April 29, 2009
Obama's Liberal Arrogance Will Be His Undoing
By Jonah Goldberg
The most remarkable, or certainly the least remarked on, aspect of Barack Obama's first 100 days has been the infectious arrogance of his presidency.
There's no denying that this is liberalism's greatest opportunity for wish fulfillment since at least 1964. But to listen to Democrats, the only check on their ambition is the limits of their imaginations.
"The world has changed," Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York proclaimed on MSNBC. "The old Reagan philosophy that served them well politically from 1980 to about 2004 and 2006 is over. But the hard right, which still believes ... [in] traditional values kind of arguments and strong foreign policy, all that is over."
Right. "Family values" and a "strong foreign policy" belong next to the "free silver" movement in the lexicon of dead political causes.
No doubt Schumer was employing the kind of simplified shorthand one uses when everyone in the room already agrees with you. He can be forgiven for mistaking an MSNBC studio for such a milieu, but it seemed not to dawn on him that anybody watching might see it differently.
When George W. Bush was in office, we heard constantly about the poisonous nature of American polarization. For example, Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg came out with a book arguing that "our nation's political landscape is now divided more deeply and more evenly than perhaps ever before." One can charitably say this was abject nonsense. Evenly divided? Maybe. But more deeply? Feh.
During the Civil War, the political landscape was so deeply divided that 600,000 Americans died. During the 1930s, labor strife and revolutionary ardor threatened the stability of the republic. In the 1960s, political assassinations, riots and bombings punctuated our political discourse.
It says something about the relationship of liberals to political power that they can overlook domestic dissent when they're at the wheel. When the GOP is in office, America is seen as hopelessly divided because dissent is the highest form of patriotism. When Democrats are in charge, the Frank Riches suddenly declare the culture war over and dismiss dissent as the scary work of the sort of cranks Obama's Department of Homeland Security needs to monitor.
If liberals thought so fondly of social peace and consensus, they would look more favorably on the 1920s and 1950s. Instead, their political idylls are the tumultuous '30s and '60s, when liberalism, if not necessarily liberals, rode high in the saddle.
Sure, America was divided under Bush. And it's still divided under Obama (just look at the recent Minnesota Senate race and the New York congressional special election). According to the polls, America is a bit less divided under Obama than it was at the end of Bush's 100 days. But not as much less as you would expect, given Obama's victory margin and the rally-around-the-president effect of the financial crisis (not to mention the disarray of the GOP).
Meanwhile, circulation for the conservative National Review (where I work) is soaring. More people watch Fox News (where I am a contributor) in prime time than watch CNN and MSNBC combined. The "tea parties" may not have been as big as your typical union-organized "spontaneous" demonstration, but they were far more significant than any protests this early in Bush's tenure.
And yet, according to Democrats and liberal pundits, America is enjoying unprecedented unity, and conservatives are going the way of the dodo.
Obama has surely helped set the tone for the unfolding riot of liberal hubris. In his effort to reprise the sort of expansion of liberal power we saw in the '30s and '60s, Obama has -- without a whiff of self-doubt -- committed America to $6.5 trillion in extra debt, $65 billion for each one of his first 100 days, and that's based on an impossibly rosy forecast of the economy. No wonder congressional Democrats clamor to take over corporations, tax the air we breathe and set wages for everybody.
On social issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, Obama has proved to be, if anything, more of a left-wing culture warrior than Bush was a right-wing one. All the while, Obama transmogrifies his principled opponents into straw-man ideologues while preening about his own humble pragmatism. For him, bipartisanship is defined as shutting up and getting in line.
I'm not arguing that conservatives are poised to make some miraculous comeback. They're not. But American politics didn't come to an end with Obama's election, and nothing in politics breeds corrective antibodies more quickly than overreaching arrogance. And by that measure, Obama's first 100 days have been a huge down payment on the inevitable correction to come.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
April 29, 2009
Posted by Falling Panda at 9:25 PM
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
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Today, Samira Simone over at CNN posted a story on their website in which Col. Janis Karpinski, who presided over the Abu Ghraib scandal, expresses a feeling of "vindication" due to the information revealed in recently released memos exposing Bush-era interrogation methods.
