"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


One of Salem Oregon's Unofficial Top 1000 Conservative Political Bloggers!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

100th POST!!!


It's my 100th post! Everyone celebrate (at least everyone in my house)!

I'd sort of wanted my 100th to be one of my long and rambling essays, but alas I couldn't resist posting this Obama action figure pic again.

Here "Action Obama" is apparently posed into doing an impression of Fred Schneider of the B-52s. "Gyyyyyrate it 'til you had your fill! Just like a pneu-matic drill!"

More Ugly Truths About "Green" Energy

Check out this article from "The American Spectator" by William Tucker.

Once again we see the impracticality of renewable energy. The technology is not here and viable yet, and it might never be. Simply throwing money, wishes, empty rhetoric and increasing our energy bills enormously with cap and trade will not make it so.

Technologies move in ways that are difficult to predict. If they were so easy to direct and govern, research would not be fiscally risky and highly lauded "green" energy wouldn't be hemorrhaging money (h/t Michelle Malkin).

Earth Hour Skipped This "Chaos" Part

I pulled this article from Reuters on Yahoo. The title is "Sydney power blackout causes chaos."

This coming on the heels of Earth Hour is a little amusing to me. I guess it turns out that electrical power is actually a good thing in modern society. The article notes the timing of the blackout but apparently without an ounce of irony: "The blackout comes two days after Sydney deliberately turned off its lights for Earth Hour 2009, when cities world-wide plunged into darkness for an hour to highlight climate change."

Cities worldwide "plunged into darkness?" Let's not exaggerate or anything... I wonder how much chaos was caused by that? Of course that line is simply another example of wishful thinking by Reuters. Michael M. Bates over at newsbusters.org noted another gross exaggeration in his post "Reuters Claims One Billion People Took Part in 'Earth Hour.'"

Reuters is fast becoming nothing more than a shill for certain agendas. I mean it can't even report on a Sydney blackout without getting in their embellished (false) Earth Hour plugs.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Deceptive Tactics of the Online Left?

Check out this article by article by Andrew Breibert in the Washington Times.com via (h/t) Pundit & Pundette (check out their link to R.S. McCain's post as well).

So, are there trolls roaming about in the conservative blogs? Well the answer is, of course, yes. Although I haven't had one visit this tiny blog, a number of other more popular blogs I frequent have had to deal with them, and I have seen these troll posts. William A Jacobson's Legal Insurrection had this post on his experiences.

Tactics such as these do present us with a difficult problem. Ideological shills spreading misinformation and false racist, sexist, or misogynistic hatred to discredit their opponents is a tactic becoming more common and, I'm afraid, might eventually be viewed as business as usual.

Of course the right is not immune to using such tactics, but I vehemently discourage indulging in it. In my view, people are defined by their values and actions. One should reflect the other, and nothing short of mortal peril or war should compromise this relationship. When a person (right or left) stoops to such dishonest tactics, their compromises invariably distort their ultimate intention and the result is unavoidably warped from their values. If a person adapts to their newly warped values, reapplies this tactic and then re-adapts again, this sets in a motion a pattern that often creates monstrous results. The art of compromise is one thing, adapting your values to these compromises is something else.

Of course, this presents us with a problem as Pundit & Pundette note: how to we deal with these tactics. They are, after all, reasonably effective in the short-term, and when the intention is narrowed to only create discord relatively simple to employ. It's something to think about, but I'm sure there is a solution beyond just riding it out. It's simply a matter of finding it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Blog Added: snaggletoothie of Loyal Opposition

Go and give snaggletoothie of the Loyal Opposition a visit. It's also listed on the Blog List to the left.


There's some great vid-clips up. Be sure to check out the "Kant Attack Ad." Very funny.

New Blog Added

I've added a link to Pundit & Pundette to My Blog List.

Check it out. They have some good things to say and they seem to post quite frequently.

They've got some depressing ACORN news-- but hey, it's not their fault.

Another Obama Halo

Another Obama halo spotted-- this time by Reuters. Is it just me or is he looking a little more perturbed in this one?

The One is getting angry... hold onto your wallets.

UPDATE: Yahoo News used this picture for their link to this story: "White House questions viability of GM, Chrysler." Sugar-coating the bad news? Thus spoke St. Obama?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Added British MP Daniel Hannan's Blog to My Blog List

I've added Daniel Hannan's blog in the Telegraph to my blog list. Hannan is the British MP who has gained prominence by blasting Prime Minister Brown as the "devalued Prime Minister for a devalued Government" in a hit YouTube clip (I first ran across it at The Political Huddle-- h/t to The Commissioner) of his speech in the European Parliament. While reading through his posts, I was struck by much of what he had to say. And he offers a wonderfully non-American perspective and great insight into European issues and concerns. With Obama being so focused on the domestic and his policies leading our attention away from the rest of the world, keeping abreast of international concerns becomes even more important.

Check him out. He's well worth the time.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cultural Arrogance and the Denial of Evil

Check out Bruce Walker's article in American Thinker-- "Seventy Years After Appeasement."

Walker gives a quickie refresh on the appeasement politics that led to WWII, and makes some comparisons of radical Islam to the Nazis, as well as more tentative connections with Chavez's Venezuela, China, Russia, and North Korea. What really struck me in the article is his use of the word "evil."

Walker writes "History shows that peace does not come from just a childish pining wish, but peace comes from a combination of courage, good will, and wisdom. That means facing evil squarely, even when it is easier to pretend that good and evil are simply matters of viewpoint.

"President Bush was a flawed president with imperfect judgment, but he did grasp the importance of smiting evil before it grows too strong. Hitler, like radical Islamic terrorists, held Jews, Judaism, Christians, and Christianity in absolute contempt. The mockery of Nazi leaders for the Sermon on the Mound or the Ten Commandments was relentless. America was a decadent nation to Hitler, just like to radical Islam today."

While Walker labels Nazis and Islamic terrorists as evil based on their contempt of Jewish and Christian beliefs (certainly I would prefer he used their actions and their moral bases to earn the label of evil rather than their opposition to certain religious ideologies), his reasoning of facing down evil is sound. Yet, we Americans reflexively bristle at such an idea. It sounds melodramatic, old-fashioned, ignorant and violent. Why does this happen? Why do we ignore evil, and even deny its very existence? Perhaps some of it is due to the arrogant ignorance we cloak ourselves in when dealing with other cultures.

Indeed, while the Academy of Motion Picture Arts sends Anette Bening and a few others on cultural understanding missions, and Obama sends conciliatory "Happy Nowruz" messages to Iran (sans American flag), this attitude takes on more importance. Even when both were soundly rejected by Iran, Iran demanded an apology from Hollywood and dismissed Obama's message as empty politics (which it was), the American attitude is one of benignly arrogant befuddlement. We haughtily believe that these ignorant little people just don't know what a good thing we are offering.

This problematic point of view is addressed by Walker. He writes, "what men like Churchill grasped, and what men like Chamberlain did not, is that the Hitlers of the world have no real interest in improving the lives of their subjects. They are not concerned about the oceans of blood which their wars will bring. Their objectives are not our objectives; their methods are not our methods." But what must likewise be understood is that their values are not our values.

Americans, like many great peoples of the past, have the annoying habit of believing that our ways are necessarily the right way. Success is thought to be an absolute indicator of the rightness of our ways and cause. Whether from divine providence or merely demonstrating social scientific and economic laws, America's affluence and achievement has become to be seen, by Americans, as demonstrating the basic truth that we are correct. And since we are correct Americans are necessarily a shining example of what all others must, and want to, follow. The result of this mind-set is the mistaken assumption that values and attitudes that are in fact distinctly American, are universal human traits.

Obama's Nowruz speech (the full text of which can be in found in this post) is full of language such as "shared hopes" and "common dreams" and "mutual respect" etc. All of these are either American values or predicated by American values. Now, I am not saying that any of these concepts are exclusively American (they're not), but rather our version of them have an exclusively American flavor, were built from American thought processes, are Western values re-seasoned and re-contemplated by American thinkers before being passed on to us. They are not the same values of the British (although their net result can be very similar and our close cultural ties and common language make us quite similar), nor the values of Canada. And we cannot and should not carelessly assume that many of our values, in fact, exist in another culture-- nor their values in ours-- despite the astonishing numbers of cultures and beliefs that make up the American tapestry. If they did, all the world would be American-- as similar to one another as a Californian is to a New Yorker.

