Thursday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesFor reasons that make no sense to me, in the past week my daily readership has almost trebled. I suspect a bot has targeted my site but, when I allow myself to pretend that it’s actual people checking out my site, I feel really quite good. And now let’s see if I can make all of my real and robotic readers feel good with some interesting links:

It turns out that I’m not the only one who has noticed that the only thing exciting the Left right now, from Obama on down to the most insignificant Facebook user, is gay marriage. Syria? Sad, but boring. Ukraine? A little scary, so best ignored. North Korea? Really scary, so best ignored. Economy? We have a Democrat president, so we pretend it’s good. But gay marriage? Wow! That’s a hot issue, so hot that it should be the administration’s most pressing issue, the states’ most pressing issue, and social media’s most pressing issue.

***

Putting gay marriage aside, what sensible people should be excited about is the fact that the current administration has deliberately chosen to subvert the law and to use supposedly non-partisan administrative agencies (most notably the IRS) to destroy the current administration’s political opponents. Bradley A. Smith spells it out, and there are smoking guns everywhere. Unfortunately, true believers on the Left are just going to look at that evidence and say, “Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” They’d do that even if Lois Lerner got her immunity and spilled the beans.

Few on the Left have Democrat Prof. Jonathan Turley’s insight or integrity:

And what we’ve been seeing is the shift of gravity within that system in a very dangerous way that makes it unstable, and I think that’s what the president is doing. I think that we’ve become a nation of enablers. We are turning a blind eye to a fundamental change in our system. I think many people will come to loathe that they remained silent during this period.

Incidentally, I wonder if Mr. Smith has been reading my blog. To conclude his masterful summary demonstrating administration complicity with the IRS, he wrote this:

In 1170, King Henry II is said to have cried out, on hearing of the latest actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four knights then murdered the archbishop. Many in the U.S. media still willfully refuse to see anything connecting the murder of the archbishop to any actions or abuse of power by the king.

If that seems familiar to some of you, I wrote the same thing (although at greater length) back in May 2013.

***

Hillary Clinton spoke in Florida yesterday to defend Obamacare. For a good analysis, go here. The short version is that she’s adopting the Democrat party line, which is that Obamacare is slightly flawed, but should be fixed, not undone. I’ll just chime in quickly with a little extra info that may explain why many people will be inclined to save, not jettison it: the venue at which she spoke was a massive annual medical technology convention. The wealth concentrated there — wealth created because Obamacare has mandated computerizing all medical records — probably equals the wealth of several small and mid-sized countries. Exhibitors weren’t just giving away pens and mouse pads. They were giving away Kindle Fires and other fancy swag. Follow the money….

***

I love it when my politics and my dieting efforts converge: No Girl Scout cookies for me this year. The Girl Scouts are absolutely free to continue their leftward drift. I just don’t have to help fund it. If I had my own personal Marine Sergeant Major monitoring my diet, none of this would be an issue.

***

Just a reminder that if you want a bird’s eye view of probable election results, check out Scott Elliott’s Election Projection. Working on a state-by-state basis, he has amassed a vast and highly accurate database of predicted election outcomes.

***

North Korea is one seriously scary place. It’s scary inside, because it is a vast, brutal concentration camp. I mean, think about it: It’s so bad that the UN has actually taken time off from persecuting Israel to castigate North Korea for a few days.

It’s also scary outside because it’s got a vast armory of conventional weapons aimed at South Korea, and a probable armory of nuclear weapons aimed at God knows where. Andrew Keller recommends actually enforcing sanctions against it, so that the West is no longer complicit in propping up this government. (Our excuse for propping it up, starting with Madeleine Albright, is always that we’re preventing mass starvation. We haven’t done anything of the sort.  The NoKo government just takes the money, buys caviar, and lets the people starve anyway.) My only worry with Keller’s recommendation is that North Korea is not the kind of country that will go down easy. It seems to me that one of its last gasp efforts will be to take large parts of the world, or Asia, down with it.

***

I don’t understand why people are so fussed about reliably Left-leaning Ronan Farrow winning a journalism award after only two days on air at MSNBC. After all, Barack Obama won the once-prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, not because he actually did anything on the job, but simply because he got hired. Eric Wemple illustrates that in the modern journalism world, everyone is good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it, entitled to endless accolades and awards.

***

Eric Holder was briefly hospitalized for chest pains, but seems to be okay. I wonder if he had a panic attack, which can mimic a heart attack. He’s got a lot of balls in the air now, and it must be nerve-wracking to keep them spinning. You know what I mean: Urging state Attorney General’s to refuse to enforce their own state laws regarding gay marriage; arranging for gun-running into Mexico, and then having to cover it all up; hiding administration documents about everything from the IRS to Benghazi; working to turn felons and illegal aliens into registered voters; and so on. I’d be stressed too with all of that on my plate.

***

In a typically thoughtful, detailed post, Daniel Greenfield examines Obama’s decision to put America into a forced retreat from the world stage. His last paragraph reads like the final epitaph for a once great nation:

Post-American America exists to destroy itself. Until that changes, it has nothing to offer the world except membership in a suicide pact.

Obama’s despicable role in the Ukraine (or, rather, his absence of any role, other than some meaningless Kabuki theater) perfectly illustrates how he’s got America crawling away on her hands and knees, with her national butt nicely poised in the air for some final kicking.

The Left assured us in 2008 that the world would be a better place without all that nasty American influence. The world’s citizens are discovering what you and I already knew: The world is a much less nice, stable, safe place without an American influence. Moreover, the Left’s talk of compassion was a fake.  For example, even as apocalyptic scenes play out in Syria, the Left manifestly doesn’t care.

