Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Muslim Firsters and Israel Firsters

If you were to suggest in a public forum that just possibly Israel's failure to reach a peace agreement with a terrorist organization, run by kleptomaniacs and homicidal maniacs, which still continues to applaud the murder of Israeli children, might possibly be due to the terrorists and not because of Israel, then according to the consensus of the left, you are an Israel Firster.

The paradigm of the Israel Firster only works if you assume that the America First position is to support Islamic terrorists. Even if we were to dismiss the threat of Islamic terrorism to the United States then a position sympathetic to the territorial claims of Islamic terrorists in Israel would still not be the America First position, it would be the Muslims First position.

The left which deploys names like Israel Firsters is certainly not calling for neutrality in the conflict, rather it would like us to side with the Muslim Brotherhood and the assorted Islamic terrorists scattered throughout the region. Arguably the United States has been doing this for some time already.

Obama stuck his finger in Prime Minister Netanyahu's chest, but bowed to the Saudi King. When he visited Turkey, he made no mention of the Turkish settlements in occupied Cyprus, but when Biden visited Israel, he threw a fit over a partial approval for a few houses in Jerusalem. The United States doesn't fund many terrorist groups, but the bulk of the funding that it allots to terrorists goes to terrorists operating in Israel and killing Israelis.

Last week the State Department put out a list of designated terrorist organization. That list includes the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. The Brigade has not only committed numerous atrocities against Israelis, it at one point threatened to launch terrorist attacks against America. The Brigade is the military arm of the Fatah group which controls the Palestinian Authority. The Authority is the beneficiary of an average of 600 million dollars a year in direct assistance, and indirectly through the UNRWA which has already received an initial 55 million dollars from the United States in 2012.

Terrorists who murder Israelis don't just indirectly benefit from American aid, that money is going to pay the salaries of convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons. Some of those terrorists received training and weapons from the United States. I would like to be able to say that this sort of thing is one of the innovations of the Hussein Administration, but it's an an artifact of two previous administrations.

This is usually how countries treat other countries that they are at war with. In this case it is an artifact, not of an Israel Firster policy, but of a Muslim Firster policy. There is no interpretation of Israel Firster that accommodates the United States arming and funding terrorists. But there is an extensive global policy of rewarding and appeasing Muslims.

Opponents of Israel often complain that they are being "silenced" in some intangible ways, but the United States government has certainly never criminalized criticism of Israel, however it continues to conduct discussions with the OIC, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, on ways to suppress and censor criticism of Islam. Nor has the Secretary of State suggested that critics of Israel should be subject to "peer pressure and shaming", which she has for critics of Islam.

American soldiers have been dying incessantly to protect Muslims for decades now. They died in Somalia to protect aid to Somali Muslims. They died in the Gulf War to liberate Kuwait and protect the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina from Saddam Hussein. They died over Yugoslavia to build a state for the Muslim terrorists of the KLA. Thousands of American soldiers have died to protect Muslims from other Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the last year alone, the United States has helped overthrow secular governments to make way for Muslim ones. When the Libyan ruler refused to resign, Obama sent in NATO jets to bomb his forces into submission so that the Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group could take power.

While the United States abandoned Iranian students protesting against an Islamist regime, it overthrew governments in Egypt and Tunisia to make way for Islamist takeovers. The Saudis got to use tanks in Bahrain, but Gaddafi was hunted down and killed for a genocide that never happened.

What do you call all that but a Muslim Firster foreign policy?

In The Audacity of Hope, a book title taken from a sermon of his vilely Anti-Semitic former Black Muslim mentor, Obama wrote, "I will stand with the Muslims." And he has done it.

Obama has stood with the Muslims in Cote d'Ivorie, where armed force was used to illegally seat a Muslim ruler against the ruling of the country's supreme court. He has stood with the Muslims in Kenya, where his cousin and his Muslim backers forcibly wrote Sharia Law into the Constitution. He has stood with the genocidal Muslims in Indonesia, not the Christian Papuans whose land is occupied and whose representatives are persecuted.

He has stood with Muslims against Denmark and its freedom of speech. He has stood with Muslims against France. He has stood with Muslims against Israel. If slapping down traditional allies on behalf of Muslims is not a Muslim Firster foreign policy, then what is?

The American flag may be burned, the Koran may not. Cartoons depicting Jews as monsters can run, cartoons depicting Mohammed cannot. Six year olds must be strip searched in airports, but the people who actually are a flight risk cannot be singled out in any way.

In Cairo, at Al Azhar University, the home of Egyptian Islamism, Obama boasted that his administration has gone to court to "punish" those who would refuse to accede to the Hijab's oppression of women. We have two new Muslim diplomatic posts. NASA is no longer able to actually reach space, its new chief mission is outreach to the Muslim world. While America is piggybacking on the Russian space program, NASA has gotten a Muslim chief scientist in order to better focus on its core mission of pandering to Islam.

If any other group had received this level of favoritism, this degree of pandering at the expense of everyone else, the outrage would have been boundless. But we dare not say anything. Those who offend Muslims are held responsible for the murder of American soldiers by Muslims. In this perverse moral landscape, to speak out against the bigotry and hate preached by the Koran is to be responsible for the atrocities that the bigots will commit in outrage that anyone has spoken ill of their genocidal text.

Meanwhile the Muslim Firsters keep chanting Israel Firster at anyone who doesn't agree that Israel is the worst country on the planet. Anything that gets in the way of the Muslim Firster foreign policy program is denounced in the most ruthlessly bigoted language possible, and when those who use it are called on it, they claim that there is a Jewish conspiracy to silence them.

This kind of obnoxious behavior has become routine. The consensus among Muslim Firsters is that Charles Freeman was a highly qualified candidate to head the National Intelligence Council, despite working at a front group for Saudi Arabia. In an interview, Freeman said that, "It is irresponsible not to question Israeli policy and to decide what is best for the American people.” But no one is allowed to question Saudi policy or decide if the Saudi Muslim lobby and its countless affiliates should be deciding what is best for the American people.

Israeli policy is questioned non-stop. Hardly a week goes by without editorials in every newspaper complaining that Netanyahu hasn't spent enough time at the negotiating table with one half of an unelected Palestinian Authority government. When a bunch of lunatics held protests outside a girls school in a town in Israel that hardly anyone in the media had ever heard of before, there were a thousand news stories. When Saudi Arabia beheaded a woman for witchcraft, the story was quickly buried, along with her body. Unlike the Israeli school story, Hillary Clinton did not feel the need to comment on it. Not that the Saudis would listen. Masters don't pay attention to slaves.

The thirty-five Christians arrested in Saudi Arabia at a prayer service and then beaten and subjected  to body cavity searches last month, are not an item for our foreign policy agenda. No matter how many American soldiers died, how many more were wounded and how many have gone on suffering from undiagonsed ailments in order to keep the House of Saud safe from Saddam. The thousands of Americans who died on September 11 because an opponent of the Saudi regime saw the presence of American forces in the holy land of Islam as an opportunity to declare a holy war against the United States are all part of the price we pay for the Muslim Firster agenda.

Carter helped replace a secular government in Iran with an Islamist terror state. The United States has been protecting the Gulf oil clans for most of the 20th century despite the domestic brutality of their slave states and the covert war they have been conducting against us. Now Obama has turned half of North Africa into an Islamist paradise. And the Muslim Firsters still aren't happy.

They want Israel and they want Europe on a platter. They want to eliminate freedom of speech and silence anyone who speaks out about the countless dead and the destruction of free nations that will follow if they get their way.

After decades of the Muslim Firster agenda, we are under siege. There is hardly a nation in the free world that isn't scrambling to study Israeli anti-terrorism techniques, because they are all becoming Israel. France has its own Intifada. Oslo is dangerous enough that the American embassy has to put out an advisory. London is swiftly becoming Londonistan. The end of the last states that might have been described as Muslim and secular is swiftly approaching. And still the Muslim Firsters haven't had enough, but maybe it's time that the rest of us have had enough of them.

If they want to condemn a Pro-Israel bias in American foreign policy, then let's take a long honest look at whom American foreign policy really helps and which group it puts first.