Obama is touted as a post-modern, post-racial (whatever that means) president. An intelligent, multicultural citizen of the world. From the OFA's fawning bio: "It has been the rich and varied experiences of Barack Obama's life - growing up in different places with people who had differing ideas [Hawaii and a few years in Indonesia]- that have animated his political journey." Yet, he demonstrates precious little knowledge of even the most basic ideas of culture. He does not seem to accept that he is American in his essence and that his core values and beliefs are not those of the rest of the world.

This is symptomatic of the sort of arrogance inherent in the idea of American multiculturalism. At the core of this highly-extolled belief is a denial of other cultures' intricacies and even their existences. In an effort to make ourselves closer to other cultures, we have taken the short-cut. Instead of attempting to understand the other, the multiculturalist learns enough to make analogies with America and then foolishly proclaims "Oh, they're just like us," and then assigns them our value system. Thus our understanding is preceded by our demand for the other culture's conformity to our conceptions.

From this mind-set we get lines from Obama such as "Indeed, you will be celebrating your New Year in much the same way that we Americans mark our holidays -- by gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and stories, and looking to the future with a renewed sense of hope." Such superficial similarities are touted and thought of as being some sort of inroad to deep understanding. Golly gee! Why this sounds just like our Christmas or a birthday! Wholly missing is any attempt to understand the cultural significance of such foreign holidays, the values it espouses, and the stamp that it makes the minds of the people. Rather ironic is multiculturalism's demand that such shallow comparisons be used to make ourselves understood to others. We make them judge us in the same superficial manner in which we judge them.

Yet even the concept of evil is uncomfortable for mainstream America. It's something from movies, presented as enticing, darkly intelligent and melodramatic (like Hannibal Lecter and Jigsaw from the endless string of "Saw" films). But it is also safely isolated from reality-- a Hollywood trick designed to titillate our sense of macabre, not unlike the make-up effects of zombie flicks or slasher films. To suggest now that evil is real is not unlike suggesting that the "Force is with us."

Bush was roundly criticized for his "Axis of Evil" concept, and intellectuals (and those who pretend to be) often bashed him for his "wild west" good versus evil mentality. Apparently we're too smart and sophisticated for such antiquated concepts.

When mentioning Hitler and the Nazis, most people can agree that they were indeed evil, but when asked why most just mumble things about the holocaust and WWII. Many roll their eyes as if the question itself is ridiculous. Of course Nazis are evil... It's as if asking if the sky was blue. Nazis have become transformed in our eyes, warped into demons and monsters... and of course monsters are evil. And when we do this, when we cut ourselves off from the truth of the matter-- the truth that Nazis were living, breathing, passionate, rational and intelligent human beings-- then we learn nothing from the horrifically expensive lessons of WWII. The simple truth of the matter, something that never sat very well in the minds of the WWII generations, is that living, passionate, rational, and intelligent human beings are capable of great evil and the greatest of atrocities. It is essential to approach the Nazis first and foremost as human beings. When we dehumanize the Nazis, dismiss them as cartoonish villains and bogeymen, we cannot begin to understand the way in which this evil came about and how it has repeated itself since.

Such approaches don't sit well with our fashionable humanist attitudes of today, the open celebrations of the human spirit (though we so seem to know so little of it), the hallowing of our great compassion and our so vehemently believed in natural compulsion for good. This belief persists despite the great atrocities of the recent past (the holocaust, the genocides of the Khmer Rouge, the Japanese' wholesale murders of Nanking and much of China and Southeast Asia, the devastation in Rwanda, the mass killing in Uganda, the multiple genocides perpetrated by Red China, the millions [possibly tens of millions] killed by Stalin, the Turkish attempt to eradicate the Armenians, etc.) that demonstrate man's capibility for great destruction. Armed only with optimism that seems born purely of self-love and humanistic faith, we mostly ignore all this evil. If we do acknowledge it, we shunt it off as the work of dehumanized monsters such as the Nazis, offer excuses (a friend of mine actually compared the building of the Hoover Dam with Kim Il-sung's brutal North Korean "modernizations"-- "people die when building infrastructure") and deny evidence. But mostly we don't allow it to sink in, we refuse to internalize this ugly affront to our beautiful conception of human nature.

Living in a technological wonderland, a place where the poor of New Orleans are obese, where evil is a Hollywood convention, it is easy to forget the hard realities beyond our intimate worlds. Hard-learned lessons of the past, knowledge purchased with blood and misery, should not be forgotten so easily and in so short a time. We should not allow our humanist optimism to make the world around us into a distant caricature. We need to remember that people like the Nazis do exist, that evil ideologies do murder millions of innocents, and that such things will happen again. We need to confront this reality, not hide from it, not pretend it is merely a different point of view.

A Sign of Things to Come?

Check out this article from the Christian Science Monitor. Apparently more and more states are contemplating asserting their state's authority over Washington's.

Is there a move to defer governmental authority assembled from the 1930s and 1960s? Are we seeing a revival in the concept of federalism after forty or fifty years of centralization? So far nobody's taking it too seriously, but maybe we need to wait and see...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Roxana Saberi, the Great and Celebrated Culture, and the Better and More Beautiful World

This is Roxana Saberi from Fargo, North Dakota. She is an American citizen. She is a freelance reporter who has worked for NPR and the BBC. She has been held in an Iranian prison for almost two months without formal charges filed against her and, of course, without trial.

Pat over at "And So it Goes in Shreveport" has a well put together write up here and a follow up post here.

The following is a transcript of Obama's Nowruz message:

"Today I want to extend my very best wishes to all who are celebrating Nowruz around the world.

"This holiday is both an ancient ritual and a moment of renewal, and I hope that you enjoy this special time of year with friends and family.

"In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture. Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place.

"Here in the United States our own communities have been enhanced by the contributions of Iranian Americans. We know that you are a great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world.

"For nearly three decades relations between our nations have been strained. But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together. Indeed, you will be celebrating your New Year in much the same way that we Americans mark our holidays -- by gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and stories, and looking to the future with a renewed sense of hope.

"Within these celebrations lies the promise of a new day, the promise of opportunity for our children, security for our families, progress for our communities, and peace between nations. Those are shared hopes, those are common dreams.

"So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.

"You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create.

"So on the occasion of your New Year, I want you, the people and leaders of Iran, to understand the future that we seek. It's a future with renewed exchanges among our people, and greater opportunities for partnership and commerce. It's a future where the old divisions are overcome, where you and all of your neighbors and the wider world can live in greater security and greater peace.

"I know that this won't be reached easily. There are those who insist that we be defined by our differences. But let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi, so many years ago: 'The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence.'

"With the coming of a new season, we're reminded of this precious humanity that we all share. And we can once again call upon this spirit as we seek the promise of a new beginning.

"Thank you, and Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak."

This "great and celebrated culture" whose art, music, literature and innovation openly espoused by Obama, who "have made the world a better and more beautiful place" regularly hangs men for the crime of homosexuality, regularly stones men and women to death for the crime of adultery, regularly beats hundreds of government protesters, regularly arrests and beats members of the press and bloggers. Are these, in fact, methods employed to make the world more beautiful? The Iranian culture is not our enemy. The Iranian government is. Obama seems to be unable to differentiate between the two and unwilling to admit to or confront the Iranian regime's animosity. He is behaving as both a naive fool and a coward.
While we should not forget Roxana Saberi, neither should we forget the hundreds of thousands who have likewise suffered under this crushing fundamentalist regime.

Obama's International Failures

Check out this op/ed from the New York Post by Ralph Peters.

It gives an itemized list of Obama's foreign relations missteps from China to Russia. Sober reading.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

China Calling for "Super-Currency" Amid Concerns for Devaluing Dollar

Check out this article from Bloomberg.com by Li Yanping.

From the article: "Central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan this week urged the International Monetary Fund to expand the use of so-called Special Drawing Rights and move toward a 'super-sovereign reserve currency.' The dollar weakened after the Federal Reserve said that it would buy Treasuries and the U.S. government outlined plans to buy illiquid bank assets.

"'China is concerned about the potential for a slide in the dollar as the U.S. attempts to stimulate its economy,' said Mark Williams, a London-based economist at Capital Economics Ltd. The 'rare' sight of a Chinese official attempting to reframe an international debate may be 'a sign of China becoming more engaged,' he said."

And later an Obama adviser responds: "'The Chinese are a little disingenuous in saying that it’s so bad that we own all these dollars,' former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, an adviser to Obama, said at the Wall Street Journal’s 'Future of Finance' conference in Washington. 'They own all the dollars because they chose to buy the dollars and they didn’t want to sell the dollars.'"

