Enter your keyword

Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 1912

By On December 31, 2012
The next year  sweeps around the earth like the hand of a clock, from Australia to Europe and across the great stretch of the Atlantic it rides the darkness to America. And then around and around again, each passing day marking another sweep of the hours.

In Times Square crowds of tourists gather in clumps behind police barricades, clutching corporate swag beneath video billboards shifting and humming in the cool air. And the same scene repeats in other squares and other places even if it doesn't feel like there is a great deal to celebrate.

While the year makes its first pass around the world, let us leave it behind, open a door in time and step back to another year, a century past.

December 31, 1912. The crowds are just as large, though the men wear hats. People use the word gay with no touch of irony. Liquor is harder to come by because the end of the year, one hundred years ago, has fallen on a Sunday.  There are more dances and fewer corporate brands. Horns are blown, and the occasional revolver fired into the air, a sight unimaginable in the controlled celebrations of today's urban metropolis.

The Hotel Workers Union strike fizzled out on Broadway though a volley of bricks was hurled at the Hotel Astor during the celebrations. New York's finest spent the evening outside the Rockefeller mansion waiting to subpoena the tycoon in the money trust investigation. And the Postmaster General inaugurated the new parcel service by shipping a silver loving cup from Washington to New York.

On Ellis Island, Castro, a bitter enemy of the United States, and the former president of Venezuela, had been arrested for trying to sneak into the country while the customs officers had their guard down. Gazing at the Statue of Liberty, Castro denied that he was a revolutionary and bitterly urged the American masses to rise up and tear down the statue in the name of freedom.

Times Square has far fewer billboards and no videos, but it does have the giant Horn and Hardart Automat which opened just that year, where food comes from banks of vending machines giving celebrating crowds a view of the amazing world of tomorrow for the world of 1912 is after all like our own. We can open a door into the past, but we cannot escape the present.

The Presidential election of 1912, like that of 2012, ended in disaster. Both Taft and Roosevelt lost and Woodrow Wilson won. In the White House, President Taft met with cabinet members and diplomats for a final reception.

Woodrow Wilson, who would lead America into a bloody and senseless war, subvert its Constitution, and begin the process of making global government and statism into the national religion of his party, was optimistic about the new year. "Thirteen is my lucky number," he said. "It is curious how the number 13 has figured in my life and never with bad fortune."

Americans of 2013 face the lightbulb ban. Americans of 1913 were confronted with the matchstick ban as the Esch bill in Congress outlawed phosphorus "strike 'em on your pants" matches by imposing a $1,000 tax on them. This was deemed to be Constitutional. In Indianapolis, the train carrying union leaders guilty of the dynamite plot was making its secret way to Federal prison even while the lawyers of the dynamiters vowed to appeal.

The passing year, a century past, had its distinct echoes in our own time. There had been, what the men of the time, thought of as wars, yet they could not even conceive of the wars shortly to come. There were the usual dry news items about the collapse of the government in Spain, a war and an economic crisis in distant parts of the world that did not concern them.

A recession was here, after several panics, and though there was plenty of cheer, there was also plenty of worry. The Federal Reserve Act would be signed at the end of 1913, partly in response to the economic crisis.

Socialism was on the march with the Socialist Party having doubled its votes in the national election.  All three major candidates, Wilson, Roosevelt and Taft, had warned that the country was drifting toward Socialism and that they were the only ones who could stop it. The influence of corporations was heatedly debated and the Catholic Church clashed with Socialists.

"Unless Socialism is checked," Professor Albert Bushnell Hart warned, "within sixteen years there will be a Socialist President of the United States." Hart was off by four years. Hoover won in 1928. FDR won in 1932.

At New York City's May Day rally, the American flag was torn down and replaced with the red flag, to cries of, "Take down that dirty rag" and "We don't recognize that flag." The site of the rally was Union Square, presently one of the locations where the rag ends of Occupy Wall Street hangs out.

There was tension on the Mexican border and alarm over Socialist successes in German elections. An obscure fellow with the silly name of Lenin had carved out a group with the even sillier name of the Bolsheviks. China became a Republic. New Mexico became a state, the African National Congress was founded and the Titanic sank. In our time it was merely the Costa Concordia.

There was bloody fighting in Benghazi where 20,000 Italian troops faced off against 20,000 Arabs and 8,000 Turks. The Italians had modern warships and armored vehicles, while the Muslim forces were supplied by voluntary donations and fighters crossing from Egypt and across North Africa to join in attacking the infidels.

The Italian-Turkish war has since been forgotten, except by the Italians, the Libyans and the Turks, but it featured the first strategic use of airships, ushering in a century of European aerial warfare.

There was a good deal going on while the horns were blown and men in heavy coats and wet hats made their way through the festivities.

World War I was two years away, but the Balkan War had already fired the first shots. The rest was just a matter of bringing the non-phosphorus matches closer to the kindling. The Anti-Saloon League was gathering strength for a nationwide effort that would hijack the political system and divide it into dry and wet, and, among other things, ram through the personal income tax.

Change was coming, and as in 1912, the country was no longer hopeful, it was wary. The century, for all its expected glamor, had been a difficult one. The future, political and economic, was unknown. Few knew exactly what was to come, but equally few were especially optimistic even when the champagne was flowing.

If we were to stop a reveler staggering out of a hotel, stand in his path and tell him that war was five years away and a great depression would come in on its tail, that liquor would be banned, crime would proliferate and a Socialist president would rule the United States for three terms, while wielding near absolute power, he might have decided to make his way to the recently constructed Manhattan Bridge for a swan dive into the river.

And yet we know that though all this is true, there is a deeper truth. For all those setbacks, the United States survived, and many of us look nostalgically toward a time that was every bit as uncertain and nerve-wracking as our own.

December 31, 1912 was a door that opened onto many things. December 31, 2012 is likewise, and if a man in shiny clothes from the year 2112 were to stop us on the street and spill out everything he knew about the next century, it is likely that there would be as much greatness as tragedy in that tale.

As the year sweeps across the earth, let us remember that history is more than the worst of its events, that all times bear the burden of their uncertainties, but also carry within them the seeds of greatness. Looking back on this time, it may be that it is not the defeats that we will recall, but how they readied us for the fight ahead. 2012 may be as forgotten as 1912, but 2016 and 2022 may endure in history.

America has not fallen, no more than it did when the clock struck midnight on December 31, 1912. Though it may not seem likely now, there are many great things ahead, and though the challenges at times seem insurmountable and the defeats many, another year and another century await us.

The Values Economy

By On December 31, 2012
There are two types of things that we put money into; the things that we need and the things that we don't. The former represent our physical needs and the latter our spiritual needs. Food for the body and food for the mind. We need to eat, but we don't need to see a movie. We need a house to live in, but we don't need a house of worship. We need a car to get to work, but we don't need a painting on our wall once we get there.

Culture isn't a luxury, even the poorest of the poor have it. It doesn't mean a night at the opera, it can just as easily mean sitting under a tree while the village elder explains where fire came from. But it is optional in the sense that we choose where to put our money or pine cones and those choices are our values economy.

The values economy consists of the culture you support. It's the books you buy and the movies you see, it's the paintings on your wall and the house of worship you attend. It's the concerts and games you buy tickets to and it's the colleges you attend. It's all the intangible investments in the intangible things of aesthetics, faith and cultural knowledge.

In a healthy culture, these things mirror your values. In an unhealthy culture they do not. Not only do they not, but they don't even mirror any stable set of values that can go the distance. Instead they're a species of insanity, confused and convoluted bits of specialist jargon, perpetual revolutions against good taste, ideas without ideas and taboo hunters with no more taboos left to break.

Cultural industries operate on perception. Everyone must see a movie or hear a song. Everyone must go to college, even though it's mostly as useful as a donkey on a pogo stick. Everyone must accept that all religions are basically the same and can be boiled down to a love for one's fellow man. All these things are the means through which the values economy manufactures the perception of the centrality of its own values and the importance of its own products. And its only real product is convincing you of its indispensability.

