The need for loud, swift action in response to John Kerry’s libelous statements about Israel

Yom Hashoah 2Today is Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — a day on which Jews and all civilized people around the globe commemorate the 6 million who died at the hands of virulent antisemites. Israel takes this day very seriously.

For those unclear on the whole Israel concept (Obama, Kerry, and State Department, I’m speaking to you), Israel is the only liberal democracy within the Middle East. It’s the only nation in that region that allows all people to worship freely, that accords full rights to women, and that protects all minorities, including sexual and racial minorities, from discrimination, even while extending to them the full panoply of available civil rights. When its neighbors kicked out around 1,000,000 Jews in the years after 1948 in order to make their nations judenrein, Israel took in every single one of those refugees (distinguishing itself from the surrounding Arab nations who refused to take in the tens of thousands of Arabs who fled Israel after the UN recognized its statehood).

Showing what a crude bastard he is (which is separate from his being a stupid, malevolent, narcissistic gold digger), John Kerry chose Yom Hashoah as the day on which to announce that Israel is on the verge of becoming an apartheid state. This is is the same John Kerry, of course, who has been repeatedly stating that it’s all Israel’s fault that his misbegotten peace talks failed, never mind the fact that Palestinians demanded concessions before negotiations began, refused to give up anything, refused to negotiate, continued to celebrate mass murderers, and recently allied themselves with a terrorist group.

This is also the same John Kerry who appears incapable of realizing that the only reason that the Palestinian territories, Gaza, and the surrounding Arab nations aren’t apartheid nations is because they skipped the whole “discriminating against minorities” part.  Instead, they simply slaughtered or expelled their Jews and are now working towards the same end with their Christians.

John Kerry has gone from being merely a pathetic buffoon to becoming a grave national embarrassment, at least from the viewpoint of ordinary Americans who value freedom and recognize Israel as a light unto nations, especially situated as it is in the heart of the globe’s darkness.  Sadly, the only thing keeping Kerry in office is the fact that the Democrat Party power structure, from the President on down, wholeheartedly (and with increasing openness) agrees with Kerry’s sentiments.

Although Obama et al are becoming less coy about their old-fashioned, virulent antisemitism, they are not entirely immune to public pressure, provided that enough of the public puts pressure on them.  We are the public and it’s time for us to raise our voices.  The Emergency Committee for Israel has issued a good statement to that point:

On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry raised the specter of Israel as an “apartheid state.” Even Barack Obama condemned the use of this term when running for president in 2008.

Yet this was no gaffe. Secretary Kerry’s musings on the Jewish state’s dire future have become a regular feature of his public remarks. His latest prediction follows other statements in recent months that have in effect threatened Israel — never the Palestinians — with a list of disasters should his diplomatic efforts fail: violence, isolation, delegitimization, boycotts — and now “apartheid.”

It is no longer enough for the White House to clean up after the messes John Kerry has made. It is time for John Kerry to step down as Secretary of State, or for President Obama to fire him. And it would go a long way toward repairing the damage Kerry has done if his predecessor as Secretary of State, who is the likely Democratic Party nominee for president, explained why this kind of rhetoric had no place in her State Department and why it will have no place in her presidential campaign.

If you would like to see John Kerry forcibly retired, call (202) 647-4000.

UPDATE:  This seems like an appropriate place for Dennis Prager’s video about the Middle East conflict:

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

bored-baby

Here’s an old joke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hollywood may inform Obama’s Washington more than we realize — all theater, no substance

Sometimes one reads something and thinks “That’s it!  That explains what’s been going on.”

I do believe that Elliott Abrams is on to something when he discusses the administration’s approach to Syria, and his point is much larger than the already ugly fact that the president may have misspoken American right into a war.  (Which kind of makes Bush’s gaffes, malapropisms, and linguistic mangles seem a whole lot less significant, right?)

