Saturday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI pulled up my usual morning reads and found some excellent stuff I’d like to share with you.  American Thinker gets four shout-outs this morning.  Really.  Its content today was that good.

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Maybe I’m imagining it, but I do think James Lewis has put together a must-read summary about the state of modern Europe . . . and about Russia’s potential role as its savior.  I hear you ask “Saving Europe from what?”  The answer is depressingly easy:  Saving it from a complete Muslim takeover.  If Lewis is right, our children and grandchildren will live in a broken-down, vulnerable “Fortress America” that peers fearfully at a Eurasian continent controlled either by the Ummah or an imperial Russia.  Neither bodes well for America’s future.

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Some Brits are trying to counter Europe’s fall by forming their own Tea Party (and yes, I’m alive to the historic irony). The problem these Brits will have is the same problem the American Tea Party has had since its formation. The Tea Party adherents are arguing in factual and ideological terms. Their opponents ignore these substantive arguments and, instead, paint them as Satan. No one wants to think of himself as being part of the party of Satan. Dale Carnegie had already figured this one out in his classic How To Win Friends and Influence People. The very first chapter of his book is given over entirely to the principle that people want to view themselves in the best light, and will lie about who they are and what they do in order to maintain what’s often a self-serving illusion.

Conservatives have to start arguing in ways that snatch this moral high ground away from the Left. A good way to learn about both offensive and defensive techniques for decimating Leftist emotion-based screeds is to read Ben Shapiro’s How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them. To get a free copy, just register for free at Truth Revolt (another site I’ve added to my morning reading list).  You’ll then be able to download Shapiro’s short, pithy book spelling out techniques for challenging Leftist dominance of the mental airspace. (And here’s another example of this emotional dominance: the Leftist take-over of the AP exams, which includes the usual savage, fact-free, emotion-based attacks against America’s founding and exceptionalism.)

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Dean Kalahar tracks the decline and fall of the African-American family and, with it, the decline and fall of African Americans.  The last time I saw these statistics compiled so nicely was in John McWhorter’s Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America (which, interestingly, is not available on Kindle, although his other books are). Both Kalahar and McWhorter point to the same culprit: white guilt and the resulting welfare state, a toxic combination that removed black men’s centrality to family and financial well-being and, instead, made them extraneous.

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While conservatives have been enjoying the Leland Yee story because it so perfectly illustrates the Left’s hypocrisy (Lee preached gun control in the California legislature while engaged in gun running for profit), the Left has been quiet. There are two different types of quiet going on: at the bottom level (the information consumers) the quiet arises because they don’t know about Leland Yee or, if they do, they only know that a politician of unknown party was indicted for unknown acts. This ignorance arises from the second type of quiet: Outside of California, the MSM refuses to talk about Yee’s arrest. It’s “three monkeys” coverage: when it comes to Democrats, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. The Left will not cannibalize its own, ever.

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Kevin Williamson suggests that conservatives might want to do a little less cannibalizing — that is, they might do less if they want to win:

Republicans now have the opportunity to effectively bring the Obama administration’s legislative program to an early end this November by eliminating the Democrats’ majority in the Senate, which would also give them a much stronger hand in keeping the worst of his appointees out of office, safely quarantined in whatever dank recesses of academia currently housing them. And while one should never underestimate the Republicans’ ability to blunder their way into missing a political opportunity or the fickleness of our bread-and-circuses electorate, there is a very good chance that that will happen. (Knock wood, salt over the shoulder — pick your own prophylactic.) But conservatives all too often seem to have failed to learn the lesson of the heavy losses we have suffered during the Obama years: The differences among us are minor compared with the differences between us and them, which are fundamental.

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It turns out that there are problems with fracking, but they’re not the environmental menace problems that have the greenies’ heads spinning in replays of the Exorcist. Instead, the problems result directly from the greenie head spinning, which makes it impossible to optimize the bounty flowing from beneath American soil.

Reading this reminded me that we survived the Carter years because he lost his reelection bid, so that he was unable to consolidate his failures. I still question whether we will survive eight years of Obama.

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I always like Andrew Klavan. I especially like him when he looks at the way in which the Left uses a war on language to wage a war on freedom.

Barack Obama is both right and wrong (but mostly wrong) when he talks about Russia

pb-130617-obama-putin-meeting.photoblog900The past hundred years have seen two worldwide ideological wars:  The Cold War and the current war between the West and Islam, which Norm Podhoretz calls World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism.

In both of these wars, the world has been a battle ground between opposing forces, one of which seeks to enslave the world’s citizens before a socialist or theocratic government, and the other of which seeks to prevent that enslavement.  (I was going to say “seeks to maximize individual freedom,” but I don’t believe that we can say that anymore about America and we never could say that about Europe.) The fact that the Islamic war has been going on intermittently since the 7th century, with innumerable individual Muslim nations leading the charge, doesn’t change its essential ideological nature.

The same hundred years have seen two worldwide “regional” wars, as well as uncountable small regional wars.  The worldwide ones were, quite obviously World Wars I and II.  Some people are a bit confused about WWII’s inclusion in this category.  While Hitler definitely had an ideology, he was not seeking to spread that ideology.  He simply wanted to expand his nation as far as possible, bringing some geographical regions into Germany, and enslaving others to Germany.

World War I was also about zones of power rather than advancing an ideology throughout the world.  The myriad other 20th and 21st century regional wars have pitted communists against non-communists, but the warring nations, rather than seeking to spread their ideology, were simply working to expand their regional power bases.

Which gets me to what Obama had to say about Russia, where he managed to be both sort of right and entirely wrong.  Since Putin first zeroed in on Ukraine and the Crimea, Obama has been on defense about the fact that Mitt Romney, all the way back in 2012, accurately predicted that Russia would be a geopolitical foe.

Understandably, Obama cannot now concede that Romney was right.  (Much as I dislike and distrust Obama, I think any president in his shoes would never acknowledge that his former opponent was right and would do anything and everything to spin the situation.)  So Obama spins and spins and spins with the inevitable result — the more he talks, the more foolish he appears:

[Obama:] With respect to Mr. Romney’s assertion that Russia is our number one geopolitical foe, the truth of the matter is that America has a whole lot of challenges.

Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neigbors, not out of strength, but out of weakness.

Ukraine has been a country in which Russia had enormous influence for decades, since the breakup of the Soviet Union. And we have considerable influence on our neighbors. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong, cooperative relationship with them. The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more.

So my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is: Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.

To the extent Obama’s logorrhea disclaims a new Cold War, he’s correct. Putin may mourn the old Soviet Union, but he’s not backing a new Cold War strategy of using guile, stealth, and proxy warfare in order to spread communism throughout the world. He’s a strong Russian nationalist who has no ideology he wants to market. In terms of ideological warfare, our enemy remains Islam, which wants to take over the world with a ferocity that even the communists couldn’t muster.

For Obama to dismiss Russia as a mere regional power, however, and to state that this power base is a “weakness” reveals Obama’s profound historical ignorance and intellectual insularity. It’s as if, in his mind, when the Cold War ended, all possible wars ended. In reality, throughout history, countries seeking regional dominance have successfully wrecked havoc on the world. After all, as they increase their geographic scope, they increase the “region” in which they operate.