All cultural products are part of the values economy. When you put money into the values economy, you are subsidizing a particular set of values and regardless of where your real tastes and beliefs lie, you will get more of what you buy. If you buy a set of lead pencils every month, the company will go on making more lead pencils. If you buy cultural products at odds with your values, then more of the same will keep on being made.

Culture is an investment. It might be the second biggest investment there is after the family. Any society can build a dam or go to the moon or harness the talents of its innately gifted artists and musicians to create great works of art... if they have the cultural framework in which that can happen. Without that framework, great engineers, musicians, poets, artists, scientists and architects  will be born and their skills will be wasted, as they are wasted in most of the world and in most of history.

Culture is the difference between making things of worth and making worthless things. It is the glue that brings together bold ideas and makes them possible. It is what explains the universe and tells us how to make the impossible, possible. And it's the most fragile of all these things because it dies easily.

The values economy is how a society maintains its culture, investing its energy, money and structure into maintaining a healthy culture that projects its values and makes its achievements possible. Like any other investments, there are bad investments and good investments. A society can invest in Bach or it can invest in Andy Warhol. It can invest in engineers or Transgender Guatemalan Poets 101. And these investments have consequences, they pay out profits or lead to losses even if they appear to initially be intangible, with Andy leading to more Andy and Bach leading to more Bach.

Highbrow culture had patrons. Lowbrow culture had people who stopped by and threw pennies into a hat. Those boundaries have mostly been erased. Highbrow culture is now the pursuit of the utterly senseless, whose senselessness verifies its superiority, and the vast territory is occupied by a populist  culture that is high and low at the same time, blending an empty intellectual superiority with bad taste and worse standards where everything is sincerely a joke, and ironic detachment is a pratfall away.

Aside from fans of one thing or another, most people don't think of their learning, their religion or their entertainment as an investment, a seed planted in the earth to produce more of its kind. And the failure to think that way leads them to make bad investments in a bad culture.

The culture that we are stuck with now has mostly been one bad investment after another, tracts of smelly swampland where nothing can grow pawned off by sleazy weasels wearing too much polyester and more gold chains than the pharaohs, who haven't even had to work very hard to pull off their malignant scam. Good has been traded for bad and then for worse.

The values economy is tanking and the economic indicators are just one sign of how awry things have gone. The social indicators are another.

Culture is how we teach ourselves to perpetuate our society. Instead our cultural investments have given us broken families who are willing to sell their rights to the government in exchange for being taken care of from cradle to grave. And the government is willing to make the deal so long as it can bring in more foreign laborers to balance out the gap in the birth rate and then increase the police forces and the military to deal with the fallout from that immigration leading to a police state.

As cultural investments go, it's not hard to see that this is a bad one.

Our society is less literate than it used to be, it's less sane than it used to be and less productive. And those are not due to some innate defect in the youth or a fault in the stars, but in our culture. If our society is breaking, it's because our cultural investments have been bad ones. And if our cultural investments have been bad ones, it's because we didn't approach culture as an investment, but as a thing of momentary enjoyment, or as a consensus that we accepted as coming from within the culture.

Reversing that will not be easy, but it is possible. Cultures have dramatically changed, particularly after traumatic events. The culture that we are living in bears the scars of such turnarounds. And that can be done again, which isn't to say that it will be easy. The first step is to think of culture as a values economy, not just as education, enlightenment or entertainment. An investment that we are making for the future.

This does not have to be some dreary Marxist exercise in art criticism or a dogma-ridden analysis of every show on television. It means, first and foremost, caring about what you consume, instead of consuming culture as junk food, by being enthusiastic about its merits. That experience can be solitary, but it should also be undertaken with an awareness that culture is an investment in the values economy and that what you pay into will go far beyond the books and movies you take in, or the house of worship or college you attend. Culture is a conversation and we are all part of it.

Every person has a set of values that they live by. The test of any cultural investment is whether it meets those values, fails to meet those values or has values that runs counter to it. Most culture is not entirely one thing or another. There are conservative impulses in even the most liberal works and liberal impulses in even the most conservative works. And so our cultural investments confront us with the entirely subjective question of whether a thing will do more to build our culture than to tear it down.

The values economy follows the old principle GIGO, Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you invest in bad culture, you will get bad culture. And your children will get worse culture and your grand-children will get even worse culture. There is a multiplier effect to decay, it feeds on itself and becomes worse with each cycle. The bad culture of five years ago becomes the horrible culture of today and the nightmarish alien culture of tomorrow until a breaking point is reached and there are too few worthwhile things left to keep it all going.

Cocooned in tangible luxuries, it becomes easy to let the intangibles slide, to consume without contemplating the cultural cost of our cultural investments. But there's only so much lotus that can be eaten before all memory is lost and there is no longer any voyage, only an island of shrinking land with the tide coming in.

The values economy is the calculus of our culture. It determines who we are and who our children will be. If our borders and our buildings, our roads and our technologies are our structure, then our culture is our soul. It is the spirit that lurks within the concrete and steel, it is the soul of the plastic, and if it is lost, then all that remains is structure no different from the pyramids and the countless fossilized relics of dead civilizations; empty stone with no spirit. 

The economy decides if our bodies have a future. The values economy decides whether it will have a soul.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

First Plane Out Of Benghazi

By On December 29, 2012
It took some 22 hours for American help to arrive in Benghazi after all the t's had been crossed and the i's had been dotted, and the body of America's ambassador to Libya had been dragged through the streets by "rescuers" stopping along the way to pose for cell phone pictures with his corpse.

By way of comparison it takes about 16 hours for a boatload of Libyan illegal immigrants to row to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Support for the Americans under fire in Libya would have arrived sooner if a few former members of the Harvard Rowing Team had gotten in one the many rowboats beached on the shores of Lampedusa and pushed the oars all the way to Benghazi.

It says something about the current state of asymmetrical warfare that not only can Al Qaeda throw together a coordinated string of attacks on American embassies around the region without anyone  being the wiser for it, but boatloads of migrants from Libya can reach Europe faster on muscle power than American forces can reach a mission under attack while equipped with jet power.

For that matter less time passed between the ubiquitous campaign fundraising emails that every American with internet access was barraged by no less than three times a day, than between the Benghazi's mission first call for help and the arrival of American support. But that night, Obama's priority was to get to a Vegas fundraiser, not to get American support to two former SEALS fighting and dying in a hellish mess created by his policies.

Obama Inc blamed the second set of September 11 attacks on a movie, which was giving Al Qaeda credit for not only orchestrating worldwide attacks on American embassies and consulates, but doing it in a matter of days based on nothing more than a YouTube trailer. That would make Al Qaeda one of the more impressive organizations around, but the administration of the perpetual campaign found it easier to give Al Qaeda credit that the terrorist group didn't deserve rather than accept the blame that it did deserve.

When madmen in America shoot up schools or movie theaters, Obama blames the weapons they used and calls for gun control. When madmen in the Middle East shoot up American consulates and embassies, he blames movies and calls for film control.

The filmmaker was locked up because he was one of those non-union types and none of Obama's Hollywood friends would complain about a scab that wasn't in the Producers Guild of America, whose director was not in the DGA and whose writers were not in the WGA being thrown in the slammer for making an offensive movie.

In another time and place, a place called America, an attack on an American diplomatic mission would have been considered an act of war, but the United States had just gotten over fighting a war in Libya, despite denying that any such thing was going no matter how many bombs were being dropped, and that war had led to Benghazi being run by Al Qaeda militias.

Obama assured the nation that the "folks" from the militant militias of Mayberry, Libya  responsible would be brought to justice. After three weeks of trying to get through Libyan immigration and dealing with concerns about conducting a criminal investigation in a war zone, the FBI finally made it to Benghazi, strolled around the compound for a few hours, took some pictures and then went home without interviewing any persons of interest.

An independent commission chaired by an Iranian lobbyist whose members were handpicked by Hillary Clinton conducted a review of what went wrong and found that the State Department probably should not have relied on an Islamist militia affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood for security, especially considering that its members had been going on strike for pay raises.

Four State Department officials resigned voluntarily, which in government lingo means that three of them took administrative leave and the fourth resigned one of his portfolios while keeping the rest. And the media declared that Benghazigate was over at last. Time for everyone to move on and close the book on another one of those Obama success that up close look a lot like failures.

