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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Barack Obama : the president as spectator to the world’s democratic uprisings

Obama mouth taped shutFrom the time he hit the campaign trail in 2007, Barack Obama made it plain that he considered America to be too big for her britches when it comes to international matters.  Looking at imperfect nations, you could see him mentally scolding America — “Haven’t you done enough already?” — for bringing so much pain and suffering to the rest of the world.

In the years since his election, Obama has reacted strongly to only three international issues:  climate change, gay rights, and Libya.  The first two are pet issues of the Left.  As for Obama’s enthusiasm about invading Libya . . . well, that continues to mystify me.  Obama’s silence has been most pointed and damaging when it comes to naturally occurring democratic movements within a despotic state.

It’s one thing (usually a stupid thing) for America to waltz in and take out a tyrant; it’s another thing entirely when the nation’s own citizens are yearning to be free, and are willing to face their own government’s guns to gain that freedom.  Under those circumstances, every person who believes in individual liberty should speak up — especially the president of the nation that has long represented itself as the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Obama, however, will not speak.

When brave Iranians challenged the mullahs, Obama was silent.  The mullahs tightened their hold.

When the Muslim Brotherhood filled the power vacuum in Egypt, Obama was silent.  A year of repression ensued.

When brave Egyptians challenged the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama was silent.  The country is now once again under a military dictatorship.

When brave Syrians challenged the tyrannical Assad regime, Obama was silent.  Had he spoken up sooner, a violent, bloody civil war — violent and bloody even by civil war standards — might have been avoided.  When the civil war took a chemical turn, Obama spoke up, only to retreat quickly when called to make good on his words.

When brave Turks challenged Erdogan’s increasingly totalitarian, Islamist rule, Obama was silent.

Today, Obama continues this familiar pattern.  Ukrainian citizens, horrified at the realization that their government is trying once against to drag them back into the Soviet orbit (we know how well that went for them in the 1930s and beyond) are battling in the streets.  Obama is silent.

And in Venezuela, citizens worn down by the repression and poverty of Chavez’s and Maduro’s hard-core socialism are rising up in the streets.  Obama is silent.

Since WWII, people around the world knew that if they sought freedom and called upon America for help, America would help.  Sometimes the help was military, sometimes financial, and sometimes it was moral.

This aid wasn’t for America’s benefit — at least it wasn’t directly for America’s benefit.  To the extent that democracies tend to be the most peaceful form of governments, it was always to America’s benefit to encourage democratic governments around the world.  Nevertheless, America’s first motive was often altruistic.  Because we were the world’s most powerful free nation, we believed that we had a moral obligation to wield that power beneficently.  Sometimes America’s road to Hell has been paved with those good intentions, but our craven retreats from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have all revealed that the post-American vacuum is often infinitely worse than the American occupation.

We’ve learned from our experiments in Iraq and, especially, in Afghanistan, that countries that have always had dictatorships, especially tribal and/or theocratic dictatorships, do not benefit from removing the existing dictator, because another one will always come along.  I therefore wouldn’t recommend interceding directly in a Muslim country ever again. Instead, we should be doing what Saudi Arabia did for Wahhabism:  establishing and funding institutions throughout the Muslim world that are dedicated to teaching the principles of freedom.  This generation may be lost, but perhaps we can save the next one and, along the way, save ourselves too.

Things are different, though, when the cry for freedom (or at least for less tyranny) originates within a country.  Had Obama immediately given moral support to internally grown democratic movements in Iran, Egypt, and Syria, he might have been able to turn the tide.  American moral support in Venezuela and Turkey would have fallen on especially fertile soil, because both are countries that have known some form of democracy.

Obama, however, considers that there is no such thing as beneficent American power.  To him, America’s strength is, by definition, malignant and destructive.  He truly believes that the Iranians are better off under the mullahs, the Egyptians under the Muslim Brotherhood, the Syrians under Assad, the Turks under Erdogan, the Ukrainians under Putin, and the Venezuelans under Maduro.  Judging by his complicit silence, there is no tyranny worse than that of being behold to the United States.

 

On Iran, this is the most depressing thing you will read today

israel-iran-map

From American Thinker:

I called a hardheaded realist, a Harvard trained PhD who has been watching the Middle East professionally for decades, to ask him about Obama’s Iran deal. This is what he told me.

It’s done. Iran will get a bomb.

They want a bomb and they will not be denied unless somebody stops them. Obama does not want to stop them. He does not want a friendly regime in Iran. He wants Iran as a counterforce to America and Israel. Obama is not a Muslim, but he is a radical. He sees the U.S. and Israel as imperialistic and oppressive. He doesn’t like the U.S. military. He’d cut it to nothing if he could get away with it.

We’ll have to pull our troops and our aircraft carriers out of the Persian Gulf. We’ll lose our ability to protect Middle Eastern oil. The Gulf Arabs will have to cooperate with Iran. So will Europe; they depend on that oil.

The Iranians want the ascendance of Shia Islam. People don’t remember, but when Ayatollah Khomeini took over, he sent Revolutionary Guards to Saudi Arabia and they seized Mecca. French paratroopers had to go in secretly and get them out. The Saudis couldn’t do it themselves.

The Iranians want to take over Mecca and Medina. They want to take over the Arab world. With their nuclear weapons they will pressure Israel. They don’t need to bomb them. They will test a nuclear bomb, they will send in missiles, they will issue threats, they will strangle them economically. Israel’s high tech people will leave. They can do start-ups in Silicon Valley just as easily as in Israel; the weather is just as nice. Investments in Israel will dry up.

Read the rest here.

Why Israelis are right not to trust Obama

Obama at the Western WallObama doesn’t like the Jews and the Jews don’t trust Obama.

From the “Jews don’t trust Obama” file comes Jonathan Tobin’s excellent analysis, which ends with this compelling paragraph:

The United States seems to be retreating from the Middle East, a position that frightens many Arabs as well as the Israelis. They see the drift toward the appeasement of Iran as a sign that this administration is prepared to accept a compromise with Tehran that will leave the nuclear threat in place. Under these circumstances, it’s hard to blame the Israelis for believing that Obama can’t be trusted. American friends of Israel—including those who voted for Obama—have good reason to take a long, hard look at the Israeli poll results and reconsider their longstanding unblinking trust in this president.

And from the “Obama doesn’t like the Jews” view, read this:

A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as ‘Jewish activism in Congress’ that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

And this:

One other nugget from Obama’s interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick has direct bearing on the Iran debate:

“Historically, there is hostility and suspicion toward Iran, not just among members of Congress but the American people,” Obama said, adding that “members of Congress are very attentive to what Israel says on its security issues.” He went on, “I don’t think a new sanctions bill will reach my desk during this period, but, if it did, I would veto it and expect it to be sustained.”

“Very attentive to what Israel says on its security issues”! Points for subtlety. That aside, with 58 co-sponsors, the bill really is within striking distance of a veto override, though Senate Dems really might prove reluctant to take that step in the end.

To summarize:  Jews look back at five years of dealing with Obama and conclude that, despite his periodic pro-Israel speeches, his actions have consistently insulted and destabilized Israel. (In other words, looking at a dog that’s both wagging its tail and barking viciously, they’ve concluded that the bark is where the truth lies.) Meanwhile, Obama and his administration are telling everyone back home that the nefarious “Jewish lobby” (the same one that made a starring appearance in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”) is controlling Congress to America’s detriment.

This is all very not good.  It’s also very much as I predicted.  Four years, I had a lunch with a Jewish couple who were simultaneously very pro-Israel and pro-Obama.  I politely told them that Obama’s history and affiliations trumped his speeches and that the man could not be trusted to support the only stable, truly liberal democracy in the Middle East.  They scoffed.  I wonder if they remember my words now or if they’re still telling themselves “But Obama said that he loves Israel.”

Obama’s dream deal with Iran is the pathway to more Killing Fields

obama gives us the finger_thumb[41]Tacitus (of the Romans): “They make a desert and call it peace.”

Iran (on its dealings with Obama): “Our relationship w/ the world is based on Iranian nation’s interests. In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation’s will.”

Barack Obama (on his dealings with Iranians): “What we want to do is give diplomacy a chance, and give peace a chance.”

