Saturday, January 31, 2009

Former Insurgents Stumping for Candidates in Iraq Vote

Blackfive offers a nice roundup of today's historic parliamentary elections in Iraq:

Fifteen million Iraqis are voting today. Because of the strong turnout, the voting time was extended. And I saw a stat on one of the cable channels that there are over 400 women running for office in this election.

It's not just the women. One of the most interesting things in the news today is that former Sunni insurgents joined the political campaign, stumping for candidates and competing for votes. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Abu Mujahid brags that he bombed a U.S. Army Humvee and wounded two American soldiers just last month. Now he's stumping for Sunni candidates and talking matter-of-factly about the importance of safety as Iraqis head to the polls today.

"This is something like a truce so the elections will be implemented in a secure environment," said Abu Mujahid, an active member of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, an armed Sunni Arab group. "We want to allow people to vote and let them decide without pressure from any groups."

With one foot in the political process and the other firmly rooted in violence, fighters such as Abu Mujahid offer a glimpse of the Sunni community's evolution over the last five years: from waging guerrilla war against Iraq's ascendant Shiite Muslim majority and its U.S. backers, to tentatively embracing electoral politics.
The Times reports that this shift to ballots, not bullets, is fragile, but just a couple of years ago antiwar creeps like Cernig at Newshoggers were saying we'd never see success in Iraq. Even today, after the obligatory highlighting of violence, Cernig is forced to conclude his post by conceding that yes, indeed, there's progress, but supporters of the war shouldn't gloat:

These elections are a good thing, but they're not a universal panacea. Still, the American Right wants to have its cake and eat it. They want to pretend that provincial elections mean "victory" while getting ready to blame only Obama if Iraqi social fractures ignored by Bush for so long lead to more violence later.
Readers should recall Newshoggers has outwardly applauded the deaths of U.S. military personnel on the ground, so acknowledging success today must be like swallowing a barrel of Tabasco. Moreover, on issue after issue, as I've shown in recent posts, Cernig's been spectacularly wrong on trends in the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. And hey, don't even get me going about Juan Cole, who highlights a few violent tragedies in today's voting to cast aspersion on the whole showcase of democratic emergence.

These people truly are dead-enders.

Claire McCaskill's Idiots

Who are the "idiots" Senator Claire McCaskill's denouncing in her Senate floor lecture attacking executive compensation? Wall Street's? Or Capitol Hill's?

Perhaps McCaskill's on to something, as the Wall Street Journal reports (here or here):

Wall Street's pay system isn't dead yet. But it is in trouble.

President Obama's rhetorical assault on "shameful" bonuses reverberated across trading floors, investment-banking desks and executive suites Friday. Officials at several securities firms acknowledged that compensation, already down sharply because of evaporating profits, could shrink even more in the next few months as Wall Street scrambles to avert a government crackdown that some fear could be even more painful.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) introduced legislation Friday that would limit the salary, bonuses and stock options of executives at financial companies getting federal bailout aid to no more than what the U.S. president earns: $400,000 a year, excluding benefits. In 2007, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein earned that much in about two days.
The editorial page at WSJ weighs in, "Idiots Indeed":

In our experience, political nuance has never been the strong suit of Wall Street executives ... Yet the hard truth remains that whether on Wall Street or across the American business landscape, compensation levels are a business judgment made under the pressure of competition. The "idiots" notwithstanding, Wall Street has lots of highly talented financial minds and mobility among firms based on compensation is routine.

If Congress is going to start setting legal limits on salaries and bonuses in the U.S., it is going to drive talent out of Bank of America and these other banks and into institutions without such limits, perhaps abroad ... The danger of targeting what capitalists we have left for abuse or prosecution is that they will stay on strike, as they did in the 1930s. It won't be pretty this time either.
Hat Tip: Memeorandum.

See also, Allahpundit, "McCaskill on capping pay of CEOs who take TARP money: “These people are idiots”.

Bush Hatred and Obamessianism

Peter Berkowitz, at the Wall Street Journal, makes the case that Bush hatred and Obamessianism (i.e., Obama euphoria) are one and the same:

Now that George W. Bush has left the harsh glare of the White House and Barack Obama has settled into the highest office in the land, it might be reasonable to suppose that Bush hatred and Obama euphoria will begin to subside. Unfortunately, there is good reason to doubt that the common sources that have nourished these dangerous political passions will soon lose their potency.