Wednesday afternoon quick hits (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s raining!!!  In California, that’s cause for celebration.  Rain in Marin doesn’t mean it’s raining elsewhere, but it certainly matters to use Marin-ites — we have our own reservoir system, so we’re wholly dependent on local rainfall.  Ironically, the rain is slowing down our major yard renovation, and we have to get that renovation down before April 1, when rationing kicks in (and rationing will happen unless we get enormous amounts of rain).  Sigh.  To ever silver lining, there seems to be a cloud.

***

Since I’m on the subject of weather, here’s a two-fer about the grand hoax that is climate change. The first, from American Thinker, provides compelling evidence that every single carbon centered computer model about the climate has proven to be wrong. Not just sort of wrong, mind you, but absolutely, completely, super-duper wrong. Climate theorists are now blaming volcanoes for the warming failure, but they’ll blame anything, won’t they? If you have a non-falsifiable doctrine, you can always blame external forces for your doctrine’s inevitable failure.

***

I’ve also got three great articles about Israel. The first looks as all the wonderful things going on in Israel despite the world’s efforts to squash that tiny, brilliant nation. The second looks at the grotesque hypocrisy that sees gay rights advocates champion Palestinians at the expense of Israel. The third looks as the fact that Israel stands poised to save Syrians, the rest of the Middle East, and perhaps the whole world, from the unfathomable danger of a nuclear Syria.

***

Traditionally in America, a state attorney general is sworn to uphold the laws of the state. After all, if the AG doesn’t do that, what’s his purpose? He’s there to represent and ensure the stability, reliability, and credibility of the law.  If he doesn’t carry out that task, he just becomes another functionary in a banana republic. And that banana republic status is precisely what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dreams of, for he has instructed state AG’s to ignore any law that supports traditional marriage.

***

I’ve written here frequently about the lunacy that is the modern American college or university. This is a subject that exercises me a great deal because I have two children heading towards college in the next few years. As many Americans do, I’m deeply offended by the cost of college, especially the cost of the once prestigious liberal arts colleges back East. It’s insane to spend or borrow $250,000 so that your child can move into your basement and become a barista. In a changing world, colleges have actually changed in the wrong direction.  They’ve turned away entirely from educating young people to become useful and productive citizens.

What colleges have done, instead, is train youngsters to become lunatics, which is my second reason for being upset about modern American higher education. Last week, Bruce Bawer warned about a lunatic Leftist at Harvard. This week, Chicks on the Right warns about a whole cadre of potentially violent lunatic Leftists as Dartmouth. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this collection of young people expensively unmoored from reality comes from deep within the fever swamps of the gay rights movement.

I’ll say here what I always say: I believe that the government should stay out of people’s bedrooms. I believe that gay people should be free from discrimination, harassment, violence, etc. I believe that the heart loves where it will. But let’s get real here: These loony-toonz aren’t about gay rights.  They are about using the gay agenda as a wedge issue to destroy America as a free-market, individual-centered society, and to replace it with a hard-core centralized government and a socialized economy. I wonder if these “idealists” have any inkling that, when/if they’ve finally achieved their agenda they’ll meet the same fate that leading-edge revolutionaries always experience, whether in 18th Century France, or Russia, or China:  The new statist government identifies them as troublemakers and kills them first.

***

My sister lives in Oregon, a state that has as its primary goal the creation of happiness. We’ve talked before about the fact that a state can impose “happiness” only if it first has the right to define “happiness.”  The reality, is that there’s only a slender likelihood that the state bureaucrat’s idea of what constitutes “happiness” is the same as your idea.  Moreover, if not everyone is happy — and no one can ever be — the situation is ripe for constant revolution. Still, Oregon tries. The libertarians on the Eastern side are constantly besieged by the statists on the Western, coastal side, who have turned Oregon into one of the most heavily regulated, and least economically successful, states in America. (For more on happiness, at a deep, philosophical level, rather than at a pop-culture, “everything is free” level, check out Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual.)

***

And finally, knowledge that I gleaned in my youth catches up with the present. I’ve written before about my years at Berkeley, when I socialized with ultra-Leftist professors who lived in lavish houses in the Berkeley hillside, all of which seemed to be tended by Hispanic maids and Japanese gardeners. These effete, armchair revolutionaries enjoyed their Marxism because they lived on the straining back of the servant class.

That was a long time ago, but one modern-day Leftist has finally admitted that, yes, needing servants is precisely why the Leftist idle rich are so gung-ho about illegal immigrants:

As a friend of mine said after watching that, “If a conservative of any stripe were to insinuate undocumented workers were all gardeners, landscapers, and hotel workers the race card would have been played before he could even finish the sentence.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Work day round-up

Victorian posy of pansiesWork and family call, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sneaking quick peeks at articles that I can then share with you.

Is the global warming tipping point nearing?  It will inevitably happen, but far too late to save the billions of dollars wasted, the lives lost in revolutions it fomented (e.g., Egypt’s tumultuous years were caused, in significant part, by rising food prices attributed to shortages as Egypt’s food was diverted to America’s biofuel), and the generation of children raised in apocalyptic fear.

My bet is that New York’s going to revert to savagery very quickly under Mayor de Blasio, and I have no sympathy for the more than 70% of New Yorkers who voted for him.  I have the deepest sympathy for the small remainder who are about to face Progressive Armageddon.  The Clintons, however, are banking on the hard-Left’s success in New York.

Speaking of de Blasio, he’s auditioning for the role of “bad guy” in a remake of Bless the Beasts and Children, since his first policy initiative means killing off animals (in this case, horses).

It’s Obama versus the Church, with Obama claiming to know more about Church doctrine than the Church does itself.  Hubris plays out in interesting ways.

