Monday afternoon mini round-up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesThoughtful Jews are increasingly thinking one thought:  the notion of a two-state solution is ridiculous.  Moshe Philips and Benyamin Korn explain why it’s ridiculous.  And in a superior interview on the Glenn Beck show, Caroline Glick offers a single-state alternative.


When I was on vacation a few years ago, I met an extremely nice man who had retired from being a (very) high-powered executive and, instead, had become an Episcopalian minister.  He did not have a congregation but, instead, spent his energy furthering “social justice.” I, being a curious type, tried to elicit from him what this meant in practical terms. He was unable to answer my questions.  I have wondered since then whether his reticence was because he didn’t want to admit what he was doing or because he couldn’t admit what he was doing. After all, as Jonah Goldberg explains in this video, social justice is a very amorphous concept at best. And at worst, when boiled down to its essence, it demands that Big Government redistribute all wealth — something I don’t think this former high-powered executive, who lived an expensive life, was willing to admit even to himself:


I’ve seen several articles about the English Law Society’s decision to accommodate sharia law officially in the courts. All decry it. Tom Wilson, I think, has the best analysis of why it’s such an appallingly dreadful thing to happen in the land that gave us the Magna Carta and that seeded in America the ideas of liberty and equality.


Here’s something that is totally weird: I agree completely with Bill Clinton. When it comes to the internet, he makes good sense: “I understand in theory why we would like to have a multi-stakeholder process. I favor that. I just know that a lot of these so-called multi-stakeholders are really governments that want to gag people and restrict access to the Internet.” Part of Obama’s post-election flexibility, though, means he no longer need make obeisance to the Clintons, so he can ignore Bill’s sound advice.


Obama’s feminization of the American military continues apace. The latest goal is to use special forces not to engage in high-level military activity (guns, grenades, 20 different ways to kill with a ballpoint pen) but, instead, to turn them into a cutting-edge coffee-klatch. No wonder Obama is getting rid of the Tomahawk and Hellfire missiles. The new military will no longer shoot weapons; instead, it will kill the enemy with vicious girly gossip.


The far-Left is a comfortable resting place for angry, insane people. And no, those are not pejoratives. They accurately, almost clinically describe women who claim that Ronald Reagan is responsible for any stigma that fat people suffer in today’s society.


Sultan Knish has an excellent comparison between Vlad Putin’s old-fashioned hunger for land and power (so 19th century!) versus Barack Obama’s cool, modern hunger for pop culture fame, especially when it comes to selling the all-important Obamacare. Daniel Greenfield’s important point is that, while the two men intentionally project very different images, they are both totalitarians at heart, doing what they need to seize absolute power in their own countries.


Too many Jewish families fail to realize how antisemitic American college campuses have become. Nor is this antisemitism confined to fringe departments. Instead, it’s front and center, and increasingly enforced with physical threats and actual violence.


“Never before has our nation seen corruption on this scale.” John Hinderaker’s Obamacare epitaph, after reading one liberal woman’s description of her Obamacare travails — and what it finally took to fix the problem.

Clearing the inbox and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesWhew!  I was quite productive today.  I think those iron pills I’ve been taking because of mild anemia have helped.  I felt much less sluggish.  I still have a lot of stuff in my inbox, but these articles are a good start:

The always-astute Lee Smith has a surprising take on Obama’s coziness with Mahmoud Abbas.  I don’t believe that Obama has thought the issue through as carefully as Smith, but I think that the outcome is the same whether Obama acted deliberately or accidentally.


Oy voy vey!  It’s not just that Obama is giving away the Free Speech internet, which is disastrous enough.  It’s that, back in 2010, when he wasn’t even in full flexibility mode, Obama handed something very valuable over to Putin.  And Putin, being no fool, will play this card as he reinstates the former Soviet Unions geopolitical reach.


The pro-Iranian faction has always argued that sanctions hurt the poor the most. In Iran’s case, they said, sanctions deprived the poor of medicine. But what if it turns out that sanctions are just depriving the rich of luxury articles? Will that information change Obama’s calculus? No. At a fundamental level, he thinks it’s wrong that Israel has the bombs and Iran doesn’t. He’s working to redress that inequity.


If you like creative literature with a libertarian/conservative bent, a new site called Liberty Island is the place for you. Here’s a snippet of its mission statement, explaining that conservatives are the new counterculture:

Once upon a time the mainstream culture was conservative and the so-called counterculture was left wing. Today the situation is reversed and a new counterculture has arisen, one that boldly challenges the cynicism, nihilism, and stifling political correctness of popular culture today.