Monday, January 30, 2012

American Tyrants

When Elizabeth Warren went on MSNBC to deny that she was a member of the 1 percent despite her nearly 15 million dollar net worth, the denial had a cultural element to it. Despite being a millionaire, Warren did not see herself as "wealthy".

The current debate over the 1 percent and the 99 percent is notable mainly for the shifting boundaries that are not based on economics, but on identity. For all its 'Power to the People' antics American liberalism is not a movement of struggling people, there is a reason why the word limousine so often comes before liberal. Its roots lie in an upper class New England strata that relentlessly fought against Southern Baptists and working class Catholic immigrants. Those roots define modern day liberals much more so than the Jacksonian populism that they occasionally try to imitate. 

The American liberal is not a populist, he is still a New England preacher, but without a religion to preach. He has a great faith in the virtues of an ordered moral society, even if that ordered moral society would have been completely incomprehensible and unacceptable to his forebears. It is a society based on the virtues of tolerance and the rule of the enlightened.

The inflow of the European left has brought in a strain of power to the people populism, but that has not made the American liberal take seriously the notion that the people whose rights he defends are his intellectual or social equals, no more than the 19th century New York Republicans patting African-Americans on the head while stomping on the Irish viewed either group as equals.

American liberalism has traveled a slightly altered road to get to the same place. But its place is still at the top and everyone else's place is still at the bottom. Its persistent denial of this basic truth leads to the perennial absurdity of millionaires like Elizabeth Warren playing class warrior when the only class they represent is the class of people who work for the government.

The oligarchy which is busy bleeding the country dry does not represent any group of working people anywhere in the country. Not Protestant or Catholic, black or white, or of any other creed or identity. Like every ideology incarnated in a system, it represents its own interests. The Democratic Party is the government party. It exists to create jobs in government, to dispense government subsidies and to expand the power and scope of its organization. It is not fundamentally any different than Putin's United Russia or Israel's Kadima or similar political creatures around the world.

The strange intermarriage of New England moralists, New York merchants and European radicals eventually led to a system of pushing immigrants into government service, mandating tolerance and running every aspect of human life through Washington D.C. It took a while to get there, but the system is a decade or two away from being complete. When it is complete then all our lives will be run in every possible way by the Elizabeth Warrens who will smile condescendingly at us, nudge us in the direction we are supposed to go, and when we don't go there, then the fines and the tasers come out.

No matter how far back you go, the roots of American liberalism lie in a fear of the people, a distrust of the great unwashed. American liberals have championed voting rights, so long as they were confident that those voting were their inferiors and could be herded into voting the right way. They have always distrusted the instincts of the public, no matter how much pious ink they spilled fighting on their behalf.

That view of man's sinful nature still informs their deepest thinkers, and the sins are still the same, the failure of fellowship, the refusal to consider the welfare of others and march in lockstep to create that ideal society. The New Jerusalem of universal brotherhood. Those ideas have been dressed up in modern clothing, transmitted as denunciations of racism and bigotry, immigration advocacy and hate crime laws, but underneath is the same notion that a society of good will to all can be forced through rigorous regimentation by the truly enlightened.

The populism of the American liberal is a cynical dumbshow where representatives of the oppressed gather in conclaves to demand more oppression by their liberal oppressors. This spectacle is at the heart of a political oligarchy, which like every oligarchy is built on government subsidies and special access to power for the privileged. And like all oligarchies it must disguise its nature by playing the protector of the people. Unlike them it must also disguise its true nature from itself.

The convergence of the ideal society and the government society was inevitable from the start. It took a while to overcome the technological and cultural barriers to running an entire country from a central point. Those barriers have never been truly overcome, but the technocratic mirage makes it seem as if they have been. And the ongoing faith in a perfectible society run by the saints makes it seem as if it must be.

The American liberal would still like to play at being humble, a 99 percenter fighting against the chimera of a 1 percent oligarchy. But the entire 99 percent theme is that the 1 percent isn't paying enough taxes. And whom do those taxes go to but to the administration and employment of the professional class warrior millionaires.

It is the very Everest of hypocrisy for the members of the oligarchy to be bemoaning all the extra tax money that could be used to pay their six figure salaries, while passing off their naked greed as a crusade on behalf of the oppressed.

There is nothing of working class advocacy in a government party looking to shovel more tax revenues into the insatiable gaping maw of its bureaucratic machinery. The idea that those monies will be used to help the downtrodden is a delusion that a brief glimpse at how much money went to connected companies and to the expansion of the government bureaucracy should easily cure. This isn't any 99 percent at work here. It's the 9 percent against the 63 percent.

Warren thinks of herself as not wealthy because despite her millions, she is engaged in the pious practice of public service. However big her financial resources may be, they are part of the collective whole of the oligarchy and in a different category altogether from the wealth that is earned or inherited.

To the American liberal, riches are not a matter of economics, but of identity. Wealth is a moral entity, not an economic one. What distinguishes pious millionaires like Warren from the heathens who make their money the old fashioned way is that the former achieve it through the moral pursuit of the public good, which is all the more pious for taking them to a Harvard professorship or a job in government, while the latter achieve it through economic transactions in the private sector. The former is a form of public service, the latter is public exploitation.

But a closer look at the bones and carcass of this system turns those definitions on their head. It is the Warrens who are the exploiters, consuming the wealth of a nation and spawning more committees, regulations and regulatory committees to keep on feeding off the wealth. What they give to us in exchange for what they take is not a service, it is oppression masquerading as feudal protectionism.

The American liberal is eager to protect us from powerful interests, but who will protect us from his protection, and who will turn off that protection and the money it costs us to pay for it, and worse still the freedoms that are consumed in order that we may be properly protected from ourselves.

No tyrant looks in a mirror and sees an oppressor. Tyrants are always protectors of the people. And our own American Tyrants are equally certain that they are the protectors of a people who would otherwise run off cliffs, throw lawn darts at each other, tear the tags off mattresses, make racist jokes, open pill bottles too easily, have inappropriate opinions and reinforce the oppressive heteronormative patriarchy which they have thoughtfully replaced with a vast echoing bureaucratic state in which everyone is free to be different in the same way.

The American liberal does not like the people very much. Most disguise it a bit better than Elizabeth Warren but that discomfort is always there. And the discomfort comes with a distrust. They don't like us and they don't trust the sort of shenanigans we might get up to when they aren't looking. Instead they are always looking, always nudging, always telling us what to think and how to live and otherwise protecting us from ourselves.

The tyrannical impulses were always there in American liberalism and like water on lilies, power brought them forth. Now we live under a system which strangles us to protect us from ever getting rid of it. The men and women strangling us smile awkwardly and tell us that it is for our own good. This tyranny for our own good requires that they toss aside our laws and replace them with their own. It requires that they spend us into bankruptcy, with much of the proceeds going to them, but in the name of a higher cause. And it demands that we praise them and if we won't do that, then it demands that we shut up and stop broadcasting our dissatisfaction. There is no place in their ideal national community for people like us.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weaponizing the Passenger Plane

On September 11 the passenger jet as a weapon came crashing into the consciousness of the citizens of the country which had made international air travel viable. Muslim terrorists had viewed planes in terms of the passengers and hijacked planes to take people hostage. But at the beginning of the millennium it was no longer the people that mattered, only the use of the plane as a makeshift missile aimed at the institutions and infrastructure of the free world.

This change of tactics was a game changer because it meant the potential casualties of airplane hijackings were no longer limited to the passengers in the air who were now flying around in ICBM's with much less explosive payload, but enough to take down skyscrapers and kill thousands of people. Every passenger was no longer just a risk to other passengers, but a risk to everyone in the Empire State Building, the Sears Tower or any other clumping of people in target areas that could be hit.

Jet engine aircraft had passed from military to civilian applications, but the military applications of high speed transportation now returned to dominate the civilian tourism and travel industry that had sprung up and become widely available at the cost of jet travel went down.

The most obvious military application of high speed travel is troop transportation and the Muslim world had been using the jet plane for transporting millions of settlers to Western countries. To most citizens of the free world, the military applications of this wave of settlement were not obvious. They would not become obvious until the settlers had given birth to second and third generations which became  demographic and domestic terrorist threats. And even then it would remain mostly undiscussed.