The disaster that is America’s adoption system.  The dreadful numbers — hundreds of thousands of children languishing in foster care — are directly attributable to the Democrat’s racial agenda, which bars adoption “miscegenation” (meaning that whites are barred from adopting non-whites).

Lebanon is getting sucked into Syria’s civil war.  Expect human casualties on a massive, hitherto unseen-in-the-Middle-East scale.  Obama will wring his hands and then side with whichever strongman he can find to give him cover.  Currently, those strong men reside in Moscow and Tehran.  This will not end well — although it may give Israel something of a respite as Muslims take a break from trying to kill Jews — ultimately these internecine battles between Sunni and Shia spill over all sorts of borders.

I’m with Jonathan Last:  2014 will be the year Obama’s chickens come home to roost.  Or as another Illinois politician once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

Keith Koffler is always interesting, so I enjoyed his analysis of the Duck Dynasty versus GLAAD match-up.

And if you were wondering where Bloomberg played Nanny in New York, here’s the list.

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.

Mark Steyn on Obama’s limited thought processes

Mark Steyn looks at what was going on in Obama’s brain‘ when he drew the “red line” and at the fall out from that moment:

Charles Crawford, Britain’s former ambassador in Serbia and Poland, called last Monday “the worst day for U.S. and wider Western diplomacy since records began.” Obama set it in motion at a press conference last year by drawing his famous “red line.” Unlike, say, the undignified scrums around the Canadian and Australian prime ministers, Obama doesn’t interact enough with the press for it to become normal or real. So at this rare press conference he was, as usual, playing a leader who’s giving a press conference. The “red line” line sounds like the sort of thing a guy playing a president in a movie would say — maybe Harrison Ford in Air Force One or Michael Douglas in The American President. It never occurred to him that out there in the world beyond the Republic of Cool he’d set an actual red line and some dime-store dictator would cross it with impunity. So, for most of the last month, the bipartisan foreign-policy establishment has assured us that, regardless of whether it will accomplish anything, we now have to fire missiles at a sovereign nation because “America’s credibility is at stake.”

One of the things that the Left loved to do during the Reagan presidency was to say that he was a senile old coot who couldn’t distinguish the real world from a Hollywood script.  In fact, Reagan was completely in touch with reality, and the reality of politics.  It’s Obama who has entered a little cocoon in which he’s pretty sure an enterprising scriptwriter will enter stage left and save him.

And indeed, that’s exactly what happened, except that the script writer was Vladimir Putin who, rather than being a creative genius, is a former KGB agent with an agenda antithetical to American interests and world stability.

If you doubt me, the New York Post managed to get its hands on a first (ahem) draft of Putin’s ultimate editorial:

MOSCOW — Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and your leaders. After the president’s speech Tuesday night, let me say what you all know to be true:

Barack, I own you. Or as we say in Russia, the wolf felt pity for the lamb, so he left the skin and bones.

Mr. President, we have much in common. People fear what we might do. We each have a media eating out of our hands. We both hate George W. Bush.

I also share with you the outrage at President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons on women and children. And I have made Russia’s displeasure clear to him. Bashar, I said, if you have to murder women and children, conventional arms like the ones I used at Grozny or the rescue at Beslan are just as deadly. Lord knows I have supplied Syria with more than enough weaponry.

Be sure to read it all.

 

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.)

Remembering 9/11 with a very focused mind

Over the past several years, especially since Obama became president, 9/11 turned into a diffuse holiday during which a Leftist-dominated media and political class ruminated about the needs of Muslims.  Patriotism was verboten.  We were allowed to shed tears for those who died, but the media shut its collective door on examining why they died.

This year it’s different.  This year, we’re once again looking into Islam’s gaping and bloody maw.  The Arab Spring is a carnage-strewn winter.  Egypt is imploding, Syria is a bloodbath, and Iran is ascendent.  More than that, in the past week we witnessed the complete collapse of American influence in the Middle East and, by extension, everywhere else too.  We’re not even a paper tiger.  We’re paper after it’s been through the shredder.

The situation we face today is September 10, 2001 all over again, only worse:  Islam is more vengeful and weaponized; and America is more weak, disrespected, and discredited.  For those who care about their children’s future (and their own), remembering 9/11 isn’t just a tearful, bathetic media wallow in photogenic images, along with equally teary statements about the misunderstood religion of “peace.”  Instead, it is a very real reminder of the risks we face and the strength we need to find in order to protect ourselves from something that will make 9/11 look insignificant.

This 9/11, I definitely remember and pay homage to those who died and those who served.  I’d also like to applaud the bikers across America who are riding into Washington, D.C., today, both to commemorate the dead, and to make a statement about the power of the people and the power of patriotism.

As for me, a piece of my heart was left behind forever on September 11, 2001.  I will never forget.

I don’t have anything else of note to say about this solemn day. In the past, I’ve written memorials about three of the honored dead, and I include links to them here. (I prefer “honored dead,” a nicely Victorian phrase, to the word “victim,” which negates Americans’ tattered, but still surviving, fighting spirit). Also, below the fold, there is a very, very, very, very long list of each person who lost his or her life on September 11, 2001 at the hands of Muslim terrorists.

Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas

Brian Ahearn

Rick Rescorla

[Read more...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into” — two good articles analyzing how Obama got us to this point

In case you hadn’t already seen them, I wanted to bring to your attention two excellent articles about Obama’s Syria implosion and the untenable position in which he’s placed America.

The first is from my friend Thomas Lifson, writing at American Thinker:  Why Obama Is Floundering.

The second is from Victor Davis Hanson, who explained that, Obama being who he is, If It Wasn’t Syria, It Would Have Been Something Else.

