The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, July 29, 2011


As the continuing saga of our national debt unfolds, it’s truly remarkable to observe the violent—almost hysterical—opposition to a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to our constitution. The Republicans passed their second bill (the Democrats have yet to pass even one) earlier today in which a request for a BBA was included along with an increase in the debt limit. The left-wing of the democratic party criticized the legislation using every pejorative it could think of. Mild criticism calls it “irresponsible,” while more colorful descriptions called it “extremist,” and the truly unhinged called it “terrorism.” But why?

What’s irresponsible about spending within your means? What’s extreme about suggesting a proposal that 60-plus percent of the American people (according to recent polls) want? What’s terroristic about forcing our “leaders” to prioritize their spending?

Maybe the reason that some on the Left become unhinged when a BBA is proposed is because it’s a harbinger of the end of their big government dream. It’s also a collision with reality—there is no more money to support uncontrolled spending in our budget and entitlements. Finally, it’s a signal that they’ve lost the philosophical debate of what America is to be.

In November, 2010, the electorate provided a clear signal that they do not want to become a social democracy in the European mold. They’ve observed the Euros and really don’t want to become Greece, or Spain, or Ireland, or Portugal. More recently, they’ve looked at the U.K and watched as that country made painful budget cuts to save themselves from default. The world didn’t end.

Remember, all the Republicans are requesting is that the Congress bring the BBA up for a vote among the states. It would take years to enact, but it would be a clear signal to the rest of the world that we’re serious about getting our economic house in order. You’d think that President Obama and the vast majority of Democrats would be in favor of that. They aren't, and now you know the reason why.

Huge Discrepency

The ranks of anthropogenic global warming (excuse me: “climate change”) alarmists have been winnowed by major scandals associated with the manufacture or modification of purported warming data and a continuing stream of true scientific data that indicate no significant warming in the past decade. The media, it appears, has moved on, although every weather pattern that leads to high temperatures (it is, after all, summer) gives a few commentators still another opportunity to imply that anthropogenic climate change is the villain.

Now, reports on a recent NASA study:
Scientists on all sides of the global warming debate are in general agreement about how much heat is being directly trapped by human emissions of carbon dioxide (the answer is "not much"). However, the single most important issue in the global warming debate is whether carbon dioxide emissions will indirectly trap far more heat by causing large increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds. Alarmist computer models assume human carbon dioxide emissions indirectly cause substantial increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds (each of which are very effective at trapping heat), but real-world data have long shown that carbon dioxide emissions are not causing as much atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds as the alarmist computer models have predicted.

The new NASA Terra satellite data are consistent with long-term NOAA and NASA data indicating atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds are not increasing in the manner predicted by alarmist computer models. The Terra satellite data also support data collected by NASA's ERBS satellite showing far more longwave radiation (and thus, heat) escaped into space between 1985 and 1999 than alarmist computer models had predicted. Together, the NASA ERBS and Terra satellite data show that for 25 years and counting, carbon dioxide emissions have directly and indirectly trapped far less heat than alarmist computer models have predicted.

In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth's atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict.

When objective NASA satellite data, reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, show a "huge discrepancy" between alarmist climate models and real-world facts, climate scientists, the media and our elected officials would be wise to take notice. Whether or not they do so will tell us a great deal about how honest the purveyors of global warming alarmism truly are.

Of course, for true believers like Al Gore and Barack Obama, “the scientific debate is over.” But for those of us who respect the scientific method, there is increasingly compelling evidence that the alarmists were incorrect.

The growing body of scientific evidence that questions original warming assumptions indicates that public policy (e.g., the ill-fated cap and trade legislation) should never be based on the unsubstantiated opinions of true believers and the data of a small, closed group of scientists who have a vested interest in only one outcome.

Unfortunately, because the NASA study does not fit the prevailing narrative, the legacy media gave it little or no play. Not surprising.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


If you have been spending time listening to President Obama and his supporters, you’d think that the President and his party were deficit hawks. In fact, in his recent prime-time address, the President intimated that he inherited the deficit mess and that he is a victim, rather than a prime perpetrator of out-of-control government spending and the deficits it creates.

Unfortunately, like much of what the President says in public, that assertion is factually challenged. According to the U.S. Treasury, the public debt when Barack Obama took office (January, 2009) stood at $6.3 trillion. Very bad to be sure. In fact, you’d think that our newly-elected deficit-hawk-in-chief would have acted to reduce it immediately, correcting the profligate ways of George W. Bush and the Democratic congress. He did not.

