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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Dreaded Israel Lobby Strikes Again

By On February 27, 2013
The Israel Lobby which controls American foreign policy, but has thus far been unable to get the United States to stop funding the terrorists currently shooting rockets at its 14th largest city, has struck again as Senate Democrats voted unanimously to make Chuck Hagel the next Secretary of Defense.

The dreaded Israeli Lobby, Jewish Lobby, Israel Lobby or any other permutation of the form that you prefer, has largely kept silent during the Hagel nomination. The head of the ADL was heard to mutter something and the AJC suggested that the Senate should possibly rethink the nomination before falling silent again. As if anyone needed more proof that the Zionist Entity controls Washington.

AIPAC and all the other groups who regularly send out envelopes warning of disaster if the check doesn't come in the mail have an amazing track record.

When Israel builds apartment buildings in its own capital city, the State Department, that branch of government which Hagel claimed was an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, denounces the provocative act of putting one brick on top of another. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia arrests Christians for celebrating Christmas and you couldn't pay the State Department to pay attention.

Pakistan was hiding Bin Laden and still rolls in the foreign aid. Egypt's government is torturing protesters. Libya arrested Christian missionaries in Benghazi, but still can't be bothered to arrest those responsible for the murder of Ambassador Stevens. The Palestinian Authority hasn't held an election in forever and is actually paying the salaries of convicted terrorists.

Meanwhile the dominant foreign policy topic is how to convince Israel to make more concessions to the terrorists. To hear them talk, East Jerusalem is the only thing standing in the way of peace in our time. And talk like that is just more evidence that the Israel Lobby really does run everything.

John Kerry, the new Secretary of State, gave Code Pink, the radical leftist Anti-War and Anti-Israel group, a pass to go see Hamas. John Brennan Islamized Jerusalem. Hagel blamed the Jewish Lobby for spoiling his milk. But what do you expect in a Washington D.C. run by the Israel Lobby?

There are constant dire warnings that Israel is about to pull the United States into a war. The number of wars that Israel has pulled the United States into clocks in at zero. The number of wars that the Saudis have pulled the United States into clocks in at three; if you count a Saudi terrorist funded by Saudis using a bunch of Saudis to ram planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

True aficionados of the nefarious Jewish Lobby however know that the House of Saud was framed by a few thousand Jews who showed up early to wire up the towers with C4 and then punched out  before the flights arrived. That is if the planes weren't just holograms full of passengers who never existed as part of a false flag operation against a fake terrorist group created by the CIA in a conspiracy to steal all the opium in Afghanistan.

And in the same way they know that Hagel really is an Israeli agent. Why else did the Jewish Lobby remain silent? And wasn't it suspicious how Hagel seemed to hate Israel so much? What if Hagel was only pretending to bash Israel because his real name isn't Chuck, it's Chaim? What if beneath that mopey exterior that bespeaks a man who has spent his entire life watching a fly crawl across a window, beats the heart of a Semitic partisan who is just raring to begin bombing Iran as soon as he figures out how to make his executive chair go up and down?

Hagel's triumph is a disappointment to them. It would have been better if he had gone down a martyr, his stumped visage adorning book covers alongside James Forrestal and Adlai Stevenson III as another victim of the lobby in the blue-and-white hotel. A brave truth-teller like Charles Freeman who wasn't approved for a position chairing the National Intelligence Council for taking money from Saudi Arabia and China, and claiming that Tienanmen Square was a moderate response, but mostly because of the Israel Lobby.

There's no question that the Israel Lobby is a truly impressive beast. Every now and then it convinces a bunch of senators to sign a letter calling for peace and a two-state solution while condemning the taxpayer supported terrorists who shoot rockets at Israeli cities. The letter doesn't actually call for ending funding to the terrorists. It just asks the President or Secretary of State to review the situation and strongly urge the terrorists to stop shooting rockets because that endangers the future of the peace process.

The senators sign the letter, usually without reading it, it gets sent to the State Department or the White House, where it isn't read either. And the dreaded Israel Lobby pats itself on the back for another bipartisan statement of support for Israel, peace and more rockets being shot at Israeli cities.

Occasionally the Israel Lobby will get truly serious and a non-binding resolution of support will be introduced in Congress. Everyone will vote for it, even the senators and congressmen whose fondest wish is that Israel didn't exist. And it will go on the list right next to the resolution commemorating the achievements of the guy who made the world's biggest ball of twine.

In a truly disturbing overreach of power, sometimes there will be a bill proposing to cut off aid to the terrorists unless they stop shooting rockets at Israeli cities. The bill will allow for a national security waiver by the president. And every president will employ the waiver making the bill slightly less useless than a non-binding resolution, but not in any way that can be pinned down.

Meanwhile the three-hundred blogs dedicated to exposing the Israel Lobby's muzzling of dissent will denounce the bill and author six more books describing how the dreaded lobby makes it entirely impossible to discuss the conflict from the perspective that Israel is to blame for absolutely everything. This is a perspective that seldom appears in major newspapers and magazines and is absolutely never heard on CNN. You could go a whole five seconds without encountering it on any world news broadcast.

It's not always clear what the Israel Lobby's accomplishments really consist of. There's a good deal of traffic between the interlocking American and Israeli defense industries that adds up to a sizable amount of foreign aid. But by that measure the Egyptian and Jordanian lobbies must also belong to some rather impressive hotels. To say nothing of the Pakistani Hotel Taliban. Israel is doing better than Taiwan which can't convince the United States to sell it any serious firepower for fear of offending China, and if folks like Hagel had their way, Israel might be in the same boat.

Beyond that, Israel and the United States have a mutual agreement. The State Department, an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, will blame Israel for all of America's troubles with the Muslim world, especially those caused by Saudi Arabia, and Israeli diplomats will attend negotiating sessions with terrorists that will fail and then accept responsibility for the failure.

The United States will provide foreign aid to Israel and the countries and terrorist groups trying to destroy it. This will be known as a pro-Israel policy because Israel will get more aid than the countries trying to destroy it giving it a qualitative advantage.

The United States will help fund the terrorists shooting rockets at Israeli cities and help fund the Israeli Iron Dome anti-rocket program, so that both sides are evened out. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood will get fighter jets and tanks and Israel will get a visit from Obama. The last time Obama visited Egypt, it imploded, but when he visits Israel, he promises not to reduce the country to a violent civil war and urban anarchy. And so qualitative advantage is upheld once again due to the work of the Israel Lobby.

In one of his more brilliant moments, Hagel signed on to a report that called on Obama to present Israel with his own peace plan backed by a 60,000 NATO peacekeeping force deployed inside Israel that would include soldiers from Muslim countries. We have no idea if this latest brilliant plan will ever come to fruition, but carving up Israel like a turkey and deploying Muslim armies inside it is clearly another creation of the Israel Lobby.

It doesn't sound like something the Saudi Lobby would come up with, does it?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Capitalism: A Hate Story

By On February 26, 2013
In Year 1 of Obama, two fat cats named Michael Moore and Harvey Weinstein released a movie. Their magnum opus was "Capitalism: A Love Story". The unsubtly sarcastic point after the colon was that capitalism was an unmitigated bag of evil. And to reaffirm the faith of capitalism-haters in the evils of capitalism, here was a movie put out by a bunch of corporations owned by millionaires.

The traditional image of the anti-capitalist as a ragamuffin who dies of consumption in his garret has always been at odds with the real image of the anti-capitalist as a rich man or the son of a rich man. When Obama launched his big push for higher taxes, he enlisted as his ally none other than the richest man in the country. And when Occupy Wall Street's demographics were broken down, the courageous opponents of capitalism turned out to be the sons and daughters of the upper class.

This sort of thing isn't a surprise, it's history. Lenin's father was a nobleman. Cuba's dictator attended Castro's wedding. The man of the people is rather often stuck at the bottom of the top of the pole. The people who make revolutions are not the dispossessed, but those who are close enough to see what power really looks like, but have no hope of wielding absolute power unless they enlist the mob. They are close enough to see the throne, but not close enough to non-violently sit down in it.

That's not even the case in America. Here we instead have the bizarre spectacle of Nicholas II and Batista calling for a revolution against the petite bourgeoisie. It's a class war being waged by billionaires against people earning six figures a year. It's millionaires making movies for profit using workers to denounce the practice of making things for profit using workers.