A very disillusioned military

Yesterday, I asked if the military will follow Obama’s Syria orders.  In both public comments and private emails, the answer to that question has been a unanimous “yes.”  Our military is under civilian control and, if the American people elect an idiot, our military is still under civilian control.  So be it.

But the military doesn’t have to be happy about this reality.  Robert Scales, a retired Major General, has been speaking to a lot of people in the Pentagon and he reports that they are deeply unhappy about the proposals coming out of the Obama administration:

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.

[snip]

They are outraged by the fact that what may happen is an act of war and a willingness to risk American lives to make up for a slip of the tongue about “red lines.” These acts would be for retribution and to restore the reputation of a president. Our serving professionals make the point that killing more Syrians won’t deter Iranian resolve to confront us. The Iranians have already gotten the message.

[snip]

Our military members understand and take seriously their oath to defend the constitutional authority of their civilian masters. They understand that the United States is the only liberal democracy that has never been ruled by its military. But today’s soldiers know war and resent civilian policymakers who want the military to fight a war that neither they nor their loved ones will experience firsthand.

Civilian control of the armed services doesn’t mean that civilians shouldn’t listen to those who have seen war. Our most respected soldier president, Dwight Eisenhower, possessed the gravitas and courage to say no to war eight times during his presidency. He ended the Korean War and refused to aid the French in Indochina; he said no to his former wartime friends Britain and France when they demanded U.S. participation in the capture of the Suez Canal. And he resisted liberal democrats who wanted to aid the newly formed nation of South Vietnam. We all know what happened after his successor ignored Eisenhower’s advice. My generation got to go to war.

The above is just a taste.  You really need to read the whole thing to understand how toxic the administration’s combination if ignorance and ideology really is.

Will American troops obey their commander in chief if he tries to march them into Syria? *UPDATED*

Here’s my take on Syria:  While it’s utterly tragic that 1,400 people got gassed, and while gas is a heinous weapon of warfare, especially when loosed against civilian populations, the true weapon of mass destruction in Syria is the combatants:  Muslims from different tribes and with opposing takes on Islam (Shia v. Sunni) are fighting for control over Syria.  This specific type of war (civil war, differing interpretations of Islam, different tribes) means that there is no such thing as a non-combatant .  Everyone, from newborn to ancient crone, is now, has been, or will be a potentially active enemy.

This is total war, which means that there is no such thing as an “out of bounds” tactic.  Indeed, the more vile, the better.  We’re talking about “shock and awe” on a case-by-case basis, with awards going to the person who spatters the most blood when slowly sawing off an enemy’s head, the person who figures out the most creative way to mutilate an opponent’s genitals while he or she is still alive (with extra points for rape and sodomy); the person who slaughters the most Christians in a single attack, the fighter who chews the most hearts and lungs (preferably taken from living subjects), etc.

Please understand that, short of leveling the country, as we eventually and reluctantly did to chunks of Germany and Japan in the very last days of WWII, or as Sherman did to Georgia, bringing our Civil War to an end, there is nothing we can do to stop what’s happening in Syria.  There are no surgical strikes that will stop the hominid WMDs that have killed more than 100,000 non-combatants and that are enthusiastically set on killing as many more as needed on the other side to wipe out the other side completely.

To understand what’s happening in Syria, just think about the Sudan, a country that had its own Muslim tribal warfare.  There, the pale brown Muslims killed, first, all the Christians and, second, all the dark brown Muslims.  The goal was to decimate every single opponent, whether babe in arms or doddering old man.

Given the nature of Muslim/Tribal civil war, unless we decimate one or both sides instantly upon getting involved in Syria’s black hole, we will be drawn into this carnage and, worse, the carnage will come to us.  American-based Muslims will consider it their Shia or Sunni, Alawite or Al Qaeda duty to fight the war on any and every battleground.  “Allahu Akbar” will be heard in a lot of American towns and cities.  We’re already seeing intimations of this with Iranian threats to kidnap and kill family members related to Obama’s cabinet crew, as well as to kidnap and rape one of the Obama girls.

We all know that America’s first act if it engages in Syria will not be to decimate one side or another in the war.  We also know, given the nature of the beast, that there is no such thing as a surgical strike in a Muslim Civil War.  The only that will happen if we go in is that we will pour flammable material on an already raging fire.  Anything we do, rather than de-escalating the Syrian situation, will escalate it.

In real terms, the immediate result will be that American servicemen and women will become targets everywhere in the world.  Also, mission creep will inevitably tip-toe in on bloody cat’s feet, and American troops will find their boots on Syrian ground.  This is especially true if Russia and Iran rush to Assad’s Alawite, Baathist aid, as we lend our blood and money to al Qaeda — which is, of course, our sworn enemy.  (Only someone profoundly disconnected from the Islamic mind actually believes that, if we help al Qaeda beat Assad’s troops, al Qaeda will made nice with us later.  Right.  Just like they did in Libya. . . . What?  Benghazi?  Well, never mind. . . .)  Syria will make Iraq look like a picnic and Afghanistan look like a sock hop.  Our troops will die and they will die miserably.

That’s my prediction.  If you have a different one, please share it with me.  My prediction is depressing even by my jaundiced standards.

Assuming I am right, though, here’s my question, and I mean it quite seriously:  Will America’s troops obey commands to invade Syria or will they mutiny?

To help get this discussion started, here’s a sample oath — in this case, the one that officers in the U.S. Army take:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

Does this oath obligate our men and women in the military to follow a crazy president into a suicidal war?

UPDATE:  This opinion piece by a retired general seems to answer my question:  they will think their commander in chief is an idiot. That thought, however, will not destroy the fact that the America people elected him, he is the CiC, and they will follow orders.  My only hope is that not too many brave men and women die, sacrificed on the altar of Obama’s narcissistic personality disorder.