As of August, 2010, after 18 months in office, the public debt stood at $8.8 trillion, an increase of $2.5 trillion—one third of the total debt—in just a year and a half! In that short time, Barack Obama increased the debt more than the first 40 presidents of the United States—combined.

And now, with an election less than 15 months away, the President has become born again. His concern is a “grand bargain”—that’s a deal in which the debt ceiling is raised, taxes on “billionaires and millionaires” are collected right now, and spending cuts (“savings”) are postponed until well after the election. Convenient.

Even Senate Democrats recognize that any rise in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by equivalent spending cuts. They also recognize that taxes on “billionaires and millionaires” have fine as class warfare symbolism, but do very, very little to solve our deficit problems. Their last minute “plan” does not contain any tax increases (a good thing during a recession) but postpones budget cuts until well after the election. Convenient.

The Republicans remain wedded to the notion that a balanced budget amendment is the right way to go, even though their latest plan does not incorporate it. Hence, pushback from congressional freshmen. Oddly, the Democrats and the President are violently opposed to such an amendment. Those of us in the Center have to ask, why? After all, requirements to balance state budgets are common, and serve to keep at least a few politicians honest. Why not apply the same idea to the federal government?

It’s likely that some accommodation of the debt limit will be reached at the eleventh hour. It’s equally likely that it will not cut sufficiently, will avoid structural changes to entitlements, and will not address a restructuring of our tax code. In other words, it will be a Washington "success." For the rest of us, it will fail to provide any meaningful solution to the problems we face.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Déjà Vu

The President and just about everyone else tells us that the sky will fall if a deficit reduction plan is not implemented by Aug 2nd. Am I the only one who gets a feeling of déjà vu?

Think back about three years when the Bush administration told us all that the sky would fall if we didn’t immediately bail out the Wall Street firms whose criminal irresponsibility sunk the economy. Government officials (most coming from those same Wall Street firms) stampeded Congress (who were as complicit as Wall Street) into approving the too-big-to-fail legislation. The taxpayer’s money went down the drain.

The sky didn’t fall, but maybe, just maybe, if wouldn’t have fallen had no bailout occurred. Maybe, just maybe, the Wall Street titans and major bankers who played fast and loose with our money would have learned the true meaning of moral hazard—investment firms would have closed, bond traders would have lost their jobs, and the economy would have corrected over the long term. It would have been brutal, but I suspect lessons would have been learned. But then again, maybe not. So in an abundance of caution, we pissed away a $1.5 trillion over two administrations.

Now, we again hear that the sky will fall if the debt limit isn’t extended. “We won’t be able to pay our bills,” states a concerned President. Really?

The federal government has between $170 and $200 billion of revenue each month without borrowing a nickel—more than enough to pay our debt obligations, to print social security checks (Wait, wasn’t there supposed to be a separate lock-box somewhere? Okay, never mind), to pay the military and meet our contractual obligations. Sure, we’d have to furlough a significant percentage of federal employees, but I suspect the country could get along just fine if say, 30 or 40 percent of all non-military employees were furloughed until the debt limit debate was settled. For those who might worry that federal offices would be empty, note that even after the furlough, there would still be 1.5 million federal workers on the job!

Private sector employees have gone through layoffs and furloughs repeatedly over the past two years. In the interest of “balance” and “fairness” (terms the President uses ad nauseum) a temporary work force reduction at the federal level would seem appropriate. After all, to quote the President, "We’ve got to pay our bills."

More important, the capital markets would respond favorably to such a serious move. It would demonstrate that we’re serious about debt reduction, not with words, but with actions.

And maybe we’d discover that some percentage of those federal employees would be better off in the private sector, and through retirements (some forced), attrition, layoffs, and the like, we’d reduce federal employment for the first time in, oh, 70 years.

We are at a tipping point.

If we follow the President’s lead and continue to spend, we become Greece, where class warfare proved to be an ineffective tool when used to combat irresponsible government spending and out of control entitlements.