At first glance, Bush hatred and Obama euphoria could not be more different. Hatred of Mr. Bush went well beyond the partisan broadsides typical of democratic politics. For years it disfigured its victims with open, indeed proud, loathing for the very manner in which Mr. Bush walked and talked. It compelled them to denounce the president and his policies as not merely foolish or wrong or contrary to the national interest, but as anathema to everything that made America great.

In contrast, the euphoria surrounding Mr. Obama's run for president conferred upon the candidate immunity from criticism despite his newness to national politics and lack of executive experience, and regardless of how empty his calls for change. At the same time, it inspired those in its grips, repeatedly bringing them tears of joy throughout the long election season. With Mr. Obama's victory in November and his inauguration last week, it suffused them with a sense that not only had the promise of America at last been redeemed but that the world could now be transfigured.

In fact, Bush hatred and Obama euphoria - which tend to reveal more about those who feel them than the men at which they are directed - are opposite sides of the same coin. Both represent the triumph of passion over reason. Both are intolerant of dissent. Those wallowing in Bush hatred and those reveling in Obama euphoria frequently regard those who do not share their passion as contemptible and beyond the reach of civilized discussion. Bush hatred and Obama euphoria typically coexist in the same soul. And it is disproportionately members of the intellectual and political class in whose souls they flourish.
More at the link.

"Passion over reason" certainly explains these folks, although it's not just "members of the intellectual and political" class (see
this blogger for example).

I noted previously how I became creeped out a bit when one of my own political science classes started chanting "na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, hey, eh ... good bye..." during lectures. And when I drive down the road and see wide-eyd 50-ish women captaining Toyota Prius' plastered with "Change We Can Believe In" stickers and with mugs of "O'Biden" poking out from every corner of the vehicle, I can only shake my head at the success of Obama's mesmerizing political campaign of pop-culture sheeples indoctrination.

The sad part is this has just begun.

Life in the poltical wilderness I can handle, but not a few Americans worry about an Obama gulag for those not swallowing the Democratic ideological kool-aid of "The One."

Berkowitz suggests that all of this "hatred and euphoria" may weaken, and it wouldn't come a moment too soon.

Conservative Decline? Pajamas Media Goes Belly Up

Well, I just read through every post at Memeorandum in response to Jeff Goldstein's layoff notice from Pajamas Media.

Long story short is that Roger Simon has pissed away his venture capital on hand and new revenue has dried up as the recession has sapped online advertising. It looks like Pajamas is going to focus on its television programming venture, and the main Pajamas portal will stay up and continue publishing conservative commentary. Those big blogs that signed exclusive advertising arrangements are now out of the remuneration stream. Goldstein's feeling the rejection: "I am officially out of work. So save going to a pay model, this site will likely have to shut down."

I have some personal interest in all of this, as
I started publishing at Pajamas last year and I was interviewed by Bill Whittle for a PJTV episode last October. In my case, of course, I've never had any illusions that I was going to make a lot of money blogging. Folks have asked why I don't run ads on the sidebar, while others have ribbed me for my prodigious output. My response is that American Power is a labor of love, and my goal all along has been to make a name for myself as a public intellectual in the blogospheric commentariat. Keep in mind that the Blogger platform is free, so the only cost I incur is time, and lots of it. And since the blogging enterprise has a steep start-up curve for new entries, it's not likely that lower-level 9th-tier bloggers are going to overtake Hot Air anytime soon. The networked structure of the blogosphere prohibits easy entry to the top of the hierarchy of opinion, so newcomers will need to worry about finding both a niche and an outside means of support more lucrative than Google's Adsense. In my case, I have a day job.

There's a lot of sour grapes and I-told-you-sos over the news, but this comment at
Tools of Renewal is worth pondering:

I used to see the PJ fiasco as the result of greed, treachery, foolishness, and dishonesty. These days I see it more as the evidence of a curse. The US is declining very quickly. We’re not going to be the world’s leading nation any more. The economy may have a dead-cat bounce left in it, but we’re going into a recession which will never end. We’re going to settle permanently at a lower level of prosperity and power, and we may experience a near-depression on the way to that level. The self-destruction of conservatism is probably just one of the tools that will be used to work this judgment on America ....