People see Syria through their own prisms, and they still don’t like it

Yesterday, I put up an image that tied together the significant differences between Obama’s response to a direct attack on America and Americans in Libya, versus a mass civilian murder in a country that’s already killed more than 100,000 of its, and created millions of refugees.  I think its worth repeating here:

The red lines Obama chose to ignore

Early this morning, I came across another poster that sounds the same theme, this time raising suspicions about the Obama government’s fact-finding regarding Syria, versus its fact-finding regarding Benghazi (h/t Bluebird of Bitterness):
barry-kerry
This is the prism through which many conservatives who oppose the war view Obama’s sudden desire to marching America into the black hole of a killer nation’s civil war.

What fascinates me is that so many Leftists who oppose Obama’s proposed invasion view the whole thing through a completely different filter. Exhibit A for today is the non-GMO movement’s opposition to the war:Obama should bomb Monsanto

We are all united in our opposition to having the United States engage in Syria.  It’s just that we are completely divided when it comes to the reasons for our opposition.

And of course, if you’re MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, you have to listen to the dog whistle of racism to make sure that, God Forbid, you don’t end up in the same bed as your former political opponents.  Watching Schultz’s contortions, which see him agreeing Republicans regarding their anti-War stance, while simultaneously ascribing them to an unexpressed racism (that’s the old dog-whistle) is actually amusing.  (Warning:  video plays when you load the page.)

Found it on Facebook: The red lines Obama chose to ignore

One of the more perfect posters I’ve seen regarding the intersection between Syria and Obama’s values (thanks to Danny Lemieux, who posted it on Facebook):

The red lines Obama chose to ignore

I hope everyone is clear on the fact that this war talk about Syria does not reflect an Obama value. This is about his saving face after his throwaway line last year about “red lines.” In addition, now that everyone has turned against him (European leaders, Congress, the American people), our narcissist in chief is going to bully through his agenda because we’re all Obama’s enemies now.

This is not about Syria. This is not about the 1,400 people who were gassed either by Assad/Iran or by Al Qaeda. This is about Obama. And he is willing to drag the whole word towards Armageddon rather than to have his ego damaged.

Perhaps, though, Obama’s arrogance in the past many years might be what saves America. Keith Koffler says that Obama’s rebuff in the house is Obama’s personal flock of chickens coming home to roost:

If this were Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, I’d think yeah, it will pass in the end. But not this guy. I can’t say that Obama’s motion to attack Syria will fail, but I can’t say it will pass either. Because Obama has acted very unpresidential for the past four and a half years.

Usually that would mean “undignified.” But in this case I mean that he has failed the basic test of the politician that a president must be – schmoozing members of Congress while staying in touch with the public on important issues.

You really get the feeling with this president that he’d rather be left alone in the Oval Office or on the golf course with his little friends than hang out with the riffraff from Capitol Hill. Obama lacks strong relationships there, even with his allies.

I covered both Bush and Clinton, and I’d constantly see a line of lawmakers’ cars parked on the West Wing driveway while their owners hashed something out with the president in the Oval Office. With Obama, the driveway is always nice, tidy and empty.

Please read the whole thing.

I didn’t like Drudge Report this morning

I opened Drudge Report this morning and saw two disturbing things:

Tehran plans attack on U.S. embassy in Baghdad…

and

PUTIN: Russia Will Help Syria If USA Attacks…

Orders Pentagon to expand target list…

‘SIGNIFICANTLY LARGER THAN EXPECTED’…

Actually, I saw a lot of disturbing things on Drudge, but those were the ones that made me most unhappy.

Obama kicked the hornet’s nest.  Obama did so without any evidence that he was kicking the right nest, and without any real plan for what would happen when the hornets came out angry, very, very angry.

Or, to switch metaphors, Obama got a heavily loaded truck going downhill with no brakes.

Nothing good can come of this.  This type of posturing has only two outcomes:  War or retreat, with the party retreating first having lost.  There is no middle ground.  Obama, a narcissist par excellence is a loose cannon.  He’s not a loose cannon the way George Bush was, which coolly calculated but giving his enemies the impression that he might blow.  Instead, Obama is a genuine loose cannon.  He’s an uncontrolled hodge-podge of ego, anger, grudges, panic, neuroses, inexperience, projection, and just about any other psychological failing you can shake a stick at.

Can I throw in another metaphor?  I’ll take that as a “yes.”  This guy just drove us at warp speed into quicksand, all the while assuring us that there’s really a little footbridge for us to walk on.  There isn’t.

A year ago, he let his ego rule when he made a throwaway line about a “red line.”  Then, he huffed and puffed because he had to defend his honor.  Now, he’s huffed and puffed us right into the middle of much badness.

I’m sitting here in the audience, helpless, waiting to hear that this was just a carefully staged performance, with everyone going through their choreographed routine.  Even as I sit here, the set is falling down around our heads and the actors are turning on the audience.  (Yes, another metaphor.)

I am not happy.  I am very, very not happy.

By the way, I feel as if I should add here that this is not happening because Obama is a socialist or even a closet Muslim.  This is happening because Barack Hussein Obama has a severe personality disorder.  The man is mentally ill, but we still put him in the White House and handed up the levers of power.  Just for those who need a little review about narcissistic personality disorder, here’s a great summary from, of all places, a very good junk novel:

A person with NPD was domineering, blaming, self-absorbed, intolerant of others’ needs . .  . and they used rage as a control tactic. They didn’t respect anyone else’s boundaries, which meant they felt entitled to bully and criticize until their victims were an absolute mess. Having a personality disorder was different from being crazy, as Susan explained, because unlike a crazy person, a narcissist could control when and where he lost his temper. He’d never beat up his boss at work, for example, because that would be against his own interests. Instead he would go home and beat up his wife and kick the dog. And he would never feel guilty about it, because he would justify it and make excuses for himself. No one’s pain but his own meant anything to him.  (Blue-Eyed Devil, Kindle Locations 1785-1791).