With the settlement project going full swing, transforming the vehicles of Muslim demographic conquest into flying missiles was dangerous, but the use of domestic flights sidelined much of the security and the discussions that would have followed had the 9/11 hijackers hijacked flights from outside the country. The use of domestic flights by Muslim terrorists who had spent extensive time in America and Europe revealed just how comfortable the Jihad had become operating on infidel soil.

Muslim enclaves in America and Europe made it easier for terrorists entering the United States to operate and for the rise of native born Muslim terrorists. At a time when Bin Laden's role had declined, the man who eclipsed him briefly even before his death and played a role in a series of attacks against the United States was Anwar Al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico, whose termination by drone is still agonized over in some liberal and libertarian circles.

September 11 went beyond previous airline hijackings which had managed to make air travel more dangerous, but not permanently so. Those hijackings had temporarily hijacked the infrastructure of air travel, but the weaponization of passenger aircraft did so permanently. The damage extended beyond international air travel and border security, it reached deep into the infrastructure of domestic air travel which Americans had come to rely on to transverse a large nation with a handicapped rail system.

The rise of Muslim populations in the West made Islamic terrorism into a domestic problem in societies under a legal and cultural mandate to eliminate any negative or discriminatory attitudes toward minorities. That attitude made profiling too dangerous a topic to discuss openly, just as the specific sources of terrorism could not be discussed except in terms of American foreign policy. The only way for those societies to cope was with broad range laws and tactics that applied to everyone.

Nanny state nations had been drifting into police states through the inevitable logic of centralized bureaucracy and urban malaise. There was a growing number of regulations that had to be enforced and immigration, economic uncertainty and industrial decline created crime problems that made entire portions of world capitols uninhabitable without increasingly systematic police tactics.

The creeping militarization and federalization of American law enforcement had kept pace with the rise of crime syndicates, rapid transportation, deadlier weapons and regulatory overreach. As civil liberties monitoring increased, the laws became broader and law enforcement discretion vanished. Combined with doses of sociology and psychology, law enforcement no longer enforced laws, it enforced attitudes. Statistical analysis allowed for broad targeting of neighborhoods and cities with crackdowns meant to change the attitudes of residents on quality of life offenses.

While this was considered a triumph for conservative politicians, it meant that law enforcement had become the billy club of the nanny state. Laws mattered less than nudging, fining and terrorizing the residents into maintaining the right attitude toward their neighborhood and their city. Systematic procedures developed by experts to be carried out by anyone with the right training were the future of law enforcement. The police officer with instincts and a feel for the neighborhood was on the way out. The future was the TSA.

That this process had worked well enough in urban areas said less about its effectiveness and more about the dysfunctional cities created by half a century of liberal regulationism. In the wake of the programs the cities had not become any better, the process of managing their residents however had vastly improved. But all the management really did was keep the lid on while the subsidies were poured in. And the most vital element was still the old fashioned cop who understood the area, while his captain was hard at work meeting with community leaders.

The TSA emerged out of this environment as another reflexive denial of the problem and applied the same solution. Broad range security procedures that applied to everyone, but this time they were overseen by people who would not have been accepted to work in any police force in the country. This was the age of the mall cop set up as the first line of national defense with the power to steal, grope and single out passengers for the most trivial of reasons. The one thing that the mall cops of the TSA were not allowed to do was profile terrorists.

Strip searching children was fine, alienating Muslims was not. Children after all were not likely to become offended and blow up buildings. Muslims were and the entire purpose of the TSA was to apply broad range security procedures that did not single out or offend Muslims.

Like most mall cops, the real purpose of the TSA was to provide the perception of security, rather than the reality. The TSA was never really meant to stop an actual terrorist and it never has. All it could hope to do was discourage them. Its real goals however were to restore confidence in air travel and reshape public attitudes to make flyers easier to manage.

The latter seems to miss the point of the crisis, but it actually is the point. Leaders who don't know how to cope with a crisis respond by limiting the freedom of action of those under them. Generals, CEO's or directors all follow the same pattern of ensuring compliance in subordinates to make the system more manageable and remove as many possible sources of chaos from the system.

Islamic terrorism has shut down the decision making process of the modern Western state by attacking their core assumptions about the future being a place of open borders, multicultural populations and international consensus. Instead rapid air travel is a threat, multicultural cities are becoming No Go Zones and the future is heading toward a clash of civilizations.

The assumptions on which they built their vision of the future are crumbling under them creating the kind of situation where good leaders reevaluate and admit their mistakes while bad leaders try to keep pushing forward in the hopes that this is only a temporary problem. A passing phase that can be resolved by reaching out to the Muslim world, encouraging their reforms and stabilizing their conflicts. Any remaining tensions would be dealt with the time honored methods of liberals, fighting discrimination and promoting positive role models, while covering up the mess by giving law enforcement broad powers over everyone.

A single major successful terrorist attack that gets by the TSA will result in major cosmetic changes for the agency, but no substantial ones. And the lack of meaningful debate over the nature of the problem that it exists to solve means that we are stuck in a debate between broad range security measures and hard line libertarians, both of whom deny that there even is a war on terror. The one thing to come out of a debate between Eric Holder and Ron Paul is that neither believes that Islamic terrorism is a problem, which means that neither of them has anything to say about a solution.

The war against us has been made possible by a leadership that is unable to identify the problem, let alone formulate a meaningful response to it. The weaponization of the passenger plane represented one aspect of how the enemy undermined and exploited our assumptions. Everything that has happened since then has been more of the same.

The jet plane brought the world closer within reach, without considering the consequences of what that growing proximity would mean.The airline hijackings, mass migration and deployment of hijacked aircraft to cause mass destruction all shifted the balance of power over global transportation away from the builder societies of the free world and toward the destroyer societies of the Muslim world.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Free Market Socialism

Before Obama got around to digging up his copy of last year's State of the Union address, crossing out a few lines, adding something about Iraq and Bin Laden, before heading out for another round of golf, David Brooks wrote a New York Times column urging Obama not to forget to mention the importance of promoting education for a free market economy. He titled it, Free-Market Socialism.

Now the idea that Obama or any Democratic politician running for the presidency would forget to mention what has become the chief talking point of their political class on jobs and globalization is about as likely as Bill Clinton taking a vow of chastity. When the working class timorously asks where the jobs are, that are always told the jobs are mostly gone and the only way they will ever come back is if they educate themselves for the better jobs that are out there somewhere.

Obama has added the refrain has added to it a warning that if we don't spend more money on education that China will out-compete us. Given that China's biggest asset is cheap labor and our assets are factories that are too expensive to run, natural resources we can't touch and a massive over-educated and over-entitled class that was promised jobs and instead got student loans, it's hard to see how more of the same will fix the problem.

If our chief competitors in the economic arena were Russia, Japan or Sweden, pushing college degrees might make more sense. Or at least engineering degrees, but we're not losing a competition for college jobs, we're losing a competition for industries. American manufacturing hasn't gone down the tubes because we don't have enough college grads, it's gone down the tubes because it became too expensive and too difficult to be worth the effort.

New York, Minnesota and North Dakota have some of the highest degree rates in the country. New York has 8 percent unemployment. North Dakota has 3 percent unemployment. Because as it turns out degrees do not magically create jobs. They can only fit existing jobs. New York has a surplus of graduates. North Dakota seems to have just about enough though I suspect a sizable amount of that 3 percent are degree holders too.

To prop up his thesis, Brooks reaches for an Atlantic article that studies the case of a South Carolina woman who works on an assembly line, who had to drop out of school due to a pregnancy and is raising two children as a single mother making it difficult for her to continue her education. Instead she makes 13 dollars an hour in a unskilled job.

Brooks expects us to see this as a tragedy when quite a few college graduates would kill for a 13 dollar an hour job. The woman had planned to go to a four year college to become an animal control officer. The website for one South Carolina county advertises an animal control officer position at 15 dollars and 28 cents an hour.

Would Brooks' victim really be better off if she had gone into debt for a four year college program only to earn less than 2.50 more an hour? And would anyone really be better off with another government employee on the payroll instead of a productive worker?

