The Bookworm Beat — August 25, 2014, look at last week (and Open Thread)

Woman writingI’ve had several articles saved on my browser since last week. All are still pertinent, and I’ve promised myself not to look at any new articles until I’ve shared these older ones first.

The enemy will televise the next war

James Taranto points out that, this time around when it comes to Iraq, no one is protesting the fact that Obama, slowly and reluctantly, is sending the military back. Anyone who’s been paying attention since 2009 would say that this is because Democrats only protest when Republican presidents go to war. That’s the easy answer, says Taranto. The reality is that even the hard-core Left, a faction that protests all wars by anyone, has been silent too. Taranto notes, riffing off a Peggy Noonan post, that even the usual suspects (such as ANSWER, the communist organization) are silent. He thinks that Ferguson is distracting them.

I think that there’s more going on than that, and this “more” is something that James Lewis nails. After pointing out how carefully the Leftist media has edited war coverage in the last many decades — showing American troops as both aggressors and victims, but showing communist or Islamist enemies only as victims, Lewis notes that, this time, the enemy has outed itself as an unusually malevolent aggressor:

The criminal monsters of ISIS like to show their killings on a social network called Diaspora, which is less controllable than Facebook or Twitter. The result is what critics call “war porn” – but it means that after six decades of monopoly control of the media by the left (and by Saudi and Qatari money), we are seeing the true horrors of the worst ideological murderers in the world.

Precisely. For the first time since World War II, Americans are allowed to understand that a blood-thirsty enemy is aiming its sights on us, and they are able to understand this fact because that same enemy proudly uses open-access media to show both its enmity to America and its blood-thirstiness. It’s hard, in light of ISIS’s own pride in its slaughters, for the Left to argue that any American engagement comes about because of “American aggression,” “American imperialism,” or a “war for oil.”

Self-defense and Jews

One of the interesting things about my dojo is the number of Jewish kids and adults there. We’re by no means a majority, but we’re represented in numbers greater than our small percentage of the American population.

With me as the only exception, all the Jewish families represented there are solid Progressives. Still, I think there must be some atavistic feeling amongst them that Jews need to learn self-defense.

With the rising tide of anti-Semitic attacks throughout the world, many of which aren’t bombs or knives, but are, instead, just one-on-one bullying attacks on individuals (Jewish) deemed too small and weak to help themselves, self-defense is the best answer. Jews should be armed, and Jews should know how to use close quarters martial arts.

I find support for my belief in Rabbi Aryeh Spiro’s contention that self-defense is a religious obligation:

We fight because self-defense is a mandate from the Bible — the Torah, called by many the Old Testament. We fight to defend life. Because life is precious, the ultimate, we must defend it. The very definition of self-defense is permission to kill the one who is coming toward you to kill you. Self-defense is not simply our right to pray or support with words, but do whatever is needed to stay alive and protect our families.

Those pacifists who are willing to personally die and would rather be butchered so as not to kill their butchers are free to so choose. But no one is allowed to demand or suggest that someone else allow himself to be killed so as to spare the life of the one presently doing murder.

A war to defend and stop those coming to kill you is a moral war. It is called a Just War. And we defend not only ourselves, we defend others. The Bible, the Torah that is, says, “Do not stand idly by while the blood our brother is being spilled”. We also have permission to kill those coming to rape a woman. The Bible, Old Testament, tells us so in Exodus. It is our obligation.

This is always a good time to remind everyone that the Biblical commandment is not “Thou shalt not kill” but is, instead, “Thou shalt not murder.” Murder is a deliberate peacetime act intended to terminate someone’s life for no other reason than the fact that it confers a benefit on the killer, whether material or emotional. Self-defense is a front-line weapon against murder. To the extent murder is prohibited, self-defense must be allowed.

The lack of shame isn’t just a black problem

Yesterday, I wrote that one of the most peculiar things to me about American blacks is that they so wholeheartedly embrace and advocate for sleazy, two-bit gangsters, such as Trayvon Martin or, it seems, Michael Brown. Blackness washes out all sins. There is no sense anymore of being an honorable community. Once you classify yourself as a victim, no one, including your fellow victims, should be allowed to demand of you any standards of morality or decency.

It turns out that this lack of shame isn’t limited just to American blacks. Tom Wilson points out that ordinary Brits seem singularly unimpressed that their determinedly multicultural, politically correct society keeps turning out Islamist mass murderers who kill both at home and, in increasing numbers, abroad:

Observers have warned that the British fighters for the Islamic State are among the most vicious and brutal, and yet there is no sense of shame or culpability gnawing away at the British soul, despite the havoc and terror that British jihadists are causing in Iraq and Syria. The news reporting is procedural, the politicians sound tired, apathy permeates the conversation every time the subject is raised. The only time that any flicker of alarm or interest can be detected is when it is pointed out that these people, hardened by battle and radical Islam, might return to Britain to continue their fight from the streets of British cities.

Read more here. (It may be behind a pay wall, but a Commentary subscription is relatively cheap and definitely worth the price.)

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Finally figuring Obama out

Do you know who is responsible for the shrillest, most nasty anti-Obama post I’ve seen in I don’t know how long? Maureen Dowd. She is clearly a woman whose god betrayed her and she is royally angry. She’s a good writer too when she’s that mad:

FORE! Score? And seven trillion rounds ago, our forecaddies brought forth on this continent a new playground, conceived by Robert Trent Jones, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal when it comes to spending as much time on the links as possible — even when it seems totally inappropriate, like moments after making a solemn statement condemning the grisly murder of a 40-year-old American journalist beheaded by ISIL.

Dowd is not alone. Over at The New Republic, another true believer can be seen weeping over his keyboard. I mean, it’s pretty clear that a god has failed when you read this opening paragraph:

Why has Barack Obama—one of the most eloquent and thoughtful of recent presidents—become such a terrible politician? Midway through his sixth year in office, his ineptitude is pretty clear.

Yikes! That’s gotta hurt, or at least it would hurt if Obama ever left his bubble, one that Ed Lasky credibly argues sees him deliberately insulate himself from the world.

In Obamaland, there is no such thing as friendly, constructive criticism. If it comes from conservatives, they’re haters and can be ignored. If it comes from the base, they’ve become haters and can be ignored.

As I love to say, being a narcissist means never having to say you’re sorry. The world is composed of supporters and enemies, and anyone who isn’t actively, at this very minute, supporting you, is an enemy, to be disregarded or destroyed (or, preferably, both).

The first president from the TV generation

Jonah Goldberg thinks part of Obama’s problem could be that he’s the first TV generation president. He grew up watching TV and, indeed, likes to boast about the time he spends watching the hip, edgy shows that get such good press in Democrat House organs such as The New York Times or The New Yorker:

Does the president think the world is a TV show?

One of the things you learn watching television as a kid is that the hero wins. No matter how dire things look, the star is going to be okay. MacGyver always defuses the bomb with some saltwater taffy before the timer reaches zero. There was no way Fonzie was going to mess up his water-ski jump and get devoured by sharks.

There’s certainly a fantasist element in every malignant narcissist, since he is always his own superhero, constantly under attack from mere mortals. With this core outlook, TV Land’s paradigm — “the hero always wins” – would certainly mesh perfect with Obama’s character.

Big Shocker (NOT): TSA lies about flying illegals

The TSA was caught in a lie, and it was caught in a lie about very ugly subject: Contrary to earlier denials, the TSA is allowing illegal aliens to fly notwithstanding (a) their illegality and (b) their lack of ID.

Think about that for a moment: Even as you’re standing in endless lines, repeatedly showing your identification, struggling to get your shoes on and off, getting x-rayed, patted down, or strip searched, someone who crossed the border last week gets to show a letter and fly.

I’m sure these illegals are also getting their shoes searched, getting x-rayed, etc., but they’re still allowed to fly — God dammit! That’s just wrong. If the point of all the inconveniences forced upon us is safety, there’s nothing less safe than allowing someone whose first act upon entering America was to break the law, and who could easily be a terrorist or an Ebola carrier, to walk on the plane just by waving a letter.

The politics of doctors

In my neck of the woods, doctors are Democrats. This has always made perfect sense to me. Young doctors are educated to believe that they know what’s best for everybody and should call the shots.  (And certainly, you need a certain amount of arrogance to mess with people’s bodies.)  This makes doctors a natural Democrat constituency.

According to the Daily Signal, though, my views may thankfully be skewed. Of the 20 doctors in Congress, 16 are Republicans. Moreover, with Obamacare, even the most arrogant of modern young doctors are beginning to realize that, while they don’t mind controlling other people, they’re less than thrilled when the government comes in and tries to control them. Here’s hoping that Obamacare causes more doctors to wise up.

Reporters lie for Hamas

A veteran reporter for reliably Leftist outlets (AP, NPR, NBC, CBS) has written an article starkly stating what we Israel supporters have long known to be true: In addition to bias, laziness, and access issues, the main problem with the reliability of news coming out of Gaza is the fact that Hamas intimidated reporters into lying:

typical news report from Gaza a few days ago described the destruction, interviewed Gaza civilians who related in heartbreaking detail the deaths of their relatives and loss of their belongings, and listed the hardships and travail the people are facing because of the Israeli military operation. Halfway through the long story was a single paragraph that said that Israel claims Hamas fires rockets from civilian areas. This is how journalists protect themselves from charges that they didn’t tell “the other side.”

But in fact, they didn’t. They didn’t report from Gaza about where the Hamas rocket launchers were, where the ammunition is stored, where the openings of the tunnels are—if they mention the tunnels at all, which in this case, they didn’t.