John Lennon, Obama’s newest national security adviser:

Which brings us full circle to Tacitus, because this is what Lennon’s peace looked like after the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam and Cambodia:

cambodia-killing-fields-08

Cambodian dead from killing fields

cambodia-killing-fields2

Obama is an evil man, QED

Obama the devil

I’m tired of pussy-footing around calling Obama merely dishonest, stupid, feral, leftist, etc.  Let’s call it like it is:  the man is evil.

Only an evil man would say this (emphasis mine):

There are times where I as President of the United States am going to have different tactical perspectives than the Prime Minister of Israel and that is understandable. Because Israel cannot contract out its security in light of the history that the people of Israel understand all too well… But ultimately it is my view, from a tactical perspective, that we have to test out this proposition. It will make us stronger internationally, and it may possibly lead to a deal.

On its face, that statement looks merely stupid, but just the slightest bit of analysis reveals that it is a statement by a man who is morally corrupted to the point of evil.  Let me explain:

Israel has been America’s friend for decades.  Iran has been remarkably clear that, when it achieves full nuclear weapon status, it will obliterate Israel.  The apocalyptic strain of Shiite Islam that Iran practices is comfortable with the idea of a nuclear holocaust, especially because most of the Muslims in the line of fire are Sunnis, who are Shiites’ ancient enemies.

When seen through the reality spectrum, as opposed to the evil spectrum, Israel and America should have identical interests.  Israel wants to survive.  And America, as Israel’s longstanding friend, should want Israel to survive, just as America, as a humanist nation, shouldn’t want to see a huge swath of the Middle East vanish under mushroom-shaped clouds.

So what does Obama say?  He says, big-hearted guy that he is, that he understands that Israel and America will have “different tactical perspectives.”  And yeah, sure he also vaguely gets that Israelis don’t want to be destroyed en masse.  When push comes to shove, though, who cares about the Israelis’ survival instinct.  It’s much more important that Obama gets a chance “to test out this proposition [letting Iran go nuclear].”

That is bad enough on its face, but please keep in mind that Obama is manifestly undeterred by the fact that every single proposition he’s tested out thus far has failed:  his economic propositions have failed, his healthcare propositions are failing in a way that could bring down the U.S. economy, his Arab Spring propositions have failed, his foreign policy propositions have failed — everything he touches fails.

That global failure leads to one of two conclusions:  He’s pathologically stupid, which I no longer believe; or all these failures are intentional, which makes him evil.  Moreover, once one adds this new Iranian “test proposition” to Obama’s list of known failures, you pretty much have proof of my theorem:  Obama is an evil man, QED.

Hat tip:  Gateway Pundit

Another bouquet of goodies from the blogosphere

Quick Link and Open Thread image

Before I begin, how do you like this lovely Currier and Ives image of nature’s bounty?  My webmaster, Trip, suggested that as part of my site upgrade, I try to have a few images that are strongly associated with posts that might not otherwise be image-rich.  When I think of my “flotsam and jetsam” or “clearing off the spindle” posts, I always think of a bountiful bouquet.  So, here I am, “branding” my posts.  And here I go, sharing the blogosphere’s bounty:

According to MSNBC, Consumer Reports, which had first warned its readers away from the Obamacare Exchange, is now raving about it:

“Now we’re saying, ‘it’s time,’” [Nancy] Metcalf [Consumer Reports health care expert] said, in particular praising the new window-shopping function, in which users can peruse health plans without registering with the site. The requirement to make an account before viewing options was considered one of the main causes for the site’s initial traffic bottleneck. “It’s terrific, I’ve tried it, it was working yesterday through the busiest times,” Metcalf said.

Dig down in the report, though, and you discover that the only thing Metcalf is actually raving about is the fact that the revised website gives consumers a chance to see products early in the process, rather than waiting until after having given over all their information.  Otherwise, Metcalf notes that problems persist, problems such as actually buying insurance:

Metcalf warned that consumers had no control over the back-end problems, which are giving inaccurate information to insurance providers, and said that if you enroll through Healthcare.gov and don’t hear from your new provider within a week, your best bet is to contact the insurer directly.

In other words, Consumer Reports, which was an early Obamacare supporter, is trying to put lipstick on a pig, while ignoring the effluvia flowing out of the pig’s back end.

Should you want a better sense of what’s going on with Obamacare, I always recommend Jonah Goldberg, who can make you smile, even when what he’s reporting is actually the stuff of tears.

Still, one can’t ignore the fact that more people have been using Obamacare since November 30.  It remains to be seen whether any of the 29,000 last reported are satisfied customers or are even customers at all.  It’s also unknown whether they are customers who fund subsidies or customers who use subsidies.  To many of the latter and too few of the former and yet another Obamacare flaw will reveal itself to the public at large.  Right now, it seems as if the youngsters who are required to buy insurance to prop up Obamacare are staying away in droves.  In any event, as it is, no one currently has any ideas what the subsidies will be, so the insurers are guessing and the government is essentially writing them a blank check.

What we do know is that a lot of people are waiting in long, long cyberlines.  Charles C. W. Cooke has a great post about socialism’s love affair with lines.  I’ve told jokes on the subject (with pictures!), and Cooke includes an absolutely splendid 1979 Tory ad out of England — an ad that might have something to do with Margaret Thatcher’s success:

pic_giant_120313_SM_The-Return-of-the-Queue-Rev

Okay, that’s the Obamacare portion of this bouquet post.  Now on to other stuff:

Surprisingly, despite the Islamist sweep that followed the Arab Spring, if one ignores Iran and the bomb, Israel expects 2014 to be a safer year for it than 2013 was.  Basically, it’s benefiting from the fact that Arabs and Muslims in surrounding nations are so busy fighting amongst themselves, they don’t have the energy to attack Israel.  In addition, citizens in those countries are noticing that their own governments, rather than Israel, might be the problem.

Karl Marx loathed Jews.  Why therefore should we be surprised that Marx’s political descendents despite them too?  In New York, which has now moved as far Left on the American spectrum as it’s possible to do without going full Soviet, the Jew-haters are stealthily crawling out from under cover.  I recently spoke with a delightful, ultra-liberal New York Jewish transplant who couldn’t believe that de Blasio could herald an antisemitic tinge to New York politics.  Perhaps a few years will leave him a sadder but wiser, and less liberal, Jew.

The House has the power of the purse.  Why doesn’t it use it?  Angelo Codevilla points out that, now that the Senate has taken the nuclear option regarding the filibuster, the House can take the nuclear option regarding budgets, at least insofar as controlling judicial nominations goes.  I’m of two minds about this.  The House has power of the purse for a reason, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t use it in the face of a starkly ideological Senate.  Having said that, just as people have pointed out that the Democrats may regret ending the filibuster if/when Republicans regain power, Republicans may be worried about letting the “no funding” genie out of the bottle in the House because of the presumably inevitable day when Democrats will regain power.

Speaking of inevitability, weren’t we told that Obama’s election, and then his re-election, heralded a new era of unending Democrat majorities?  Apparently no one told that to the youth vote, which has become disenchanted with a Democrat government that lies to them, spies on them, takes their money, and leaves them without a future.  Remember, the higher on the pedestal you place yourself, the further and harder you’re going to fall.

And a sad story about one of the Sudanese “Lost Boys” who’s finding it harder than anyone could have realized when it comes to making it in America.

An embarassment of riches; or links to all over

Quick Link and Open Thread image

There’s so much good stuff out there, I’m just going to spill it all here, a la Instapundit.

Jonathan Tobin doubts that Obama’s upcoming three-week long “Sham-Wow” commercial for ObamaCare will miraculously turn around the public’s perception that the program is a failure and the president a liar.

The success of the president’s snake-oil show is especially doubtful given that the narcissists in the White House are now blaming the public for the website’s manifest failings.

Oh, and Obama junket will also have dubious success because news is leaking out that the Obamacare site is a hacker’s wet dream.

Right now, it looks as if Obama has finally been unable to fool all of the people all of the time, at least when it comes to Obamacare.

After Chief Justice Roberts resuscitated Obamacare, I find it hard to imagine the courts dismantling that monstrosity.  Still, it’s possible.

For people who want to see the inevitable graveyard of Obama’s anti-capitalist, anti-freedom, redistributionist policies, they need look no further than Venezuela, where the country has gone from stable to basket-case in a decade.

If you want to renew your driver’s license in Oregon, you’d better come in prepared with every bit of proof known to man showing that you are who you say you are.  Interestingly, though, you don’t need to show any ID to vote in Oregon.  Just sayin’.