The right used to be blessed. Until maybe 2003, our star was rising. Maybe that’s because we were more closely attuned to God. Now we think we have to dump God in order to attract voters. We keep hearing that the problem with the right is that the religious nuts hijacked it. But the right was stronger back when religious people had more power. And it will weaken more and more, as we get more desperate and distance ourselves from God. And if we give up our support of Israel, things will get even worse. In many ways, we already have.
I normally blow off such prattle about America's inevitable decline. It's nonsense. The U.S. is already taking the rest of the world down with it to deep-recession levels, and there's no other current competitor ready to replace the U.S. as the king of the hill (least of all China). Most importantly, there's no other nation-state on the face of the planet possessing the intellectual-demographic dynamism that will form the bases of the next boom of entreprenuerial-scientific market renewal (see Bill Whittle for more on America's sure return to the towering heights of prosperity).

The second part of
Renewal's comment is worth further consideration. We've seen all of this debate about the GOP's path back to power, and one of the biggest meme's is that the sooner we dump cultural conservatism the better. Hogwash. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The "GOP Must Stay True to Core Values." We're riding the downside of the political cycle, but religious expression is hardly in decline, and in fact Christianity is the most dynamic religion in the world today. If America indeed drops off the top ranks of hierarchy in international relations, the cause will be the godless progressivism now stripping this country from its founding roots and the bases of its historical strength.

As for future of conservative media like Pajamas? Well, Andrew Breitbart just started
Big Hollywood, and I was intrigued reading over there the other day that Breitbart was offering $100,000 to Matt Damon to debate neoconservative warhawk Bill Kristol on Iraq. I have no clue as to Breitbart's funding model, but $100,000 a good chunk of change, and Big Hollywood's off to a good start.

So, keep plugging away right-bloggers! There's gold in them thar hills!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Multilateralism and the Globalization of Abortion

Many readers of this blog are likely not up on some of the hottest trends in international relations theory.

World politics, and the academic study of it, evinces a central tension between power and cooperation in international affairs. Since World War II, the great hope of international idealists has been to create institutions that would promote peace and facilitate cooperation among nations. As time has passed, real world events have shown the false benigity of such hopes, for example, in the emergence of the United Nations General Assembly as a Third World power shop seeking to shift global resources and influence away from the industrialized nations of the global north. Key manifestations are found in the demands for a "New International Economic Order" in the 1970s and ongoing U.N.-sponsored "Conferences Against Racism," with the next installment scheduled for April in Geneva. For an idea of the anti-Western agenda at the upcoming "
Durban II" meeting, see U.N. Watch, which includes this photo:

Zionism is Racism

I've been thinking more and more about academic international relations theory and "real world" events this last few weeks, especially since Foreign Policy announced its new website and stable of bloggers. In particular, the blogging debut of Harvard's Stephen Walt has been something of an eye-opener. My academic relationship to Walt is discussed here. I am now about halfway through Walt's book, The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy, which I find disturbing, but readers can get a feel for Walt's views at his blog. Walt's a "neorealist" who specializes in alliance formation and the balance of world power (it's interesting how the "amoralism" of realism is deployed so effectively by Walt to delegitimize the moral existentialism of the Israeli state).

My point in this essay, however, is to take a look at trends on the "neoliberal institutionalist" side of international theory, starting with Robert Keohane, Stephen Macedo, and Andrew Moravcsik's new essay at International Organization, "
Democracy-Enhancing Multilateralism." The abstract of the article is at the link, but the basic gist of the piece is an attempt to secure some middle ground between critics of "global goverance" and "universal sovereignty," and those who favor the use of global mutlilateralism to advance "pragmatic" international change, cooperation, and democratic deliberation.

These passages from the conclusion are worth citing:

Our discussion has shown that multilateral institutions can empower diffuse minorities against special-interest factions, protect vulnerable individuals and minorities, and enhance the epistemic quality of democratic decision making in well-established democratic states. Moving some forms of governance up to a higher level, insisting on elaborate mechanisms for public debate and criticism, and making use of impartial and expert decisionmaking bodies can improve democracy ....

Democracy requires that governments control factions, protect minority interests, and maintain the epistemic quality of deliberation. Multilateral constraints, like other constitutional constraints, can enhance the ability of publics to govern themselves and enact their deliberate preferences over the long term ....

Yet we are not apologists. We emphatically do not claim that multilateralism always enhances domestic democracy. To the contrary, the standards we have articulated for defending multilateral institutions on democratic grounds equally enable criticism of democracy-inhibiting multilateralism, should international institutions promote special interests, violate rights of minorities, diminish the quality of collective deliberation, or seriously degrade the ability of people to participate in governance without compensating democratic advantages. There are good reasons to be concerned that multilateralism can sometimes empower unaccountable elites—a tendency against which it is necessary to guard.
I offer this review of multilateral theory mainly because it's the cutting edge of the discipline. Keohane, Macedo, and Moravcsik demonstrate the kind of academic detachment inherent to the scholarly enterprise, although the implications of some closely-related research in the field - and the ideological agenda of many adherents to multilateralism - leave much to be desired.