Shana Tova to everyone!

Tonight marks the first night of Rosh Hashanna, the Jewish New Year.  More specifically, tonight is the 5,774th year that Jews have honored this particular holiday.  It is, so far as I know, the oldest continuously operating calendar in the world.

Tonight also marks a Jewish New Year that sees the world balancing delicately on a thin red line, one that Obama drew a year ago, and that he today denied.  To those who point out his unequivocal words, he says “Pish tosh.  Truth is now, as it has ever been, defined by my needs at any given minute.”  It’s nice to own your own reality.

Because the red line at issue is in the Middle East, Israel and her Jewish subjects are always the Arabs’ first target, never mind their own ills and failures.  As has happened many times in the past, some Jews, both in Israel and the diaspora, wonder if there will be a “next year, in Jerusalem.”

But while this New Year happens to fall during a worrisome time, Rosh Hashanna is be definition a time of hope and renewal.  Yad Vashem reminds us of this with its collection of New Year’s cards from the years immediately before, during, and after the Holocaust.

I was particular struck by the cards the Jews created in 1940 in the Lodz ghetto (renamed Litzmannstadt after a German general).  Despite the ever-tightening noose the Nazis were putting around Poland’s population, the residents still took time to observe this essential moment in the annual calendar:

New Years card from Lodz Ghetto

I doubt many, if any, of the people in that picture taken in better times survived the war:

On September 8, 1939, the Germans occupied Lodz and renamed the city Litzmannstadt (after the German general Karl Litzmann, who had conquered it in World War I). Lodz was home to 223,000 Jews on the eve of World War II. At the war’s end, no more than 7,000 Jews from the Lodz Ghetto had survived the camps.

Seven thousand survivors out of 223,000 once vital, living people may sound like a depressing start to the New Year, but I have a point.  From those 7,000, as from all the other pockets of survivors across Europe and, from the Arab pogroms, across the Middle East, came one of the world’s most spectacular countries.

Israel is spectacular by every metric:  It is a thriving, pluralist, inclusive, liberal democracy that emerges like a glittering stone from a surrounding swamp of tyrannical medievalism.  It grants equal rights to all citizens, has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, has an armed force that is the wonder of the world (thanks, of course, to decades of American support), and contributes to scientific, technological, and agricultural advancements at a rate far in excess of its small size.  If you visit it, you find a dynamic, fun-loving people who are fiercely devoted to LIFE.  Unlike its surrounding neighbors, Israel is not a death cult; it’s a life force.

Many have tried, but none, ever, whether Babylonians, or Romans, or Germans, or Muslims, have succeeded in snuffing out completely this light unto the world.  And when this light in the world survives, we are all, every one of us, made better and brighter because of it.

So every year is a Happy New Year because Jews have survived for 5,773 years and will undoubtedly bring their ferocious will to live and to contribute to the world’s well-being for another 5,773 years.

Shana Tova, my friends!

America’s profoundly un-serious foreign policy: Send In The Clowns

I’m too young to remember the Cuban missile crisis.  I do know, though, that for several days Americans thought that the stare-down between Kennedy and Khrushchev would end in nuclear war.  Those were very scary times.  In the end, Khrushchev blinked.  Subsequent revelations about the Kennedy White House have revealed that Kennedy had engaged in an even more dangerous gamble than people realized, whether from arrogance, incompetence, or carelessness.  Regardless of motives, at least Kennedy never broke his public persona:  He was a single-minded, focused hawk protecting America’s interests from Soviet weapons incursions in our neck of the hemisphere.  His ghostwritten book made it clear that when Kennedy said “this means war,” he knew what war meant.

cuban-missle-crisis-ff

One wonders if Barack Obama had Kennedy in mind, first when he threw out his fatuous “red line” statement last year and then again last week when he announced his unilateral intent to engage in a punitive attack against Syria.  Of course, this being Obama, it wasn’t actually war, although it would take out military objects, because he announced that at some future time he would announce the date, time, and locations in advance.  Since one never does that in a serious war, Obama’s little proposal clearly wasn’t serious.

It was bad enough having our president bluster about a profoundly un-serious “strike,” one so un-serious that it was quickly impossible to distinguish pathetic fact from clever satire.  What made it even worse was when our president suddenly realized you might have a problem if the only groups that approve of you are France and Al Qaeda.  (Oh, wait! I must have blinked.  France doesn’t approve anymore either.)

Obama then added to the un-serious factor by making a volte face and announcing that Congress, which he had previously assured everyone was unnecessary in any war calculations, was necessary, and that, in the face of this urgent situation, he would sit back and wait more than a week until Congress convened, so that he could talk the whole thing over with Congress at his leisure.  Some see this as a sign that Obama is recognizing that, on such an important decision, Congress should have a say.  Those of us who watch the president with a more jaundiced eye believe he’s hoping that Congress will provide him with cover for his own craven retreat from a poorly-thought-out stand.

Wiser minds than mine have diagnosed Obama with Hamlet syndrome.  Neo-Neocon even coined a neologism — Obamlet — and offering readers a clever reworking of Hamlet’s famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy.  If you substitute the  “fatuous ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy” for the phrase “famous ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy,” you’ve got Obama in a nutshell.

John Podhoretz also weighed in on Obama’s relationship to the famously indecisive Danish prince.  After giving a quick rundown of Obama’s inability to stick with one plan regarding Syria for anything longer than a day or two, Podhoretz notes that Obama is like Hamlet, except that he’s worse than Hamlet, who had the excuse of youth and inexperience:

In his voice-over prologue to his 1948 film version of “Hamlet,” Laurence Olivier says, “This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.”