Our mission is to support this raw and untamed counterculture by gathering its creators in one place and providing the tools and resources they need to succeed. Here they can present their latest works, interact with colleagues, and connect with a likeminded audience. At Liberty Island, readers of a conservative or libertarian bent can find fiction, music, video and graphics that reflect their social values and political beliefs — and readers of all persuasions can find new voices and undiscovered talent. Writers and creators you’ve never heard of, and won’t find anywhere else, because their views have been excluded from the mainstream popular culture.

One of my favorite writers, Ray Zacek, already has a story online at Liberty Island.


Rogue government? Well, yes.  The ATF ignores a court order and raids a gun store to get its customer lists. Let me quote Elmer: Be afwaid. Be vewy afwaid.


Let me reiterate a point I’ve made repeatedly before: Women do not belong in combat units.

Why Scott Brown’s election is so inordinately important *UPDATED*

Thinking about it, Scott Brown’s election as the Senator for Massachusetts may be more significant than any election in my lifetime, including the Reagan Revolution and the 1994 Congressional takeover.  I know this sounds silly.  In 1980, the political shift involved a President, not a mere Senator; in 1994, it was an entire Congress, not just a single Senator.  The thing with the previous elections, though, was that they represented the usual pendulum of politics.  Of course, that pendulum shift is going on here too, although it’s significant how quickly the pendulum swung.  This unusually swift voter backlash — in Massachusetts yet! — has to do with the fact that (a) voters have come to realize that Obama lied to them consistently about his political beliefs, going far beyond the puffery that is normative for political campaigns and (b) voters are seeing that unlimited one party rule is precisely as dangerous as the Founders feared it would be.  Still, the back and forth of political winds is nothing new.

What is new is that Scott Brown represents the first populist candidate in my lifetime.  As you recall, the Republican machine tried to ignore him.  It was the people, galvanized by the internet, who elevated this campaign from a simple regional special election to a national referendum on the White House and Congress.

Nor can the power of people on the internet be discounted by saying “Well, it was Obama who first ran the perfect internet campaign.”  While it’s true that he used the internet as a good fundraiser (although I believe I read that most of his money ultimately came from big bundlers), the campaign simply used the internet as another means of disseminating information from the top down and raising money from the bottom up.  It was all very centralized.

The difference with Scott Brown’s campaign is that the internet did not function from the top down.  Instead — and here’s the staggering thing — it functioned from the bottom up.  This was the first big win of the Army of Pajama-clad Davids. The internet finally fulfilled the grassroots political promise all of us were expecting to see.

Think about it:  Brown leaped to national prominence because his “It’s the people’s seat” went viral on the internet.  He stayed in the public eye because bloggers and emailers everywhere spread the news.  It was the internet functioning from the bottom up that enabled him to raise more than $1,000,000 in a single day, in donations averaging $77 each.  In other words, not only did Scott Brown win “the people’s seat,” as opposed to the Kennedy Seat, for the first time in my lifetime, we also had the people’s candidate.  This should shake them up, not only at the DNC, but at the RNC too.

All of this, of course, was helped by Scott Brown himself.  The increasing unpopularity of health care and the Democrats’ other big-government initiatives, combined with an appallingly bad candidate, might have been enough for a squeaker, with Brown sneaking into the Senate seat under a cloud of recounts and recriminations.  Brown, however, put the thing over the top.  He proved to be an unusually deft and sophisticated candidate, who handled his sudden appearance on the national scene with great aplomb.  He managed to maintain an intelligent focus on the issues, all the while projecting a warm, folksy populism.  It didn’t hurt that he’s physically attractive.  In a media age, people would rather look at Brown than at Reid.  The question now, of course, is whether he’s a perpetual candidate, a la the increasingly weary and wearisome Obama, or if there’s substance behind the image.  I would like to think we’re seeing a new Republican star being born here.

I also hope that Brown manages to remain grounded.  The sudden wave of adulation can be very heady stuff.  Someone who is weak could easily start discounting both the public mood and the horrible Coakley as factors in the election, and begin to think “it’s all about me.”  My friends and I don’t think Brown shows any signs of narcissism, but I’m still nervous.  Fame is dangerous.

UPDATEMore details about the true grassroots nature of Brown’s victory.

UPDATE IIMore evidence (do we still need it?) that Brown’s victory came from below, not above.  Wheeee!!!  The people!

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.


“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.


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.


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.


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.