The ability to get a decent paying work in the manufacturing sector is what really built a prosperous middle class in the United States. The decline of that middle class has been proportional to the growth industry in bureaucratic activists. Take the factory that is the topic of piece. Why is it located in South Carolina? Among other things, South Carolina is a right to work state and a business friendly state. Moving to South Carolina is a patriotic alternative to moving to China.

Rather than ask why there's a factory in South Carolina that's operating close to the economic redline as a family owned business competing with international conglomerates, the Atlantic and Brooks wonder how the workers can be moved into better paying jobs. As it turns out they can't be because there is no money for it. And there's no money for it because the cost of manufacturing is too high.

For decades the Democrats have offered the same technocratic prescription, more education for the high paying technology jobs of tomorrow. Never mind that our technology revolution was the brainchild of college dropouts and outsourced to Chinese factories. The high tech jobs of tomorrow are still in Shanghai and technology has made outsourcing much easier than ever. The technology revolutions of tomorrow will only do the same thing. Americans can take the lead in innovation, but unless those innovations are translated into viable manufacturing jobs than all the brilliant ideas coming out of Harvard and Yale grads will still end up being assembled in Chinese factory towns.

When Democratic presidents went around touting the college mantra did they seriously believe that we could replace every lost job with a college job without further raising the costs to employees and employers resulting in a continuing diminution of purchasing power? And did they really believe that those jobs wouldn't be able to be outsourced either? If Clinton could have feigned naivete back in the nineties, today when radiology, records and programming jobs are being organically outsourced at the establishment level it's more ridiculous than ever for Obama to make the same old college pitch.

We already have David Brook's "Free Market Socialism" which has done a fantastic job of attracting unskilled workers who take jobs at lower rates than American workers do. All those policies have done is attract illegal aliens who want the benefits and are willing to work at illegal per hour wages and without the rules and regulations. They haven't empowered Americans to work, all they have done is expanded the underclass by undermining working class jobs.

The higher education boondoggle has done an excellent job of shifting jobs from the private sector into the public sector through government or government subsidized jobs. The shift is as much cultural as it is economic, its mainspring is the perception that ordinary jobs are worthless and the truly meaningful jobs are their kinds of jobs. The culture extends to the kind of people that they seek to create. Out with the working middle class, in with the college graduate who has spent an extra four years being programmed by the more sophisticated model of their indoctrination machine and who will think more like them and live more like them, who will share their values and politics.

Mass education also devalues the actual education being received. Today's college students know less than yesterday's high school graduates. Today's high school graduates know less than a middle schooler from 50 years ago. And there is no way around that. Tossing everyone into the same system and expecting the same results leads to a lower quality system. The more education is universalized, the more it is simplified.

Making matters worse is technocratic standardization which insists that the only reason some students fail is inadequate teaching or funding, which leads to more money being tossed into the shredder and more national standards that expect teachers to accomplish the impossible. Either the results have to be faked or the standards have to be lowered. Usually a combination of both which leads to a nation where everyone has a degree and no one knows anything.

Russia, which still leads the world in degrees, mastered this version of universal education in the Soviet period, pumping out degrees for everyone, while still lagging behind the rest of the world in every area that mattered. Like so many other collective efforts, its mass production and central programming did not lead to success, it led to worthless results and purely statistical achievements.

Like the Soviet Union we can push to be the nation with the most degrees dispensed, which will be a costly statistical achievement because our educational system costs a good deal more than the Soviet one did. The USSR could afford to process students like cattle, but trying to duplicate this achievement with a college education that often costs as much as a house, will lead to a huge burden on the taxpayers and on the students.

Obama's response to this economic reality was equally predictable. Faced with high costs, socialists demand that the producers lower their prices. Obama demanded that universities bring tuition down, which if he is really serious about it they will do. At a price. The cost of higher education may be inflated, but it's not going to be reduced by cutting the non-essentials, it's going to be reduced by cutting the essentials, which means an education that will be increasingly worthless as the mass production model is used to drive costs down.

In the State of the Union, Obama demanded that all states compel students to finish high school. And after that why not make higher education into a mandatory mandate as well? If everyone can be forced to buy health care, then the same economics can be applied to forcing everyone to buy a higher education as well. Sallie Mae will get more customers and colleges will get reluctant students that they can quickly dispense with at low cost and high profit. Call it ObamaEducation.

Will any of this help us beat China? About as well as the Soviet Union beat us with its degree mills. Our problems are not that we don't have enough education options, it's that we have a liberal elite with a disdain for traditional jobs and a conservative elite with a disdain for protecting American jobs. Combine the two elites together and you get the Free Market Socialism that Brooks is calling for. But there's no need to call for it, it's already here.

Between the socialists and the free traders, we're bleeding jobs and industries, we are overwhelmed by immigrants and the cost of subsidizing a post-American society on a post-American economy. And no amount of degrees is going to fix that as long as we have a surplus of ideologues talking about jobs, without considering the real world consequences of their policies.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Afternoon Roundup - Dredging the Bottom



Republican primaries are like visiting embarrassing relatives, no matter how bad you think it's going to be, it always turns out to be even worse. After months of this we're going to have a convention where we will be asked to believe in one of these men.

The latest attack is that Gingrich was actually anti-Reagan or at least had strong differences with Ronald Reagan. That is a serious attack or would be, if the conclusion to be drawn from even the heavily censored and selected quotes are that Gingrich thought Reagan was being too liberal.

So far the revelations are that Gingrich wanted budget spending frozen, Reagan refused because it would undermine defense. Gingrich said of Reagan's meeting with Gorbachev that it was, "the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich." And overall that the United States lacked a comprehensive dedicated strategy for defeating the USSR.

The takeaway is that Gingrich was attacking Reagan from the right. Which is not all that damning unless you assume that any deviation from Reagan's positions in any direction is treason. It seems to help Gingrich's conservative credentials more than it hurts him.

If you actually look at the context of some of the remarks, then the tone changes a great deal.

"The fact is that George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Irving Kristol, and Jeane Kirkpatrick are right in pointing out the enormous gap between President Reagan's strong rhetoric, which is adequate, and his administration's weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail."

Was Gingrich wrong? His views on sitting down with Gorbachev were not all that unusual for many conservatives at the time. Freezing spending might not have been that bad of an idea, whether it was workable is another question. And the United States did not have much of a strategy for defeating the USSR, which spared us the trouble by defeating itself.

When Romney distanced himself from Reagan he appeared to be doing it from the left, the Gingrich attacks appear to have come from the right. The only way they work is if we detach Reagan from conservative principles and place him above them.

As a bonus. Misleadingly edited videos always help make the case. More at The Hayride

Jeffrey Lord at the American Spectator has a piece putting some of the quotes in context, but he doesn't provide the complete floor statement either. It would be good if he did, to avoid all these snippets and see what Gingrich actually said in full so we can decide for ourselves.




SMOKING A KORAN

Pakistan’s largest real export is its off-the-books heroin trade and its economy runs on heroin. The ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, which backed the Taliban, also took a cut of Afghanistan’s highly profitable opium trade. Iranian and Pakistani interference in Afghanistan marry their Islamic initiatives with the drug trade as Sunnis and Shiites compete for the lucrative traffic in the world’s leading source of opium which is smuggled through Pakistan and Iran.

Speaking of Iran, the Islamic Republic has the world’s highest percentage of heroin addicts, and the traffic is run by the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution which acts as the religious thugs of the ayatollahs. One of their means of smuggling heroin out of Iran is piggybacking the trade on Shiite Muslim pilgrims visiting holy sites abroad.

The Muslim world doesn’t have much to export besides oil and drugs. Countries that don’t have oil export drugs. Countries that do have oil, export drugs anyway. Terrorist groups with their secret cells, forged documents and covert funding sources make perfect drug smuggling networks until it is impossible to tell whether they are Islamic terrorists who smuggle drugs to fund their operations or drug smugglers who kill people to religiously justify their drug smuggling. When the commanders and the foot soldiers have spent enough time in the drug trade and are sampling their own product then they stop knowing the difference.