It’s by no means shameful to be likened to Hamlet; after all, Hamlet spoke the greatest poetry ever written in the English language, and his existential torments speak to the deepest truths of human nature. But Hamlet is 20 years old, a college student in shock from his father’s sudden death and his mother’s marriage to his uncle.

He is not a 52-year-old president of the United States, twice elected to that office to lead the nation. And Hamlet didn’t choose to be the vessel of his father’s vengeance; that task was thrust upon him.

Podhortez makes another important point, which is that, unlike Hamlet, who was wracked by moral confusion, Obama’s indecision derives from a different cause. I’d like to build on that.

To begin with, unlike Hamlet, Obama is not suffering from a moral crisis.  He is suffering from an ideological crisis.  In that regard, I cannot recommend highly enough Elliott Abrams’ article at Commentary Magazine, “The Citizen of the World Presidency.

Abrams makes clear that Obama is tugged between two ideologies.  On the one hand, he is committed to achieving world peace and complete humanitarian aid for those who need it.  On the other hand, he thinks America is the last country that ought to be making those things possible.  Obama has one over-arching idea that reconciles these two ideologies (i.e., that the world needs what America has the ability to give, but America should never be allowed to give those things):  To Obama, America is so toxic that any help she gives is worse than no help.  Obama, moreover, is afraid not only of America, but of America’s allies, who might one day (God forbid!) advance America’s inherently dangerous and evil values.  Abrams doesn’t phrase it so crudely, of course, but that’s my takeaway from the article.

What we’ve been witnessing over the past week and a half is Obama trying to reconcile his purely academic goal of helping the hapless Syrian civilians, a goal that might be furthered using America’s military might, with his overriding fear that America, especially when she acts through her military, poisons everything she touch, so much so that Assad and his merry band, on the one hand, and al Qaeda, and its equally merry band, on the other hand, are the better alternative to anything America can offer.

Under this analysis, Obama is not backing away from intervention in Syria because of very serious, bipartisan questions about (a) whether a “muscular” yet delicate strike can accomplish anything, and (b) whether a strike leaves America in a position that is better than or at least equal to that which she finds herself in now, or if it makes the world an infinitely more dangerous place.

As to that second point, I cannot remember where I read it this morning, but someone very smart made a telling point about the difference between Libya, in which Obama was able to intervene without killing more than an ambassador and some other guys (Obama’s nonchalance, not mine), and the possible risks if he authorizes a Syrian strike.  Libya was a one-man show, with an already de-clawed Qaddafi in charge.  Syria is a well-organized, heavily-armed Chinese, Russian, and Iranian satellite that very likely has a large stockpile of the WMDs that vanished during the year that Bush took to create his coalition of the willing.  A few Popeye-esque twitches of America’s “muscle” will not put any fear whatsoever into Syria.

And that gets me to my second point about Obama being much worse than Hamlet.  Hamlet was serious.  His anguish was real and his moral dilemma (although I find it irritating and dull) was real too.  Obama is un-serious.  Unlike Kennedy, who actually appeared to believe in his stance and who successfully convinced the Soviets of his willingness to act, Obama convinces nobody.  Rather than engaging in war rhetoric with Obama, Syria is simply mocking him.  Even from his grave, Clausewitz is mocking him.

In this, the culmination of Obama’s presence on the world’s stage (until the next disaster provides the next culmination), Obama has gone from the world’s savior to the guy with the “kick me sign” on his back.  Heck, even liberals are mocking him.  They haven’t yet decided he’s the full George Bush, but they’re beginning to wonder.

If you need any further corroboration about Obama’s fundamental un-seriousness, look at his cabinet.  Someone else added the Bush poster in the back, but it was Obama who assembled around him such clowns as Kerry (who has never been right about any American foreign policy); Brennan (reputed to be a Muslim, and known to be a Muslim-sympathizer); Holder (criminally incompetent, by which I mean both criminal and incompetent); Rice (the stooge who carried the bag for the administration’s Benghazi lies); and Hagel (a buffoon, just a buffoon).

Speaking of Hagel, let me assure you that I had nothing to do with the white jacket and hot pink shirt he chose to wear at a serious cabinet meeting that might determine the fate of the world for many years to come:

Obama's scary unserious cabinet

The great irony here is that, even as we castigate Obama for the serious fall-out from his manifest and un-serious indecision, he’s just as bad when’s he decisive.  Rather than start a new post about the things that Obama pursues with single-minded, and amazingly damaging, focus (ObamaCare, illegal immigration), etc., I’ll leave you with a funny look at how dangerous it can be to make up ones mind about the wrong things:

As a Jew, why am I not more exercised about the use of poison gas in Syria?

As you’ve gathered, I do not support President Obama’s promised “show” strike against Syria to protest the Assad regime’s alleged use of toxic nerve gas against a community that presumably supported the al Qaeda rebels. To justify my position, I’ve pointed to the fact that there is no benefit to the U.S. in getting involved in Syria.  That still leaves the question, though, of why I, a Jew, wouldn’t want to see every country of good will make its utmost efforts to protest the use of poison gas against civilians.

It’s not that I think a Syrian civilian’s life is less valuable than a Jewish civilian’s life (or an American’s life, for that matter).  Based on the available news, I assume that those who died were just ordinary people, trying to live in a nation torn apart by an internecine tribal, Muslim battle.  If that assumption is correct, those who died are innocent victims, no less than those who lost their lives in Nazi gas camps and mass graves throughout the Pale.  So why don’t I want to help?

