Big Fur Hat, at iOwnTheWorld.com, nails it in a very subtle, but devastating way:
A small Sunday morning round-up….
The Navy: doing the right thing and doing it right.
If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Not. (It’s worth remembering that, by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, being a doctor there was a women-only job, with about as much cachet as dog-catcher.)
Kerry brings anti-semitism and incompetence to a new high, even by State Department standards.
And please, Open Thread away here.
I freely admit that I will never be as brilliant as Thomas Sowell, either in my analytical abilities or in my writing quality. That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t borrow his technique of writing the occasional post that consists of one or two sentence thoughts about interesting subjects. So, I am for his style, even if I lack his substance.
As I understand it, striking down DOMA means that marriage in America is no longer defined as being between one man and one woman. More than that, it’s no longer defined as anything. In pre-21st century America, it was understood to be one man and one woman, but now those common understanding is gone. It seems to me that the feds better act quickly to define marriage as a relationship between two consenting adult humans. Otherwise, the door is open to polygamy, incest, bestiality, or NAMBLA- and sharia approved marriages with children.
Earl Aagaard forwarded to me a wonderful comment a friend of his made with regard to Obama’s disastrous efforts to engage with Russian President Putin regarding Edward Snowden, currently hanging out with impunity in the Moscow airport: “It seems that Barack Obama, not content with losing the war on terror, is also trying to lose the Cold War.”
I have to admit that I haven’t read closely any of the news articles about Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revitalize the Middle East peace talks. All I can think is that trying to get the Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution is a fool’s errand — and John Kerry is most certainly a fool.
I was saddened, but not surprised, to see that the Senate passed the Immigration bill (all 1,200 unread pages of it), including 14 “yes” votes from Republicans. I have only two hopes now. I hope that every Senate Republican who voted “Aye” gets killed in the primaries and I hope that House Republicans figure out that they can vote “no” on the bill by pointing to the fact that, as written, it destroys American jobs, both by drastically increasing the pool of legal, low-income workers and by blending with ObamaCare to give employers the incentive to fire current workers (for whom they must buy insurance or pay a fine) in favor of amnestied workers (who don’t fall under ObamaCare). I just know, though, the Republicans are going to be sufficiently stupid to sell this as fear of too many Hispanics. Raaacists!!
We’re having a heat wave here in temperate Northern California. Oh. My. G*d! It must be global warming. We’re all going to die! Oh. Wait a minute. Never mind. I just remembered that it’s June and we’ve had a heat wave in the Bay Area every June since my earliest memories in the 1960s.
There’s a saying that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. There’s also a saying that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. If Obama was merely stupid, one would think that, in his approach to foreign policy, he’d occasionally get things right. But he never does. Think about his instincts: With the Iranian revolution, when he should have given moral support to the opposition, he was silent. During the Egyptian Arab Spring, when he should have supported and then gently eased out our ally, Mubarak, he was silent. He found his voice again with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he supported — so much so that, now that ordinary Egyptians and, especially Coptic Christians in Egypt, are figuring out that they went from a bad secular government to a much worse theocratic government, Obama has fallen silent again.
Obama pulled us out of Iraq, where we had won, before we had a chance to consolidate a democratic infrastructure. Iraq is now becoming an Iranian satellite and falling into a dystopian Islamic anarchy. In Afghanistan, Obama didn’t even wait until we won. He announced that we had lost and would be leaving soon, and by the way, would the Taliban please refrain from killing Americans and instead sit down with American politicians to negotiate the terms of our defeat.
Of course one can’t forget Libya, where we helped destroy a neutral (which is what Qaddafi had become) and replaced the power structure with a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. That chicken came tragically home to roost on September 11, 2012, when al Qaeda killed four Americans in Benghazi. Then there’s Syria, where Obama sat by the sidelines when he could have helped a democratic movement against Assad’s dictatorship, but decided to provide support only when the democratic movement had morphed into — yes, again — a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. One starts to get the feeling that Obama likes the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, despite their clearly expressed goals of world jihad, with Israel as target No. 1 and America as target No. 2.
Obama’s bestest friend in the international world is Turkey’s Erdogan, who is doing his damndest to turn secular, functional, democratic Turkey into another totalitarian dictatorship. Meanwhile, he’s alienated Russia’s Putin so much that Putin gleefully rubs America’s nose in its helplessness with regard to the gallivanting Snowden.