If we truly do strive for a smaller government, we’ll have a chance to rebuild America. And that’s the only way our children and grandchildren will ever recapture the American dream.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Part of the Problem

President Obama’s legion of supporters in the legacy media (a.k.a. main stream media) spend very little time reporting on Greece's on-going fiscal crisis and imminent default. When they do report the story, they treat the riots in the streets, the delusional demands of trade unions, and the irrational shouts of significant portion of the entitled Greek electorate as an abstraction. Don’t worry, the media seems to conclude, the hard-pressed Euros will bail out Greece in the 11th hour. Or not.

The reason that Obama’s media refuses to cover the story is obvious. It’s a harbinger of our story here in the good ol’ US of A. At the current rate of federal spending and the current trajectory of US budget deficits, we’ll become Greece in 5 or 10 years—entitlement riots, union shutdowns, and real draconian cuts on those who do need assistance. Greece is a look into our future, and the left-leaning media would prefer not to allow the American public to look in that direction.

Meanwhile, our debt limit talks grind on. The President and his party have proposed no written plan (The opposition has proposed two in the last 6 weeks)and appear to be more concerned with frightening the American public with ridiculous and misleading suggestions that social security checks will not be delivered post-August 2nd. They working hard to demonize the opposition and have laid the foundation for blame, but have shown virtually no leadership on the important matter.

Philosophically, the President seems committed to more spending (“investments”) now and “savings” (he has trouble uttering the phrase “spending cuts”) sometime in the distant post-election future. Grinding debt? No worries. Greece? Can’t happen here.

The Wall Street Journal says it all:
… it has long been clear that Mr. Obama isn't interested in spending reform. In February he proposed a budget that spent more than any in U.S. history. In April he demanded that Congress pass a "clean" debt ceiling hike that included no spending cuts whatsoever. Only after House Republicans unveiled their own sweeping budgetary reforms did the White House rush to also claim it wanted deficit reduction as part of the debt-ceiling debate.

In June, the President dispatched Joe Biden to negotiate spending cuts, only to have the White House insist at the last minute that modest trims be accompanied by significant new taxes. Mr. Boehner and the Senate's bipartisan Gang of Six produced plans that would have acceded to that White House demand in exchange for substantive tax reform that would have lowered individual and corporate rates. Yet last week the White House backtracked on its agreement for the lower tax rates and demanded another $400 billion in tax revenues above the $800 billion the Speaker had already conceded.

The President insists his party is offering serious spending cuts and entitlement reform. He also likes to talk about "balance," which to him means real tax increases immediately and speculative spending cuts some time in the distant future. Behind the scenes the White House has only ever agreed to token reform and cuts. Here's a number for the debt history books: Mr. Obama's final offer in the Biden talks was a $2 billion cut in 2012 nondefense discretionary spending. The federal government spends more than $10 billion a day.

Now we're days from the August 2 default deadline set by the Treasury Department, and the President's only response has been to blame everybody else for deficient seriousness.

Never in my lifetime have I seen a president—any president—abrogate his leadership position as completely as Barack Obama. Never in my lifetime have I seen a president—any president—angle so obviously for partisan advantage to the detriment of the country he should be leading. Never in my lifetime have I seen a president—any president— stretch the truth as blatantly as this one (e.g., Obamacare will us save money or taxing “millionaires and billionaires” will have a substantive impact on our deficits, or the military will not be paid after August 2nd.

The economy and the country are in trouble. And whether he likes it or not, Barack Obama is part of the problem, not part of the cure.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day of Reckoning

Bret Stevens writes for The Wall Street Journal, a publication that is arguably the best newspaper in America. With a circulation of just under 2.1 million readers (compared to The New York Times circulation of 950,000) it is also one of the most widely read publications in America. But according to many in the media, the Journal has a problem. It is owned by Rupert Murdock, the British mogul who is now embroiled in a media scandal in the U.K.

In what can only be described as a despicable abuse of journalist power, one of Murdock’s U.K. newspapers, the tabloid News of the World bugged phones, invaded the privacy of politicians and average citizens and clearly broke the law. Murdock closed the newspaper and has apologized, but the left leaning media in both the U.K and the U.S. see an opportunity to destroy a right-wing billionaire.

Bret Stevens agrees that the tabloid News of the World should have been shuttered. He agrees that what they did is a dramatic departure from decency and journalist ethics. But then he asks:
How does this year's phone hacking scandal at the now-defunct British tabloid News of the World—owned, I hardly need add, by NewsCorp, the Journal's parent company—compare with last year's contretemps over the release of classified information by Julian Assange's WikiLeaks and his partners at The New York Times, The Guardian and other newspapers?

