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Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday Afternoon Roundup - The Madness of Barking Dogs

The session has just begun, but the media is already declaring that the Republican congress has failed. After 2 years, the only bad thing they can bring themselves to say is that Obama has not fully and properly communicated his wonderfulness to the ignorant masses. But the Republican congress is already a failure after 2 days.

The attacks are as irrational as they are incoherent. The Republicans are accused of adding to the deficit and of wanting to cut the deficit, of wasting time to read the Constitution and refusing to read the whole Constitution. The race card of course parades around on its special float. Greg Sargent at the Washington Post suggested there's a racist Republican conspiracy. On MSNBC Matt Taibi accuses John Boehner of "coded racism", which apparently is racism sent by carrier pigeon.

Characterizing this as something between hysteria and a witch hunt is being too kind. For everyone who thought that the media and its Democratic allies had experienced their meltdown during ObamaCare, you ain't seen nothing yet. We're going back to the good old days of the Bush Administration. That level of unqualified madness which looks like a pack of dogs barking every time a Republican walks by.

The real victim here is not the Republican party, but the inability to address serious issues. And that means once again the American people get the boot, from a media that would rather talk about anything and everything than that the disastrous policies that their party refuses to let go of.

Not that the news is all good on the Republican front. This may be a Tea Party influenced congress, but it's not a Tea Party congress. Boehner has started out on the right note, but the reforms can only go so far. And as the inevitable compromises happen, watered down further in a left leaning Senate, they'll be under fire from both sides of the river. With nowhere to go.

Meanwhile we're still talking about the 2012 elections with a shortage of candidates who can win. It now seems like Rudy Giuliani may run again. The New York Post, of all papers, is sneering at the idea, but it's worth remembering that Rudy Giuliani was the original Christie, the prosecutor who reformed a liberal system and got much of it working again.

It's completely fair for people to decline in favor of a more conservative candidate, but no one who can supports Christie can seriously reject Giuliani. The latter has more of a serious record than the former does. Plus it appears that Christie isn't running, but Giuliani is. Last time around, an overly bold strategy and a public that associated him with terrorism, rather than reform, doomed his candidacy. But Giuliani was a reformer for most of his term, long before 9/11 came around. He turned around New York City and cracked the whip over its liberal establishment.

In Wikileaks news, Assange continues to melt down. This time he's blasting the Guardian for publishing his stolen cables without permission. Assange sounds oddly like one of those evil information hoarding people that Wikileaks was supposed to fight against. Except it's not even his information that he's hoarding.

This should surprise no one. Thieves are always the greediest people around. If they weren't, they wouldn't be thieves.

On the afternoon of November 1, 2010, Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks.org, marched with his lawyer into the London office of Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian. Assange was pallid and sweaty, his thin frame racked by a cough that had been plaguing him for weeks. He was also angry, and his message was simple: he would sue the newspaper if it went ahead and published stories based on the quarter of a million documents that he had handed over to The Guardian just three months earlier.


In Rusbridger’s office, Assange’s position was rife with ironies. An unwavering advocate of full, unfettered disclosure of primary-source material, Assange was now seeking to keep highly sensitive information from reaching a broader audience. He had become the victim of his own methods: someone at WikiLeaks, where there was no shortage of disgruntled volunteers, had leaked the last big segment of the documents, and they ended up at The Guardian in such a way that the paper was released from its previous agreement with Assange—that The Guardian would publish its stories only when Assange gave his permission. Enraged that he had lost control, Assange unleashed his threat, arguing that he owned the information and had a financial interest in how and when it was released.

So much for radical transparency.

But the entire Assange story demonstrates why radical transparency is unworkable. If information is power, then redistributing it just redistributes the power. For all the hype, Assange is also an information hoarder looking to build a power structure using information.

Assange was happy enough to leak information when it got him ahead. But that meant the leaking was not done in the name of radical transparency, but in the name of power. Wikileaks was no more about transparency, than thieves steal to give to the poor. Assange wasn't a digital Robin Hood, he was a digital robbing hood, looking for his cut.

It's not just about Assange. It's about the system. Power can't just be tossed around. If you create a power vacuum, people will fill it. If Assange wasn't running Wikileaks, sooner or later someone like him would be.

The corruption of countless human rights organizations follows from the same premise. So does the way that civil libertarians turn into tyrants. Freedom exists by the absence of power, not through the exercise of power. Once Assange and Wikileaks gained power, they began monopolizing it. And this happens inevitably because people are people and human nature is human nature.

You cannot create transparency through the power of information without decentralizing the means of distributing that information. Contrary to its name, Wikileaks is centralized. Assange has made himself into a star and the center of attention. And doomed the cause that got him there.

It's an old story. The revolution has succeeded. The revolution has failed. The people rise up to tear down one tyrant, only to replace him with another. Meet your old boss, same as the new bosses. Because are still people and human nature means that they want power, rather than to give up power.

The obvious troubling implications this has for a new Republican congress... are well obvious. They've taken control of a portion of a centralized system. Can they do so only to let go of that power?

