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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blackout

By On October 31, 2012

In Union Square the chess players sit alone under the statue of George Washington waiting for a game. A Latino family, father, mother and son, sit on the sidewalk holding cardboard signs and singing. “I’ll be your friend, when you’re not strong.”  The big chain stores are closed but the bodegas are open and Muslim and Chinese storekeepers charge up to ten dollars for a gallon of water. New York City in blackout, in short, is much like New York City as usual.

The electronics stores are closed and the wine stores are open. A chalk sign outside one darkened store reads, “Screw electricity.”  NYU students crowd the bus stops and French tourists elbow their way through the crowd on the way to a cheaply expensive hotel. A massive ancient tree lies torn out of the earth in the old 16th Street park and residents crowd around sticking their iPhones through the 19th Century ironwork of the shuttered park to get a photo. A photo of devastation.

Recording disaster has become instinct. I saw dozens of people taking photos on September 11 and the number would have increased by a factor of x10 If the modern smartphone with its 8 megapixel camera had been present in 2001. A click of a touchscreen and the photo is uploaded to Facebook to be shared around the world with people who like gawking at broken things.

The departure of the internet accompanies the return of drive time news radio and the shocking reminder of what the media is really like. On WINS a cheerful male anchor runs through the list of catastrophes. “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” he says about a flooded town, almost chuckling at the joke. “The town of Little Ferry sure lived up to its name,” he says of another.  The obscenities repeat themselves every 10 minutes intersecting with audio clips of survivors who only have a few seconds to mention the water or how much they lost before the whole things cut to a commercial.

With a million Con Edison customers out of power, the commercial is naturally for Con Edison, but it isn't one of those, “We’re working as hard as we can” ads that utilities run while their customers curse them in the dark, instead it’s an ad touting Con Edison’s Diversity Supplier Program which distributes supplier contracts based on race, instead of competence. Even liberals would not have been reassured by the timing.

Chris Christie is everywhere, flying around in the helicopter and landing just long enough to survey the destruction. A few minutes later he is launching into an anecdote about jet skiers rescuing 80 year old ladies on jet skis. “All they wanted was a photo with me and then they were off,” he says, reminding the audience that while the governor is trying to be the Rudy Guiliani of this news cycle, he isn’t Rudy.

While shopping for supplies, Senator Schumer comes on the radio and in his best oily voice, informs beleaguered shoppers that he has gotten calls from Republicans and Democrats and assures us that this issue will not be politicized. Unlike Hurricane Katrina, an unseen heckler supplies in the rugs and mops aisle.

An hour of this is enough to remind me of how unprofessional professional news is and how much better Sean Hannity was at this during the last blackout through the simple expedient of jettisoning the formula and supplying helpful information. There is no helpful information on AM news anymore, with the brief exceptions of traffic and weather, just ghoulish exploitation of tragedy in the same cheerful voice that is then used to sell Carbonite, computer backup for only 59.99 a year.

The NYPD is doing what it does best, cutting off streets and telling people where to go. A pile of ordure in the morning acts as evidence that the mounted police were deployed at some point during the night. But the amount of actual crime appears negligible. One store window is lightly broken, more likely a result of the storm than casual vandalism. But being cut off from collective news sources also acts as a reminder of how news shapes perceptions.

Without a news report, I have no idea if the blackout and storm were accompanied by a massive crime wave or hardly any crime at all. As people did a century ago and as many still do, I can only judge larger events by my perceptions. The status of crime in New York City is determined entirely by the number of unbroken store windows that I pass among the darkened stores selling handbags, artisanal cookies and neck massages on my quest to find working internet. But the moment I pass along that perception, then I am once again creating news and the entire cycle of collective perception repeats itself again.

Past 40th Street on the East Side and 26th Street on the West Side, there is power and I recognize the phenomenon first through the sight of distant red traffic lights. “Do Not Walk,” they say, and I walk on. On the radio a politician talks about revisiting the unity of September 11, but that’s a cheerful story to sandwich between commercials for motor oil and a reality show about Texas bachelorettes.

On September 11, we briefly came to the awareness of a common enemy, but now we remain in our old divisions, those who have and those who have not, those who define themselves by race and those who do not, the woman screaming loudly about how Bush did not find any Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq four years past the point when that kind of thing was fashionable and the young girl in duck boots saying, “Omigod,” over and over again into a cellphone until it becomes its own mantra.

We are on an island and we are islands. The prosperous smiling natives paying 10 dollars for a quart of sink water reprocessed in Michigan bottling plants and paying double to travel downtown in a taxi and the immigrants who take their money, but hardly ever smile. There are the gangs who plot looting sprees on Twitter and the Long Island cops who leave behind their families to drive around the streets telling them to go home. There are the people in flooded homes and the news anchors cheerfully asking them how it felt to lose everything they have.

The finance expert with a Lithuanian accent tells his broker over a shaky connection in an internet café to sell the dollar and a male model named Justice chats about San Francisco. They are all New York and they aren’t New York, because New York City is an idea and it can be hard to live inside an idea. New York is immigrant neighborhoods full of people who want to live just like they did back home while making more money and having access to free social services. New York is British brokers straight out of the City putting in their time before they go somewhere glamorous, like Dubai.

New York is the remnants of its working class, hiding out deep in Brooklyn or leaving city limits for Long Island or New Jersey. New York is the place that you see in movies which shoot on every block, tangling their cables like snakes around fire hydrants while their refreshment tables full of sliced avocados stretch on forever. 

New York is the idea of the Everycity, the city that never stops because it is always busy doing things and being things. It is the idea that we can leave behind our roots and our histories to create a new glamorous history out of the fragments of everyone else trying to do the same thing at the same time. And when I look back, surrounded by the floor to sky video screens of Times Square as the darkness grows, all I see are the outlines of dark towers and the lights of the endless traffic of secretaries, brokers, cops and doctors, professors, porters, drug dealers, antiques appraisers, actors and drivers, prowling through the night.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Benghazi's Tough Questions

By On October 29, 2012
The story of how the Obama Administration failed to secure a US consulate and then failed to send in support while it was under attack may turn out to be the biggest scandal of this administration. But that will only happen if Benghazigate is the subject of a thorough and rigorous investigation. And that means basing stories on facts or on reliable reports, rather than on speculation and internet rumors that no one would take seriously in any other context.

I have received dozens of emails in the last few days claiming that General Ham was fired for trying to go ahead with a rescue operation. The story appeared in the Washington Times. The source for the Times' story was an anonymous comment on Tiger Droppings, a forum for LSU football fans, from someone in Louisiana working in "Self Employed/Restaurants/Catering" who claimed that the story came "from someone inside the military".

Now for all I know this story is true, but an anonymous comment on a football fan forum is not enough to run with a major story. It's certainly not enough to start treating it as an established fact.

That comment has gone beyond the Washington Times and is being sourced in various outlets all of whom are reporting a story based on an anonymous comment on an internet forum.

On October 20th, Clare Lopez wrote a column raising various questions about Benghazi and suggesting that Ambassador Stevens may have been involved in a weapons smuggling operation moving Libyan weapons into Syria. Lopez's column raised some questions, a lot of them, but provided no proof and no truly credible connection between Stevens and the transfer of Libyan weapons to Syrian Jihadists. Nor did that theory come with a motive for why the consulate was attacked.

Nevertheless large numbers of people have now taken it as a fact that Stevens was involved in running Libyan guns to Syria without any actual evidence to verify that as a fact. Many repeat Lopez's suggestion that the warehouses behind the consulate stored guns meant for Syria as a statement of fact. To many people, it seems "right" and it may be true, it may not be true. The difference between the two is actual evidence.

I am not attacking Lopez, she was doing what many of us were doing in the days and weeks after the attack. I have run plenty of speculative pieces, some that were right, some that were wrong, it's in the nature of the business to do that. The problem only begins when a speculative piece is treated as fact and when speculations begin to be used as evidence when they are only questions, not answers.

Was Stevens being set up to be used in a prisoner exchange for the Blind Sheik? It's an interesting theory, but if Obama had really wanted to release the Blind Sheik, he would extradited him to Egypt and after waiting two months, the Egyptian government would have released him. Furthermore if the goal was to take an American hostage, then there were easier and safer ways to take Stevens than an armed attack on a consulate.

