up a heavy rearguard action to defend his belief that “Bush is the worst president ever” (or, BITWPE).

Things got difficult for him though when talk rolled around to the upcoming elections. He conceded that he thought Obama would be a disaster and that he couldn’t vote for him. He also admitted that he hated Hillary and wouldn’t vote for her. But, he said, he couldn’t vote Republican. Why not, we all asked? Because, he said, “Bush is the worst president ever.” Had you been in the kitchen at that moment, you would have heard nine adults say in perfect harmony and synchronization: “But Bush isn’t running for President.”

Mr. Bookworm acknowledged this fact, just as he acknowledged that McCain is an entirely different personality from Mr. Bush.  In my conversations with him, Mr. Bookworm has also admitted that McCain is not a Bush crony, and that he agrees with a lot of McCain’s politics. Still, Mr. Bookworm just can’t get passed the “BITWPE” problem.

It would be easy enough to say that Mr. Bookworm is just stubborn, which he is, if it weren’t for the fact that my mother is exactly the same. She agrees that there is a war of civilizations going on, and that the Democrats are ignoring it. She agrees that Obama is scary and Hillary awful. She agrees that illegal immigration is a problem. She recognizes that identity politics and political correctness are divisive and are weakening America. But she can’t vote Republican. Why not? She can’t stand Bush’s smirk. Point out to her that Bush and Cheney are not running for office, and she tells you she doesn’t care. She just can’t vote for Bush.

PTBDS has potentially far-reaching effects, effects that go beyond my neurotic, retro-Progressive family members.  In writing about the “country in the wrong direction” poll that just came out with a devastating 81% unhappiness rate (although Democrats were overpolled and Republicans unpolled), Rick Moran pointed out the problem this poll poses for McCain and the Republicans:

This is not good news for John McCain and the GOP. People who think the country is headed in the wrong direction rarely vote for the incumbent party. However, in this case, the Democrats may have something to worry about as well. Approval ratings for Congress are worse than they are for the incumbent Republican president. But people tend to punish the party of the president during general elections than they do the party in control of Congress which is more common in off year contests.

McCain’s challenge is to distance himself just enough from Bush that he stands on his own two feet while not alienating Mr. Bush’s core 30% support among Republicans. It is a balancing act that many in the past have failed to do (see Al Gore) but will be necessary if McCain wishes to avl\d a backlash against the party of Bush among the general public.

In a normal world, one could deal with the revulsion felt towards the incumbent administration during an economic downturn simply by pointing out the obvious,which is that no one from the Bush administration is running for President.  However, in this election, conservative Democrats — who ought to be a swing vote — dislike the man with such fervor, they can’t be reasoned with.  For them, Bush and the Republican party have become fused into a single entity, making it impossible for them to view any Republican candidate objectively.  They’ve been so deeply traumatized by the Bush presidency that even the letter “R” after someone’s name causes frightening flashbacks, with avoidance the only option.

I just hope that all of these PTBDS sufferers are able to overcome their phobias and realize that, if as I believe is the case, Obama becomes the Democratic candidate, their Post-Traumatic Obama suffering will dwarf anything George Bush sent their way.

A lyrical look at how progressives need George Bush

Over at the Paragraph Farmer, you can read an almost lyrical article examining the way in which Progressives desperately needed George Bush to give meaning and shape to their lives, and get a sense of the problems they’ll have when, as will inevitably happen in 2009, he leaves the political scene.  Here’s just a sample to whet your appetite:

Anger is the second stage on the continuum of response to trauma, and a textbook expression of that emotion was offered by the two towns in Vermont that voted earlier this month to indict the president on charges of “violating the Constitution.” While Green Mountain State activists high-five each other over pints of “Chunky Monkey” and “Cherry Garcia,” their allies in the mainstream media play a game of guilt by association, because the anger they feel toward President Bush often extends even to things that involve him only peripherally. For example, former newscaster Bree Walker makes her home in California, but bought property in Texas that used to belong to Cindy Sheehan, and promptly professed herself appalled by billboards that welcome people to Crawford by describing it as the “Hometown of President George W. Bush.”

Bushian influence is a pernicious thing to pundits of her ilk. Walker, not a Texas Ranger, now promises to “stand by with gallons of white paint and enough brushes and rollers for every man, woman and child who’ll join us in eradicating what the folks hereabouts may someday come to see as an obscenity and smear on the good name of Crawford.” If the townsfolk don’t rush to her paint brushes, Walker will probably trade Diet Dr. Pepper for a soft drink with no roots in the Lone Star State. As a subheading in Newsweek magazine recently screeched, “Texas produces more carbon emissions than most countries, but the state government and business community don’t seem too concerned.”

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.”