For a quick sample (albeit journalistic), let me leave readers with an example of the multilaterization of an emerging regime promoting abortion as a human right under international law. Michelle Goldberg has a piece on this at Slate, "
Abortion Rights Go Global." Here's a chilling excerpt:

In the last four years ... women and their lawyers have brought abortion actions before the U.N. Human Rights Committee and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which investigates human rights violations in the Western hemisphere. Several times, women who've been denied abortions have won both compensation and an acknowledgment that their rights were violated. For feminists worldwide, this represents a great victory, since it elevates women's rights and safety above the often-sacrosanct principle of national sovereignty ....

Yet as abortion rights go international, so does the anti-abortion backlash. The globalization of the abortion wars creates some of the same tensions—between universal human rights and community mores, between majority rule and the protection of individual liberty—as Roe v. Wade, on a larger scale. All over the world, in countries including Kenya, Poland, and Nicaragua, local anti-abortion movements (often working with American allies) rail against the meddling of powerful outsiders. In Poland, traditionalists who oppose abortion bemoan the loss of their country's Catholic values as it integrates into secular Europe. They speak about international human rights and the courts that enforce them with something of the frustrated anger that American conservatives sometimes direct at the federal government. "Abortion proponents cannot win elections on these issues, so they have to go through the least democratic bodies in the world, the United Nations, for instance, and the courts," says Austin Ruse, the president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a pro-life organization active at the United Nations.
That last quotation from Austin Ruse brings us back to the theoretical foundations and benefits of multilateralism.

Will creating an international human rights regime for abortions advance the interests in individual nation-states of the international system? My feeling is that folks like Michelle Goldberg don't care, and the Democratic-left's accession to power in the U.S. with the advent of the Barack Obama administration will certainly put the push for a global abortion regime into hyperdrive. Obama's move to overturn the Reagan-era "Mexico City Policy" is a sign of the times for the power of the mulitlateralists to advance an agenda that is not only anti-democratic in its hubristic assumptions, but radical in its anti-life aspirations.

Obama's Change Reckoning is Here

The first ten days of the new administration have really put into stark relief the conservative warnings of Barack Obama during the second half of 2008. Even some of the most extreme ideological attacks on Obama are now ringing true as we see the beginnings of a new era of American politics that's nothing short of a wholesale statist makeover of American life. As Charles Hurt says of the adminstration's $819 spending boondoggle, and the law's provision to roll back two decades of welfare reform:

Ever since his election, many Americans have wondered which Barack Obama would show up at the White House: the most liberal member of the Senate or the post-partisan bearer of change we could all believe in.

One thing is clear: His "stimulus" bill is not change we can believe in. It's a return to big-government welfare that we will choke on.
What's especially troubling is that the Democrats are going to ram down "change" on the country by reign of deception and non-debate. I noted this morning that the left's "family planning" agenda is backed by lies, and as Kimberley Strassel points out today, we're moving toward socialism by stealth in the nationalization of health care:

With the nation occupied with the financial crisis, and with that crisis providing cover, Democrats have been passing provision after provision to nationalize health care.

If Democrats learned anything from the HillaryCare defeat, it was the danger of admitting to their wish to federalize the health market. Since returning to power, they've pursued a new strategy: to stealthily and incrementally expand government control.
It's worth reading Strassel in full.

Deceptions of Democratic Family Planning

If you are following the controversy over the family planning appropriations that were dropped from the Obama administration's economic recovery act, you'll see that no one on the left is willing to discuss taxpayer support for abortions, which will be a natural consequence of the program.

Steve Benen has
a post up this morning applauding efforts to get "family planning back on track." He cites Amy Sullivan to claim that the family planning legislation is explicitly not about abortion:

The provision would have allowed states to cover family planning services - but not abortion - that they already cover for low-income women who don't otherwise qualify for Medicaid, just without first requiring states to obtain a waiver from the federal government. That's it.
As always, I'm tempted to call these people befuddled idiots, but the fact is these folks know exactly what they're doing, and thus their scheming is devious and dangerous.