I was reading Glenn Reynold’s article explaining why we should abolish the TSA, and I was nodding so hard in agreement, I looked like one of those bobble-head dolls in someone’s car.

I could dig up the zillions of posts I’ve done about the way in which the welfare state destroyed the black community because it was rational for blacks to put forth less effort.  I won’t though.  Thomas Sowell makes the same point, only he does so brilliantly in his article about test scores.

When you’re George Bush and increase AIDS aid to Africa, you’re reviled; when you’re Hillary Clinton and you decrease AIDS aid to Africa, you get a reward from the AIDS Foundation.  It’s not what you do, it’s whether there’s an “R” or a “D” after your name.

Regarding Iran, here’s the good news:  Obama’s an idiot, but the Iranians aren’t necessarily that smart (although, so far, their madman chess is a lot more successful than Obama’s amateur basketball).

On Passover, Jews the world ask “Why is this night different from all other nights?”  When it comes to Islam, if you still find yourself “Why is this religion different from all other religions?”, you’re not asking that because you’re engaging in a timeless religious ritual.  Instead, if you still have to ask that question you, like our President, are an idiot.  Islam is indeed different from all other religions and that difference lies in the fact that it’s utterly barbaric as written and as practiced.

No, Obama is not Hitler.  (He’s more Neville Chamberlain, with a large dollop of the Hugo Chavez school of economics.)  Nevertheless, the Dems couldn’t have been more tin-eared when they came up with “White House Youth” or WHYouth (to which I either want to answer, Why not? or I want to do an endless bullet-point list explaining why you’re not getting good public policy if you look to young people as your guide).

I’m sure there’s someone in the British government who could be dragged to a microphone to say, “Hey, some of my best friends are Jews.”  Nah!  Not really.  Because there’s no one left in Britain who could say that with a straight face, why Britain was able to ban Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from entering England in part on the ground that they were pro-Israel.

Is it the Onion or is it just an ordinary Progressive news report about businesses in America?

And finally, if you’re a veteran and you can’t get a gun, Dom Raso has some helpful practical advice.

White House Alinsky-izes Bibi

Alinsky rule No. 13:  “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Today’s news:

Senior officials in the White House have said that Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “is desperate and weak,” in reaction to Netanyahu’s remonstrations against the deal struck with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

Israeli television Channel 10 quoted the officials as saying “His pronouncements show a lack of self-confidence,” in an unusually harsh personal attack on Netanyahu. “We are not perturbed by his vocal opposition.”

In fact, given that Israel’s former friend just stabbed her in the back and put a target on her for Iran’s benefit, Netanyahu is acting powerfully, not weakly. Weak would be to acquiesce to this evil conduct (and I have mentioned before that Obama has now aligned America with an Axis of Evil or an Evil Empire?). Strong is to speak out loudly, repeatedly, and clearly against a Chamberlain-esque travesty of “peace.”

Hat tip: Gateway Pundit

Thanksgivukkah — the perfect storm

clould_storm

A “perfect storm” occurs when circumstances that normally operate independently from each other occur at the same time, with each heightening the other’s impact.  Starting at sunset tonight, we are about to see the nexus of four circumstances that normally operate independent of each other, especially since two of those circumstances have never before occurred.  Two of the four are symbolic events; and the remaining two are entirely real, with possibly cataclysmic outcomes.

I refer, of course, to the fact that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlap, an event that will not occur again for something between 600 and 70,000 years (depending who’s doing the calculations).  This holiday nexus overlaps with two real-world occurrences, the first of their kind in America:  Obamacare, which threatens to undermine America’s still-vaguely-capitalist economy, and Obama’s agreement to allow Iran, a totalitarian Islamist state with an apocalyptic religion and visions of world domination, to go ahead with its nuclear program.  The real world events are deeply disturbing to those who love America and Israel (the only true democracy in the Middle East), but perhaps Someone is try to send us a sign insofar as they occur in the year of Thanksgivukkah.

Tying these four seemingly disparate strands together requires understanding fully what these strands are.  I won’t bore you by repeating everything you know about Obamacare and the deal with Iran, since each can be summed up in one or two sentences.  Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, however, deserve somewhat more detailed treatments.

Obamacare saw President Obama and his democrat minions use outright fraud to take over the American healthcare and insurance system in such a way as to throw most Americans off the insurance that 85% of them found satisfactory, and to dump them in an exchange that sees them lose their doctors and hospitals, all for significantly more money.  It was manifestly meant to be a way-station to socialized medicine (complete with death panels), but the government’s ineptitude with regard to the exchanges meant that Obama and Co. tipped their hands as to the fraud before they were ready to do so.

Obama’s deal with Iran gives Iran permission to continue its uranium enrichment program to something just short of full weapons potential, and unlocks the money that the mullahs need to maintain their despotic hold over their country and that Iran needs to continue with its nuclear program.  Obama did this after years of telling Israel not to strike at Iran’s weapons program when it was still possible for Israel to do so, using the fraudulent promise that he would protect Israel from Iran’s frequently expressed genocidal intent towards Israel.  (And no, the doctrine of mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent for Iran.  Iran subscribes to an apocalyptic form of Islam that differs significantly from the Christian view of the apocalypse:  unlike Christians, who wait for the apocalypse, Iranian Shiites believe that it is their responsibility to bring it about.)

Put simply, we are looking at two possibly apocalyptic events, one that has the power to downgrade America irrevocably to the status of a poor, socialized nation, and the other that could witness Israel’s destruction and decades of turmoil and death in the Middle East.  Knowing this can leave anyone feeling lost, hopeless, and abandoned.  But I do believe that the concatenation of these events with both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving means something.  That all of this occurred now might be a coincidence, or it could be part of something larger — a Divine plan, for those religiously inclined — from which we should draw hope.

Lighting the Hanukkah menorah

For those who think of Hanukkah as a holiday that involves lighting candles, spinning dreidels, and giving gifts (the “Jewish Christmas”), let me take a few minutes to tell you about the miraculous military victory that Hanukkah commemorates, a victory that every Israeli must surely be thinking about today given Obama’s Munich-esque deal with Iran.

In 168 B.C.E., Greek soldiers in modern-day Syria (and isn’t that symbolic too?) seized the great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and defiled it by dedicating it to Zeus.  Jews passively accepted this desecration for fear of incurring Greek wrath.  Human nature, though, is human nature, and you cannot appease a tyrant.  Within one year, Antiochus, the Syrian-Greek emperor, declared that observing Jewish ritual was a capital crime.  Instead, he said, all Jews must affirmatively worship the Greek gods.

As before, most Jews acquiesced, but they raged inside.  The smoldering tinder of Jewish resistance burst into flame when Greek soldiers in the village of Modiin tried to force the Jews to bow to an idol and eat pork.  Realizing that where the leader goes, the others will follow, a Greek officer focused his efforts on Mattathias, a High Priest.  Mattathias refused to acquiesce to the Greek demands.  In fear, another villager offered to violate Jewish law on Mattathias’ behalf.  Mattathias, rather than being grateful, was outraged.  He killed first the appeasing villager and then the Greek officer.  Mattathias, his five sons, and a handful of villagers then killed the remaining Greeks.

Outlaws now in Greek-controlled Israel, Mattathias, his sons, and their followers hid in the m0untains and began a guerrilla campaign of resistance against the Greek occupiers.   The fight came at a terrible cost.  Mattathias and several of his sons died in battle, leaving only one of his sons, Judah Maccabee to carry the fight to its conclusion.  As was the case with the American revolutionaries fighting their seemingly quixotic battle against the might of the British Empire (the most successful military in the world at that time), it seemed impossible to believe that the Maccabees (or Hasmoneans) could win — but they did, driving the Greeks from their lands and restoring the Temple to its rightful glory.

When the Maccabees re-claimed the Temple in Jerusalem, they knew it had been defiled by Greek religious practices, including the slaughter of swine on the altar.  They believed that they could purify the Temple by burning the ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days and eight nights.  The problem was that they had only enough oil left for one day and one night.  Nevertheless, the triumphant Maccabees lit the menorah and a great miracle happened there (nes gadol haya sham):  the menorah burned for eight days and eight nights.  It is this miracle that the Jews celebrate when they light the menorah every night for the eight days of Hanukkah.

The Hanukkah story is a wonderful story of faith, commitment, and bravery.  It is also a reminder that tyrannies, even those that appear to have unlimited power, are fundamentally unstable.  A committed band of people can come together to topple them.