Abrams points out that the New York Times report revealing that Obama’s red line was an ad lib, and a dangerous one at that, also reveals that the White House never actually had a plan.  Here’s what the Times reports:

Mr. Obama’s advisers also raised legal issues. “How can we attack another country unless it’s in self-defense and with no Security Council resolution?” another official said, referring to United Nations authorization. “If he drops sarin on his own people, what’s that got to do with us?”

But they concluded that drawing a firm line might deter Mr. Assad. In addition to secret messages relayed through Russia, Iran and other governments, they decided that the president would publicly address the matter.

After a detour to note how ironic it is that the same President who established an “Atrocities Prevention Board” a few months ago (“‘never again’ is a challenge to nations”) now has people saying “What do we care?”, Abrams gets down to the nitty-gritty of Obama’s approach to foreign policy — it’s all theater:

Second, the issue of bluffing. It is noteworthy in the Times story that the administration officials were dealing with words, with lines, with messages—never it seems with tougher decisions about actions. This is of course a huge mistake, as just about everyone now acknowledges, though how it comes to be made in year five of an administration is more mysterious.

Abrams contrasts this superficiality — figuring out how to sell an attitude, without having an actual attitude — with what went on under Reagan when the Soviet Union wanted to send advanced fighter planes to Nicaragua.  Abrams was the assistant secretary of state for Latin America, so it was up to him to read formally to his Soviet counterpart the administration’s stand:  “there was a unanimous view that we would not permit Russia to put advanced combat jets into Nicaragua and change the power balance that had existed in the region since the Cuban missile crisis. Everyone agreed.”

That’s what played out in the world.  But what Abrams remembers is that this is also what played out behind closed doors:

But what preceded such talking points was the NSC meeting. There, after everyone said yes, let’s deliver that message, James Baker spoke up. As I recall it, Baker said something like this: Look, we are not agreeing here on sending a message. We are agreeing now that if they act, we will act. We’re not going to come back here in a month or three months or six months and say, gee, now what do we do? If you are agreeing on taking this line and sending this message to the Soviets, you are agreeing now, today, that if they put those jets in, we will take them out. That’s what we are agreeing. Today.

Although Abrams says he wasn’t then and isn’t now a Baker fan, he was then and is now a fan of that type of sober, realistic thinking.  Abrams’ conclusion about the administration’s hollow, theatrical approach to the rapidly unfolding disaster in Syria applies with equal force to every single foreign policy situation Obama has faced.  As you read the words below, think not only about Syria, but about Libya, the Arab Spring, the Israeli/Palestinian debacles, etc.:

It seems there was no one at these Obama administration meetings wise or experienced enough to say “Hold on, what do we do when they call the bluff?” My boss back in the Reagan years, Secretary of State Shultz, was, like Baker, an ex-Marine and a serious guy. At these White House meetings on Syria this year and last, was there one serious guy? Seems not, and seems that that problem has not been solved.

Victor Davis Hanson on America: Decline or Renaissance? *UPDATED*

I did something very nice yesterday:  I attended a luncheon at which Victor Davis Hanson spoke.  I’ve read his work for years, and knew that I would be in the presence of an intellectual giant.  Hanson is an expert in both Classic and military history (not to mention Classic military history).  He is also an acute observer of the American political and social scene.

There’s always a risk going in that a Classics scholar’s delivery will dry and dusty, and heavily larded with Latinisms and allusions to long-forgotten historic figures known only to those who have studied them closely.  Hanson is not that scholar.  Instead, he is the professor you always wished you could have had in college.

Hanson is a focused speaker who uses his unusually wide body of knowledge to support a carefully constructed, well-thought out narrative.  He doesn’t waste words.  He also doesn’t use sesquipedalian words to impress — nor does he need to.  He’s impressive enough speaking in straightforward English.  (And yes, it was my little joke to use a ridiculously long word to highlight the fact that Hanson eschews ponderous obfuscation.  Yup.  Another little — very little — joke.)

So what did Hanson speak about?  He spoke about the cusp on which America now finds herself.  On the one hand, we see a world in disarray, both at home and abroad.  On the other hand, America still towers over other nations when it comes to her people, her resources, and her accomplishments.  If America is unable to succeed it will be because we will have followed in the path of other successful nations that disintegrated from within.