The fact is that the Obama administration's family planning appropiations will funnel money to Planned Parenthood, which is
the nation's largest abortion provider. Historically, the organization's main funding sources are the $50 million-plus grants awarded through the federal Title X program, as well as roughly $50 million sent to Planned Parenthood in annual appropriations through Medicaid funding. Planned Parenthood's own website - in a call to supporters - boasts that it receives millions of dollars annually from the federal Title X family planning appropriations.

LifeNews reported this week that Congressional Democrats indeed sought funding for abortions in the stimulus bill, with the plan including "a measure to send more public funds to the Planned Parenthood abortion business to fund contraception and birth control." In addition, the National Abortion Federation has sent an e-mail to supporters urging lobbying action "to demand that President Barack Obama restore hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for contraception and abortion."

It's simply a lie to suggest that Democratic family planning funds will not reach providers of abortion services.

But that's not all.

Section 5004 of the Democratic stimulus package is the "State Eligibility Option for Family Planning Services." According to
the Heritage Foundation, this item would "make Medicaid into a virtual money-machine for family planning clinics."

As part of that money-machine, the Democratic proposal will provide taxpayer money for family planning services to unpregnant minors. That's right. Under current law, "women of child-bearing age (15-44) are not eligible for Medicaid coverage until after they become pregnant," but the proposed legislation would provide a loophole to extend coverage to these kids. And let me stress that: Girls 15 to 17 years-old are children, not "adult women," so under the bill "a child would be able to receive benefits through a 'presumptive eligibility period' and beyond without parental knowledge that he or she applied for Medicaid."

Further, the availability of services is loosely defined as a "state option" to include "medical diagnosis and treatment services that are provided in conjunction with a family planning service in a family planning setting," and therefore by definition in-term pregnancy termination services. Also, the presumptive eligibility provisions of the law will "give the power to private clinics to provide easy access to so-called 'emergency contraceptives' and be reimbursed with taxpayer dollars."

As we can see, the Democrats are foisting family planning deceptions at multiple levels. By denying that abortion services are included in the Obama recovery plan, we see not only blatant rhetorical evasions by activists and bloggers to delegitimize conservative opposition to family planning, but there's a larger smokescreen of deception to the Democratic social agenda: The left wants to empower children with access to contraceptives and abortion services. Just seeing the definition of "women of child-bearing age" dropped down to 15 years-old is an indication of the repudiation of family prerogatives and conservative values in "progressive" family planning schemes.

The Republican minority in Congress deserves praise,
not ridicule, for its unified opposition to the Obama economic "porkulus" package. The Democratic-left, on the other hand, deserves nothing but condemnation for its reign of spineless deceit and its agenda of promotion of social decay.

Los Angeles Times to Kill "California" Section

I cut my political teeth on the Los Angeles Times, so the fate of the newspaper is personal to me. Thus the news that the Times will eliminate its "California" section, which is the "Section B" local news pullout, is not good. Perhaps things are nearing an end for the paper, which was established in 1881.

L.A. Observed as the report:

Publisher Eddy Hartenstein has ordered the California section killed, leaving the L.A. Times without a separate local news front for the first time since the paper's early decades. The publisher decided to fold local news inside the front section — which will be reconfigured to downplay national and foreign news — despite what an official of the paper confirmed for me was the unanimous and vocal objections of senior editors. Advertisers were informed on Wednesday, and word began to leak on Thursday. Hartenstein reportedly planned to delay an announcement until the close of business on Friday, fearing it will play as another black eye for the Times. He's right about that. I'm told that in contentious discussions in recent weeks, the editors failed to persuade Hartenstein that if a section had to go, the more palatable cut would be to move the less-read Business pages.

The backdrop, of course, is the economy and the Times' continued free-fall in ad revenue. By getting rid of California, the Times can print the more profitable Calendar section at night and eliminate the expense of a second, earlier daily press run. (Times presses can only handle four sections per run, as
this post from last Friday discussed. Note, too, that pressmen are the Times' only unionized workers.)

The move will apparently be spun as an enhancement in local coverage, but Times officials are bracing for howls of protest from print readers who already have been canceling subscriptions over the paper becoming thinner and less well edited. Some LAT officials fear this might be a tipping point. "We can't keep alienating our core readers," a senior person told me. Papers that have tried doing away with just their Business sections have been stunned by the backlash; the Orange County Register
reversed its decision to mollify readers.
There's more at the link.

The Times is expected to makes an announcement at the paper's website this afternoon.