At bottom, they're largely the same story.

In both cases, secret information, initially obtained by illegal means, was disseminated publicly by news organizations that believed the value of the information superseded the letter of the law, as well as the personal interests of those whom it would most directly affect. In both cases, fundamental questions about the lengths to which a news organization should go in pursuit of a scoop have been raised. In both cases, a dreadful human toll has been exacted …

And yet, many elite journalists in the U.S. celebrated The New York Times when it published Wikileaks information, even though it was acquired through a hack that was not all that different that what News of the World did.

Steven comments:
Both, in short, are despicable instances of journalistic malpractice, for which some kind of price ought to be paid. So why is one a scandal, replete with arrests, resignations and parliamentary inquests, while the other is merely a controversy, with Mr. Assange's name mooted in some quarters for a Nobel Peace Prize?

Obviously there’s an agenda here. Because Murdock is an unabashed conservative, he’s fair game for a narrative that depicts him and his media empire as “evil.” After all, NewsCorp owns the WSJ and FoxNews, two voices that dissent from typical MSM memes. Outlets such as the NYT and CNN dedicated more content today to the NewsCorp scandal than they have to the debt limit negotiations. One has to wonder which story is more important to the American public.

Stevens concludes:
As for News of the World, the media has alighted on one of its convenient little narratives, this one about the all-powerful media mogul, his lidless eyes gazing over every corner, closet and cellar of his empire, his obedient minions debasing everything they touch. That this media Sauron has now begged forgiveness of the Dowler family, shut the offending paper down and accepted the resignations of his top lieutenants hardly seems to have made an impression. But as someone noted recently in connection to L'Affaire DSK, few things are as unstoppable—or as prone to error—as a stupid media narrative.

It's probably inevitable that this column will be read in some quarters as shilling for Rupert Murdoch. Not at all: I have nothing but contempt for the hack journalism practiced by some of the Murdoch titles. But my contempt goes double for the self-appointed media paragons who saw little amiss with Mr. Assange and those who made common cause with him, and who now hypocritically talk about decency and standards. Their day of reckoning is yet to come.

If history serves, the day of reckoning for abuses by the legacy media never seems to come.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Buck Stops

As I watch the country lurch toward a debt-limit crisis, I’m not the least bit surprised by the seemingly intractable positions of both parties. The Democrats are averse to any substantive, meaningful, close-term budget cuts and aggressive about increasing “revenues” (i.e., more taxes). The Republicans are averse to any tax increases and are aggressive about substantive, meaningful, and close term budget cuts.

The President says the right things in public, but in what has become a now long-standing tradition, what he says publicly and how he acts in reality are two rather different things. Charles Krauthammer (certainly no friend of Barack Obama) discusses this discrepancy:
President Obama is demanding a big long-term budget deal. He won’t sign anything less, he warns, asking, “If not now, when?”

How about last December, when he ignored his own debt commission’s recommendations? How about February, when he presented a budget that increases debt by $10 trillion over the next decade? How about April, when he sought a debt-ceiling increase with zero debt reduction attached?

All of a sudden he’s a born-again budget balancer prepared to bravely take on his own party by making deep cuts in entitlements. Really? Name one. He’s been saying forever that he’s prepared to discuss, engage, converse about entitlement cuts. But never once has he publicly proposed a single structural change to any entitlement.

Hasn’t the White House leaked that he’s prepared to raise the Medicare age or change the cost-of-living calculation?

Anonymous talk is cheap. Leaks are designed to manipulate. Offers are floated and disappear.

At the end of the day, the responsibility to craft an agreement sits with our head of government—the President. A true leader sets aside his personal ideology and does what he needs to do to avoid immediate risks to the country and its people. Long before the current crisis materialized, Barack Obama could have adopted the non-partisan recommendations of the debt commission he appointed for deficit reduction. He did not. It seems that he can’t pull the trigger and take responsibility for a major decision in this area.

He could have proposed a detailed plan of his own. He did not. Instead, he talks about the need to reduce the deficit, and talks, and talks. A true leader is measured by his actions, not his words.

He should recognize that demonizing the folks who sit across the table during a crucial negotiation is not a sound strategy. By how could he? He never negotiated anything of substance before he became President.