Well, there are several reasons.  My first response relates to my family history.  What’s happening in Syria is not genocide, a la Hitler, who wanted to remove an entire race from the earth.  There was no military objective underlying Hitler’s decision to round up 6 million people and killing them. Indeed, it was militarily stupid, because it diverted resources that were desperately needed for a two-front war.

In this regard, I know my views about “ordinary war” versus genocide are informed by my Mother’s experiences.  While she’ll go to the grave hating the Japanese guards who so brutally controlled the concentration camps in Indonesia where she spent almost four years of her life, she’s never been that hostile to the Japanese people.  “They were fighting a war,” she says.  “In this, they differed from the Germans, who were destroying a people.”

What’s happening in Syria is a civil war.  In the hierarchy of wars, civil wars are always the most bloody and least humane, in much the same way that, in the area of law, the most vicious cases are divorces.  Your opponent is close enough for you to hate wholeheartedly.

In Syria, we are witnessing a fight between two closely-related, rabid dogs.  These war dogs can be put down entirely or they can be ignored.  They cannot be trifled with in an inconsequential way, or they will turn the full fury of their wrath on the trifler, even as they escalate actions against each other.  If America goes in, she must go in to destroy one side or the other.  Doing less than that is futile and tremendously dangerous, especially because these are Arabs….

And that gets me to the main reason I’m opposed to intervening despite gas attack that Assad’s troops launched.  Perhaps to your surprise, I’m not going to argue that “Let the Muslims kill each other there, because it’s good riddance to bad rubbish.”  I certainly don’t mind Syria being so busy internally that she has no time to harass Israel.  However, that pragmatic response is most definitely not the same as delighting in the destruction of her innocent civilian population.

Instead, my sense of futility in getting involved in Syria is that what we’re seeing is simply how Muslim Arabs fight.  They don’t do polite warfare, with rules.  They do balls-to-the-wall warfare, with women and children as primary targets.  Their cultural preference when fighting war is rape, mutilation, torture, mass-murder, civilian massacres, and soaking-their-hands-in-their-victims’ blood.

When we oppose gas warfare, it’s because it is so wildly outside the rules by which Western warfare has so long abided:  we fire things at the enemy, whether guns, or cannon, or missiles.  Our culture accepts projectile warfare, but has been for at least a century extremely hostile to non-projectile warfare, whether it’s gas attacks, civilian slaughters, or concentration camps.

Within the context of the Muslim world, when it comes to warfare, anything goes.  If we stop one type of atrocity, they’ll come up with another one, because they have no parameters.

Also, to the extent all Muslim/Arab wars are both tribal and religious, they have no concept of civilians.  Whether you’re a newborn infant, a teenage girl, a mentally handicapped man, or a doddering old lady, if you belong to “the other” tribe or religion (and everyone does) then you are automatically an enemy and a target.  Today’s baby becomes tomorrow’s adolescent rock throwers.  That young teenage girl might give birth to another member of that tribe.  The mentally handicapped man is proof that the other religion or tribe is corrupt.  As for the doddering old lady, she almost certainly raised someone among your enemy.

I’m not saying anything surprising, here.  It’s why the Palestinians so enthusiastically target Jewish schools.

Incidentally, it’s worth noting that we did not go to war against Germany at the end of 1941 because it was harassing and killing German Jews.  We tend to leave countries alone, even when they slaughter their own people.  We went after them because they were trying to take over Europe.  To the extent the Roosevelt administration knew about the genocide, it kept it under wraps.  There was no way Roosevelt was going to take America to war over a bunch of Jews.  It was only after the war that everyone was shocked — shocked! — to learn about the scope of Nazi atrocities.

My daughter rather inadvertently pointed out how ridiculous this “mass slaughter of civilians” yardstick is.  For one of her classes, she is required to read three newspaper stories a day.  I suggested the report about Kim Jong-un’s order that his former lover and her entire band get machine-gunned to death.  I also told her that the regime forced the family’s of those executed to watch their loved ones die, and then shipped all the families, lock, stock, and baby off to the concentration camp system.  “They’ll be lucky if they die there quickly,” I added.  “The camps are that bad.”

When she heard this, my daughter, bless her heart, came back with a question that gets to the heart of Obama’s flirtation with bombing Syria:  “Then why aren’t we planning to attack North Korea, instead of Syria?”

Excellent question, my dear, especially considering North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.  We have shown for decades our willingness to stand aside when tyrannical regimes kill their own people — provided that those murders do not implicate American interests.  Even during the Cold War, our incursions into other countries were to protect non-communists from communists.  Since we couldn’t attack the Soviet Union directly, we engaged in containment by proxy.  In other words, our national interests were at stake, because the Cold War was a direct threat to American interests.

In Syria, however, both sides embrace Islam and hate America.  There are no parties there that need to be protected to further America’s security interests.  We should certainly decry the deaths of the civilians, but the average American on the street seems to understand better than the pettish, petulant Obama that this is one where we should stand aside.  This is their culture and they will defeat it only when they want to, not because of half-hearted, ineffectual, silly efforts on our part.

Obama is sort of beginning to grasp this fact, and he’s trying to save face by approaching Congress.  He assumes that the Senate will support his war cry, because Democrats are slavishly echoing him and there are a few Hawkish Republicans (like McCain) who support him.  He fully expects, however, that the House will vote him down, thereby saying him from the consequences of his own threats and posturing.  It’s quite obvious that he also expects that there will be a pitched battle on the House floor, exposing Republican callousness to a disgusted America.

Obama’s hope that Republicans display each other to their worst advantage in their own form of internecine warfare is misplaced.  Considering that only 9% of the American people believe intervention in Syria is a good thing, if the Republicans display even minimal good sense in opposing a strike, they will get the full support of the American people.