For me, the most important thing here is that "national and foreign news" will be cut. By shifting local coverage to the front pages, and by juggling the press runs to accomodate the Calendar section (
the logistical motivations for which vary), the paper will lose whatever reputation it had earned as one of the nation's most important outlets for original reporting and analysis on Washington politics and international affairs. The Times will look like a "company town" paper to the Hollywood entertainment community, and since most media observers suggest local news will be the future of the print media industry, at least the Los Angeles Times will have perhaps the most glamourous local market with which cover for an expected worldwide audience.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What's Up With the "Bipartisan Brand"?

If I were a Republican member of Congress, a no-vote on the House stimulus package would have been a no-brainer. No matter how deep this economy's fallen, no serious analyst can credibly claim the proposed legislation was about reviving the economy (folks on the right called the bill a "crap sandwich," but this is a family blog and I normally don't use that descriptive language myself).

So I've been thinking about the political spin on both left and right today. Jon Henke, at
The Next Right, quotes Ben Smith (who suggests Obama's got the "bipartisan brand") and argues:

The only way to beat the hand Obama is playing is to take the initiative, to change the subject, with new policies and arguments that put Democrats off their game. And even that will take quite some time.

I don't see much evidence that Republicans are able to do that right now. There's just no larger, unifying framework for a transformative policy agenda, and no apparent policy innovation being done. Without the unifying agenda and policy innovation, Obama will continue to set the agenda, and Republicans will lose ground at every step.
While certainly the GOP needs to seize the initiative, it's a bit hard when the economy continues its free-fall, for example, with new housing foreclosure numbers this week that were nothing short of mindboggling. And with the continued shake out of major retailers, it's trite, frankly, to suggest getting the Dems off their game's going to "take some time."

Not only that, it's pretty much a joke to argue Obama's all about "bipartisanship." In his presidential leadership of Congress
this week, "it was clear that his efforts so far had not delivered the post-partisan era that he called for in his inauguration address, when he proclaimed an end to the 'petty grievances' and 'worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.'"

On the left, Nate Silver, the numerical wonderboy of election projections, says
the GOP played a bad hand:

The House Republicans are opposing popular legislation from a very popular President, and doing so in ways that stick a needle in the eye of the popular (if quixotic) concept of bipartisanship. They would seem to have little chance of actually blocking this legislation, since they are far short of a majority, and since the Senate Republicans, who can filibuster, have thus far shown little inclination to go along with them - with moderates like Susan Collins of Maine and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire voting routinely with the Administration ....

If the stimulus bill proves to be unpopular - and it might well - a House Republican can tout the fact that he voted against the package. But with the unanimous vote - as well as the near-unanimity on measures like the Ledbetter Act and Digital TV - the Republicans remove the emphasis from their individual judgment to that of their party. It is not clear why they would want this: the Republican brand, even under the best of circumstances, is not likely to be significantly rehabilitated by 2010, especially when the Republicans do not have agenda-setting powers.

Thus the Republicans, arguably, are in something of a death spiral. The more conservative, partisan, and strident their message becomes, the more they alienate non-base Republicans. But the more they alienate non-base Republicans, the fewer of them are left to worry about appeasing. Thus, their message becomes continually more appealing to the base - but more conservative, partisan, and strident to the rest of us. And the process loops back upon itself.
For being touted as last year's big breakout analyst, Silver's pretty sloppy. The bailout bill is not wildly "popular." Gallup finds a "slim majority" backing the package, and Rasmussen indicates that public support for the plan has slipped over the last few days (to 42 percent). For a president whose public approval is in near-stratospheric levels, these stimulus numbers are hardly impressive. (Related: "After Less Than a Week in Office, Barack Obama's Approval Rating Plunges 15 Points.")

Further, this notion that the Republican brand is in a death spiral is hardly a novel insight. More than a year before the 2008 primaries wrapped up
journalists were bemoaning the GOP's evisceration and the dearth of Reaganesque heirs-apparent. The party's in for a long-term period of rebuilding and revitalization, and any construction project begins with the foundation. Rush Limbaugh's not getting all the attention from the president on down for nothing. And Sarah Palin's aggressive moves to consolidate her front-runner status are being facilitated by a media establishment ginning for some star power.