Three days after unilaterally deciding to go to war in Libya, while insisting on calling it something other than a war, Obama had justified his intervention to the American people based on protecting what would shortly become Libya's most famously infamous city. "We saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city... we knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi... could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world."

But there was no massacre. Nor was there ever going to be one. The only people who were massacred in Benghazi were Americans.

Obama had not kicked off a war because he was genuinely worried about the "700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear", as some tin-eared speechwriter had scrawled on the teleprompter, but because the fall of Benghazi would have meant the end of the rebellion and the end of the Arab Spring, showing every dictator that he could stay in power by toughing it out and fighting the rebels down to the last man.

The Libyan War was not fought so that the 700,000 men, women and children of Benghazi could go from living under the rule of a totalitarian government to living under the rule of totalitarian militias. That was just an unintended consequence of bombing a country so that the militias can take it over. And it wasn't the only such unintended consequence as Gaddafi's Touraeg allies paired up with Al Qaeda to seize half of Mali and Libyan weapons were passed around to terrorist groups like Hamas.

Those unintended consequences came together on September 11 when those militias decided to commemorate the day with a round of attacks against American targets. Ground Zero for their campaign was Benghazi, the city where they were strongest because the heavily armed militias there had been growing fat on protection money. The same militia that attacked the Benghazi mission also provided security for the hospital where Ambassador Stevens was taken after the attack, providing gainful employment to Salafi terrorists from as far away as Iraq and Pakistan.

Obama had gained attention as a critic of the Iraq War, squawking about necessary wars to small crowds of wealthy elderly Marxists from Chicago's upper crust champions of the red working class, but no sooner had he gotten out of Iraq than he was jumping up and down on the diving board and splashing down into Libya to show how much smarter and better he was at fighting unnecessary wars than that ignorant Texan who shot first and nuanced later.

George W. had told the American people that there was a vital American interest in stopping Saddam, from getting his hands on WMDs. Barack H. told the American people that "it was not in our national interest" to let Gaddafi capture Benghazi. What national interest was at stake in keeping Benghazi run by homicidal Islamist militias tied to Al Qaeda will be a lot harder to find than Iraqi WMDs.

Bush had told the United Nations that he wanted regime change in Iraq. Obama lied to the UN and told them that he was only looking for a No-Fly-Zone and then used that zone as an excuse to keep bombing Libya long after its air force had run out crop dusters and bottle rockets, until a drone pinned down Gaddafi's convoy long enough for a mob to gather around and sodomize him to death.

The crazy Texan had built a fortified Green Zone for the American diplomatic presence. The smart Kenyan stuck them in an exposed mansion patrolled by terrorist militias and waited longer to rescue them than he did to send out another email offering a chance to win a free dinner with him, proving that there really is such a thing as a free lunch.

The ignorant cowboy-hat-wearing hick had tried to manage Iraq's transition to democracy by moving in the troops to keep order, but his far cleverer coke-snorting successor with far more experience in the international arena outsourced the Libyan transition to the militias. And it kept the American casualties down until was the militias decided to manage the transition of the Benghazi mission from a boring compound to an exciting war zone.

Benghazi though, as Obama put it while yukking it up with the media's favorite liberal clown, was just one of those bumps in the road. The road began when Obama bombed Libya to keep Gaddafi from taking Benghazi. Along the way there were some bumps when American diplomats were forced to flee Benghazi, those who were still alive at any rate, but the road goes ever on as it meanders through exotic locales such as Timbuktu, now under Al Qaeda control, and Aleppo, only under partial Al Qaeda control.

Back in the bad old Bush days, Iraq became a focal point of activity for terrorist groups and terrorist militias, but that was bush league stuff. With Obama, there is no longer a focal point because the entire Middle East is crawling with terrorist groups and terrorist militias running from one war to another in the endlessly exciting adventure of democracy that is the Arab Spring.

Obama pulled out of Iraq and Al Qaeda in Iraq showed up in Benghazi. Now it's moved on to Syria. A year from now it may be in Jordan. "The front line," as one of Obama's favorite atonal bands sang, "is everywhere." The entire Middle East is a war zone now with terrorists and militias moving back and forth to feast on the instability and carve out their own private Benghazis where a man with a beard and a gun can provide protection in exchange for cash, and then take the weekend off to torch an American embassy or two.

This is Obama's Brave New Middle East, born out of Benghazi, but coming to every town and city. Four Americans dead in a single attack is not the scandal of it, but the symptom of it, those deaths are what happens when you tear down every allied government and replace them with mobs of gunmen whose constitution is the Koran and who despise the United States no matter how many bombs and press releases it drops in their defense..

"O brave new world," Miranda exclaimed in The Tempest, "That has such people in't!" Americans in Benghazi were confronted with the Brave New Middle East that Obama had made and the people who live in it. Two brave men died fighting them and the rest took the first plane out of Benghazi.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Afternoon Roundup - Cashing In

By On December 28, 2012
CASHING IN ON THE DEAD



The left's plan has always been very simple. Find a grievance or create a crisis, in whatever order, and then cash in on it. Whether it's the economy or the murder of children, the left's response to any tragedy is to find a way to shamelessly try and cash in.

Recently a woman was charged with falsely raising money by claiming to be setting up a fund for some of the dead children of Newtown. This is the sort of thing that's illegal if you're an ordinary person, but perfectly acceptable if you happen to run the American Red Cross which raised a ton of money on the backs of hurricane victims, another fund that raised money for the victims of the Batman shootings and then decided not to give it to them, and Bill Clinton who has claimed another success in Haiti.

In April 2010, Mr. Clinton was named co-president of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, referred to as the I.H.R.C. Two months later, at a luxury hotel in the hills above Port-au-Prince, the commission held its first meeting. It would hold only six more, though, before the Haitian Parliament declined to renew its mandate and it faded into history, its Web site decommissioned and its public records erased with it.

“As a tool for Bill Clinton, the commission was good; it helped him attract attention to Haiti,” said Dr. Boulos, a commission member. “As a tool to effectively coordinate assistance and manage the reconstruction, it was a failure.”

Bill Clinton, the United Nations special envoy for Haiti, invoked the “build back better” mantra he had imported from his similar role in South Asia after the tsunami. And Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cautioned donors to stop working around the government and instead work with it, and to stop financing “a scattered array of well-meaning projects” rather than making “deeper, long-term investments.”

“One area where the reconstruction money didn’t go is into actual reconstruction,” said Jessica Faieta, senior country director of the United Nations Development Program in Haiti from 2010 through this fall.

Moreover, while at least $7.5 billion in official aid and private contributions have indeed been disbursed — as calculated by Mr. Clinton’s United Nations office and by The Times — disbursed does not necessarily meant spent. Sometimes, it simply means the money has been shifted from one bank account to another as projects have gotten bogged down.

That is the case for nearly half the money for housing.

Cashing in. That is what it's all about. Pile up the dead and make your money and grab your power. And then wait to do the same thing to the next crisis and the one after that.




JUST WAIT ANOTHER 180 YEARS AND YOU'LL SEE

In Commentary, Max Boot has written yet another defense of the Arab Spring, now deep in its Islamist Winter.

"France, after all, transitioned from absolute monarchy by way of the French Revolution and its Reign of Terror… and, finally, in 1958 the overthrow of the Fourth Republic and the birth of the Fifth Republic which has lasted to this day."

So all we have to is wait around a mere 160 years and the Arab Spring will yield a bounty of productive and civil democracies.

.... No, Don’t Have Patience With the Arab Spring




UNIONIZED DIRT COOKIE MAKERS COME TO HAITI

Haitian villagers have resorted to eating dirt. “In places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on Thursday announced a $2.2 million grant that will be used to strengthen budding labor unions in Haiti and Peru.

Who needs food when you've got unions?



WHO'S UP FOR SOME SERIOUS COLLEGE DEBT?

And for once we're not talking about students, but the Ivy League institutions that run our country.