My conclusion: It cannot be random that Obama gets it wrong every time. This isn’t stupidity. It is malice.
Speaking of Snowden, I’m still sticking with my first instincts: Snowden did ordinary Americans a favor by revealing that the federal government is a spy state, and one that could easily tip into being like the East German Stasi. That he did something important, though, doesn’t mean that his motives were good. This is an anti-American man who was either working for a foreign power (probably China) from the get go, or who, having gotten his hands on America’s national security secrets, didn’t hesitate one moment when it came to selling out America. He’s not a hero. He’s a villain who incidentally did something helpful.
Do any of you feel like being epigrammatic? If so, please chime in.
I’ve been wondering whether North Korea’s unusually heightened war rhetoric means that the missiles will really start to fly. Over at PowerLine, Steven Hayward has a different theory, which is depressing, but less worrisome. He thinks that Kim Jong-Un is no fool, and that he recognizes that the troika of Obama, Kerry, and Hagel is the negotiating equivalent of the Three Stooges. He will push them around until their little spines flop over completely, and then come back with unusually excessive demands, to which they will gratefully acquiesce:
Skip past Barack Obama for a moment, and just take in the secretary of defense, and the secretary of state. Chuck Hagel. John Kerry. Take a deep breath here. Put yourself in the shoes of the Norks. These guys make the British appeasers of the 1930s look like Chuck Norris. Think the Norks haven’t paid attention to these guys? Add in Obama’s obvious liberal guilt and what conclusion would you reach? Even a 28-year old Kim, educated in private schools in Switzerland but moreover schooled in the Nork blackmail drill, will draw the obvious conclusion: time to go for broke and take the U.S. to the cleaners, because its leadership right now is ripe for the plucking. Far from being crazy, Kim Jong Un may be the most rational person around right now.
That actually makes sense.
To which Paul Mirengoff adds that the Swiss-educated Jong-Un might be trying to make reforms to the country’s economy. This is best done if he appeases the hard-liners while getting some hard cash from the United States.
Both those scenarios make more sense than North Korea willingly destroying itself, and they make sense in terms of the team that Obama has assembled over in the Foggy Bottom, and foggy brain, neighborhood.
Only time will tell, of course. We little people can’t influence events; we can just watch them unfold.
In the lead-up to the 2008 election, blogging was exciting because there was hope. Not the synthetic hope Obama was selling, but the real hope that both Hillary and Obama would lose, and that John McCain would be a half decent president.
In the first two years of Obama’s administration, there was no hope, but blogging was still exciting because there was a peculiar fascination, much like watching a train wreck unfold in slow-mo, in watching the way in which a hard Left democratic president who owned Congress would legislate. On the one hand, there was ObamaCare, which was a serious downer. On the other hand, though, there was the rise of the Tea Party, which raised that hope thing again.
In the third year of the Obama administration, blogging had some sizzle as we hoped that the smashing Republican victories in 2010 would slow down Obama’s headlong rush into European-style socialism (with a dash of Soviet totalitarianism thrown in), even as Europe began its own slow-mo train wreck.
In the fourth year of the Obama administration, blogging was explosive because we got another election, this time with some very exciting Republican candidates. Watching them implode one right after the other, right up until Romney’s final implosion on election day, was not fun, but it at least provide scintillating fodder for bloggers.
Since then, blogging has not been fun at all. We’ve gotten Kerry, Hagel, and Lew in charge of way too much, and we have reason to believe that Brennan, who may or may not be a Muslim convert (despite that fine Irish name) will soon be sitting in the catbird seat at the CIA. Egypt is becoming another Iran, except this time we’re helping the transition out by paying for it in advance. Iran, meanwhile, is working on becoming another North Korea, complete with sufficiently functional nuclear weapons. Europe continues to collapse, with a maddened antisemitic comic holding Italy’s elections hostage.
And then there’s Obama. His four years in office have proven something: he’s a dreadful little man. His politics, which he hid for two elections, are lefter than left. He runs a crude, abusive White House. He uses political power for patronage and demagoguery. His favorite (semi) European leader recently announced that Zionism is a crime against humanity. He recently tried to blackmail Congress by releasing thousands of criminals, something along the lines of “nice country you’ve got here. It would be a shame if something happened to it.” His governing style has nothing to do with the good of America and everything to do with what’s good for Obama.