So what do you think? A political ploy by a cagey China, or a sincere sign of its fading confidence in their stockpile of $740 billion worth of American debt?

Well the Treasury Department is about to print up a trillion dollars worth of currency and stuff into the economy. Sen Gregg (nominated by Obama to be commerce secretary-- he withdrew) has said Obama's budget plan creates of "a public debt of about 80 percent of GDP, which basically is the type of debt ratio you see in banana republics." (my thanks to The Commissioner at The Political Huddle for both this info and link).

The Chinese are never ones to let a good crisis go to waste either. I think the answer is a little of both. They see Obama flailing, lost and refusing to give up his ideological budget, and now sense a chance to insert themselves more prominently into the international scene.

But that's right, Obama... Just keep focusing on the domestic-- infrastructure, and schools, and health care, and what-not. Don't realize that our economy is of international importance and open to and under international influence.

Hey... but Obama's friends with Oprah and Ashton Kucher and sometimes has a halo in his pictures. Won't that count for anything with the Chinese?

Plus Clinton said the US wouldn't pursue the Chinese on human rights violations. Isn't that worth a trillion dollars?

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has a more detailed article on this issue, which has turned into the hugely hyped story of the day.

Clinton Given Award and Great Pictures



"Hillary Clinton is proving that she didn't have to become President to nab the spotlight. The Secretary of State won a "Global Trailblazer" award at last night's 2009 Global Leadership Awards.The Vital Voices Global Partnership handed out a variety of awards to women leaders from all over the world, including Somaly Mam (Cambodia), Sadiqa Basiri Saleem (Afghanistan),Chouchou Namegabe Nabintu (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Temituokpe Esisi (Nigeria)."

Not sure what all this is, but it seems to involve being badly lit and getting pictures from unflattering angles.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama's "Grass-Roots" Cultists Seem to be Ignored... as Predicted

Looks like the OFA isn't having quite the effect that Obama's people were hoping. This article from McClatchy via Michelle Malkin talks about how Congress isn't feeling much (or any) heat from the OFA's campaign to annoy the citizenry.

According to the article's writers (credited David Lightman and William Douglas) "Obama's army of canvassers fanned out across the nation over the weekend to drum up support for his $3.55 trillion budget, but they had no noticeable impact on members of Congress, who on Monday said they were largely unaware of the effort.
"'News to me," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, a House Budget Committee member, of the canvassing. Later, his staff said that his office had heard from about 100 voters.

"The president's lieutenants tried to open a new front in the "Obama revolution," the grassroots mobilization that propelled the once little-known Illinois senator to the White House last year. David Plouffe, who ran Obama's campaign, now runs "Organizing for America" out of the Democratic National Committee. It uses the same Web-based tactics that won the presidency to mobilize public opinion behind Obama's initiatives in a bid to redefine "business as usual" in Washington."

And later this analysis:
"'You live in Terre Haute, Indiana, or suburban Denver, and someone you don't know knocks on the door and talks politics — the election is over," said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Connecticut. "I'm not sure if it will make a big difference.'"

You know, I love the Terre Haute and suburban Denver references... I mean I suppose if you live somewhere big and self-important like New York or L.A. (my old hometown) you're just so politically aware all the time... But maybe Brown was just using Indiana and Colorado as examples of typical America and I'm just being unfair. I hope so.

Another factor in their ineffectiveness, I think, is the basic socialist protocol of disinterest in government. I mean you want the government to be big and take care of you, not to pester you with budget campaigning. Honestly, the only time that many people pay much attention to or possess much passion about government is when they resist or oppose it. With Pelosi and Obama elected and running the show, the attitude is "save us now," not reactionary political activism.

Still, things can change. And the OFA is a worrisome bunch based on their Obama-first loyalty and fawning website. If Obama can figure out how to use the OFA effectively or the political stars align again for their current strategies to be effective, they could be a real factor.

Josh Gerstein Has New Blog

Josh Gerstein has moved his blog onto Politico.com. Check it out.

Blog List is now updated as well. Check out his latest entry "Obama: No sympathy for pricey states." It's someting to think about.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Obama's "Grass-Roots" Cultists Bother a Million People?

Presidential Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed that the OFA knocked on a million doors over the weekend during a press conference. The statement was rather flippant and the number seemed to be merely pulled out of thin air. No mention on signatures or anything that could, in any way, be even slightly confirmed.

We'll wait and see, but I'm still thinking that the OFA's efforts are a big, unpopular nothing. But then maybe I'm just an optimist.

SEIU Executive Literally Swiping Wallets in Iowa

Are they kidding? Check out this post from BackyardConservative. Be sure to watch the news video while you're there.

Classy...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Impeach the Pope! Because I Said So in a Rage!

I thought long and hard before deciding to post a link to this article in The Washington Post. The article by Robert S. McElvaine regurgitates standardized bile at Pope Benedict XVI. But it also represents more-- a viewpoint prevalent in the left and even in mainstream American society, and that is why I chose to address his essay. The reason I was hesitant about this link or even to write a post about McElvaine's article has nothing to do with his criticism of the Pope. I myself have profound difficulties with much of the Catholic Church's doctrine. Nor did it have anything to do with the claim that the Catholic Church is "a hierarchical institution set up, not by Jesus but by men who hijacked his name and in many cases perverted his teachings." Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and one man's ranting should in no way sway people who truly believe in their religion's philosophies.

No. The reason I was so reluctant to give this article the dignity of acknowledgment was because of this little gem by McElvaine: "As I detail in my latest book, 'Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America' (Crown)..." Cute. His whole essay is little more than a glorified advertisement for his most recent book... a tome of outraged platitudes. And I wasn't sure that I wanted to give this book any more publicity (no matter how meager or negative).

I suppose McElvaine's mercenary motives should be somewhat obvious given the relative brevity of both the article and thought contained within it. In its meandering anger, McElvaine never really seems to get to the heart of what his argument actually is. Despite the issues of birth control, misogyny, AIDS, insulting Muslims, excommunication, holocaust deniers, moral hijackings, all being raised in a vapid but outraged manner, he makes no real connection to his "Enough! No-- Too much!" opening and his ending demand that we should all get together and impeach the Pope.

Oh sure, I understand the laundry list of McElvaine's complaints and understand that the progression of his argument is: (1) I don't like the Pope because I disagree with him (2) the Catholic Church is against birth control (3) I continue to not like the Pope and disagree with him, so we should get rid of him (4) the Church's stance against birth control is because of misogyny (5) I still continue to disagree with the Pope and still think we should get rid of him. Intersperse this with some random references to Bernie Madoff, AIG, holocaust denying, ordination of women, AIDS in Africa, insulting Muslims, moral hijacking, a pantomimed call for defiant "heresy," and his shameless book plug (as I said the real gist of this sloppy piece) and you have his entire article. That's some brilliant work there professor... bet you have tenure there, don't ya?

What's noticeably missing is any sort of reasoning or actual cohesive argument. Why is the denial of birth control theologically wrong? Why should women be allowed to be priests? Why should Catholics not confront Muslims? There could be reasonable answers to these questions (and there are, though McElvaine seems to believe they are of no consequence), but they are wholly absent in McElvaine's rant. He offers no reasoning, no evidence, no viewpoint-- preferring to present only feigned outrage, issues prominent in academically liberal circles, and hot topic references.

In fact, among all his allegations the only evidence that McElvaine bothers to state is reserved only for his misogyny charge. This "evidence," merely a citation, is both deceiving and only tangentially related to his topic. It offers no philosophical, theological, nor moral base for any of its charge.

McElvaine writes: "Why does the Church persist in such a manifestly immoral doctrine [condoms as birth control]? One suspects that it must be the usual twisted thinking about sex and women. The Church's opposition to birth control is largely an outgrowth of its all-male composition and those males' attempts to degrade women's physical powers by asserting that women and the intercourse into which they supposedly tempt men are necessary evils ('It is well for a man not to touch a woman,' Paul instructed the Christians of Corinth), the only purpose of which is procreation.

"Misogyny may not be 'the Church's one foundation,' but it is a major part of the base on which it was constructed."

In this passage, the only evidence McElvaine uses, is a short excerpt from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians. chapter 7). There are various translations but the one I use here is from The New Oxford Annotated Bible. The actual passage that this single phrase is from reads: "Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation of immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does." Huh... when you read the whole passage doesn't sound quite so misogynistic, does it?

Paul's reasons for favoring celibacy are given, among other places, just a few paragraphs later in the same chapter. "I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided attention to the Lord."