In ancient times, Persia wasn’t selling ideology. It was just spreading its wings, seeking Persian lebensraum, an effort that saw it work its way across the entire Aegean until the Spartans stopped it. It’s regional reach managed to go from Persia itself to almost the entire known world. The same was true for both the Greeks and the Romans. While they thought that their ways were best, they weren’t selling an ideology when they conquered. They wanted power and wealth, aka Greek and Roman lebensraum. The Mongol hordes? Ditto. Louis XIV’s France? Ditto. Napoleonic France? Ditto. World Wars I and II, as mentioned above? Ditto.

None of the above aggressor nations conquered a nearby “region” and then stopped voluntarily. Each was emboldened by regional victories and sought to expand the territories it controlled. All were stopped only when their reach exceeded their grasp or when they met a foe more implacable than they were. For Obama to assume that Putin, having stretched his wings a little bit in the Ukraine, will now stop his territorial aggression is woefully or willfully naive.

For Putin, this expansion is a marvelous offset to his problems at home. Dying, aging population? Get a new population. Weakened, corrupted economy? Prop it up with wealth acquired using arms against other nations. An increasingly unpopular, undemocratic rule? Become a successful warrior king and watch your poll numbers shoot up.

The fact that Putin’s armed conquest is unsustainable in the long run (all warrior conquerors have a reach that exceeds their grasp), doesn’t mean in the short run that it won’t be successful. For a time that can run into decades, Putin will control vast swathes of reasonably productive land — something that will give him power far beyond his region. He’ll be able to meddle in Western Europe again. He’ll hold over the world the threat of an alliance with China. He’ll continue to be a power player in the Middle East, especially since Arab nations will always ally themselves with the strong horse.

America’s endlessly naive peace party, which has Obama as its perfect leader, has always assumed that if America makes nice with the world, the world will suddenly become a nicer place.  That this isn’t how the world works eludes these peace makers, as it did after World War I and during the Cold War and during our current World War IV.

Since time immemorial, the world has been a balance of powers. If one power weakens, other step up to fill the vacuum. The world is in bad shape when the dominant power is evil and the world is in good shape when the dominant power is less evil. I would say America is the best dominant power ever to have walked the earth (with the Pax Britannica probably a good second), but we don’t even need to award a dominant power with the label “Best Dominant Power Ever.” It’s enough to know that civilization advances (wealth, health, and innovation) if a particular reigning dominant power is simply better than the alternatives.

It’s not quite clear what Obama’s thinks, but both his ideas are wrong.  He either loathes America so much that he believes, contrary to the entire weight of history, that she has been an evil dominant power or, as I said, he’s so naive and stupid he believes that, if a dominant power voluntarily departs the scene, peace will reign eternal.  Either could explain his deliberate decision to remove America from the world stage, despite global success under her mostly benignant leadership and his conscious refusal to acknowledge the forces of evil hastening to fill the vacuum America has left in her wake.

When I think about the American Lefts’ moral and historical blindness, I keep being reminded of the rebooted Twilight Zone, which ran for two seasons in the mid-1980s. One of its episodes was called A Small Talent for War:

An ambassador (John Glover) from an alien race arrives, claiming that his race had genetically engineered the people of Earth. He tells the quarrelsome members of the United Nations Security Council that his race is displeased over Earth’s “small talent for war”, having failed to produce the potential that the aliens had nurtured. When the alien ambassador announces that his fleet will destroy Earth, the Security Council earns a 24 hour reprieve to prove Earth’s worth. With survival at stake, the Security Council negotiates, and the General Assembly acclaims, an accord for lasting global peace and presents it to the alien ambassador.

The global peace agreement brings great humour to the emissary. The aliens were, in fact, seeking a greater talent for war, as they had genetically seeded thousands of planets to breed warriors to fight for them across the galaxy. Humanity’s “small talent” for war (crude weapons, petty bickering over borders) is not significant enough to be of any use to them, and he laughingly states that – worst of all – the people of Earth long for peace. As the ambassador calls down his fleet to destroy the Earth, he thanks the Security Council for an amusing day and their “delightful sense of the absurd”, and his parting comment is “…as one of your fine Earth actors, Edmund Gwenn, once said, Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

Humans are never closer to animals than when it comes to their passion and ability for war. Only two things stave off war, especially when these two things operate simultaneously: free trade between nations, so that peace is more beneficial than war; and a dominant world (or regional) power that acts defensively, not offensively. It’s only Twilight Zone script writers and Democrat Party members who think that we will erase war if we successfully stifle the free market and then create a power vacuum that any tin pot tyrant can fill.

Kerry’s negotiating desperation re Putin would be funny if it wasn’t so scary

John Kerry's Right To Be StupidAs I was driving home from the swimming pool today, I heard that Russia’s representative was refusing to accede to John Kerry’s request that the Russians sit down for face-to-face negotiations with the Ukrainians. My first thought was that the report was way too polite. Kerry’s not requesting, he’s begging.

My second thought was that this is what happens when the President of the United States spends five years making it plain that America will not use its power and, worse, that the president’s word cannot be relied upon. Kerry has no leverage.

As for my third thought, I didn’t actually have a third thought.  Instead, I’m borrowing from a friend, who forwarded his thoughts on the matter to me:

Obama and Kerry attempting to use diplomacy with Putin is like trying to use reason with robbers during a home invasion. As they are talking, he’s filling his pockets and getting the tactical advantage. If he gets away with this who’s next? Further, why would anyone choose to negotiate over something they can simply take?

All of the above would be amusing if it was written into a lunatic novel.  (By the way, if you’re looking for a wonderful, clever, laugh-out-loud funny lunatic novel, I highly recommend Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls: A Novel of International Intrigue, Pork-Crazed Termites, and Motherhood.)  But this is isn’t a lunatic novel.  It’s real life, and Obama has managed to destroy in five years almost 70 years of American influence.

A Ukraine round-up

Russian Ukraine invasionI’ve read so many excellent articles about the Ukraine, I wanted to pass them along:

Every time a Leftist media rag has a momentary epiphany that Obama isn’t the messiah, all I can think is “Too little too late.”  Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that those epiphanies don’t make a point.  Such is the case with the WaPo’s observation that Obama’s foreign policy is built upon a fantasy of the world as it should be, rather than the world as it is.

The fact that Putin may also be living out a fantasy, as Angela Merkel surmises, is irrelevant.  Putin is living out his fantasy with guns and tanks, which makes him an extremely dangerous fantasist.

In any event, it’s not clear to me that there’s anything fantastic about Putin’s plan.  As every Russian leader has wanted since at least Catherine the Great’s time, Putin needs a warm water port, this time to export Russia’s energy reserves.  He also knows that, while his nation is in demographic and economic decline (a) selling reserves will at least offset the economic losses and (b) aiming a gun at people unwilling to fight back is a good way to offset a demographic drop.