Obama might have personally benefited from a hostage crisis involving a US ambassador, but it's more likely that he would taken a hit and his entire policy on Libya would have become subject to the same scrutiny that the entire Benghazi cover-up has sought to avoid. It would have been a desperate move at a time when he didn't see any reason for desperation and believed that he would easily win the election.

That doesn't mean that it's impossible for all this to have taken place. Logic only takes you so far and often events are the result of bad and stupid decisions. So nothing can really be ruled out, but its plausibility can be challenged. And should be challenged because through those questions and counter-questions we can come closer to the truth.

Was Stevens involved in running guns to Libya? It's possible, but almost somewhat unnecessary. The Saudis, Turks and Qataris had taken the lead in running guns to the groups of Jihadists that they were linked to. They really didn't Stevens to "help" them out in their own backyard. A similar story that claims Stevens was acting as a representative for the Saudis does not make a great deal of sense. The Saudis really didn't need an American ambassador to act as their agent in the Arab world.

The American role in the weapons pipeline was a wink and a nod to the shipments. The diplomats would pretend to see to it that the weapons were going to "moderate" rebels and that nothing too heavy was being shipped to them. Then when it turned out that the Jihadists were getting heavy weapons, there would be some plausible deniability on the table.

To what extent was Stevens playing a role in this remains an open question. But it is unlikely that even the Obama Administration would have approved of weapons transfers to groups that had not, at least formally, repudiated Al Qaeda, the way that the LIFG had. Giving weapons to Al Qaeda would contradict the entire purpose of the Arab Spring which was to weaken Al Qaeda by empowering political Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Such weapons transfers would lead to terrorist attacks and suggesting that such attacks were calculated takes us into a whole other territory.

If weapons smuggling were taking place, then Al Qaeda linked militias were not likely in the same weapons pipeline as Islamist militias linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Or weren't supposed to be. Which is to say that there might have been two weapons smuggling pipelines, one that was supposed to go to the Brotherhood's militias and another going to Al Qaeda linked militias and that the mission was supposed to keep an eye on both pipelines only to discover that they were one and the same.

Then I could further speculate that reports from the Benghazi mission about the transfer of weapons to Al Qaeda linked militias were intercepted and passed along by a State Department Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer back to the militias which led to a coordinated attack on the mission to blind the American eye in Benghazi.

But all this is still speculation. It's questions piled on questions, rather than answers. It's a series of assumptions linked to other assumptions with too much distance between known facts and the final narrative. It might be true and it might not be.

The various Benghazi conspiracy theories may be true, in part or in whole, but we have to first look at the fact that the attack was not an isolated event, but part of a series of Islamist attacks on US diplomatic facilities coinciding with September 11. The only reason that Benghazi is unique is because it was in a city run by Islamist militias with little police or military support available making it a soft target.

Claiming that the Benghazi attack was timed to go specifically after Stevens ignores the fact that there was a series of international attacks linked to a defining date. Stevens may have been a target, or he may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, we don't really know and we can't know until more actual facts come out.

There might have been both a local and a global motive, but for the moment the global motive is fact, the local motive is speculation.

Al Qaeda views American embassies as a natural target. It has been carrying out such attacks since 1998 without the need for extraordinary motives to justify them. That doesn't mean that such motives can't exist, but it means they aren't strictly necessary to explain what happened.

Nor is a coverup of specific wrongdoing involving the Benghazi consulate required to explain the Obama Administration's refusal to intervene in the attack. This is not an administration that is willing to offend Muslims to save American lives. For it to have taken action in Benghazi would have been more extraordinary than not taking action.

Let's go back to the Battle of Ganjgal in 2009.where 5 Americans were killed because they were denied artillery support under the Rules of Engagement. That battle led to Dakota Meyer, a United States Marine, receiving a Medal of Honor. The Battle of Ganjgal in multiple reprimands for the officers who denied support, but it led to no changes in the way that things were done.

Here is a statement from the father of Lance Corporal Hunter Hogan, "The policies of this current administration and the rules of engagement are a huge factor with these casualty reports. The limited air and artillery support our men receive. The limited company level support such as motors, as well as the approval to return fire are hampering and adding to the danger they are in daily."

Here is yet a third letter from a soldier serving in Afghanistan. "The soldiers of the U.S. never engage the enemy unless we know that we have will always have the tactical advantage in defending ourselves, that advantage is the use of close air support and air weapons team. To take those weapons away from us is to level the playing field for the enemy and thus exposing our soldiers to more danger... The very presence of aircraft over our foot patrols has also saved lives and now our chain of command is being told by our political leadership that this is now not allowed."

If this is how our soldiers in a legitimate war zone have been treated, then what reason was there to expect any other outcome in Benghazi?

When all is said and done, we will likely find that the Battle of Benghazi had more in common with the Battle of Ganjgal than it did with any of the conspiracies. And that is one of the most important points that can be made.

The four Americans killed in Benghazi were not the first Americans to die because of a policy of appeasing Muslims. They will not be the last until the entire worldview of the decision makers is forced to change. It is important not to lose sight of that in debating just what happened in Benghazi, because this is much bigger than Benghazi.

Benghazi is one spot of blood in a stain that marks the map of the globe. Countless American soldiers and civilians have died because diplomacy was thought to be a surer way of avoiding war than an aggressive posture. And if we don't learn the lessons of Benghazi, then we will be forced to repeat them.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Liberal Man's Burden

By On October 28, 2012
One-hundred and thirteen years ago, Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about the American enterprise in the Philippines. The title of that poem has since become a byword for racist colonialism and yet its text is a sardonic recitation of the dim virtues of the "Savage wars of peace".

"Go bind your sons to exile, To serve your captives' need;" Kipling wrote. "To seek another's profit, And work another's gain. Fill full the mouth of Famine, And bid the sickness cease."

This moral imperialism has never gone away, though it is no longer thought of in racial terms. For over a hundred years, the United States has gone on trying to feed and cure the world, sacrificing for others and seeing nothing in return.

The burden has been internalized, its concept not racial, but moral. The lack of empire has not lessened it. That absence of a physical empire, of conquered provinces and colonies administered with the whip has only strengthened the might of the moral empire. And the savage wars of peace go on in places like Afghanistan and Iraq where we fight desperately to save the natives from themselves.

The liberal man's burden is the United Nations. It is the obligation to universalize national greatness by extending it around the world through a moral empire. An empire of the progressive spirit that sweeps aside the old for the new, that makes the world over in a liberal image and a liberal template. The moral empire with the world as its consensual subjects whose conquests are achieved through the transcendent superiority of its modernity and humanity.

The Pax Americana is grounded in this notion of a moral empire. Russia or China may rule territories by force, but America expands its influence by exporting the virtues of its culture. Democracy and human rights are shipped overseas, wrapped in ribbons of international law, and soon enough the world is full of Pakistani Americans, Libyan Americans, Sudanese Americans and a horde of others who are happy to rule themselves under the systems of our moral colonialism. And once this is done then we will all be living in a truly Post-American world in which there will be no need for America because we will all be Americans.

American policymakers ask themselves why the people of another nation are still not Americans and then they set out to remove those obstacles, sending food, curing disease and gifting money to take care of physical needs, and removing dictators, enabling elections and instituting free market reforms to set aside any political repression. And if their theory were correct, then once that was done the people would be Americans. Instead they remain what they are and the policymakers remain baffled.

Introducing democracy to the Muslim world has not made it American, has not made it respectful of human rights or tolerant of dissent. It is possible to be a democracy and own slaves. It is certainly possible to be a democracy and treat non-Muslims as subhuman creatures to be beaten whenever the economy turns bad. Democracy is no defense against that sort of behavior. Character is and that cannot be exported along with election monitors and purple fingers.

Systems can be exported, but not assumptions and that is where the liberal man's burden always goes wrong, because he believes that he is exporting his virtues, when he is only exporting his systems. And his systems are only expressions of his virtues, they are not his virtues. It is possible to export a CD full of Mozart symphonies, but not the ability to compose those symphonies. Similarly we can send out copies of the Constitution, but not the minds that created and maintained such a document.

The moral empire proves even more fragile than the physical empire, for it depends on the export of virtues. And for those virtues which cannot be exported, American soldiers go to the cities and deserts of other lands and mark them with their living and dead. And for those virtues, teachers, aid workers, diplomats and a thousand others go to export the unexportable, they try to bring Mozart to Pakistan and rather than learning to compose symphonies, the natives kill Mozart and leave his body in a ditch.