See my entire piece on the Islamic drug connection at The Islamic Paradise of the Needle and Powder




LOOK TO THE FUTURE

The good news is that our economy is recovering. We have not only broken the back of the recession, but kicked in the spleen of its brother the depression, and karate chopped the wrist of its uncle, the complete economic meltdown. The stock market is riding high thanks to its transformation from an index of companies, to an index of racehorses and greyhounds. I have been told by GE CEO Jeff Immelt that his horse, Foreseeable Disaster is coming up 4th, behind Microsoft's Blue Nag of Death, GM's Safety Issues and EcoTech's Al Gore. Betting is high and anyone who wants to get in on the action, please come see Vice President Biden in the cashier's cage to the right.

And there is still more good news. After yesterday's speech commemorating those killed in the Seattle Polar Bear Invasion, my popularity has shot up all the way to 27 percent. This puts me ahead in the polls, in front of my rivals, Republican challenger, George Prescott Bush III and my Neo-Monarchist challenger, the King of Nebraska, but still well behind Chinese Supreme Leader Hu Jintao, who has seized control of several key states.

Additionally with my new proposal to take all our remaining money and bury it in Michelle's vegetable garden, we may finally have a plan to cut spending that really works. At least until we dig it up that same night and spend it on one of those really bad ideas that I and my advisers come up with when we get high together.

How I saw the State of the Union Address 2012 shaping up. It could still happen...





THE WORDS... THEY HAVE NO MEANING

"To talk with Gingrich supporters is to enter a world where words have no meaning...  Romney is now the only remaining candidate for president who opposes amnesty for illegals."

From Coulter's "Re-elect Obama: Vote Newt"



"Romney described immigration proposals by McCain and others as 'quite different' from amnesty, because they required illegal immigrants to register with the government, work for years, pay taxes, not take public benefits, and pay a fine before applying for citizenship. 'That's very different than amnesty, where you literally say, 'OK, everybody here gets to stay,''

Boston Globe, 3/16/07





THERE ARE NO ATHEISTS IN MUSLIM FOXHOLES

The trajectory of persecution is not very difficult to calculate. In the UK, Muslims outnumber Jews six to one. In France, Muslims outnumber Jews ten to one, and in Sweden by as much as twenty-five to one. These are not just numbers; they also accurately chart the trajectory of religious persecution, with the Muslim persecution of Jews spiking horrifyingly in Sweden, high in France, but not as high in England. One reason why the situation is not yet as bad as in the United States is because Jews still outnumber Muslims at least two to one.

Muslim persecution of a hated minority group increases proportionally in relation to their numerical advantage. Atheists are a larger percentage of the population in Europe, but demographics are still catching up to them. In the United States the demographic race may already be done, as far as atheists are concerned.

In the United States approximately 0.7 percent of the population identifies as atheist and 0.8 percent of the population as Muslim. If these surveys are correct then the number of Muslims in the United States has already exceeded the number of atheists. While not a single member of Congress identifies as an atheist, two identify as Muslims.

from my article, The Most Dangerous Place to be an Atheist






BUT HE ONLY SUPPORTS RAPING US AT THE STATE LEVEL

Whether you like a state-wide insurance mandate or not, it's a world of difference when the federal government does it... It was on account of the difference between state and federal powers that the Supreme Court overturned the federal Violence Against Women Act. The court was not endorsing rape, but reminding us that states make laws about rape, not Congress.

Romney supported the idea of other states doing something along the lines of his health care bill, but always opposed insurance mandates from the federal government (just as I oppose the federal government issuing general laws about rape, but support state laws against rape.)  

From that same bulletin from CoulterWorld.

So Coulter's proposal is that we nominate a rapist because his rapine instincts are governed by the Constitution and though he supports rape at the state level, he will oppose it at the Federal level.

The only thing keeping Romney from raping us at the Federal level (Coulter's metaphor, not mine) is that he's apparently solid on State's Rights. Probably as solid as he is on immigration, the second amendment, abortion, gay rights and well any other issue.

If we do put our faith in Romney as a rapist within the Constitution, then he'll hand out the state waivers on ObamaCare. But what if he prioritizes rape over constitutionalism just like every other president from both parties going back further than we would like to think about?

If a candidate opposes a policy, then regardless of his Constitutional integrity, we at least have some confidence that he will not implement it. But if a candidate supports a policy, but opposes it only at the Federal level, then we have to put our faith in his restraint to not use the powers of the office that he has, or in this case to actively use them to undermine a policy that he supports in practice, but not in legal principle.

Ron Paul might have an inkling of credibility arguing that he would not enact a policy that he supports at the Federal level. Considering his earmarks dance, it's a small inkling, but he at least has some credibility on the issue.

With Romney, his establishment defenders have been reduced to arguing that Romney may support the practice of ObamaCare, but he will oppose it to protect states rights. Not only is this position ridiculous, not only does it ask us to take so much on faith that it's downright mindboggling. In Coulter's own metaphor it asks us to elect a rapist and trust that his principles will prevent him from raping us.

Worst of all Coulter has conceded and even defended the mandate, and is now just arguing against it on a Federal level.

"In a world where words have meaning, Mitt Romney is not the "moderate" in this race. He is the most conservative candidate."

The problem is that in CoulterWorld, the words mean something different than they mean here. It's entirely legitimate to state that none of the remaining three candidates are conservative. That is a defensible view.

Billing a man who called himself progressive and repeatedly disavowed the conservative label until it came in handy, who is conservative is demeanor, but has no consistent conservative record on the issues, as the most conservative candidate is a head spinner.

To seriously believe that Romney is more conservative than Santorum isn't the worldview of a world where words have meaning, it's a world where the word conservative has no meaning.





BUFFALOED SPENDERS

Yesterday, the Republican-controlled House passed HR 1022, a bill that would require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of the history of Buffalo Soldiers in the establishment of national parks.  The study will cost $400,000.

Voting in favor of this fantastic piece of budget cutting legislation was budget cutting hero, Paul Ryan. Michelle Bachmann voted against.

In between various bills about the importance of the budget, Ryan voted to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating prehistoric, historic, and limestone forest sites on Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as a unit of the National Park System.

The bill was co-sponsored by five Democrats and one Republican. Can we really afford to be extending the national park system into the Northern Mariana Islands. Is that really the priority now?




SOROS MANUFACTURED CHAOS IN ISRAEL

In the warm summer of 2011, a twenty-something Israeli named Daphne Leef set up a Facebook protest page agitating against the high cost of housing in Tel Aviv. She pitched a tent and helped touch off a social protest movement that received national and international attention.

While the protests were billed as grassroots, there was nothing grassroots about them. The protests had been organized and funded by the New Israel Fund. Daphne Leef worked as a video editor for the New Israel Fund.

In the winter of that same year, as the protests had died down, a woman named Tanya Rosenblit boarded a bus which runs through religiously hyper-conservative neighborhoods and staged an incident with the passengers. Rosenblit was dubbed an Israeli Rosa Parks and her stunt helped generate waves of articles about major social problems in Israel.

Rosenblit was associated with One Voice, an organization funded by the New Israel Fund, whose board included Alon Liel, the husband of New Israel Fund director Rachel Liel. Hardly had the NIF gotten through manufacturing one phony social protest movement than it was hard at work on another.

See the entire piece at Front Page Magazine in Soros Manufactured Chaos in Israel




AND NOW THE ROUNDUP

Western Rifle Shooters has found a truly fantastic illustration to go with my SOTU parody. This should be Obama's presidential portrait.

Dress for success and the going rate for a 99 percent secretary

Romney hearts Hezbollah's health care system from Pamella Galler at Atlas Shrugs The takeaway here is that Romney operates on truisms from the same foreign policy experts who helped put the Brotherhood into power. He really does not get it.

Hezbollah and Hamas and the Brotherhood in Egypt are not popular because they offer health services or food. Those are bonuses that help lock in people. It's their Islamic beliefs that are popular and Romney is foolish to think that if America provided health care to them that it would swing them around.


... in other good news

The inauguration of Egypt's new parliament is an important step toward fulfilling public demands for the establishment of a regime based on Islam, said Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament, in a letter on Wednesday. The letter was sent to Saad al-Katatny, People's Assembly speaker. 