Apropos that warm water port, a liberal asked me “Why is Putin doing this?”  My response aside from the obvious “because he can,” was “because he wants a warm water port.”  The liberal sneered at me that this isn’t the 19th century anymore.  I suspect that he hadn’t read that Lurch er . . . Kerry said exactly the same thing.  Instead, this is just a default Leftist sneer.  In fact, as I noted above, a warm water port is an excellent thing for the Russians and Putin knows it.  He is therefore following State Craft Rule 101:  act in your own self-interest.  As Tom Rogan explains, no airy-fairy theory in the world will override this number one rule of governance.

(I can’t resist an aside here, which is that Obama’s policies have not been to America’s self-interest, unless our nation’s self-interest demands bankruptcy, security weakness, and cultural collapse.  This means that because he’s clearly following a game plan, his self-interests are at odds with America’s.  He sure is some president.)

Everyone acknowledges that nobody is going to run for their guns to defend Ukraine.  David Goldman astutely points out that Ukraine has never had a history of true independence, that it lurched from one oligarchy to the next, that it’s completely bankrupt, and that no one has a real interest in engaging with Russia over it (as Putin knows).

Still, the U.S. and the world are not entirely helpless.  While it’s unlikely that America or the EU can pry Putin away from his warm water port, they can constrain him.  Timothy Snyder, who wrote the devastating Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, thinks that Europe has a lot of soft power that it can bring to bear on a nation whose leisure class loves to travel to and spend money in Europe.

I wonder, though. What Europe wants above all is cheap energy — and Putin’s Crimean takeover promises them that. I think the EU will huff and puff for a while, and then wallow in the black gold flowing its way.

That’s my two cents. Drew, at Ace of Spades, didn’t futz around with two cents worth of links and thoughts. He goes all out in an excellent post that I see, after reading it, heads in much the same direction as mine, only with much more data and analysis.

The Diplomad ties everything up in a neat package with a very important observation:  our foreign policy will continue to fail unless we, at home, create a true commitment to liberty.  As long as the weak, America-hating, internationalist, Islamophilic, socialist Obama controls the government, that’s not going to happen.  We therefore have to hope that we can weather a few more years of Obama at the helm and then hope even more that a true leader runs for the White House and that the American people have the sechel to elect him.

One more thing.  Remember the young Kerry who included in his Congressional testimony during the Vietnam War a reference to “Jen-gis Khan”?  Jen-gis Khan!  Huh!  It took  a moment for most people to realize that Kerry was speaking about a historical figure everyone else in America called (and calls) “Gen-gis Khan”?

That snotty reference to a commonly named figure warned us long ago that Kerry is a self-involved, arrogant, elitist poseur.  Knowing what we know about him, are we surprised that, while the rest of American is focused on Kiev, Kerry is focused on Kyiv?

 

Best flash mob ever!

You always read that something is the “best flash mob ever,” and many really do seem to live up to that billing.  Orchestras play beautiful music, dancers swirl across the floor, and people break into song as if they’re living in a 1930s Hollywood musical.

This particular flash mob, however, is truly the best one ever.  Not only is the performance delightful on its own terms, but its context raises it to amazing new heights of flash mob-ness.

To enjoy it fully, think about these facts before you start watching:

Irving BerlinIn 1893, five-year-old Israel Isidore Beilin and his family arrived in New York, having escaped the terrible anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia. After surviving (and, indeed, thriving in) a childhood of extreme poverty in New York’s Lower East Side, he grew up to become Irving Berlin, one of the most successful songwriters of all time.  He was also a man who never lost his sense of gratitude for the wonders of his adopted country, a sentiment he expressed perfectly in “God Bless America.” He wrote other songs celebrating American life, everything from Easter, to white Christmases, to the wonders of New Yorkers “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (written in 1929, right before the Roaring 20s came to a whimpering end).

Soviet May Day paradeIn 1917, the Soviets took over Russia, and settled in for a seventy year totalitarian run. America was the enemy and American culture a dangerous weapon that had to be banned from the Soviet Union at all costs.

And then, in February 2012, a young couple got married on a cold day in Moscow and their friends put on a most amazing show for them. Enjoy the show, and don’t forget the history as you watch it.

I’ve finally figured out the secret for getting Obama to support Israel *UPDATED*

NewsweekLogo-1 [Converted]Since his first day in office, Obama has both passively and aggressively sought to undermine Israel. Unfortunately, he’s proven to be very good at that, which stands in stark contrast to his administrative ineptitude with Obamacare. Under Obama’s watch, Iran is getting near the nuclear bomb; the idea of a multinational Israel is gaining traction, even though it will probably have the same effect as Iran’s bomb; and Kerry, knowing that Israel is on the ropes now that Obama abandoned her on Iran, is pushing his advantage, to Israel’s disadvantage.

It’s time for Israel to think outside of the box, and I might have figured out a workable strategy. To appreciate this strategy, we need to go for a bit of nation hopping, first to India and then to Russia. The answer to Israel’s survival lies in Obama’s dealings with those two nations.

When you have weak leadership, whether in a business or a country, all the dams break — everything flies apart.  The latest entry in this category is America’s row with India.  America arrested an Indian diplomat, something that always creates a kerfuffle because of diplomatic immunity.  Worse, America treated this diplomat as it would any arrestee, by doing a full body (and body cavity) search.

In the old days, India would have objected strenuously and perhaps sent a few diplomats home.  That was when America was a country to be both feared and respected.

In Obama’s America, however, things are different.  Very, very different:

New Delhi cops used tow trucks and a backhoe to dismantle the American Embassy’s long concrete barriers — which are designed to prevent cars from speeding up to its gates in front of the compound.

In other words, in a nation that’s been subject to its own appalling Muslim attacks, the Indian government just declared open season on the American Embassy.  One assumes that, in doing this, it know precisely how careless Obama’s State Department is when it comes to protecting its outposts overseas.

As the Jews say at Passover, “Dayenu,” meaning “it would have been enough.”  But India wasn’t content to stop there when it came to thumbing its nose at the world’s “super power”:

In other acts of aggression:

  • Several India officials boycotted a scheduled powwow with a US congressional delegation visiting this week.
  • Authorities demanded back special ID cards they issue to US Embassy workers and their families for certain privileges and halted the importing of goods such as alcohol to their commissary.
  • Officials vowed to probe the legal status of household help used by US Embassy workers — and what those employees get paid.
  • One political leader even suggested locking up the domestic partners of gay diplomats in retaliation for Khobragade’s arrest — following a ruling last week from India’s supreme court that essentially made homosexuality there illegal.

If the Indian government had merely removed embassy security, demanded the return of special ID cards, and looked into the legal status of household help, you can be absolutely certain that Obama would have contented himself with issuing one of his government’s mealy-mouthed threats that, at a future date, it will issue threats. (i.e., “The United States is very disturbed about the Indian government’s actions and is contemplating writing a letter of protest in which it promises that, should these actions continue, it will send more letters, with more strenuous protests, including the use of the words ‘dismayed’ and ‘upset’.”)