Thanksgiving

And as for Thanksgiving, that tale too, deserves to be retold, since Progressives in the past 40 years have watered it down to a story about noble Native Americans rescuing fanatically religious Pilgrims who, having broken bread with the indigenous people, returned the favor by slaughtering them.  As Rush Limbaugh tells annually on his radio show and demonstrates in both See, I Told You So and in his best-selling children’s book, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans, that story is bunk.  The real story is much more interesting and lays the foundation for America’s robust development. Here is my précis of Rush’s factually accurate, extremely important telling of American history:

The Pilgrims set sail for American aboard the Mayflower on August 1, 1620.  Their reason for leaving the world they knew and striking how for this unknown wilderness was religious freedom.  While still aboard the ship, their leader, William Bradford, had them enter into a biblically inspired agreement that came to be known as “The Mayflower Compact.”  It established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

When the Pilgrims landed on the northeast tip of what came to be America, Bradford said that they found themselves in “a cold, barren, desolate wilderness.”  They were in an isolation that was anything but splendid, one without food or shelter.  In that first long, cold winter, says Rush, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford’s own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure.

In the spring, the native population came to the Pilgrims’ rescue, teaching them how to harvest the land’s plant and animal bounty, an act of great kindness and humanity, and one that deserves to be remembered.  As Rush says, that is the beginning and the end of most American’s understanding of the Thanksgiving story.  Chapter two in every child’s history book is “and then the Pilgrims eventually killed the Indians.”  There is much, much more to the story, though.

When the Pilgrims had left England, they had entered into an agreement with their merchant-sponsors in London.  That agreement called for the Pilgrims to pool all their resources — their land, their crops, their meat and furs — and to draw from those resources according to their need.  Karl Marx would have recognized this:  “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”

Things did not go well.  Indeed, William Bradford, who was now the colony’s governor, realized that, just as the Pilgrim’s first winter proved deadly, so too would this experiment with communism.  Bradford later summed up precisely what had happened with this first “commune”:

The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; -that the taking away of propertie, and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For the yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and servise did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission of victails and cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter the other could; this was thought injuestice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalised in labours, and victails, cloaths, etc., with the meaner and yonger sorte, thought it some indignite and disrespect unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, etc., they deemd it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands well brooke it. Upon the poynte all being to have alike, and all to doe alike, they thought them selves in the like condition, and ove as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongest men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of the mutuall respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have bene worse if they had been men of another condition. Let pone objecte this is mens corruption, and nothing to the course it selfe. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them.

Put in modern English, what Bradford said was this:  The ancient writers loved the theory of a commune, assuming that the doctrine of “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need” would result in universal happiness.  Put into practice, though, communism bred laziness, jealousy, and discontent.  The most deleterious effect was seen on young men — the most important workforce in any agriculture society — who resented deeply having to expend their labor for other men’s families without any return on effort.  Redistribution of wealth ultimately meant less labor in an agrarian society, with the inevitable and dangerous decrease in the food supply.  People work cheerfully, industriously, and productively only if they know there is the possibility that outcome will correlate to effort.

Made wise by experience, Bradford abolished the commune and, instead, assigned to each family a plot of land for which it was solely responsible. The result was predictable.  “This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”  Or, as Rush said, “supply-side economics.”

Because the Pilgrims had a personal stake in their labor, they worked hard, and produced surplus crops that they traded with the Indians or sold to British merchants.  Soon, this small band of wanderers in a far-off outpost of the nascent British Empire had created a profitable, growing, and quite attractive little society.

Paspajak Patrol

So, where are we now?  We are witnessing two events unfold, both of which have the potential to wreak terrible destruction on healthy, functioning, open democracies.  And we have those two events unfolding during the once-in-a-lifetime convergence of holidays that celebrate a military victory over tyranny and an economic victory over socialism.  These holidays celebrate defining moments in history.  They show that, no matter how dark things appear, people of passion, intelligence, and faith can “repair the world” (hebrew:  tikkun olam).  A great miracle happened there, in Jerusalem; a great miracle happened there, in the Plymouth colony; and we cannot reject the idea that great miracles can still happen, whether in the Middle East or in America.

We lose under only two circumstances:  we are wiped off the face of the earth (something all tyrannies have tried against the Jews, but thankfully without success) or we give up (something that too many disaffected, disheartened conservatives keep threatening to do).

Call it coincidence or call it a sign from a higher power, but the fact remains that, as Israel and her friends in America watch Obama try to include America in the Axis of Evil, and as we Americans watch a concerted effort to socialize the American economy, destroying America’s fundamental character and greatness, tonight and tomorrow serve as powerful reminders that, with faith and courage, a small band can destroy a great tyranny and that the socialist experiment can be undone with a return to greatness.

To everyone, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, I wish you a very happy Hanukkah, as we take eight days to remember that miracles do happen and that tyrants are overthrown.

And to everyone, American and non-American alike, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, a day on which we count the myriad blessings in our lives, both big and small, and we remember that, while socialism may temporarily mute the striving, creative, dynamic, productive, energetic parts of human nature, it cannot destroy them.

Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t appeasement — it’s worse than that *UPDATED*

Obamaworld in a Matt Drudge nutshell

I’ve noticed something interesting.  While serious thinkers are likening what John Kerry and Barack Obama did vis a vis Iran to Neville Chamberlain’s disastrous Munich Agreement, they’re  not using the world “appeasement” as the dominant trope.  (E.g., Charles Krauthammer and Bret Stephens.)  They’re just saying that, in terms of giving a tyranny permission to be tyrannical, Obama and Kerry have followed in Chamberlain’s footsteps.

This omission makes perfect sense when one realizes that there is a substantive difference between Munich and Tehran:  when it came to Munich, as Stephens points out, England couldn’t have done anything anyway.  Her military might was practically nonexistent.  The most that Chamberlain could do was put a smiley face on the situation in the hope that Hitler would come after England last, not first.  No wonder Winston Churchill famously said “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

Here, however, as Stephens again points out, America held the hand with three kings.  Right up until Obama signed on the dotted line, Iran was a pariah nation badly hurt by economic sanctions, while America still has the most powerful military in the world.  Thanks to Obama, though, Iran has been given permission to go ahead with all the enrichment it needs to do to position itself for becoming a nuclear power; it’s been relieved of an enormous economic burden; and it’s been legitimized — and all when we had the winning hand.

So why did Obama give away everything when he didn’t have to give away anything?  This is not appeasement; this is collaboration.  As Obama made clear from the beginning of his administration, he wants to side with the mullahs and he doesn’t like Israel.  Obama has now given free rein to the Obama doctrine:  the elevation of Islamic totalitarian dictatorships to the detriment of anything that stands in their way.  This manifestly awful agreement isn’t a desperate mistake, it’s an intended outcome.

So yes, this is much worse than Munich.  Obama isn’t trying to make the best of a bad situation; he is intentionally creating a bad situation because that situation harmonizes with his core beliefs and values.

And if that doesn’t scare you, nothing will.

UPDATELee Smith states it simply:  Obama has had America switch sides.  Iran is no longer our enemy, but our ally.  We once supported a liberal democracy, but we now side with a bloody-minded, genocidal, misogynistic, homophobic, totalitarian Islamic dictatorship.  Obama has soiled America.

Hat tip to Jon Gabriel for that great photoshop.

The existential despair that comes from living in Obama’s America *UPDATED*

I went to bed depressed and waking up to these Drudge Report headlines reminded me why:

Obamaworld in a Matt Drudge nutshell

The whole Iran-Munich moment has left me believing that Obama is much smarter than we realized.  Even as he was lying to Israel about (a) having her back and (b) not negotiating with Iran, he created a box from which it’s almost impossible for Israel to escape.  There are only bad choices says Yossi Klein Halevi:

Israel’s window of opportunity to launch an effective strike is closing. It is now measured in months, not years. The deal, worry Israelis, could further narrow that window.

Israelis note that the deal doesn’t cover inspections of Iran’s nuclear weaponization program, including fuses, timers and metallurgy, which will no doubt continue apace. And Israel takes for granted that the Iranians will persist in doing what they’ve done all along: lie and cheat, but this time under the cover of a deal. In every previous rounds of negotiations, after all, the Iranians continued building secret facilities. All of which could mean further reducing Israel’s timetable for a strike.