All of this is done in the name of democracy. Just look at the Democracy Alliance, an alliance of left-wing billionaires spending huge amounts of money to win elections. What could be more democratic than that except actually paying individuals for their vote. But just as there are bad capitalist movies and good capitalist anti-capitalist movies, there are bad billionaires who use their fortunes to influence the political process and good billionaires who use their fortunes to etc...

The Koch Brothers are bad. George Soros is good. Sheldon Adelson is bad. The Sandlers are good. The good billionaires on this list have arguably done far more damage to the little people and to the political process, but good money and bad money have nothing to do with real world consequences. Good billionaires give money to the left. Bad billionaires give money to the right or just swim in giant piles of it every evening before taking a cruise on their solid gold yachts.

We are told incessantly that income inequality is a serious issue by organizations receiving millions from the holders of billions to say that. But income inequality is only a serious issue in some sectors. It's fashionable to talk about the outrageous compensation packages for CEOs in for-profit companies, but not the outrageous compensation packages for CEOs in non-profit companies.

The president of a snack food companies who uses corporate profits to cover a huge salary is an evil pig, but the president of a charity who pulls in a huge salary using donations and government grants is a humanitarian. Again, the non-profit president is arguably a worse human being than the for-profit president, but it's not about the consequences or the moral weight of the act.

Good evil CEOs work at non-profits and do nothing while chewing up public money that is taken by force from the people. Bad evil CEOs oversee the production of products that people voluntarily buy.

Similarly the university presidents of liberal arts colleges who saddle their students with six-figure debts in exchange for useless degrees are advancing the cause of knowledge, no matter how many dirty deals they make with financial institutions. But the presidents of for-profit schools that hand out useless degrees in exchange for five-figure debts are a blight on the educational landscape. It's not just anybody who can hand out useless degrees in exchange for debt. You have to know some Latin too.

Good people support taxing the middle class and bringing in huge numbers of unskilled workers to the country to work cheaply and then tax the middle class some more to cover their social benefits. And of course they're good people. They even offer the children of the middle class a chance to go to college and rack up six figures worth of student debt that they can then use to write essays protesting income inequality.

And there's no conspiracy to see here. If you think that you might as well suspect that the Democracy Alliance wasn't really about promoting democracy, but about using giant piles of ill-gotten loot to hijack that democracy.

Ever since the birth of democracy and even before it, politics has come down to who claims to care the most for the people. There was hardly a monstrous tyrant who didn't claim that his heart bled red for the people. Usually it was the people who ended up bleeding red, but the sentiment was there. We still suffer from a surplus of humanitarians who ache for the opportunity to take power and do the will of the people. And by the will of the people, they mean their own will.

It doesn't really matter if you call it capitalism or socialism or anythingism. Power is about power and money is about money. Strip away the labels and you have a lot of powerful people trading money for power with the agenda of accumulating more of both. It doesn't really matter what you call a billionaire who makes his fortune on currency speculation trying to dictate elections or a former politician who uses his clout to promote a crisis that his investments tend to profit from.

They're the good guys, if you listen to the people concerned with income inequality, which is to say that they give piles of money to the right causes and it would be impolite for all the good guys to notice that they make even bigger piles of money bashing capitalism.

The concern trolls of income inequality tell us that the escalating gap is a crisis, but that's another distraction. The issue isn't how big the gap between you and the CEO of Sears is. The issue is how much of a challenge it is for people to make it to the middle class and stay in the middle class. And that's not a problem that can be solved by taking more money from the CEO of Sears.

Confiscating wealth may be a tempting strategy if you're a Russian peasant in 1918, but the wealth redistribution invariably applies more to the largest segments of the population because even in a country where the poor really are poor, their resources can be indefinitely confiscated, while those of the rich cannot be.

The revolution may start with the merchants, but when all the wine is drunk and all the mansions are sacked, and Lenin has sold the best paintings in the museums to Armand Hammer (another good lefty tycoon) it trickles down to the peasants who retain wealth through sheer numbers. Armand Hammer flies the paintings home and the peasants get marched off to collective farms. The income inequality problem doesn't actually get solved, but no one talks about it anymore for fear of being shot.

It's always easy to frame the problem in terms of the hoarding of capital by the wealthy, but the wealthy aren't actually hoarding their wealth. The wealthiest Americans tend to give their wealth away through various foundations. Bill Gates is spending his fortune trying to wipe out Cholera. Ted Turner has plugged it into the United Nations. David Koch had given hundreds of millions of dollars to Lincoln Center and MIT. It's not a new tradition either. The names of Carnegie and Rockefeller are all over landmarks in New York City, including libraries and theaters.

If the ladder up the classes has gotten shakier, it is doubtfully the fault of the plutocrats for being rich. The 1 percent is not a new phenomenon in the country's history, nor is the denunciation of them for being rich. Americans have had a complicated relationship with wealth for a long time and that hasn't changed. What has changed is the rise of a third factor.

It's silly to talk about the conspicuous consumption of even the most outrageous rich, when the government rips through more money in a day than every billionaire combined could possibly spend. And that spending has been driven in no small part by agitation from political organizations funded by billionaires and millionaires, sometimes out of an insistence on political philanthropy and sometimes for darker motives.

Incomes haven't become more unequal because the rich have grabbed all the money and stuffed it into a vault, but because the traditional ladder of success has been cut away and replaced with a clumsy government elevator that sometimes comes and sometimes doesn't, and requires a whole lot of maintenance. But its defenders say that elevators are modern and smooth. They may not fit many people, but it is a quick easy ride. And the people down below are told to demand that the rich make more elevators for them and then everything will be alright.

The middle class wasn't wiped out by the individual accumulation of wealth, but by the political accumulation of wealth and power. The shift from capitalism to socialism means that the poor live better than they used to, but that they have nowhere to go. And that the middle class is on the road to joining them in a society with a small upper class and a huge lower class that is somehow meant to subsidize its own government benefits. The capitalist ladder over which millions could swarm has been traded in for a socialist elevator that takes you to the top floor if you denounce capitalism often enough, but mostly never goes anywhere.

Rather than a society of aspiring merchants and builders, we instead have a society of beggars and philosopher-kings. The beggars are expected to be angry and the philosopher-kings are expected to be charitable. Eventually the philosopher-kings will expect the beggars to work for very little in exchange for that charity and the beggars will find that social justice protests don't work well against machine gun nests. Some might think that's conspiracy, but it's mostly just history.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hollywood is Dead

By On February 25, 2013
Hollywood has no problem being dumb, sleazy and violent. Those are all known and marketable qualities. What it does not look is appearing desperate. Desperation however is what the Oscars of this year and last year have in common. They stink of an industry desperately racing its own age and irrelevance reaching for gimmicks to try and hang on to a younger audience.

The dirty little secret is that Hollywood hardly exists anymore. The industry is bigger than ever, but its bread and butter consists of 200 and 300 million dollar special effects festivals filmed in front of green screens and created in Photoshop and three-dimensional graphics programs. They star obscure or mildly famous actors and they do two-thirds of their business abroad.

America is still the official headquarters of the global entertainment industry, but many of the bigger projects are filmed internationally with foreign money and intended for foreign markets. What the American corporations bring to the table is the intellectual property which is why the latest spasm of mergers and buyouts has focused on taking control of every treasury of classic marketable properties.

Disney has put Star Wars, Mickey and Marvel Comics under one roof. It's impressive from a business standpoint, but bankrupt from a creative standpoint. Old Americana is being milked dry for the sake of turning out another disposable movie starring familiar characters. The movies are actually still the same.

The blockbuster has mutated into its final stage. The "individual" movie is almost dead. Forget Jaws or Raiders of the Lost Ark. The modern blockbuster is seamless and soulless. An impersonal work that renders the director and cast irrelevant. The criticism has been made before, but what is new now is the percentage of special effects and the cost. The more expensive a movie becomes, the more risk averse its producers are.

If a movie is going to cost 200 million dollars to make, then it has to be identical to the other 200 million dollar movies that were profitable. The template is there. All that's left is to plug in another talented Korean, British, Russian or even perhaps American director, and then roll out the same movie with characters from another property.

The movie must have collapsing skyscrapers, massive explosions and a few slumming character actors. What it cannot have is too much dialogue or plot, because those don't translate well. How a movie will play in Topeka or even Los Angeles doesn't matter nearly as much as how it will play in Beijing, Moscow and everywhere else.

Hollywood makes movies on the side. What it really does is manufacture special effects theme parks for other countries whose own entertainment industries are not yet ready for prime time. And the types of movies that it makes can be made nearly anywhere. And will eventually be made anywhere. Tinseltown is pretending to be artistic and creative, even while both qualities are dead as doornails.