What the Colonel is implying is that she was not responsible for the atrocious abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and that the newly released memos prove that the Bush Defense Department gave her soldiers the go-ahead to take part in the outrageous abuses of prisoners seen in the now famous Abu Ghraib photographs.
In describing the memos the CNN story states:
"The memo, by then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee and then-Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven G. Bradbury, allowed the use of such tactics as keeping a detainee naked and in some cases in a diaper, and putting detainees on a liquid diet. One memo said aggressive techniques such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and slapping did not violate laws against torture absent the intent to cause severe pain."
CNN and Karpinski hope that you're really stupid.
By referring to the technique of "..keeping a detainee naked" during interrogation, CNN is hoping that you associate that practice with the now infamous photos of naked prisoners piled on top of each other at Abu Ghraib. The difference is that what we saw in the Abu Ghraib photos wasn't interrogation. It was a bunch of morons getting their jollies by humiliating Iraqi prisoners. Lynndie England wasn't a CIA interrogator. She was a Private.
Karpinski wants to shift the blame for Abu Ghraib directly to Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush in order to absolve herself of responsibility for the scandal which, I'm sure, has made her life very difficult. However, in this case she is just a pawn of CNN which is trying to confuse its readers into believing that CIA interrogation practices and the degradation of prisoners for fun are one and the same. This is just the latest example of CNN's shift to the promotion a left-wing mythos in the FOX News Era.
Does this look like interrogation to you?
Posted by Falling Panda at 6:44 PM
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
If you are morally opposed to all aggressive interrogation tactics used in getting information from violent Jihadists, then that’s one thing. However the dishonest line coming out of The White House and Barack Obama’s supporters in the media has been to imply that the methods not only constituted torture, but that they were ineffective. Today we learned from several sources that this was a false assertion.
First we have the CIA standing by their story that information given to interrogators by Khalid Sheik Mohammed lead to the successful thwarting of a 9/11 style plot to take down a building in Los Angeles.
Tomorrow the New York Times is running a story in which we learn that despite Obama’s claims to the contrary, his own national intelligence director Admiral Dennis Blair penned a memo claiming that the techniques had yielded “High Value Information”.
But that’s not even the worst of it. Apparently the administration that still talks up “transparency” despite it’s failure to live up to its own rhetoric when it came to the unread stimulus package, cut the Admiral’s assessment from the memo that was released to the public.
So in essence Dick Cheney has been proven to be more honest than Barack Obama. This really should be a big deal in tomorrow's news cycle.
So let’s have this debate on the morality of aggressive interrogation tactics, but in order to facilitate a fair debate, Obama and the left needs to be honest about the effectiveness of the tactics used.
We’re talking about saving lives here Mr. President. Pretty talk alone simply won’t suffice in this debate. You must also be honest.
Posted by Falling Panda at 6:51 PM
Monday, April 20, 2009
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Hugo Chavez is harmless. At least comparatively so. He poses no real threat to the United States, militarily or economically. American animosity towards the Venezuelan president stems not from any fear of his power, but instead from his clownish antics and his use of “Imperialist America” as a straw man with which to sell his socialist agenda to his largely poor and uneducated population. He has lowered himself to amateurish name calling on multiple occasions and is using democracy to acquire permanent and unchallenged power in a fashion similar to Adolph Hitler. However, Hitler he is not.
This is why the cordial meeting between Chavez and Barack Obama this weekend doesn’t bother me all that much. He shook Obama’s hand and gave him some crazy left-wing literature about how all of the poverty and corruption inherent in South American society is the fault of the United States. I’m guessing that Obama might already own the book and agrees with the bile contained within its pages so the net effect of the meeting itself was probably a wash. Chavez will now go back to his own country and once again begin badmouthing America in order to continue leading his nation down the road to pure socialism. In a fashion eerily similar to recent statements by Joe Biden, Chavez will brag about how he looked the American president in the eye and told him the truth about all the injustices that America has brought upon the people of South America in the last two centuries. Whatever. American has more dangerous dictators to worry about.