[snip]

sides the budgetary limitations, news organizations often hesitate to send reporters into Gaza at all because of the constant danger, and not from Israeli airstrikes. In 2007, BBC reporter Alan Johnston was kidnapped by Palestinian militants and held for more than three months. Many other foreign journalists were kidnapped there and held for a day or two around that time. There have been no kidnappings recently, but the message was clear—foreigners are fair game. The message was heard and understood. For lack of an alternative, news organizations began to rely more and more on local stringers, giving the regime considerable leverage through intimidation. It’s expected that news organizations will deny all this—it’s part of the dance.

On many occasions, frightened stringers have pleaded to have their bylines taken off stories. Some have been “evacuated” from Gaza for a time for their own safety, after an article critical of the regime was published or broadcast. Families have been spirited out for a while.

Read the rest here. The only problem with the article is that it appears in The Tower, which is a great publication, but one that lacks the reach of outlets such as HuffPo. We can all help, though, by using social media to give this article the widest reach possible.

Arabs and the conquest problem

One of my conservative(ish) Facebook friends came out this weekend with a post parroting The New York Times to the effect that the problem in the Middle East is that Israel will not cooperate with the two-state solution so as to give the Palestinians their homeland. It took time, but I shut down that thread by walking everyone through a few facts: Palestinian rejection of the two-state solution, the morality of self defense, Hamas’s founding mandate to kill all Jews, the fact that Palestinians already have their state because Jordan was given to the Palestinians in 1924, and, lastly, the fact that Palestinians have a minimal historic tie to the land.

That last point was reinforced for me by Joshua Gerlenter’s reminder that, to the extent Islam spread by conquest, it’s displaced indigenous people all over Africa, Europe, and Asia for thousands of years.

Europe’s gradual decline into anti-Semitic appeasement

Jeffrey Goldberg is a Progressive who, when his politics aren’t directly involved, often gets things right. A case in point is a recent Bloomberg column he authored accusing Europe of a passive, indecent surrender to the forces of evil roaming European streets. He’s not calling out the active anti-Semites; he’s calling out Europe’s increasingly large cadre of go-along-to-get along people, those who just hope that the Islamists among them will leave them alone.

Goldberg’s starting point is an incident at a Sainsbury’s super market in England. Anti-Israel protesters promised to invade the store, so local management instantly stripped the shelves of all kosher foods (most of which didn’t come from Israel). Although Sainsbury’s corporate management returned the products to the shelf and apologized, Goldberg understands that something very important happened at that local store (emphasis mine):

he Sainsbury’s incident is disturbing not so much for what it says about the nature of European anti-Israelism, but for what it says about the broader response within Europe to forces of intolerance and hatred. Employees of the Sainsbury’s branch in central London seemed to have understood, based on an accurate reading of recent events, that anti-Israel activists posed a threat to their store, and perhaps to their own physical well-being. And so the manager made a decision to surrender to the mob and engage in what could only be called an act of self-preservational, but objectively anti-Semitic, preemption.

Cowering of this sort is a sign that a country is losing the ability to stand for the values it professes to maintain. In the U.K., it is also a sign that a society hasn’t fully grappled with the radical intolerance exhibited by some of its citizens.

It will be a great day when Goldberg and other fundamentally decent people like him understand that the Leftism they espouse — with its moral relativism, multiculturalism, and hatred for white, Anglo-Saxon culture — is what destroyed England’s (and is destroying America’s) “ability to stand for the values it professes to maintain.”

Hollywood’s heavy hitters support Israel

Some really big names in Hollywood have signed a letter supporting Israel and castigating Hamas. All I can say is good for them!! The letter includes the normal mush-mouthed demand for peace, but it has the courage to target Hamas’s stated raison d’etre: killing Jews.

ALS, ice buckets, and coffee — social coercion for other people’s charities

You’ve no doubt heard by now about the ice bucket challenge, which has successfully raised awareness of ALS. Or, more accurately, it’s raised tens of millions for an ALS charity. It’s unclear how many people are actually more educated now about that devastating disease.

If you haven’t heard, the ice bucket challenge goes this way: You dump a bucket of ice on your head for the charity, donate money to the ALS charity ($100 is the recommended amount), and assign three friends who must do the same. (It started out that you told the friends “Donate or suffer the ice bucket,” but it’s morphed into people video taping themselves being iced and donating money.)

I’m a curmudgeon. ALS is a laudatory cause, but it’s not my cause. I tend to donate to military organizations and pro-Israel organizations. As I see it, it’s my money, and I get to spend it as I will. I’ve received two ice bucket challenges to date and have ignored both. I’m not the only one with this curmudgeonly streak:

I don't always donate to charity

Because of the subtle social bullying behind the ice bucket challenge, I was fascinated by a story out of Florida. For 10 hours, in St. Petersburg, Florida, people were “paying it forward,” meaning that they were paying for the order of the person behind them in line. One man eventually put a stop to it, and he did it deliberately for a reason I found compelling (emphasis mine):

Peter Schorsch, a blogger, drove to the Starbucks drive-thru in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Thursday after hearing about the “pay-it-forward’ phenomenon there that ended with customer No. 458.

After he ordered two Venti Mocha Frappuccinos, the barista told him his first drink had been paid for by the previous customer and asked if he would like to pay for the next customer.

“I told him no,” Schorsch, of St. Petersburg, told ABC News. “When the barista asks you to pay it forward, it is no longer spontaneous.”

[skip]

“I just don’t want to be forced into doing something,” said Schorsch, who is also a part-time political consultant. “This is turning into a social phenomenon and I had to put an end to it.”

When baristas ask customers to pay for the next customer, some patrons simply oblige out of guilt, not generosity, he said.

[snip]

“It just seems like a ‘First World’ problem to me. Middle-class people sitting in their cars at a drive-thru, sipping a $5 drink and worrying about someone breaking the ranks,” Schorsch said.

“There is a little humor being a contrarian, but I think if you really want to help, find someone that obviously needs help, like the homeless,” Schorsch said.

“Also, I got a $6 Venti Frappuccino. Someone might just get a $2 coffee,” Schorsch said. “This is unfair to that person who paid for me.”

Exactly!

A Marine’s kick-ass message to ISIS

It’s “only” one former Marine, but it’s still heartening to know that at least one segment of American society still has a can-do, won’t-back-down, love-my-country, I-support-freedom attitude.

(The “only” in front of “one Marine” comes about because of that wonderful line JKB quoted from an old movie:

I was just watching an old movie, Rendezvous, with William Powell and Rosalind Russell. It’s a WWI spy movie with Ms. Russell’s character the persistent suitor of Powell’s character running down a spy ring. She follows him into a hotel where the spy ring operates. Bullying her way past the front desk she reveals her uncle is the Asst. Sec of War and threatens: “I’ll have him send the Army and Navy. And a Marine, if he’s needed.”

An unusually powerful Michael Ramirez cartoon

This cartoon is on point and shattering even by Michael Ramirez’s own high standards.
The threat

The Bookworm Beat — empty house edition, Part II

Woman writingA moment of calm, so I’m resuming my round-up.

Things are not good all over

Richard Fernandez does a quick survey of the three main issues on America’s plate — Russia, Iraq, and Ebola — and is not sanguine. He’s not screaming that the end is near, but he thinks the optimistic voices (almost all from the Left, including the President’s own voice) are wrong.

I’m not the only one likening ISIS to Genghis Khan

Yesterday, I wrote that, in ISIS, we see a ferocity that has been missing (thankfully) since the time of Genghis Khan. My friend Terresa Monroe-Hamilton had the same thought: ISIS Sweeps The Middle East In A Method Reminiscent Of Genghis Khan. Unlike my mere passing commentary, Terresa details precisely why ISIS is so scary.

I only have one problem with the Genghis Khan analogy. Whenever I see that name written, all I can hear is John Kerry’s smug, vicious voice comparing American troops in Vietnam to “Jeng-jis” Khan.

When will the world realize that, to Islamists, we’re all Jews

It’s not just Israel that pays a high price when the West supports Hamas; ultimately, the whole Western world will be paying that price:

In practice denouncing the Jewish state means siding with the malevolent, murderous forces of jihadism, a stance that not only represents a complete inversion of morality but a ­suicidal disdain for the interests of western civilisation.

Read the rest here.

And remember:

They were Muslims

How to become a popular leader

In Israel, Netanyahu is wildly popular, something that dismays Obama, because that popularity means he can’t bully Bibi. My guess is that, if citizens in the West weren’t subject to a Pravda-esque media that hides Islamist depredations, those leaders who wage war against those same Islamists could also be wildly popular.

Of course, with mass protests in Western streets, you’d think people would be figuring out that the Islamists aren’t just in Iraq, but are all over. This is a scene from a pro-Hamas London protest that allegedly saw 100,000 people take to London’s streets:

Gaza supporters march on London

I’d say “I pity the poor fools who think those protests will stop with only Israel as the enemy,” but the fact is that those “poor fools” are useless idiots trying to get us all killed.

Jimmy Carter — just plain evil

Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter sinks further and further into an abyss of immorality. Alan Dershowitz believes that he’s sunk so low because he’s literally sold his soul to the Saudis, a million here and a million there.

That price tag might explain Carter’s openness about his anti-Semitic, pro-Islamic totalitarian world view, but it doesn’t explain his embrace of that worldview in the first place. You have to be a pretty evil person even to think about selling your soul that way. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that America’s last two Democrat presidents have sold themselves to the Saudis? It speaks to a profound moral corruption on the Left.

I guess being steeped in hypocrisy does wipe clean the moral slate

Why does the GOP have a love affair with Cory Booker?

Eliana Johnson provides chapter and verse showing what a shady character Cory Booker is, as well as being a singularly competent politician when it comes to making good on his campaign promises. Why then, she asks, are Republicans playing nice with him and opting not to provide any meaningful support to Republican challengers? See, it’s things like this that just make conservatives hate the GOP.