These days Hollywood resembles the decline of the British film industry, kept alive by state subsidies and used as a talent base for other countries. At some point, American actors and directors will move on to next conglomeration of capital and audiences in Asia, the way that British actors and directors moved on to Hollywood. The next Hollywood will speak Mandarin. Its executives will buy up American properties and film them in China. The casts will be diverse, the plots will not exist and every movie will be mostly the same. In other words it will be exactly like Hollywood is now.

The blockbuster of 2025 will be Made in China. It will feature 1. Aliens 2. Robots. 3. Buildings collapsing. It will have a pro-China message, but the Western writers hired to insert some topical dialogue for Western audiences will throw in a few relevant lines for the version that is released here. The Indian, Russian and South American writers will do the same thing for their versions.

Hollywood will become the American distribution arm of a new global film industry that can make the same bad movies more cheaply and easily. Its executives will recommend properties for the head office in Beijing to buy up. Occasionally they may even be allowed to make some of their own movies. There will be plenty of nostalgia and the usual tawdry independent movies funded by taxpayer subsidies that you can find in Europe's own buggy whip movie industries.

The big wheels of the industry already know this. But they don't have much of a choice. Hollywood has been frantically chasing the youth market with each new incarnation of entertainment technology. Hollywood spent decades making movies bashing television for competing with it for its audience. Eventually the electronics companies that fielded the first television networks dumped their products into the same pool as the movie studios, but by then the internet had begun to take off. And all the movies demonizing the internet haven't done anything to stop it.

The movie/television/comic book conglomerates are competing for younger audiences against video games and the internet. And the internet is winning. The median age for most of the entertainment industry's products is old. Some of that can be attributed to demographic collection technologies that rely too much on traditional viewership, but much of it is just reality. Hollywood may bring in James Franco or the creator of Family Guy to host its industry party, but that doesn't change how old it is.

The entertainment industry dumbed down its products to the lowest common denominator to target the teenager. And in the process the entertainment industry destroyed itself. Television networks killed family hour to chase upscale twenty-somethings and wiped out their own viewership. Their big brothers destroyed the movie theater by making it indistinguishable from an amusement park ride. The television network model killed networks and the cable networks that adopted that same model are about to get whacked by the collapse of the cable bundle business model. The movie model made the movie easy to reproduce by any country with enough capital and digital artists. These days that's the People's Republic of China.

Hollywood movies are already being made to Chinese specifications, complete with Communist censorship, and that's only the beginning. If China's economy does not collapse, then it will become the tail that wags the Hollywood dog. And Hollywood will be history.

The death of Hollywood would have been a tragedy once, but these days it's almost a relief. It leaves behind a lot of great movies, almost all of them made in the past, and the best proof of that is the compulsive flood of remakes, reboots and reinventions of old properties. The spirit of the industry is gone and all that's left is a shambling zombie picking over its own brains and living off past glories while throwing elaborate industry parties that are little more than an expensive glorified reality show.

 Hollywood is still chasing relevance and the youth market. The theater conglomerates are figuring out new ways to squeeze twenty bucks out of customers in a bad economy to cover their own expenses which include revamping their theaters for youth-oriented gimmicks like 3D. But the problem is that in an economy where the under 20 and 30 crowd is out of work, those gimmicks are struggling to pay for themselves. Add in the high levels of unemployment among minority young males, who are the industry's best customers, and the picture looks even bleaker.

The Chinese kid has some money to spend after getting through a long shift of making iPads or grinding for virtual money in an online game. American kids have less money than they used to and the internet offers entertainment, including the latest pirated movies, for free, often offered by sites run by some of those same Chinese kids.

In this solipsistic environment, does the movie theater even have a future? How much room is there for a business model built around digital entertainment that doesn't run on the internet? Despite the billion-dollar grosses, theater owners are not entirely certain. There's a reason that a thimble's worth of soda and popcorn is so expensive and it's not because movie theaters are doing well. It's because everyone is behind and running up debt.

Movie studios throw fortunes into mediocre blockbusters and then spend the next three years wrangling over the profits, and cheating everyone from the director to the stars to their distributing partners of their fair share. Movie theaters pay out most of the money from the opening weekends to the studios and count on extended engagements to make money, but the modern blockbuster is one opening weekend after another with no extended engagements.

Everyone is deep in debt and counting on a string of hits to bring in audiences and save their business model. Everyone is merging and clustering together to limit the risk, while increasing the drag.

There's no future in that and Hollywood knows it. The industry is locking down intellectual properties because it knows that it's about to turn into Kodak after the digital revolution. An outdated business with nothing to offer except its rights to certain properties that more successful industries will want to make use of.

Hollywood is dead, but its corpse is still trying to carry on with business as usual. The inventive industry that mixed together vaudeville and adventure books into an entire industry that spanned the globe has long ago run out of ideas. Instead it's marking the time, deadening its nerves and doing everything it can to appear youthful. The parties are still being thrown as if the industry has not changed, as if it's still a band of salesmen and theater owners who opened their own studios and made and lost fortunes betting on geniuses and big concepts.

What we think of as Hollywood was a byproduct of the need to fill theaters, but the technology of filling theaters is being broken down on a more sophisticated level, without the need for creativity. What the big computers did to Wall Street, they are also doing to Hollywood. The future isn't a silver screen, it's a behavioral map of the most reliable ways of getting the industry's best customers into a theater to watch a product created in slave-labor countries based on templates that run on numbers, not creativity, even of the three-act kind.

Hollywood's past glories may live on as nostalgia, but it has no future. The industry is history.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

To Kill a Murderer

By On February 24, 2013
Twenty years ago, Nathan Dunlap walked into a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora, Colorado. Holmes, the future mass killer who would go on to make Aurora briefly famous after opening fire in a movie theater, was six years old at the time. Just old enough to patronize a Chuck E. Cheese.

Dunlap had been fired from the restaurant in the spring of that year and told a friend that he wanted to get even, go in and take all the money. One cold wintry evening he walked in, put a gun to the head of a 19-year-old girl at the salad bar and pulled the trigger. Then he killed three others and stole $1,591 before being arrested by the police.

Over the next twenty years, Dunlap and his lawyers did everything possible to get their client off. They claimed that his trial lawyers were incompetent, that he was abused as a child and that he had mental problems. That same claim is made by the defenders of nearly every murderer on death row.  There has yet to be an inmate on death row who isn't a mentally ill child who was sexually abused by his incompetent lawyers.

Dunlap's case went to the Colorado Supreme Court three times and once to the Supreme Court. And that means that after twenty years, he may finally be executed. The taxpayers of Colorado have spent millions fighting Dunlap's lawyers. Aside from the usual attempts to keep Dunlap from facing the death penalty, the ACLU sued Colorado over exercise privileges for the Chuck E. Cheese killer.

"Depriving Mr. Dunlap of fresh air, sunshine, and outdoor exercise for 15 years is cruel and unusual punishment,"  the ACLU legal director said last year.

In Georgia, the murderer sympathy vote is swarming around Warren Lee Hill.

Like Dunlap, Hill is a multiple murderer. In 1986, Hill shot his girlfriend 11 times. Four years later he beat another inmate to death in prison with a nail-studded board. Hill was finally on the verge on being executed, but his defenders had one last gimmick arguing that Georgia can't kill Hill, because he only has an IQ of 70.

America's greatest mentally retarded president, Jimmy Carter, came out in Hill's defense and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals stepped in a half hour before Hill would have faced justice. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is not supposed to handle death penalty cases, but activist judges know no boundaries and the court has stepped in to halt two of Georgia's executions in two days.

Hill only began claiming that he was retarded in 1996, ten years after his original murder, at which point his IQ scores, formerly in the mid-70s, dropped down to a more appropriately low level. Despite supposedly being retarded, Hill had managed to serve in the military and hold down steady jobs, not to mention murder two people. But no one has established whether Hill is mentally retarded within a reasonable doubt.

Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, who has also claimed that drone strikes are a war crime, declared that "the world community is again watching Georgia with great concern as it prepares to carry out another grotesque and unjust execution." The South African Heyns did not say whether he would be willing to be locked in a cell for 24 hours with Hill and a nail-studded board.

Andrew Cook, the other death row inmate on whose behalf the 11th Circuit intervened, came up with an even better gimmick. Cook claimed that he couldn't be lethally injected with pentobarbital without a doctor's prescription. What should have been a punchline to a standup comedian's joke is an actual tactic that pro-murderer death penalty opponents are using to stop Georgia from killing murderers.