Shouldn't he have sent the letter to Obama who deserves much of the credit for the Caliphate?


New York Times now outsourcing its stories to CAIR

Learn about the legal claim to the State of Israel, from Eli Hertz, who has done a great deal of research on the topic at a Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors event in February


Another way

Yes, I am an Arab and despite that I love the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. I believe in the responsibility of Arabs to be loyal to the State of Israel and I believe that Jews should be able to settle everywhere in Israel,

With a predictable ending

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

State of Disunion

We know that the state of the union is good no matter how many Americans are out of work, how many families are counting every penny, how many industries are falling off a cliff and how high the national debt gets. We know it's good so long as another politician takes a victory lap up to the podium and tells us that it's all good because he's here.

Iraq? Nothing to worry about. We just brought all the troops home. Sure it's breaking up into a civil war, but you won't hear about it on the news. Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat, but his allies have taken over Egypt and Tunisia, and are moving on Libya. The Taliban's momentum has been broken and they are on the verge of taking over the government which means they will finally have been defeated. These achievements are a testament to a military which is facing the biggest budget cuts in decades.

The American soldier is a role model to us. I take away his weapons, fire him, put him on trial and force him to marry his bunkmate to show his tolerance, and he never complains because he's not allowed to. The rest of you need to take a lesson from him. Stop complaining or I'll send you to a military tribunal.

Now it's time for an applause break. We need to spend more money funding college degrees and political indoctrination for everyone. More applause. Only by creating more unemployed people with six figure student debts working at McD's will we be able to restore the post WW2 economy that was built on manufacturing jobs which my administration is working hard to completely eliminate.

More applause? No you shouldn't have. And I didn't get you anything but a monopoly for my buddy Warren Buffett's rail line. Sure it cost a 100,000 American jobs, but who needs them anyway. We need to keep the promise alive and fight the rich whose irresponsible investing tanked this economy. And the only way we can do that is by going deep into debt with irresponsible investments. That's why we've put new rules in place to hold Wall Street accountable in case they ever borrow more money than they can pay back and we've also put new rules into place so the government can borrow as much money as it wants.

The economy is great right now. There are millions of jobs everywhere, even if you can't see them because they're invisible jobs. They only come out at night and during State of the Union addresses. In the last 5 minutes over 3 billion jobs have been created. The auto industry used to be on the verge of collapse. It's still on the verge of collapse but now it's being subsidized by taxpayers. Now the auto industry is too big to fail, no matter how many Volts it makes and how few people buy them. And just wait till you see the GM Lada that uses Soviet manufacturing processes to create a car that only works one day a month and runs entirely on hot air. Just like me.

I will work with anyone who agrees with me, but fight anyone who disagrees with me through executive orders, appointments that I have no right to make and any other way that I can find to violate the Constitution and appoint myself King of America. Applause? Damn right you should be applauding. Your applause just created 300 trillion jobs and eliminated all our debt. Why? Because I said so! I'm the King of America!

What we did in Detroit, we can do in Philly, Raleigh and any other place where a bunch of working class white people are worried about their jobs. As long as they are represented by unions and as long as I need the support of those unions, and as long as my good buddy Warren Buffett can't make any money by putting them out of work, and as long as the Chinese keep lending us money, then I will subsidize every industry until we beat the Chinese.

I don't know why you're all applauding, even I think that's stupid and I used to own a Zune. I still haven't learned how many states there are and even I know that's not going to work. I believe money is made by leprechauns which is why it's so green, but even I'm not serious about the crap I just said. If I was really into creating white working class jobs, I wouldn't have killed Keystone XL. Look Warren Buffett's secretary is applauding. Isn't that sweet?

The real problem is that we're outsourcing too many jobs, that's why I just signed a bunch of trade agreements that will make it easier for South Korea to sell their products here. It's time we stopped giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas and start subsidizing them, like my stimulus plan which created more jobs in China than it did here. Applause? I didn't know Beijing had their own congressional delegation. Hell we invested 2 billion in Brazilian offshore oil drilling in support of my left wing buddies in the gov over there. If that doesn't create American jobs, I don't know what will.

And hey, you guys are gonna think this is funny, but remember when we loaned half a billion to make electric cars in Finland. Yeah Al Gore loved that one, he was an investor. But don't pay attention to anything I'm saying. As I stand here today, I vow that I will bring the jobs back to America. They just have to go through China, South Korea and Finland first. When they're done with them, we get first dibs. Indonesian scout's honor.

I will go anywhere to open up new markets to American products. Like Martha's Vineyard and the golf course. Thanks to my inability to hit a golf ball anywhere besides a lake, a thousand Americans are hard at work in Shanghai making new golf balls for me to hit. And it doesn't end there. German companies are forming partnerships with community colleges to shoot lasers. Chinese wind turbines are making Finnish cars grow Arugula. All we need is more teachers unions to make it happen.

We have told every state to raise their standards which means more kids who can't read or add being promoted from class to class so the schools don't lose Federal funding. And now we need to start paying teachers more. I don't care if you can't afford to keep your home and pay property taxes, the teacher's unions need more Viagra benefits. Statistics show that a great teacher can teach her students how to cheat off each other's tests just like I did at Harvard. If we just pay teachers 250,000 a year, then every student will be able to cheat their way to Harvard just like me.

The best way to create more American jobs is by legalizing illegal aliens and paying for their college educations. Applause? By the Prophet's beard, you people really will applaud anything. We need to kill puppies. Applause. It's time to start burning down more churches. Applause. If we kill every tenth person there will be more jobs for the survivors. Applause. Sometimes I'm embarrassed at how easy this is.

The rate of crossings from Mexico has gone down ever since I tanked the economy and I pledge to you if you give me another four years, every Mexican who doesn't work for the government will be back home trading in his dollars for pesos before American currency is completely worthless. That's why we need to legalize them right now and ply them with benefits so they don't run away before they get a chance to vote for me a third time as El Dictador.

But that's not all. I am opening millions of acres for offshore oil drilling. Not. I am also investing more money in training children to harness the power of positive thinking. Scientists at Federally funded labs estimate that every child who thinks positively can create enough power to light up an entire city. The only problem is figuring out how to stick the plugs into his head while we stick him in some sort of Matrix. And that's where our Federally funded labs come in. That is why I am asking Congress not to gut funding for the Matrix.

Take a look at Wilson E. Picket-Rammsby over there. Born in a shack in an up for grabs district in North Carolina, he had no arms or legs. Ever since my stimulus plan he works at the Buffett-Gore Wind Turbine Making Co. which is entirely financed by taxpayers. Wilson's job is to take 'Made in America' stickers and affix them with his mouth to imported Chinese wind turbines.

I promised Wilson that I would not walk away from workers like him. I will not allow China to buy more Chinese wind turbines than we would buy Chinese wind turbines with their money. I will not allow Germany to seize the lead from us in wind turbines or paper kite manufacturing or aura beaming technology. We've subsidized oil companies long enough. It's time to start subsidizing Al Gore.

Best of all while the Navy will be losing a whole bunch of ships and Marines, they will be purchasing all that clean energy so that our armed forces will have even less money and Al Gore will have even more money.

Now that I spent 15 minutes discussing tax credits and incentives for companies owned by my friends and my supporters, let me completely switch topics and state firmly that it's time to stop the bailouts, the handouts and the copouts. After we pass my Bailouts, Handouts and Copouts plan to force the Navy to buy Finnish electric submarines from a company co-owned by some guy who hosted a fundraiser for me last week. It's possible the submarines don't work underwater, but they're painted green which means they're good for the environment.

We've all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn't afford them. And by that I mean the lenders paid me money and helped finance my campaign. That's why we need smart regulation. Regulations that are so smart that they automatically exempt me.

Rules that prevent Gibson from making guitars, prevent Canada from selling us cheap oil and prevent businesses from creating new jobs don't destroy the free market. They make the free market work better by taking it out back and putting a bullet in its head, just like my stepfather, the Colonel, used to do to dissidents back home in Indonesia.

Four years after the economic meltdown, I am asking my Attorney General to take some time from being investigated by Congress for shipping assault rifles to Mexican druglords in a plot to subvert the Constitution, and form a special super commission of fact finding investigators to root out financial corruption that we're not responsible for and make them give us our cut.