It seems that Barack Obama is triangulating, believing that if August 2nd comes and goes without an agreement, he’ll win by further demonizing the opposition and pointing the finger of blame directly at them. He’ll maximize public discomfort by cutting off social security checks or some other draconian and wholly unnecessary measure. I suspect the President and his supporters in the media feel certain they can blame the Republicans.

In fact, it appears that he’s betting his re-election on this, because the last thing he wants to discuss next year is his overall performance and the abysmal performance of the economy over the last two and half years.

He’s making a fool’s bet, because in the end, he owns this. More importantly an increasing number of the public and a significant percentage of his past supporters know the game and are beginning to question it.

A Democratic President, Harry Truman, had a famous little sign on his desk, “The Buck Stops Here.” Barack Obama seems to think that doesn’t apply to him. He’s wrong.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grinding On

As the war in Libya grinds on, it’s almost as if the media has forgotten the President’s promise of to end the conflict in “days, not weeks” —a promise made many months ago.

No doubt Barack Obama and his foreign policy advisors believed that the conflict would end quickly. As it turns out, that belief was both naïve and incorrect. There’s also little doubt that in his rush to stop a “humanitarian disaster,” the President and his advisors hoped to use the full force of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague as a lever to remove Mohamar Gadhafi from power and bring him to justice. Sadly, they didn’t realize that the ICC is part of the problem.

Stratfor provides its usual insightful analysis:
Regardless of what a country’s leader has done, he or she holds political power, and the transfer of that power is inherently a political process. What the ICC has done since 2002 — and the ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ]to an extent before that — is to make the political process moot by making amnesty impossible. It is not clear if any authority exists to offer and honor an amnesty. However, the ICC is a product of the United Nations, and the authority of the United Nations lies in the UNSC [UN Security Council]. Though there is no clear precedent, there is an implicit assumption that the UNSC would be the entity to offer a negotiated amnesty with a unanimous vote. In other words, the political process is transferred from Libya to the UNSC, where any number of countries might choose to abort the process for their own political ends. So the domestic political process is trumped by The Hague’s legal process, which can only be trumped by the UNSC’s political process. A potentially simple end to a civil war escalates to global politics.

And this is not simply a matter of a leader’s unwillingness to capitulate or negotiate. It aborts the process that undermines men like Gadhafi. Without a doubt, most of the men who have surrounded him for years are guilty of serious war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is difficult to imagine anyone around Gadhafi whose hands are clean, or who would have been selected by Gadhafi if their hands weren’t capable of being soiled. Each of them is liable for prosecution by the ICC, particularly the senior leadership of the military; the ICC has bound their fate to that of Gadhafi, actually increasing their loyalty to him. Just as Gadhafi has nothing to lose by continued resistance, neither do they. The ICC has forged the foundation of Gadhafi’s survival and bitter resistance.

And while Libya comes no closer to resolution, a true humanitarian crisis has exploded in Syria, where government troops are using military weapons to kill thousands and applying military force to imprison an order of magnitude more. We have chosen not to act militarily in Syria—the right move, in my opinion. But then why on earth are we spending a million dollars a day in Libya?

The Republicans have demanded that the President abide by the war powers act (something he refuses to do) for Libya, but they’ve said relatively little to question our current involvement there. Projecting a flawed neocon ideology into a place that simply doesn’t support it, they seem confused.

Even worse, most Republicans insist that we slog on in Afghanistan (most Democrats are uneasy with this approach, but refuse to question the President). This on-going war in an 8th century tribal society is unwinnable by any reasonable measure. Most Republicans (with a notable exception of candidates Ron Paul and John Huntsman) claim it is in our national interest to remain there,expending blood and money in a vain effort to blunt the spread of Islamist control. If only it was that simple.

If we leave Afghanistan tomorrow, bad things will happen. If we leave 10 years from now, bad things will happen. In a country with literacy rates at 23 percent, a culture that stands in the way of modernity, corruption as a way of life, and an economy that is driven almost totally by heroin sales, we face an intractable problem–we should leave Afghanistan in orderly manner, and leave sooner rather than later. We should extricate ourselves from Libya in an orderly manner, and do it sooner rather than later.

Monday, July 04, 2011


The inimitable Christopher Hitchens dissects the motives of the “activists” who have decided once again to invade Israeli territorial waters and attempt to breach a security cordon around the Hamas-lead government of Gaza. In what can only be characterized as a classic example of moral preening, the denizens of the far-Left who comprise the "flotilla" activists have decided that the only liberal democracy in the Middle East—Israel—is an oppressor that must be stopped.