News from the gay scene

In West Hollywood, the mayor thinks there should be more parks for dogs and fewer parks for children.

Meanwhile, fat gay men are struggling to fit into a gay culture that is (and always has been) obsessed with physical appearance. If you think women are catty about each other’s looks, you’ve never seen gay men opining about each other.

I did not leave my heart in San Francisco

This fairly accurate spoof is why I don’t regret having left San Francisco behind (although, having been born and raised there, I do still consider myself a San Franciscan — but a San Franciscan from the good old days):

Remember WWI

I wrote here earlier about a ceramic poppy installation at the Tower of London to commemorate the British who died in WWI. Here you can see pictures of this impressive and moving sight.

Pictures

Every time I look at this first one, I want to cry:
Matan Gotlib

Reagan on Concentrated power

David Burge on pacifists

Hamas is an innocent victim

Obama and Tahmooressi

Kurds dying

CNN airbrushes militant Islam

Difference between liberals and conservatives

The Bookworm Beat — Hanging with Neo Neocon edition

Woman writingNot to boast — okay, never mind, I’m boasting — but the reason I didn’t write more this afternoon was that I met up in the City with Neo Neocon. It was, I must say, a delightful way to spend an afternoon.

Neo is, as you would expect, thoughtful, informed, amusing, warm, and just a genuine mensch. This was our second get-together, and it felt as if I’d known her forever and only saw her last a few weeks ago, not a few years ago.

Thinking about it, ithout exception, when I’ve met in the flesh people I first got to know through my blog, I’ve never been disappointed.. Each person has been as attractive in three-dimensions as they were when they were only words on the computer screen. If you’re a blog regular whom I’ve gotten to know over the years, and you find yourself in the Bay Area, let me know. Time permitting, we may get a chance to meet for real.

And now . . . to the round-up!

Firing people in Affirmative-Action-Land

One of the things Neo and I touched upon was the disincentive to work resulting from affirmative action hiring followed by the impossibility of firing.  (This is a subject I discussed at length once with the kids.)  The bottom line for those minorities who are paying attention to perverse incentives is “Why work hard if the system is set up so I can’t be fired?”  Roslyn Chavda was one of those employees and was so shocked when she was fired, that she sued for discrimination despite lacking any evidence that anyone had discriminated against her.  If you want to find out how that suit went, go here.

The war between Israel and Hamas has a profound moral dimension

This article by Gen. James Conway, former Commandant of the Marine Corps is a little bit out of date (it was published on July 24), but the point Gen. Conway makes is so important — about the deep moral chasm between Israel and Hamas — that it’s worth reading at any time.  On my real-me Facebook, I’ve been countering Hamas supporters by challenging them to look beyond the number of bodies (many of which Hamas created through its tactics) and to look instead at the nature of the two sides.

This is not just a ground war.  It is an existential war, and there is no middle:  you are other for a Judeo-Christian society that values individual liberty and pluralism, or you are for an Islamic society that demands complete fealty to the Quran, with all its vile prejudices, or mandates death.

There is no truth for those living in a totalitarian regime

A few days ago, I posted the video of a mother who got her deathly ill son from Hamas to Israel, where he was treated.  While there, an Israeli interviewed her.  With cheerful, smiling almost apologetic mien, she explained that she gave from a death cult that was willing to sacrifice everything to get to Jerusalem.  (And even though it’s my own blog, I can’t find the darn link.)

Neo and I talked about that video, and it occurred to Neo that the woman’s apologetic behavior could have been because she didn’t believe what she was saying.  She was voicing those terrible thoughts to protect herself and her family from Hamas’s wrath upon her return to Gaza.  That actually made sense.  In a totalitarian society, no one is allowed to speak the truth.

Anyway, I thought of that when I saw this video of agitated Gazans blaming Hamas for the death surrounding them:

Complaints such as that are courageous acts that can lead to execution.

More evidence keeps emerging to support Israel’s claim that Hamas hides its weapons among children

This morning,  I blogged about a French24 reporter openly acknowledging that Hamas was firing videos from civilian areas, and inviting Israeli return fire.  Just to reinforce that point, here’s a video of Hamas fighters firing rockets in front of what looks like a captive audience of children:

America has a grotesque record when it comes to Iraq’s Kurds

It’s not really a surprise that Obama is abandoning the Kurds. George Bush Sr. did it too, something for which I’ve never forgiven him — nor have I ever forgiven Colin Powell, who apparently gave Bush Sr. the advice to abandon the Kurds. What is interesting is that, on my real-me Facebook, stalwart Obama supporters are grumbling about this base behavior. I don’t think the love affair with Obama will ever end for most of them, but I have to believe that some of them are beginning to realize that their idol has feet of clay. Perhaps with that realization, the cognitive dissonance that makes up their Progressive lives will start to become overwhelming and shatter.

In Europe, it’s 1938 all over again, and too few American Jews care

Is it because I’m too sensitive altogether, or am I correct that American Jews are not sufficiently upset about the rising tide of active, ugly, Nazi-esque anti-Semitism sweeping through Europe.  When I’ve mentioned it to some, they’ve just brushed it off as “Oh, well, Europeans do that occasionally.”  I can’t seem to convince them that, the last time “Europeans did that occcasionally,” 6 million Jews died, not to mention tens of millions of everybody else dying too.

Thinking Leftists realize that Hamas is insupportable if you have even some morals

I sometimes feel sorry for The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.  He’s a really bright guy, who definitely gets that Israel is the morally correct country, but can’t shake his allegiance to the Left sufficiently to take that thought to its logical conclusion — which is that those who oppose Israel are wrong, and that they may be wrong about their other believe systems, including statism and Obama-love.  Because he’s bright, Goldberg often asks the right questions.  This time, he asks, “What Would Hamas Do If It Could Do Whatever It Wanted?” (Hint: He gets the right answer.)

Israel did surprisingly well this time around putting her case before the world

This war has been a very troubling one for Jewish Israel haters. A perfect example of this is an open letter from Peter Schwartz — a self-identified liberal, pacifist, Israel-hating Jew — who has reluctantly been forced to conclude that (a) the Palestinians mean it when they say they want to kill all the Jews and (b) Israel is not unreasonable to defend herself, nor has she defended herself unreasonably.

Schwartz’s anguished, conflicted letter, one in which he strives for moral relativism but realizes that, this time around, Israel’s in the right, reflects something very important about this latest war: Israel fought it not only on the ground, but in the realm of ideas. The world would be a different place if she’d started doing so in the 1970s, but at least she’s doing so now.

Had Israel not been so aggressive in using social media to get out her message, all we would have seen would have been the usual lies, some driven by ideology, and some driven by a media too cowardly even to admit that its coverage is grossly skewed thanks to threats and other intimidation from Hamas.

ISIS’s Iraq takeover has the potential to affect (badly) the world’s oil supply

When I think about the ISIS takeover in Iraq, I think about the Christian slaughter and the horrors of hardcore Sharia rule. In other words, I feel compassion for the Iraqis trapped by those appalling totalitarian savages. I should, however, spare a thought for myself too: Noah Rothman reminds us that if ISIS takes Iraq, it also takes Iraq’s oil. That should scare all of us — and, if Obama was rational, force him finally to approve the Keystone pipeline.

Obama’s telling silence about Maj. General Harold Green’s assassination

I admit that between morning errands and afternoon socializing, I haven’t heard today’s news. As of yesterday, though, Barack Obama hadn’t said a damn thing about one of his generals (he is, after all Commander in Chief) getting assassinated in Afghanistan. The general was Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, deputy commanding general of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan in Kabul. I don’t know about you but, if Obama was as silent today as he was yesterday, I think that’s awful. It’s not that a generals life is more valuable than any other man or woman killed at enemy hands. It’s that protocol says that a Commander in Chief is supposed to speak out when enemies attack the command structure.

The Stars and Stripes Forever

A little patriotic music for you to enjoy:

Pictures!

Thanks to Caped Crusader for these great posters:

Israel damaged hamas

The men from Illinois

Who's the racist

Hillary's foreign policy experience

Mid afternoon Friday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesThe lovely thing about summer is that I get to sleep in a little. I like that.

The less than lovely thing about summer is that I am never alone. More than that, if my family is near me, they want me. Sometimes they want me for irritating reasons, such as asking me to do things they’re perfectly capable of doing themselves (e.g., making themselves lunch); sometimes they want me for necessary things that only I can do (e.g., filling out the parent permission form for an activity or dealing with contractors); and sometimes they want me for flattering reasons (“I just want you to sit with me, Mommy.”). No matter the reason, I can’t write when they want me.

Other times, as is the case now, I have little bits and pieces of time within which to write. I’m therefore going to slam stuff out and you’ll just have to excuse the inevitable typos. If I proceed methodically here, I won’t be able to publish this until Monday.

** 1 **

Mitchell Langbert wrote an open letter to his state Senator asking that New York take away tax breaks and financial subsidies for colleges and universities that support the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement:

I urge New York State to eliminate tax breaks and financial subsidies for colleges and universities that support involvement with the Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions movement. Such support is already illegal under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code, which prohibits the use of tax-exempt money for political and ideological purposes.

If Langbert is correct in the way he interprets the law, all of us should make a very big deal out of this one, not just in New York, but across America. (Hat tip: JKB.)

** 2 **

So far, Israel is doing very well. Ironically, one can say that she’s doing well because Obama hates her. With past administrations, when the president asked Israel to stop fighting Hamas, even when she was winning, Israel agreed to the request. She did so because all past administrations tacitly or explicitly promised that, if things get really bad, America will have Israel’s back.