If Israel concludes that its window is closing and does decide to strike, even while the deal remains in effect, it risks becoming an international pariah—in effect exchanging roles with Iran. On the morning after an Israeli strike, Israel could find itself alone, facing tens of thousands of missiles from Hezbollah and Iran launched against its home front.

[snip]

During the first Obama administration, the urgent Israeli question was: Is he is a friend of the Jewish state? That question was largely resolved for many Israelis during the President’s visit to Israel last March, when he won over much of the public by affirming the Jewish roots in the land of Israel and the indigenousness of Israel in the Middle East, as well as Israel’s past efforts to make peace.

Now, though, Israelis are asking this: After eight years of President Obama, will the Middle East be a safer or more dangerous region for Israel?

For most Israelis the answer is self-evident. The turning point came this summer, when Obama hesitated to enforce his own red line over Syria. That was the moment that he lost the trust of the Israeli public on Iran.

This is chess on a malevolent scale.  It was also probably a planned move.  Never forget that the Los Angeles Times has hidden in its vaults a videotape of Obama speaking at a radical pro-Palestinian gathering.  The fact that the LA Times refuses to release the video has long led people to assume that Obama says something along the lines of “I’ll take care of Israel for you.”

We at this blog knew that Obama was never a friend to Israel, and was always doing whatever he could to curry favor with Islamist regimes. (Witness his love affair with the Muslim Brotherhood.)  It turns out that this wasn’t just a feeling, but was a goal to which he committed himself, even though it required the use of fraud and chicanery.  (And let’s not forget the quite obviously faked “long form” birth certificate, which almost certainly hides the fact that the father about whom Obama dreamed in Bill Ayer’s best-selling Obama autobiography probably wasn’t his real father.)

Indeed, Obama’s presidency is proving to have been built entirely on fraud.  Not just lies, which are often merely self-exculpatory or self-aggrandizing, but on fraud, which is the deliberate use of lies and information withholding in order to get people to change their position to their detriment and to your benefit.  He told Americans and Israelis lies, knowing that they were lies, for the specific purpose of getting both America and Israel to change their position to their detriment and to Obama’s benefit.

In the case of Obamacare, the (knowing and known) lies were that (a) you could keep your plan; (b) you could keep your doctor; and (c) average insurance costs would drop $2,500 per year for a family.  He told these lies to strip Americans of their insurance and pave the way for socialized medicine.

In the case of Israel, he repeatedly told Israel that (a) he would never abandon her and (b) he would work to end Iran’s nuclear aspirations.  These lies meant that Israel did not strike against Iran when the striking was relatively easy (as was the case in the strike against the Syrian nuclear facility).  Now, as Halevi showed, even if Israel successfully strikes Iran, Hezbollah is on her border with thousands of missiles aimed at her.  Moreover, having now struck this deal with Iran, Obama won’t have America’s back if she strikes; he’ll join the chorus of disapproval isolating Israel.

In the past, when Israel had her back against the wall, she came out swinging.  Thanks to Obama’s fraud, her hands may well be tied.

Do you remember the headline horror of 9/11?  I do.  Since we were on the West Coast, we woke up in time to turn on the television and see the towers fall.   I don’t need to find words to tell you what that felt like because you were there and you remember.  You felt it too — that sense of watching a train race towards a giant canyon, where the bridge is out, and there is nothing you can do to stop the inevitable carnage.  Every day, I wake up now, grab my iPad, and, driven by a fierce compulsion, open it, expecting that Obamaworld will show me headlines fully equal to the despair and horror of 9/11.

UPDATE:  The wonderful image that Matt Drudge used this morning comes from Jon Gabriel.

I prefer clarity to agreement, and Obama’s second term is getting increasingly more clear

I trace back to Dennis Prager one of my favorite expressions:  “I prefer clarity to agreement.”  Too often, agreement can be like Tacitus’s definition of a Roman peace (“they make a desert and call it peace”).  In the years since Obama’s election, I’ve frequently argued that, with a weak American president, the world might get some necessary clarity.  (For example, in January 2011, I said apropos Obama’s retreat from the world stage, “The clarity that emerges when the strong man is gone might be helpful.”)

Looking at the headlines, it occurs to me that Americans are getting a lot of clarity about what today’s Democrats really stand for, while the world is getting a lot of clarity about what a post-American world looks like.  The following links all tie into this post’s theme about the clarity that Obama has wrought.

The end of the filibuster,* although weakening minority power in the Senate, may bring about a very useful clarity, both because it forces the two parties to own the legislation they pass, and because it enables Republicans to have an easier time getting their judicial picks confirmed.  History shows that, with the exception of the past year or two, while Democrat judicial picks got confirmed easily, Republican judicial picks did not.  Republicans will now be able to get judges on the bench with a simple majority.

Obamacare reveals Obama for what he is:  not a glorious tyrant, in the mold of Louis XIV or Henry VIII, but a petty bureaucratic Leftist.  You and I knew that early on, of course, but the rest of America is catching on to this reality . . . so there’s clarity for you.

The young and the poor just got a dose of clarity today:  Even the wealth transfer that is Obama’s core (but don’t call it redistribution) was done incompetently, with low-income, especially young low-income people finding that they’re in the increasingly expensive Obamacare market without a subsidy net.

I hope John Fund is correct when he says it can still be repealed — but that will happen only if the American people have learned their lesson and vote Republican in 2014, and if the Republicans don’t prove that they’re as complicit in Big Government as we currently suspect.  (And in that regard, the end of the filibuster may also bring some welcome clarity for conservative voters.)

Peter Wehner comes right out and says it:  Obamacare is finally causing people to see the President and the Democrats for at least some of what they are — failed technocrats.  But again, the question remains whether we’ll get intelligent action in clarity’s wake.

Angelo Codevilla thinks the same is true with Obama’s appalling agreement to allow Iran to continue building its nuclear program; namely, that it forces clarity (or, as he phrases it “reality’) on the world:  “But let us look on the bright side: There is value in leaving no doubt about reality.”

Certainly the Israelis now know where they stand.  Keith Koffler’s faux quote passes the Homer Simpson test.

And finally, even the media is getting a little tired of being pushed around.  This tiny rebellion won’t stop the media’s slavish devotion because, even if media members have had it with the man, they still support the cause.  However, to the extent the media consuming public watches this little tiff, it might produce enough clarity in some that they start backing away from the cognitive dissonance that enslaves them.

Clarity . . . it’s a good thing.

_________________________

*Thanks to Earl for pointing out that I’d forgotten those three very important words.

Anyone want to start a betting pool as to the date on which Israel bombs Iran?

So Obama did it — he gave Iran permission to go ahead with its nuclear program and gave the mullahs $4.2 billion of our tax dollars with which to do it.  I foresee an Israeli strike as inevitable.  Any bets as to when it will happen?  Also, any side bets as to which Middle Eastern countries facilitate Israel’s attack?  I’ve certainly got my money on Saudi Arabia.

In a peculiar way — a very peculiar way — Obama’s bought a simulacrum of peace to the Middle East.

Barack Obama:  the man who made Jimmy Carter look good.

Same old, same old, which I enliven with predictions for the next twelve months *UPDATED*

bored-baby

Here’s an old joke:

An established comedian invited a friend to join him at a very exclusive “comedian’s club.”  The guest instantly noticed something peculiar.  In the main room, a person would periodically stand up and shout out a number.  “57,” one would say, and a few people in the room would chuckle.  After a moment’s silence, someone would holler, “18,” and be rewarded with a chorus of good-natured “boos.”

This pattern continued for a while, until someone shouted out “77.”  While a few people let out a short bark of laughter, one guy in the corner was utterly beside himself.  He roared with laughter, until tears were rolling down his face.

The guest turned to his host and asked, “What gives?  What is it with these numbers?”

“Well,” the host explained, “it’s like this.  We’re all professional comedians here and, to be honest, there are only so many jokes around.  It got tiring and boring for someone to tell a joke that everyone already knew, so we started assigning them numbers.  It’s kind of like a joke short-hand.  People still laugh — if they want — but it definitely saves time.”

“Okay,” said the guest.  “I get that.  But what about that guy in the corner who collapsed with laughter when someone shouted out ’77′.”

Oh, him,” answered the host.  “I guess he hadn’t heard that joke before.”