The Pax Americana has not cured world hunger or disease, it has not brought peace and freedom to the world. What it has done is applied band aids, thrown off a dictator here or there, fed a few children and brought the occasional glimpse of light. But the light has never endured. Sooner or later it breaks down again, if not in the same ways, then in new and more troubling ways.

A people cannot be uplifted, they can only uplift themselves. That is the fallacy of the burden with all its weary futility. Americans cannot teach Pakistanis to be Americans. They cannot even teach them to be better Pakistanis. Only the Pakistanis stand any chance of teaching themselves that. America cannot fix Africa. Only Africa can fix Africa. And only America can fix America.

Every nation has its own journey to make and its own path to walk and no other nation can make the journey for it. Some will not make it and others will. But no nation can make another nation moral and no nation can make another civilized.

America has a duty to behave morally, but it does not have a duty to make other nations moral. The virtue of helping others only extends insofar as they can be helped. Only when that help is extended beyond the point where they can be helped or where they wish to be helped, does it become a burden. And a burden is carrying that which ought to be able to carry itself.

The difference between aid and empire, is that when aid is unending then it becomes empire, when there is no foreseeable point at which it ends and when extending it ensures dependency rather than the alleviation of a temporary condition, then it is not aid but empire. And that which can carry itself but chooses not to becomes a permanent burden and a corrupt power relationship is born built on revulsion and dependency, the familiar one of the welfare state where the master is the slave and the slave is the master, becomes a stain on two pairs of souls.

Exceptionalism is the core of nationalism. There are no shortage of nations that believe that they are fated to save the world. And to its credit the United States has saved the world, but saving the world is not the same thing as changing it. Resources and determination extended and expended in the right place and at the right time can save the world. But changing the world requires more than that, it requires even more than the big ideas that people imagine change the world, it requires that people take responsibility for their own actions and their own consequences.

The liberal man's burden acts in direct opposition to this, lifting away actions and consequences, and retarding the development of entire nations. Instead of making the world a better place, it makes it worse and instead of bringing progress, it turns the clock back, because moral colonialism is in its own way no different from any other kind of colonialism.

The most devastating aspect of colonialism is that it destroys a people's faith in itself, in its own power, its own judgement and its own industry. And it is doubly devastating when it had little of these things to begin with. The moral empire undermines the character of a people almost as well as its more brawny cousin does. It takes away any reason for progress and then wonders why that progress never seems to materialize.

The liberal man's burden is based on an unspoken superiority, the superiority which attends all liberal humanitarian impulses, the superiority of the sensitive man or woman who is ethically aware over the ethically unaware. But this superiority is a fleeting thing when the savage wars of peace begin and the price to be paid for trying to teach ethics to the unethical itself comes to seem highly unethical.

War is not made for either the preservation of the moral high ground or for its export to foreign parts. It is not fought to bring about a global state of peace, but so that those who fight it shall have peace, anything else is foolishly futile and a self-nullifying act that ends up shedding more blood than it saves.

The press of events in the 20th Century forced America to take on great power, but it reacted to that power by adopting the model of FDR, who ran for as many terms as he lived, instead of the model of Washington who stepped down as soon as it was feasible. The difference between these two kinds of power is the difference between Caesar and Cincinnatus , it is the difference between empire and expedition and between burden and virtue.

It is now long since past time to put down that burden. It is not America's mission to teach democracy to the Muslim world or to export any of its virtues by gentle means or harsh. The first duty of every society is not the export of its virtues, but their safeguarding. Only then can that society serve as an example to the world that inspires, rather sacrificing its virtues to teach virtue to the world.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Innocence of Obama

By On October 27, 2012
Ten years ago most left-thinking liberals were constantly worried about the erosion of civil liberties under the War on Terror though they could rarely name an instance where an American citizen had actually experienced such an erosion.

This was after all before the days when naked scanners and drone strikes had entered the vocabulary and the best they could do was to haul out Jose Padilla, aka Abdullah al-Muhajir, ACLU's choirboy of the month, a Brooklyn-born convert to Islam who was being held in jail for no reason at all except aiding terrorists and plotting to build a dirty bomb.

Ten years later the lefty civil liberties types were proven right. The War on Terror did erode our civil liberties and America's first political prisoner in generations has spent a month in jail for making an inconvenient movie at an inconvenient time.

When Charles Woods, the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the Navy SEALS who died fighting in Benghazi, met with Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State assured him that, “We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.” And they got him, officially on charges of violating parole, unofficially on charges of violently offending violent Muslims.

The woman whose policy had overthrown the Libyan government and then placed a barely defended consulate in the middle of a city of Jihadists, did not promise the grieving father that his son's killers would pay. She promised him that the man who offended his son's killers would pay. Not only would his son be the first casualty of that appeasement policy, but the Constitution that his son had sworn to support and defend would be the second casualty.

Mark Basseley Youssef is not the first filmmaker sent to prison by a Democrat in the White House for making the wrong kind of movie and interfering with his foreign policy. That would be Robert Goldstein who made the The Spirit of '76, a movie about the American Revolution, at a time when Woodrow Wilson was trying to get Americans deeper into World War I.

Wilson's Justice Department directed Chicago Police Deputy Superintendent Metellus Lucullus Cicero Funkhouser to confiscate The Spirit of '76 and Goldstein spent three years in prison and eventually died in a Nazi concentration camp. Both Youssef and Goldstein made two bad movies that were politically inconvenient. The Spirit of '76 was not welcome in 1917 and the origin of Muslim violence is not an appropriate topic for 2012. "History is history and fact is fact", Judge Bledsoe conceded and went ahead with his ruling anyway.

Goldstein's Federal trial took place in the Southern District of California. Mark Basseley Youssef's trial will take place in the Central District of California. Goldstein was convicted of creating a movie was calculated to arouse antagonism and enmity. That is the unofficial charge that has been brought against Youssef. Goldstein was convicted of reminding Americans of the origin of their country and Youssef is guilty of reminding them of the origin of Islam.

The strange confluence of using Chicago politics and California Federal courtrooms to cover up the nakedness of a progressive president's policies has a certain resonance less than one hundred years later. Youssef and his video trailer made a convenient scapegoat so that progressive politicians could avoid talking about the collapse of Libya into roving bands of Islamist militias and the triumph of Al Qaeda in North Africa.

After Obama had denounced Youssef in every forum from 60 Minutes to the United Nations to Pakistani TV, he was arrested, not to protect the Innocence of Muslims, but to protect the Innocence of Obama.

Blaming the Innocence of Muslims briefly silenced the more dangerous questions about what had gone wrong in Benghazi and the even more dangerous questions about what had gone wrong with the Arab Spring. Youssef, like Goldstein, was a foreigner, and an excellent choice as a scapegoat. And for weeks people focused on Youssef and his many aliases, and not on the question of why Americans died in Benghazi.

Americans died in Benghazi for the same reason that American hostages had been taken in Iran and for the same reason that Leon Klinghoffer had been murdered on the Achille Lauro and US Marines had died in Beirut. They died because their government had appeased Muslims, had given their terrorist groups hope that they could achieve their aims if they killed enough people, had saved them at the moment of their greatest weakness and had elevated them to power.

The innocence of Obama is intertwined with the innocence of Muslims. If Muslims are innocent of terror, then so is the foreign policy that has empowered them. But if Muslims are guilty of terror then the politicians who have pandered to them are guilty of enabling it at the least. If Muslims are innocent of terror, then Obama is innocent of complicity in their terror. But if Muslim terror is a true thing, then the man who helped them unleash it by toppling stable governments and replacing them with Islamist movements and militias shares in their guilt.

Censorship is only truly necessary when censoring the guilt of governments and protecting their policies. And the censorship of the War on Terror is not the censorship of dissent from the policy of fighting terrorists. Such dissent can be found in every newspaper editorial office and in the offices of every third Northeastern Congressman. It is the dissent from the policy of fighting the symptoms of terror, rather than the roots of terror, from the policy of not fighting Islamic terrorism, that is censored and punished, that is a firing offense and a locking away offense.

In the age of terror, the dangerous ones are not those who denounce the war, but those who denounce the lack of a war, who upset the balance of an inept policy that seeks a small controllable conflict by closing our eyes to the larger threat. It is these dangerous ones who must be censored so that we may go on safely losing our nation building wars, bringing home coffins, Korans and refugees without ever questioning whether this should be so.