Hanson opened by detailing all the facts that should have responsible people worried.  The situation abroad his grim.  In 2008, Barack Obama promised direct dialog with the North Koreans, Syria, and Iran.  Since that time, North Korea has produced a video imagining a joyful future in which North Korea destroys us with a nuclear attack; Syria is in the midst of a bloody civil war, with both sides hating America only slightly less than they hate each other; and Iran gleefully thumbs its nose at the world as it continues work on its nuclear arsenal.

Even as the world’s bad actors — Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, etc. — work to buff their nuclear credentials, Obama is showing his post-election flexibility by promising Russia that America will unilaterally downsize her nuclear arsenal.  Those countries within the geographic radius of predatory nuclear nations are (rightly) becoming extremely worried.

In the Middle East, Obama has embraced a bifurcated policy.  On the one hand, he leads from behind so that countries such as Egypt, Mali, and Libya can fall into the hands of radical Islamists.  On the other hand, his visceral dislike for Netanyahu and Israel gives him an aggressive stance towards that small, democratic nation.

Not only has the Nobel-prize winning President failed to bring about world peace, he’s presided over some of the worst killing in America’s recent wars.  Obama has overseen the deaths of as many American troops in four years as George Bush did in eight (not that we hear anything about that from the media).  Moreover, the same president who said that it was inhumane and immoral to waterboard three known terrorists has recently announced that he has the unilateral power to use drones to kill American citizens.

I was gratified to hear Hanson make the same point I made during George Bush’s presidency — that his “wild man” persona, no matter how ill-deserved, was an effective deterrent to thugs, because they did not know how he would act under provocation.  Obama, though, brings absolutely reliability to the process:  When the chips are down . . . he does nothing.  This means, Hanson says, that “we’re in a very dangerous period abroad.”  Oh, joy.

Things at home aren’t any more cheerful.  Hanson, who has an impressive mastery of facts, ran through those gloomy numbers and statistics about the debt, the deficit, the unemployment rate, and the usually flat, but occasionally shrinking, economy.

The only bright spot in Obama’s America is the Left’s/media’s relentless cheerfulness.  Having embraced Obama, Hanson notes, the media also embraces a European style economy (not from the hip 60s, but from the decayed 2010s), and calls it good.

California, Hanson’s home state and mine, looks equally grim.  Although California has 1/6 of the total American population, it manages to support 1/3 of the nation’s welfare recipients.  Despite the highest teacher pay in the US, we’re number 48 in public school education.  (California was number 1 in the 1960s and very early 1970s.) And although Californians are forced to fork over the highest taxes in America, we have the worst infrastructure.

These facts are deeply depressing, but there is a bright side, and it’s not that we’re going European.  It’s that, if we can find the will, America still has the resources for greatness.  To make this point, Hanson pivoted from focusing on the grim news we see in the news every day, and started identifying America’s staggering resources.

Although the U.S. has 6% of the world’s population, we produce 26% of the world’s goods.  One American worker is as productive as three Chinese workers.

Our military continues to be the wonder of the world.  Even downsized (and Hanson emphasized during the question and answer period that sequestration would slow, rather than reverse, military growth), it will take a long time for other nations to catch up.  Even one of our aircraft carriers (and we have eleven) is greater than the carrier strength of the other nations put together.  Our problem when it comes to wars, isn’t resources or our troop’s abilities.  It’s the leadership’s will to win, or lack thereof.

Despite the shabby state of our primary education system, and despite the political correctness that has destroyed liberal arts programs all over America, when it comes to the hard sciences, the US still leads in higher education.  Of the top ten ranked universities in the world, eight are American.  And of the top ranked fifteen, five of those are in California.

Either because of, or despite, our education system, America continues to lead the world in technological innovation.  In that regard, California’s own Silicon Valley, despite California’s hostile business environment, is still one of the most important intellectual and electronic/technological hubs in the world.