Barack Obama, of course, doesn’t have Israel’s back. He’s mostly in Israel’s face, with a shiv aimed at her jugular. The fact that he manifestly dislikes Israel explains why Israel now refuses to listen to his pleas for her to back down. He’s got no carrot to entice her into listening to him, so Israel sneers at John Kerry when he, a Lurch without charm, insists Israel lay down her guns.

Israel is also doing well because Hamas is doing badly. The IDF put out a poster explaining just how badly Hamas is doing:

Hamas hurting

That poster doesn’t even acknowledge the 150 Hamas fighters who surrendered yesterday.

For more on just how well Israel is doing, you can read an American Thinker article that purports to report a conversation with a very highly placed Israeli specialist and Bibi advisor, or read Tom Rogan’s analysis about Israel’s success is splitting Hamas and Fatah.

** 3 **

That same Israeli specialist and advisor has no doubt about the basis for Obama’s hostility to Israel:

As for what is behind Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, he attributes it to the fact that Obama is a Muslim and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Perhaps Obama also sees himself as the Caliph of any future Caliphate.

The other thing the post about the specialist mentions is Qatar’s involvement in funding radical Islam. Qatar also funds lots of soccer. My son loves soccer, and he can’t understand why I won’t let him buy gear from Qatar-funded teams.

** 4 **

Contrary to what the Left says or implies, the war between Israel and Hamas is not a case of powerful white people attacking helpless brown people. In fact, Israel is a multicultural, multiracial, multi-religious society — and all people of good will within that society, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion, support stamping out the terrorism emanating from Gaza.

** 5 **

CNN’s Erin Burnett isn’t just another pretty face. She’s a really stupid pretty face, something that comes through loud and clear when Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador U.S., takes her to task for her inanely stupid “but what about the children” plea when it comes to the Gazan children that Hamas deliberate dots around weapons’ sites in Gaza.

Regarding Hamas’s tactics, I’m sure its supporters have made the point that the nature of Gaza (a small, urban area) means that Hamas can’t have nice military bases or remote areas where they can stockpile weapons. That’s true.

What’s also true, though, is that there are choices other than schools and hospitals for storing arms and mounting attacks. Moreover, when your enemy goes out of the way to give you advance warning that it plans to demolish the schools and hospitals in which they’ve determined you keep your weapons and fighters, there are choices other than ordering women and children and sick people to stay in those buildings.

There are always choices — and Hamas, when it chooses, always makes the least moral choice.

** 6 **

Meanwhile, as the world’s Muslims and Leftists castigate Israel for daring to defend herself in a more humane way than any other nation in history, most of the world is turning away from Muslim atrocities in Iraq and Syria. There, Muslims slaughter each other and Christians with fury and brutality, and in great numbers. Looking at this inconsistent behavior, one has to ask, If it’s not the oldest hatred that drives the obsessive focus on Israel, what is driving it?

** 7 **

Sultan Knish explains that terrorism is a tactic like any other. Traditional militaries think in terms of conquering land or towns. Terrorists think in terms of conquering minds through abject fear:

This emotional calculus is misleading because it is an immediate response to a set of deaths. However terrorists are not trading an end to violence for a village or a town. They are calculating how many deaths it will take to force Israel to abandon that village or town. And once they have it, they will use it to inflict more terror on another town or village, this time using rockets.

Israelis were convinced that a price in lives had been put on Gaza and that if they withdrew, the killing would end. But Gaza was just the beginning. Not the end. There is never an end.

The goal of a terrorist movement is to change the relative perceptions of strength and the freedom of movement of both sides. Terror tactics create the perception that the winning side is losing. This perception can be so compelling that both sides come to accept it as reality. Terrorists manufacture victories by trapping their enemies in no-win scenarios that wear down their morale.

Described that way, it’s hard to imagine how to defeat this profoundly cruel psychological warfare. Fortunately, though, Sultan Knish says it can be done but it will take political courage. Unfortunately, how often does one find courage in politics?

** 8 **

My back garden is dotted with solar lights. They’re cheap to buy and don’t require any electrical boxes, outlets, or cords in the garden. Buy enough of them, and they’ll illuminate deck stairs just enough so that no one falls or will keep people from wandering off a paved pathway into the dirt. It would take a whole let of them, though, plus a full moon, to allow you to read a book by their light. Solar energy just doesn’t deliver that much power, and that’s the problem with trying to turn it into a viable fossil fuel alternative.

** 9 **

You’ve heard it everywhere else, so you may as well hear it from me too: Jonathan Gruber, an important Obama-care architect, has castigated the Halbig decision for daring to read Obamacare’s language literally and, on that basis, deciding that subsidies only support state-run exchanges. Of course the government meant to include federal exchanges when it talked about subsidies, says Gruber.

A few years ago, though, Gruber was singing a different tune, when he gloated about tying subsidies to state exchanges. His theory then was that it would incentivize states to set up their own exchanges. In a sane world, Gruber would lay to rest the DemProg’s discontent with the Halbig decision, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

** 10 **

Kimberly Strassel says that the Halbig case proves that the IRS, which has become an arm of the Democrat party, cannot be entrusted with Obamacare. It will do anything, including disobeying the law as written, to support the Democrat agenda.  With that in mind, I wouldn’t just remove Obamacare from the IRS’s purview.  I would argue for eliminating it entirely, and starting anew.  (Like that’s going to happen.)

** 11 **

I don’t think Noemi Emery really explains the roots of Hillary’s sense of political and monetary entitlement, but in trying to explain it, she sure paints a picture of a women who believes that the White House and millions of dollars should be hers for the asking.

My take is that Hillary didn’t get to this point because of her Arkansas exile or victimized-wife roles. I believe she’s just your ordinary sociopath, who managed to lever herself into a power path, and now wants more just because she’s the sociopath she is.  In other words, her history didn’t make her a sociopath; the fact that she is a sociopath shaped her history.

** 12 **

Charles Krauthammer has offered a very interesting theory about Obama’s bizarre passivity as the world burns around him: he believes that the arc of history will go his way so that he can just sit back and watch it happen.

If that idea — that bad guys will wither away in any event — sounds familiar, it’s because you heard it from Jimmy Carter about our own American Revolution:

[I]n some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war.

Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial‘s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a nonviolent way.

I think in many ways the British were very misled in going to war against America and in trying to enforce their will on people who were quite different from them at the time.

See, if you’re just a little nicer to people on the other side of a quarrel, they’ll fall in line with you. It’s that easy. So if Obama just doesn’t throw America’s weight around, everyone will make nice in the end.  Obama is helped in this theory by the fact that he seems happy to have that arc of history bend to Islam, not the western, Judeo-Christian tradition.

** 13 **

In the 1930s, many decent-ish people in Europe and England supported Hitler’s rise. That’s because initially they saw his fascism as the European antidote to Communism. It somehow never seemed to occur to Europeans, accustomed as they were to autocratic government, that the choice wasn’t binary, between a tyrannical government that destroyed the rich and a tyrannical government that co-opted them. Individual freedom never occurred to them.  That was stupidity, or at least limited thinking, on their part.

These same Europeans stopped being decent-ish but stupid, and became evil, though, when they still supported the Nazis despite the latter’s increasingly insane antisemitism.  That’s another legacy of the European past — it wasn’t just autocratic; it was also antisemitic. European’s embrace of antisemitism into addition to totalitarianism is less forgivable than accepting totalitarianism alone, while the latter is a structural ideology, the former is pure evil.

Fascism and communism may be gone from Europe, and socialism may be dying on the vine there, but the antisemitism lingers on. That oldest hatred seems to be bred into the European DNA. Nor can one just blame the huge Muslim populations in Europe for antisemitism’s resurgence. Just as the Ukrainians and Poles and French, while resenting Nazi invasions, supported Nazi ethnic cleansing, too many of today’s Europeans, while frightened of the Muslims, cheerfully (and almost reflexively) chime in when the cry to “Kill the Jews” rings out.

** 14 **

Mr. Bookworm is convinced that I abandoned him politically when I moved from Democrat to conservative. I keep explaining to him that he abandoned me too, because he’s been moving steadily to the Left. He denies that, since he still rejoices under the name “Democrat.” Hard data, though, seems to support my perception.

** 15 **

A palette-cleanser:

** 16 **

Hamas priorities

This clever twist on a London Underground map makes a powerful point about Hamas’s tunneling under Israel’s borders and into her towns. If Hamas, instead of being impatient and firing rockets, had waited quietly, it’s possible it could have carried out a terrorist attack in Israel that would easily have rivaled 9/11. Thank goodness, I guess, for impatient terrorists.

Gaza underground

Late Saturday afternoon round-up and Open Thread (with lots of pictures and videos)

Victorian posy of pansiesMy new washer is so efficient that (a) I’ve gotten the greater part of two-and-a-half weeks’ worth of laundry done in a few hours and (b) my old dryer is performing better than ever. Yay! I was also able to spend the time in between loads finding all sorts of interesting posts, pictures, and videos to share with you.

One other thing. In order to make it easier for you to respond to a specific issue in a long round-up, I’m going to number each segment. If this new approach is annoying, tell me; if it helps, tell me too.

*1*

Something weird happened at ABC News: Someone uploaded an article with images of forlorn children living in primitive conditions at the border, and commented that this is what President Obama would see if he bothered to make the journey.

*2*

A lot of people have noticed that Obama’s approval amongst Muslims is sky-high. There’s actually an even more interesting number: Obama’s approval amongst American Jews is at an all-time low of 55%, a 22 point drop since 2008/2009.

Yes, it’s true that more than half of American Jews still support Obama, but it’s also a stunning collapse in support for him. It seems as if American Jews are finally figuring out that Obama is not their friend.