One can disagree with what's being said in the letter's passage, but it's a bit of a stretch to call it misogynistic. It also does not suggest anywhere that sex is only for procreation, as McElvaine claims. Furthermore, it is intentionally deceiving and manipulative for McElvaine to use this single sentence, given with absolutely no context, as evidence for his statement that "Misogyny may not be 'the Church's one foundation,' but it is a major part of the base on which it was constructed." If misogyny is indeed a "major part" of Catholic doctrine, McElvaine will have to provide more evidence than a single sentence from the bible. But then this is asking far too much from someone who couldn't finish reading the entire paragraph (let alone the chapter) of the sentence he was quoting.

Let me be clear here. I'm not promoting any sort of religion in this post, nor in this blog. I do not and will not shy away from religious topics, but the purpose of this blog is not for me to promote my formal religious beliefs (should I have any-- I will say no more than to state that I am a theist). And I'm not quoting from the bible for any reason other than to give fair hearing and context to McElvaine's duplicitous "evidence."

But the sheer arrogance of McElvaine, and what he represents in this article, is astonishing. I mean, McElvaine seems to believe that his simple disapproval of the Pope on three issues is sufficient cause to call for Benedict XVI's impeachment (a process which he acknowledges is wholly absent in Catholic doctrine and institution) or his forcible removal from office. In other words, because the American left is for birth control, abortion, and "dialogue" with Muslim fundamentalists, the Pope should be removed.

McElvaine's column-- actually an advertisement for his book thinly veiled as a rant-- is nonsensical. He offers nothing except worn out bile that others of like mind can nod their heads to. And, as paradoxical as this sounds, that's why I bothered to address his essay.

McElvaine's essay and arrogance are both symptomatic of the currently popular idea that people ascribing to a religion get to pick and choose tenets of their faith. Religious doctrine is a buffet... I'll take the loving and forgiving God concept, heaven everlasting... good... but skip over the sour birth control restrictions, the anti-abortion stance, and the I have to go to church every Sunday stuff. Faith and religious conviction has been reduced to believing in comforting concepts... things people find easy to digest, that they already want to believe in. Religion must now coincide with societal values.

This view is actually from where McElvaine's advertisement springs from. The AIDS and condom "controversy" that so "outraged" McElvaine is nothing more than a pretext to claim religion should follow certain public opinion, that religious figures should be directly accountable to the voice of the left (certainly not the right). I admit that I have not been following the Pope's tour nor his statements. However from what I've read, it appears that what Benedict XVI actually said was "AIDS cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms," an opinion factually based by the reality that condoms have been distributed in Africa for 20+ years and AIDS remains a problem. But facts, like bible citations, are meaningless to McElvaine. He demonstrates a belief that both are merely grist for his millstone, and as adaptable as the faith he champions.

McElvaine's perspective, a view that a surprisingly vast number of others share, preaches that if a religious doctrine is inconvenient to our opinions, we must adapt the religion-- thus the Pope needs to go. While this view may appeal to both our vanity and sense of democracy, religion should not appeal to either. Religion does not exist to stoke the high opinions of ourselves (just the opposite really) and is not a democratic institution. Religions purport to offer truth-- something that is not dependant on the majority.

But that's what socialism does as well, purport to offer truth, and for that reason it must confront religion and discredit it when differences arise. Just as it is popular for individual opinions to come before doctrine, so must politics come before faith, party line before religious doctrine. As party line shifts due to various pressures of political reality, so are religious tenets expected to change to accommodate governmental policy. Thus churches and faiths becomes dependant upon the state for guidance and become nothing more than mouthpieces for political leaders. While Karl Marx famously said that religion was the opiate of the masses, it was only because it interfered with the opiates he offered-- among them cathartic mass executions. Since his time the left has instead found churches to be potential buttresses for political policy and McElvaine demands that they behave as such.

I wrote in a previous post, The Trap of Government as a Moral Compass, of the importance of separation of church and state. In this post I asserted that religion is protected from governmental influence by the "free exercise clause" of the First Amendment and that such protection is fundamental for a true representative democracy. I will not repeat the argument here (read it if you would like), but McElvaine's and the left's wish to control religious doctrine bypasses this protection and is antithetical to the Constitution and the spirit of representative democracy.

To be a member of a religion is to necessarily subjugate the self to the morality and doctrine of that religion. This is the essence of faith-- to believe beyond what is obvious to the self, beyond what is comfortable. This is what makes faith difficult. Some religions (such as McElvaine's Roman Catholicism) offer some outs by possessing mechanisms to allow adaption from within their ranks. Yet, these mechanisms of change exist within the structures of the religion itself and do not function in the manner of a democracy. McElvaine recognizes but resents this, and I must question whether his moral resentment is not politically based. He offers no evidence to the contrary.

I once wrote that to truly be a "government of the people, by the people, for the people," the government cannot be morally, nor considered morally, superior to the people. A religion, however, is not a government, and its teachings must be viewed as morally superior by its truly faithful.

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's About Obama and Not America

Check out this post at Finkelblog.com. Mark Finkelstein astutely points out that it appears Obama is hiding the American flag with crops and close-ups in a Nowruz message to "unhelpful" Iranian audiences.

I just can't help thinking that this is another attempt by Obama to woo Iranians by making things about him and not America. He "rules" America and does not represent it. From "reset" buttons, to egocentric rudeness to Britain, to cropping off the American flag, Obama's most consistent international policy is to make everything be about himself.

By the way, check out the screen caps and Finkelblog.com's post. Does Obama ever not look smug when in front of a functioning teleprompter?

While on Finkelblog.com check out the link he provides to the speech itself and give it a listen. This isn't diplomacy-- he's campaigning again. He's not making the position of the US clear, he's selling them our tolerance.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama Seems Lost Pt. 3: Campaigning Policy and Budget Proposals

Obama "looked every bit the campaigner as he sometimes mocked his GOP critics, and sometimes asked people to forgive his shortcomings," according to the AP via Yahoo. Strange that that sentence has a comma there. But, nevertheless the man who claimed he was "ready to rule" seems to be anything but as he's continued his retreat back into campaign mode. Attending town hall meetings (two in two days) that are more like revivals and pop concerts, giving Leno the chance to play reporter, and distancing himself from that nasty old bailout brouhaha in Washington, Obama has retreated into his one historically successful endeavor-- currying voter favor. I wonder if perhaps Michelle Malkin could be right and we see him dancing stiffly next to Ellen DeGeneres soon.

Seeing his poll numbers dropping (his approval rating is lower than George Bush's was 2 mos. into his own presidency), and facing bipartisan opposition in Congress regarding more and more of his big mommy government policies (there is that better than socialist?), the Obama administration seems to be intent on winning back moderates who are uneasy, to say the least, by utilizing adoring personal appearances. The OFA has been called into action to annoy their neighbors, and Obama has "announced a new Web site to help people around the nation: makinghomeaffordable.gov."

We'll see how all this flies. I'm not so sure that it will go very well. Obama has abandoned so many of his campaign promises (bipartisanship, transparency, no lobbyists in his administration, etc.) so quickly that it'll be a hard sell to push across expensive and potentially disastrous policies (for instance reliance on nonexistent and abandoned alternative energy [h/t to Legal Insurrection] through cap and trade plus govt. regulation) on just his word.

But then that's why he made this trip in the first place. With little actual governmental experience, no demonstrated managerial skills, no demonstrated understanding on how governing actually works (arrogantly declaring instead that he's going to change how Washington does business), Obama is left with only charisma, a teleprompter, and ignorant cockiness. That's enough for preaching to the choir at a town hall meeting-- even the AP notes that the town hall's "questions were more fawning than pressing. 'I'm very glad and thankful that you are our president,' the first questioner began. The second said, 'thank God for you.'" But it's not enough to govern.

Obama seems to be under the impression that making personal appearances is analogous to governing... rather like celebrities who think paid personal appearances at "awareness" dinner parties (fundraisers) are the same as charity. Obama appears on Arab television, thinking that's enough to calm the Middle East. It didn't. Obama appears in his carefully selected "dying" town of Elkhart, Indiana (h/t to William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection) to save struggling middle-America with a Pelosi and Dodd constructed "stimulus." It won't. Obama appears at the East Peoria Caterpillar factory and declares that the "stimulus" will buoy this company and immediately prevent layoffs. It didn't. Obama seems to not know that merely showing one's face and declaring expedient falsehoods does not equal workable political strategy.