While Harvard is the wealthiest university in the country, it also has $6 billion in debt, the most of any private college

Overall debt levels more than doubled from 2000 to 2011 at the more than 500 institutions rated by Moody’s

The pile of debt — $205 billion outstanding in 2011 at the colleges rated by Moody’s — comes at a time of increasing uncertainty in academia.

Any more questions about our national debt? If we really were governed by a dozen random people from the Boston phone book instead of the faculty of Harvard, this would not be happening.




SO MANY FLIPS, SO MANY FLOPS

Before the original Gulf War, Kerry urged Bush I to give Saddam Hussein room to back off, negotiating an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait in exchange for allowing Iraq to make a claim on some Kuwaiti territory and proposing some Israeli concessions as well. He claimed that threatening Saddam “stiffened Iraq’s resolve and weakened America’s.”

After the war, Kerry turned into a hawk, saying of Bush that, “The administration has basically sided with Saddam Hussein” and demanded that Saddam be tried for environmental terrorism. During the Clinton Administration, Kerry called for using ground troops to force Saddam out of power. It was no surprise at all when during the Bush Administration, Kerry flipped in reverse, going from a strong supporter of the war to a strong opponent of it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your next Secretary of State.




PROGRESS IS AT HAND! FORWARD!

This is what I love about progressives. They’re such moral people that they are opposed to the death penalty, but will begin drawing up lists of who should be killed at the drop of a hat.

This differentiates them from most people who support the death penalty for murderers, but don’t aspire to be murderers themselves and do not have lists of people they think should be killed. Particularly not people whose only crime is having different beliefs than them.

But this is why we should let progressives run our societies. It worked in Russia. It worked in China. It worked in Cambodia. It worked in Cuba.

How can it not work out here? What’s the worst that could happen? A few million dead at the hands of cretins who think that the death penalty is immoral unless they get to draw up the lists of who should be killed.

Progressive Professor Demands Death Penalty for Global Warming Skeptics and the Pope






THE LEFT KILLED SATIRE

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase – and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.

The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of long pointed knives would be a key step in the fight against violent crime.

Satire is dead. Anything you can think of has already been proposed.





WHO'S UP FOR A GREATER SYRIA?

1. Al Nusra has stopped trying to pretend that it’s not Al Qaeda. They are now openly calling themselves the soldiers of Osama.

2. Al Qaeda wants Obama to intervene in Syria.

3.  This isn’t just about Syria, it’s about Greater Syria, a territory that includes Syria, Israel, Lebanon, a piece of Turkey, and Iraq.

What that means is when Assad falls the conflict moves into its next stage. Our “good Syrian rebels” already have a deal with the Salafi militias. The Muslim Brotherhood will set up its government in Damascus and suck up Western aid. The Salafis will hold a number of cities and towns, and will continue killing Christians, enforcing Islamic law, etc, but will begin focusing on the next phase of a Greater Syria program.

So phase 2 is likely to be Jordan, Lebanon or Iraq.

Well that's just great.




READ THAT LAST SENTENCE CAREFULLY

On March 21, 2003 his arrest was ordered by Økokrim, the Norwegian law enforcement agency for financial crime, to ensure he did not leave the country while accusations that he had financed terrorist attacks using Norway as a base were investigated. Court proceedings against Krekar were however dropped when it proved impossible to prove his connections with the terrorist attacks staged in Iraq by Ansar al-Islam during his leadership.

Any day now...

Krekar told the Kurdish magazine Awene that he wants to return to Iraq to fight openly against the Iraqi government and the coalition, but that he lacked travel documents from the Norwegian government. He confirmed to a Norwegian newspaper that he had been correctly quoted. The Norwegian minister of labour and migration, Bjarne Håkon Hanssen, responded that Krekar could leave at any time and that he would be given “travel documents within the day. He’ll also get money for airline tickets, taxi cab, and the whole deal. If he really wants to go, that is.” Krekar is still living in Norway.

Norwegian Court Strikes Down Terror Charges for Founder of Iraqi Al-Qaeda Affiliate







A BROKEN THING WILL NEVER WORK

 We are not at a point in history where conservatives enforce traditional morality, but where we resist the enforcement of progressive morality.

Social mores are a political vehicle for the left. Neutrality is not an option. The left is not interested in some kind of libertarian sexual revolution based on the values of individual choice. The left uses revolutions in all spheres of human activity as a means of destroying existing institutions and replacing them with its own totalitarian approaches to doing things.

"Should Conservatives become Competent Liberals?"



IT'S OBAMA'S WORLD, WE JUST LIVE IN IT

New Poll Shows Hamas Will Win Presidential Elections

Former Al Qaeda in Mali Member Accuses Terrorist Group of Racism

This is a serious subject and if Islamic terrorists fail to take immediate action they risk losing the support of the left which could impact the number of pro bono lawyers available to them and the number of media columnists willing to write flattering profiles of them

US Government Paying for Birth Control, Abortion and Sex Changes for Illegal Aliens

Saudi Arabia Arrests 41 People for “Plotting to Celebrate Christmas”

EPA Chief Steps Down After Secret Email Account is Exposed

Mubarak Lawyer Claims Hamas Broke Morsi Out of Prison

Benghazigate Officials Fake Resignations, Go On Working Anyway

Obama Hijacks 500 Million from National Health Research Budget to Promote Diversity

UN Increases Budget by 5 Percent

Egypt Credit Rating Downgraded to “Junk” Status


Sudanese Islamists Financing Genocide by Wiping Out Africa’s Elephants


Cameroon’s Special Forces have been deployed to foil an imminent raid by Sudanese poachers who for eight weeks earlier this year slaughtered half the population of elephants for their ivory at one of the country’s wildlife reserves.

The heavily armed and well coordinated poachers, who had told local villagers of their plans to kill as many elephants as possible, claimed they had killed as much as 650 out of some 1,000 that roamed the park.

Several Somali elders said that the Shabab, the militant Islamist group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, recently began training fighters to infiltrate neighboring Kenya and kill elephants for ivory to raise money.



THE ZIONIST SUPERDOGS ARE COMING

The source, who is a retired security official from a Gulf country, made the claims while referring to one of his junior comrades who was tasked with undercover information gathering in the illegitimate state more than 7 years ago.

“He described a large, underground laboratory adjacent to the Negev desert where a highly-secured bunker was located, guarded by about two dozen troops of the elite Sayaret Matkal commandos and Military Intelligence units”.

“He recalls those Zionists (Israelis) talking of ‘super beasts’ equipped with improvised weapons”.

“Once, he shared details of a group of bizarre rhinoceroses and canines but never spoke on the subject again." 

Muslim Intelligence Source Accuses Israel of Building Army of Mutant SuperDogs




THE FINAL WORD

The reason the Second Amendment was included in the founding documents was to ensure that the people could meet the threat of a standing army. Its writers knew from history that a standing army serves only the government, not the people. Since the form of government they provided rested the ultimate authority with the people, it was only fitting and proper that the people had a means to ensure their power was not usurped.

,,,from Ebben Raves' article, You're In the Army Now



A NATION OF LOST FATHERS

In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother. In 1960, just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers...

This is what the left's version of utopia looks like. And here's a brief video of Allen West replying to a question about the perpetual search for role models in the black community.





BUT I DON'T WANT THEM FORBIDDEN TO ME

The following is in a way the final word on the entire ridiculous gun debate

These failures of a minority of bad apples to get with the program invite the state to step in in an effort to provide controls and supports externally. Thus we all lose a bit of freedom each time some jerk, idiot, sociopath, addict, or lunatic abrogates his American dignity and fails at running his own life in the manner of an honest, free, law-abiding and upstanding citizen. It's a shame - and wrong - that the least moral and worse-behaving of our population should have the power to deprive freedoms from the vast majority of decent citizens who aim to construct honorable, dignified, and independent lives by following their consciences or God's will as best they can.

Go ahead and ask me why I might want a 30-clip magazine, or a Big Gulp Coke. Well, I don't really want those things, but I don't want them forbidden me. I have a handgun carry permit, but I don't walk around armed all the time. Rarely, in fact. I might as well ask why you need a car that goes 110 mph, when car deaths in the US are far higher than gun deaths (32,000, vs 600 deaths by rifle - half of them suicides and others accidents).