Yes, it’s a surreal joke, but it also explains why I’m having problems blogging lately.  When I read a story about Obamacare, I can’t add much to posts I’ve written going all the way back to 2009.  I predicted then what would happen now.  “You’ll find that in posts 384, 943, 6749, and 34052.”  Events in the Middle East?  I foresaw those too, including Obama’s love affair with Iran, and Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s entirely predictable coming together against that common enemy.  “See posts 3489 and 9492.”  Government data manipulation?  We covered that too, as we did with gun control, amnesty, foreign policy, etc.

I’ve moved out of fresh and into “I told you so.”  As a writer, “I told you so” is boring.  It’s also especially boring for all of you, because you were right there with me, making the same predictions.  We all saw all of this coming.

The only thing that’s kind of newsy now is watching the oh-so-smart Leftists figure out that they’ve been had.  It’s not actually real news, of course, because we all saw this coming too, but it’s still fun to watch.  As to these Obamabots, it’s not just that a specific politician has “had” them.  Their entire ideology is disintegrating in front of their eyes.  Most, of course, will plunge into frenetic denial.  That’s old stuff too.  For 100 years, communists have been saying that communism is perfect; it’s the implementation that’s flawed.  When today’s Leftist’s rant against the president, the party, and the people, they’re foll0wing an old script.

A few Leftists, however, will draw back and say, “We were wrong.  We were wrong about everything.”  That’s been done too.  They’ll be joining David Horowitz, Michael Medved, Thomas Lifson, David Mamet, Sally Zelikovsky, the Power Line guys, and scores of other people who already had their Road to Damascus moment when they realized that Leftism isn’t poorly implemented; it is, instead, fundamentally flawed.  I certainly won’t think as highly of these new converts as I do of the older generation.  The older generation didn’t need to see America’s economic collapse and her fade into international irrelevance to see which way the wind was blowing.

Since everything seems to be “same old, same old,” except even more so, what would be new and exciting news for a blase blogger in the next twelve months?

1.  Obamacare’s repeal, although unscrambling that egg will be virtually impossible.  Even if they wanted to, huge institutions such as heavily-regulated insurance companies and hospitals cannot turn on a dime.  The somewhat functioning market will have been destroyed, which nothing lined up to take its place.  Worse, we know that Republicans politicians are incapable of using the headwinds of repeal to revitalize the free market.  (Remember:  Democrats have bad ideas and effective politicians; and Republicans have good ideas and brain-dead cretins in office.)

2.  A groundswell of popular support for Obama’s impeachment.  Of course, that would leave Biden in charge, which is not a pretty thought.  The likelihood is that, if he could, he’d move Elizabeth Warren into the Veep seat to stymie Hillary.  It would be amusing, but just as bad for America as Obama himself.

3.  Israel’s alliance with the Gulf States to launch a devastating attack against Iran’s missile systems and nuclear centers.  With strong American leadership, this could actually have a good outcome, freeing Iranians from decades of appalling Islamist repression and destabilizing tyrannies in a way that leads to genuine freedom throughout the Middle East.  With our current leadership, a leadership that will have made such an attack necessary in the first place, one can only imagine that the Middle East, the entire Middle East, will manage simultaneously to implode and explode.  The human costs will exceed imagination and, because of oil, those costs will encompass the entire planet.  Canada, Brazil, the US, and other places may be coming up as major oil producers, but losing Middle Eastern oil in a single day would have incalculable consequences on modern life.

4.  The 2014 elections resulting in a Republican sweep the likes of which has never been seen in America.  In a way, though, coming as it would midway through Obama’s so-far disastrous second term, this would also be ho-hum news, even if both House and Senate changed hands.  What would be more interesting would be to see places such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco jettison their Democrat ruling class.  I’m not holding my breath on that one.  The residents in those cities routinely use elections to double down on failure.

5.  Obama comes out of the closet.  (And, come on, you know he’s in there.)  That wouldn’t affect anything politically, but it would make for great headlines, especially if Hillary refuses to be one-upped and comes out too.

6.  Schadenfreude here, but I will enjoy watching New York in the first year of the de Blasio administration.  I should start running a pool taking bets as to how long it will take de Blasio to reduce New York to its 1970s status.  We all know that it’s easier and faster to tear down and destroy something than it is to renew and revitalize.

7.  The New York Times will declare bankruptcy.  I see that as inevitable, although would actually be surprised if it happened in the next twelve months.

8.  People definitively reject anthropogenic global warming.  As with the New York Times’ bankruptcy, this is inevitable.  I just don’t see it happening in only 12 months.

9.  Oprah recants and announces that she’s no longer calling for the genocide of “racist” people who don’t support Obama.

10.  Palestinians lay down their arms.  The previous nine hoped-for headlines all have a possibility, even a small one, of coming true.  This one does not, but it sure would be great news, and it would snap me completely out of my writer’s doldrums.

And, for those joining me in ennui, some music:

UPDATE: Hmmm. A James O’Keefe tweet suggests that tomorrow may bring some news we haven’t already heard before.

Madam Bookworm’s crystal ball predictions in 2009 about Saudi Arabia proved to be eerily accurate *UPDATED*

As I read the headlines lately, I have this peculiar sense of deja vu.  I already pointed out that, back in 2009, a conversation I had with a liberal doctor fairly accurately predicted how Obamacare would play out (although even I didn’t foresee the exchange collapse, perhaps because no one was talking about exchanges in mid-2009).

I had another deja vu moment today when I read Michael Totten’s article about the collapse in the American-Saudi relationship:

The American-Saudi alliance is in danger of collapsing.

The Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis is by far the largest threat to both Saudi and American interests in the Middle East now, yet the Obama administration is buddying up with Vladimir Putin on Syria and allowing itself to be suckered by the Iranian regime’s new president Hassan Rouhani.

Never mind the fact that Rouhani obviously isn’t a moderate and is powerless to negotiate sovereign issues in any case. The White House is so desperate to cut a deal with America’s enemies that the president will go along on even a farcical ride. As a result, the Saudi government is threatening to drastically “scale back” the relationship.

The Saudi-American relationship’s collapse means that the Saudis are trying to figure out how to handle the PR problems of their burgeoning supportive relationship with Israel:

Either way, if the Saudis want to get real, it’s time for them to suck it up and normalize relations with Israel for the same reason they forged an alliance with the United States. The Israelis and the Gulf Arabs have the exact same geopolitical interests right now. They have the exact same list of enemies. Who cares if Riyadh and Jerusalem can’t stand each other personally? Riyadh and Washington can’t stand each other personally either. That hasn’t stopped us from working together when our interests coincide.

Of course, an alliance with Israel would be a little more awkward (to say the least) while the Palestinians are still stateless, but so what? The Jordanian government worked it out and is in far better shape as a result.

[snip]

It’s logical, isn’t it? Israel poses no threat whatsoever to Gulf Arabs and never has. Israel poses no threat to any Arab country that doesn’t act with belligerence first. The Jordanians figured that out a long time ago. So did the Egyptian government even if Egypt’s population remains as clueless as ever. The Tunisians figured it out. The Moroccans get along with Israel just fine under the table.

The open secret right now is that the Gulf Arabs have also figured it out even as they’re loath to admit it in public. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is not-so secretly working with all the Arab states in the Gulf region right now based on shared (anti-Iranian) interests.

The above is Michael Totten writing yesterday, and I urge you to read the whole thing because it’s that good.

And here’s the Amazing Madam Bookworm writing on May 7, 2009:

Obama and team, of course, miss one fundamental thing about the nuclear weapons situation in the Middle East.  As surrounding nations understand, Israel will never use the weapons offensively.  She will only use them defensively. They are her sole deterrent.

The other nations also understand that, much as they loath Israel’s existence, which is a continuing canker in their hearts and minds, she does not offer any existential threat to them.  The reverse is not true.  We know that every nation in the region desires Israel’s destruction and there is every reason to believe that Iran, once it goes nuclear, will use the weapons offensively against Israel.  There is no parity, and forcing Israel to put her weapons on the table (so to speak), will not create any.

The other thing that Obama fails to understand is that, even if Israel is forced to show her hand and the pressure is on for disarmament, Iran will never disarm.  It will lie, lie, lie, and lie again to ensure that it continues to have a usable weapons stock pile.  While Israel’s goal is a simple one:  to stay alive, Iran has a much more sophisticated set of three-tiered goals.  Its first goal is Israel’s destruction; second, it seeks Middle East domination; and third, it desires world domination.  Israel and all of the other nations in the Middle East understand Iran’s first two goals.  Obama and team, despite their myriad degrees, don’t seem to understand any of Iran’s goals.