Several years ago, I told an American Jewish woman — an Obama supporter, of course — that Obama was hostile to Israel. It was a friendly conversation, so I didn’t hector her and she didn’t scoff at me. Despite the absence of scoffing, though, I could tell she thought I was a few cards shy of a full deck. I haven’t seen her since that conversation, and I sometimes wonder if her mind wanders back to that day….

*3*

If you would like to know the Hell that Obama unleashed on Iraq by withdrawing 100% of American troops and support, Gateway Pundit has a stomach-churning “ISIS on Parade” round-up.

*4*

The refugee crisis that Obama invited on our southern border is doing what all refugee crises do: it’s bringing disease into our country (one of the things border demarcations are meant to prevent). What’s different about this refugee crisis is that our government, unlike all other governments, instead of concentrating the refugees where they can be monitored and treated, both for diseases and criminal behavior, is instantly spreading the refugees throughout America.

Considering how fond Leftists are of the canard about settlers deliberately infecting Native Americans with smallpox infested blankets, one would think that they would be alive to the dangers inherent in deliberately infecting all Americans with disease-infested people.

And of course, the Diplomad always has something interesting to add, this time regarding this refugee crisis.

*5*

One of the beauties of narcissism is that there’s no past and no absolute truth. The past and the truth are always dictated by the needs of the moment. To the extent that the DemProgs are infected with institutional narcissism, you can see that “needs of the moment” psychology play out as Toure explains how unfair conservatives are being to Hillary Clinton.

*6*

If you think gorgeous, courageous, well-armed women are sexy, you’re clearly not a Muslim. You’ll also like this Facebook post.

*7*

Israelis do not target civilians. Period. To the Israeli’s great distress, civilians may sometimes die when Hamas uses them as human shields, but Israel will turn away from golden opportunities rather than knowingly strike children:

*8*

Portlandia captures the inanity and insanity of pretending gender doesn’t exist:

*9*

And the pictures that I promised:

Rockets are indiscriminate

Pay attention

Obama's priorities 3

Highly illogical

Hillary is dead broke

Rockets aimed at the Holy City

Israel and Hamas and their civilians

Hide the rocket

Hating Jane Fonda

Mid-day Sunday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s a ridiculously beautiful day here, the kind that screams out “God’s in his Heaven, and all’s right with the world.” It’s therefore quite discordant to read headlines and realize that God may be in his Heaven, but Obama is in the White House, the DemProgs are in charge of the Senate, our Southern border is broken, and the Middle East is catapulting back to the 7th century — and trying to take us with it.

Yikes! I’m going to be grateful to go to the laundromat with the piles of clothes my ailing washing machine can’t handle.  I have to leave quite soon, so let me throw a super quick round-up your way:

***

If you read only one thing today, read Mark Steyn’s thoughts about the particular reason the IRS scandal is so appalling and why it ought to resonate among all Americans, not just those targeted in this particular scandal.

***

Kevin D. Williamson’s article about the money to be had in politics is so good, I actually posted it on my “real me” Facebook page. I don’t usually post things from conservative publications on Facebook, because DemProgs refuse to read things that don’t come from sources they trust (i.e., the drive-by media). This one, though, raises such non-partisan issues I figured that even my DemProg friends will find something with which they agree in the article.

***

Kyle Smith on the DemProg’s constant shtick about being poor. They are truly testing how far they can push Lincoln’s saying that you can fool all of the people all of the time. Oh, wait! Lincoln didn’t say that. That’s just the DemProg’s theory and they’re working it really hard.

***

It’s easy to deal with illegal aliens, and it doesn’t require new law to do so. The current law gives the federal government all the power it needs to take care of the current situation.  Matt Barber explains. I’ll add to Barber’s claim that a solid border isn’t mean by pointing out that, as long as the U.S. provides a safety valve, corrupt Latin American governments have no incentive to reform. We allow the wound to fester endlessly without ever getting better.

***

A Church of England vicar who married his long-time boyfriend contends that this marriage was the “Christian” thing to do. Interestingly, he offers no theological justification for that conclusion. Could it be because there isn’t a theological justification? There are a lot of good arguments in favor of gay marriage, but neither the Old nor the New Testament provide a basis for any such arguments:

***

You know how “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?” Not at the VA. If you’re a squeaky wheel there, you’re put on a list and given less, not more, care. When W. S. Gilbert had his Mikado sing about the “little list” he’d compiled to get rid of social irritants (“I don’t think they’ll be missed; I’m sure they won’t be missed”), I’m pretty sure he was joking. The VA isn’t.

***

If the Muslims take over the world, it won’t just be Jews wearing yellow stars or hats. One imam in England has it all planned out and it involves everyone but good Muslims living as slaves within the nations they once controlled.

***

Of course Obama knows what the’s doing in terms of throwing fuel on the Middle Easter fire. [UPDATE:  I un-linked this.  Earl caught something I missed which is that, after a very credible analysis about what's going on in the Middle East, and ISIS's role in these developments, in the second-to-last paragraph, the linked article went off into wild antisemitic "Zionist" conspiracy theories.]

***

Tom Rogan is right: ISIS has a lot of problems. Its forte is killing, not management, and it won’t be able to create a stable state. However, if ISIS gets control in Iraq and Libya, or even if it doesn’t, its killing ways will still allow it to cause immeasurable destruction and suffering.

***

I love this line from Michael Goodwin’s article about Obama’s endless whining that people are mean to him: “There you have it: the presidential mind in Year 6. Don’t cry for Argentina — cry for me!”

***

C S Lewis

The DemProg Hillbillies

Things I hate

Yes, the SEALS’ sacrifice during Operation Red Wings was a waste

Operation Red WingsBefore you start hammering away at me, let me explain what I mean about my claim that the sacrifice the SEALS and their rescuers made during Operation Red Wings was indeed a waste.  I am referring, of course, to Jake Tapper’s asking Marcus Luttrell whether  his comrades died in vain.  That was a foolish and tactless question to ask Luttrell, and Luttrell couldn’t and wouldn’t give the real answer in any event.  There is an answer, though, and Tapper was right.  Here’s why:

There are three types of wasted battle deaths, two of which are familiar to all, and one of which is a brand new one.

The most obvious wasted death is the one that occurs because of terrible command decisions.  One could argue that the entirety of WWI, with Brits throwing themselves into No Man’s Land for four years at their generals’ commands was that type of wasted death.  The British had appalling tactics and, rather than changing them to avoid a bloody stalemate, simply redoubled their failed approach.  Likewise, in the case of Operation Red Wings, the SEALS were fatally hampered by rules of engagement so restrictive that, after lengthy debate, they decided that they were safer releasing potential spies than they were killing or otherwise disabling them.

The men in Operation Red Wings might still have died in other places at other times during the war in Afghanistan, but their deaths in that time and at that place flowed directly from a foolish policy that gave (and still gives) greater respect to the enemy’s safety than to that of our own troops.

Nevertheless, when he answered Tapper’s question, Luttrell spoke a greater truth, reflecting his understanding that no war is every perfectly carried out at either a strategic or tactical level.  As long as you’re still fighting, you can still win:

I don’t know what part of the film you were watching, but hopelessness really never came into it. I mean, where did you see that? Because there was never a point where we just felt like we were hopelessly lost or anything like that. We never gave up. We never felt like we were losing until we were actually dead.

What Luttrell left unsaid at the time was that his team still believed in the fight.  More importantly, so did America’s then-Commander in Chief, President George W. Bush.  Bush never doubted the righteousness of trying to destroy al Qaeda and the Taliban in their Afghani stronghold.  As far as all concerned believed, Afghanistan was an important war that would benefit America.  In that regard, therefore, when troops die in a righteous (and, one hopes, victorious) war, their deaths have meaning regardless of the success or failure of any single engagement.

Which brings us to the second type of wasted death in war:  deaths that occur because the war’s supporters fail to understand that they are supporting a bad or lost cause.  In every case where a country’s military is the aggressor, only to lose dramatically to a better prepared, more ferocious fighting force, many on the losing side are going to have to ask “Why the heck did we start this?  What a waste of lives and resources.”  Even if you have the best cause in the world, if there’s no way you can possibly win, those who die have wasted their lives.

The caveat to this viewpoint, of course, is that one only realizes after the fact that a war was a waste.  During the American Revolution, many might have said that the revolutionaries’ stand against the most powerful military in the world was bound to be a waste . . . except that it wasn’t.

Obama-salutingThe above examples of wasted deaths in war are familiar to any history student.  Barack Obama has added an entirely new category to “wasted war deaths,” one that I don’t think has ever before occurred in recorded history:  deaths that are a waste because the Commander-in-Chief couldn’t care less about victory or the troops, but merely wants to give the appearance of fighting for short-term domestic political advantage.

Per Robert Gates:

“As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his,” Mr. Gates writes. “For him, it’s all about getting out.”

Except that Obama didn’t get out of Afghanistan, because it would have looked bad politically, since he’d run on a platform claiming that Afghanistan was a good war. Of course, he probably didn’t believe that either. Both he and Hillary, after all, agreed in Gates’ presence that they were determinedly opposed to the Iraq War merely out of political expediency, without any regard for America’s best interests:

“Hillary told the president that her opposition to the [2007] surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary. . . . The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.”

Given this cavalier attitude, it’s no surprise that the President did nothing to secure Iraq, and sat (and has long been sitting) idly by as al Qaeda has retaken city after city in which American men fought and died. By deliberately turning victory into defeat, Obama has taken every single Iraq death and wiped it of meaning. While they were once deaths in a just cause to bring democracy to a benighted land, thereby decreasing the risk of devastating terror attacks against America, now those same deaths have become pointless, since Obama didn’t just allow the status quo to reappear, he fomented an even worse situation than before. (Saddam Hussein was bad; al Qaeda is worse.) Somehow it’s perfectly symbolic of this travesty that the military’s last act with regard to Fallujah is to persecute Marines.