For example. This weekend Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at a United Nations forum on racism. Of course public enemy number one at this event-–appropriately boycotted by The United States-–was Israel, a nation that Ahmadinejad has vowed to destroy.
It is one thing for Obama to shake the hand of a harmless jester like Chavez for whom the ultimate goal is securing and advancing his own political power. It is far different for him to sit down with an individual who appears intent on eradicating an ally of the United States.
The Obama administration used Iran's rhetoric at the U.N. meeting as justification for backtracking on its recent promise to meet for talks with the Islamic Republic. It seems Obama has finally found a pre-condition that he believes in.
Add the fact that Iran shows no signs of ending its nuclear program to its Holocaust denial and you have complete justification for keeping Iran cut off from the civilized world.
In continuing to promote feel-good policies of engagement with the worst governments that the world has to offer, Obama is essentially saying that these governments can do what they want without fear of repercussions from the United States. The situation should provide both sides of the American political spectrum an opportunity to reassess their ideas about diplomacy.
Those on the Left who voted for Obama need to do some soul searching and ask themselves if they really believe that a nation as irrational in their actions and rhetoric as Iran can be negotiated into doing anything, especially into ending its quest for nuclear weapons.
Those of us on the Right need to consider saving our powder when criticizing the President for providing little more than a smile and a handshake to a comical goon such as Hugo Chavez and reserving our outrage for matters of life and death such as Obama’s promise to diplomatically engage Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs.
Furthermore, all Americans, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum, need take a good hard look at the world community and decide whether their good will and respect is something that should carry weight in our own political calculations.
We need to keep in mind that anti-Semitism is not limited to the streets of the Middle East. The U.N. leadership is completely backward on matters such as these. It is the U.N. that should be condemned for expressing its dissappointment in those nations that walked out of the Iranian leader's speech. There is a reason we call it “American Exceptionalism”. The rest of the world simply does not share our moral compass or our value for human life.
Obama’s apologies for America over the past few weeks to anyone who will listen is a sign of the president’s weakness and naivete in regards to how the world works and proof of his low opinion of the country that he leads. These feelings have been nurtured in the communities and circles in which he has resided his entire life, from the pews of Reverend Wright’s Trinity United, to the home of Bill Ayers to the primary caucuses of the Democratic party. They should come as no surprise to anyone who paid close attention to the election of 2008. That a U.S President holds views such as these is unfortunate.
It is when these apologies turn into concessions however, that they become dangerous. Those of us who understand this need to keep it in perspective and be careful not to equivocate a clown such as Chavez with a legitimate threat to peace such as Ahmadinejad
- Dan Joseph
Posted by Falling Panda at 12:35 PM
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
In another sign that the political discourse in this nation has sunk to a new low since the left-wing blogs became a political force, here MSNBC's David Schuster and Affirmative Action hire Rachael Maddow sink to new lows in order to mock the anti-tax and spend rallies held on the 15th.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the MSNBC executive actually explained to Maddow what "teabagging" is. I can't imagine that she would have known.
I'm not going to explain it. This is a classy blog. However, there is no excuse for a major news organization, even one mired in third place, to use vulgar, sexual innuendo in order to denigrate other people's political views.
To those folks who thought that Bill Clinton did nothing wrong, that the shoe-thrower was a hero and that "Buck Fush" was a political statement worthy of being plastered on the back of their Hybrid, this kind of stuff is hilarious.
To most of us, this shows how that even with their guy in The White House, the left is still as nasty and vitriolic as ever towards their political opponents.
Posted by Falling Panda at 8:36 PM
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
This past week Barack Obama made two important moves regarding the Middle East. As usual, both were rhetorical in nature and relied heavily on Obama’s own personal appeal in order to distract Americans from the actual implications of the President's words.