Obama also seems to believe that personal grudges should overturn foreign policy. While perplexed British newspapers have blamed Michelle Obama (openly speculating that she may be a Lady MacBeth) and the snow for the snubbing their visiting Prime Minister, the most probable reason for Obama's antipathy and cool reception of Brown is found in this excerpt from the OFA website's fawning bio of Obama: "Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was born and raised in a small village in Kenya, where he grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British (emphasis mine)."

Anybody who knows much about Kenya's difficult colonial past is not all that mystified by Obama's snubs and rudeness. The question in my mind was if Obama himself had such awareness (he has, of course, no personal experience of it being raised in Hawaii by his white grandmother). The answer was pretty obvious after the PM's visit.

While Obama's people have offered only lame excuses to the British, one of our firmest allies, as to why Obama slighted their political leader (self-indulgence was not the official explanation), we are left with a leader who seems to be unable to set aside personally held grievances and instead threatens our country's international relationships because of it-- this while we are at war in both Iraq and Afghanistan with British troops on the ground. Obama needs to suck up his personal feelings (no matter how distant the coddled outrage) for the good of the nation.

Obama seems to have regressed. Burdened with troublesome responsibilities he seems incapable of handling, Obama is trying to relive the good old days, not very long past, when crowds of hundreds of thousands chanted his name and waved American flags stamped with his beaming face. Now only a thousand or so shills chant his name at town hall meetings. There was a time when I couldn't escape television commercials for his commemorative plates and coins, between the Snuggie and Cash 4 Gold adverts. Well the Cash 4 Gold commercials are still running...

Obama projects calm confidence behind a microphone and a teleprompter. No matter what others may say, that is his true element. It's not in Washington, neither in Congress nor the White House. Unfortunately, that sort of playacting is not enough for effective government. Political reality is neutral. As I have said before, it is unmoved by eloquent words, racial pity, education or celebrity. People may be swayed by such things, but reality is not. It must be addressed directly, requiring confident leadership and sound political strategies-- not cocky pretensions nor desperate needs for approval.

Which do you think Obama is currently demonstrating?

Obama vs. Darth Vader Pt. 2

Nobody could've told me this would be a series...

William Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection has been putting together The Official Guide to Obama Kitsch. Check it out. It's a brilliant idea, and when I read about it I got all excited and sent in my photo of the Samurai Obama action figure. I'd been cruising on the net around inauguration time and had spied the photo on some random website and thought it funny, so I pulled it and posted it on a long day-- knowing very little about the actual product. Well, it turns out that the Obama action figure is:

a) by some company called DiD (Dragon in Dream) Corp

b) Chinese and not (as I had thought) Japanese

c) had some great photos that I've never seen
Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama's Grass-Roots Cultists Revisited

I had lightly mentioned in a previous post that Obama was unleashing his "grass-roots" cultists onto an unsuspecting public to promote his ideological and nonsensical budget. Check out this article in American Thinker by Lona Manning. Although I am not one to believe that these Obama-shills from Organizing for America (OFA) are but one or two steps away from the Brown Shirts and the Red Guard (as Manning seems to fear), there is still reason to worry about what they represent.

The OFA's website (I offer no link but it's not hard to find) is rather hard to stomach-- it actually says at the bottom of the page that the website is "Powered by Hope" (gag...). It incorporates classic "belonging" language interspersed with trite pearls of wisdom from Obama's teleprompter (paraphrasing: I ask you to not believe in me, but to believe in yourself to make this change possible, etc.). This banality and dishonest familiarity, in itself, is not really a cause for alarm. Plenty of websites, political and non-political, attempt to create a friendly and intimate atmosphere. While people like me may find such attempts off-putting (I don't like it when department store salespeople use my name-- "Is there anything else I can help you with, Mr. Ngaby?" when making a credit card purchase... There's something to be said for the certain distance of polite formality.), it doesn't necessarily raise warning flags.

Something that is rather alarming is mentioned by Manning in her article. The OFA's loyalty is not to ideals nor even political ideology, but to Obama himself. As Manning writes "A visit to the OFA website reveals that supporters are not simply asked to sign up, they are asked to take a pledge. A pledge to support -- not the flag, not the constitution, not the country, not even the Democratic party, but Obama and his 'bold plan.'" As Manning points out this is not unlike the thoroughly creepy I Pledge video produced by Ashton Kucher (I posted about that Hollywood hypocrisy here back in January). Here they pledge to serve their president by being nicer to people and thus becoming a part of Obama's cheek apparently.

While this sort of personality worship is certainly unesttling, a lot of it is most likely borne by the novelty of the first African-American president. Smitten by the historical significance of this, people have assigned him all sorts of wonderful attributes and colassal expectations-- none of which any man could possibly measure up to. Already the facade is breaking down as more and more Democrats dig in their heels and more and more moderates see Obama for what he actually is: a leftist with little managerial skills or past accomplishments, but plenty of cockiness and naivety. While worrisome traits for a president, they are not the attributes that lasting personality cults actually develop around.

How the OFA is grass-roots is a bit beyond me. I suppose turning regular people into Obama-shills means grass-roots now. This, too, I find disturbing. This false "grass-roots" organization is given marching orders and then sent to drum up support in the neighborhoods. Taped messages from Obama inspires them into action and then they are sent out to gather signatures and support for various Obama measures-- bold plans and great change, I guess. This political model turns the burden of responsibility from citizens to government. No longer is the government answerable to the people, but people to the government. Obama dictates, the citizens of the OFA go out to gather support-- to convince the people of Obama's rightness.

While this top-down mentality is acceptable (I suppose) for political campaigns, it is antithetical to the way our representative democracy is supposed to work. A government official, no matter how high, is supposed to be exposed to the scrutiny of the citizens. To interfere with this, by way of local shills, is disconcerting.

Yet, Obama is by no means the first American politician to try this tactic. Past presidents and government officials have done so. For instance, Woodrow Wilson's administration used to hire men to stand up in theaters between films and stir up patriotic fervor to support his desire (at that point) to become involved in World War I.

Usually such historical instances are quickly forgotten, most likely because of their highly questionable effectiveness. And I predict that Obama's OFA will likewise be ineffective. People don't want be bothered with political campaigns every time a difficult issue arises, and most are savvy enough to sense manipulation when confronted by vapid political mouthpieces. Look at how White House Press Secretaries are regularly viewed and treated by both media and audience.

What bothers me the most about all this are the ideas that underlie the concept of the OFA, namely that it's perfectly reasonable to enlist people to go out and work for the executive branch in an attempt to bypass Congress. While some people raise red flags over the personality-cult aspects of the OFA and others make comparisons to Mao's Red Brigade and Hugo Chavez's neighborhood committees, most just overlook it. Fear-mongering the OFA serves no purpose except to make it seem not so bad-- I mean can you really compare it to the Brown Shirts and not make it seem better? Ignoring it is the best option. Its ineffectiveness will seal its eventual downfall.

Yet to ignore the OFA is not to overlook it. This attempt to strong arm Congress and to bypass the concept of separation of powers should not be glossed over. Political leaders that will come after Obama will attempt to use the internet and top-down-grass-roots organizations to garner political clout. Perhaps someone, maybe even Obama, will come up with some twist or variation that will actually make it effective. But for now, the current incarnation of the OFA should be viewed as a case study in American politics, a warning for future attempts to circumvent the bottom-up spirit of representative democracy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Obama Begins to Waver on VA Insurance

Some encouraging news regarding Obama's shameful idea to cut injured veterans' insurance benefits. A bipartisan outrage in Congress seems to be causing the Obama Admin. to pause. recently "the Obama administration has insisted that they are non-committal when it comes to a final decision on the actual policy, and White House officials will meet for the second time with veterans groups on Wednesday."


A second meeting suggests that Obama might be thinking that the political fallout for this move would be more trouble then the $500 or so million he might save. Again I encourage all people of conscience to contact their Congressional representatives and let them know your views on this intolerable potential policy. My rep's site was full of broken links, but I still managed to do a search and send off an e-mail to him. Vets deserve far more, but spending a moment of our time and small effort (even if it's futile) is an effort which we are certainly obliged to give.

Obama's demonstrated contempt of our military's men and women is something to remember, examine, and address later. We should now tell our reps what we believe to be important. Don't let them off the hook. Make them tell us all where they stand on this issue and why.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Obama Planning to Throw Injured Veterans Under the Bus

Pat over at the And So it Goes in Shreveport blog has an angry (justifiably) post regarding Obama's apparently impending decision to cut wounded veteran's insurance benefits. The reaction of The American Legion is here.