Leftist control freaks often try to find signs of "market failure" to justify government intrusion into the free and voluntary exchange of goods and services. Similarly, they seek signs of "freedom failure" with the same goals. 

from Bird Dog at Maggie's Farm



HOW POOR THE EYE OF MAN

During the day, Jerusalem’s appearance was completely different.

From morning until the afternoon the colours change and alternate, forming surprising shades. About one hour before sunset the symphony of colours reaches the highest point. I can promise you that even the selection of colours by the most perfect computer could not produce even one shade from the many shades of the interweaving of colours created at the moment of the setting of the sun!
I looked around and asked myself, how is it possible that the human eye can feel and differentiate every single shade in the clearest way, but words are not able to express them? I thought how poor man’s ability is to express the exaltedness of Creation:

...from Joseph Rosen's book, "Why a Jew..."




I'M ON THIS LIST I SUPPOSE

The Golda Meir Award for Best Anti-Jihad Blogger: Atlas Shrugs, Gates of Vienna, JihadWatch, Sultan Knish and The Astute Blogger (tie)



BRAND RECOGNITION

All it took was a collar and a name and Fatso was never beaten up again and certainly never went hungry ever again. In time his saunter became a strut. You couldn’t help but like Fatso since liking him was what Fatso was all about.

....from Fatso the Cat, and a reminder of why Gerard was named Best Essayist




TWO NOTHINGS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

As the dreaded date approached, the media downplayed the Doomsday prediction as some authentic New Age gibberish propagated by people using medical marijuana for non-medicinal purposes. Such moral and intellectual guidance helped to stave off panic among the middle class working families, which could lead to a scarcity of wait staff at bistros that media personalities patronize. Privately, however, they realized that the prophecy was true and that we were all doomed.

But, as members of the fourth estate heroically passed their final hours feasting on wine and cheese while cursing people who disagreed with them on Twitter, something wonderful happened: NOTHING! It was like the fiscal cliff negotiations writ large.

Suddenly, as if by magic, all top-shelf, professional, state-accredited journalists across the nation knew the truth: the reason for both nothings were the actions of president Obama.

....from The People's Cube

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blasphemy as a National Security Threat

By On December 26, 2012
Spain has begun deportation proceedings against Imran Firasat, a Christian refugee from Pakistan, for making a documentary about Mohammed and thereby threatening the national security of Spain. If Firasat is deported back to Pakistan, he will face the death penalty proving that it's a short step from the Spanish Inquisition to the Pakistani Inquisition.

The United States has a man sitting in prison for making another blasphemous movie, which the government spent weeks blaming for worldwide attacks on American embassies. And he isn't the first man persecuted or prosecuted for offending Islam. Offending Islam has become a national security issue involving all levels of government.

When Bubba the Love Sponge, a Tampa DJ, proposed to burn a Koran, the commander of the Afghanistan war contacted his girlfriend, who would later be stalked by Petraeus' girlfriend, to contact the Mayor of Tampa to keep Bubba from burning a Koran. Instead of explaining how the American system works to the Lebanese temptress and her four-star general, the mayor wrote back that the city was working on it.

That month 50 percent more Americans were killed in Afghanistan in the long slow death march of the war, but a Koran was not burned in Tampa. Mission accomplished.

Muslims did not have to kill a great number of Americans to enforce blasphemy law in this country. Counting the various reactions to burnt Korans, rumors of a flushed Koran and assorted things of that nature, the number is still well below a hundred. Even counting every casualty in the war from September 11 onward, it took fewer deaths to make the United States give up on the Bill of Rights than it took to liberate it in the War of Independence.

But it's not really about the deaths, if it were then the United States wouldn't be senselessly squandering the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan to avoid offending the natives. It's not the death of men that our leaders are worried about, but the death of stability.

Knowing that a hundred men will die today in car accidents does not alarm anyone, but knowing that somewhere a dozen men might die in a bomb explosion, anywhere and at any time, can bring a nations to its knees. That is the difference between predictable and unpredictable death. Predictable death makes it possible for most everyone to go about doing what they normally do. Unpredictable death however erodes daily order.

Blasphemy makes terrorism seem predictable. It delivers that false sense of control that is at the root of Stockholm Syndrome, the seductive illusion that the thug can be reasoned with and that we can restore control over our perilous environment by accepting responsibility for the enemy's violence. If we meet a set of conditions then we will have peace. And what kind of lunatic wouldn't want peace? The kind who needs to be deported or locked up in the name of peace.

When an entire country goes Stockholm then it is no longer interested in winning the war, only in surviving the peace. In a Stockholm country, national security consists of locking up anyone who can be blamed for sabotaging the peacemaking. The less peace there is, the more the peacemakers go on the hunt for "extremists" who are to blame for the lack of it. The more their vision of a better world fails, the more stern measures they must take against their own people. Peace is always one more denunciation of extremism away.

The same countries whose leaders have spent a century and a half blathering incessantly about a truly progressive order under international law have shown no ability to cope with the old-fashioned kind of war. They can quote verbatim the laws of war, but understand poorly that war makes its own laws. War's simplest law is that you pick a pretext, any popular pretext, make your demands and then go on the attack. If the other side is foolish enough to meet your demands, then it has shown its weakness and must be attacked again and again.

Muslims have restored blasphemy prosecutions to the United States and Europe through violence. Like Khrushchev banging his shoe on the United Nations delegate desk, they did their best to convince the rest of the world that they were violently irrational and liable to do all sorts of things if their demands weren't met. And their demands were met. Rather than going medieval on their asses, the civilized world instead went medieval on anyone who offended the medieval cult of Islam.

Muslim blasphemy, like the ghetto hood's respect is an assertion of supremacy by identity. It isn't a grievance, it's a right of violence, and if you give into it, then you accept the inferior status that comes from being weak in a system where might makes right and killing people, or threatening to, is what makes one man better than another.

Islam is submission. If you submit to Islam, then you're a Muslim. If you submit to a Muslim, then you're a slave. The western blasphemy trial is not the enforced submission of an Islamic legal system that would be crude and brutal, but at least comparatively respectable, it is the enforced submission to Muslim violence. The judges who preside over our blasphemy cases do not believe in Islam, they believe in the danger of Muslim violence. This is not theocracy, it is slavery.

For the moment blasphemy prosecutions still involve trying offenders on some charge other than the obvious one. Low-hanging fruit like Imran Firasat or Mark Youssef are the easiest to deal with. Any man whose freedom depends on the whim of a judge can already be locked up or deported any time without the need for actual charges of heresy to be brought. When that isn't possible, there is always the ubiquitous hate crime which increasingly extends to anything that offends anyone regardless of consequences or intent.

These trials are a contradiction, 21st Century legal codes built on sensitivity and tolerance being used to prosecute deviations from a medieval code of insensitivity and intolerance. But that very same contradiction runs through the modern state's entire approach to Islam. It is impossible to embrace medievalism without becoming medieval. The need to accommodate Islamic medievalism is forcing the medievalization of the modern world's political and legal systems.  

The conflict between the modern world and the Muslim world is being waged by the modern rules of international law and peacemaking on one side and by the medieval rules of brutal violence, insincere offers of peace and bigoted fanaticism on the other. Rather than fighting it on its own terms, the modern world is instead trying to accommodate it on its own terms by accommodating its blasphemy codes.

Trapped in a long-term war, our leaders are looking for ways of making the conflict more manageable. If they can't win the war, they can at least limit the number of attacks. It's not the open book kind of appeasement, but the double book kind. The open book is still patriotic, but the second book in the bottom drawer is running payments to the terrorists and finding ways to accommodate them. And anyone who runs afoul of the second book, also runs afoul of national security.

War often compromises freedoms, but it rarely compromises the freedom to hurt the enemy's feelings. But this is a different sort of war. A war with no enemies and no hope of victory. A war whose only hope is that one day our enemies will become better people and stop trying to kill us. Our enemies are fighting to take away our freedoms and we are fighting to take away our own freedoms in the hopes that if we give up some of them to the enemy, he will settle for them and give up on the rest.