Worst of all, despite his many, many failings, none of it matters. For a long time, nothing mattered because the press had built an impregnable wall around him. That was bad enough. What’s even worse, though, is that, when the impregnable wall fails, people still don’t care:
(a) The president and his administration are responsible for the sequestration idea. (b) Before that fact became widely known, Mr. Obama misled Americans of that fact in a debate with Mitt Romney–and his aides did the same thing in the aftermath of the debate. (c) Thanks to Bob Woodward’s The Price of Politics, the White House has now been forced to admit that, as top White House adviser Gene Sperling put it on Sunday, “Yes, we put forward the design of how to do that [implement sequestration].” (d) Over the last several weeks, the president vilified sequestration as a brutal, savage, and inhumane idea. (e) At a press conference last Friday, when sequestration cuts began and the world as we know it did not end, the president began to moonwalk away from his scorching rhetoric, saying, “Just to make the final point about the sequester, we will get through this. This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think, as some people have said.” (f) Since the sequestration idea was first signed into law by President Obama in 2011, House Republicans have twice passed legislation to make the cuts more reasonable–and Democrats have refused to act on it. (g) In the last week, Republicans have tried to give the president greater authority to make more reasonable cuts–but he has refused it, allowing unnecessary pain to be inflicted on Americans in order to blame Republicans.
To summarize, then: The president has spoken in the harshest possible terms about an idea he and his White House originated and signed into law. He has used apocalyptic language leading up to the sequestration–and then, as the sequestration cuts began, lectured us that “this is not going to be an apocalypse” as “some people have said.” And Mr. Obama has warned about the devastating nature of the cuts even as he has opposed efforts to make the cuts less devastating.
This is Nixonian conduct on steroids, writ large before the American public. It doesn’t even account for an economy whose growth isn’t even measured in single digits, but in tenths of single digits. And yet he still has a 47% approval rating. I agree that 47% isn’t as good as something over 50% would be, but it’s still shocking that his numbers aren’t in the 20s: He lies, cheats, bullies, destroys the economy, weakens us before our enemies — and almost half of Americans think he’s a great guy to have in the White House.
And that’s why blogging seems a little stale, flat, and unprofitable. Blogging is more fun when you’re advancing a case as exposed to charting a nation’s demise.
You’ve already heard about Kerry’s imaginary country, so I won’t work that one to death. You’ve also heard that Kerry said (correctly) that Americans have the right to be stupid. But did you catch what he said immediately after that?
‘In America, you have a right to be stupid, if you want to be,’ he said. ‘And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be. And we tolerate that – we somehow make it through that.’ (Emphasis mine.)
Let me repeat: “[Y]ou have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.” In what world does that even remotely make sense?
Bush pronounces “nuclear” the Southern way and is ridiculed for the next 12 years. Kerry says something completely meaningless and all you hear are crickets.
If you’d like to counteract that cricket sound, please feel free to share this poster on your blogs, in emails, and through Twitter and Facebook:
Barry Rubin is not a man prone to insult or exaggeration. That’s why it means something when he says this of Obama’s nominees to the State Department, Defense Department, and the CIA:
They are all stupid people. Some friends said I shouldn’t write this because it is a subjective judgment and sounds mean-spirited. But honest, it’s true. Nobody would ever say that their predecessors — Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and David Petraeus — were not intelligent and accomplished. But these guys are simply not in that category. Smart people can make bad judgments; regular people with common sense often make bad judgments less often. But stupid, arrogant people with terrible ideas are a disaster.
Brennan’s only life accomplishment has been to propose backing radical Islamists. As a reward, he isn’t just being made head of intelligence for the Middle East but for the whole world! Has Brennan any proven administrative skill? Any knowledge of other parts of the world? No. All he has is a proximity to Obama and a very bad policy concept. What’s especially ironic here is that by now, the Islamist policy has clearly failed and a lot of people are having second thoughts.
With Brennan running the CIA, though, do you think there will be critical intelligence evaluations of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizballah, or even Hamas? Is the CIA going to warn U.S. leaders about the repression against women, Christians, and moderates? Will there be warnings that Islamists are taking over Syria or reports on Islamist involvement in killing Americans in Benghazi? Can we have confidence about U.S. policy toward Iran?
Kerry, of course, was the most energetic backer of sponsoring Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad before the revolt began. Now he will be the most energetic backer of putting the Muslim Brotherhood into power in Syria. Here is a man who once generalized about American soldiers in Vietnam as being baby-killers and torturers (such things certainly happened but Kerry, made the blame collective, except for himself of course).