This proposal is in no way belated election pandering or a way to shake down Wall Street firms into donating to us. They're already donating to us. Applause. Oh yeah, they're donating to us like a Mexican drug dealer with a brand new AK-47.

Because of all the loopholes and shelters and basements in the tax code, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Unfortunately other people besides Warren Buffett are also benefiting from these loopholes and we need to close them so that only Warren Buffett benefits from them.

I'm a Democrat, but I believe what Abraham Lincoln believed, that habeas corpus should be suspended, First Ladies should be able to spend as much money as they want during a war and that some races are inferior to others. But most of all I believe that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time-- but I am hoping that I can do it at least long enough to get reelected.

Losing the war in Iraq has allowed me to shift the war to Afghanistan where we are losing the war from a decisive position of strength. A wave of change has washed across the Middle East. Women are running for their lives and the Al Qaeda flag is flying in Libya. Iran is on the verge of getting the bomb. And I just want to take credit for all of it.

The renewal of American leadership can be felt around the globe. Now the world knows that they don't have to take us seriously anymore. We're not even paper tigers, we're more like paper tigers who set themselves on fire and then the chief paper tiger gets up and makes a speech about how much fire has done for the standing of paper tigers in restoring human dignity around the world.

To keep pace with our new global role, I have called for eliminating most of the parts of the military that don't buy clean energy from my supporters or bomb the people that the President of France orders me to bomb as incidental to my core mission of destroying America.

And I would just like to finish by invoking the inspirational words of a truly great American. Eldridge Cleaver of the Black Panther Party who wrote in his his autobiography, Soul on Ice, that he began his career as a rapist by practicing on black girls in the ghetto before moving on to other prey. Like him I began practicing on Chicago and then moved on to the Great State of Illinois and then to America.

Thank you and God Damn America.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Food Fights and Class Warfare

There was a time when full tables signified prosperity and thick waistlines were considered attractive. The ability to eat one's fill was what separated the gentry from the peasant making do with a few crusts and salted leftovers. Fat was in because it represented leisure and wealth. Thin meant you were on the road to the poorhouse or to consumption, which meant your body was being consumed, not that you were the one doing the consuming.

Then feudalism went the way of the dodo, agriculture was revolutionized and starvation went extinct in the West. Between the widespread availability of cheap food and social welfare programs covering everything from soup kitchens to food stamps, it became hard to starve. Not only was the availability of food no longer associated with prosperity, but even the poor had begun to eat so well that fat began to carry working class and lower class associations.

Fat was no longer wealth, instead conscientious fitness became a mark of prosperity. The laden table made way for micro portions and exotic but barely edible foods. Thin was in on the plate and the waistline.

In Third World countries where feudalism never ended and the agriculture revolution never mattered, the values often never flipped. Instead of anorexia, teenage girls suffer from being force fed to make them more marriageable. The wealthy are fat and the feasts at the top never end.

In the West, weight stands in for class, at a time when explicit classism has become politically incorrect. When Europeans sneer at how fat Americans are, and American coastal elites sneer at the rest of the country for being fat, it's a class putdown that dressed up longstanding contempt in the colors of the welfare state.

Just because the left and its class warfare worldview, which pretends to be concerned about the plight of the underclass, dominates Western societies does not mean that it is not classist. The left is elitist and its underclass protectionism creates a new wave feudalism with a vast government funded upper and middle class dedicated to caring for the underclass, subsidizing it, caring for it and taxing it to pay for all those services.

The obesity concern trolling is a combination of classism and nanny statism that brings to mind the days when their ideological forebears thought that the way to deal with the poor was to sterilize those who seemed less capable than the rest to improve the breed. There is something equally Darwinian in the sneers aimed at Paula Deen. The breed being culled while the elites try to teach their less evolved cousins to survive by eating their arugula.

The nanny state is built on a technocratic confidence in the ability to create one size fits all solutions, overlaying that on a map of the current medical wisdom leads to the creation of single standards, which often have less to do with health than they do with the status symbols of the leisure class. 19th century popularized medicine created so many of these fads that some of them are still around today. The 20th century created even more.

Death though is not only inevitable, but it cannot be dodged with a one size fits all standard. Fitness guru Jim Fixx who helped kickstart the running craze died in his early fifties of a heart attack. Fixx had quit smoking and lost weight, and still died at an early age. Jackie Gleason who spent his life looking like a walking health attack, smoking and drinking, outlived him by nearly twenty years.

Medicine is individual and the collectivization of medicine is a technocratic solution that leads nowhere except to few doctors and ranks of unionized medical personnel nudging patients into following the script handed down to them by professors who have never actually practiced medicine a day in their life. This is the outcome of a nanny state outlook that sees individuals as dispensable, that is concerned only with group outcomes.

This view requires seeing all people as endowed with certain problems that require broad stroke solutions, like adding calories to menus and other rats in a maze tactics designed to modify human behavior on a national level. The targeting of fast food restaurants, public school meals and food stamps reeks of the same elitist arrogance that drives the nanny state.

The politicization of food by the elites of the left always comes down to class, no matter how it may be disguised in liberal colors. From exotic to locally grown, the trajectory of food politics follows the upselling of food prices  The only difference is that the dominance of the left has wrapped the added cost with no added value in their own politics. The more affordable food becomes, the more the left finds ways to add cost to food, without adding value.

But the politicization of food goes beyond the fair trade and locally grown fetishes of the politically correct elites, the more politics ends up on your plate, the more the elites are driven to involve everyone else in their food fights. What begins as a way of raising prices while diminishing value to assert wealth and privilege becomes imposed on everyone in the name of their political morality. Once everyone else is paying more and getting less, then the classist left demands new ways to set its superior moral eating habits apart. Instead of everyone ending up with more food, everyone ends up with less.

The cultural ascendance of the left has meant that instead of conspicuous consumption, the consumption has to be disguised with conspicuous political pieties. The food may cost twice as much, but it's locally grown on a farm run by handicapped union workers who visit Cuba to receive free health care or by the indigenous peoples of Tuba-Tuba with the proceeds going to a complete sonic library of their chants and ceremonies. The entire thing is meaningfully meaningless, but it disguises the consumption in a hairshirt, which is the entire point.

Conspicuous consumption is now for the poor while conspicuous conservation is for liberal elites. Al Gore may live in a mansion but he still has the carbon footprint of a mouse. The problem is the truck driver whose vehicle emissions are killing the planet.  Whole Foods is just fine, but we need to do something about McDonald's. 

Conspicuous conservationism has made America a poorer country, destroyed millions of jobs and outsourced them overseas. Now it's beginning to make America a hungrier country. In a moment of horrifying tone deafness that makes Marie Antoinette seem enlightened, the left is cheering that fewer Americans are eating meat, without seeming to understand that it's because fewer Americans are able to afford it because of their economic policies.

What the left's food police can't accomplish with nudges and shaming, they can finish off with policies and regulations that end up raising the price of food or by making it too difficult to sell. As the left tries and fails to sell the general public on conservation as a status symbol, it moves in the heavy bureaucratic artillery.

It isn't unusual for elites to use the legal system to enforce their own values on the general public, though it was the kind of thing that the universal franchise was supposed to put a leash on, but there is something grim about their growing preoccupation with the habits and mortality of the population. It's the kind of concern that has a habit of ending in eugenics and the more medicine is universalized, the easier it is to start cutting off access to medical treatment for those who haven't been nudged far enough in the right direction.

Social medicine politicizes food consumption and a globalized economy politicizes food production. And the politicized American plate has less on it and at a higher price. While the left obsessively pursues its mission of destroying fast food in the name of lowering social medicine costs and being fairer to farmers, what they are truly accomplishing is to take affordable and filling food off the shelves, as they have done with countless other products that they have targeted.

By the time the left was done with Russia, it had gone from a wheat producer to a wheat importer and many basic food staples were hard to come by even in a country filled with collective farms. Finding modern day examples of that isn't hard. We only have to look as far south as Venezuela to see empty store shelves under the weight of government food policies. But one day that may be the local grocery store if the left gets its way.