Obama, showing his colors and priorities, is throwing wounded veterans under the bus to save $540 million dollars. His proposed cuts would leave veterans' private insurance companies to pick up the tab for service-related disabilities and injuries.

As And So it Goes in Shreveport states:

"Besides the moral outrage that comes with this, who in their right mind would enlist to serve and protect this country anymore knowing that their country, or rather their commander-in-chief, does not support them? What insurance company would cover these soldiers knowing the risk that might entail? And what of their families?"

Commander David K. Rehbien of The American Legion stated:

"This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate 'to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"

To cut such VA coverage to veterans is in itself unconscionable. To propose this cheap act while we have troops on the ground and fighting in both Afghanistan and Iraq, after passing a political payoff "stimulus" bill for $787 billion is despicable. Passing the financial buck onto the back of veterans who were injured while serving their country is beneath contempt. It cannot be ignored, swept under the rug, nor tolerated.

For what it's worth, you should contact your congressional representative and let them know where you and every other American with a modicum of dignity stand on this issue. Contact your local papers, let them know how you feel. Make them aware that they cannot ignore this story to run some fawning Obama family puff-piece.

People of good conscience cannot allow this petty and underhanded garbage to go unchallenged.

Obama's "Grass-Roots" Cultists Unleashed Again

Obama has shifted the campaign for his economic plan into high gear. Having met what seems to be unexpected resistance in a Democratic Congress, Obama has unleashed his "grass-roots" cultists to go and gather signatures to support his socialistic economic reforms. Michelle Malkin has an article here. She has the e-mail plus YouTube video. Watch it if you have a strong stomach.

Significantly, Malkin has noted the top-down aspects of this fraudulent grass-roots initiative. Yeah, real grass-roots strategy: tell the people to out and gather up signatures to support our glorious leader's policies. Maybe they should tell their Obama-cronies to gather up signatures of people willing to pledge to work hard and be productive for the glorious nation that will emerge, like a phoenix, from the financial catastrophe the evils of free enterprise have inflicted upon us. And maybe they can pass out snazzy uniforms for their pledge-gatherers-- something with a bright red sash or neckerchief.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obama's Cocky Assurances Continue

The AP reported that Obama Admin. are still talking up the American economy. And still no mention of their reversal from the economic doom and gloom from about three or four weeks ago. Unbiased reporting to be sure...
Would someone in the media please ask the administration why the sudden reversal of outlook. Better yet, would someone in the media please ask him a hardball question.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Obama Gives Label to His Economic Vision

You may recall I wrote a previous post about Obama's speech for his vision of the economy. No more "bubble and bust"-- i.e. market readjustment. Well the AP has revealed an "upbeat" Obama touting his new economic model. He doesn't reveal much details, not any really, (no surprise there) but he apparently did deem us worthy to hear the new label: the "post-bubble" model.

Ah yes... the fabled, eternal world of post-readjustment. Brilliant. Lead us onward to the Great Leap Forward, oh great one... Mind the halo...

New Blog Link

Check out Pat's blog And So it Goes in Shreveport (also on the Blog List).

My in-laws live near Texarkana (the Texas side) so I'm a little familiar with her neck of the woods. She should offer some interesting insight from Louisiana.

Don't Fear the Economy... Um... Anymore

After impassioned uses of the words "crisis" and "catastrophe," and after regularly invoking the dread of the Great Depression to hustle through the $787 billion "stimulus" bill, the Obama administration is cutting back on the fear quotient.

According to the AP via Yahoo "President Barack Obama's top economic adviser [Lawrence H. Summers] said Friday the nation's economic crisis has led to an 'excess of fear' among Americans that must be broken to reverse the downturn."

Really? I guess they got tired of the Dow tumbling every time Obama opened his mouth about the economy. I suppose Obama comparing the Dow Index to a campaign poll didn't really help matters either...

As Michelle Malkin noted, this reversal is bitterly funny. The question for me, is this obvious reversal due to ignorance and political naivety, or political pragmatism and cynical manipulation? Has the White House recognized its doom and gloom as a self-fulfilling prophecy and reversed policy? Or has the fear worked to pass the political payoff of the "stimulus" bill with the least amount of public outcry and now they've moved on to their budget? Doom and gloom will sell a "stimulus," but not the expenses of universal health care, govt. regulated green energy, and college subsidies.

In a a completely unrelated bit of news, China expressed some misgivings about reckless spending devaluing the dollar. Yeah... the Chinese know a little about command economies and socialism. They also own a trillion dollars worth of the America. Hmm...

UPDATE:

Check out this article on politico.com. Summers' quotes are liberally sprinkled throughout. Would someone please explain to me why greed is always attributed to the entrepreneurial process of making a living? I mean was Oliver Stone, the director of such magnificent films such as Alexander (complete with Irish accents and self-hating homosexual shame), JFK and Natural Born Killers, so successful with the whole Gordon Gecko line?

I guess the question is what is not greedy? A willingness to be taxed into the dirt and buying into The Great Leap Forward? Not questioning anyone in authority (when it's a socialist)? Come on...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama Reveals Future to CEOs (Some Translation Required)

Check out this article credited to Kim Chipman from Bloomberg.com via Yahoo.

Talking to a group of CEOs while making the standard rounds to promote his ideological budget, Obama managed to blame the recession on “reckless speculation and spending beyond our means; on bad credit and inflated home prices and overleveraged banks.” I don't see any mention of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, nor of Congress' de facto risky loan guarantees through the Fair Lending Act. Thomas Sowell does an excellent job of dissecting some root causes of the financial "crisis" in this essay and in this other (there are more in Sowell's archives all of them interesting reading). Guess what? None of these governmental causes were mentioned by Obama.

No news flash here. Obama is cocky and naive in the skill of governing, but he's no idiot. Like a bewildering number of Democrats, Obama is a skilled PR man (something Republicans have sorely lacked since Reagan). A type who would make a good aluminum siding salesman. While selling an expensive bill of goods like universal health care, govt. controlled "green" energy and public education through college, he would naturally never mention the government's eminent role in the sub-prime debacle. That's obvious. Instead he must villainize those who would stand against his agenda, those unscrupulous (reckless speculation), greedy (spending beyond their means), and just all-around horrible people-- the capitalists.

Obama is a salesman. He knows the product won't sell itself, and so he must sell something else-- an image. Following in the steps of MTV (corporate elites programming for young adults like these-- irony?) Nike, Disney and other successful labels, Obama is building an image with his speeches, not really selling a product. And like his campaign, his administration is twisted around what it stands against-- not for what it represents.

Obama says: “I’m not choosing to address these additional challenges [health-care system, energy and education] just because I feel like it, or because I’m a glutton for punishment,” Obama told the business leaders. “I’m doing so because they are fundamental to our economic growth and to ensuring that we don’t have more crises like this in the future.”

Really? Our current recession was because of our lack of universal health care, govt. controlled green energy, and collegiate subsidies? Huh... I think I would like to hear the logic on this one. But there isn't any. Despite the initial indications and implications of the connection, Obama doesn't actually state that there is one. Instead what he's actually saying in these scripted lines, is that his agenda (universal health care, govt. controlled green energy, and collegiate subsidies) will prevent more recessions like this in the future. He offers no evidence of this (probably because there isn't any... countries that have some of these policies are prone to economic crises on a regular basis), just a blanket statement that windmills will magically prevent recessions.

"Such plans aren’t intended to supplant private enterprise, Obama said. Rather, they are designed 'to spur commerce and industry." Designed to spur commerce and industry with the federal governement as regulator and partner. How can it be otherwise within his budget plan?

Ah, but the most telling and disturbing remark is "that the U.S. can’t continue with 'endless cycles of bubble and bust' and must build a new foundation for future economic growth."

Okay part of this quote is from Kim Chipman, so I will not hold Obama to every nuance. Yet, I am willing to believe (silly me) that a professional reporter is skilled and ethical enough to not print something by a president completely out of context. If she did (if indeed Kim Chipman is a she) she might get a call from four senior white house officials, and we can't have that. Obama doesn't rely on those teleprompters just to get mis-quoted.

So, we can't have an "endless cycles of bubble and bust," huh? Well, what exactly is this "endless cycle" Obama refers to? To me, the concept (not the carefully chosen and read words) sounds like market readjustment. Life may be nicer for some without readjustment, but its impossible to avoid. Ask the Soviets or Mao. They tried their damnedest and ended up starving millions of people to death (The Ukrainian farm collectivization and The Great Leap Forward). Less dramatic examples are plentiful. You might as well try to prevent earthquakes or tidal waves.