As for Hagel, suffice it to say that the embarrassing quotes and actions from him in the past — including his opposition to sanctions against Iran — fueled a response to his proposed nomination so strong that the administration had to back down for a while.
Read the rest here.
Yesterday, I urged you to view a 22 minute video that a 501(c) organization put together to show how severely the publicity-hungry Obama administration has damaged America’s national security and the risks to which that same administration has exposed its special ops forces and human intelligence assets, both at home and abroad.
The Democrats have reacted in predictable fashion, not by addressing the challenge leveled against the administration, but by using a “guilt by association” tactic. As Bruce Kesler discusses, they’ve latched onto a quotation from one retired SEAL who admits to being a Birther and claimed that he discredits every accusation brought against the administration.
In law, we call this an ad hominem, or personal attack. In law, we also understand that a party uses ad hominem attacks only when it has no other credible argument to make. If you can’t defend on either the law or the facts, call your opponent names.
Certainly, one can challenge Birtherism, but the fact that a highly qualified, experienced military veteran also happens to be a Birther doesn’t discredit him on the subject of national security. Getting back to the law again, the law has always recognized the difference between “insanity,” which is a complete disconnect from reality, and a “monomania,” which may simply be an intellectual blind spot in the knowledge and intelligence of an otherwise highly able individual.
In any event, you just know the Democrats have a weak argument when the best person they can find to drag out in front of the cameras is . . . John Kerry.
Rev. Wright has surfaced in 2012, just as he did in 2008. In 2008, though, John McCain not only refused to mention Wright, but told his minions they couldn’t either. This time around, Romney’s minions want to raise the Reverend again, especially as more and more information is emerging about his role in Obama’s life and about Obama’s 2008 efforts to suppress the good reverend. Romney said he won’t touch it, but the debate is on as to whether his minions should.
I think his minions should be free to raise Wright. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to make the good argument, because Bruce Kesler, who knows a thing or three about using swift boat truths against
swiftboating John Kerry, has made the argument for me:
In 2004, defenders of Kerry insinuated that Karl Rove was involved in the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth campaign to show that Kerry’s narrative of Vietnam heroism was false. Their only “proof” was that some of the same people supported President Bush and the Swiftees or that anti-Kerry Swiftees lacked enough documented evidence in Navy records.
That would be a problem for a Wright-Obama campaign in 2012, except that Kerry’s critics were the witnesses to his overblown attempted image whereas Obama’s own words and actions are the witness to his radical past. Further, Obama’s radical past is directly in line with his radical presidential policies and actions.
Were it only Rev. Wright that might be downplayed as but one indiscretion, albeit a twenty-year one. But, throughout Obama’s life his self-proclaimed formative mentors were cut of the same radical cloth, and in his administration he has appointed others of this ilk.
Read the rest here.
UPDATE: The Watcher’s Council has also weighed in on this subject. My response?
Jeremiah Wright is totally fair game in these elections — but Mitt is wise to stay above that fray and let his minions run after Wright. Let Mitt focus on strength and optimism, while others do the dirty work of exposing Obama’s questionable past (both in office and before).
Please read the other responses too. They’re interesting, and quite nuanced.
UPDATE II: And frankly, if the NYTs can go to Romney’s church to learn the “biographical influence of faith on Mitt Romney’s life,” as reporter Jodi Kantor cheerfully explained, why in the world is Obama’s relationship with Wright, his pastor for 20 years, off limits?
Yesterday, my sister emailed me a “cheer up” email that’s making the rounds. It’s intended for women, who tend to feel more strongly than men do that the mirror is their enemy. The tag line is “It isn’t just us who suffer changes over the years!” The rest of the email is photos of former male sex symbols in their prime and now. Here, see for yourself:
I wasn’t amused by these photos nor did I have a pleasant frisson of schadenfreude. Instead, I was saddened. Age is cruel. Maybe I’m more aware of that right now than I would have been otherwise because of my mother’s health issues. A certain part of my memory has her locked into place as a fresh, vital, energetic, extremely pretty woman, about the age I am now. But the lady I’m dealing with today is so very, very different: she’s fragile, shrunken, wrinkled, sad, and tired. She’s still my mother, and I love her, but she also feels like a stranger to me.