European drug companies are refusing to supply drugs that can be used for lethal injections to the United States leading to a shortage of pentobarbital. Lethal injection however is only the most painless way to kill murderers. There are other less cleaner ways that states will have to resort to if the drugs aren't available. The electric chair is used in nine states, the gas chamber in four states and the firing squad in two states. If we ever run out of bullets, gas and electricity, New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die state, authorizes an old-fashioned rope hanging if the drugs run out.

Cook, who can't be killed without a doctor's prescription, murdered a young couple by a lakeshore lover's lane 18 years ago. There is no word on whether he got a doctor's note before killing Grant Henderson and Michele Cartagena. Cook didn't know the young couple, he just wanted to see if he could kill someone and get away with it. Now he wants to see if he can get away with murder by demanding that a doctor write a prescription for his lethal injection.

In Florida, the battle is on over Paul Augustus Howell. Howell tried to murder another member in the Jamaican Posse drug ring with a pipe bomb because she could tie him to the murder of another drug dealer over a kilo of cocaine. The bomb was put inside a microwave oven which was gift-wrapped and driven to her in a stolen car by a member of the gang. The car was stopped along the way and Jimmy Fulford, a state trooper, unwrapped the booby-trapped oven suspecting that there were drugs inside. Instead the bomb exploded in his hands. That was over twenty years ago.

Howell's defenders are making the usual arguments about unqualified lawyers. And the lawyers are always unqualified. Each set of lawyers claims that the previous set was unqualified and neglected to provide a proper defense by exploiting every possible gimmick. The gimmick in the Howell case is that his lawyer's wife apparently received a death threat from one of Howell's associates back when he was defending him in a previous drug case.

Apparently getting a death threat from the associates of the man you are defending in a previous case represents a conflict of interest.

Like every other murderer out there, Howell's lawyers have also claimed that he was abused as a child and might be mentally ill, if not mentally retarded. With that kind of legal obstacle course, it's a wonder that any murderer ever makes it to the end of the line. But you can always count on Texas to deliver the goods.

In 1994, Carl Blue filled up a Big Gulp cup with gasoline, threw it at his girlfriend and then set her on fire with a lighter. Carmen Richards-Sanders died horribly after clinging to life for 19 days with burns over 40 percent of her body. Even in Texas it took 19 years to get Blue, who had been smoking crack before the attack, to his final end.

Along the way, Blue's lawyers claimed that he was also retarded because he had been born premature and had to be kept in an incubator and that the attack had only been a prank, even though Blue told his girlfriend, "I told you I was gonna get you" as she was burning up.

Blue said that he didn't feel that he was guilty of murder, but that he still expected to go to heaven and wanted to be buried in a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. There's no telling whether he will get his wish, but the cowboy state did execute the Big Gulp killer, making him the first Texas killer to die this year. And the second killer in the United States to be sent beyond the reach of any living ACLU lawyer and into the jurisdiction of the dead ACLU lawyers in the underworld.

In Tennessee, Christa Gail Pike, the only woman on death row, is also pleading mental illness and mental retardation. In 1995, Pike lured another girl whom she suspected of trying to steal her boyfriend into the woods, stabbed her with a meat cleaver and carved a pentagram on her chest. The torture went on for 30 minutes until the victim's skull was finally smashed in with a chunk of asphalt. Pike even kept a piece of her victim's skull in her jacket as a souvenir, despite claiming that the brutal murder had just been another prank that got out of control.

At her sentencing, the prosecutor read a letter that she had written to her boyfriend. "Ya see what I get for tryin' to be nice to that hoe? I went ahead and bashed her brains out so she'd die quickly instead of letting her bleed to death and they f***ing fry me!" 

Like Hill, Pike didn't stay idle in prison. Instead she tried to murder another inmate with a shoelace over yet another romantic triangle. And she filed numerous appeals. Her original lawyers were incompetent and she suffered from PTSD and all sorts of mental problems. The latest filings claim that Pike should have gotten a change of venue, a fairer jury and a gag order on the media. It claims that death by electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment and that the victim's skull should not have been submitted into evidence. Finally the claim claims that Pike's original lawyers were incompetent because they failed to argue that the death penalty was illegal under international law.

As February fades, these are just a few of the battles being fought for decades by prosecutors against the murderers and their defenders. It is a long slow war that costs millions and that ends only when the needle goes in and the life of a murderer ends.

The details of each battle remain mostly the same. Each murderer is a victim. Each one was abused as a child and suffers from mental illness and diminished intelligence. Each one was denied a fair trial. There is little point in paying attention to these monotonous defenses of evil. What is interesting is the motivation behind them.

The Pro-Murderer Anti-Death Penalty lobby is very wealthy and very active. The rights of criminals have always been more protected than those of victims and the war being waged on the death penalty is an international campaign.

While the parents of victims wait decades for closure, the international left wages a ceaseless war against them.

In Tennessee, the mother of Pike's victim has been waiting nearly twenty years to bury that piece of her daughter's skull. As long as Pike lives, the State of Tennessee has to hang on to it as a piece of evidence in the legal war between Pike's defenders and the People of Tennessee. Only when Pike is dead, will her victim finally be buried at last.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Afternoon Roundup - And The Seas Go Dry

By On February 22, 2013


THE BEST DEFENSE IS A DUMB LOOK ON YOUR FACE

The former mayor of Bell, California, was too stupid and uneducated to know his $100,000 salary for the part-time city job was illegal, his lawyer argued today.

Oscar Hernandez is illiterate, has no high school degree and didn’t even finish elementary school

Dem Mayor Claims He Was Too Stupid To Know Stealing is a Crime




FORWARD TO DEFEAT

During the Bush administration there were only two American commanders of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Under Obama there have so far been five. There has been a new ISAF commander nearly every single year that Obama has been in office. The only exception is 2012 when Obama was too busy trying to win an election to bother further sabotaging a losing war.

General McKiernan’s firing was put down to the need for fresh ideas. McKiernan was deemed too “old school” because he wanted to fight an old-fashioned war against the Taliban while Obama Inc. believed that the war couldn’t be won by beating the Taliban, but by winning the hearts and minds of Afghans. It was a fashionable and doomed strategy that required sacrificing the lives and limbs of thousands of American soldiers to political correctness.

The old-school general who had once said, “I don’t understand ever putting your men and women in harm’s way, without their having the full ability to protect themselves. That also means operating on actionable intelligence to defeat insurgents, and protect your forces. That’s how you keep your soldiers alive,” was clearly not the man for that job.

 Obama’s War on American Generals




FULL SPEED AHEAD TO STUPIDITY

There were idiots dressed as polar bears and one idiot dressed up as a whooping crane.  Occupiers showed up in black hoodies with their faces covered, not so much as a disguise, but for warmth. The Forward on the Climate or For the Climate or Away from the Climate rally was a real cross-section of American idiots. There were electric bicycle salesmen, yoga instructors, Quakers and environmental science students.

Lots of white people raised their fists in the air in solidarity with something. Possibly the climate. Robert Redford wrote an editorial in support of the protest, but didn’t bother flying a private jet over to take part. There was an awkward dance party. There were a few obligatory giant puppets. Everyone was cold, but everyone pretended that the planet was burning up.

Kids roped in by their idiot parents shivered while holding up signs about solar power. College students swarmed around the buses that brought them and texted while old hippies made speeches. There was a giant model of a pipeline or maybe a windmill. No one could tell. And there were lots of signs about how everyone loved Mother Earth.

Idiots Converge on Freezing D.C. to Protest Global Warming





TIME FOR SOME MORE EVOLUTION

Jon Huntsman writing an article about why conservatives should embrace gay embrace at the American Conservative, a magazine co-founded by Pat Buchanan, is already a strange marriage.

Huntsman is pushing the thoroughly unoriginal and discredited idea that the Republican Party has to stay competitive by becoming socially liberal and fiscally free market. That was the Romney campaign in a nutshell and it was not terribly appealing. The last election should have been a reminder that a socially liberal country of broken families is not going to vote for small government or the free market. Not when it depends on government aid.

Huntsman says that every marriage should be treated equally under the law. Which it is. Gay marriage innovates a new entity using a name that does not apply to it. It’s the usual leftist tactic of broadening a definition until it no longer means anything. But if Huntsman really means that every marriage should be treated equally, why not recognize polygamy? There is no answer, because there is no logical argument. And 10 years from now, he will be arguing that to win Muslim votes, the Republican Party should recognize Polygamy.