Monday, January 23, 2012

There's Something About Mitt

So far Mitt Romney has lost two out of three primaries, twice to candidates that the establishment didn't even feel were worthy of their attention. In his biggest victory in New Hampshire he barely managed to take 40 percent of the vote.

Like it or not Republicans voters are not particularly thrilled about Romney. But how ecstatic can anyone be about a candidate whose main draw is electability. Electability is an excellent strategic calculation, but it garners about as much enthusiasm as any other form of expediency. Most people who vote the big 'R' recognize the importance of getting Obama out at any cost, but they are not going to get very fired up about a man whose only credential is that of being able to win.

Winning may be everything, but to win a battle you have to remember what it is that you are fighting for. If we are out to win, then what do we win with Romney? Hopefully we win four years of Obama not being in office. That's a pretty solid prize right there and people will turn out for it, but is it enough to win in order to win? And can we win by fielding a candidate who exists only to win?

As the ugly parade of accusations winds its way down Main Street in a ticker tape parade of SuperPAC ads and smears, the ideas have mostly been lost in a clash of personalities. The overriding impression of the campaign is of a few angry men locked together in a room and trying to undermine each other when they aren't outright berating each other. Non-issues rule the day. Tax returns, college records, affairs and anything that avoids dealing with the economic meltdown.

The hostages here are Republican voters who are once again told to choose between professional politicians who have spent so much time tearing down each other that all of them look bad in one way or another. If you believe the various supporters of one candidate or another, then their opponents are Communist supporters of big government who are mentally unstable and given to kicking guinea pigs around the house.

Romney was the establishment's choice for them. He still is. And he's still the candidate that voters are uncomfortable with because he appears to stand for nothing. The more he smiles and the better his hair looks, the more you wonder who is this man on stage. Does he have any purpose besides touring the country, ruffling the hair of nearby youngsters and commenting awkwardly on the economy?

Even Huntsman managed to convincingly believe in something, even if that something was that his party needed to be more like the Democrats. Throughout this season we have had a parade of candidates who seemed to compellingly believe in something. Romney is the exception. It's not just his flip flops, few professional politicians have gone more than a few years without changing some political positions. It's that cheerful vacuum that he projects into the television screen, the event horizon of a politician surrounding a gaping black hole.

Romney must believe something, but it's hard to say what. His career is that of a salesman pitching a product. The products have gotten more and more upscale and the sales pitch is aggressive, but what does the product actually do? We don't really know. It looks good, it's very salable, but what is it for besides winning elections?

The biggest advantage that Romney brings to the ticket is the lack of a personality. That is what makes him electable in a general election. Not because he has any real depth of appeal, but because he will seem like a safe bet for a country that wants change, but is less eager to commit to radical change this time around. But that is also what makes him so unappealing in primary elections that appeal to voters who actually want a candidate to stand for something.

It's as if Romney has spent so much time perfecting his persona, from his missionary days to his political and corporate period, that he projects a perfectly seamless and shiny outer shell, but without the passion and personality that would make him seem human. That would make us believe that he is more than a political machine in human form desperately seeking to get elected.

There's no doubt that there is an inner Romney, but it's more doubtful whether that inner Romney really cares about issues. Romney's career has been post-ideological, which may not be such a bad thing, except that what it really means is that he is a great compromiser and his compromises in the past have trended to the left.

Huntsman believed that the Republican Party was wrong and was man enough to go out there and say it. Romney wouldn't say it even if he did believe it, but it's doubtful that he believes it. Romney does not appear to think about issues in terms of political positions, only in problem solving terms. And that's not nearly as good as it sounds. What it means is that if voters want gay rights, then he will fight for gay rights. If global warming seems to be a concern, then he will work out a way to reduce carbon emissions without impacting business too much. If guns are an issue, then he will work together with gun control and gun rights advocates to draw up another compromise which may undermine the Second Amendment, but does solve the "problem".

The problem with Republican politicians like this is that they fail to consider who is framing the terms of the problem. Instead they are too busy solving manufactured problems while frowning impatiently at conservatives who stand in the way of the problem being solved.

Romney is not stupid, but neither is he insightful. If Santorum and Gingrich see massive culture wars in which they want to play a commanding role, Romney believes that most ideological arguments would go away with sane reasonable management at the top. And he would like to provide that management. If his opponents are mocked as running for Cromwell or Napoleon, he sees himself as going through a headhunting process to become the CEO of America.

If America's problems were only those of mismanagement, then Mitt might be the guy. But the mismanagement is ideological and the massive national debt is the result of too many compromises and backroom deals between the ideologically corrupt and the just plain corrupt. Anyone who recognizes that feels an instinctive antipathy to those politicians who just don't get it. And they see Romney not as the King of Bain, but as the king of those who don't get it.

Romney doesn't understand why he is hated, either by his opponents or by many of the voters. Like most reasonable but clueless people, he knows that he is the adult in the room because he is the one speaking calmly, dressing professionally and following the right procedures to move forward. He has done everything he was supposed to and appears alternately frustrated and bemused to see the primaries slipping away from him.

The problem is that Romney doesn't understand. He doesn't understand why you don't try to clumsily empathize with things you can't relate to, or why his association with the establishment has made his already toxic image even more toxic. His air of competence belies a supreme cluelessness to the currents around him.

Romney is an excellent salesman, but people have an instinctive dislike of salesman, of a slickness that is too slick, a patter that is too good and a willingness to say anything that will make the sale. In art it is often the blotch, the mar and the smear that lends a piece its depth and authenticity. Perfect pieces are a dime a dozen, it's the imperfections that make it seem real.

Gingrich's imperfections, his ego and his bellicosity, lend him an authenticity that Romney can't have. Equally Santorum's nerdiness makes him seem real in a way that Romney can never be. The issue isn't class. It's just the wrong time for salesmen, especially when the salesman looks like the representative of an equally clueless establishment that many voters blame for the existing state of affairs.

Underneath Romney's poise a sense of hurt and frustration seems to bleed through. The angst of a man who has a ragged copy of How To Win Friends and Influence People under the pillow, who practices his smiles in front of a mirror and has learned all the habits of highly effective people by rote, but who cannot understand why the other kids don't want to play with him at recess.

To the establishment Mitt is perfect for the same reasons that he is toxic to the base. His blandness means that he has no threatening ideas. His flexibility will allow him to adopt any position and his post-ideological thinking will mean no difficulties with switching gears. Best of all he looks the part. After a series of problematic candidates, he is perfect. Perfectly unobjectionable.

And they might be right. Romney might be the most electable of the bunch. Maybe he is the only one who can win. Most of us have had thoughts like that, but even if we have to settle for the Prius of politicians, voters are still interested in test driving something big and mean which spews up a lot of smoke and scares everyone off the street. Or maybe a classic model which might look silly today but reminds us of the America that used to be, the America of the sweater vest, the traditional family and the pipe, rather than the America where we settle for the Prius and try to make it to the cash register without having to hear another Lady Gaga song.

Romney doesn't do the vision thing. And maybe he doesn't need to win an election. But then again maybe a candidate without a vision is too plastic to do more than recite bland slogans and stand out there like a wax mannequin waiting for someone to take a photo with him. If his backers were honest, they would strip out all the stuff about his opponents being Communists and focus only on his electability. After South Carolina, that seems to be the way they are headed.

As the electoral terminator, the ballot killing machine whose only purpose is to give the idiots who voted for Obama a non-threatening alternative, he might pass. But then again he might not, because there is a reason that people voted for Obama. It may have been a terrible mistake, but millions still saw something there. What they saw was a lie, but it doesn't mean that they won't see it again unless there is a compelling alternative to snap them out of the daze.

If Romney largely keeps his image intact, he may win the general election. But how well will he actually do under the sustained fire of the media establishment, its comedian flunkies and all the hate and hostility of a liberal establishment with a white knuckled grip on power? It might be wiser to look at survivors, at two opponents who have survived and won when they weren't supposed to. Who have stood up and beaten back their own local establishment.

This election will be a hard and ugly fight. And Romney may be the most electable robot for the job, but if we're going down a hard road maybe it's best we take a car that can handle the roads and leave the Prius at home.