And how does Obama plan control these "endless cycles?" Based on the content of his speech, it must be the federal government's regulation that would do that. Has this ever worked? Seriously, can someone give me one solid example of when a central government has been able to control market fluctuations? Cuba? The Soviet Union? Venezuela? China? Sweden? Cambodia? Israel's kibbutzes?

Obama can say he's not a socialist until he's blue in the face. His supporters can deny it all too. It doesn't matter. Friendly sounding labels are important for advertising and clever debate. It changes people's perceptions, not reality. Denials do not change the fact that Obama's policies coincide with the socialist doctrine of strong central government taking care of their citizenry-- a system of governing that simply does not work.

In The Life of Reason George Santayana once wrote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I'm afraid it seems that those who do not study the mistakes of others are condemned to repeat them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Newsweek's "Complaints" About Obama

Howard Fineman over at Newsweek.com wrote this article yesterday. Labeled by Newsbusters.org as a former Obama cheerleader, he seems to have been reduced to being among the hopeful but disenchanted Obama-Americans.

A list of his complaints, which he attributes to "the establishment" (I guess he can't bring himself to be seen as too critical of his Obama-- might get a call from four senior white house officials), is telling of the left's growing concern over Obama.

"The $787 billion stimulus, gargantuan as it was, was in fact too small and not aimed clearly enough at only immediate job-creation.

"The $275 billion home-mortgage-refinancing plan, assembled by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, is too complex and indirect.

"The president gave up the moral high ground on spending not so much with the 'stim' but with the $400 billion supplemental spending bill, larded as it was with 9,000 earmarks.

"The administration is throwing good money after bad in at least two cases—the sinkhole that is Citigroup (there are many healthy banks) and General Motors (they deserve what they get).

"The failure to call for genuine sacrifice on the part of all Americans, despite the rhetorical claim that everyone would have to 'give up' something.

"A willingness to give too much leeway to Congress to handle crucial details, from the stim to the vague promise to 'reform' medical care without stating what costs could be cut.

"A 2010 budget that tries to do far too much, with way too rosy predictions on future revenues and growth of the economy. This led those who fear we are about to go over Niagara Falls to deride Obama as a paddler who'd rather redesign the canoe.

"A treasury secretary who has been ridiculed on 'Saturday Night Live' and compared to Doogie Howser, Barney Fife and Macaulay Culkin in 'Home Alone'—and those are the nice ones.

"A seeming paralysis in the face of the banking crisis: unwilling to nationalize banks, yet unable to figure out how to handle toxic assets in another way—by, say, setting up a "bad bank" catch basin.

"A seeming reluctance to seek punishing prosecutions of the malefactors of the last 15 years—and even considering a plea bargain for Bernie Madoff, the poster thief who stole from charities and Nobel laureates and all the grandparents of Boca. Yes, prosecutors are in charge, but the president is entitled—some would say required—to demand harsh justice.

"The president, known for his eloquence and attention to detail, seemingly unwilling or unable to patiently, carefully explain how the world works—or more important, how it failed. Using FDR's fireside chats as a model, Obama needs to explain the banking system in laymen's terms. An ongoing seminar would be great.

"Obama is no socialist, but critics argue that now is not the time for costly, upfront spending on social engineering in health care, energy or education.Other than all that, in the eyes of the big shots, he is doing fine. The American people remain on his side, but he has to be careful that the gathering judgment of the Bigs doesn't trickle down to the rest of us."

These are the complaints? Apparently "the establishment" these "bigwigs of the Beltway" are all pretty far left. I notice that they are in the realm of the domestic-- I guess Fineman and the "establishment" have bought into Obama well enough to completely ignore foreign policy. Afghanistan? Iran? Hamas? Terrorists? Is anybody worried about another terrorist attack? Does anybody remember that we are at war?

My favorite line: "Obama is no socialist, but critics argue that now is not the time for costly, upfront spending on social engineering in health care, energy or education." No socialist, but he wants to spend money on social engineering. Cute.

Most cringe-worthy line: "The president, known for his eloquence and attention to detail, seemingly unwilling or unable to patiently, carefully explain how the world works—or more important, how it failed. Using FDR's fireside chats as a model, Obama needs to explain the banking system in laymen's terms. An ongoing seminar would be great."

Is Obama really known for his attention to detail? I mean, yeah, I'm sure his hair has to be just right, he's a good-dresser, don't you dare mention his ears, and he makes sure the logistics of his teleprompter are all laid out, but what else? Apparently this attention to detail wasn't present for his vetting process, nor was it there for keeping his "stimulus" bill from being "imperfect" to him, nor did it help with his gifts to British PM and his wife, nor to filling the vacant spots in the Treasury Department (50+ days during catastrophe and crisis and he still doesn't have the senior deputies installed within the department). I guess these aren't details worthy of his attentions. What are? Apparently calling out critics within the media (Limbaugh, Cramer et al) are worthy of attention. So there's your detail oriented...

And do you seriously want Obama lecturing us on the how the banking system works (never mind the world)? I mean, if he was going to give a lecture on how to strong arm political opponents in Chicago I might listen. He knows about that. But the banking system? What does he know? He knew enough to bring in Geithner, and we see how well that worked out.

Scariest line: "The failure to call for genuine sacrifice on the part of all Americans, despite the rhetorical claim that everyone would have to 'give up' something."Yeah... Let's make these petty lower-classed Americans suffer. The Bourgeoisie must be made to bleed for our "financial crisis" and green energy and universal health care. It seems that Fineman doesn't possess even the superficial foresight to see the sacrifice required by $787 billion "stimulus bill" (too small apparently) nor an earmarked $400 billion+ spending budget quietly signed into law today. Maybe he just wants Obama to articulate it. So do I. But then I'm afraid the "Bigs'" not-so-rosy judgements may very well "trickle down" on the rest of us then.

Fineman seems to entail in his article the classic elitism that I find so disturbing among the left. Opinions of citizens... they just "trickle down" from elite left big-wigs who live mostly in Manhattan according to Fineman. If only Obama could control that, then he'd be fine. It's all a matter of social control and social engineering, apparently. The media and Obama must mollify the establishment lest their opinions may influence the commoners.

Commoners seem incapable of their own opinions. Nowhere in the article is there a mention of the growing discontent of the common person. Yes, Obama remains popular (though his polls are declining), but people are unhappy about the spending. Congress' numbers are in the toilet (is this the work of Manhattan's elite?) and it's only a matter of time before the MSM will be unable, or unwilling, to continue to boost up Obama and his wife without major improvements in the near future.

With Obama intent on pushing us toward a European style social-democracy and a world incapable of supporting it, Obama's popularity and future are all but preordained. Fineman would have people believe that with a few tweaks and quick fixes (along with some sucking up to the left's establishment) Obama and his agenda will solve America's problems. That's nothing more than a wistful hope. History has shown that socialism simply is not self-supporting, and making up new labels for these policies, or denying being a socialist, or appealing for permission among Fineman's "establishment" doesn't change this fact. I guess he and the rest of us will have to just wait and see.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama Seems Lost Pt. 2 (Who Knew This Would be a Series?)

Check out this post from Mark Finkelstein over at Finkelblog.com. While you're there check out the NYT article and the interview's transcript, so you can see what the commiserative article left out.

It has become sort of amusing to watch Obama flail. If the repercussions weren't so serious for the world, I'd have a good laugh. Does anybody remember after the election, when he was in Hawaii ditching the press corps because he didn't like the fishbowl aspect of the presidency? Then we moved on to his inauguration and his pay-for-play interview with one of the networks (was it ABC? I can't remember). Then we get his arrogant declarations that he shall fix the economy, he shall open up relations with Iran, he will listen to our enemies.

All of this he's managed to screw up. From an unpopular "stimulus" bill that he thinks he can slink away from, to offending and weakening our allies (Israel, India, and the UK [I've probably missed a few, the media's so sympathetic] so far), and being played for a fool by Russia, Syria, and Iran, all illustrate only his inexperience.

What's most intriguing is watching Obama think that he can just dictate policy. I noted this in another entry back in February, and I stand by that statement. I remember after the election when Obama was saying he was "ready to rule." Not ready to lead, not to assume the mantle of responsibility of governing. No.. no... He had a "mandate." As half-a-million people (no wait, more.. less... aw, we don't know...) chanted his name and waved American flags emblazoned with his smiling visage, Obama declared that he was going to lead us to where "all are equal," down the garden path to the promised land of socialism-- uh, wait! no... not that... I mean he's not a fan of big government, he just wants to spread the wealth around... use a bottom up economic recovery plan... It's Bush's fault! He's the socialist!