In this sort of war, blasphemy is a serious national security threat, not because it truly is, but because our leaders desperately need their Stockholm control points of appeasement, they need to believe that if they crack down on Koran burnings then they can reduce the fighting by 5 percent or 8 percent and that gives them hope that they can one day reduce it by 100 percent.

The actual numbers don't matter. On the month after Bubba the Love Sponge did not burn the Koran, 50 percent more Americans died in Afghanistan, but the statisticians can always argue that if he had burned it, then 75 percent more or 100 percent more would have died. Islam runs on magical thinking and any effort to appease it must also embrace that same medieval magical thinking. Hoping that blasphemy prosecutions will reduce violence, is psychologically less of a strain than accepting that nothing will, that there is no magic bullet, only regular bullets.

The sort of men who deport filmmakers, when they aren't locking them up, and treat the stunts of shock jocks as a matter of national security, fail to understand that they are not fighting some vague notion of "extremism" which is fed by "extreme" language and actions, but an organized ideology whose goal is not merely preventing Bubba the Love Sponge from burning the Koran, but compelling the Mayor of Tampa and the American commander in Afghanistan to compel Bubba not to burn a Koran.

Islamists have not launched a thousand years war over Bubba; they have done it so that the cities and countries where Bubba and Imran live submit to Islam. Locking up filmmakers and warning off DJ's is not quite up to Saudi and Iranian standards of submission, but it's a start. Once the principle has been established, then the rest is a matter of negotiation. And the negotiations always begin and end with a bang.

There are two laws that govern men; the law of faith and the law of force. The law of faith is followed when you do a thing because you believe it to be right. The law of force is followed when you compel others to do a thing or are compelled to do it by them. Faith at its strongest is more enduring than force, and yet force can be used to change faith.

America has lived under the law of faith, following the laws that it believed to be right. Islam conducts its affairs under the law of force, as it has since the days of Mohammed. American leaders are abandoning their laws of faith to force, giving up on freedom of speech to accommodate the violence of Islam, while forgetting that when you give up faith to force, then you also abandon any further reason to resist that force. Without faith, it is easier to let force win.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Someone Else Will Pay

By On December 25, 2012
From 1977 to 1980, BBC One ran "Citizen Smith", a TV comedy about an aspiring young revolutionary who wore a beret and a Che T-Shirt and did his best to create a Communist Britain while heading up the Tooting Popular Front, consisting of six members, by virtue of shouting "Power to the People" and making up lists of the people he would put up against the wall on the day of the glorious revolution.

This is finally Citizen Smith's time where the lazy and cowardly aspiring revolutionary can create his own Tooting Popular Front, camp out in a public park for a few months, and earn generous media coverage. And for those too lazy to camp out in the spring and summer, there's always hacktivism, the truly lazy man's revolution, download a denial of service program, aim it at a site and watch it go down for a minute, an hour, or perhaps even a day or two.

Social media is full of Citizen Smiths, dressing up in Che avatars and shouting their "Power to the People" slogans in 140 characters or less. And these Citizen Smiths are taken seriously by their older peers in the media who have had their own days of pretending to be Che and now just pretend to be journalists. While the Citizen Smiths create their fake revolution, the grown-up Citizen Smiths show up to cover it, in the great battle for a Communist Britain, America, Australia and also all the rest.

There is a great deal of hard work ahead, such as deciding who to put up against the wall first. Everyone has agreed on the rich, the dreaded 1 percent, except presumably for those 1 percenters funding the revolution and paying the Citizen Smiths who work for NGOs and come up with new social media engagement strategies to tackle economic disparities and that sort of thing.

The Citizen Smiths who speak on behalf of the 99 percent of Tooting have won their great victory in the last election through the wallets of such champions of the working class as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, George Soros and several thousand other billionaires and millionaires, quite a few of whom also fancy being Wolfie Smith more than they want to play the top hat guy from Monopoly. They have struck a blow against the influence of money on politics from some billionaires on behalf of the influence of money on politics from other billionaires.

And with the 1 percent safely disposed of, at least aside from the 1 percent that is running the show and turning the Citizen Smiths from clowns smoking on their girlfriend's couch while drawing up plans for revolution, into men and women sitting in posh offices in corporate towers delegating the drawing up of those plans to subordinates who can actually draw, the revolution marches on.

In Austria, an Australian Professor teaching Musicology, put up his own list of who to bop bop bop when the day of the glorious revolution comes.

"Right now, in the year 2012, these ideas will seem quite crazy to most people. People will be saying that Parncutt has finally lost it," Professor Parncutt wrote, "If someone found this document in the year 2050 and published it, it would find general support and admiration. People would say I was courageous to write the truth, for a change. Who knows, perhaps the Pope would even turn me into a saint."

Parncutt's sainthood may prove somewhat difficult to achieve considering that the people he proposed to put up against the wall on the glorious day include the Pope and his closest advisors, along with prominent critics of Global Warming, who will be put on trial before an international tribunal of qualified scientists, and then be given an opportunity to recant and have their sentence reduced to life in prison. Some modern heretics however would, in Parncutt's words, "would never admit their mistake and as a result they would be executed."

It's easy to laugh at Citizen Parncutt's proposal to bring back heresy trials staffed with modern scientists, but who knows by 2050, when scavengers digging through the rubble around what used to  be London, come across a copy of Parncutt's brilliant manifesto, they will hop on their donkeys and deliver it immediately to the Eco-Pope who will proclaim Parncutt a saint right before the Saracens storm through the barricades.

Even now the difference between Parncutt and a lunatic is that much of the infrastructure to make Citizen Parncutt's dreams a reality already exists. There are international tribunals and an entire political and media frenzy declaring that global warming is the greatest threat of our age. We snicker at fools who took the Mayan apocalypse seriously, but people who would never hide out in a basement because of some ancient prophecy listen to media buffoons drawing up lists of what parts of the world will be underwater in ten years or twenty and take the whole ridiculous thing seriously.

 Parncutt wants you to know that he is not by any means a monster. He opposes the death penalty for murderers, even those like Breivik. It does no good to kill the people who have already killed, our Citizen Parncutt explains, what he would like to do is kill the people who have yet to kill but whose ideas the moral musicologist has decided are deadly.

Such is the humanitarianism of the true progressive who will not kill a serial killer, but will kill those who are truly dangerous. "The death penalty is barbaric, racist, expensive," Parncutt explains, and he will have no truck with barbarically expensive racist death penalties, the only people who truly deserve to be killed according to him are those who, like the Pope and Global Warming skeptics, whose views differ from his own so dramatically that they must be killed to save lives.

"The death penalty is an appropriate punishment for Global Warming deniers who are so influential that one million future deaths can with high probability be traced to their personal actions," Parncutt writes. "Please note also that I am only talking about prevention of future deaths – not punishment or revenge after the event." Naturally. Citizen Parncutt is not motivated by such petty emotions. His revolutionary will-to-kill is as pure as the driven snow.

The good thing about a number as high as one million is that you can kill any number of people if you set the number of people you want to save high enough. If Parncutt were to kill 999,999 people to save 1,000,000, he would still have saved net one person and be ahead of the saint game. And then in 2050 when historians wondered why the Parncutt Popular Front was allowed to pile up all those corpses, the response will be that it was a matter of numbers. They started small and then kept going because they had so much room to spare with all those zeroes and before they knew it  they were only a few corpses short of the big one million. But luckily they stopped with one man to spare and are considered heroes.

"The fact is that Socialism, in the form in which it is now presented, appeals chiefly to unsatisfactory or even inhuman types," George Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier, essays meant to be a defense of Socialism, but showing the strains that would eventually lead him to transform Ingsoc, or English Socialism, into the greatest fictional tyranny in modern literature, "all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of ‘progress’ like bluebottles to a dead cat."

There are more cats and bluebottles than ever. Orwell's description of the Socialist crank now describes the mainstream leadership and a sizable portion of the base of every ruling lefty party you can think of, including the one ensconced in the White House, while shouting about class warfare and power to the people, while pocketing the allowance money from billionaires that allows them to win elections.