That was the question that I asked back in March of last year in a piece titled, Can the Republican Party Take Power Only to Give It Up?

Politicians have spent too long paying lip service to the idea of protecting freedoms, when they actually mean expanding government powers. The Democratic party has embraced the notion of liberties as emerging from government powers wholesale. The Republican party has not entirely embraced it in rhetoric, but they have all too often perpetuated it in practice. And therein lies the danger. Because the idea that freedoms are a function of government, rather than a function of limited government, is a very seductive one to politicians.

And how many people are prepared to run for office, only not to use the powers that they're given. Is there any member of congress who is truly willing to give up the power and the pork, though we all may have our favorites, in truth there is not a single one. The more a politician hides his earmarks and his favors to well connected figures behind self-righteous rhetoric, the more he makes a mockery of his own principles. Some may do it boldly in the light of day, others may speak boldly against one expenditure or another, but still set down the same earmarks anyway. Because the purpose of power is power, and it is painfully hard to break that cycle. To give up power for the benefit of the people.

Who will spend time and money to be elected to higher office, without reaping the benefits of that office? And when a system is corrupted, it corrupts even the decent men who take part in it. The purpose of being elected today is in order to bring back that share of the treasury to one's district and friends and supporters, that one's power and influence has made it possible to drag away. The more the others take, the more each politician must try to seize to keep up with the rest, or risk being tarred as unable to bring home the bacon. And when the spending grows too much, he raises the debt limit so the wealth keeps on flowing.

This is the situation before us. The concentration of power in Washington D.C. is expressed through the regulatory concentration of wealth. Taxation moves large sums of money, and the ability to continually raise the size of the debt, means that spending by politicians can be virtually infinite, as long as enough of them agree on how they want to spend the money. All this wealth has attracted special interest groups. It has made the capitol into a beehive filled with all sorts of people who want part of that money, corporations, unions, non-profits and all sorts of groups, both local and national, all want that money. And they want more than is available. The resulting battles often shape what we call politics.

Boehner has made a decent beginning of it, but the question still remains open.

In the roundup, Boker Tov Boulder takes a closer look at that supposed fall in the unemployment figures

Of course it helps to read the full report. I could be wrong, but gains in leisure, hospitality and healthcare don't seem all that encouraging; I read these as an increase in people eating out, drinking more and getting sick. Until construction and manufacturing go up, I think we're in trouble.

I was privileged yesterday to hear Andy McCarthy speak at an NSR event. He made the point there about the negative influence that excessive judiciary powers have had on the War on Terror. In a National Review article a few days ago, he makes a similar point regarding the new congress's obligation to take the lead.

There is reason to worry that leadership has instead caught a case of “let the courts do it.” Take Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.). Despite considerable conservative grumbling, Mr. Upton has been installed by Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner as the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. If the Obama administration’s job-killing war on industry is to be tamed, that committee will have to be smart and aggressive. The chairman-to-be is not exactly off to a flying start. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week (co-authored with Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity), he proposed that Congress sit on the sidelines for a couple of years, trusting federal judges to handle the taming.

The EPA has condemned carbon dioxide, the air humans exhale, as a pollutant that imperils human health. Under the 40-year-old Clean Air Act — legislation passed in a very different era, under very different assumptions — this endangerment finding is a pretext for government’s administrative juggernaut to impose ruinous curbs on all CO2 emitters, everything from large factories to small homes.

Until about five minutes ago, Representative Upton was a member in good standing of the green crusade. He was an enthusiastic cosponsor of Leviathan’s prohibition of the incandescent light bulb — the result of standards enacted with robust Republican support and signed into law by President Bush. Upton has now recanted, a stance he claims is sincere, not — perish the thought! — one of those cynical Washington conversions that happen when the chair on a powerful committee is up for grabs. He also says he grasps that the best corrective to the EPA’s sweeping power grab would be for Congress “to overturn the EPA’s proposed greenhouse-gas regulations outright.”

The entire piece is well worth reading.

In Israel, an overactive judiciary has badly crippled the country's ability to defend itself. And it's given a clear field for enemy agents to operate inside the country.

Note the following piece by Steven Plaut

Try to imagine that in the year 1942, shortly after Pearl Harbor, hundreds of tiny anti-American Non-Government Organizations and political groups were operating inside the United States, receiving huge amounts of financial support from pro-Nazi and pro-Japanese groups from outside the US. Try to imagine that all these pro-Axis activist groups insisted that they were simply human rights watchdogs, acting to protect the human rights of German and Japanese civilians being trampled by Allied troops. Try to imagine that these small anti-American activist groups insisted that they simply seek to force the US to stop behaving immorally and to raise the ethical awareness of Americans and American GI’s.

And then imagine that the US Senate debated and passed a bill to investigate the funding of pro-Axis NGO’s and activist groups operating inside the US. Imagine then that hundreds of American professors, poets, intellectuals, and journalists denounced the fascist American Senate for stifling free debate and for attempting to squash American dissent in order to hide American war crimes against German and Japanese civilians.