But let’s let Hitchens comment:
The tale of the Gaza "flotilla" seems set to become a regular summer feature, bobbing along happily on the inside pages with an occasional update. A nice sidebar for reporters covering the Greek debt crisis: a built-in mild tension of "will they, won't they?"; a cast of not very colorful characters but one we almost begin to feel we know personally. Such cheery and breezy slogans—"the audacity of hope" and "free Gaza"—and such an easy storyline that it practically writes itself.

The “audacity of hope” has a familiar ring, doesn’t it? Oh yes, that was a book written by none other than Barack Obama, who is, ideologically at least, little different from those who populate the flotilla. Sure, he’s back-filling now, letting us all know how much he supports the state of Israel. But that’s because he is worried about polls that indicate shrinking support among one of his base constituencies—American Jews. But if we examine his actions as President over the past two years … well, let’s just say that the flotilla label is apt.

The International Left has a hatred of Israel that is difficult to understand, but not difficult to observe. Whether in parliamentary resolutions, European boycotts, or delusional (not to mention, idiotic) accusations of “apartheid,” the left has aligned themselves with Islamists at every turn.

Hitchens asks a few questions of the flotilla “activists.”
It seems safe and fair to say that the flotilla and its leadership work in reasonably close harmony with Hamas, which constitutes the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. The political leadership of this organization is headquartered mainly in Gaza itself. But its military coordination is run out of Damascus, where the regime of Bashar Assad is currently at war with increasingly large sections of the long-oppressed Syrian population. Refugee camps, some with urgent humanitarian requirements, are making their appearance on the border between Syria and Turkey (the government of the latter being somewhat sympathetic to the purposes of the flotilla). In these circumstances, isn't it legitimate to strike up a conversation with the "activists" and ask them where they come out on the uprising against hereditary Baathism in Syria? .

It’s interesting that the flotilla activists as well as the one-time activist who currently occupies the White House seem unusually mute when it comes to Syria’s human rights abuses. The threat of violence in Libya required “kinetic military action (war),” but the actual murder of thousands in Syria (not to mention Hamas’ continuous rocket attacks against Israeli civilians) result in nothing but the quiet clucking of tongues.

But the media, who could ask a few interesting questions of the “activities,” chooses to be mute. Again from Hitchens:
Hamas is listed by various governments and international organizations as a terrorist group. I don't mind conceding that that particular word has been used in arbitrary ways in the past. But what concerns me much more is the official programmatic adoption, by Hamas, of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This disgusting fabrication is a key foundational document of 20th-century racism and totalitarianism, indelibly linked to the Hitler regime in theory and practice. It seems extraordinary to me that any "activist" claiming allegiance to human rights could cooperate at any level with the propagation of such evil material. But I have never seen any of them invited to comment on this matter, either.

The far-Left chooses to ignore reality, believing instead that it is acting morally, oh so morally. The little boats of this little “flotilla” provide nothing useful for Gaza—except the deep symbolism of the Left’s support for the "oppressed." The only thing useful about these activists is the simple reality that they are useful idiots, co-opted by a violent, genocide gang of terrorist thugs who would slit their infidel throats in a heartbeat if the need arose.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Mickey Mouse

Did you know that there has been a second Islamic cartoon controversy? This one occurred in Egypt just a few weeks ago. Our legacy media has chosen to avoid the controversy entirely or present it in passing without provided a broader context. No surprise.

A wealthy Egyptian Coptic Christian published a cartoon of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Eric Tragerexplains:
On his well-followed Twitter feed, the Coptic Christian [Naguib] Sawiris posted an image of a bearded, kaffiyeh-clad Mickey Mouse and a face-covered Minnie Mouse, alongside the comment, "Micky [sic] and Minnie after . . . " - in other words, "after" the Islamists gain power. It was a fairly pedestrian, if pointed, piece of political humor, but the anti-ironic Islamists didn't see it that way.

On Monday, 15 Islamic lawyers associated with the puritanical Salafists submitted a complaint to Egypt's general prosecutor, alleging that Sawiris "ridiculed the Islamic faith" and violated a penal code that criminalizes speech attacking "heavenly religions." If convicted, Sawiris would face six months to five years in prison, plus a fine.

And so, the much vaunted “Arab Spring” continues to evolve into Islamist tyranny masquerading as democracy.

