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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

I have periodically done a collection of what I consider my better material, such as here and here.  I haven’t done one in a while so, for newcomers in particular, I have compiled what I consider some of my more interesting and enduring entries over the last five years. I hope you enjoy.  I truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to read, comment, and support this blog.  For conservatives, it is becoming a real time in the wilderness, so one small contribution I have tried to make here is to let conservatives know that they are not alone and to give them intellectual ammunition with which to defend common sense and basic decency.

Military and Foreign Policy

Politics

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Clearly, only the police can be trusted with firearms.

Aggrieved former LAPD cop Chris Dorner is on the run.  He’s killed three and released a long, angry, narcissistic, but otherwise coherent manifesto.  He sounds like an entitled, over-promoted guy who fell back on the old saw of racism when things didn’t go his way. His Navy career didn’t work out, he was a mediocre cop, and when his training officer was ready to call him out, he decided to lie about her.  After stewing for a few years, he finally decided to throw in the towel and get even in a blaze of glory.

He also was a liberal-leaning gun control supporter with opinions on just about everything.  Somehow this angry cop’s rampage is being used to support gun control.  But notice, suspending moral judgment for a second, how his actions and the overreaction of the Southern California cops provide strong evidence for one of the key foundations of the Second Amendment.  Second Amendment supporters say that the right to bear arms flows from our founding history, where armed Americans threw off the control of the British and its state-of-the-art military.  This possibility and this reserved “last resort” power was always supposed to reside in the people and their arms.  We are told it is unrealistic today that this would ever be necessary or that it could ever be effective.  But here we have one man without any supporting network tying up thousands of law enforcement officers who are used otherwise to operating in a permissive environment.  The police are crippled, over-reacting, and one man has created fear and chaos throughout Southern California.

If the government ever truly were resisted by even a smallish percentage of Americans, it would not get very far.  Dozens or hundreds or thousands of Dorners could easily destroy its ability to govern at all.  And we have seen this in our own history in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We have also seen it in the history of other nations such as Northern Ireland, Algeria, the West Bank, and today in Syria.

First world militaries and their tanks and planes and high tech gear are not so effective at addressing this kind of problem, and, in their over-reactions, tend to alienate the very people whom they purport to represent.  This is the essential “David and Goliath” paradox of guerrilla warfare.

Now Dorner is a grievance-collecting nutjob, as best we can tell. And he was also a former cop, which suggests letting “only the police and military have guns” is not necessarily such a bulwark against shooting rampages and mayhem.  Let’s not forget Nidal Hasan or the biggest shooting spree killer of all time, Woo Bum Kim, a pissed off South Korean police officer.

On a purely tactical level, actions like Dorner’s or of the DC Sniper or of any of the other criminals who go “toe to toe” with law enforcement, show that the ability of the government to police things when it is opposed directly (rather than merely evaded in the manner of the typical criminal) is very limited. And if this type of activity were to happen on a large scale in an organized or spontaneous resistance by, say, 1% of America’s 100mm gun owners, it would be utterly impossible for the military, police, and other apparatus of the government to govern.

This would be a nightmare scenario, of course, just as all wars are terrible affairs. One could not know that such claimed oppression and call to resistance were not the prelude to tyranny, as in the French Revolution. But political oppression, the greatest tool of mass murder in the last century, is also nightmarish.  To pretend that it is an unknown phenomenon of right wing fantasy and not a real threat to freedom in a decadent, divided country like the United States today is the real fantasy. At least in a world where we retain our arms, we have the means to protect ourselves from any number of threats:  common criminals, an oppressive government, or would-be oppressors masquerading as freedom fighters.

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America’s politics are more and more resembling those of the Soviet Union, where very little is at stake, 90% of the issues are off the table and decided by committees of connected elites, and the  theater of politics, including elections, are there mostly to cover up the reality. 

Last week we observed vitriolic denunciations and counter-denunciations of Republicans and Democrats in the run-up to the budget funding bill, but in the end only $60B (and possibly less) was ultimately cut.  These cuts only affected the small sliver of discretionary spending.  This is chump change when we have a $1T yearly deficit and tens of trillions(!) of unfunded liabilities in the decades ahead.

Obama this week in a highly partisan speech denounced the Republican proposals, in particular those of the fairly serious Paul Ryan, as mean-spirited and violative of the American “social compact.”  His liberal supporters swooned at his passionate defense of the welfare state, but in doing so he and they as well remind us that they are not serious people and are not taking seriously the unfunded liabilities that cannot be sustained in the decades ahead.  Something must give. 