We also lead the world when it comes to exporting our culture.  Americans may be fascinated by a variety of indigenous cultures around the world, but everyone else wants to be American.  They watch our movies, buy our clothes, listen to our music, mimic our military, copy our educational institutions, and love our food.

Our fundamental strength has long been and, for now, continues to be the fact that we are not a class-based society.  Unlike all other countries (whether modern European ones, Latin American banana republics, or Eastern autocracies), people in America do not need the right social or familial connections, the right accent, the right university degree, or the right anything else to succeed.  If they’ve got discipline and drive, they’ll rise up, and if they add to that a touch of marketplace genius, the sky’s the limit.

America’s “room at the top” philosophy may explain why America is the only major nation left in the world with a positive demographic growth trend.  Not only do immigrants want to come here, but people who live here still believe in having children.  With our fertility rate at 2.1, we’re still growing ever so slightly.

The same is not true for the rest of the world.  In Japan, said Hanson, the stores sold more diapers last year for old people than they did for babies.  All over Europe, countries have negative population growth.  China still has 1 billion or so people, but the Chinese one-child policy has ensured that the future will see a dramatically shrunken population.  Russia has more abortions than babies.

The Arab world and Iran are in even worse shape.  Aside from a catastrophic demographic decline, if one takes away their oil (which is beginning to be tapped out) it turns out that they do not have functioning economies.  They have no education, their misogyny means that 50% of their population cannot contribute to their economic well-being, and their controlling doctrine, even more than Islam, is nihilism.  When they insist on a world-wide caliphate, they don’t offer any positive vision about this new world.  Instead, they threaten only destruction.

At the end of his talk, Hanson half-jokingly said that the Islamist line of argument is “Give us what we want, or we’ll make you as miserable as we are.”  Part of America’s diffidence in dealing with Islamists is that we’re unwilling to suffer for short intervals, even if that limited suffering is what it takes to protect entirely us from Islamic nihilism.

The European Union is also a disaster.  Not only is it going broke very quickly, it’s completely undemocratic.  Once accepted into the EU, countries must abide by its Kafka-esque bureaucratic rulings.  Worse, once in, there is no mechanism for dissatisfied countries to leave.  (When Hanson said that, it occurred to me that the EU is the governmental equivalent of a Roach Motel:  countries check in, but they don’t check out.)

Our wonderful Constitution, despite the current fights over the Second Amendment and the religious component of the First, is mostly intact.  Because we have a simple, functioning Constitution, we are the most stable major nation in the world.

America is also fortunate that we have massive amounts of the two things that every society needs to survive:  food and fuel.  Even the Democrat’s relentless attack on California’s central valley (which sees vast swathes of land reduced to dust in order to protect the Delta Smelt), has not changed our status as the world’s major food producer.  Not only do we grow the most food, people like and want American food — it’s clean, safe, and tasty.

We also lead the world in fossil fuel reserves.  While the Arab lands are being pumped dry, American ingenuity means that, on private lands all over America, we are starting to produce meaningful amounts of oil and natural gas that can support us at home and leave enough to send abroad.  If Obama would allow drilling on federal land, and if democrat-run states would allow drilling on their soil, we would have almost unimaginable amounts of cheap fuel.  (Obama, amusingly, used the SOTU to boast about America’s oil production, even as he conveniently forgot to tell the American people that this production is all on private land, since he and many Democrat governors have forbidden it on public land.)

America also continues to be the world’s largest coal producer.  [UPDATE: I erred when i said this. Please see a comprehensive correction here.] Surprisingly, given the Left’s war on coal, it’s still a money-maker.  Even though the government is preventing its use at home, the rest of the world, especially Europe, is begging for more.

Given America’s vast human and natural resources, why aren’t we doing better?  I can stop looking at my notes now, and quote directly from Hanson’s latest article at National Review:

The gradual decline of a society is often a self-induced process of trying to meet ever-expanding appetites rather than a physical inability to produce past levels of food and fuel or to maintain adequate defense. Americans have never had safer workplaces or more sophisticated medical care — and never have so many been on disability.