Not only was Obama uninterested in our nation’s security or our military victories, he was singularly uninterested in the troops:

One quality I missed in Obama was passion, especially when it came to the two wars,’ Gates wrote.

‘In my presence, Bush — very unlike his father — was pretty unsentimental. But he was passionate about the war in Iraq; on occasion, at a Medal of Honor ceremony or the like, I would see his eyes well up.

‘I worked for Obama longer than Bush, and I never saw his eyes well up.’

No surprise there, of course.  To Obama the narcissist, the men and women in the military are merely objects serving his ego. It’s therefore also no surprise that the only subject regarding the military that excited him was getting gays into it, a passion with interesting Freudian implications:

Gates wrote that ‘the only military matter, apart from leaks, about which I ever sensed deep passion on his part was ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’

Just as disturbing as Obama’s warped values is his complete disinterest in even a simulacrum of competence:

President Obama is “chronically incapable” of military strategy and falls far short of his predecessor George W. Bush, according to one of Britain’s most senior military advisors.

[snip]

[Sir Hew] Strachan, a current member of the Chief of the Defense Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, cited the “crazy” handling of the Syrian crisis as the most egregious example of a fundamental collapse in military planning that began in the aftermath of 9/11. “If anything it’s gone backwards instead of forwards, Obama seems to be almost chronically incapable of doing this. Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world. Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world,” he said.

So, yes, Operation Red Wings was a waste, not at the time, but in retrospect — and this is so because we have a president who views war solely in terms of his own self-aggrandizement and political objectives, without any regard for America’s national security or strategic interests, or for the troops who have served and are currently serving in our American military.  Obama has managed to negate any good the troops did before he became President and, since he became president, they are merely objects on his own personal chessboard.  Like some spoiled potentate, he moves them around for his pleasure and views their deaths with clinical dispassion.

(See also this article, from Foreign Policy.)

 

Understanding scandals — it’s not what’s done, it’s who’s done it that counts

His Girl FridayI haven’t been much of a Chris Christie supporter lately.  In the beginning, I admired his ability to stand up to the teacher’s unions.  Since then, I’ve decided that this was less a principled position and more a reflection of a highly aggressive personality.  Outside of the unions, he’s too much of a RINO, and I’m suspicious about his Saudi ties.  He’d be a better president than Obama, but that’s a low bar.  If he ended up on top of the Republican ticket opposite Hillary, I’d vote for him, but primarily because Hillary would finish the job Obama’s done, and anything is (I think) better than that.  So that’s my view about Chris Christie.

What I want to talk about here is the scandal.  It seems that nothing has ever happened before that’s been as thrilling as the fact that a Republican governor’s employee had a nearly unspoken agreement with another of the governor’s employees that, if a Democrat mayor ticked them off, they’d use their power to create traffic havoc in his town.  (For punsters, we finally have a “toll-gate” scandal.)  A 91-year-old lady whose ambulance got stuck the traffic jam died later, and her death could be attributed to the delay.  (Only God knows for sure.)  The whole affair is nasty, unprincipled, and petty.  The employees deserved to be fired, and Christie fired them.  The media is having what Matt Drudge describes as a feeding frenzy.  Fine.  It’s their job to sell the news.

But what about a few other scandals that probably could have sold news too?

A Secretary of State, despite repeated pleas from an ambassador in one of the world’s most dangerous areas, refuses to heighten security.  The ambassador and three others die.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A nation’s diplomatic mission in a foreign country is attacked.  Four people die and unknown numbers of confidential documents vanish.  The besieged nation’s President Secretary of State speak once and then both refuse to explain their whereabouts.  Rumors are that the president went to bed early to prepare for a campaign event.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A president deputizes one of his employees to go on Sunday talk shows to explain that an attack on its diplomatic mission, which left four dead, including an ambassador, occurred because of a 10-minute YouTube video that was perceived as being uncomplimentary to Islam.  To add an air of verisimilitude to this otherwise unconvincing narrative, the administration trumps up charges to arrest the video’s maker, in what many see as a blatant attack on free speech in the service of Islam.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

An Attorney General arranges to have hundreds of guns smuggled into Mexico.  There are two theories about this, neither good. The first is that the guns were supposed to be traceable, so as to track gun and drug crime coming out of Mexico, but that the AG’s incompetent employees forgot to add the necessary electronics.  The second is that the AG deliberately released weapons into Mexico to support his anti-gun campaign.  “See,” he would say.  “We told you that our nation’s guns are despoiling the world.”  In any event, the guns with the AG’s name on them killed one of his own border agent as well as hundreds of Mexican civilians.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A nation’s troops, most notably its Marines, sweat, and bleed, and die in a terrorist-ridden town in Iraq.  Their success there helps turn a years’ long war around, paving the way for a simulacrum of democracy in a country whose people lived for decades at the mercy of a sadistic tyrant.  It’s not true democracy, but it’s close enough; people are experiencing relative freedom for the first time in their lives; and the government is relatively friendly the liberating western nation.  At the end of WWII, faced with this situation, the victorious nation stuck around for another 60+ years to hang onto that victory.  This time, though, the president walked away without a second glance and without any effort to secure hard-won gains.  Two years after the president declared, not victory, but “war over,” that same town has once again fallen to the terrorists.  The president is silent.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A nation’s people learn that the government is spying on their every communication.  It started before the current president, but has escalated madly during his administration.  Even some media outlets learn that the government has been spying on their telephone calls.  One would think that this outrage would encourage them to reconsider their blind faith in the current administration.  It does not.  After a few huffs and puffs, the media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A nation’s tax-collecting agency, which is it’s most feared and powerful agency, turns out to have been engaged in a systematic effort to silence all conservative and pro-Israel speech.  The timing shows that the effort was manifestly intended to disrupt the 2012 presidential election, and it may well have done so, giving a squeaker of an election to the candidate from the Democrat-party.  All people of good will, regardless of party, should be horrified by this type of partisan overreach from a nation’s most powerful agency.  The media, however, is unperturbed.  It does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

Beginning in 2009, a president tells his people a series of bald-faced lies.  The documentary evidence shows that he knew that they were lies when he told them.  That is, it wasn’t ignorance or wishful thinking on his part.  Instead, he was running a scam.  This giant fraud begins to unravel on October 1, 2013, and with every passing day, the public learns more about the administration’s lies, incompetence, and cronyism.  This knowledge is made manifest in the most painful of ways, as millions of people lose the security of insurance plans, doctors, and hospitals, even as they are being forced to pay more money for fewer benefits.  Although the media dutifully points out the problems in the first month, by the second month, it returns to lap dog status, crowing about thousands of sign-ups, with scant attention to the fact that it’s unknown whether those who signed up have actually paid  for new policies.  The same media downplays the certain fact that more people have lost beloved policies than gained lousy ones under the new system.

Yes, I tried to keep that nation’s identity anonymous, but you’ve figured it out.  The nation in which a president and his administration, through a combination of fraud, lies, and incompetence, have caused people’s deaths, wasted military deaths, destroyed a functioning health care system, spied on its citizens, and possibly corrupted election outcomes, routinely gets a pass from the media.  Our MSM does just enough reporting to lay claim to some credibility as a “news” outlet, and then ignores as hard as possible whatever issue could hurt a Democrat president.  The whole thing is declared “over” after Jon Stewart, through selective clips, announces that Fox News is insane.  The media heaves a sigh of relief, and goes back to guarding the administration.  That system, of course, doesn’t apply when a vaguely Republican governor is tied to a traffic jam (admittedly, a malicious, unprincipled traffic jam).  In that case, the 24-hour news cycle kicks into overtime.

Looking at today’s headlines, I’d have to say that the biggest scandal of them isn’t either Christie’s toll-gate or Obama’s just-about-everything-gate.  Instead, it is the fact that we have a Democrat lap-dog media that still has the temerity to call itself a “free press.”

Democrats — sacrificing American lives for political expediency

Robert GatesThe last seven years of the Bush presidency had as their soundtrack “Bush lied, people died” or “No wars for oil.”  Democrats loved their troops so much that they couldn’t bear to see them die because a president had ulterior motives.  Bush left the White House and, magically, Democrats stopped caring about the troops.

Obama, however, did still care about the troops:  He cared that they functioned as political props to give him cover in his half-assed efforts to “be tough on terrorism.”  We know this because former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has written a book.  Sure, Gates could be lying in Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, but one suspects he’s not — at least as to this point.  If Bob Woodward (who reviewed the book) is correct, what Gates reports is entirely consistent with Obama’s actions; his speeches about troops, terrorism, and Afghanistan; and his political record before becoming president:

In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obama’s leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded the president “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”  (Emphasis added.)

Assuming the above statement to be true (as I do), what Obama did was unconscionable.  Bush, who stood on Ground Zero right after 9/11, believed in the fight, even though he knew troops would die protecting America’s interests.  (And that statement is true whether one believes that Bush headed into war to keep America safe or headed into war to keep Big Oil safe.  I, of course, incline to the former view.)  Obama, however, believed only in himself and was willing to let people die to advance his political standing.  Ace spells it out:

Which is what is so galling. Men are being killed at three times the rate as they died under Bush’s leadership, and Obama is not even trying to win.

Those men remain there out of political cowardice. Men are dying for Obama’s political cowardice.

If he does not wish to fight the war– then he should save those men’s lives and bring them home.

It is one thing to sacrifice men’s lives for an important objective. The only objective sought by Obama is avoiding the “Weak on Terrorism” attack that would be lodged by the Right. And the attack that Obama claimed, in knocking the Iraq War constantly, that he would be tough as the Devil on Afghanistan.

So men are dying, to save Obama some short-term minor political pain.