Economic crises and crises of all sorts bring their sort out to play more than ever. The children of the 1 percent wear buttons boasting that they are the 99 percent. Every global problem from terrorism to ethnic cleansing is explained purely in economic or environmental terms. And the people playing Citizen Smith and drawing up their lists of who to plant up against the wall are, as Orwell wrote, are not out to join "a movement of the masses", but to enact "a set of reforms which ‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’."

The "hypertrophied sense of order" from Orwell's Socialist "with his pullover, his fuzzy hair, and his Marxian quotation" can be found just as easily in Citizen Parncutt as in Citizen Smith or Citizen Obama. It should not be confused with competence or practical skill, the only area the Smiths ever achieve any skill in is yelling from stepladders about a revolution until they find enough sheep to drive ahead of them to the polls or the battlefields, but with the sort of half-grown men who draw up lists of all the people they'll kill to make the world a better place.

Their sense of order does not extend to actually making the world a better place, but of matching up their inflated sense of self-importance with the power to impose their own whims on the world for their own emotional satisfaction.

"I would just like my grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the human race in general, to enjoy the world that I have enjoyed, as much as I have enjoyed it," Professor Parncutt writes. "And to achieve that goal I think it is justified for a few heads to roll. Does that make me crazy?" And just to make certain that you give the right answer, he adds, "I don't think so."

Crazy is a judgement call. In 1956 drawing up plans to have some international body execute scientists for questioning the interpretation of global temperature readings would have been crazy, but in the age of Citizen Smith it may no longer be. Hitler and Goebbels were both completely insane, and yet they were perfectly adapted to their time and place. They were lunatics, but it was a time when sane men wanted lunatics to tell them what to do and who to kill.

At the tail end of the 70s, Citizen Smith was a joke, but at the dawn of the 2010s, he is an institution, the head of an NGO, a member of the board of a dozen foundations for social and environmental justice, and perhaps even a cabinet minister. Joschka Fischer went from Citizen Smith in the 70s, clubbing police officers and consorting with terrorists, to the Vice-Chancellor of Germany in the oughts. Obama went from Community Organizer Smith in the 90s to the White House in even less time.

This is the age of Citizen Smith. The age of the lazy, egotistical, cowardly, spiteful and petty man of the people, who prefers to avoid the people. This is the age of the 1 percent revolutionary playing the 99 percenter. This is the age of the enemies list, when their work within the system has paid off and it's time to make someone else pay.

"On these streets of no solution/Where the gutters run with tears/I will lead my revolution/I’ve been revolting here for years/‘Cos I’m a people’s man," went the words to the closing song of Citizen Smith, "On the glorious day/Someone else will pay/On the glorious day."

The glorious day of the inglorious man is here. And someone else is paying. Any someone else who isn't him.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Allah Akbar and Ho Ho Ho

By On December 24, 2012
"A flag bearing a crescent and star flies from a flagpole in front of the World Trade Center, next to a Christmas tree and a menorah."

New York Times, 1997

In 1997, Mohammed T. Mehdi, the head of the Arab-American Committee and the National Council on Islamic Affairs, lobbied to have a crescent and star go up at the World Trade Center during the holiday season. His wish was granted, despite the fact that Mehdi had been an adviser to Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman.

In the name of diversity and political correctness, an adviser to the religious leader behind the World Trade Center bombing, was allowed to plant an Islamic symbol of conquest in the very place that had been bombed. Long before the Ground Zero Mosque was even a twinkle in the eye of a violent ex-waiter and a slumlord Imam, the World Trade Center allowed Mohammed T. Mehdi to bully it into flying the symbol of Islam.

By 1997, Mohammed T. Mehdi had become an unambiguously ugly public figure. He had been fired by Mayor Dinkins in 1992 for anti-Semitic remarks. The year before he had proclaimed that, "Millions of Arabs believe Saddam stands tall having defied Western colonialism". In 1995, the US Attorney's Office in New York had listed Mehdi as one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the trial of Sheik Rahman. Mehdi had already published a book titled "Kennedy and Sirhan: Why?", which argued that Robert Kennedy's assassin had been acting in self-defense.

Considering Mehdi's role in actively working on behalf of the Sheik behind the wave of terrorism that included the original attack on the World Trade Center, turning down his request should have been a no-brainer. And yet when all was said and done, in the winter of 1997 there was an Islamic star and crescent at the World Trade Center. And another one at the park in front of the White House. 

The previous year had marked the first annual Ramadan dinner at the State Department, integrating the Islamic celebration into the Clinton Administration's schedule of events. Bill Clinton had not come down to the World Trade Center after the bombing, but in his list of priorities, he did find a way to make time for Ramadan. A month after 9/11, Bush went Clinton one better, when he became the first US President to host a Ramadan dinner at the White House. Many of the Muslim ambassadors at the event were there representing countries that had helped finance Al Qaeda. Little more than a month after the attacks, the President of the United States sat down to break bread with the money men behind the attacks.

But the Star and Crescent flying at the World Trade Center did not prevent it from being targeted in a second greater attack four years later. Nor did the Ramadan dinners keep the plane headed for the White House at bay. It took the self-sacrifice of its American passengers to do that. Instead every gesture of appeasement only seemed to make it worse. Before the star and crescent flew at the World Trade Center, the site suffered only a few dead. After it, thousands dead. The more Ramadan dinners Bush hosted, the more Americans died, because the Star and Crescent and the Ramadan dinners both signified a deliberate blindness to the threat of Islamic terrorism.

No one who understood what had happened at the World Trade Center in 1993, would have permitted a banner associated with its attackers to be flown there. But while the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, let Mehdi have his way with the World Trade Center, other Muslims were working to carry out Sheik Abdel-Rahman's agenda for a war on America and the free world; "Cut the transportation of their countries," the blind Sheik had commanded, "tear it apart, destroy their economy, burn their companies, eliminate their interests, sink their ships, shoot down their planes, kill them on the sea, air, or land."

While the Star and Crescent was blowing in the cold December wind coming off the Hudson River, an even colder wind was blowing out of Hamburg, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. A year earlier Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had come up with the idea and presented it to Osama bin Laden. A year later the operation began to move forward.

While Secretary of State Albright was holding her Ramadan dinners, other Ramadan dinners were being held out of sight at which more substantive events were being discussed. While the US was busy bombing Yugoslavian civilians in order to create a separatist Muslim state for KLA terrorists, Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were recruiting the first of the 9/11 hijackers. While the United States tried to appease Muslims, Muslims plotted to murder Americans.

In 1997, the New York Daily News wrote an upbeat story about Mehdi's Star and Crescent, which envisioned Islam blending in merrily into the holiday season.

New York may seem a little brighter this holiday season as the glowing Muslim crescent and star symbol nudges its way onto a seasonal landscape of Christmas trees, menorahs and Kwanzaa candles.

Watch out, ho, ho, ho-ing Santas you might get drowned out by cheery folks yelling, "Allahu akbar!"

Four years later, cheery folks yelling "Allahu Akbar" had filled downtown Manhattan with ashen snow and brightened it with the flames of the burning towers of the World Trade Center.
The 9/11 hijackers left behind notes, which said among other things, "Shout, 'Allahu Akbar,' because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers". If there were any Santas on those planes, they were certainly drowned out by the cries of "Allah Akbar". And if that didn't drown them out, having their throats being slit by the cheery folks with box cutters surely did.

On the Christmas of 2001, New York City was a city with an open wound. Muslims had finally made their impact on the holiday season in a truly unforgettable way. At Ground Zero, workers were still struggling to search through the remains, looking for bodies or parts of them. "It would be like a gift for somebody," a police officer said, who was spending his holiday searching through the debris. A gift for the non-believers on that holiday season from Islam.

While Muslims were stuffing their faces in November of 2001, Americans were mourning their dead. While Abdul, Mohammed and Raisa were picking through their lamb stew, Americans were picking up the pieces of their loved ones. And yet it was Americans who were repeatedly told to be sensitive to Muslim concerns. 
From Pakistan, Musharraf urged the US to suspend bombing his Taliban allies during Ramadan... in the name of sensitivity. New York City schools were making arrangements for Muslim prayers out of "heightened sensitivity to Muslim concerns after the Sept. 11 attack". Instead of Americans being on the receiving end of "heightened sensitivity", the ideology that had conspired to murder them was.