This time, though, the Indian government went a step too far. Let me explain:

Think about Obama’s past responses to international provocations. Kill a US Diplomat and three other Americans? The Obama government apologizes for the fact that we made videos and then lies about everything else. Go forward with a nuclear program that can destabilize the world and liquidate the Jews? Obama sends money. Use poison gas against thousands of your citizens? The Obama government enters into a partnership with you.

But insult gays? Whoa, Nellie! That’s when the fecal matter hits the fan in the White House. Showing the first sign ever that he possesses functional cojones in international affairs (at least when dealing with any country other than Israel), Obama has taken on the Russian government because of the latter’s wholesale attack against homosexuals:

The White House delivered a strong message of opposition to Russia’s anti-gay laws Tuesday with the announcement of its delegation to the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.

The White House delegation will include an openly gay athlete: tennis great Billie Jean King.

It will not include the president, first lady or the vice president, all who headed the previous four Olympic delegations, or a cabinet secretary, only a former one. This marks the first Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Summer Games that a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or former president has not been a member of the delegation for the opening ceremony, which will be Feb. 7 in Sochi.

[snip]

Gay rights groups viewed the announcement as a strong statement. Andre Banks, the executive director of All Out, said, “It’s hard to look at this delegation without seeing it as a criticism of Putin’s anti-gay laws. … What it’s doing is showing the true power of the Olympics, the ability to move people, to change people’s minds and open them up to new ways of thinking. The delegation is shining a light on the values of the Olympics.”

You realize, of course, what this means. If Israel wants to gain Obama’s sympathy and have him stand at her side, instead of stabbing her in her back, she better act quickly to change her flag:

Israeli rainbow flag

That ought to make the Obama administration finally “feel the love” for that small democratic Jewish outpost in the middle of the genocidal Muslim world.

UPDATE:  Believe it or not, Pajama Guy should be part of this post.  I showed the tweet to a teenager of my acquaintance asked her if the guy pictured was the type of image that would make her buy a product.  “No,” she said.  “He looks gay.  I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m not talking smack about gays, but I wouldn’t want to buy something just because he’s selling it.”

UPDATE II:  More on the “gays as Obama’s natural constituency” meme.

Andrew Sullivan’s marvelously misguided theory about how Obama played Putin when it came to Syria

If you’re a true believer, it’s very hard to admit that your idol has feet of clay. For some, it may be impossible. Andrew Sullivan currently falls into the latter category. He has written an almost pathetic post assuring his followers that Obama cleverly baited a trap for Putin and Putin, that preening fool, fell into it.

According to Sullivan, everything we think we know about Obama’s apparently feckless Syria policy is wrong. Sullivan is willing to concede that Obama was careless when, a year ago, he mentioned a “red line” about Syria. Once Obama had done that, however, Sullivan assures us that Obama instantly knew that he had the perfect bait with which to hook his fish.

In Sullivan’s world, Obama wasn’t flailing when he said that he intended, on his own executive initiative, to bomb Syria. He wasn’t being a rank amateur when he announced the intended date, time, and location of his “muscular,” yet delicate, attack.

Obama wasn’t backtracking when he abruptly announced that, despite the urgent need to bomb Syria, he would wait until Congress convened, deliberated, and voted on an attack. Obama also wasn’t prevaricating (some might say “lying”) when he explained that he hadn’t drawn a red line; the world had drawn a red line, and he was simply helping the world enforce it.

Likewise, Obama wasn’t guilty of rank hiring malpractice when he put before the world a Secretary of State who announced that any US attack against Syria would be so infinitesimally small that a toddler could withstand its impact. That same potential malpractice was inapplicable when that same Secretary of State remarked, to the administration’s explicitly expressed surprise, that Bashar al Assad could make everything good by turning over his weapons which, said Secretary of State hastened to add, could never actually be done.

And of course, no one in the administration was made to look like a fool when Russian President Vladimir Putin instantly announced that he had brokered an agreement with Assad by which Assad agreed that he’d be pleased to turn over all his nasty weapons, at a date, time, and location of his and Putin’s determining. In the same vein, Obama didn’t look like a fool when he went before the American people on Tuesday night and said that war was the only answer, except that he’d be happy to wait on Putin’s proposed peace plan.

Finally, says Sullivan, there was no humiliating slap in Obama’s face when Putin hired a PR firm that wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in which Putin threw all of Obama’s words back into his face, including Obama’s 2009 statement that there was nothing exceptional about America.

Instead, according to Sullivan, everything went according to Obama’s carefully laid scheme. America hasn’t bowed out of being the top power broker in the Middle East, and Putin hasn’t leveraged his Third World nuclear power into being the Big Dog in a region that responds well to loud barks. Obama won! We’re just too stupid to recognize victory when it’s clothed in such subtle garb.

Here’s what Sullivan says really happened: Obama engaged in a strategic game that would have made Machiavelli proud. He’d cleverly figured out that Syria is unsalvageable, so he’s now foisted responsibility for it onto Putin. You heard me. That’s what Sullivan says:

If the end-result is that Putin effectively gains responsibility and control over the civil war in Syria, then we should be willing to praise him to the skies. Praise him, just as the far right praises him, for his mastery of power politics – compared with that ninny weakling Obama. Encourage him to think this is a personal and national triumph even more than he does today. Don’t just allow him to seize the limelight – keep that light focused directly on him. If that also requires dumping all over the American president, calling him weak and useless and incapable of matching the chess master from Russia, so be it. Obama can take it. He’s gotten used to being a pinata.

All this apparent national humiliation is worth it. The price Russia will pay for this triumph is ownership of the problem. At some point, it may dawn on him that he hasn’t played Obama. Obama has played him.

It’s now all so clear. The Great and Powerful Obama willingly put his credibility and America’s stature on the line in order to lure Putin closer and closer to the Middle Eastern tar baby. Obama understood that it was never in America’s interest to go in. Being wise beyond all mortal recognition, however, he also understood that America, because she’s got the best military in the world, was always expected to go in. The only way Obama could avoid that horrible fate (a fate, incidentally, that the vast majority of American people think is a lousy idea), was to appear like a bumbling, incompetent idiot, thereby inveigling Putin to step in. Well played, Obama! Well played!

Sullivan’s theory about Obama’s wonderfulness is really quite perfect, until one realizes that he’s wrong about a central fact: Putin’s and America’s goals are different. Unlike Obama, with his anti-American “responsibility 2 protect” doctrine (America can only step into another nation’s war if it’s not in America’s interest to do so), and unlike the American people, who have soft hearts, and hate to see innocents massacred, Putin doesn’t care at all if Syrians engage in a slaughter that leads every man, woman, and child to the grave.

What Putin cares about is (a) humiliating Obama, which he did magnificently; (b) humiliating America, which I’m sorry to say he also did magnificently; (c) becoming a player in the Middle East for the first time since the Cold War, another magnificent accomplishment; and (d) finally, having access to Syria’s chemical weapons, while keeping Russia’s arms market afloat by selling to Syria and Iran.