Is It Time for the GOP to Embrace Gay Marriage?





A RAPE-FREE ZONE

Amanda Collins is a young rape survivor. While in college in 2007, she was raped 50 feet away from the campus police department office at the University of Nevada-Reno and was lucky to get out alive. Her attacker was James Biela, a serial rapist who raped two other women and murdered another. He attacked her at gun point in a gun free zone. At the time of the attack, Collins was in possession of a concealed weapons permit but was not in possession of her firearm due to university policies prohibiting carrying concealed weapons on campus.

Sexual Assaults Fell 90% After Colorado Springs University Legalized Campus Guns





NO IRISH NEED APPLY AT THE NEW YORK TIMES

Breezy Point, Queens is a heavily Irish neighborhood in New York City. It took a lot of damage in the storm and it brought volunteers from Ireland over to help it rebuild.

But unlike the Haitian, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Chinese neighborhoods in New York City… there is something very wrong about having an Irish neighborhood.

Or at least that is what Sarah Maslin Nir and the New York Times have concluded.

"But complicating the current embrace from abroad is the gated community’s extreme insularity. Breezy Point is the whitest neighborhood in the city, a demographic makeup that critics say illustrates the enclave’s entrenched xenophobia, a dark flip side, perhaps, to all that ethnic pride."

There is no such “dark side” or “xenophobia” to other neighborhoods in the city. It’s okay for every other group to live together and have a common history. A Dominican neighborhood is something to be celebrated. But an Irish neighborhood has a dark side.

New York Times Slimes Hurricane Sandy Victim Neighborhood as “Apartheid” for Being Too White

Lemon comments "The kind of minds that write this stuff are the most and worst of the bigots because they can never see past color, race, religion or ethnicity. For them that is the whole of a person and people are labeled and stuck in slots according to color, etc. and are never to be let out.  They are obsessed with race and religion."





THE LOW INFORMATION GAP

Is the conservative blogsphere incapable of producing mockery or user-friendly memes? It is and does on a regular basis. What it does not have is a way to integrate the political content with a primarily pop culture site like HuffPo or BuzzFeed.

On the right, sites are primarily political. DailyCaller and Blaze have that sort of pop culture, but it’s a sidebar. And if you want to target low information voters, you don’t need more political sites, you need more apolitical sites that also cram in some politics in between all the other stuff.

Conservatives sites tend to focus on our own base. They don’t look beyond it. The left thinks bigger than we do. It monetizes its propaganda and finds more sophisticated ways of passing it around.

The Great Low Information Voter War



DIPLOMACY

Secretary of State John Kerry’s Tuesday call to his Russian counterpart has gone unanswered for nearly a week after North Korea tested a nuclear device.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday that “the Foreign Minister has not yet chosen to return the call” to Kerry, but that Kerry was “relaxed about this” and not concerned.

At least Kerry is relaxed about the complete implosion of American influence on the international level. He is totally not waiting by the phone asking Victoria, “Why won’t he call me? Why? I promised to be extra flexible.”

On Friday, she said the two still had not talked, and “If they (Russian diplomatic officials) are too busy or otherwise engaged, the offer stands, and we’ll continue to do other diplomacy.”

Sure. Kerry can talk to a lot of countries. Like Ghana. Or Uruguay. He doesn’t need Russia. He never even liked Russia. Even if Russia calls him now, he won’t talk to Russia.

Russia Humiliates Kerry, Ignores His Calls for a Week




ABOUT THOSE CORE VALUES OF HARD WORK AND INTEGRITY

During All-Star Game weekend, Jackson Lee presented with a “Certificate of Congressional Recognition” embossed with a gold seal.

“Your core values of hard work and integrity has helped improve youth in the Houston community,” declared the certificate, which was signed by Jackson Lee.

Young Jeezy’s core values are drug dealing and rapping about dealing drugs and selling Snowman t-shirts which stand for drug dealing. Some of those shirts are being worn by elementary school kids, so he certainly is doing his part to improve the youth of Houston.

Other things that Young Jeezy is famous for include his “My President is Black” song with lyrics like “Mr. Black President, yeah Obama for real/They gotta put ya face on the 5000 dollar bill”.

Sheila Jackson Lee Honors Rapper Who Sang “I Just Gotta Keep Killin’ That White Bitch”





THE TWO-HUNDRED AND ELEVENTH AMENDMENT

Let’s start with some background on the background checks.

Obama Inc’s EEOC is claiming that conducting background checks of prospective employees is a form of racial discrimination.

EEOC lawsuits included even cases where hiring a felon would mean potentially giving him a gun.  So firearms do not provide a special exception.

If background checks discriminate against minorities when it comes to employment, then they must likewise discriminate when it comes to firearms ownership.

Paradoxically, Obama is against background checks for jobs where ex-felons would have to carry guns, but is enthusiastically for them when it comes to buying a gun.

How do we explain this paradox? It would seem that Obama does not believe that there is a right to buy a gun, but does believe that there is a right to employment.

Do Background Checks of Gun Owners Discriminate Against Minorities?





IF ONLY THERE HADN'T BEEN A CRIME TO INVESTIGATE

“There’s always confusion when you have a tragedy of that sort and Americans are killed,” Rice told Jon Stewart on The Daily Show on Thursday. “The bigger tragedy, Jon, is we’ve spent all of these months trying to figure out the origin of some talking points, which were cleared at the highest levels of the intelligence community and, in my opinion, not enough time doing the service that we owe to our fallen colleagues.”

The bigger tragedy is apparently not the crime or the coverup, but the investigation of the coverup.

Rice: Investigation into Lies About Benghazi Worse Than Murder of Four Americans





GUNS DON'T BANKRUPT CALIFORNIA, TEACHERS' UNIONS BANKRUPT CALIFORNIA

As investments go, gun manufacturers are a pretty good one. Teachers’ unions are a really bad one. But New York and California teachers’ unions which are funded by stealing from taxpayers, many of them gun owners, are using that stolen money to divest from gun manufacturers, even though this moves their larcenous pension funds closer to the brink of collapse, requiring further taxpayer bailouts.

CalPERS, the California public employees pension fund, dug itself into a deep hole with “socially responsible investing“. Those decisions cost the fund billions of dollars and CalPERS is now bankrupting entire California municipalities because of its own corruption and incompetence. Now that it is choosing to divest from the profitable firearms industries, more homeowners will be squeezed out by its corrupt leftist overlords.

But like the rest of the larcenous left, CalPERS doesn’t care. It believes that it can keep off ripping the public forever, even as it is driving entire cities into bankruptcy, and then using that money to enforce its own social policies.

Teachers’ Unions Divest from Gun Manufacturers, Can Gun Owners Divest from Teachers’ Unions?




VIVA THEOCRACY

As part of his non-election, which he may try to cancel, Ahmadinejad has kicked off what he declares is a “Viva Spring”. That apparently consists of him releasing tapes of his opponents engaging in corruption. His opponents have been releasing tapes and videos of his cronies engaging in corruption. The tape releases are meant to restore Ahmadinejad’s image as a reformer, but they are infuriating the Iranian establishment, such as it is.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who in theory runs the country, has blasted Ahmadinejad for his antics, but can’t remove him because he declared that the rigged election last time around was Allah’s work. And you can’t talk back to Allah when he steals an election. The ridiculous side of this is that the same establishment which brutally murdered and tortured its own people to protect Ahmadinejad’s stolen election are desperately trying to get rid of him.

Who’s Ready For Another Crazy Iranian Election?





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

1/3 of Congressional Black Caucus Members Were Named in Ethics Probes

53% of Americans Want Illegal Aliens Deported

LA’s Largest Teachers’ Union Endorses Racist Anti-Semite for City Council 

Obama Exploits Shooting by Gunman Who Passed Background Check to Call for Background Checks

Obama’s New Military Discriminates Against Heterosexuals

Atty General Holder Argues Parents Have No Right to Educate their Children

Winning the Latino Vote by “Evolving” on Global Warming

 Facebook to Pay Zero Taxes, Will Receive $429 Million Tax Refund

Elderly Lose Milk and Butter Because of Rising Cost of Muslim Immigrants

Welfare Jihad: Islamist Calls Taxpayers “Slaves”, Encourages Muslims to Go On Welfare





FINALLY!

Others put the Republican problem in starker terms. "They are just a party of white people" was the consensus among all the noted white people at both the New Republic and MSNBC.

However, David Brooks, a neoconservative commentator at The New York Times, believes the Republicans can easily get back in the game if they nominate Barack Obama as their 2016 Presidential candidate.