[snip]

By any historical marker, the future of Americans has never been brighter. The United States has it all: undreamed-of new finds of natural gas and oil, the world’s preeminent food production, continual technological wizardry, strong demographic growth, a superb military, and constitutional stability.

Yet we don’t talk confidently about capitalizing and expanding on our natural and inherited wealth. Instead, Americans bicker over entitlement spoils as the nation continues to pile up trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Enforced equality, rather than liberty, is the new national creed. The medicine of cutting back on government goodies seems far worse than the disease of borrowing trillions from the unborn to pay for them.

[snip]

History has shown that a government’s redistribution of shrinking wealth, in preference to a private sector’s creation of new sources of it, can prove more destructive than even the most deadly enemy.

(You really should read the whole article, which is a pleasing amalgam of ancient history, mid-20th century trends, and our modern condition.  It takes a truly great writer and thinker to blend those disparate elements so seamlessly and to arrive at a compelling conclusion.)

If the opportunity to hear Victor Davis Hanson comes your way, seize it.  It’s a great pleasure to be in the same room as a speaker who uses his education, knowledge, and intelligence to support fundamental American principles.

This and that — about the Middle East, mostly, with a little Obama stuff thrown in too.

It’s been another family-maintenance day, which precludes not only blogging but, quite often, even thinking.  Having a house full of children is revitalizing and exhausting all at once.

I also took my Mom clothes shopping, which makes her extraordinarily happy, but leaves me limp and floppy.  I am every cheapskate’s dream, because I just hate to shop.  When I was young and shopped only for clothes to hang on my lithesome frame, it was all fun.  Now, though, shopping means shlepping out to get groceries, household supplies, supplies for my Mom, clothing for the children, etc.  It’s drudgery not pleasure and, to add insult to injury, I’m not as lissome as I once was.  Clothes shopping tends to demoralize rather than hearten me.

All of which is irrelevant to this post’s purpose, which is to pass on to you interesting articles I read this weekend.  So without further ado, here are things that you might find as interesting as I did.

I begin with a whole series of articles relating to the fact that, after having rockets rained down upon her for years — and in exponential numbers since Obama’s reelection — Israel is finally pushing back.  I’ll throw in here that, while Obama got encomiums from Israel’s supporters yesterday because he said that Israel has the right to defend herself, today he managed to un-deserve those same encomiums.  Why?  Because he added that this right to self-defense exists so long as Israel doesn’t actually do anything . . . you know, defensive:

Obama said that his message to Erdogan, as well as Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, was that it would be “preferred” if Israel could deter missiles from landing in its territory without ramping up military activity in Gaza. “That’s not just preferable to the people of Gaza, that’s also preferable to Israelis,” he said.

In other words, Israel is once again going to be bullied into a ceasefire after universal obloquy from the usual suspects, but before she can achieve any of her national defense goals.  Obama can’t seem to get it through his head that it takes two to tango — and two to make peace.  Constantly forcing Israel to hold back, while doing nothing about the thousands of rockets from Hamas and others (well, not nothing, because Obama does send them lots of taxpayer dollars) is just another example of government picking winners and losers — and in this game, Israel always loses.

Yesterday I posted about how the educated elite is economically ignorant, so today it shouldn’t be surprising that we learn that the educated elite is also ignorant about realities in the Middle East.  Obama is simply the most visible ignoramus on the subject.  Barry Rubin focuses on the foolish mentality Obama displays:  namely, that Israel is totally entitled to defend herself, provided that she doesn’t do anything . . . you know, defensive.

One of the things I love about my conservative friends is that, contrary to the stereotypes the Left likes to propagate, they truly respect Israel — and it’s not just because they want all the Jews packed back into that small nation in order to facilitate the Second Coming and subsequent destruction of the Jewish nation.  This canard, incidentally, is one of liberal Jews’ deepest suspicions about philosemitic Christians.  Instead, true conservatives are people who value individual liberty and economic freedom, and they recognize what the elites refuse to see; namely, that this beleaguered Middle Eastern nation is a bastion of humanism in a dark, cruel, Islamo/Marxist region.