Put another way, Obama was no Machiavelli. He was one of those dumb dogs playing poker with a master strategist and tactician. As for Sullivan, he’s got his head so far up . . . well, you know, that he’s blinded by the light shining through Obama’s tonsils every time the President opens his mouth to spout another lie or prevarication.

Vladimir Putin bitch slaps Obama in the pages of the New York Times

Some people are gracious winners. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not one of those people. After humiliating President Obama before the world when he pulled Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire regarding Syria (a move, incidentally, that turned a leader of a third-world nuclear nation into a Middle Eastern power broker), Putin took to the pages of the New York Times to rub Obama’s face in his embarrassing failures.

In stilted, but still effective language, Putin chastised Obama for his bullying and his ignorance, and even managed to throw Obama’s own words back in his face.

First, Putin gave the United Nations’ loving Obama a little history lesson:

The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

G20 SUMMIT IN THE MEXICAN CITY OF LOS CABOS

Next came a veiled threat about the imminent collapse of world stability should Obama continue to ignore the United Nations (something, incidentally, that George Bush never did):

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. [Paving the way, Putin implies, for World War II.]

Putin takes Obama’s “humanitarian plea” (e.g., we’ve got to do it to save the children of Syria) and turns it upside down, by reminding him that escalating a war ends up with more deaths rather than less:

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism.

(Incidentally, while Putin is correct, sometimes a nation, fighting in its own defense, needs to inflict punishing damage against its enemy in order to save itself. Here, of course, Obama only half-heartedly and belatedly made the argument that America has a dog in the Syrian fight.)

After giving a rundown on the Syrian war, Putin puts himself and Russia on the moral high ground, without bothering to mention that he’s pouring money into Russia’s empty coffers by selling weapons to Assad’s government:

Obama and Putin 3

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not.

Having established to his own satisfaction Russia’s subordination to the rule of law, Putin goes in for the kill, castigating Obama’s American policies in the harshest terms. There can be no mistake but that Putin is saying that Obama is simply a repeat of George Bush, the man against whom Obama is still running, five years after the 2008 election:

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

Obama and Putin 4

I think the expression that applies here is “bitch slap.” President Putin just bitch slapped the president of the United States of America.

Putin wraps up his peroration about both international law and order and about Obama’s failure to meet those norms by throwing Obama’s own insulting language about American exceptionalism right back in Obama’s face.

Back in 2009, while speaking at a NATO summit, Barack Obama completely trashed the notion of American exceptionalism:

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

In his schizophrenic speech on Tuesday night, which was part war mongering and part pathetic gratitude to Russia, Obama sang a different tune:

America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Obama and Putin 2Putin sneers at Obama’s reference to American exceptionalism, and does so in words that must deliberately echo Obama’s earlier snide and dismissive take on America’s unique devotion to the cause of freedom:

I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too.

And that’s a KO in the final round, folks. Putin’s practical and rhetorical victory over Obama is complete. For an pathologically egotistical American president who has long believed that he has only to speak magic words to make things happen, to have Russia’s leader (and, increasingly, its dictator) run rings around him on the ground and in the war of words must come as a horrifying shock.

That the White House doesn’t know how to deal with this reality is reflected in its tepid official response to the opinion piece: “That’s all irrelevant.” Right, because it never matters when the American President demeans himself and the nation before an opponent delighted to glory in his victory.

(This piece originally appeared in slightly different form at Mr. Conservative.)

St. Petersburg impressions

If you were looking for a break from the Zimmerman trial (verdict good; race riots bad) here are my notes from St. Petersburg, Russia.  Please forgive any typos. It’s hard to write essays on an iPad.

It’s been 24 hours since we left St. Petersburg, and I’m still struggling to decide how to describe it. It’s a city that one sees on so many levels: the sprawling (yet surprisingly well-organized) layout; the wealth of history; the wealth of wealth, as seen in all those palaces that history left behind; or the bizarre spectacle of overwhelming capitalism in a city that was, for so many decades, including a significant part of my own life, Communist.

St. Petersburg is HUGE. Not only is it home to 6 million people, it covers a vast expanse of 600 square kilometers. Everything is built on a gargantuan scale. This is not some cozy European town. It is as sprawling as Russia itself. It has more straight vistas than any place I’ve ever seen. When you look down the the Nevsky Prospect, your view seems endless. It reminded me of Washington DC, with planned streets that stretch out forever — except that it makes DC look small.

There’s also water everywhere. In addition to the Neva River, there are canals (long, perfectly straight canals) all over the place. It’s no surprise that St. Petersburg is called “the Venice of the north.” However, just as its layout dwarfs Washington’s, its canals dwarf Venice’s. These canals are so vast that motor boats can speed along them.

St. Petersburg is a planned city — and it was Peter the Great who planned it. His monarchy spanned the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. It was Peter who yanked Russia out of her medieval Russian ways and bullied her into being an 18th century, European-style player. As part of that modernizing, he moved the capital from Moscow (too old, too Russian) to St. Petersburg, which was just a swamp when he picked it.

Peter wanted the world to know his new capital’s greatness. In addition to mandatory buildings along Swedish lines (even though Sweden was a perpetual enemy), he built the overwhelming Peterhof, the official palace, with its vast gardens. We never even saw the inside of the Peterhof. Instead, after taking a hydrofoil there, we simply wandered the grounds. Some of the fountains were so large they were bigger than the average urban swimming pool. As was the case with all the royal palaces we saw, the exterior was blue, with white trim — exxept that the Peterhof also had golden statues.

It was, frankly, gaudy, but it was also very impressive, which was the whole point. Peter himself had a small house on the grounds where he could live without the burden of a palace so vast it couldn’t possibly be a home.

While Peter planned the city, it was his daughter, Elizabeth who gave it its distinctive Russian baroque look as well as its overall ostentation. We toured the Catherine Palace in the Tsar’s Village (the same village in which Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children were assassinated), and it was overwhelming. Huge, of course, and covered with so much gold it was blinding. Versailles looks shabby in comparison. There were a few rooms that Catherine designed, and she preferred a more classical style, but most of it is a testament to Elizabeth’s penchant for gold and curlicues.

Here’s the amazing secret about both the Peterhof and Catherine Palaces — they are meticulous re-creations. During WWII, the Germans blew up the Peterhof on the very day they first reached it as they headed to St. Petersburg (or Leningrad as it was then known). This was pure spite. There was no strategic reason to do so.

The Nazis then occupied the Catherine palace all during the long and terrible siege of Leningrad. (If you’re unfamiliar with the siege, it was the most destructive in history. A third of the city’s citizens were evacuated, a third — about one million, I believe) died, and only a third survived. When the Germans were finally routed, they blew up the Catherine Palace for the same reason they blew up Peterhof — sheer spite. They also stole all the inlays from the beautiful amber room.

Working for decades, first the Soviets and then the Russians returned both palaces to their former exquisite glory. They did an amazing job, relying for guidance on what remained after the bombing, on photographs, on paintings, and on written descriptions.