"Obama already has everything the Republicans lack - hipness, coolness, social media outreach, modern communications expertise, a huge database of supporters, a crackerjack campaign organization, and an unlimited supply of deep-pocketed donors," Brooks writes. "It would take the GOP decades to match any one of those. The failure of Romney's ORCA last fall shows how hopelessly behind they are."

A GOP insider, who wished to remain anonymous, agrees: "The media's love of Mr. Obama is worth ten points in and of itself. They loathe every single one of the GOP candidates - black, white, yellow, or brown - but they love Barack Obama. Republicans could never hope to close the gap working against such a cultural disadvantage, unless they choose Obama as their standard bearer. 

GOP's Path Back to Power: Nominate Obama in 2016




FOREVER AND A DAY

Corporately we can better extend our childhood and adolescence. We can put off reasonable responsibility forever and moon poetic about swarming flocks of starlings  and decry the cooperative communities of ”corporate” wolves. We  sleep-walk our children into the swarm of reflexive expectation, and from there to mere reflex. Without a literal second thought, the reflex becomes the basis of reason.  The cause of it is not really forgotten– the predations of life are cruel– it is merely the scapegoat that must be run out of the community so we can get back to a million YouTube downloads of our awesomeness.

It’s why it is frustrating to speak of “pure politics” in regard to Muslim countries. For them, it’s personal to the point of death. And it’s become so futile in our own regard because our own national platform is devolving into a dark religion of reflexes. The typical, tribal scapegoats of party and partisanship are no longer enough to carry away our deficiencies. Our political priests call for sacrifice, our mystical statisticians interpret the economic entrails of the victim and the solution is always what such knee-jerk, mindless gods require: more blood.

from Primordial Slack




STEP 11 OF 12

11. Sought through Universal Health Care and reducing the military to improve our nation until it resembled Great Britain in real power and influence, and confiscated all guns and ammunition we could lay our hands on to keep pesky disagreements with the National Guard on a name-calling basis, praying only for a disarmed, dispirited, depressed and Universally Medicated citizenry and for the power to rule over them.

...see the other 10 at American Digest




THE SKY IS FALLING

The apocalyptic pessimist is different. He is so earnest that he could almost be an optimist. He believes that the end of the world is nigh, and secretly is rather pleased about it. If he is of a scientific bent, he does the following: he takes an undesirable trend and projects it indefinitely into the future until whatever is the object of the trend destroys the world. For example, he might take the fact that Staphylococci reproduce exponentially on a Petri dish to mean that, within the week, the entire biosphere will consist of Staphylococci and nothing else. Man will be crushed under the weight of bacteria.

Theodore Dalrymple, The Great Day of His Wrath




A MODEST PROPOSAL IN THE AMAZON

I offer you an opportunity to maintain a consistency in your policy and win the acclaim of the anti-gun bloc. I strongly urge you to remove from sale on Amazon Books any title of mine in whose title the term "gun" occurs. Two titles come to mind at the moment, Whisper the Guns, and Running Out My Guns. In fact, I suggest that you remove all my titles, for in each and every one of them guns are employed. This would include the whole series of Sparrowhawk, novels about the American Revolution.

Come to think of it, why not remove all titles that feature guns and violence from your listings? If you are going to be so conscientiously and foolishly sensitive and picayune about the matter of guns and gun-violence, it would salve your sense of moral worth with an act of total and unqualified consistency.

Just think of the national acclaim you would garner by performing such an act of contrition. Of course, it would reduce your listings by an unimaginable percentage, and consequently affect your revenue, but, after all, what is money when it is imperative that you do the "right thing"?  

Edward Cline's modest proposal for the Gun Shy Amazon


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

After Afghanistan

By On February 20, 2013
Some wars are lost in a matter of moments, others stretch on indefinitely. The defeat in Afghanistan crept up silently on the national consciousness and even though we are negotiating with the Taliban, the "D" word is hardly used by anyone.

According to Obama, in one of his interminable speeches which all run together and sound the same, there really isn't a war, just a mission, and the old mission is now becoming a new sort of mission, and the missions, all of them, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq, have been successful which is why we are wrapping them up, except that we aren't really. And that's about as clear as the message from the big white building with the neatly mowed lawn out front gets, except for the part about how its occupant singlehandedly parachuted into Pakistan, killed Bin Laden, and then stopped off for some curry and a humanitarian award.

Had McCain won in 2008, we would no doubt he hearing a lot about the "D" word and the quagmire in Afghanistan. But the "Q" word doesn't really get mentioned either. No war has been lost. Only a mission is ending. And missions, unlike wars, can be defined in so many creative ways that it's hard to know what to make of them. It's easy to tell when a war has been lost, but a mission can never be lost, only renamed. And renaming is what Obama did to the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. Those wars weren't lost; they're only hiding out in the history books under new names and identities.

Wars are usually remembered according to the proclivities of their historians. The history books tend to record the Republican presidents of the last hundred years as either losing wars or winning wars that weren't worth winning. Democrats however usually win every one.

The Korean War and the Vietnam War were not that far in perception at the time, but are worlds apart in the history books. Had John F. Kennedy lived to serve out two terms and then passed on the big chair to his brother, would the history books even record that the United States lost the Vietnam War? Or would it, like Afghanistan, have gone down as a story about a difficult temporary intervention that ended successfully under the leadership of a wise and caring president?

It is difficult to imagine the left's narrative of the last century with such a big and meaty chunk taken out of it. What would have become of Oliver Stone's career without the JFK assassination and the mythology of a cruel and senseless war in Vietnam? Or imagine the last decade if Biden and Gore had managed to talk Clinton into going after Saddam. As entertaining as such speculations might be, renaming missions and tampering with the history books does not alter the outcome of wars.

From the early days, the left had gloated that Afghanistan would become another Vietnam. And like the appointment in Samarra, in attempting to escape that Vietnamness, it repeated many of the follies of Vietnam and few of its triumphs, failing to press the advantage while expending thousands of lives based on abstract theories hatched by the bright boys in Washington and fraudulent books passed on by the wives of generals to their husbands.

We are now in the Afghanistanization stage, hanging around a country for no particular purpose, except that we aren't very good at departures and the men who made this mess still think that Karzai and his crew can make this work if we provide them with some more training and air support without being shot in the back.

And when we have finally left and Karzai's cobbled together government collapses, its ministers absconding to Paris and Pakistan with suitcases full of stolen aid dollars, what comes after the war?

The old conflict aimed at denying Al Qaeda one base of operations had been outdated a few years after it began. That was something that Bush instinctively understood and that his critics have only slowly become aware of. Al Qaeda is not a country or an ethnic group. It is a religious vanguard that was always meant to serve as the core of an international Islamist terrorist movement. That function had been fulfilled long before an old man watching porn in a covert compound with no authority over anyone except his many wives was finally put down the hard way.  

Al Qaeda, like the Communist Party, can rise anywhere. It rose in Iraq, in Somalia, in Mali, in Syria and in countless other places. Like Burger King, the franchise possibilities are endless and the brand name recognition is universal. And unlike Burger King, you don't even need to pay for the privilege of using the name. Set off a few bombs or kill a few foreigners and watch the money start rolling in from the fat sheiks of the oil-swollen Gulf who have never slit the throat of anything larger than a goat, but like having their own terror armies.

Obama, despite his third culture cred and his ability to carry around important books about world events while on vacation, has no clue what to do about any of that. Obama at War is really a dumber Bush at War, rehashing Bush era ideas and tactics with completely botched implementations. With Kabul in the rear-view mirror, all he has left is Bush's policy of targeted drone strikes on Al Qaeda terrorist leaders.

The only other foreign policy idea that the Obama crew brought to the table, aside from ending the support for the dictators, which ushered in the Arab Spring and the Islamization of the region, was to avoid ground wars and focus on limited drone strikes and intelligence operations.

This approach has been rebranded as the smarter and smaller war. A true conflict for the 21st with Muslim grad students in Yemen chatting on XBox Live with Muslim teenagers in Jersey City to convince them to make and carry liquid explosives on board a plane in tiny shampoo bottles while overhead a drone piloted by a formerly unemployed middle-aged professional skier with a degree in drone piloting from Kansas State hunts for them silently in their clan territories. It's the world of a William Gibson novel, except it's also our world now.

The targeted strike approach was largely borrowed from the Israeli playbook. Like Israel, the United States is in a tangled conflict that won't end any time soon. And like Israel, it's relying on saving some lives and weakening the terrorist infrastructure by taking out a few leaders here and there. Israel's targeted strikes on Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders never ended the conflict, but aborted more than a few terrorist plots by killing the bomb-makers and planners who were making them happen.