Richard Baehr points out that one of Israel’s problems is that the media and the Left (to the extent there’s any difference) completely ignore the dark cruelties that are integral to Islamic nations today, ranging from starvation in Egypt to civil war in Syria to attacks on sovereign U.S. territory in Libya.  Instead, the media focuses obsessively on the small number of civilian deaths Israel tries so desperately to avoid, against an enemy that deliberately places its most vulnerable citizens in the softest targets.

Jay Gaskill tries to give the media a reality check:  the problem isn’t Israel, the problem is an aggressive Islamism that has been pushing against and probing at the non-Muslim world since Mohamed first ordered it to do so.  Given that this last election proved that the media has deep, strong tentacles into the American psyche, as long as it cannot distinguish cause from effect and predator from prey, both America and Israel are in great danger.

Not everyone thinks that Israel’s imminent incursions into Gaza will be disastrous.  Jonathan Spyer argues that the Islamists aren’t truly ready for the fight they picked.  Instead, they’re acting from a burst of hubris brought about by Obama’s reelection.  According to Spyer, Hamas acted too soon because the Arab Spring effectively bankrupted Egypt, which is now dependent on American and other Western dollars to keep its citizens from starving.  As long as the West wants to avoid all-out war in the Middle East, it can put economic pressure on Egypt, which will then put pressure on Hamas.

Okay, I’m done with the Middle East, but no Bookworm Room political post would be complete without some Obama bad-mouthing.  I don’t like the man.  It’s not just his Leftist policies and ignorance.  It’s him.  I find his narcissism and egotism repellent and dangerous.  So does Neo-Neocon.

And finally, on a lighter note, Joel Pollak has some advice for surviving the holidays if you find yourself with liberal relatives.  I’m fortunate in that my relatives, like me, have also made the transition from unthinking Leftist Jews to thoughtful Jewish conservatives.  For me, the Thanksgiving holidays mean a restful time in the company of intelligent, fun, like-minded people.

 

In the jargon of good and evil

I have recently had some interesting discussions with Liberal friends that got me to mulling a fundamental question of good versus evil. My thoughts on this did not crystallize until a recent [insert superlative, here] “French conversation” dinner with Book and Charles Martel that kept lapping up to the fringes of my swirling thoughts on this question. Here is what happened:

At my church recently (one wherein my parish spans the full political spectrum), I was voicing my opinion to some friends that, of all the people in the world deserving of my sympathies, “the Palestinians are probably last in line”. A woman burst out furiously from the church pantry and scolded me for not knowing anything about what I was talking about, that the Palestinians were oppressed victims of Israeli perfidy. A short conversation with her was enough to demonstrate that she really didn’t know anything about the Palestinian-Israeli situation other than typical Leftwing propaganda. She and others in the conversation, for example, did not know that Israel’s war of independence occurred in 1948, that there was no “Palestine” before 1948, that virtually all Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab countries upon Israel’s creation, that more Palestinians have been killed by other Arab states than by Israel, that 20% of Israel’s citizens are Muslim, enjoying full political, economic and religious rights and serve in the military and government (the only Middle Eastern country that recognizes such minority rights, btw), etc. However, what shocked me was how incapable these good women were of seeing the evils represented and committed by the Palestinians. In their view, each act of violence and mayhem committed by the Palestinians and Arabs …against each other as much as against Israelis, was excusable as expressions of victimhood. Since then, I have noticed much of this same dynamic at work in many issues embraced by the Left.

Have Liberals (including religious Liberals) lost their capacity to distinguish between Good and Evil? If so, then we truly are living in a time of Biblical prophesy. What say you?