On the 9th anniversary of 9/11, Islam had another gift for us. Having bought up a building damaged in their own attack, they plotted to set up a grand mosque near Ground Zero. Another gift to New Yorkers from the religion that kept on giving. Another Crescent and Star.

The same people who did not learn the lesson in 1997, and allowed the Crescent and Star to fly at the World Trade Center, were eager to let the Ground Zero Mosque go forward in the name of tolerance. But despite the Crescent and Star, appeasement proved to be no defense. 3,000 people died on 9/11 because American leaders preferred to appease, rather than confront. And we are still busy appeasing, like never before.
 
Allah Akbar and Ho, Ho, Ho.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Madmen and Crowds

By On December 23, 2012
There was a temporary interval in American life when a shooting spree by a madman would have been viewed as the crime of one man. The dead would have been mourned. The killer, if he had been taken alive, would have been punished, and while the memorial might have been accompanied by some leading sermons, the country would have been spared the media exploitation and blame-a-thon that invariably follows such events.

The trouble is that there are no more individuals. Or rather the individual is no longer recognized as having any standing. "All private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger," Roosevelt declared in 1940 to the Democratic National Convention  And the repeal never seems to have been repealed. Instead all private plans and private lives are being constantly repealed by a turmoil of overriding public dangers, most of them sociological in nature.

A shooting takes place and the media urges that millions of firearms be confiscated. Every crisis requires that more freedoms be sacrificed for that overriding public danger that the talking heads are screaming about this week over news feeds from every corner of the globe. There are no more private lives. Only public ones. Everyone will sooner or later pass before the camera and be judged by millions of strangers in a narrative that will transform him or her into a hero or villain in the great social struggle against the public danger of the day.

Calling Adam Lanza a madman has little meaning now. The madman retreats to a private world of his own making. But the collective culture does not recognize madness as a detachment from the crowd. Instead it views it as yet another social malady to be solved. Re-open the asylums. Provide more mental health funding. Open hotlines for anyone with suicidal thoughts. Social solutions for a social society coping with the anti-social.

But even our madmen are public figures now. Cut off from the collective culture by their minds, they still strive to connect to its most fundamental value. Fame.

America's spree killers don't drive pickup trucks with gun racks. They aren't NRA members and have never opened a bible. They are young, mentally ill and famous. They are exactly like the real and fake celebrities who crowd magazine covers, television screens and paparazzi-choked premieres. But they can't sing or dance, and have no unique way to embarrass themselves into staged fame. Instead they kill their way to being famous.

As schizophrenic as our shooters were, as unable to connect to the groupthink of the larger culture, they understood the one thing that we valued. And they got it in a brute force way. They became what every girl with dyed blonde hair waiting on line to impress the judges of television's dueling singing competitions, every waiter with sunglasses waiting to become a movie star on Rodeo Drive, every "internet personality" leaning precariously over a webcam on YouTube, every kid trying out rhymes on his friends and building a fake biography of all the people he shot in drug deals gone bad, want to be. Famous.

In mass culture, fame is the only oxygen of the individual. It is the only thing that distinguishes the vanishing individual from the herd. The celebrity is to 21st Century America as the general, the writer, the poet, the politician and the genius were to former eras. All these things and many more have been distilled down to the simple status of celebrity. You are either famous or you aren't. You either have a private life that everyone knows about or your private life has already been repealed by the overriding public dangers of cow farts, racism and large sodas. You are either a slave to the public or just a public slave.

A culture of crowds makes crazy people even crazier. There's nothing for paranoia like a major city and these days we all live in the major city of a culture that is crowded in even its most rural areas. Crowd culture expects everyone to follow the leader, to join the meme, to move with the flow, but that is something that crazy people cannot do. The madman is always out of step and out of sync, the paranoid schizophrenic occasionally makes a compelling leader, but he is unable to be a follower.

Madness can at its simplest be viewed as the gap between his thinking and our own. Like cultural differences, it often explodes into violence, but unlike cultural differences it cannot be bridged because there is no common language. The madman is a member of a unique culture of one. He is a citizen of himself. He has his own laws, his own values and even his own mental language. And it is one that no sane person will ever understand.

The madman is the ultimate individual dying in his own private rebellions that mean nothing to anyone else. A sane society may lock him up, it may crudely tinker with his brain chemistry or even carve up his gray matter, but it will never truly make him one with the group. And our society, addled by nearly as many drugs as your average madman, is a long way from sane. It flirts with madness in its aimless attempts at reestablishing the place of the individual in a collectivist culture, and it veers recklessly from sympathizing with violence to pretending not to understand where violence comes from. It's the feigned innocence of those who are just jaded enough not to want to know how jaded they have truly become.

If the madman has lost the ability to speak to the crowd, the crowd has equally lost the ability to speak to the individual. The madman suffers from a defective mental vocabulary and the mad society has lost the ability to formulate concepts relating to individual behavior.

In our society the individual is always seen as putting on a public performance of accepting or rejecting group values. All private lives become a public competition to see who recycles the most, is the least racist, the most giving and the best example of what a cog in the great social machine should be. Every individual act is a commentary, not ultimately on the individual, but on the social machine. Crime is no longer a private act, but a public one, that emerges out of social factors such as the poverty rate, race relations, the availability of firearms, cold medication in pharmacies and the amount of funding for midnight basketball, outpatient mental health therapy and a thousand others.

All private plans are a public danger. All individual acts are really collective acts. There is no "I" in individual. There is only the crowd, its avatars who live out their fantasies and entertain them, and the masses shuffling off toward their daily labors until they are released from the grind and allowed a few hours to entertain themselves watching their avatars live a public show of private life.

How does one speak of individual responsibility to such people and how can they be expected to distinguish individualism from madness? The ant hive cannot be expected to think of the ant. It cannot understand anthood apart from the hive.

The Blame-a-Thon continues. Blaming Adam Lanza for his own actions is insufficient. Even blaming his dead mother is insufficient. Individuals do not matter. Only groups do. Corporations. The NRA. The Tea Party. Private tragedy becomes a political event complete with campaign speeches and fundraising letters. Organizations converge. New offices are opened and phone lines are installed. Press conferences are given. "This is a wake up call. A call for action. It's time we did something."

Within an hour, the responsibility is transferred from a killer to the society at large and then to the groups that do not share the values of the new collectivist society. War is declared. Press releases are faxed. Letters are sent out. "We need your help, Michael." "Stand with us, Susan." The dead are buried and their bodies are used to make the mulch of a new wave of political repression and profiteering. The dead, like singing competition contestants, are ultimately disposable, as are their killers. It is the producers and the judges who endure.

Each call to action is signed with the promise, "So that this will never have happen again." That is the sociological siren song of the crowd. The promise of a powerful government safety net that will keep every terrible thing from ever happening a second time. But there is no net that madmen cannot slip through when they choose to. It is possible to repeal the private lives and private plans of all gun owners, but not the private lives and plans of madmen who are not peninsulas, but islands in the stream, who do not care about laws, regulations and expectations. Broken men looking to break.

There is more danger than safety in the crowd. Not only can the crowd not deter a madman, for the same reason that Kitty Genovese bled to death lay dying for an hour, but the crowd is also mad. It is a madness that is harder to detect because it is the madness of a crowd. The individual irrationality of a madman is detectable by outsiders, because of its conflict with the group reality, and even to the person of the madman by that same conflict, which fuels his paranoia toward the outside world, but the group cannot detect its own irrationality and is too large and pervasive for its irrationality to be recognized on the outside.

Our crowd is not yet as collectively insane as Adam Lanza, but it's getting there. And it will not be pretty when it does. The madness of crowds is not a pretty thing. It can be seen in the hysterical crowds that greeted Hitler or the equally hysterical crowds swooning at the sight of a celebrity. Individual madness is flawed chemistry, but crowd madness is a will to madness, a raving desire to be one with the collective view, to be famous or almost famous, to exchange reason for sensation and individuality for the group immortality of the group.

Popular

Categories

Follow by Email