But the world didn't cooperate with his big ideas and he was confronted with facts that are indifferent to charisma, eloquence, arrogance, education, and racial pity. When most people in this country hear the word "socialism" they panic (there's only one acknowledged socialist in Congress). Paying only lip-service to bipartisanship doesn't win you friends from the other side. Congress (even his own party) doesn't like being dictated to and snubbed. Iran isn't interested listening to Obama and they're not the political neophytes that he assumed they were. Governing doesn't simply mean dictating broad strokes and leaving the details to others.

Now we're left with a guy in office for less than two months and he's already making excuses and complaints to the press aboard Air Force One. Not to worry Gayle King and Oprah will continue to make the puff-piece news circuits. So will Ashton and Demi between pool parties. Maybe he'll make another creepy propaganda video for the president (we will be one with our president). The Academy can send Annette Bening, et al to Iran for cultural understanding.

In the meantime, we're left with a naive and flailing president intent on passing his socialistic policies, no matter what the citizens want, no matter what the economy dictates, no matter what our enemies and opponents (and our allies for that matter) do. Change is here! Welcome to the wishful and hope-filled government. Enjoy the stay, because it's expensive.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blogs to Check Out

More conservative bloggers are coming out on blogger.


Check out HotMES and Insert Clever S.Logan Here. Links are in this post and at the Blog List on the side. Show them some welcome and support.


UPDATE:
HotMes moved (already?!) new site link here and new site is now on Blog List

Obama and the Media Hype Continues

Okay, I'm sure most people remember the British PM's visit to the US and the Obama's cruddy reception. If not, here's a post about Michelle Obama's chilliness. And one about Barack's crappy gift to the PM here.

Sure, these are not serious news pieces, but the whole fiasco seems to be gaining momentum in the UK. Check out the Telegraph and Times Online in the UK. Run a search for gift-gate. It's easy to find.

You won't find anything about it in the US's MSM though. Newsbusters.org notes that the American media has been mum on the subject. What have they been talking about? Well they've been setting up Gayle King (Oprah's friend and editor of "O" magazine) to talk about how the Obamas "are so un-jaded and so not-complicated and so darned normal." Oh joy! Well gosh-darn-it! If that isn't just the most precious thing, I don't know what is.

I know that we're not very far into this presidency, but come on... When is this media fawning going to end? While the MSM is just smitten with the idea of an African-American president and black American first family, Obama is running about like mad using the words "crisis," "catastrophe," and "mandate" to continue the enactment of big government policies and legislation. These policies and laws are inordinately unpopular with anybody I know (I'm in Oregon, not exactly a red state) who has actually seen it.

King acting as a shill for Oprah (a close friend of the Obamas) and others continue to boost the Obama image. The MSM, for the most part, actively participates giving airtime to pandering puff-pieces and ignoring gaffes (like the British PM and the gift difficulties) and statements that might tarnish the image of Obama.

When the novelty of an African-American president finally wears off for the MSM, perhaps they will see what we actually have for a president. An arrogant and inexperienced politician, way over his head, flailing about while trying to enact socialist policies in the midst of economic turmoil.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Obama: I'm Not a Socialist

Check out this post on Red State by Dan Spencer via Backyard Conservative. Obama getting defensive about being a socialist? Yeah... and he also said he's not a fan of big government. And he's never heard Rev. Wright talk like that before. And... well... you get the idea.
And remember "we are equal." The government must provide to each according to their needs and expect from each what is within their means... I mean.. wait. Uh... tax the rich! Green energy! Global warming! Economic crisis!

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Cruelty of Obama's Mid-East Naivety

You should read this sobering editorial by Caroline Glick.

I'm afraid I must agree with her assessment of Obama and Kerry's policy toward the Middle East. Israel's position is being eroded by American diplomacy, and Obama has accepted a nuclear Iran. Obama said as much during a campaign visit to my home state, Oregon. Strutting about on stage while holding a microphone like a televangelist, Obama called Iran a tiny country. Smiling and speaking to us in a tone both condescending and fatherly-- as if what he is telling us is so obvious as to be ridiculous, Obama arrogantly stated: "Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us . . . . Iran, they spend 1/100th of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance." Then he called on us to courageously listen to our enemies and ignore the whole situation.

He retracted the "tiny country" notion the next day, obviously under the advice of a campaign manager or poll-watcher, but current policies hold his initial remark as being his real belief. It also jibes with Obama's personality as well-- being haughty, self-assured and naive.

The aim of Iraq to be a stabilizing democracy was held in contempt by the left (apparently believing that their "inferior" Iraqis are incapable of such an achievement). Now, while on the cusp of achieving great steps toward that goal, Obama has announced the US would be abandoning Iraq. Much has been made of the fact that troop levels won't really drop all that much beyond the Pentagon's timeline. Yet, Obama has bluntly stated that his policy will put Iraq on its own. How long can they last against a nuclear Iran, especially if the US refuses to be bothered to cultivate a relationship?

The US seems intent on strong-arming Israel to concede territory back to Syria, a move that would put Israel at a greater tactical disadvantage and provide further prime real estate for terrorist rocket batteries. The US's motives are cloaked in language referring to some ill-formed and insubstantial idea of peace, but what the US seems most intent on is appeasement. Obama and the rest seem to believe that Iran and the fundamentalists' hatred of America is directly related to Israel. The belief seems to be if Israel were to concede to their demands (which Israel has done in the past resulting in their daily rocket barrages from Gaza), then the US and Iran/Syria/Hamas would warm as a result. By their logic, I suppose, should Israel cease to exist (a frequently restated demand of Iran, et al) and the Israelis driven into the ocean then the US and Iran would be the closest of friends.

Of course this assumption that Israel is the only cause of American hatred is nonsense. While the US's support of Israel certainly has not helped relations with Iran and the rest, the relationship has been full of hostility and distrust ever since the beginning of the Cold War. Even if we ignore the long history of violence and hatred between the East and West in that part of the world (Persian Empire vs. Classical Age Greeks, Alexander vs. Persian Empire, Rome vs. Parthians, Ottomans' vs Byzantines, the Moorish invasion of Europe, the Crusades, etc.), and it's a lot to ignore, the US itself has a long history of antipathy with the Mid-East. From the Cold War alliances, the US's meddling with various Middle Eastern governments, to the view of the US as another colonial power, there is much history to cause friction. This even discounts the antithetical religious, moral and political differences that define our two cultures. Focusing on Israel as the sole cause of our problems with the Middle East is foolish and naive to say the least.

It is inconceivable to me that Obama administration seems so wholly uninterested human rights-- without even the Cold War as a mitigating factor. Hamas spent a fair amount of time beating, murdering, kidnapping Fatah members following the IDF's withdrawal from Gaza (but the US still voices hopes for a Fatah/Hamas governed Palestinian state). Iran regularly hangs homosexuals, stones to death women convicted of adultery. This isn't an Iranian secret. The regime is proud of these laws. Opposition members and journalists routinely disappear in Iran. Some are never heard from again. These factions don't just disregard Israeli lives, they disregard their own people's lives. These tyrants are who we wish to appease? This leadership is who Obama hopes to open a dialogue with?

Obama appears to care very little about all of this anyway. His focus is on the domestic-- nationalizing banks and energy in the name of stability and stimulus, bringing DMV bureaucracy and efficiency to our health care system, etc. This naive "Israel is the roadblock to peace" stance suits his domestic focus just fine. It's simple both in concept and action. Why try to deal with hard-line and unobliging tyrannies when our friend and ally, the democracy Israel, can be more easily coerced? Let Iran enrich uranium, we have a "financial crisis" to deal with, the "worst economic downturn since the Great Depression!" Cut Israel's foreign aid, give them unreasonable pre-conditions for our support. Push the Israelis to let go of the West Bank, to give them land and appease the Iranian proxy Hamas and Syria. We're busy now, hard at work implementing universal health care. It's the convenient position. After all, it's far easier thing to betray a friend than to confront an enemy.

And if Iran goes nuclear? No need to worry... it's just a tiny country.

And if Iran threatens to destroy Tel Aviv in a nuclear strike? No need to worry...Obama tells us, smiling at the ridiculousness of it all. Israel is just a tiny country. How are they good for our economy? Would we even miss it?