The War on Terror has not impeded the civil liberties of those who oppose the war, but of those who oppose the terror.

In 1919, the same year that Goldstein's appeal was being heard, the Supreme Court ruled on Schenck v. United States. The case is obscure, but it has given us a famous phrase from the legal mouth of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater."

This timeless phrase, long since legally discredited, came to life when Muslims began burning embassies while the White House claimed that the fault lay not in its foreign policy, which had overturned allies and replaced them with murderous Islamists, but with a movie. Pundits dug up  Schenck and began penning essays suggesting that offending a Muslim should be as illegal as shouting fire in a crowded mosque.

Under the new civil liberties, the right of a Muslim to praise terrorists, upload videos promoting terrorism and even funding terrorist charities would be sacrosanct under the Bill of Rights. But make a movie mocking Mohammed and suddenly the Bill of Rights won't be returning your phone calls as you are being frog-marched to your new cell.

In civil liberties circles it is claimed that the war against terrorism has deprived Muslims of their civil rights, but in reality Muslims have gained rights, while we have lost them. The balance between the civil rights of Americans and the need to avoid offending Muslims has been shifting their way and we all pay the price when we fly and soon enough we will begin paying it when we talk.

America's first political prisoner in generations is under arrest for offending Muslims and as a cover for the failed policy of appeasing Muslims. If history is any guide, then he will not be the last. The more bombs go off, the more buildings burn and the more questions are asked, the more Youssefs will be needed to deflect those questions and protect the innocence of Muslims and of their political panderers.

"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater," Holmes said, and modern day Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has suggested that burning a Koran may be considered a modern day version of the same thing. But what if a man isn't falsely shouting fire, what if there really is a fire? And what if the theater management has him dragged away for causing a panic even while the smell of charred flesh rises into the air and the red curtains around the screen begin to burn?

And what if after all the bodies are carried out on stretchers, the man is still brought to trial for shouting fire in a crowded theater, and in his defense he points to the burnt ruins of the theater as proof that there really was a fire, only to be told that if he hadn't shouted, then there would have been no fire. "There was only a fire because people panicked," he is told, "and there was only a panic because you shouted. The thing to do was to remain in your seat and wait until the proper authorities had told you there was a fire. And if the authorities had determined that there was no fire, then it was your duty to remain in your seat and burn."

Shout that Islam is violent and Muslims carry out violence and the fire marshal in charge of the tiny minority of fires arrives to inform you that if you had not shouted, they would not have turned violent. Whatever example of Muslim self-starting violence you may dig up, the fire marshal will find some first cause for it that began the violence, some offense committed by non-Muslims against Muslims, even if it was a shoving match a thousand years ago in Spain that started the whole thing.

The more fires break out, the more the fire marshal insists that fires do not begin unless someone notices them beginning and warns other people. The more people die, the more the moral authority of the fire marshal depends on perpetuating this lie that fires are fueled by the human voice. And instead of a fire department, there is a department of silencing people who warn that a fire has broken out.

This is the sad situation of our War on Terror, a war which is waged to convince Americans that there is no such thing as Muslim terrorism and to convince Muslims that they should stop being terrorists.

The more people die of Muslim violence, the more the principle of the innocence of Muslims must be upheld, because it is no longer just the innocence of Muslims that is at stake, but the innocence of the political establishment that has looked away while the fires burned. And a political establishment determined to protect its innocence will go to any length, and political prisoners are the least of it.

After the Arab Spring and the Libyan War, it has become impossible to untangle the guilt of Obama from the guilt of Islamists. That is the dirty secret that the fire marshals of the establishment are determined to protect. The cover-up of Islam's conduct has become their cover-up of their own conduct as well. So long as Islam can claim innocence, they can claim innocence as well, and those who challenge the innocence of Muslims and by extension the innocence of the political establishment will become the first political prisoners.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Afternoon Roundup - Bumps in the Road

By On October 26, 2012


BUMPS IN THE ROAD

Charles Woods, the father of murdered SEAL Tyrone Woods, has given several interviews and described meeting Obama and Hillary Clinton.

[Obama] when he came over to our little area, I could tell, he kind of just mumbled.  You know, “I’m sorry.” His face was looking at me, but his eyes were looking over my shoulder like he could not look me in the eye.  And it was not a sincere, “I’m really sorry” you know “that your son died.” It was a totally insincere, more of a whining type, “I’m sorry.” And it was like shaking hands with a dead fish.  It just didn’t feel right.

 And Hillary had something even better to offer him. "She did not appear to be one bit sincere at all.  She mentioned that thing about, “We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video."

This acknowledges that the prosecution of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, aka Mark Basseley Youssef has nothing to do with parole violations. It's a political prosecution with the decision made by the White House and the State Department. And that makes the man who has been detained for a month, America's first political prisoner in generations.

Clinton’s State Department botched Benghazi and the entire illegal Libyan War and when she met the father of the man who stood and fought against impossible odds, facing down the killers who had been set loose by the Obama Administration’s illegal war, all that she could think to tell him was that the Bill of Rights and the Constitution that his son had sworn an oath to support and defend would be trashed to appease his son’s killers.

But those are just non-optimal bumps in the road, as Obama would put it.
 
We are learning more of what happened in Benghazi every single day.


Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty disobeyed orders and left a CIA safe house to try and save those at the consulate.

And once there they fought a desperate fight, evacuating the consulate employees and “for over two hours they were able to fight back against approximately 200 al-Qaeda terrorists”. Numerous calls were issued for help and went unanswered.

Instead of their bravery holding the line and inspiring a rescue effort, they were left to die under orders from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta held a pathetic news conference explaining that there wasn't enough intel to act. The photo that illustrates this article comes from that conference.

We — we quickly responded, as General Dempsey said, in terms of deploying forces to the region. We had FAST platoons in the region. We had ships that we had deployed off of Libya. And we were prepared to respond to any contingency and certainly had forces in place to do that.

But — but the basic principle here — basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on;

And who knew what was going on? Sure there were multiple calls for help over the period of an extended firefight. There was a drone overhead and a CIA office on the ground. There was an extended workup on the attackers, even from the declassified documents that we saw, so that Panetta and Co. knew what armaments they had at their disposal. And AC-130U gunships were already there and would not have required putting anyone on the ground. The SEALS asked for them to come and painted the mortars as targets. But still they were denied.

Senate Homeland Security Committee insiders are calling this an "Administration Wide Breakdown" This wasn't about putting "forces in harm's way". That doesn't hold water. Not when there were plenty of forces on the ground already in harm's way.

Charles Woods has some strong words for Obama, Clinton, Panetta and Co

 “If in fact those people in the White House were as courageous and had the moral strength that my son Ty had, immediately, within minutes of when they found there was a first attack they would have given permission, not denied permission, for those C130s to have gone up there.

“I don’t know much about weapons but it’s coming out right now that they actually had laser focused on the mortars that were being sent to kill my son. And they refused to pull the trigger. They refused to send in those C130s. To me, I’m an attorney, this may not be the legal test of murder. But to me that is not only cowardice, but those people who made the decision and who knew about the decision and lied about it, are murderers of my son.

“That’s a very strong statement for me to make, but for their benefit they need to clear their conscience."
But do they have a conscience? That's the question?

Both Panetta and Dempsey look sick and disgusted in that photo. Those are not the appearances of men discussing a routine situation. Those are the appearances of men of loose morals who have done dirty things for politicians before who feel sickened by what they are being asked to do and the potential  cost to their careers and their souls.



AT LEAST OBAMA ENDED THE WAR IN IRAQ

... or not. As it turns out, Al Qaeda in Iraq played a major role in the Benghazi attack. And in another attack targeting the US embassy in Jordan.

Obama didn't defeat Al Qaeda and he didn't leave Iraq behind. The Washington Post endorsement of him even mentions his failure to stabilize Iraq before pulling out.





THE NAACP IS DYING

This was an article that I wrote about the NAACP's voter fraud and felon voter projects, but I thought it might be interesting to excerpt these parts about the NAACP's viability and future.

The NAACP is outdated as its name and there’s only so much time that it can spend fundraising off its ancient history. The NAACP has drifted so far off its mission that its advocacy programs include promoting gay marriage, fighting obesity and pushing global warming. In ten years the NAACP will be indistinguishable from every other liberal group pushing the same exact causes with the same exact talking points.