It will be interesting to see if Israel can withstand Obama’s pressure.  I’m reasonably optimistic that, with Netanyahu at the helm, Israel understands what Obama is doing and understands what will happen if he gets away with it, and will resist this threat.  I also think that, under the rubric of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” allegiances are going to start shifting in the Middle East.  Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, etc., may hate Israel, but they fear a nuclear Iran even more than they hate Israel.  My long-held suspicion since Obama’s election (which instantly meant Israel lost her only friend) is that Saudi Arabia, somehow or other, is going to give Israel cover for an attack against Iran.

Nor was that a random prediction.  I said the same thing on July 5, 2009:

I’ve predicted in this blog that, if America continues to coddle Iran, Saudi Arabia will give Israel access to its air space, although it may well lie about that fact later.  Iran’s bluster was fine with the Arab Muslim nations as long as they thought the U.S. would ultimately slap down any Iranian pretensions to regional hegemony.  With that clearly not the case any more, the game is changing and the players are taking new (and, if I do say so myself, predictable) positions on the board:

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Saudi Arab is not the only one to reconsider the world order now that America is a suddenly a weak sister.  Perhaps the rest of the world will drift away from Marxism and coddling Muslim extremism as America becomes a mere spectator and — worse — a spectator that tends to cheer on the bad guys.

Like the teenager who can act wild, knowing that Daddy will ultimately be there to protect her, Europeans (and others) could afford to be weak and silly, knowing that America would come along and clean up their messes.  With Daddy in a coma, Europeans have to stand on their own, and I think their choices are going to be quite different than they were before.

Now that I’m done patting myself on the back, it’s incumbent upon me to add that it didn’t take a genius to figure these things out.  A person with the meanest intelligence, armed with a few facts, could have made exactly the same predictions.  What is also true, though, is that it takes the peculiar idiocy of the Democrat elite to have made such stunningly stupid miscalculations — miscalculations so rife with errors that even dodos such as me could figure out, not only that Democrat policies would fail, but precisely how they would fail.

UPDATEJonathan Spyer makes the same point:

Recent remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have fueled renewed speculation of behind-the-scenes links between Israel and the Gulf monarchies.

Netanyahu, speaking at the UN, said that “the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy.”

He added: “This affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.”

There have been subsequent rumors of visits by senior Gulf officials to Israel, to discuss matters of common interest.

While it is difficult to acquire details of these contacts at the present time, it is a near certainty that they exist, on one level or another. Conversations with Israeli officials suggest that much is happening behind the scenes.

Israel and the key states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (most importantly, Saudi Arabia) share core views on the nature of key regional processes currently underway, and their desired outcome.  These commonalities have existed for some time, and it is likely that the contacts are themselves not all that new.

Read more here.

Hmmm. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Oh, wait! I did say it myself . . . more than four years ago.

In which I pretend to be Thomas Sowell and offer short takes on today’s headlines

I freely admit that I will never be as brilliant as Thomas Sowell, either in my analytical abilities or in my writing quality.  That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t borrow his technique of writing the occasional post that consists of one or two sentence thoughts about interesting subjects.  So, I am for his style, even if I lack his substance.

As I understand it, striking down DOMA means that marriage in America is no longer defined as being between one man and one woman.  More than that, it’s no longer defined as anything.  In pre-21st century America, it was understood to be one man and one woman, but now those common understanding is gone.  It seems to me that the feds better act quickly to define marriage as a relationship between two consenting adult humans.  Otherwise, the door is open to polygamy, incest, bestiality, or NAMBLA- and sharia approved marriages with children.

Earl Aagaard forwarded to me a wonderful comment a friend of his made with regard to Obama’s disastrous efforts to engage with Russian President Putin regarding Edward Snowden, currently hanging out with impunity in the Moscow airport:  “It seems that Barack Obama, not content with losing the war on terror, is also trying to lose the Cold War.

I have to admit that I haven’t read closely any of the news articles about Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revitalize the Middle East peace talks.  All I can think is that trying to get the Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution is a fool’s errand — and John Kerry is most certainly a fool.

I was saddened, but not surprised, to see that the Senate passed the Immigration bill (all 1,200 unread pages of it), including 14 “yes” votes from Republicans.  I have only two hopes now.  I hope that every Senate Republican who voted “Aye” gets killed in the primaries and I hope that House Republicans figure out that they can vote “no” on the bill by pointing to the fact that, as written, it destroys American jobs, both by drastically increasing the pool of legal, low-income workers and by blending with ObamaCare to give employers the incentive to fire current workers (for whom they must buy insurance or pay a fine) in favor of amnestied workers (who don’t fall under ObamaCare).  I just know, though, the Republicans are going to be sufficiently stupid to sell this as fear of too many Hispanics.  Raaacists!!

We’re having a heat wave here in temperate Northern California.  Oh. My. G*d!  It must be global warming.  We’re all going to die!  Oh.  Wait a minute.  Never mind.  I just remembered that it’s June and we’ve had a heat wave in the Bay Area every June since my earliest memories in the 1960s.

There’s a saying that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.  There’s also a saying that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  If Obama was merely stupid, one would think that, in his approach to foreign policy, he’d occasionally get things right.  But he never does.  Think about his instincts:  With the Iranian revolution, when he should have given moral support to the opposition, he was silent.  During the Egyptian Arab Spring, when he should have supported and then gently eased out our ally, Mubarak, he was silent.  He found his voice again with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he supported — so much so that, now that ordinary Egyptians and, especially Coptic Christians in Egypt, are figuring out that they went from a bad secular government to a much worse theocratic government, Obama has fallen silent again.

Obama pulled us out of Iraq, where we had won, before we had a chance to consolidate a democratic infrastructure.  Iraq is now becoming an Iranian satellite and falling into a dystopian Islamic anarchy.  In Afghanistan, Obama didn’t even wait until we won.  He announced that we had lost and would be leaving soon, and by the way, would the Taliban please refrain from killing Americans and instead sit down with American politicians to negotiate the terms of our defeat.

Of course one can’t forget Libya, where we helped destroy a neutral (which is what Qaddafi had become) and replaced the power structure with a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  That chicken came tragically home to roost on September 11, 2012, when al Qaeda killed four Americans in Benghazi.  Then there’s Syria, where Obama sat by the sidelines when he could have helped a democratic movement against Assad’s dictatorship, but decided to provide support only when the democratic movement had morphed into — yes, again — a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  One starts to get the feeling that Obama likes the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, despite their clearly expressed goals of world jihad, with Israel as target No. 1 and America as target No. 2.

Obama’s bestest friend in the international world is Turkey’s Erdogan, who is doing his damndest to turn secular, functional, democratic Turkey into another totalitarian dictatorship.  Meanwhile, he’s alienated Russia’s Putin so much that Putin gleefully rubs America’s nose in its helplessness with regard to the gallivanting Snowden.

My conclusion:  It cannot be random that Obama gets it wrong every time.  This isn’t stupidity.  It is malice.

Speaking of Snowden, I’m still sticking with my first instincts:  Snowden did ordinary Americans a favor by revealing that the federal government is a spy state, and one that could easily tip into being like the East German Stasi.  That he did something important, though, doesn’t mean that his motives were good.  This is an anti-American man who was either working for a foreign power (probably China) from the get go, or who, having gotten his hands on America’s national security secrets, didn’t hesitate one moment when it came to selling out America.  He’s not a hero.  He’s a villain who incidentally did something helpful.

Do any of you feel like being epigrammatic?  If so, please chime in.

I’m very interested in your views about Syria

Barack Obama chose to sit out the first two years of the civil war in Syria.  When it started, he could have helped out the rebels before al Qaeda co-opted them, but he didn’t.  Now, Syria is in a full-scale civil war with the Assad regime as the proxy for Iran and Hezbollah, and the rebels as the proxy for al Qaeda.  It is a war with no good guys, but with plenty of victims in the form of ordinary civilians (especially children, the elderly, and helpless women) slaughtered wholesale or turned into refugees.

Bret Stephens, writing at the Wall Street Journal says that a very prevalent mindset (and I have to admit that it’s been my view) is that as long as they’re fighting each other, they’re not attacking Israel, America, or Europe.  He thinks this is a dangerous attitude, first, because these regional Shia versus Sunni fights can spread until the entire Arab world is aflame and, second, because these wars radicalize Muslims.