Well, if you can imagine all that, you have an accurate picture of Israel this week. Yesterday the Knesset passed by a wide majority (41-17) a bill submitted to it by a Knesset Member from Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu.


The Arab fascist parties in the Knesset together with Meretz voted against the bill. I could not find in the media how the Labor Party MK’s and Kadima MK’s voted. The anti-Israel extremist groups, from B’tselem to Yesh Din to the pro-terror “Alternative Information Center” are all soiling themselves. These are “human rights watchdogs” that have never heard of any human right that Jews are entitled to, and do not consider the right to live without being murdered by terrorists to be a human right. The only human rights they are concerned with are the human rights of Palestinian genocidal murderers to massacre as many Jews as they wish to express their grievances. Naturally, these “human rights activists” also are all in favor of the human rights of foreign “anarchist” anarcho-fascists to attack Israeli troops and police violently.

The Knesset bill specifically seeks to target anti-Israel Israelis who are involved in the campaigns to get Israeli military officers indicted as “war criminals” before European kangaroo courts. Since many of those involved in such activities are tenured Israeli “academics,” such as Ben Gurion University’s Neve Gordon, the bill can also be understood as a counterstrike against the academic fifth column.

And so the Israeli Fascist Left is hysterical – screaming about McCarthyism in unison.

The real challenge for the bill will be judicial. As usual.

And demonstrating that withdrawals are completely useless as a means of defusing conflict, Hezbollah is laying claim to Israel's gas field

According to an Israeli official, the whole issue is moot, as none of the five major gas discoveries to date are close enough to the Lebanese border to be seriously in dispute. Jerusalem would gladly demarcate the maritime border with Lebanon as part of a comprehensive peace deal, he added, pointing out that Israel recently demarcated its maritime border with another neighbor, Cyprus, specifically to assure that gas exploration rights of all parties in the Mediterranean are maintained.

But Hezbollah doesn't want a demarcated border. They want a point of conflict. And next time it murders Israelis, it will be in the name of the gas, which isn't anywhere near their border. But that doesn't matter. Sheba farms was a transparently hollow excuse for attacks. This is even more so.

And in Pakistan, the Religion of Peace just murdered Punjab governor Salman Taseer for pushing for a pardon for Asia Bibi. Michael Carl at World Net Daily has more on the subject.. I would point out that Taseer was no saint himself. He was more secular than the Islamists, but like previous Pakistani People's Party martyr, Benazir Bhutto, he was a Pakistani nationalist who supported Muslim violence in Kashmir.

The PPP unleashed Islamic violence against Hindus in Kashmir, but they've learned that it can't and won't be contained. Pakistan is on track to become a fully Islamic republic, and all the good wishes directed toward Taseer won't stop that.

Meanwhile the oppressed Muslim mass murderers of Pakistan are engaging in another crusade for civil rights by plotting suicide bombing attacks against Asia Bibi

An extremist Islamist group calling itself 'Moaviya' might be planning a suicide attack against Sheikhupura Prison in order to kill Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, this according to a report by Pakistani intelligence.

Now the Islamic terrorist apologist narrative is that suicide bombing is a sign of desperation by oppressed people who have been deprived of absolutely everything and have no hope.

But how does one reconcile that with this blatant plot to use suicide bombing against a woman whose only real crime is being a member of another religion in a Muslim country?

The Baron at Gates of Vienna notices the same thing I did in a story about those "moderate" Muslims.

Finally, Debbie Schlussel, who has put in a lot of time and resources investigating and reporting on the Islamist conspiracy against America is being sued by CAIR. She's asking for help to continue the fight against CAIR.


  1. mikeT7/1/11

    too complicated, too much reading material.

    I see that there is a lot to say, and that the Sultan is excited and bursting.
    ..but it is too much for my 69 year old brain.
    Slow down pleeze!

    ~mikeT, Jerusalem

  2. Rachel8/1/11

    'Assange was pallid and sweaty'

    And this is news, how? Anyone who's seen a photo of him knows that the kid is basically an anemic sewer rat.

    I've always suspected that he has a personality disorder...these types always do. I saw a few telltale indicators in his behavior (to say nothing of the fact that he was home schooled by his mother in order to keep him from developing an 'unhealthy resect for authority.' ).That's why it's not surprising at all that he cracked overnight (even his most ardent supporters, now, will say something akin to 'I support wikileaks, but not Assange. Fools will never learn". )

    As for Giuliani--I hope he runs. The Repubs were fools to choose the obnoxious McCain clan over him. Giuliani has a great record as a public official, a coherent platform that doesn't change depending on how the wind blows, and could tell cheeky Saudi princes where they could shove their petrodollars when they tried to explain how Israel caused 9-11.

  3. I hope Debbie wins the lawsuit. How frightening. How far are we from lawsuits for "slandering" Islam to being arrested for commenting and criticizing Islam?



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