Within the city limits, the damage came, not from German bombs (because the Germans contended themselves with starving out a city they thought they’d own), but from intentional Communist neglect. Palaces were stripped or used as schools, while churches were turned into swimming pools, ice skating rinks, storage areas, “museums of atheism,” etc. (With regard to that last, the Communists also turned one of Tallinn, Estonia’s ancient churches into a “museum of atheism.” That didn’t last long, though. As our charming guide in Tallinn said, there’s not much you can put in a museum dedicated to atheism.)

The church that suffered the worst destruction because of the Communist disdain for religion was the Church on the Spilled Blood. Yes, that’s really its name. In 1881 (or was it 1882?), revolutionaries, or reactionaries, or anarchists (I’m not sure which) assassinated Tsar Alexander II. He was a genuine reformer, who reformed too much for some and too little for others. Of course, that made him a target. There were seven assassination attempts against him, with the eighth finally being successful.

Immediately after he was killed, the spot at which he died became a shrine, and it was a short step to consecrate it as a church. Construction on the church began in 1882 or 1883 and continued through 1907. Both inside and outside, the church rejects St. Petersburg’s western-style architecture and, instead, is built in the neo-Russian style popular at the time. Outside, it has those marvelous turnip-shaped towers lacquered in beautiful blue and green colors. Inside, every square inch is covered with gorgeous mosaics. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

We were also so fortunate to see it. The Communists used the Church of the Spilled Blood as a storage area. They never heated it. It was also hit by a bomb during WWII, but fortunately the bomb was a dud, which lodged in the ceiling over the altar. They didn’t fix that either, allowing water damage on top of the general neglect. By the early 1960s, those exquisite mosaics were so ruined, they looked like they’d been buried under sand for a thousand years.

In 1960, when Khrushchev had eased off a bit on the extreme communism, historians, and museum archivists and archeologists petitioned the government for the right to restore this architectural gem. They got that right and began work. Our guide told us that the church vanished under scaffolding and remained that way for decades. It was re-opened only in 1997 — in other words, it took longer to repair than to build originally. In its current state, it represents a triumph of restoration.

We also went to the Hermitage, of course, which is one of the world’s great museums — as well as being the former Winter Palace. In my humble and snotty estimation, large parts of the collection are garbage. As I tell my kids, just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s good. What was good, though, was wonderful. The Hermitage has an especially impressive Impressionist exhibit, because Russian merchants liked this modern art and brought it back to Russia before the rest of the world caught on.

Our final destination was the Yusopov Palace, which was a rich family’s home, rather than a royal palace. It reminded me of Hatfield House in England, in that it managed to be both magnificent and cozy. It also had the distinction of being the place in which Rasputin was killed. (Poisoned, shot, and beaten, only to die from drowning after his body was dumped in a canal.)

One of the most bizarre things about St. Petersburg as far as I was concerned was the rampant capitalism. Even though the Soviet Union has been gone roughly 20 years, I just couldn’t get over seeing American movies advertised everywhere, HP printers touted on subway ads, and designer labels on billboards and storefronts (Amani, Prada, Gucci, etc.). The kids couldn’t understand the adult sense of wonderment about this sea change to a former Communist country.

The people to whom we spoke don’t miss Communism, they hate Stalin, and they fear Putin. They’re worried that the freedoms they’re enjoying will vanish again. One young man told us that elections are completely corrupt. It sounded like Tammany Hall days as described a friend of his who was paid to cast seven votes for Putin. Everyone who spoke of the Putin threat mentioned his KGB past as a sign that he will stop at nothing to retain power.

I’ve now exhausted my St. Petersburg reminiscences and probably exhausted you as well. More later, but for me right now, a much needed rest.

The Mayan Apocalypse and the end of the world . . . as we know it

Mayan Apocalypse

According to the much sneered at, and much feared, Mayan Apocalypse, tomorrow marks the end of the world.  I’m inclined to believe this is true.  I don’t, however, expect the earth to explode into a giant ball of cosmic dust or some plague rivaling the Black Death.  What I do see, however, is change on a massive scale, greater even than that which occurred when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The changes we’ll see began four years ago and will now accelerate.  They relate directly to Barack Obama and the three defining characteristics of his presidency:  fiscal irresponsibility, weak world leadership, and a realignment of American interests in Europe and the Middle East.

Going out of business

On the economic front, what we can expect in the future is continued American decline, with Americans expecting and accepting a constantly lower standard of living.  The Progressives have us on the road to regression:  little houses; little, unsafe cars; empty store fronts; increased homelessness; product shortages; and, of course, the social unrest the inevitably follows upon economic instability or decline.  In other words, the end of the American world as we know it.

Chinese military

Around the world, Russia, although declining in population and plagued internally by corruption and want, will do what it always does when things are bad:  attack.  It will continue to flex its muscles by making mischief.  It doesn’t care if it goes down, provided that America’s might precedes it.

China, for all its woes (unbalanced population growth, corruption, killer pollution, etc.) will continue its quest to be the world military power.  The world should fear this.  America used its dominant military power to spread individual freedom as much as possible; China’s power will be more imperialist in nature.

The EU, which was touted just a decade ago as the wave of the future, will collapse.  European states will begin feuding with each other over resources.  While that might feel like “same old, same old,” since Europeans have feuded for thousands of years, this go round will be different:  each state will have within it a Fifth Column that unites to bring all of Europe down and re-shape it into a new model.

And now, a brief, but important digression:

Karl Marx

One of the things Marx believed was that the great worker’s revolution he foresaw would transcend national borders.  Remember the slogan “Workers of the world, unite”?  Marx was certain that, within the industrialized nations, the workers would abandon national fealty and join with each other against their capitalist overlords.

Had Marx been correct, World War I would have been the worker’s moment.  Even as the great powers declared war against each other, the workers ought to have laid down their arms and embraced each other across the battle field.  This didn’t happen.  German, English, and French workers put nationalism ahead of everything.

The workers’ revolution Marx expected to sweep the industrial world happened instead in backwards, agrarian Russia.  Stalin then had to retrofit the supposedly “inevitable” industrial revolution by starving his independent peasant class to death, but that’s another story….

And now, back to the point of this post:

Muslim women London

While Marx was wrong about the 19th and early-20th century workers’ allegiance to their nation versus their allegiance, he was correct to envision a group that has loyalty to its unique identity separate from the nations in which its members reside.  This group, of course, is Muslims.

Over the past few decades, all of the European nations have invited tens of thousands of Muslims into their borders.  These Muslims have refused to integrate, living, instead, in segregated enclaves that have often become laws unto themselves.  Within these enclosed communities, the Imam’s preach jihad:  the violent overthrow of all world governments, followed by a Sharia world.

When the European pact disintegrates, the powers that be will discover that, even as Germany feuds with France over resources, the Muslims within both those nations form an allegiance that sees them turn against their host countries.  The result will be ugly and there won’t be a strong America to stop it.