Famous people, the ones who had their gorgeous youth played out in the spotlight, have an exceptionally sad fate when they age: We laugh at them. People delight in the fact that the same people who used to make them feel inferior are now suffering the same fate as everyone else. Unless you want to take the punk rocker advice of “die young, stay pretty,” age will lay its hands upon you.
The Santorum yearbook photo demonstrates that aging is a process that places its benefits and burdens on different people at different times. For those who didn’t peak young, age can be a blessing. Rick Santorum is a very nice looking man. He doesn’t make my heart beat faster (that privilege is reserved for Keanu) but I do think that, for a guy in the middle of middle age, he’s got nothing to be embarrassed about.
For the MSM, Santorum’s ordinary good guy looks are a problem. Fortunately, help is on the way in the form of a yearbook picture that isn’t very flattering, unless you’re a fan of Napoleon Dynamite:
Rick’s features are good, but the disco design shirt, the wide lapels, the huge square glasses, and the bowl haircut (complete with sideburns) are, well, in a word “dorky.” At The Atlantic, you can feel the thrill of excitement:
A quick office straw poll here at The Atlantic, conducted amidst uproarious laughter, confirms that this is, in fact, the single worst year book photo that most of us have ever seen. An outright disaster. I suppose it’s Santorum’s misfortune to have been in high school during this era. I’m pretty sure that 1976 wasn’t too kind to anyone. But still. Wow–he looks like McLovin in polyester. I have yet to meet the political consultant talented enough to spin this one. My condolences to Santorum. Brave of him to have struggled through this and made something of this life.
The Atlantic includes yearbook pictures of the other Republican candidates at the same link. Mitt was good-looking then, and he’s good-looking now, but everyone else has changed. They all look young, they all look very much like products of their own time period, and in all of them, in the smile, the eyes, and the bone-structure, you can see the adults they would become. Some have improved, some have just aged. Again, rather than feeling smug when I look at them, I’m simply awed by Time’s power.
The Anchoress, naturally, makes a very good point about these photos. For most of us, high school was not our peak time:
Let’s face it, yearbook photos suck. They just do. They’re a snapshot of a moment, and usually not a great moment. I think everyone tries to do the best they can.
In the interests of fairness, The Anchoress includes at her post high school (and college) pictures of the past Democrat candidates. Obama looks like an extra in Kentucky Fried Movie; John Kerry looks as if he was auditioning for the part of Lurch in the Addams Family, except that he overacted and lost the part; and Al Gore looks pompous (so I guess some things never change). Mostly, they look young, and they look like their peers. That’s life — and to savage a candidate or even a movie star, because he looked bad then or looks bad now is, as The Anchoress says, “high schoolish.”
As for me, unlike The Anchoress, I will not include a photo of myself here (and hers is much prettier than she would give you to believe). Aside from my commitment to my anonymity, I am notorious for shying away from cameras. I don’t take pictures, I don’t like having my picture taken, and, when pictures of me exist, I don’t spread them around.
I don’t often do this, as you know, but I’m going to quote Jennifer Rubin’s post in its entirety here. I think it’s important that people understand precisely what is going on in Washington and how it’s affecting men and women in Afghanistan. Rubin, unsurprisingly, does as good a job as anyone summing up the immoral behavior at home, which creates death abroad. This is even worse than Vietnam, because Obama’s conduct here is more deliberate and, in a twisted way, more informed about the risks of his conduct:
This sobering report comes from the Washington Post:
More than 1,000 American troops have been wounded in battle over the past three months in Afghanistan, accounting for one-fourth of all those injured in combat since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. The dramatic increase has filled military hospitals with more amputees and other seriously injured service members and comes as October marks the deadliest month for American troops in Afghanistan.
How many were killed or lost a limb, I wonder, while the president dithered and delayed implementing the recommendations of his hand-picked general? It is not an inconsequential question. The president acts as though there were no downside to the lethargic pace of his decision-making. He would have us believe that there is no price to be paid as he micromanages, province-by-province, the number of troops he’ll dispense. He seems content to entertain the recommendations of Gens. Joe Biden and John Kerry – drawing on their years of experience (in assessing nearly every national-security challenge incorrectly) while discarding that of the real experts.
What’s a few more weeks? Or months? Well, we know there is indeed a price to allowing our current approach to languish. There is a very real cost to delaying implementation of the new plan that is the best available to achieve victory as quickly as possible. The enemy is emboldened. More civilians die. The political and security situation in Pakistan worsens. And more brave Americans are asked to sacrifice themselves while Obama considers and reconsiders whether there isn’t any way to shave some money off the tab and reduce the number of troops his commanders say are needed. After all, health care is going to cost an awful lot.