The NAACP is so terminally unhip that Obama skipped it this election cycle, passing it up for the Urban League, while sending noted civil rights hero, Joe Biden in his place. The average age of an NAACP member is 58. The average age of an AARP member is 64 making it only slightly older than the NAACP.

The NAACP runs constant deficits and has been shutting down branches. Its membership numbers were a closely guarded secret for a long time. Confidential documents estimated that the group was down to 178,000 in the 1980s. Despite claims otherwise, it’s probably even lower now.

So why is the NAACP still around?

In the last few years, the NAACP has shamelessly mortgaged its history to vocally defend voter fraud... All that the NAACP is good for is being taken out once a year to denounce any attempt at preventing the “Vote Early, Vote Often” election strategy of Chicago politics.

The NAACP exists only because white people recognize the brand and accept its moral authority



HOW OBAMACARE WILL KILL AFRICAN-AMERICANS

Here's an issue that the NAACP would care about, if it had any legitimacy whatsoever. And it's about the grim consequences of ObamaCare, intended and unintended.

Meet SEC. 1151 of ObamaCare. Its innocuous title is Reducing Potentially Preventable Hospital Readmissions. Its reality is that it exists to keep elderly Medicare patients from being readmitted to hospitals by forcing hospitals to reduce such readmissions.

The analysis of the penalties shows that 80 percent of the hospitals that have a lot of  low-income patients will lose Medicare funds in the fiscal year starting in October. Sixty-seven percent of the hospitals treating few poor patients are going to be penalized, the analysis shows.

Studies have found that African-Americans are more likely to be readmitted than other patients, leading some experts to be concerned that hospitals that treat many blacks will end up being unfairly punished.

And those hospitals will end up closing their ERs or finding new ways not to readmit patients. Those hardest hit will be poor black people. Exactly the people that the redistributionists claim to want to help.



DEBATING OBAMA

Anyone listening to Obama would have to conclude, like Voltaire’s Pangloss, that we truly live in the best of all possible worlds. During the Bush administration, liberal pols like Obama liked to claim that they were part of the reality-based community. But as Calvin of “Calvin and Hobbes” said, “I’m not in denial. I’m just very selective about the reality I accept.” Obama would appear to have joined Calvin’s selective reality community.

Instead of discussing foreign affairs and national security, the Contender-in-Chief did his best to divert the debate with a talking point that he called “Nation Building at Home.” “Nation Building” is usually a term reserved for the reconstruction of backward or broken nations. That Obama insisted on applying it to the United States was telling, but even more telling was that his big idea for the debate was not only a distraction but a call to repeat the same disastrous stimulus and shovel-ready project boondoggles that had dug the country 16 trillion dollars into debt.

Obama’s idea of a foreign policy agenda is to borrow trillions of dollars from China to invest in green energy and teachers unions while calling it nation building. Left unasked was the question of what nation would we be building—America or China?

There's more. Unfortunately there's lots more.




WHY BENGHAZI AND FORT HOOD ARE THE SAME COVERUP

Muslims carry out a devastating attack on Americans. The assembled information points to the Islamist motivation of the attackers, but Obama and the media cover up the real motivations and look for a third factor to assign blame to.

Nidal Hasan was suffering from second-hand PTSD. A military assault on a consulate in the middle of a city dominated by Islamists was due to an offensive YouTube video. In both cases the truth had to be covered up and quickly.

...and the song remains the same




VIOLENT ATTACKS ON WHITES INCREASED BY 18 PERCENT

Pretty much what it says. Violent crimes on white jumped by 18 percent, on men by 27 percent and on the elderly by 91 percent. Old white men.



EUROPE IS RACIST...

...but not according to African migrants who have gotten a taste of life in the Muslim world.

The migrants are reluctant to believe that they might meet more racism in Europe than in Morocco. If they finally manage to cross the border “Black and white people are good together,” claims Aboubakr. “In Holland, there are many blacks on the national soccer team. Moroccans are just jealous.”



NEWS AND VIEWS

Meet the horse soldiers who won the War in Afghanistan... before Obama lost it.

Before Obama’s disastrous Afghanistan surge cost 1,500 American lives and 15,000 wounded, before wars were won by “Hearts and Minds” and CVE, the War in Afghanistan was won by America’s horse soldiers.

Near Ground Zero stands a sculpture of a mounted special forces soldier titled, “De Oppresso Liber” or “To Liberate the Oppressed”, the motto of the Special Forces. The unveiling of the monument was attended by Vice President Biden and General Petraeus.

As a clueless technocrat, Obama has never been able to understand that you do not defeat an enemy with drones from thousands of miles away, but through the sacrifice of brave men and women, fighting under “non-optimal” conditions and adapting to their environment.

Will Obama launch a war as an October Surprise? My thoughts on why not. Has Obama really stood on the side of democracy... or the side of Islamists?

Obama did not mention Islam even once in the debate... and we never lost Syria because we never had Syria.

The Free Syrian Army wants weapons from us and then they’ll want us to upgrade our commitment by opening a No Fly Zone and acting as their air force. And then once we’ve helped them take over Syria, we can watch our consulate in Aleppo burning on the evening news.

And a brief spotlight on Ben Emmerson, special rapporteur on Human Rights to the UN who threatened Americans that if they voted for Romney, they would face human rights sanctions because of Romney's willingness to waterboard Muslim terrorists.

Or rather a spotlight on some of the atrocities committed by just one of Emmerson's Muslim war criminal clients.

 KLA soldiers forced Witness 38 and her relatives to join a convoy of people. At some point, they were taken from the convoy and brought to a mill in Junik. She and her father were forced to undress. She further testified that she  was kept naked for a considerable amount of time and that she was forced to re-join the convoy while still naked. Witness 38 also testified that the soldier forced her to eat a bank book, tore off half of her father’s moustache, and tied both their hands with barbed wire.

The UN and its human rights apparatus, as always, has all the moral authority of Charles Manson and none of the charm.



THE HIP TYRANT

My article, A Star Falls Over Chicago, proved far more popular than expected and has been the topic of a lot of discussion on Free Republic and Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom has commented on it in some depth.

he was a man of constructs and mannered rhetorical tics; a man of tone, not of ideas.  He was a fraud, and to those who don’t find comfort in belonging to a hipster ethos — which is no different than belonging to, say, a chess club or band camp, only on a grander scale — he was a fraud who was trying to turn statism and tyranny into the new cool, the new black, if you will.

...None of these attacks on individual sovereignty were ever cool or hip. Rather, they were an attempt to turn collectivism into a hipster pose, and reduce individualism to a superficial denial of certain truths:  namely, that you didn’t build that, you aren’t ever going to be self-reliant, and that rugged individualism is a punch line, as trite and G-rated as an episode of Little House on the Prairie.

What happened that turned comformist statists chanting Obama’s name into the epitome of cultural hipness?  What made submission to the state an act of supposed defiance of The Man?
The progress of the left has always been to exploit anger, resentment and dissatisfaction, turn them into revolution and then turn the revolution into the building blocks of a new tyranny.

Let's overthrow the system and replace it with a nightmare that will make you think fondly of Louis and Nicholas and Nixon.



SEPTEMBER 11, 2015

Courtesy of Doug Ross, a step into the Twilight Zone of another three years of this. Not four. Only 3.

(FLASH/AP) At approximately 9:03am EST this morning, terrorists believed to have been associated with Ansar al Islam detonated a 15 kiloton atomic weapon in the harbor near Manhattan's battery. Radio reports indicated that the terrorists were operating a speedboat and that a pursuit by the United States Coast Guard was underway when the explosion occurred.

Three Nuclear Emergency Response Teams (NEST) were on the scene and initial casualty reports estimated as many as 75,000 dead and 750,000 wounded. Area hospitals were overwhelmed with cases of severe burns, radiation sickness, and major injuries. A triage facility was established at 103th street/Corona Plaza and all medical personnel were asked to report immediately to their respective facilities.

It's all too plausible, except for the Obama part. Oh sure, Obama's speechwriters would dust off some of Bush's speeches, but no waterboarding and martial law would only be declared to protect Muslim bodega owners from the anger of New Yorkers.



MEANWHILE IN EUROPE

... there appears to be a crackdown on anti-Islamic movements. Pamela Geller has the story from the UK and Gates of Vienna has some coverage of the situation elsewhere in Germany and France.