Obama wasn’t the only Leftist politician who viewed America’s overseas wars against Islamic terrorism, not as matters of America’s existential survival, but as mere political props.  When Hillary found herself facing Obama in the 2008 election, she declared herself against the Iraq war, not for any principled reason, but simply because that was Obama’s position.  When Hillary saw which way the wind was blowing, that’s the direction she headed:

He [Gates] writes: “Hillary told the president that her opposition to the [2007] surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary. . . . The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.”

One wonders how long it will take the MSM to bury that inconvenient truth.  Both of these people are the execrable Francis Underwood, from House of Cards.  Their primary motivation, always, is the aggrandizement of self, and they do not care who suffers or dies during their brutal slog to the top.

The revelations in Gates’ book might cost Obama a point or two in his already sagging polls, but I doubt most people will care very much.  Those of us who had already figured out what was going on will feel vindicated, his acolytes won’t mind (they felt the same way, no doubt), and the troops will have been screwed, as usual.  This is just one more in a series of Obama insults to the men who shed blood for a war that Obama never saw as more than a campaign prop. (Here’s a satiric take on Obama’s loss of Fallujah, where so many Marines fought and died; and here’s a serious look at the sacrifices Obama threw away.)

There’s something a little more interesting going on when it comes to Hillary.  The quotation above reveals that Hillary didn’t arrive at her position on Iraq by looking at the situation on ground and making a calculation about the benefits or burdens to America in continuing to stay there, either to fight or to police that nation.  Instead, she mapped out a campaign strategy.  Pretty foul, right?  But in the paragraph immediately after the one I quoted above, Woodward makes this observation:

Earlier in the book, he [Gates] describes Hillary Clinton in the sort of glowing terms that might be used in a political endorsement. “I found her smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world,” he wrote.

Woodward is saying that Gates praises Hillary extravagantly in the beginning of the book and then reams her in the end.  What’s with that?  My current guess is that Gates wanted to make his attack on Hillary credible.  If he’d spent the entire book lambasting her, readers might have doubted the veracity of his attack on her integrity.  By praising her to the skies, though, Gates positioned himself as a man without a bone to pick who was making a straightforward factual observation about the woman who would be president.

Any other theory about Gates’s extravagant praise and brutal revelation makes Gates’ praise for Hillary impossible to understand.  She didn’t do squat as Secretary of State except for amassing frequent flier miles.  The one time something happened (Benghazi), she failed in her responsibilities before and during the attack, and lied afterwards.  If Gates thinks she was wonderful, than he’s a fool, and everything else he’s written should be questioned.  If, however, he’s giving himself cover for his attack on Hillary, maybe he’s crazy like a fox.

The book is also garnering attention because of Gates’ sweeping Biden indictment (“wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”) and his description of Obama’s efforts to make decisions about war without bothering to speak with the Pentagon first (or at all).

Overall, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War sounds like a worthwhile read, if only to try to figure out whether Gates is a fool who thinks Hillary was wonderful, barring her amoral approach to Iraq or if he’s a wily fox who seeks to discredit her but realizes that he can’t sound too hostile when he does so.  We’ll probably see a flurry of books now, most of them painting a picture of a White House with a self-involved, narcissistic, dishonest leader listening only to his core cadre of ideologues, none of whom care about America as she is (as opposed to the Leftist utopia they hope she will be), while assiduously avoiding any contrary voices.

Progressives flog themselves into an anti-Bush frenzy to avoid dealing with Obama’s many and manifest failures

An online magazine called Jezebel bills itself as the “Home of Shiny Happy Ladies.”  Jezebel might want to rethink that tag line if a post that Madeline Davis wrote about George Bush is anything to go by.  As best as I can tell, the trigger for Davis’s fevered post is the fact that George Bush went onto the Jay Leno show and showed off some of his paintings:

Bush isn’t Rembrandt (despite his joking belief that there’s a Rembrandt hiding inside him), but he’s definitely got some painterly talent — kind of along Grandma Moses lines.  I like his stuff.  I don’t love it, but I think something like this is rather charming, and shows a nice sense of line, color, and whimsey:

Bush bathtub painting

Davis, however, sees a nefarious plot behind Bush’s reinvention as a painter: he’s trying to convince credulous Americans that he’s not evil incarnate but is, instead, “a harmless and adorable, sweet old man.”  In an obscenity-laced, embittered, wandering post, Davis brings up every charge, however silly, routinely leveled at Bush. It’s as if Bush is still in the White House, rather than having spent five years away from the job — during which time, incidentally, even as Obama routinely scapegoated him, Bush kept a dignified silence about Obama’s pin-ball karooming from one failure to another.

Having read Davis’s screed several times, two things became apparent:  (1) Davis lives in a fact-free zone, and compensates for this with discredited studies, innuendo, lies, conspiracy theories, and personal attacks.  (2) Davis is almost certainly engaging in denial on a massive scale, since it’s undoubtedly easier to repeat the rote attacks used against Bush during his presidency than to acknowledge that Obama is a dishonest man and an incompetent president.

Since I’ll be quoting Davis, please be warned that there are a lot of obscenities ahead.  Speaking of obscenities, have you ever noticed that there seems to be an inversely proportional relationship between the number of obscenities that a post-writer uses and that writer’s level of knowledge and intelligence?  The higher the first, the lower the second….

(Warning:  sarcasm ahead.)  Let’s start with the post’s elegant, eloquent title:  “Fuck George Bush and His Stupid Fucking Cat Paintings.”  You might see inarticulate profanity when you read that.  I, however, having labored through Davis’s entire post, see an exquisite parallelism, as she gracefully ends the post with a sentence that perfectly echoes its opening.  “Fuck George Bush and fuck his piece of shit cat paintings. My 10-month-old sister makes better art than that.”  When a post is book-ended by such poetic, expressive speech, you know that there’s going to be some fine stuff in between.

Sadly, Davis, showing that she lacks the true artist’s touch, unbalances her masterful parallelism when, about a quarter of a way into her post, she rather randomly describes Bush, again, as “an [sic] noted asshole who made a bunch of fucked up cat paintings.”  One wonders what Freud would make of the fact that, of all the paintings George Bush has done to date, it’s the cat paintings that drive Davis into an F-bomb frenzy.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been rather taken by “epic” things.  I loved Jean-Claude Van Damme’s epic splits and laughed at Channing Tatum’s epic spoof.  Honestly, though, you’ve never seen epic until you’ve read Davis’s ad hominem insults against Bush.  Clearly, in the five years since he left office, they’ve been building up inside her until those cat paintings caused them to explode with volcanic force.  Davis describes Bush as a “war criminal,” “one of the most terrible things to ever happen to the United States,” “a reminder that evil exists,” “incredibly  harmful,” and “a terrible, nightmare person.”  I don’t want to read too much into Davis’s writing, but I get the feeling she really doesn’t like the man.

And why doesn’t Davis like Bush?  Oh, the usual stuff, all of which she mashes up into one vitriolic, obscene sentence:  “George W. Bush is the war criminal who — in addition to his war crimes — shat on abortion and gay rights, botched hurricane relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and drove the U.S. economy into the ground.”  (Hyperlinks omitted because I really don’t feel like sending traffic to al Jazeera, among other sites.)

To begin at the beginning, Davis accuses George Bush of causing 9/11 because he didn’t take seriously briefings in and around August saying that al Qaeda was planning a terrorist attack against America.  Her source for that statement is Kurt Eichenwald, who claims that, in addition to an August 2001 briefing to the president that said al Qaeda was up to something, Eichenwald also saw “excerpts” of other documents in which the CIA said something hinky was going on.  Even Eichenwald concedes, though, that nobody had any idea what exactly was going on.  In other words, even if the Bush administration had responded with the utmost seriousness to the available data, there’s still no evidence whatsoever that the administration had facts sufficient to realize that al Qaeda had decided to hijack plans on September 11 and fly them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Congress.  Nor was the available information coherent enough for the hijackers to have been apprehended.  That inchoate information never made it to the White House.

Having wallowed in a fact-free world of what “might have been,” Davis gets to the war crimes accusation.  Summed up, she says that Bush lied and 4,489 U.S. troops died and almost 500,000 Iraqis died.  Oy, where to begin!  First of all, Bush acted on the data available to him, data that convinced most world leaders that Saddam Hussein did actually possess weapons of mass destruction.  (As it happens, I think that Hussein had such weapons, and took advantage of the ongoing UN debate about invasion to ship them to Syria.  Moreover, I wouldn’t be surprised if Assad subsequently use those weapons against his own citizens, prompting Obama to place an asterisk on his previous “crossed a red line” threat to Syria regarding chemical weapons.)  One can debate the wisdom of invading Iraq, but there can be no doubt that the intelligence from all credible sources, both American and British, was that Hussein was a regional threat.

And about those war dead.  Yes, American troops died in Iraq and each loss is an individual tragedy.  Nevertheless, when Bush left office, those losses had meaning and purpose:  the Surge had succeeded in turning Iraq around and enabling it to set up a functioning, reasonably democratic government.  An intelligent post-war foreign policy would have seen American troops remain in Iraq to maintain those gains, much as American troops remained in Japan and Germany for — let’s see, how many years now? — 68 years after victory on the battlefield.  What happened instead was that Barack Obama, without consolidating America’s gains, simply siphoned troops out of Iraq.  The region has since destabilized completely, undoing the work that those 4,489 troops died to achieve.

As for the almost 500,000 dead Iraqis, the Lancet study that came up with the initial high numbers was completely discredited, to the point where the numbers could reasonably be called fraudulent.  Iraqis certainly died — possibly around 70,000 of them, most of whom were either actual fighters who died in combatant or civilians who died at the hands of other Muslims — and that’s a tragedy, but Davis avoids a larger tragedy by focusing narrowly on a war that could have freed them had Obama not reversed American troops’ gains.