The horrid reality of war is that parents send their children to die or to return in a condition they could not possibly have envisioned. But to sacrifice even a single American who was engaged in a fruitless exercise or an understaffed operation so the president can conduct a seminar and postpone a confrontation with his own party (which no longer can stomach the “good war”) is reprehensible.
At a certain point, you have to fish or cut bait. Either Obama fights a war, in which case he fights both to win and to ensure that our troops are adequately supported in that fight. Or, Obama withdraws from the fight, and takes our troops out of harm’s way entirely. To do what he’s doing, which is not fighting but leaving our troops there is unconscionable.
Mary Katharine Ham caught John Kerry finally admitting what Democrats fear most of all: that people will take control over their own destinies, without the elite in government dictating how their hard earned money should be spent. Perhaps if Kerry had ever held a real job and earned the money himself, he might have had a different attitude than the one she exposes:
Sen. John Kerry took to the Senate floor today to pace, rant, and raise his voice in a monotone simulation of human passion as he spoke up for the massive spending bill the Democrats want to pass today under the guise of “stimulus.”
During his speech, he addressed the argument made by fellow senators and many economists that tax cuts might be more helpful to stimulating the economy than long-term government spending. The American people are also coming around to that view, according to a recent CBS poll, which found only 22 percent of them favor more government spending over tax cuts as stimulus.
His argument against tax cuts for Americans during these hard economic times was illuminating:
I’ve supported many tax cuts over the years, and there are tax cuts in this proposal. But a tax cut is non-targeted.
If you put a tax cut into the hands of a business or family, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to invest that or invest it in America.
They’re free to go invest anywhere that they want if they choose to invest.
Indeed, people with their own hard-earned money in their own pockets are free to spend, save, invest, or not wherever they please. Kerry betrays the fear that haunts every good liberal— that the American people won’t spend their money on exactly what good liberals would spend it on. Good liberals must, therefore, advocate for forcibly relieving the American people of the better part of a trillion dollars of their own money to fund things like STD education, welfare programs, and water parks.
Senators like Kerry have placed their own ideological desires over the right of the American people to a clean stimulus bill without the long-term spending even Obama himself admits is in it.
You can read the rest of Ham’s scarily accurate post about Kerry and liberal elitism here.
We all know that the turning point in the public mind for John Kerry’s candidacy was his famous “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” when speaking of his ultimate vote against military appropriations for Afghanistan and Vietnam. Voters were left with the impression that this was a man who was so layered in random nuance and political calculation that, when he actually had to make a stand, he turned his back on principles and went with poll-driven expediency.
Democrats are now trying to make the same play against Sarah Palin by pointing to the fact that she used to accept substantial earmarks for Wasilla, and that she was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it. What they don’t get is that her trajectory is completely different from Kerry’s.
Kerry went from an acceptable decision to an unacceptable one. Palin, however, traveled in the other direction: She went from making bad decisions to making good decisions. She had an upward learning curve, both at a practical and a values level. As she mastered governance, she opted for principles over politics as usual. I think that’s something to applaud, not to insult.
My father was a very angry man. At whichever job he had, he was pretty darn certain that management was out to get him. At stores, he knew he was being cheated. My mother always attributed this anger, not to the poverty and dislocation of his youth (placed in an orphanage at 5, refugee from the Nazis at 15, fighter in the RAF at 19), but to the Communism of his youth.
You see, my father grew up in the Dickensian Jewish slums of Berlin in the 1920s. Unsurprisingly, these slums were hotbeds of Communism and, while his mother was apolitical, his brother and sister were fervent Communists. Although they were much older than he was, they nevertheless managed to infect him with their political ideology, so much so that, while he eventually was a rock solid Democrat (until 1980) his world view was colored by the concept of class warfare — in his mind, anyone who was better situated than he was, was by definition out to get him.
My Dad and his siblings, therefore, were Communists in the perfect Marxist sense. They emerged from the underclass. They were genuinely downtrodden. The cards were completely stacked against them. Their class animus was understandable. It also made them very, very angry, and fairly dysfunctional in ordinary capitalist circumstances. His sister, indeed, was so hostile to Israel for adopting a mild form of socialism that she returned to East Germany to live in the Communist paradise. His brother was incapable of working in a capitalist system, or even a semi-socialist system, and ended his life in squalor, a low-level civil servant in Copenhagen, living in a one room apartment with his wife and child.