BRIEF BOOK SPOTLIGHT

Evan Sayet has his book, "The Kindergarten of Eden: How Modern Liberals Think" out. And fellow blogger, Meryl Yourish has put out a young adult fantasy novel, "Darkness Rising"




HOW DESPERATE IS THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN IN OHIO?

So desperate it's courting the murderer and rapist vote.
The Obama campaign has reached out to felons in Ohio, where only those behind bars on election day are barred from voting. Estimates put the eligible felon vote in Ohio at more than 700,000.

Four more years sure has a new meaning over there.



THE RECOVERY, SHE IS COMING

But the data are clear that Obama's economic recovery — which started in June 2009, five months after he was sworn in — has been worse than any recovery since the Great Depression.

Overall economic growth has been slower in this recovery than in any of the previous post-World War II recoveries, according to the Minneapolis Fed, using data from Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Which is as it should be, because government doesn't really cause an economic recovery, it can just slow it down. In worst case scenarios, as in Japan, it can retard it completely.

Obama, like FDR, has badly slowed down the recovery. And he's claiming credit for an anemic recovery, that like drilling, he has done everything possible to kill.



EVERYONE GET ON BOARD THE OBAMA PARTY PLANE

Times are tough. For everybody. Everyone who isn't a government employee. Back during the Bush days, Washingtonite liberals whined to the New York Times that Bush had killed the party circuit, but these days all the privileged champions of the oppressed are dining lavishly at taxpayer expense on the endless Obama party circuit.

President Obama has spent far more lavishly on White House state dinners than previous chief executives, including nearly $1 million on a 2010 dinner for Mexico's president

The Obama extravaganza two years ago for Mexican President Felipe Calderon, which included a performance by pop star Beyonce, cost $969,793, or more than $4,700 per attendee, the documents show.

Gary Walters, who ran presidential household operations for 21 years during Democratic and Republican administrations, before retiring in 2007, told The Examiner the costs reflected in the documents were "excessive. They are high."

The chief usher of the White House from the Reagan to George W. Bush presidencies, Walters consulted a former White House colleague and said neither of them could recall entertainment costs anywhere near those revealed in the documents provided to The Examiner.

"The highest [cost] event we could remember was $190,000 to $200,000 range, and that was for a very large dinner outside that was probably somewhere in the vicinity of 500 people with two different tents," Walters said, noting that the event was held under President Clinton.

Four more years. No?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Jewish and Post-Jewish Vote

By On October 25, 2012
Last Shabbat I sat at a table in my local synagogue while a group of men argued over the election. They weren't arguing over who they should vote for, they were arguing over just how bad Obama was, their voices rising and falling as they named one detail after another. They weren't necessarily Republicans, but they were politically conservative, as my community and as almost all of the traditional Jewish communities in America are.

This is how I grew up, and while for many, the Liberal Jew is the norm, for me he remains a strange creature, a shipwrecked sailor marooned on a liberal desert island for a century who no longer knows who he is anymore.

There is a great deal of talk about the Jewish vote in this and every election. Probably more talk than it merits. But let us clarify what we are talking about when we talk about the Jewish vote. As with the Catholic vote and the vote of every religious group, there are the votes of those who believe in the religion and the votes of those who do not. With the Jews, who are not only a religion, but a race and an ethnicity, there is the Jewish vote and the post-Jewish vote.

Or to put it another way; there are Jews and there are shipwrecked Jews.

American Jews can be broken down roughly into the products of three periods of immigration. The first began with Columbus' Jewish crew members and continued down to the mid 19th Century bringing primarily Spanish Jews and then German Jews to the American Colonies and later the United States.

This is the immigration that produced famous American Jews like Asser Levy, the first Jew to win the right to bear arms in defense of the place that would later become New York, Uriah P. Levy, a Navy Commodore who helped preserve Monticello,Judah P. Benjamin, the Secretary of State for the Confederacy and Emma Lazarus, whose famous poem has become synonymous with the Statue of Liberty.

This group was roughly split between Republicans and Democrats; though at the time those party identifiers didn't have the same conservative and liberal signifiers that they do today.

The next wave of immigration was primarily made up of Jewish refugees from Russia and Eastern Europe escaping the meltdown of Czarism. They arrived mostly after the Civil War, in time for the Unionist experiment that created centralized educational systems and the "melting pot" that was meant to efficiently transform the United States of America into a modern republic.

This second wave turned rigidly Democratic under the rough tutelage of the urban political machine and the gentler tutelage of an educational system meant to turn Jewish, Irish and Italian immigrants into proper Americans-- and to the people running the melting pot machine, Americanism meant Liberalism. They didn't always succeed, but they succeeded well enough to build an immigrant electorate for the Democratic Party.

The Liberal Jew was a product of that melting pot which stripped him of his cultural identity and his religion, leaving behind a hole that he filled with the messianism of liberal politics. The graduates of the melting pot were economically successful and well educated, but they had lost their sense of self. Looking for that sense of self, they became devout attendees of progressive politics, filling the hole with bitter greenie humor that poked fun at everything, especially themselves.

American Jewish identity became liberal identity, and the massive cultural hole was filled with humor which has found its natural end in the degraded vaudeville of Woody Allen and Larry David or the bitter frustrations of a Philip Roth. The trinity of FDR, JFK and Obama became their faith and their identity became a series of in-jokes about eating Chinese food on Christmas. Like the Spanish Jewish Conversos, they had a secret identity but they no longer knew what the secret was.

This second wave of immigration would define American Jewish identity. It is the invariable focus of American Jewish literature and the PBS specials on the American Jewish journey that run before major Jewish holidays. It is also on the way out for the simple reason that such an identity is in no shape to be passed on to the next generation. The copying errors of cultural DNA in such bad shape mean that each generation ends up knowing less about who it is than the last one. And that means each generation is also less likely to be Jewish and more likely to be liberal.

The second wave's DNA copying errors has produced a lot of abortion and gay rights activists, it hasn't produced a lot of children. Like all cultural mistakes, Liberal Judaism is wiping itself out. It leaves behind a lot of jokes, some inventive pop products that defined 20th Century Americana and some Unitarians with Jewish roots who fast for Gaza and denounce Israel.

Second wave liberal Jews had become Post-Jews within a Post-American ideology. And though they still identify as Jewish, what they mostly are is an echo, a faint snatch of song now rendered illegible, a lost people slipping away into the shadows.

The third wave of Jewish immigration began shortly before World War II and continues into the present day. It consists of the Jewish communities of Europe who fled Nazi persecution, Russian Jews who fled Communist persecution and Jews from the Middle East who fled Muslim persecution.

This third wave is largely conservative, and while the same could have been said of the second wave  arriving in 1882 or 1914, the third wave came as communities, and have largely been able to transplant their culture and religion to the United States.

In 1892, Jews came to the United States as cheap labor. In 1946 they came with the remnants of communities that they were determined to rebuild. While the second wave fled to the suburbs, they stuck it out in the cities building up integrated communities that remained true to their culture and their religion. These communities were primarily concerned with the education of their children.

This is not true of the entire third wave, just as not everything that I have said is true of the entire second wave. But largely the second wave operated on a progressive impulse, while the third wave operated on a traditionalist impulse. The second wave was concerned with leaving behind the old ways, while the third wave tried to preserve them, reconstructing the ashes of the thriving Jewish communities of Russia, Poland, Syria, Egypt and Iran in the United States.

The second wave adapted, and lost their identity. The third wave adapted and kept their identity. The second wave had few children and even fewer Jewish children. The third wave had a great many children and viewed having children as a cultural and religious duty. And through the force of simple demographics, theirs is the future. 74 percent of Jewish children in New York are Orthodox. Ten years from now, the New York Jewish vote will be as reliably Republican as it was once Democrat.

The third wave is innately conservative. Orthodox Jews from Eastern Europe and Syria are as reliably conservative, as second wave Jewish college educated suburbanites were liberal, and Russian refugees from Communism are as conservative as Cubans refugees from Communism. All three groups have an instinctive distaste and distrust for the rhetoric of progressivism. They have lost too much not to be traditionalists. Their identity is all that they have.

Second wave liberal Jews is what most people think of when they think of American Jews, but the relevance and demographic sway of that group is dimming. The new American Jew can be found in the working class sections of New York and he is an Orthodox small businessman poring over boxes of t-shirts or toasters in a hole in the wall in Brooklyn, he is a Syrian Jew clearing land on a new lot and an Israeli getting another moving company off the ground and a Russian immigrant driving a cab.