I think Stephens has a point that there is a danger that the entire region goes up in smoke, which could suck in other parts of the world.  I don’t agree with the radicalization, though, because that horse has already left the barn.  In the 1980s, during the Iran-Iraq war (which was another Sunni versus Shia fight), the Muslim world wasn’t yet so radicalized and the war did change things.  Now, though, with 9/11 and ten years of war in the Middle East, not to mention the Arab Spring, the name of the game is “radicalized Muslims through the world.”

Accepting as true that Obama has already screwed up by letting the situation get this far, is there anything that can or should be done now?  Or are we fated to sit here helpless and watch the whole world get sucked into the Middle Eastern black hole?

What does North Korea want? And should we be scared?

I haven’t yet decided whether I’m unnerved by North Korea’s saber rattling.  We’ve seen this before, starting in the 1990s, when the North Koreans figured out that, if they made the West sufficiently nervous, the West would bring offerings of food and money to the destitute totalitarian prison state, in hopes that feeding the beast would render it docile.  Things seem a little different this time, though, so maybe I’m getting more nervous.

First, North Korea has never been so open in its aggression.  If I remember past situations correctly, the North Koreans shot missiles here and there, made the usual threats against South Korea, and had the propaganda news station heighten the rhetoric a little bit, but that was it.  This time, however, North Korea has made public carefully posed photographs showing Kim Jong-un clustering with his generals as they blot nuclear missile attacks, not just at Seoul, but at specifically named American cities — Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Austin, Texas.  Specific threats tend to be more worrisome than generic Communist hate-speech.  (And I don’t mean to imply that the past threats against Seoul were meaningless.  Regardless of meaning, they were also part of North Korean ritual.)

North Korea plan to attack US mainland revealed in photographs - Telegraph - Mozilla Firefox 3292013 71051 AM.bmp North Korea plan to attack US mainland revealed in photographs - Telegraph - Mozilla Firefox 3292013 71003 AM.bmp

Second, North Korea is under new management.  Kim Jong-un is a totally unknown quantity.  Maybe he’s just using his youthful zeal to bring new optics into the stale ritual blackmail . . . but maybe not.  As ancient Rome showed, the tyrants tend to get crazier as time goes by. (Think:  Caligula.)  Maybe Jong-un, who has never known anything but the insane hot house of North Korean politics, actually thinks attacking South Korea and the United States will work to his country’s benefit.  Megalomania doesn’t breed rational thought.

Third, North Korea has the nuclear weapons this time, and they’ve given every indication that they’re crazy enough to use them.  No mutually assured destruction doctrine will hold them back.

Fourth, it’s peculiar that North Korea hasn’t made any demands yet, despite a month of threats.  And not just threats, but escalating threats.

Fifth — and this is the really scary one — this may all be a red herring as they ship nuclear arms to Iran.  I read today (and for the life of me I can’t remember where) that this may all be a shell game, with Iran keeping our focus on its ability to build nuclear weapons, while North Korea keeps our focus on its ability to use nuclear weapons.  In fact, Iran may not be building, and North Korea may not be using.  Instead, it’s quite possible that North Korea is building the weapons for Iran’s use.  And that’s a very scary thought indeed.

That’s my brain spill about North Korea and its escalating threats.  What do you guys think?

 

World’s most stupid question

If this article is correct, Iran’s inherent systemic failures mean that it’s not as far along in developing a nuclear bomb as concerned Western nations have feared.  But the article’s author goes on to ask what I can only call a really stupid question (emphasis mine):

The news comes as a great relief. But it also raises questions. This was a serious intelligence failure, one that has led some of Israel’s own officials to wonder aloud, “Did we cry wolf too early?”

Indeed, Israel has consistently overestimated Iran’s nuclear program for decades. In 1992, then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres announced that Iran was on pace to have the bomb by 1999. Israel’s many subsequent estimates have become increasingly frenzied but have been consistently wrong. U.S. intelligence agencies have been only slightly less alarmist, and they, too, have had to extend their timelines repeatedly.

Overestimating Iran’s nuclear potential might not seem like a big problem. However, similar, unfounded fears were the basis for President George W. Bush’s preemptive attack against Iraq and its nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Israel and the United States need to make sure that this kind of human and foreign policy disaster does not happen again.

What explains Israel’s most recent intelligence failure?

From there on out, the author talks about intelligence failures, politics, and all sorts of other stuff.

That’s all so complicated.  It seems to me that Israel overestimates the bomb threat for one very simple reason:  She’s the first in line when/if Iran finally gets a bomb.  Given Israel’s highest priority as Iran’s first target for its weapon of mass destruction, Israel might be a little antsy and might think that it’s better to be too worried, rather than too sanguine.  After all, as one Holocaust victim memorably said, “When someone says they’re going to kill you, take them seriously.”

No matter how far Iran has gotten with the bomb, it’s already too far for Israel’s peace of mind and safety.  Anything greater than no bomb at all is a risk.  And that’s why the article’s question is disingenuous.  Even if all the other reasons for Israel’s intelligence errors are true, one must never lose sight of the fact that Israel has reason to be very afraid — and that tends to make both people and nations jumpy.

A French military victory in Mali — and a dismal American record

The Malians are thrilled, as they should be, and the French should be pretty darn proud themselves:

French troops headed to Mali

Residents of Mali’s northern town of Gao, captured from sharia-observing Islamist rebels by French and Malian troops, danced in the streets to drums and music on Sunday as the French-led offensive also drove the rebels from Timbuktu.

The weekend gains made at Gao and Timbuktu by the French and Malian troops capped a two-week whirlwind intervention by France in its former Sahel colony, which has driven al Qaeda-allied militant fighters northwards into the desert and mountains.

So, let’s see what we have here:

Another hanging in Iran

Another hanging in Iran

On the US side, President Obama, without consent from Congress, brings US forces to Libya to destroy a nominal US ally, creating a power vacuum that al Qaeda fills, with disastrous results for four Americans serving their country in Benghazi.  Also, President Obama uses the full force of diplomatic pressure in Egypt to force out a nominal US ally, creating a power vacuum that the Muslim Brother fills, with disastrous results for the Egyptian people, who are now rioting in the streets, and quite possibly creates an existential threat Israel.  When it comes to Syria, whose tyrannical leader Obama and his political friends had praises, Obama does nothing at all, leading to mass murders throughout the country, and another major Middle Eastern refugee crisis.  Likewise, in Iran, when the people rose to challenge a tyrannical government that had abandoned even the pretense of democratic procedures, Obama stood by silently.

Obama's bitch is Egyptian dictator

Meanwhile, on the French side, in two weeks the French destroyed al Qaeda’s tightening group on a moderate Muslim nation, leading historically moderate Muslims to celebrate and to beg the French to stick around.

Obama, in common with all Progressives, tends to believe that there’s a “right side to history.”  Perhaps he ought to revisit the notion, because he seems to be on the wrong side every time.

Found it on Facebook — Iran, the greatest threat to Western civilization

Sometimes my liberal friends surprise me.  Buried amongst the snarky, ill-informed pictures they routinely post, I’ll occasionally find something thoughtful and important.  Very, very important — such as this short video explaining precisely why Iran poses such a threat, not just within the Middle East, but to the whole world, America included:

The question for voters is whether they want to give Obama another four years to futz around while the Mullahs build their nuclear bombs and delivery systems (because futz is all he did during the first four years while the Mullahs powered forward) or if they want to hand the problem to an Alpha dog. Romney is not insanely aggressive (he’s no mad dog or cowboy) but, more importantly, he’s not in thrall to a deranged Leftist belief that, if we just make nice to Mullahs who believe that must take an active hand in bringing around the apocalypse, those same mullahs will also make nice and just go away.

Nor am I comfortable with Joe Biden’s assurance that, “Well, sure they have the bomb, but they can’t do anything with it.”  Biden doesn’t know his derriere from a ditch, and he has proven over the years to be remarkably wrong when it comes to national security issues.  The mere fact that he’s not worried frightens me as much as anything else could.

(The sad thing is that I’m pretty sure that the liberal friend who posted this video firmly believes that, despite the evidence of his first four years in office, Obama is the only one to save the world.)

There’s a website that goes with this video.  It offers prizes for those who make the effort to email the video to as many friends as possible.  Sending a few emails strikes me as a small price to pay for a worthy cause.