Republicans may not be terribly serious or courageous on average, but a few of them are very serious and are saying what needs to be said about the budget problems.  Of course, sacred cows like our bloated defense budget, bailouts for banks, various forms of corporate welfare such as farm subsidies, and much else should be on the table.  But at least the topic of our fiscal problems is on the table among Republicans and not dealt with through magical thinking, as in the mind of Obama.  Much of the credit belongs to the Tea Party, the amorphous collection of grass roots conservative activists who were not terribly impressed with W’s spending spree and were jolted into action by Obama Care.  This movement, while containing many unserious people, has at its core a very serious point:  we are spending ourselves into oblivion and must get a handle on it or our country will destroy itself. 

Obama is no leader.  I believe he knows the fiscal crisis to be a reality, but he also knows that it would be very costly politically to do something about it.  He has been willing to expend this capital to grow the welfare state into a permanent institution that makes everyone a welfare case through Obamacare, but he has not done what is necessary to preserve (or sensibly reduce) the commitments already made in the form of Medicare, Social Security, and much else.  This reveals him as what I always thought he was:  a coward, a mouthpiece for conventional Democratic Party talking points, and someone indifferent about America’s strength and prosperity.

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Military tribunals make perfect sense for members of al Qaeda.  These individuals are non-citizens, their prosecution often depends on sensitive intelligence, and their presence in American courtrooms would be disruptive and a security risk.  In war, military tribunals have been used from the Revolutionary War forward, and their streamlined procedures, ability to hold proceedings in secret, and capacity for swift justice recommend them over civilian procedures designed for ordinary crimes.  Of course, the  years-long delays in trials for Guantanamo Bay prisoners and the failure, since 9/11, to execute huge numbers of al Qaeda members in our custody suggests the “swiftness” part is not taken seriously enough by the executive branch.  By contrast, in World War II, Germans using American uniforms to infiltrate allied lines and disrupt American units during the Battle of the Bulge were summarily executed.  But, even so, these tribunals are preferable to the alternative, even if their potential efficiency has not bee employed to great effect.

So it is with a mixture of happiness and schadenfreude that I learn the Obama adminsitration is going to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in a military tribunal down in Guantanmo Bay.  Recall that Obama and many of his supporters preened self-righteously about the demerits of preventitive detention, the need to accord al Qaeda detainees full POW status, the evils of military tribunals, the inhumanity of drone attacks and much else during the 2008 campaign and before.  That is, the left didn’t only rail against the War in Iraq, where they had a point.  They also railed against every aspect of the war against al Qaeda. 

On both fronts–preventitive war and the use of cedures for terrorists–Obama is in retreat.  He is realizing that most Americans don’t really give a fig about terrorists, they want them killed or captured, and simply have the minimal humane concern that innocent goatherders be returned to their families if they can be reliably identifiied.  We all know, and Obama and his buddies forgot, that the burdens of proof are shifted in wartime and that we must err on the side of safety, particularly as we face a foreign, ruthless, and uncivilized enemy that deliberately hides among civilians.  It is not America’s fault that the innocent Afghanis and al Qaeda terrorists appear similar; it’s al Qaeda’s, with their ragamuffin appearance and terrorist tactics. 

I’d like to think this decision is a sign of Obama growing in office, but it appears more like simple triangulation.  Just as he dropped his lifelong obsession with gun control once he became president and realized it was political dynamite, it’s obvious that his views on foreign policy and the law of war were mostly campaign props, instincts developed from years in liberal Hyde Park, rather than well thought out positions.  Here he has been temporarily burdened by the incompetent Eric Holder’s “true believer” implemntation of these principles, but Obama’s political instincts are not so terrible than a guaranteed loser–such as a face off with 9/11 Families in NYC–is going to be pursued to the bitter end. Even on his signature issue, race and American identity, he left his pastor of 20 years when it became a problem. 

We are reminded from all this and much else that Obama is not a man of high principle; his chief principle is his love of self and his interest in political survival.  And thus all that “hope and change” rhetoric is now quite obviously a bunch of gliterring genrealities uttered by a thoroughly ordinary politician.

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I’m really amazed, frankly, that for ten years the commanders of US efforts have said that “we’re making progress” as things seem, more or less, not to have changed much after the bulk of al Qaeda fled into Pakistan’s western tribal regions in early 2002.

Retired Marine Bing West’s new book looks very interesting.  He basically says we’re not winning, the commanders are full of it for self-serving reasons, that our strategic assumptions are wrong, and that the best thing to do now would be to scale back the mission radically and pursue the narrow American national interest in tamping down the international terrorist component over there.

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Hope and Change

There’s a few interesting signs that the western world is awakening from its slumber.  David Cameron, the UK’s prime minister, announces that multiculturalism has failed and that Muslims are not assimilating and it’s their fault as well as the fault of the idiotic multiculturalist philosophy.