An insight into Progressive beliefs about how voters’ minds work

John Hinderaker caught a very funny statement from Jen Psaki, who is one of the president’s official spokesmen. She was responding to a reporter’s question regarding the fact that PBS asked the Democrats to take down an add using Big Bird (emphasis mine):

We have received that request [from PBS]. We’re reviewing it. I will say it doesn’t change the fact that there’s only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane.

You can just see the great minds of the Democrat party meeting to put together a checklist of ordinary voter concerns that they should be addressing.

Meeting Chairman:  Okay, folks.  It’s time to get to work.  With the president having tanked in his first debate, and the very real risk that Joe will implode in his only debate, we’ve got to get the president ready to talk about things that really matter to the American people.  I’m going to open the floor to suggestions:

Twenty-something young man:  Uh, what about young people’s concern about the deficit that they’ll have to pay for?

Chairman:  Not going to happen, We know they’re not thinking about that.  They just want sex, booze, and subsidies.  We’ve already tapped Hollywood to remind the demographic that the President is cool, and that he’s got their backs.

Thirty-something young woman:  The President needs to tell womyn that he’ll make sure that they get free birth control and abortions, as well as unrestricted access to tampons (which should be free too).

Chairman:  Again, not going to happen, Sandra.  Our internal polling shows that the Independents aren’t buying that argument.  Anyway, women know that Obama has got their back, and we’ve had Hollywood double down on its “Republicans will legalize rape” claims.

Black woman:  Should we talk about the fact that blacks are disproportionately affected by unemployment?

Chairman:  Our campaign funds and air time are too limited to do messaging on the way the President’s policies are good for African Americans.  American blacks know that Obama’s got their backs,  He’ll make sure that the government always supports them.

Jewish Guy:  Isn’t it time that the President made a strong statement about Israel?

Chairman:  We’ve polled that one, Shlmo, and it’s going nowhere in this election.  Let’s let sleeping dogs lie.

Palestinian Guy:  The president must talk about the continued slaughter and rape of the Palestinian people.

Chairman:  Calm down, Achmed.  We don’t need to do a strong message on this, because our base knows that the President has the Palestinian people’s backs.

Sex-changed gay transvestite:  I have two words:  Gay Marriage.

Chairman:  The president’s still evolving on that one until after the election, Pat.  Don’t worry.  You guys, gals and indeterminates know that the president has your backs.

Lone WASP guy:  What about the murdered ambassador in Libya, the head of security killed in Yemen yesterday, and all the other signs that al Qaeda is coming back?

Chairman:  Come on, Charlie.  The president has already explained that these are just highly critical movie reviews that got out of hand.  The public doesn’t need to hear more.  Al Qaeda knows that the President’s got its back.  Uh, misspoke there, Dude.  I meant that the American people and the American military know that the President’s got their backs.

Five year old attending meeting because she’s got a cold and her mom is still breast-feeding her:  Mommy, Mommy! I want my Tickle Me Elmo doll!!!

Chairman:  That’s it. Elmo!  Big Bird!  Protecting those icons from Republican attacks is the one thing we need to do in order galvanize those Independent voters.  It’s Mom, Apple Pie, Elmo and Big Bird.  Okay, folks!  Here’s the official line:  President Obama, Defender of Sesame Street!

 

Oil reserves in Israel may radically change the Middle Eastern playing field

Since the British mandate, western nations, especially oil-poor European nations, have pandered to Middle Eastern tyrants for a single reason:  oil.  Israel, poor little Israel, had no oil.  That’s why, when the Arabs and Iranians said that they wanted Israel, Europeans were willing to fall in line.  Anything, after all, to get that Saudi or Iranian or Kuwaiti or whatever else black gold.  America didn’t help things by allowing the environmentalists to make America, which has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, one of the most pathetic (and costly) producers.

One of the little known secrets of the Middle East is that the Muslim nations are running out of oil.  I’m not going to go hunting for the link now, as I have to get dinner started, but I’m 99.9% certain that someone conversant with the oil industry told me that Muslims are having to pump water into their wells to raise the oil sufficiently to allow them to get it out.  This doesn’t mean they’ll run dry tomorrow, but it doesn’t bode well for them in the long term.