The actual conflict did not end. Neither did the attacks. Rather than shooting soldiers, Israel was shooting officers, because shooting soldiers required extended ground engagements and occupations that had become politically untenable. The United States has embraced the same strategy for the same reasons using technology that came out of Israel. But it hasn't given much thought to what comes after that.

The failure of the targeted strikes and arrests of terrorist leaders led Israel to pursue a physical separation through barriers and fences. The terrorists compensated for that with rockets and shelling. That led Israel to develop the Iron Dome, a defensive anti-rocket system. The suicide bomber, once ubiquitous, became a rarity, but the attacks have grown more powerful as the terrorists used the territory that they gained through Israeli withdrawals to deploy heavier long-range weapons that can reach major cities.

If the United States follows this same pattern of withdrawal and fortification, then by 2028, there might be an actual Fortress America guarded by anti-missile systems against Pakistani, Iranian and Egyptian nukes. And that scenario, as troubled as it sounds, is probably one of the better ones.

Israel withdrew from physical territories opening the way for a Hamas takeover of Gaza. Obama withdrew from geopolitical territories, announcing in Cairo that the United States would no longer support the undemocratic dictators of the Muslim world unless they had oil. Hamas, or its Egyptian parent organization, took over Egypt. Across the region, Islamist regimes rose and American allies fell. The Islamist winners of democratic elections turned into dictators leaving the United States in the awkward position of supporting new dictators while being jeered and denounced by the Arab Street.

What's the next step? It doesn't appear that there is one. Geniuses like Brennan only thought as far ahead as draining Muslim anger by rewarding political Islamists while using drone warfare to decimate violent Islamists. Not only is this distinction mostly imaginary, but the rise of political Islamists has made for more Al Qaeda takeovers and more work for the drones in North Africa.

The plan has failed and the second term is underway. It is very doubtful that Obama, whose big plan for Afghanistan was to copy the Bush plan for Iraq that he denounced in the Senate, has a backup plan. Brennan certainly does not. Secretary of State John Kerry is spending a lot of time talking about Global Warming while waiting a week for a callback from Russia. It's hard to think of a worse bunch of people in whose hands to put the fate of the nation and the world.

Both Bush and Obama largely missed the point of September 11, which is that it matters less how many training camps Al Qaeda has in some desert where there are more drugs and RPGs than people, but how many operatives they have in the United States. The terrorist attacks carried out by Al Qaeda in America all required that their operatives either be in the United States or have permission to enter it. The truly dangerous training camps aren't in Mali or in Afghanistan; they are in Jersey City and Minneapolis. The easiest way to stop the next Al Qaeda terrorist attack is to end immigration from the Muslim world.

That is not a position that any presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, is likely to run on any time soon. Instead anyone who wants the job is salivating at the prospect of pinning Green Cards to anyone with a university degree. Articulating it is taboo even in Israel. And yet after Afghanistan, the United States might find that it has no choice but to build that southern border fence and to slash immigration from the more explosive parts of the world. That revelation may not come tomorrow, but it likely will come.

In Israel, it was Rabin who stated that Gaza had to be taken out of Tel Aviv and who began the construction of the West Bank security barrier because he realized that terrorism would destroy the peace process. An American Rabin may well be a liberal who is forced to come to the realization that the only way to avoid constant conflicts with the Muslim world is to begin cutting off the flow of Muslim immigrants to America.

Such a realization, if it ever comes, is still a long way off. For now the drone war remains a clumsy fallback position. As long as there are no major terrorist attacks, the limited drone strikes are enough to satisfy most Americans. But when one of the Al Qaeda franchises begins poring over blueprints of a major American landmark and another September 11 follows, then the question that has been held in abeyance after Afghanistan will suddenly reappear. What do we do now?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Who Needs the Family?

By On February 19, 2013
For most of human history the family was the basic social unit of the species. Family was a way of passing down genes, beliefs and wealth. It was a retirement plan that you paid into by keeping your children alive long enough for them to grow up and support you. It allowed the individual to pass on his ideas to people who would care about them because they were part of their heritage. Family was a collective endeavor, small enough to reflect the individual. It was a practical and philosophical aim that made life beautiful and meaningful.

But who really needs it anymore?

The basic practical functions of the family have been replaced by the nanny state. It is the nanny that takes over the care and teaching of the child as soon as possible. And when their parents grow old, it is that same nanny that oversees their care and death.

Governments have come to serve as undying guardians of human society, ushering new life into the world and ushering old life out of it. New parents are as likely to turn to the government for help as they are to their extended family. When their child is old enough to look around for a career, it is the government that they expect to provide the education and the jobs. And when they grow old, the child can keep on working at his government job and paying off his student loans knowing that the government will be there to make all the difficult and expensive decisions about their care.

With all that taken care of, who needs parents or children anyway?

People once had children to pass on wealth, genes and beliefs. But wealth is now thought to be the collective property of society, which is taxed to death or often just given away on some quixotic quest to stamp out disease in Africa or illiteracy in Antarctica. The thought of passing on genes carries with it a tinge of racism for the European and European-descended populations whose birth rates are dropping, but raises no such concerns for minority groups with high birth rates. That only leaves beliefs, which are also thought to be the collective property of the society and the state. Public education, mandatory in some countries, means that the best way to reproduce your beliefs is not to have children, but to get a job as a teacher.

The family has been displaced and replaced. In some places it is even repressed. Like an old station wagon, it idles by the side of the road, while its former owners drive away in their new sleek electric government compact car built for two or a micro-car built for one into a wonderful childless future of unfunded pensions, social collapse and death panels.

Marriage rates have dropped sharply. Not only is divorce more commonplace, but many couples aren't even bothering to marry at all. And many of those who do marry don't bother having children. Childfree is the new Zero Population Growth, not on behalf of the planet, but on behalf of the self. Modern society has made the price of children extremely expensive and many couples have found it easier to end the family with their own deaths.

The future of the West has been aborted or never conceived. It has been broken up, divorced and never married.

The state gave its citizens the impression that it could fulfill all the functions of a family far better than the real thing. Its appeal was the power of bigness, the stability of a system too big to fail and rooms full of experts working night and day to improve on the fallible family. With its vast industrial social services bureaucracy, the state would be able to provide a more stable social safety net, save everyone money on health care, educate their children, care for their elders, perpetuate their values, protect their income, safeguard their way of life and usher in a bright new future.

Unfortunately not only can't the state do any of these things better than the family, but it can't do them at all without the family. And the family has collapsed, falling apart into disassociated lonely individuals, looking for their father and mother, their children and their future, in the great soulless body of the state.

"The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else," Fredrick Bastiat wrote. At its most basic the state is a pyramid scheme into which everyone pays into and from which everyone expects to extract more than their fair share. At the very least they expect the state to function like a wise investment fund, taking their taxes and investing them in ways that will maximize their social return.

Unfortunately the state is more like an actual pyramid scheme whose schemers squander as much of the money as they can while pressuring the suckers to throw in more and more, promising big returns and parading around the model investors who made a fortune as their success stories.

Invest more in education, the schemers of the state urge, presenting as an example a few individual students from the diminishing percentage of college graduates who are actually able to find a full-time job based on their degree. Invest more in healthcare they cry, trotting out the elderly and the children who depend on social services, even while those same schemers are robbing those services blind. Invest in foreign aid, in the war on poverty, in infrastructure and the environment and a thousand other social funds, they cry, even as all the trillions of their former investments have gone up in smoke.

Money however is replaceable. Children are not. And nowhere has the pyramid scheme of the social state schemer proven more disastrous than in the collapse of the family. The state has usurped the family, but it depends on the family to crank out industrious little taxpayers, small men and women who will work the shops and factories, toiling night and day, paying their fines and fees dutifully while raising the next generation of taxpayers. Without the family, the pyramid scheme of the state faces a demographic collapse.

Europe has turned to the American solution, bringing in huge numbers of immigrants to fill the demographic dead zone left behind by the progressive state. And America has doubled down on that same solution. But the solution is no solution.

Importing large numbers of immigrants into a vital and booming society is a shot in the arm, but doing the same in a troubled society in decline is a shot in the head. The difference between integration and conquest is a matter of demographics. If the numbers are not on your side, then you aren't expanding your own country, you're giving it away.