This is the new face of the American Jew and it will be the definitive one for some time to come. The Post-Jewish vote of the Liberal Post-American Post-Jew is on the way out and the Jewish vote is already coming into play in Brooklyn where Republicans are beginning to win Jewish districts.

The new American Jew is not overly committed to political parties, but to values. He believes that small business should be able to operate without government interference, he believes that families raise children, not governments, and he distrusts government in general. The messianic impulse of progressivism holds little appeal for him. He does not feel guilt over race relations and is not moved by appeals to abortion. He has no use for gay marriage and while, like a lot of working class people, he feels some sympathy for unions, he does not like public sector unions who seem to have it made.

Unlike his liberal second wave predecessors, he believes in G-d, not as some abstract inspiration, but as an actual reality. Values to him are objective, right and wrong is black and white, and family is all that matters. Government to him exists to crack down on criminals and on foreign invaders, he does believe that the country can kill its way to a solution and dismisses politicians who think it can't.

He is a man or woman of common sense and what his common sense tells him is to distrust glibness and to trust results. He doesn't want to lower the oceans or worship at the feet of a political messiah. He isn't looking for a religion to replace his religion, he doesn't want a savior, he wants a future for his family. He is the new American Jew and his vote, the vote of the third wave is the vote of the Jewish future.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Star Falls Over Chicago

By On October 24, 2012
The Obama Campaign, that strange 4 year marriage of Generation X hipsters, inner city bosses, suburban college educated boomers longing for racial healing, Big Green businessmen and shady Saudis, appears to be finally sinking beneath the waves. It isn't going out in a blaze of glory, but with mumbles of trending topics.

Obama was always a petty man and his campaign has descended into pointless pettiness, into Team Big Bird, binders full of women and bayonets and horses. Like so much hipster culture, it exists so that the participants can entertain each other with something that no one else thinks is funny or clever. And that elitism is precisely the point. It's the last resort of losers who hide from their lack of taste behind walls of exclusivity.

Abandoning mass appeal, Obama is getting back to his roots of entertaining upper middle class college kids with his 'hipness'; both actual  college kids and the overgrown middle aged variety that make up the professional class of the mediacracy who treat the rest of the country the way that they treated the natives on their Peace Corps assignments.

The Obama Campaign was never serious, but it once aspired to an Oprah level of seriousness, to the dignity of the self-help sections where trite observations are recited with great solemnity so that they sound like they must mean more than they do.

For the Northeastern New York Times reader, Obama held out the promise of atonement for the country's grave racial sins. For the San Francisco wind farm executive, he offered the prospect of a presidency that would be one long endless TED talk with plenty of subsidies for the cunning Greenvestor. And the college student would finally have a president who watched the same shows, listened to the same music and got the same jokes making him the perfect Resident Adviser for the country.

Two biographies and four years later those same people have learned that like that party guest who mentions that he's a nuclear physicist, a poet and an explorer of supernatural phenomena, Obama wasn't actually interesting, he just seemed interesting in a cursory sort of way. Obama's biography made him an interesting party guest, but not past a 5 minute chat, and it in no way qualified him to hold the country' top job during an economic crisis and two wars.

Obama's seriously intent tone, the one that signals you to pay attention, no longer works on even the faithful. Like Pavlov's dogs, they have stopped coming once they realized that just because the bell rings doesn't mean that dinner or a functional economy will be served. The weighty tone that he once used to deploy to great effect, borrowing the tricks of the preachers that he encountered in his huckstering days, has come to seem as empty as Oprah's smile or Bill Clinton's sincere head nod, just another of the tricks of hollow public personalities signifying nothing.

For years and years, he has talked and said nothing of any import. All the talk, the endless speeches and addresses, the verbal and facial tics that indicated seriousness of purpose, have never led to one single thing. Not one problem solved, not one crisis resolved and not one plan laid out and completed in four years with something to show for it.

Somewhere along the way, Obama became boring. He became that one man at a party that you don't want to talk to because he will go on forever and all his chatter leads nowhere, because for all his conversational skills, he is capable of nothing but talk. And after talking to him for ten hours, you don't know him any better than you did after ten minutes.

Voting for Obama was never the right choice objectively, but it was the right cultural choice, it was the trend, the impulse that everyone seemed to be following, the style that everyone was wearing and the book that everyone was reading. But trends like that don't last. How many people will have Lady Gaga songs in their players or Fifty Shades of Grey on their bookshelves ten years from now? This too is the fate of the president of the trending topic, the commander-in-chief of the pet rock and the mood ring with his binders full of women and t-shirts with pictures of horses and bayonets on them. A joke that like Snakes on a Plane or All Your Base Are Belong To Us never gets old until 5 minutes later.

When times are bad, people have a well-known escapist streak. During the Great Depression, lavish musicals were popular. After September 11, Zoolander topped the box office. Facing two wars and a failed economy, the American people followed their own escapist streak to a smooth talking trickster with a soothing bag of promises that were too good to be true. Who wanted to listen to McCain, a man who looked like a walking war injury and kept talking about sacrifice, when you could get big bags of free stuff from a man who offered a post-racial society as a free gift with every vote.

Americans escaped to Obama and now they're escaping from Obama. The vacation was already being cut short in 2012 and now it's approaching its blackout date. Instead of taking Americans away from everything, Obama took everything away from them, and now they're gearing up to take it all back and put him on a back shelf next to last summer's beach reads and last decade's pop hits.

Obama is over. And confronting his 'overness', that deadliest of fates for a hipster, he is crawling back to pander to his original audience, the graphic designers who put together posters of him on their free time, the celebrities who were eager to form his Jack Pack, to be his Joey Bishop or his Marilyn Monroe, the musicians singing about him, the netroots bloggers cranking out their sensations of euphoric immediacy at being in his presence and the professional leftists cheering for him to take down the American Empire like Godzilla took down Tokyo.

But all the trending memes with hashtags and Tumblr pages, the calculatingly overexposed Instagram photos and the celebrities scribbling things on their hands and Twitpiccing the results, can't bring back the thing that's over. And even if they could, it won't make a difference to the election. Hipsters like things that are different before they become popular, because it makes them seem like interesting people. Once something is popular then liking it no longer means that you're interesting, instead it comes with the ego-deflating revelation that you are just like everyone else, except more so.

There's no point to liking Obama anymore. Not when Obama is everywhere, more overexposed than Instagram, grinning from every corner, from every screen and magazine cover, selling out to get ahead and making the old faithfuls wonder if he ever stood for anything at all. Theirs is the sad burden of knowing that they will never have their own JFK who died, tragically and horrifyingly, before he could dive all the way into Vietnam, before stories of his carousing hit the papers forcing him to go on television and insist that he never had sex with any of those women.

Obama will not be immortalized by a Communist with a rifle. Instead he is doomed to be mortal, his hair turning white and his musical tastes turning worse. Any day now he will admit to a fondness for Kenny G and after that there will be no saving him from the dread ravages of time. And so he is over because the alternative to him being over is the tastemakers having to confront their own overness. Their own mortality.

If Obama were cannier than he seems, then he would embrace his own fakeness, becoming a self-constructed celebrity, glorifying in his own artificiality, until like Lady Gaga or Lana Del Rey and every third hip hop star with a pulse, his very fakeness would serve as proof of his inventiveness and his media savvy. Such an Obama would present a birth certificate showing that he was born in Kenya to challenge our notions of identity, admit to squandering all the country's money for its own good and keep us entertained with his latest antics. It might not win him the election, but considering the example of Zoolander, it might, because then instead of being over, he would be a new escape all over again.

But Obama is determined to be a hipster to the very end, instead of embracing the shamelessness of his own media manipulations, he veers erratically between an insincere sincerity and the sneer of the spitefully superior. It's the performance we saw in the third debate, the antics of every college kid you ever argued with, that combination of smugness and insecurity that marks the hipster as an impossible conversationalist.

The only thing sadder than a hipster is a wannabe hipster and that's what Obama is now, a man in search of a meme, a one-man band in search of an artfully touching documentary about its travails in the wilds of Portland and a flat line in search of its trend.

Obama does not know how to govern. He does not know how to address the economy or war. The one thing he knows how to do is be popular. That is the one and only skill that he has cultivated in his life. And it is a good skill for a politician, but a politician whose only skill is popularity had better avoid taking responsibility for anything that might make him unpopular.