Finally, for all the talk of a dramatic Democratic electoral landslide, and the teary-eyed emotionalism of this month's inauguration,
the U.S. has not sustained a partisan realignment. This fact means the upcoming elections at the national level will be close, and while no one on the right should get their hopes up for 2010, President Obama will have to run on his record in 2012, not the GOP's. Cries of "Republican obstructionism" might make good talking points for Democratic partisans today, but with foreclosures and long-term unemployment on your watch, blame-shifting's not going to help.

The Republicans are doing just fine in voicing a vigorous opposition. The "bipartisan brand" is radically overrated. President Martin Van Buren was known as
an advocate for vigorous partisanship. He argued that the party in power needs a loyal opposition to represent other parts of society that it could not. The point's certainly not lost on this week's GOP.

Blagojevich Swept From Office in 59-0 Vote

Illinois Governor Rod Blogojevich has been removed from office by an impeachment vote of 59-0 in the state legislature. The Chicago Tribune has the story:

The Illinois Senate voted to remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office Thursday, marking the first time in the state's long history of political corruption that a chief executive has been impeached and convicted.

The 59-0 vote followed several hours of public deliberation in which senator after senator stood up to blast Blagojevich, whose tenure lasted six years. And it came after a four-day impeachment trial on allegations that Blagojevich abused his power and sold his office for personal and political benefit.

The conviction on a sweeping article of impeachment means the governor was immediately removed from office. The Senate also unanimously voted to impose the "political death penalty" on Blagojevich, banning him from ever again holding office in Illinois.

Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, Blagojevich's two-time running mate, has become the state's 41st governor.
Of course, there was never any doubt Blogojevich would be booted. When I saw him making the rounds this last week on the talk shows, especially his schmoozing on "The View," I thought, "Well, here we go with the grooming for this guy's own television gig." Joy Behar's all over the guy at 7:30 minutes:

More news at Memeorandum.

NBC Rejects Pro-Life Super Bowl Ad

Via Gateway Pundit and LifeSiteNews:

NBC has rejected an uplifting and positive pro-life ad submitted for its Super Bowl broadcast this Sunday. After several days of negotiations, an NBC representative in Chicago told late yesterday that NBC and the NFL are not interested in advertisements involving ‘political advocacy or issues.’

Brian Burch, President of said, “There is nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement. We show a beautiful ultrasound, something NBC’s parent company GE has done for years. We congratulate Barack Obama on becoming the first African-American President. And we simply ask people to imagine the potential of every human life.”

“NBC told that they do not allow political or issue advocacy advertisements. But that’s not what they told PETA,” said Burch. “There’s no doubt that PETA is an advocacy group. NBC rejected PETA’s ad for another reason altogether.”

According to an email posted on, Victoria Morgan, Vice President of Advertising Standards for Universal, said: “The PETA spot submitted to Advertising Standards depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.” Morgan even detailed “edits that need to be made” in order for the spot to run during the Super Bowl. The PETA ad depicts lingerie clad women in highly sexually suggestive poses.

“NBC claims it doesn’t allow advocacy ads, but that’s not true. They were willing to air an ad by PETA if they would simply tone down the sexual suggestiveness. Our ad is far less provocative, and hardly controversial by comparison,” said Burch.

“The purpose of our new ad is to spread a message of hope about the potential of every human life, including the life of Barack Obama,” said Burch. “We are now looking at alternative venues to run the ad over the next several weeks.”
Recall CatholicVote ran the "Vote Life" advertisement during the campaign, which turned out to be most watched political commercial on the web last year. Watch it here.


UPDATE: Watch the PETA ad here. "Sexual suggestiveness" is putting it mildly.

Obama Signs Ledbetter Legislation

President Barack Obama has signed his first piece of legislation of the new Democratic era, "The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009." The Washington Post has the story.

But let me direct readers to the Wall Street Journal's review of the Democratic majority's labor agenda, "
Trial Lawyer Bonanza":

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is an effort to overturn a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber. Lilly Ledbetter had worked for Goodyear for almost 20 years before retiring. Only in 1998, after she took her pension, did she sue and allege wage discrimination stretching back to the early 1980s. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against her, noting the statute clearly said claims must be filed within 180 days, or sometimes 300 days, of the discrimination.

That ruling put to rest Ms. Ledbetter's creative theory that decisions made decades ago by a former boss affected her pay all the way to retirement, so that each paycheck was a new discriminatory act and thus fell within the statute of limitations. Yet that is exactly the theory Congress would now revive with the Ledbetter bill. There would no longer be time limits on such discrimination claims. They could be brought long after evidence had disappeared or witnesses had died -- as was the case with Ms. Ledbetter's former boss.