Obama's bitch is Egyptian dictator

And then there are Barack Obama’s profound alignment shifts.  Both by inclination and calculation, Obama has decided that the old world order, the one that’s been in place pretty much since the end of WWII, isn’t correct.  America shouldn’t be palling around with Western nations, which he believes are responsible for Third World oppression.  Instead, Obama looks to the Muslim world as the wave of the future.  He cultivates increasingly Islamist Turkey; encourages the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise in Egypt; is assiduously neutral towards Iran, to the point of cooperation with its nuclear aspirations; and has cold-shouldered and isolated westernized, democratic Israel.

This is a volte face of staggering proportions and implications.  America has now become a prop for the worst kind of dictatorships.  Moreover, these are the dictatorships that will fund the Muslim Fifth Column in Europe.  Now that Obama has more flexibility, he will accelerate this trend.

Obama’s desire to nominate Chuck Hagel as the Secretary of Defense, although that seems to have stalled for now, perfectly reflects Obama’s New World Order, one that sees a weak America mistreating Israel and cozying up to Muslim dictatorships.

All of which leads me to say that the Mayan Apocalypse is on our doorstep.  We just didn’t have the wit or foresight to imagine what it would look like.

End of the world

Found it on Facebook: Liberals claim Americans should vote for Obama because “the world” wants him

In the endless parade of images that my liberal friends feel compelled to put on Facebook, this was my favorite for the day:

I honestly cannot understand a mindset that says the world popularity is the metric Americans should use for electing their president.  Certainly a president who is conversant with world affairs and who has diplomatic skills is a good thing.  However, it doesn’t seem to occur to Progressives and others of their ilk that the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily have America’s best interests at heart.  Indeed, considering that the rest of the world has long resented America for her success, the fact that “the world” wants Obama might be a good indicator that Obama is a poison pill for America’s future.

When I look at the rest of the world — broke, racist, antisemitic, and socialist Europe; increasingly totalitarian (and antisemitic) Russia; frequently poverty-stricken Latin America; mostly devastated (and antisemitic) Africa; and ferociously medieval, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic Muslim Middle East — my first thought isn’t “Gee, I should follow their lead when selecting my nation’s executive officer.”  Instead, I tend to think that these other parts of the world have shown singularly bad judgment in selecting their leaders.

As Groucho so memorably said, whatever they’re for, I’m against it.

Monday morning information deluge

There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there that I want to share with you.

First, I have to add myself to the zillion or so conservative commentators who are all over the fact that Barack Obama, showing once again that he has no learning curve, made another Open Mic admission.  As you may remember, the first was his personal dislike for Benjamin Netanyahu.  Now, he’s been caught seeking “space” from the Russians in the lead-up to the election so that, once the election happens, he has more flexibility to give them what they want.  Don’t you just love it when your president enters into secret negotiations with a somewhat hostile foreign power, not for the nation’s benefit, but for his own benefit so that, once he wins the election, he can sell his country down the river.  I actually thought of dropping this one on the “real me” Facebook, and then get all depressed when I realized that the liberals who make up most of my day-to-day life wouldn’t care.  They agree with Obama’s end goals and subscribe to his anything to win philosophy.

Speaking of anything to win philosophy, am I the only one who finds incredibly tacky the way in which the Obama campaign is plumbing sleazy marketing depths in order to encourage donations?  I got this in my email today:

Friend –

You deserve some recognition. And we can’t carve your name into the wall of this thing that we’re building — it’s bigger than that.

Here’s what we want to do:

Make a donation of $3 or more before March 31st, and we’ll put your name in the credits of Davis Guggenheim’s documentary, “The Road We’ve Traveled.”

This film is being used at field offices across the country to fire people up — because we know it’s one of the best tools we have. But grassroots supporters like you are the ones making sure our field offices have the resources they need to get the film out there.

That’s why if you help make that happen, you get the credit — literally.

There’s a huge fundraising deadline on March 31st. So make your donation before this Saturday:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Your-Name-in-the-Credits

As for me, I’m not donating a penny until they throw in a set of genuine Ginzu knives.  More seriously, I guess I should be happy that people aren’t donating to Obama unless they get something back immediately. In other words, the long-term prospect of an Obama in the White House is not sufficient in and of itself to open people’s purses.

The apathy of the average Obama voter is nicely 0ffset by the increased rigor and outspokenness of those whom Obama has in his cross hairs.  At Fund 47, you can see a very inspiring photo essay of protesters taking to the streets of San Francisco (long the domain of the hard Left) to protest the administration’s attacks on religious freedom.

And for the more scholarly attack on ObamaCare (which is, even as we speak, the subject of serious argument in the Supreme Court), National Review has an excellent post on the subject.  It explains, not just why ObamaCare is unconstitutional, but why the entire federal government as it exists now, a government made up of independent fiefdoms called agencies, has become a hydra-headed monster the likes of which the Founders would have considered a constitutional abomination.

Not all current abominations affect the Constitution.  Some are simply an offense to history.  Keith Koffler looks at Michelle Obama’s more creative uses for our (not her, but our) historic White House.  I’m sorry, but you can dress that woman up in all the fine clothes you like.  She’s still the functional equivalent of Hollywood’s idea of trailer trash.  (You’ll notice how carefully I distinguish real Americans whose economic situations see them living in trailers, some of whom are indeed life’s dropouts and some of whom are doing the best they can, from Hollywood’s invariably hostile depictions of these same people.)

On another subject altogether, Heather MacDonald has the courage to state the ugly truth that the race hustlers avoid:  Yes, there is a war on black men, but it’s not whites who are waging that war.

There’s also an internecine war in the Catholic Church, with the Obama party attacking the traditionalists.  Obama may win politically but, within the Church itself, I’d put my money on the traditionalists.

And finally, a real war on fat, and not one that involves desecrating the White House.

If you have anything to add, please do.

Russians say CRU ignored relevant data to falsify outcomes

Some things go out with a whimper.  Global warming may well be going out with a bang.  The latest news from Russia is the claim that the global warming scientists didn’t just have faulty code and highly massaged numbers.  It turns out that they also messed with the underlying data, falsifying it or ignoring data that didn’t match their political goals:

Climategate just got much, much bigger. And all thanks to the Russians who, with perfect timing, dropped this bombshell just as the world’s leaders are gathering in Copenhagen to discuss ways of carbon-taxing us all back to the dark ages.

Feast your eyes on this news release from Rionovosta, via the Ria Novosti agency, posted on Icecap. (Hat Tip: Richard North)

A discussion of the November 2009 Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident, referred to by some sources as “Climategate,” continues against the backdrop of the abortive UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) discussing alternative agreements to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that aimed to combat global warming.

The incident involved an e-mail server used by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, East England. Unknown persons stole and anonymously disseminated thousands of e-mails and other documents dealing with the global-warming issue made over the course of 13 years.

Controversy arose after various allegations were made including that climate scientists colluded to withhold scientific evidence and manipulated data to make the case for global warming appear stronger than it is.

Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

The HadCRUT database includes specific stations providing incomplete data and highlighting the global-warming process, rather than stations facilitating uninterrupted observations.

On the whole, climatologists use the incomplete findings of meteorological stations far more often than those providing complete observations.

IEA analysts say climatologists use the data of stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the urban-warming effect more frequently than the correct data of remote stations.