Citizens in a tyrannically ruled country (sadly) always die.  It’s the nature of tyranny and it was certainly the nature of Hussein’s tyrannical regime.  It’s difficult to count accurately the number who died during Hussein’s dictatorship, since you have to count all the people who died in the war with Iran, the 100,000-200,000 Kurds killed with poison gas (the same gas that was used in Syria?), and the “enemies of the state” whom Hussein and his mad sons “disappeared,” usually after some preliminary torture.  Nevertheless, the usual estimate for Iraqi deaths at Hussein’s hands comes in at around 600,000 – 700,000 people.  Keep in mind, too, that since Obama decreed that the U.S. should abandon Iraq, at least 16,000 more Iraqis have died in the intervening years.

Oh, and speaking of war dead, I don’t recall George Bush spending hours at his desk once a week personally picking those in Pakistan and Yemen (countries with which we are not at war) who will live and those who will die.  Obama does, however, diligently working over his “kill list.”  Nor did Bush ever boast about being “really good at killing people” — Obama did, though.  Actually, I think the last American before Obama who made that kind of boast might have been Charles Manson . . . or maybe it was the Hillside Strangler.

And then there’s the tired old Hurricane Katrina accusation.  Where to begin?  How about the fact that reports about murder, rape, cannibalism — all of which were said to have occurred within three days of the Hurricane and all of which were blamed on Bush — were lies?  Or the fact that it was a lie that more blacks died in Katrina than did whites?  Or the fact that the corrupt New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (a black man) did nothing to help New Orleans citizens, even though he had warning (from the feds) and the means (those infamous flooded school buses)?

Davis even brings up the tiresome canard, first raised after Katrina, that Bush didn’t care about black people.  It’s hard to prove a negative.  Certainly, there is no spoken or written evidence that Bush ever spoke slightingly of African Americans or advanced policies, especially economic policies, that harmed them.  It’s worth pointing out in that respect that, even if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that Bush was anti-black, Obama seems to care even less about them.  During his five years in the White House, blacks in America have ping-ponged back and forth between economic stagnation and collapse.  The old segregationists would have been proud of the social and economic havoc wreaked on black America during the Obama administration.  Obama’s got the lip service down just fine, but at a practical level, his presidency has been a disaster for American blacks.

Davis runs out of steam after attacking Bush for racism, so she never gets around to developing her claims that he destroyed abortion, gay rights, and the economy.  Pardon me if I’m confused, but I don’t recall George Bush signing any federal laws that made abortion illegal or that discriminated against gays.  It’s true that he did not force all Americans to pay for every woman’s abortion, nor did he announce that federal law recognizes gay marriage.  What’s also true, though, is that while he was personally pro-life and anti-gay marriage, his policies in both regards were merely continuations of Clinton-era policies.

When it comes to the economic collapse, Davis’s inchoate attack fares no better.  As you undoubtedly remember, the trigger for the collapse was the housing market, which had been turned into Swiss cheese thanks to Clinton-era Democrat-spawned policies forcing banks to give loans to people who were manifestly bad credit risks.  The banks sought to offset this risk, and money-men sought to benefit from this risk, by bundling bad loans.  Home prices and bad debt increased in tandem until the entire thing collapsed.  While it collapsed on George Bush’s watch, Davis probably is unaware that Bush and other Republicans saw the potential for collapse and tried desperately to avert it — only to be repulsed by Congressional Democrats who continued to insist that banks continue to make bad loans so as to redistribute home ownership to those who couldn’t possibly pay.

Reading her fire-breathing post, it’s clear that Davis has lost her way in a fever-swamp of Bush hatred.  Presumably, since Bush has been gone from the scene for five years now, this hatred usually lies fallow, but is periodically resurrected by exposure to cat paintings.  (Incidentally, real art critics concede that some of Bush’s paintings have a naive charm.  It’s that Grandma Moses thing I mentioned.)

Davis is quite obviously a very angry, frustrated person.  If I were playing armchair psychiatrist, I would say that she keeps stoking her rage at George Bush so that she doesn’t have to deal with her disappointment about Barack Obama.  After all, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, and it must be hard for a die-hard Leftist to be presented with laundry-list of Obama’s sins — sins that manage to offend his base, the center, and (predictably) conservatives.  Here’s a short list of the things that Davis is probably able to ignore only by keeping her wrath focused on the politics of the past:

  • Biggest debt in American history
  • Biggest deficit in American history
  • Kill lists
  • Boasts about killing people
  • NSA spying scandal
  • IRS abuse of power scandal
  • Failing on ever metric with the Arab Spring, especially in Egypt, when he threw his weight behind the now-despised Muslim Brotherhood
  • Benghazi scandal, including lies and dereliction of duty before and during the attack, and lies after the attack
  • Alienating America’s allies
  • Fast & Furious scandal
  • Immoral silence when Iranian tried to stage a revolution against the Mullahs
  • Passivity about Syria which led to a chemical massacre, which led Obama to lie about his previous statements in order to avoid having to square off against Assad
  • Incremental inflation
  • Stagflation
  • Longest “recession” in history (which I think, contrary to economists’ carefully drawn lines, qualifies as a Depression)
  • Accusations of fraud in employment numbers before an election
  • Disastrous employment and income rates for black Americans
  • Obamacare — massive fraud in the inception; massive incompetence in the execution

It’s late, I’m tired, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.  Suffice to say that there’s enough there to keep any good Progressive’s eyes fixed firmly on the past so as to avoid Obama’s and Progressivism’s spectacular and corrupt implosion in the present.

A few articles that I’d like to recommend about Obama and Syria — and why I’m no hypocrite when it comes to supporting Iraq and not Syria

Peggy Noonan, who can be very good, talks about how Obama got us into this mess and the contortions in which he engage to save face.

Peter Wehner talks about just how bad this mess really is, even with Putin having given Obama an out.

A Politico article about the debacle in Washington and the apathy on American streets.

Jonah Goldberg brings his wry wit to the great communicator’s disastrous communication about Syria.

All I can think of is Hitler playing Neville Chamberlain.  After that humiliating debacle, England managed to make a wonderful showing during WWII.  Since then, however, she’s been a broken country, both morally and economically.  In other words, she never recovered from Chamberlain’s naive inability to stop Hitler when it would still have made a difference.

While I’m waffling on about Syria, I’d like to excuse myself of hypocrisy when it comes to not wanting the war in Syria, while supporting the war in Iraq.

First of all, I wasn’t that interested in politics during the lead-up to the Iraq War.  I didn’t have much of a position going in.  Once we were in, though, I said what I’m saying now:  Just showing up at a war is not enough.  Instead, merely showing up without planning to win is terribly dangerous.  Once in a war, you fight to win.  If you don’t win, you’ve lost.  It’s that binary.  Kerry’s statement that any American action would be “unbelievably small” reveals what a disaster we were headed to.  There is no “unbelievably small.”  There is just win or lose.  Bush may have underestimated Iraqi resistance, but his “shock and awe” approach had the right idea — you fight to win, especially in Arab lands, where the population is always drawn to the strong horse and willing to savage the weak horse.

Second, had I been more interested in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, I guess I would have felt that the proximity to 9/11 made a difference.  From the beginning, Bush argued that Iraq was a direct threat to the United States.  Whether that argument was correct is irrelevant here.  That was the argument made, based upon the best available information about chemical weapons, Hussein’s known animosity to the United States, and his support for terrorism and terrorists.  In the case of Syria, Obama hasn’t even tried to argue that the situation in Syria puts America at risk.  Instead, he’s using the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that’s the brainchild of anti-semite Samantha Powers to say that Syria presents the only time America ever should go to war:  when it’s a purely altruistic act that sees her expending blood and money without any benefit to the United States.

Third, Iraq was a population under a dictator’s heel.  Bush bet — and correctly — that many Iraqi’s would see America as a liberator, not a conqueror.  We were the good guys, fighting on behalf of the Iraqi people against the bad guy and his administration.  In Syria, Obama is trying to drop America into one of the bloodiest civil wars in our lifetimes.  Both sides are equally barbaric, unprincipled, immoral, and steeped in hatred for America.  No good can come of sending American money and, as Obama’s mission creep illustrated, American troops into this bloodbath.

Fourth, I trusted Bush and I thought his advisers were intelligent men.  Obama is a liar on a heroic scale, so I reflexively disbelieve everything that comes out of his mouth.  Add to that the fact that he has assembled a collection of hacks, buffoons, racists, and antisemites to advise him, and that he pretty much refuses to talk to people with military expertise, and you can see that I don’t want to follow him into battle.  Nor do I want America to follow him into battle.

Please feel free to call me on this (politely, of course), or to offer further distinctions between Then and Now.

Mark Steyn on Obama’s new war

Nobody says it better:

I see the Obama “reset” is going so swimmingly that the president is now threatening to go to war against a dictator who gassed his own people. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything like the dictator who gassed his own people that the discredited warmonger Bush spent 2002 and early 2003 staggering ever more punchily around the country inveighing against. The 2003 dictator who gassed his own people was the leader of the Baath Party of Iraq. The 2013 dictator who gassed his own people is the leader of the Baath Party of Syria. Whole other ball of wax. The administration’s ingenious plan is to lose this war in far less time than we usually take. In the unimprovable formulation of an unnamed official speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the White House is carefully calibrating a military action “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

That would make a great caption for a Vanity Fair photo shoot of Obama gamboling in the surf at Martha’s Vineyard, but as a military strategy it’s not exactly Alexander the Great or the Duke of Wellington.

Read more of Mark Steyn’s inimitable prose here.