Immigrants from the Third World have fared the worst. Caught between a declining West and a backward East, they have produced large and broken families that explode into violence as their children carve out their own rough tribal identities in ethnic gangs and religious terrorist groups across a lost and bewildered land. Not only have they failed to become the taxpayers of the future, upholding the oversized pensions of tomorrow with the labor of today, but they have become an even larger drain on the social services that they were meant to bail out.

In 1848, Marx and Engels published the Communist Manifesto fearsomely declaring, "A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism." At that time the birth rate in Germany was five children. Today it isn't even two. The spectre of Communism is no longer haunting Europe. It has come and gone. Under Socialism, it is the spectre of demographics that haunts Europe. It is the dead children, no longer killed in factories or protests, but in clinics and for convenience's sake, that float aimlessly through the streets of Munich, London and Paris. Europe is no longer haunted by its dead, but by those who were never born.

Socialism has left behind a terrible bill and there is no one left to pay it. The population is crashing in every Western country. The elderly are losing their generous benefits, the men and women of middle age worry for the future and the youth no longer believe in the future at all. The streets are full of angry foreign teenagers, grinning and glaring, cutting and smashing, and the veiled women shop for goat in small dirty butcher shops. The old native men and women, of the stock that once made world empires, dream of leaving it all behind for Greece or Spain where they hope for a familiar foreignness, rather than the foreign foreignness that has overwhelmed their countries and made their cities no longer their own.

The state replaced the family. It told men and women that they no longer needed to make permanent commitments to each or to their parents and children. So long as they paid their taxes, the state would bear the burden of their commitments. And so men and women gave up on each other, parents gave up on their children and children gave up on their parents, the family fell apart and now the state that took its place is also falling apart.

A building cannot be built on nothing. The tallest tower is only as strong as its foundation. A skyscraper may touch the sky, but it is its grip on the ground that truly counts. A civilization may reach for the sky and the stars, but it is sustained by the soil of the family and the roots of the basic social structures created by individuals perpetuating individuals, not the gargantuan social mechanisms of the state.

When a civilization destroys its families, then it destroys itself. A man cannot cut out his own heart and live. A society cannot destroy its own capacity for life and regeneration, and continue on blithely occupying itself with the wars on obesity, poverty, racism, cough syrup and gendered pronouns. The state may seem impressive, but it is only a scheme by which people pay officials to make life better for them. When the number of people begins to decline while the number of officials increases, then the man touches the place where his empty heart was, stumbles and falls.

American cities and states have built up a vast social infrastructure of schools and hospitals that there will not be enough children to use. From Detroit to California, the future is four teachers to an empty classroom and eight nurses to an empty hospital. The state that is too big to fail has grown bigger than its people. Like Saturn, the progressive revolution has devoured its own children leaving behind only the empty hallways and empty treasuries of the state.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Saving 1 Billion People From Themselves

By On February 18, 2013
The West is almost as in love with improving the world, as the Muslim world is with conquering it. These two contradictory impulses, the missionary and the warrior, come together in the Clash of Civilizations.

The Muslim world has two approaches to the West; underhanded deceit and outright terror. The practitioners of the former are considered moderates and the latter extremists. The West has two approaches to the Muslim world, regime change and love bombing. With regime change we bomb their cities to save them from their rulers and with love bombing we shamelessly flatter and appease them in our own cities to save them from themselves.

Westerners worry a great deal over who runs the Muslim world. Muslims do not care very much who runs Western countries. They prefer weak liberal Western leaders to strong ones, but they do not believe that there is truly a moral difference between them. Even a Hussein in the White House has not improved America's ratings in the Muslim world.

Muslims are religiously and culturally antagonistic to the West. Whether a John McCain or a Barack Hussein Obama is in the White House; America is still a great non-Muslim power. That very fact, in contradiction to the promises of the Koran and its deity, will continue to bring forth a xenophobic response no matter how much America flatters the Muslim world.

Westerners focus their animus on Muslim leaders, on a Saddam, a Gaddafi or an Arafat-- not recognizing that the hostility comes not from the leaders, but from the people. We can remove all the leaders of the Muslim world and replace them with muppets, and it won't noticeably change the underlying bigotry of the Muslim world. And very soon the muppets will also start chanting, "Death to America" because it's the popular thing to do.

Regime change, whether through armed force or democratic revolutions, won't save the Muslim world.

The Muslim world is not backward by their standards, it is backward by our standards. It refuses to make the social and political changes that the West did, but that is because it does not like the trade-offs that come with those changes. And that is a choice that each Muslim country and society has to make. Individualism, freedom and tolerance are not acceptable values in the Muslim world. And totalitarianism, theocracy and repression are not acceptable values in ours. The Muslim world has no obligation to accede to our cultural standards, but we accordingly have no obligation to accede to theirs.

There is always a gap between civilizations, but rarely has the gap yawned as starkly as it does now. We are as eager to bring the Muslim world into the light, as they are to drag us into the darkness. And the momentum is on their side. We don't have the answers that we think we do. Democracy is not the solution. Neither is embracing Muslim culture with open arms. They don't have the answers either, but they have something better; unrestrained violence that is fueled by the moral desperation of a failed culture struggling against the tidal pull of that failure. Like a drowning man, if we try to save them, then they will pull us down with them.

How does one protect them from the damage that they do to their own character? And how does one save people from their own hate?

We are not so wise and so perfect that we can claim to know how to save 1 billion people from themselves. Right now we are having a good deal of trouble saving us from ourselves and we cannot be expected to shoulder the burden of reforming the Muslim world as well. Whatever spiritual or cultural redemption waits for them, can only come from themselves and through themselves. It will not come through a change of government or lavish praise. Only through a growing moral awareness. There is no telling when or if such an awareness will come. There are animal rights campaigns in China and anti-rape campaigns in Africa-- but no progress on human rights in the Muslim world. It is likely that China will be vegetarian before non-Muslims are treated as equals in the Muslim world.

It has been made manifestly clear that Muslim violence against us, both individual and collective, will not cease any time soon, and that such violence is informed by the scriptures of their faith. While some Muslim countries claim to harbor no violent intentions toward us-- such claims often prove false under the pressure of domestic unrest and growing religiosity.

If the Muslim world has raised up a wall of sand against freedom, tolerance and the recognition of our common humanity-- then it is best for their sake and ours that they remain on their side of that wall of sand.

If they refuse to coexist with us, either locally or globally, then that is their choice. They may have their paradise of hefty-bagged women, towering mosques and cowering infidels-- so long as their bigotry and oppression remains on their side of the wall of sand. When they breach that wall, then they have to live by our laws, not theirs. If there is no room for our laws in their lands, then there is no room for their laws in ours.

Thinkers and politicians talk on of how to save 1 billion Muslims from themselves. Remove their tyrannies, some cry. But what will they replace them with? More tyrannies. Governments reflect their peoples. If 1 billion Muslims really wanted to be free, they would be. The tyrants are expressions of their condition, not repressions of their moral will. The Muslim world does not differ on whether there should be tyranny, but on what manner of tyranny it should be. The Arab Spring has proven that.

The most fundamental error of the West toward the Muslim world is that of condescension. Western governments may see Muslims as minorities, but they see themselves as majorities. And throughout the world they are majorities. Muslims in the West do not see themselves as minorities, but as natural majorities who have the right to impose their will and their way of life on a minority that functions as a majority only because it has not yet been overrun and conquered. Unlike refugees who come from cultures where they are minorities, Muslims come expecting to have things done their way. And when the West accedes, that only affirms the Muslim sense of privilege.

The West condescends to Muslims, and Muslims condescend to the West. Both reassure the other that everything is fine. But while the West's condescension is based on wishful thinking, that of the Muslim world is based on progressive conquest. If diplomacy is the art of saying, 'Nice Doggie' while looking for a stick, then the West isn't looking for the stick, and the Muslim is.

The West's missionary impulse toward the Muslim world is not only misplaced, it is positively dangerous. How can the West convince the Muslim world to believe as it does, when it no longer knows what it believes?

The Muslim world lacks such weaknesses. It cannot be crippled by moral quandaries, ideological contradictions, philosophical crises or doubts about the future. Its members do not recognize contradiction, rather they embrace them, until those contradictions explode in violence.

Western codes are black and white, Muslim codes combine all shades into one. When the Muslim world is confused or in doubt, it resolves these feelings with violence. The West does not resolve them at all. While the West broods, the Muslim world slits throats. The problems of the Clash of Civilization cannot be postponed much longer. They are our problem. We cannot save 1 billion people from themselves, but we can save ourselves from them.

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