First, the President and his administration essentially signaled that they will no longer be using the term “War On Terror” in order to define the struggle between the United States and murderous fanatics who kill civilians. This implies one of two things. Either Obama does not consider what we’re currently doing in Afghanistan and Iraq to be a “war” or he does not consider those who we are fighting to be “terrorists”.
Next, Obama took a page from George W. Bush and emphatically declared that the Unites States is not at war with Islam.
Well, Duh Barry!
All Americans should hope that the change in nomenclature from the “War On Terror “ to “Overseas Contingency Operations” is simply an indication that Obama views the battle against Islamic extremism as a matter of law enforcement as opposed to a war. If this is the case, then we can at least be assured that while the Democrats may be incredibly ignorant as to the motivations of Islamic extremists and the best way to battle them, at least they are not delusional enough to believe that these “criminals” are anything other that ideology-driven soldiers engaged in a “crime spree” against the West as opposed to “freedom fighters” as many on the extreme left like to call them.
Let’s face it. If Obama is implying that those who attacked us on 9/11 are something other than “terrorists” or if his administration is afraid that the word “terrorism” will offend someone who is rational enough for America to negotiate with, then we might as well just put up a big sign at customs that says: “Welcome to The United States. Open to The Idea of Sharia Law Since 2009”.
The President’s declaration of the United States not being at “war with Islam” is different.
At this point, after the Bush Administration bent over backwards in the days and years following 9/11 to convince the world that Islam was a “religion of peace” it is hard to believe that there is still anyone in the world who sincerely believes that the U.S. government is at war with all of Islam.
But through his statement Obama has conceded that there is still a large portion of the Muslim world that believes that America is at war with all of Islam. The only reason for this belief, which is widespread in the Muslim world, is pure ignorance among Islam’s practitioners.
The causes behind this incredible misunderstanding are complex and speak to the dangers that the governments that these naive individuals live under pose to the world in general. Muslims in nations such as Iran and Syria as well as those living under the Palestinian authority and other tyrannical regimes have constantly been told that America is fighting in the region with the goal of eradicating Islam and permanently occupying Muslim lands. This myth is perpetuated through government-run media, a theology-based education system and word-of-mouth on Middle Eastern streets in which the citizens have little access to accurate information regarding anything, not simply in matters of foreign policy. In this country, even those who are adamantly opposed to our actions in the region over the last five decades understand that the issues and goals which have driven our actions do not stem from a desire to destroy the Islamic faith. Obama is correct in reiterating this fact. However there is no reason to believe that those who disseminate the information in the Islamic world will spin the President’s words to our nation’s benefit.
Of course, only the expansion of American-style democracy will completely correct this situation. However, the combination of the unfortunate mishandling of the war in Iraq as well as the knee-jerk opposition that the American left has to pro-freedom foreign policy tactics has severely limited our options for correcting the situation in the Arab world.
The unfortunate reality is that a huge portion of the Islamic world either lacks the capacity or the access to information that would allow them to truly understand the current conflict.
While President Obama is correct in reiterating George W. Bush’s insistence that the United States harbors no ill will towards Islam as a religion or Muslims as a people, the reality is that the Islamic world will only gain the needed perspective once the people of the region are given access to information that accurately portrays the reality of the situation.
Too many in the Middle East still seem oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of Muslims killed in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were murdered by fellow Muslims and not at the hands of crusading Westerners.
While I do not wish to give the impression that I believe everyone in the Islamic world is ignorant of the complexity of U.S. actions and goals in the region, clearly a significant portion is. Why else would Obama feel the need to say what he did? Furthermore, the unfortunate reality is that no matter how many times an American president tells the Muslim world that we are not at war with Islam, the leadership of Islamic regimes seem to be hell-bent on making sure that the message does not reach the populace or that if it does, they are made to doubt the sincerity of the statement
Posted by Falling Panda at 1:46 PM
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
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It's so bittersweet when someone writes a published article that mirrors something that I've been saying for weeks. Just knowing that this writer is getting paid for coming to a conclusion that I arrived at 20 days into Obama's administration is kind of discouraging for my unemployed ego. But it makes me feel less lonely in my thinking. THIS ARTICLE HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD! Thus far, and even during the campaign, Obama has guided the political debate by using false choices to frame his policy initiatives. This tactic relies on the naiveté of Americans who support him in order to succeed. So far, it's working like magic.