Certain neoconservatives, typically perhaps but still in a welcome move, have noted that democracy and the Arab world do not mix.  Their motive, of course, is not idealism but love of Israel.  But it’s good to see that a generally good thing, self government, is being recognized as bad when it leads to bad things.  The real question is why these fools were so foolish about the prospects of democracy in Iraq.  My guess is that Bush’s idealism and pathological refusal to make generalizations about other cultures had a lot to do with it.  And for many neoconservatives (and real conservatives too) the whole democracy thing was window dressing to take out a regime that was perceived as hostile to US interests and Israeli interests.

Finally, aSenate committee has noted that Nidal Hasan, the Army Major who shot up his infidel colleagues, could have been stopped if the Army and the other authorities were not so hidebound by political correctness.  Seriously, if we mean to win this war on Islamic extremism, we must name the enemy.  Instead, it’s as if the US was at war with “certain German extremists” in World War II rather than the entire German nation, which as a practical matter was the case then and now with respect to a goodly swath of the Muslim world.

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Sarah Palin got in some hot water this week for suggesting the left’s rseponse to the Loughner shooting was a “blood libel.”  Way back in the day, when Jews and Christians lived apart from one another in Europe, this was a popular myth of Jewish mendacity:  that they engaged in ritual murder of Christians for their religious ceremonies.  It was fueled by confusion, prejudice, and the theological view of Jews as the murderers of Jesus. More recently, it’s become a secular term to denote murdeous intent by one’s political and cultural enemies.  It’s undoubtedly what was leveled at the conservative half of the country by the left in the wake of Arizona’s shooting.  The self-righteous rage at Palin reflects the various ways she is hated as a symbol of this half of the country.  It also reflects another important phenomenon: the self-righteous view by the mostly leftist Jewish minority that no one can ever make an analogy to Jewish suffering without also agreeing with broader, mostly left-of-center Jewish views, and that to make such analogies is an act of hateful anti-semitism.

Paul Krugman, however, has upped the ante.  After his earlier, divorced-from-facts attacks on the right, he has now suggested that those critical of the federal government’s various unconstitutional welfare programs are engaged in “eliminationist” rhetoric.  That’s an interesting term.  It finds its origins in the propagandistic book Hitler’s Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen. Goldhagen is an historian who penned a controversial and largely discredited thesis that the Germans of the Holocaust mass murdered Jews after embracing an “eliminiationist” paradigm, and that this view was widely embraced by Germans at every level of society.  While short on facts and analysis–after all, why did the Germans hide the Holocaust if it was a logical outgrowth of majority views–the book was popular and reached a mass audience.   Krugman’s defamatory slur is doubly troublesome, as it conflates the rhetoric that would eliminate welfare or national health care with the kind that would eliminate millions of people.  Details, details.

The left and right undoubtedly do not like one another in this country and have different values.  However, it is the left that appears more unhinged, at least in its mainstream.  While we have our share of fringe elements concerned about the Trilateral Commission and Obama’s birth certificate, it is the mainstream Democratic Party that invited Michael Moore to their annual convention in 2004.  It is they who responded to this attack with venomous rage before a single fact connected this mentally ill shooter to any political faction at all.  And now it is Krugman–not Sarah Palin–who has tried to connect his opponents with murderous, Nazi antisemitism.

I’m not sure if anyone else has picked up on this inflammatory usage of his.  In any case, he is a fool, and the left, in their hate, are projecting their own hostile and homicidal feelings on the right, whose Tea Party rhetoric and appeals to the Constitution are almost completely nonviolent.

Indeed, the left’s habitual violence, far from being condemned, is embraced at the highest levels.  While his campaign and Tuscon speech were largely conciliatory, Barack Obama began his political career in the living room of a former Weather Underground terrorist, Bill Ayers.  The Weathermen, as they were also called, were notorious bombers, cop-killers, and all around bad people.  Angela Davis, a California professor, was involved in a communist murder plot in the mid 1970s; today, she’s honored as an esteemed academic.  By contrast, no one in the mainstream right rallied around Tim McVeigh (undoubtedly a right-wing, if extreme terrorist), nor Eric Rudolph, nor other violent extremists of the right.  Such extremism, incidentally, is a feature of any political movement. The question is how such extremists are dealt with and treated by the mainstream leadership.  Here the left has failed, where the right has largely behaved responsibly.  But the left appears to be engaging on a wide scale in what psychologists call “projecting”:  that is, imagining their opponents to have their own worst traits.

Let’s not forget, it’s the left that romanticizes Che Guevara and makes excuses for the dictatorship he served; is it any wonder they assume all their political opponents want to kill and destroy as much as they do.

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