Much to the dismay of the liberal Egyptian “college students” who our media praised as a new wave of secular democratic hope and change in Egypt, it appears that the virulently Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (do not for one minute believe they are “moderate’) is set to take over the country.

Trager comments:
It hardly matters that the Islamists are pursuing power through elections. While it goes without saying that Egypt's Islamists are preferable to Hamas and Hezbollah, all three are united by the undemocratic aim of building political systems in which legal debates are inherently religious. And despite the Muslim Brotherhood's promise to create a "state of all its citizens," a legal system based on Islamic law would surely exclude Egyptian Christians, who comprise 10% of the population, as well as the millions of Muslims who want a secular body politic.

Sadly, Islamist authoritarianism appears likely to determine Egypt's political future. The Islamists possess such superior mobilization capabilities, that many liberal parties are joining with, rather than challenging, them. Even the powerful Sawiris has been cowed. In the aftermath of a Facebook campaign to boycott his company, which drew over 90,000 supporters, the billionaire apologized for the cartoon.

It would seem that our State Department and the White House would speak out forcefully in support of Egyptians liberals and against the Islamist parties like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists that are as anti-democratic as they come. It would seem that our State Department and the White House would clearly recognize that Sharia law (the goal of the Islamists) and democracy cannot co-exist. When thinking about our foreign policy approach in Egypt (and analogously in Iran almost two years ago) the phrase “Mickey Mouse” comes to mind.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Forbidden Knowledge

As I observe Barack Obama in full campaign mode more than 15 months before the Presidential election, I wonder whether I’m the only American to think that his partisan campaign talk is unseemly for the President of the United States. At a time when the nation is suffering through the worst economic period of the past 70 years, the sitting President has seen fit to criticize his opponents for lack of work, but has found time to make campaign stops in 30 locations over the past 60 days. Is that really the best use of his time at this critical juncture in our history?

I know that the President had no executive experience when he was elected. In fact, he never ran any enterprise or managed anything other than his campaign. But you’d think that he’d recognize that his time might be better spent in talks with those who might actually help him craft an economic plan going forward.

And speaking of a “plan,” it’s interesting to note that the President was among the first to criticize the detailed economic plans proposed by his opponents, but has not proposed a plan of any kind himself.

In his recent press conference, the President again adopted the rhetoric of class warfare, suggesting that “millionaires and billionaires” do not pay their fair share and are getting unfair tax breaks. He also exhibited a frightening ignorance of what the catalysts for improved economic activity are, demonizing the very people and entities that create jobs.

Is he really that ignorant of economic reality, or are his campaign speeches a cynical political ploy? Robert Tracinsky provides an explanation:
So what explains the deep-seated ignorance of economics on display in his [Obama’s] public comments? Why does he demonstrate such a lack of practical appreciation of how business works?

The answer is that he lacks it because it is forbidden knowledge.

Consider Obama's background. He grew up among leftists, his childhood mentors were outright communists, and he then went off to academia, where he spent his formative years in an environment where business and profit-making are looked down upon as ugly, dirty, rapacious, immoral. Is it any mystery why he doesn't know about business or economics? Asking him to study the economics of the free market is like asking one of the old New England Puritans to thumb through a manual on sex education. Why immerse oneself in a subject that is so unseemly? Why make a study of how to be immoral?

It is for this attitude that Obama was elevated in American politics. He won the Democratic primaries because, unlike Hillary Clinton, he really seemed to believe in all of the old "liberal" pieties. He projected the sense that he still regarded big government as an untried new idea that would do better than the free market. But to believe that, he had to resist the contamination of pro-free-market economics or any independent observation of the workings of the economy.

The President blithely suggests that we will lose standing among the nations of the world if we do not raise our debt limit. He is unable to absorb the fact that we have already lost options and standing because of our indebtness.

His desire to increase our ability to become even more indebted—without serious and potentially painful reductions in spending—will not help us as a country. It will, over time, move us ever closer to a Greek-like scenario in which those who are the beneficiaries of entitlements—the old, the uneducated, the sick, the poor—are forced to face draconian cuts in their government support.

Barack Obama seems unable to absorb the simple idea that serious but manageable cuts today are far better than forced, draconian cuts tomorrow. Maybe it’s because that simple truth is “forbidden knowledge” among those who have adopted the fantasy ideology that there can be no limits to our spending and “millionaires and billionaires” are the core of the problem.