April 01, 2009
Obama’s Childish Vision of Politics
By Ben Shapiro
“In the words of Scripture,” Barack Obama announced at his inauguration, “the time has come to set aside childish things.”
So why does the President of the United States embrace the most childish interpretation of political discourse ever put forward on a national stage?
Politics is about making choices. We either cut spending or we grow spending. We either have less regulation or more regulation. We either strengthen defense or we weaken it. Obama seemingly understands this. He has repeatedly referred to the “hard choices” we face as a nation.
Yet despite his “hard choices” rhetoric, Barack Obama’s favorite political tactic is to claim that no choices need be made at all; all political differences of opinion, he says, can be chalked up to misunderstanding rather than conflicting fundamental values. All choices are “false choices” if we just think deeply enough. Or rather, if Obama thinks deeply enough.
And so Obama claimed in the Chicago Tribune that Americans “need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy.” That choice, he said, is a “false choice.” It is a false choice as he phrases it -- capitalism isn’t chaotic and unforgiving. But the simple choice between capitalism and a government-managed economy is a real choice -- and it’s the most important choice Americans have faced in half a century. Obscuring the need to make that choice by glossing over it with happy talk does a profound disservice to the American people.
According to Obama, “false choices” aren’t restricted to the economy -- they’re also present with regard to stem cell research. While Obama paid lip service to the moral qualms of the anti-embryonic stem cell research advocates, he then dismissed their intelligence. “Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values,” he announced while restoring unfettered federal funding to embryonic stem cell research. Those moral thinkers who struggle with the implications of destroying potential human life in order to embark upon decades-long research projects are idiots, according to the president.
We’ve all been suckered by “false choices” on national defense, too, Obama tells us. Determining the future of Guantanamo Bay is easy, he smiles; we shut it down, thereby ending the “false choice between our safety and our ideals.” Again, this is nonsensical: Ask the Sept. 11 victims’ families whether releasing terrorists onto U.S. soil for civil liberties purposes presents a conflict between safety and ideals. American presidents from Washington to Lincoln to FDR to Bush have struggled with the balance between security and civil liberties. But apparently, according to Obama, they were a bunch of dummies -- that choice is “false.”
Obama’s not done with the “false choices.” There are “false choices” with regard to the environment, too. “Throughout our history,” Obama recently stated, “there's been a tension between those who have sought to conserve our natural resources for the benefit of future generations, and those who have sought to profit from these resources. But I’m here to tell you this is a false choice.” Really? Then why do Democrats insist on blocking drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve? After all, the choice between allowing oil companies to profit from resources and conserving natural resources is a false one.
In reality, of course, all of these choices are hard choices. Do we choose the warm feeling of a low-growth, government-managed economy over the dynamism and creativity of capitalism? Do we choose to destroy potential human beings in order to potentially save human beings? Do we stop law enforcement measures to preserve civil liberties or do we fight the threat of terrorism with every tool at our disposal? Do we choose green living over the continued expansion of our economy?
These are the questions around which American politics revolve. These are questions that reflect our fundamental values. And these are the questions President Obama hates, because they strip away the shallow, puerile rhetoric of hope, change, and unity, and instead ask Americans to think more deeply.
And so Obama labels such questions “false choices.” By doing so, he assumes the role of all-knowing prophet, able to solve all political conflicts by declaring them fictitious. While we mortals debate the issues, Obama stands far above them, handing down his judgment from on high, bringing unity where once there was conflict.
This is dangerous stuff. America’s greatness lies in its willingness to argue tough questions in the public square. Presenting such questions as easy calls to be handled by a wise aristocracy is fundamentally destructive of the very basis of self-government. But then again, according to Obama, the choice between rule of administrative aristocrats and the rule of the people is probably just another “false choice.”
Posted by Falling Panda at 6:00 PM