What’s not secret, although it’s not making the splash one would expect it to make, is the fact that Israel turns out to sit on vast oil reserves:

Actual production is still minuscule, but evidence is accumulating that the Promised Land, from a natural resource point of view, could be an El Dorado: inch for inch the most valuable and energy rich country anywhere in the world. If this turns out to be true, a lot of things are going to change, and some of those changes are already underway.

Walter Russell Mead explains how this fact is changing the politics on the ground in the Middle East.

Hat tip:  Danny Lemieux

Cultural blindness and freedom

Was it a surprise to you that Egypt went Islamist?  It wasn’t to me.

Was it a surprise to you that Libya went Islamist?  It wasn’t to me.

Was it a surprise to you that Tunisia went Islamist?  It wasn’t to me.

Has it been a surprise to you over the last decade that Iraq hasn’t bloomed into the Middle Eastern equivalent of small town America?  It hasn’t been for me.

If any of the above surprised you, my guess is that you worked for the Bush administration or are working for the Obama administration.  The first group naively believed that, if you gave people the vote, they would vote for freedom, not repression.  As for the second group, I don’t know if they shared that same naiveté, or if they’re truly bad people.

Anyone who has been paying attention to the Middle East has understood that, for many citizens in those benighted nations, Islamist government promises purity in lieu of deep, violent corruption.  The people there don’t understand the notion of freedom, but they’re very much alive to hypocrisy — and their Imams have been promising that this is the one thing they won’t get under an Islamist government.  Islam will bring them the peace of total submission to God’s rules, rather than the instability and terror of individual tyranny.

For people who have spent decades on the receiving end of arbitrary and capricious pseudo-Western governments, all the while hearing that their faith will provide honesty and peace, the outcome of elections was a no-brainer.  Lacking the one and a half centuries of self-governance that America had before she even embarked upon her Constitutional experiment, the notion of freedom and individual rights has no resonance.  Sure, some understand it, but for most freedom simply means not being bossed around by a Mubarak or Saddam or Gaddafi.

Mark Steyn ranks with me as being one of the un-surprised — and he recognizes how our blindness abroad leads to threats at home.

I’ll add too that relentless PC multiculturalism, which lauds every culture but our own, is de-programming the love of freedom bred into American DNA, and is therefore probably the greatest internal threat we face.

 

Obama — enemy to Israel, and to peace and stability in the Middle East

I’ve never doubted Obama’s fundamental anti-Israel beliefs, nor have I ever thought he’s on a right, or even a sane, track in the Middle East. As much as anything, though, my feelings regarding Obama’s Israel/Middle East attitudes were predicated on a gut attitude resulting from his pre-presidency friendships and his execrable Cairo speech. Now, though, after almost three years of his presidency, the evidence is in, and Barry Rubin explains that my instincts (and yours too) are born out by the facts:

In a major address on U S. Middle East policy to the Brookings Institution, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave us a clear picture of the Obama Administration’s view of the region. When taken along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech on the same subject, we now know the following regarding Obama’s policy:

It is dangerously and absurdly wrong. This administration totally and completely, dangerously and disastrously for U.S. interests misunderstand the Middle East. They are 180 degrees off course, that is heading in the opposite direction of safety.

Despite the satisfactory state of relations on a purely military level, the Obama Administration is not a friend of Israel, even to the extent that it was arguably so in the first two years of this presidency.

It is now an enemy; it is on the other side.  Again, the issue is not mainly bilateral relations but the administration’s help and encouragement to those forces that are Israel’s biggest enemies, that want to rekindle war, and that are 100 percent against a two-state solution. And I don’t mean the Palestinian Authority, I mean the Islamists.

And the Obama Administration is also a strategic enemy of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan. It is also a strategic enemy to the democratic opposition forces in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Having analyzed and studied the Middle East for almost four decades I say none of this lightly. And these conclusions arise simply from watching what the administration says and does.

Read the rest here.