Popularity is a trend, and like every reality show star still pounding away on Twitter five years later, trying to move their latest CD or comedy club appearance, Oprah's most popular boy toy since Dr. Oz has failed to realize that he is no longer popular, his moment has passed, his relevance is through and no one wants a man whose only skills are on-camera skills to be the one standing between them and economic oblivion.

The country doesn't hate him, but it is tired of him. It wakes up every morning, remembers the time everyone got drunk and decided to vote for the cool black dude who talked a lot about hope, winces and then forgets about him all over again until it looks at the latest economic news. It's over him and it wishes that he would show some dignity and walk away from a job that he isn't qualified for on his own.

Obama has gotten desperate. His fundraising emails walk the thin line between emotional blackmail and hysteria. Increasingly they read like Cousin Larry phoning for bail money from Tijuana. Shrilly needy they demand that we pay attention to him, that we love him, adore him and spend money on him. They are the missives of a man who cannot conceive of a life outside the spotlight, the vapid fear of a celebrity who cannot confront the real world and cannot understand why their public is walking away.

In the last stages of his career, Obama has become Norma Desmond, waving around a social media gun and shouting, "No one leaves a star. That's what makes one a star." But the country has left and what they leave behind is a star falling from the sky over Chicago .

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Obama's Greatest Foreign Policy Error

By On October 23, 2012
Obama's greatest Foreign Policy error was the same one that had been made by Bush and by numerous past administrations. The error was that the problem was not Islam, but Islamic violence. It was Obama however who took that error to its logical conclusion by pursuing a foreign policy meant to part Islamists from their violent tendencies by allowing them to win without the need for terrorism.

Violence, the thinking in diplomatic circles went, was inherently alarming and destabilizing. When Islamists don't take over, they move to the West, preach radical theology, gather up followers and begin blowing things up. But let them take over their own home countries and they'll no longer have any reason to draw up maps of London and New York, not when they're beheading adulterers and burning churches back home.

The Arab Spring was to the Middle East what the betrayal of Czechoslovakia to the Nazis and the betrayal of the rest of Eastern Europe to the Communists was to 20th Century European history. It was the moment when all the diplomatic folly that had come before it came together in one great historical instant of national and international betrayal.

The diplomatic wunderkinds had never taken Islamist theology seriously, just as their predecessors had not considered the possibility that the Bolsheviks might be serious about their world revolution. And they had also failed to recognize that Islamic terrorism was not only a means to power, but also an end in and of itself, a way of harnessing the endless violence and instability in desert societies and turning them into power and profit.

What every Middle Eastern leader has always understood is that the violence, call it raids, terrorism, guerrilla warfare, gang activity, sectarian militias, military coups, desert banditry, was never going away. It was the tiger and the clever leader rides the tiger, rather than ending up inside it, harnessing and directing the violence, to remain in power.

Islam is a religion built around that violence, sanctifying it as a religious principle, and thus taking it out of the realm of Fitna and into the realm of Jihad. The difference between the two is a matter of theology and that theology is a matter of perspective. What is banditry and what is a holy war is a matter of where you're standing and which way the bullets are flying.

The Islamists might be able to direct the violence, but they could no more shut it down than any of their secular predecessors could. They could kill their enemies, but only by unleashing the tiger on them and when the killing was done, they would still be left with a hungry tiger looking around for his next meal. So the Islamists, like the Saudis, were bound to fuse religion with realpolitik by making sure that the tigers were pointed our way. 

Even if their violence were only a means to an end, the end would not come when every Middle Eastern country was run by Islamist governments. For one thing there would never be a means of agreeing on what a truly Islamist government was. The reactionary impetus of Wahhabism leads to an endless series of reforms meant to recreate a lost 7th Century theological paradise by purging those damnable 8th Century theological innovators.

To many Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood is just Mubarak with a beard. To other Salafists, those Salafists are just the Muslim Brotherhood with an untrimmed beard. After overthrowing Mubarak to end the perception that the United States supports UnIslamic dictators, maintaining ties with the Muslim Brotherhood would invite attacks from those Salafists in the hopes of ending US support for the Brotherhood, resetting that foreign policy accomplishment to zero. And the Brotherhood would wink and nod at those attacks to maintain its Islamist street cred and keep the violence going in the other direction.

As the attacks of September 11, 2012 showed us, the effect of putting the Islamists in charge of the Arab Spring countries was not to relieve tensions or improve America's image, but to make it easier for Jihadists to launch attacks on America. And the argument advanced by Obma and so many others, that it was our support for dictators that inspired terrorists, had come to nothing. As Carter had done in Iran, Obama had stood behind the Islamists and against the "dictators", only to have the newly Islamist dictators kick him in the face, first through mobs carrying out attacks against American diplomatic facilities under the guise of plausible deniability, and then through bolder confrontations.

But finally, the seizure of one Muslim country or two of them or a dozen of them is not the end of the Islamists. Islamists don't recognize borders or national identities, no more than the Communists did. Their objective is not a flag of their own, but the territorial expansion of their ideology. This expansion is not measured in miles, but in populations. It persists regardless of lines on a map or country names. It measures its power in people, because people are the region's only resource.

Territory alone is useless. The Middle East doesn't produce much agriculturally and what it does produce is done with primitive, often near-feudal labor. About the only territorial worth comes from oil and the worth of the oil comes from the money that foreigners are willing to pay for it. Having the foreigners come to their country to pump the oil for them so that they can then sell the oil back to the foreigners has built the wealth of a dozen emirs, kings and dictators. And that wealth has been used to buy the services of Islamist militias in an arrangement that we know as terrorism, but that the locals know as the raid.

Islam has turned the raid into a crusade, but at its core it is still a tribal expansion, an outing to seize land, loot and women from neighboring tribes. And the neighboring tribes with the most appealing land, loot and women are the ones living across the Mediterranean in Europe. Getting there requires a boat or a plane ticket, a claim of refugee status and then the No-Go-Zones, the gangs and the rapes begin. And amid that violence, the preachers come and attract the more religiously-minded to the formal Jihad, as opposed to the informal violent persecution of non-Muslim tribes through robbery, rape and murder that was routine in their old region and has now been carried over into the West..

The Islamists would be under a theological obligation to expand their control over the infidels even if there were no Muslims in the West, but the presence of Muslims in the West makes the takeover of Western countries necessary for the same reason that the takeover of Muslim countries by Islamists was necessary.

When Western leaders try to curry favor with Muslim leaders by talking about how many Muslims live in their countries, they are providing the same cause for war that the Czechs did to the Germans. Muslim immigration to the West creates a mandate to impose Islamic law on the West. Western leaders react to that by offering to accept some elements of Sharia into their legal system. This moves the process into the second stage, the one that the Arab Spring countries were under, practicing an imperfect version of Islamic law that the Islamists were then compelled to "perfect."

Everything that the West has done to appease Muslims has worked as well as a man jumping into a tiger cage and pouring meat sauce all over his body. Each act of appeasement only makes Muslim violence necessary and inevitable. Every increase in the Islamic footprint in the West attracts Islamists intent on expanding and purifying that footprint, as they have done in their own countries. The more the West takes in Islamic populations and laws, the more Islamists are compelled to bring diaspora Muslim populations and laws into full compliance with their theology.

Obama's foreign policy aimed at allowing the Islamists to win. He ignored the Iranian protesters against an Islamist state, while rushing to support the Islamist protesters in Egypt and Tunisia. The Islamists won and September 11, 2012 was a consequence of those victories. And it won't be the last consequence.

As Chamberlain learned of Hitler and as the Democrats learned of the Commies, there is no finite amount of concessions, no set range of territories that can be traded in exchange for peace. The Nazis and Communists wanted the world because their goals were not confined to mere territories, but to the enslavement of billions to create an ideal world for the benefit of their chosen elites. Islam is interested in the same thing.

Islamists don't want Egypt, Syria or Palestine. And they certainly won't settle for them. No more than Hitler settled for Czechoslovakia or Stalin settled for Poland. They will accept their conquests in bites, but they will never stop biting, chewing and swallowing until they run up against a force that will not allow them to advance and expand further.

Obama tried to divide violent Islamism from political Islamism, giving the Islamists what they wanted without violence, to eliminate the need for a War on Terror. But all he accomplished was to give Islamist violence a bigger base and more resources to work with. Islam is inherently violent. A non-violent Islamic victory doesn't end the violence; it only expands its capacity for violence.

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