As for my Dad, he married my mom. My mom, too, had a life time of poverty and dislocation, but was never tainted by Communism. She is, indeed, to this day, perfectly happy with Capitalism in theory, although the fact that she was married to my father meant she never got to realize any real economic benefits from the system. Because of my Mom, my Dad completed his education, had children, and held down a job. He bought a home, and he became friends with rich people because, while we had no money, my Mom has class. He discovered that rich people, at least in America, weren’t evil parasites but were, in fact, very nice — and very hard-working. He moved right, so far, in fact, that he was one of the Reagan Democrats. I’m certain that he would be a McCain Demcrat too, were he still living. But he still would have been paranoid, convinced that the world was out to get him.
Believe it or not, there is a point to all of this biographical rumination and it’s anger. One could accuse my Mom of being guilty of amateur armchair psychology, with her certainty that it was Communism, not poverty, that fed my Dad’s anger. I think she’s right, though. We see even today that the Left is very, very angry. Despite the fact that life in America is, for most people, very good and certainly is, again for most people, better than it’s ever been at any other time or place in history, the Left sees America in only the grimmest terms. America is an evil oppressor. America intentionally hurts people. America lives to abuse people for racist reasons. You’ve seen DailyKos and the Democratic Underground and the HuffPo and the New York Times and the WaPo, and you know these feelings are out there.
What’s peculiar about this evil capitalist mantra is that it no longer emanates from the underclass. Think about the proponents of these theories: John Kerry, billionaire; Al Gore, multi-millionaire; John Edwards, multi-millionaire; Hillary Clinton, multi-millionaire; Nancy Pelosi, multi-millionaire; Jeremiah Wright, rich pastor moving into exclusive white enclave; the Obamas, products of America’s top education systems and, within the past few years, millionaires; Harry Reid, multi-millionaire; Barbara Boxer, millionaire. I’m stopping here, but you can add your own names to the list.
These people I’ve named are not, as my father was, social rejects who live in (or came from) squalor that is almost impossible to imagine now. They haven’t been kicked from pillar to post by the upper classes, nor have they been refugees, nor have they been denied opportunities. These people are the cream of the crop, the ones who have benefited most from America’s economic and educational opportunities. For those of us working gazillions of hours a week, holding two jobs, watching fuel prices tick up, wondering how we’ll pay for our children’s educations, and hoping no one gets seriously sick, they are the ones to be envied. They are the ruling class.
And yet every single one of the people I’ve named, and all of the similarly situated people I didn’t think of but that you did, share something in common with my down-trodden, refugee father — they’re really, really angry. So I have to think that this overarching, paranoid anger does not arise because of someone’s economic situation or their vertical position in the social hierarchy. Instead, my Mom was right all along: Communism, or whatever form of Leftism is currently in vogue, is attractive to those who are angry, and it breeds anger in those who otherwise might avoid that emotion.
And while anger is a universal trait, and clearly operates to help us survive in dangerous situations, those of us who have lived with chronic anger know that its long-term effects can only be harmful. For the angry individual, the results are ill-health, as the heart and guts rebel against the streams of bile flowing through the system. For the person living with someone angry, the downsides run the gamut from stress, anxiety and depression, to actual physical danger (a situation that my father, bless him, never created). And for those who live in a country powered by the angry, one sees political self-loathing, which leads suicidal behavior when it comes to both the economy and national security.
One of the things I’ve come to like about John McCain is that, while he definitely has a temper, that seems to be a generic trait. That is, he suffers from situational anger. He has what, in the old days, used to be called a quick temper. He is, in other respects, a sunny optimistic soul, and that despite his years as a POW. What McCain clearly lacks is the brooding, paranoid anger that characterizes the Left, and for that reason I believe that, his temper notwithstanding, he’d definitely be a sunnier presence in the White House than his embittered opponents.
I also think that Americans share McCain’s more sunny optimism. I can’t imagine that, over the long run, they’re going to be attracted to professional paranoids who live in the mansions on the hill, sucking every bit of wealth they can from the system, all the while castigating ordinary Americans for being greedy, embittered fools.
UPDATE: Here’s something to chew on regarding the basic decency and optimism that characterizes John McCain.