The scale of global warming was exaggerated due to temperature distortions for Russia accounting for 12.5% of the world’s land mass. The IEA said it was necessary to recalculate all global-temperature data in order to assess the scale of such exaggeration.

Global-temperature data will have to be modified if similar climate-date procedures have been used from other national data because the calculations used by COP15 analysts, including financial calculations, are based on HadCRUT research.

Whoops! Can we now return to our normal lives and stop the hysteria?

Normal lives should include trying to generate as little pollution as possible, treasuring the earth’s resources, and generally being good stewards. Normal lives should not include the breakdown of the American economy nor should it continue to render America incapable of relying on its own energy resources to serve its own energy needs. It is insane that we’re funding oil drilling in Brazil, buying oil from Saudi Arabia, and letting Iran continue to get rich, all the while sitting on our own massive reserves. We should be drilling, although we should do so with discipline and a focus on the cleanest, least environmentally harmful methods possible.

Obama is a very bad man

(Heated, perhaps overheated, rant to follow:)

If you like Seinfeld, and especially if you like Bapu, watch the whole video.  Otherwise, just watch from 2:14-2:22.

“He’s a bad man.  He’s a very, very bad man.”

That’s all I could think of when I read that today, on the 70th Anniversary of Poland’s invasion by the Nazis Soviets, Barack Obama made the decision to leave Poland and the Czech Republic vulnerable to Putin’s tender ministrations.  The former Soviet Union may be in demographic decline, but that clearly hasn’t stopped Putin’s dreams of grandeur — and what better way to use up former military stock, regain your former imperial glory, and augment your dying population, than by engaging in a little empire building.  Nor do I buy Obama’s claim that he’s just replacing a standing defense system with something more “agile.”

As for not believing him, that’s something of a heated subject amongst conservatives I know.  The Anchoress, who is very aware of Obama’s failings, tries to give Obama the benefit of the doubt when he says certain things.  For example, she believes he truly rejects Carter’s charge that racism his behind opposition to Obama.  She has quite a big reason for this belief:

If we cannot believe anything that anyone says, ever, and I say this understanding just how polarized the nation is, and add my own culpability to the huge number of people on the air, on the internets and in just about every elected office who have contributed to it. The division of our country has been a truly “bipartisan” affair. But if we cannot argue in good faith, and occasionally give each other the benefit of a doubt, then we are all wasting our time in trying to effect any sort of reasonable dialogue, and there is no hope for us as a nation.

Much as I appreciate the Anchoress’ desire to believe in the integrity of the system, if not in the integrity of any single politician, I do not think that honesty is ever a part of the Obama calculus.  If he’s sorry about Carter’s statement, it’s not because this, the most racial of presidents (let me paraphrase:  “I don’t know anything about what happened, but the police acted stupidly”) is disturbed by charges of racism.  It’s because he’s made a political calculation and believes that these charges have the potential to backfire.

There’s a reason I’m so jaundiced about Obama’s statements, whether he’s refuting racism or promising “agile” protection for Russia’s neighbors:  “Reputation, reputation! reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! And I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!”  Barack Obama has established himself in my mind as a man who lies.  And lies again.  He’s lied about his past, he lies about his acquaintances, he lied about his entire political identity, he lies about his health care plan (whether describing events that never took place or policies that don’t exist).  When caught, he doesn’t back off, he doubles down.  Entirely consistent with my amateur diagnosis of him as a man suffering from a borderline personality disorder (malignant narcissim?  sociopathy?) the truth is an infinitely malleable concept, since truth in Obama world is defined by a statement that suits his particular needs of the moment.

I can no longer extend to Obama the courtesy of believing that what he says is the truth.  In a court of law, a man is innocent until proven guilty, but we are not in a court of law.  We are in the real world.  Obama has fooled America once.  Shame on him.  And then he fooled America again and again and again.  At some point, the shame has to shift from him to us, and we become the greatest fools if we repose faith in anything he says.  The only difference between our situation and that in the famous fable of the boy who cried “Wolf!” is that I fear that, contrary to the story in which the lying boy finally pays the price, it is we, the much put upon villagers, who will find ourselves eaten by the wolves that ultimately show up.

My suspicions about Obama’s veracity aren’t helped by the fact that his behavior shows that he not only wishes America ill, his disdain encompasses the entire Western world.  Bow before Islam.  Cuddle up to Chavez.  Yield completely to Kim Jong Il and Vladimir Putin.  Could Obama do anything more to debase America and the West?  I’m beginning to put more and more credence in Robin’s suspicion that Obama shows all the signs of a child both abandoned and molested.  He’s like a bad thriller, where the damaged child grows up to take his revenge on the whole world.  Except in the thrillers, you know some hero is going to stop him.  With Obama, as the song goes, “ain’t no stopping now.”

For a much more potent and fact-filled indictment, check out Kim Priestap’s post at Wizbang.

Russians reject Obama cooties UPDATED — WRONG

UPDATE:  You, my readers, are clearly right, and you’ve shown once again that context is king.  Obama is introducing Medvedev to his people and not vice versa.  Although this still does not account for Obama’s exasperated expression.

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This is a fairly shocking 13 second video showing myriad Russians refusing, quite blatantly, to shake Obama’s hand:

It’s understandable that Obama is exasperated.  It’s appalling that he, the leader of the free world, let’s that exasperation show, as if he’s a 13 year old who just got rejected at the middle school dance.

I’m actually at a loss to understand the video.  I don’t believe Bush was ever on the receiving end of such blatant rudeness.  And yet he never matched Obama when it came to setting a conciliatory, if not totally self-abnegatory, tone.  Either the Russians are showing their deep lack of respect for someone who comes to them crawling on his belly, or those enlightened non-American, post-Communist citizens are racists in a way that would never be accepted in America.

Hat tip: American Thinker, which got it at Gateway Pundit

Keeping my mouth shut re Georgia

“Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve said nothing about Russia invading Georgia.  This is, in part, because the exigencies of the past week have deprived me of time to read in detail about it.  I only know headlines and, since I have absolutely no background in the geography or the conflict, this means I’m abysmally ignorant.

The silence is also because, to the extent I have managed to grasp what’s going on out there, I don’t have anything to add to the discussion, or anything that I feel I want to voice personally despite the fact that so many others are saying the same thing.  Yes, Putin is a totalitarian dictator, but we’ve known that about him for a long time, and many of us have just been sitting here waiting to see how is old KGB attitudes end up merging with his megalomaniac traits.  Yes, this is all about oil.  Yes, this represents a very dangerous trend, although it’s as unclear now as it was during the Cold War whether Russia has the ability to back up its aggressive initiatives.  It’s easy to go in with the remaining guns from your former glory and squash a teeny little Republic.  It’s harder to maintain any long campaigns.  And yes, McCain showed leadership abilities, with Obama showing, first, ignorance (which is excusable in me, but not in him) and, second, the ability to follow McCain’s lead.

And yes, I’ve run out of echoing other, wiser people on the terrible tragedy, at the hands of a gross, bullying dictatorship, that is playing out in Georgia.