For the tort bar, this is pure gold. It would create a new legal business in digging up ancient workplace grievances. This would also be made easier by the bill's new definition of discrimination. Companies could be sued not merely for outright discrimination but for unintentional acts that result in pay disparities.

Since these supposed wrongs could be compounded over decades, the potential awards would be huge. Most companies would feel compelled to settle such claims rather than endure the expense and difficulty of defending allegations about long-ago behavior. The recipe here is file a suit, get a payday. And the losers would be current and future employees, whose raises would be smaller as companies allocate more earnings to settle claims that might pop up years after litigating employees had departed.

The Democratic majority is also resurrecting the concept of "comparable worth" with the Paycheck Fairness Act. This idea holds that only discrimination can explain why female-dominated professions (teachers, secretaries) tend to command lower wages than male-dominated professions (plumbers, truck drivers). Yet most of these pay disparities are explained by relative experience, schooling or job characteristics. Teachers do tend to earn less than truck drivers, despite more education. Then again, truck drivers work long, hard, often unpredictable hours. The market -- not some secret patriarchy - places different values on different jobs. And in the case of teachers, the main salary setter is the government.

The paycheck fairness legislation would nonetheless require labor officials to use comparable worth in creating "voluntary" wage guidelines for industries. Voluntary or not, these guidelines would become the basis for more litigation against companies that didn't follow them. Meanwhile, the bill strips companies of certain defenses against claims of sex-based pay discrimination. It also makes it easier to bring class actions, and it allows plaintiffs to claim unlimited punitive damages even in cases of unintentional discrimination.

The Democratic War on Babies

It never ceases to amaze me, but here it goes again: Katha Pollitt, at the Nation, argues that funding family planning is an economic stimulus, and since funding for birth control would logically include money for abortion services, Pollitt's case is essentially to kill more babies in the diabolically-harebrained expectation that this will "create" more jobs:

The production, prescribing, buying and selling of birth control is an economic activity - funding more of it means more clinics, more clinic workers, more patients,more customers, more people making the products. Moreoever, the provision removed from the stimulus bill would spend money now- about 550 million, over ten years, a drop in the bucket - to save the government much more money later, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates would happen within a few years ....

More important, what about the economics of actually existing women and families? This is no time to be saddling people with babies they don't want and can't provide for, who will further reduce the resources available for the kids they already have and further limit parents' ability to get an education or a job. In a Depression, birth rates go down for a reason. People.Have.No. Money. Furthermore, when people lose their jobs they lose their health insurance. A year's supply of pills is around $600 retail. That's a significant amount of money to low-income women.
The idea that family planning contributes to economic growth was discredited over a century ago, with the historical repudiation of Thomas Malthus' claim that overpopulation would cause a lower standard of living (Nancy's nihilists are not up on literature, apparently).

The Democrats want a war on babies. I cringe at the thought of just being around people like Katha Pollitt, and for my readers with infants and young children, hold your loved ones close - you might have one too many for the state-planning mandarins of the Obama-Pelosi new age.

Hat Tip:

House Democrats Pass $819 Billion "Porkulus" Bill

In one of the most amazingly corrupt feats of political gamesmanship ever, the Democratic House majority rammed through an $819 billion economic recovery plan yesterday without a single Republican vote, COMBINED with the defection of 11 Democratic representatives. A bipartisan opposition! Now that's what I'm talking about!

Ramirez Stimulus

Robert Stacy McCain quips:

Man, if all it took to get Republicans to vote conservative was to elect a Democratic president, this is a change I can believe in.
And don't miss Rush Limbaugh at the Wall Street Journal:

There's a serious debate in this country as to how best to end the recession. The average recession will last five to 11 months; the average recovery will last six years. Recessions will end on their own if they're left alone. What can make the recession worse is the wrong kind of government intervention.

I believe the wrong kind is precisely what President Barack Obama has proposed. I don't believe his is a "stimulus plan" at all - I don't think it stimulates anything but the Democratic Party. This "porkulus" bill is designed to repair the Democratic Party's power losses from the 1990s forward, and to cement the party's majority power for decades.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lesbians Can Be Expelled From Private Religious Schools

California's 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego has upheld the right of a private Lutheran school to limit the enrollment of students whose conduct is inconsistent with the religious beliefs of the institution. The case represents the assertion of judicial protection of freedom of association.

Note this from the Los Angeles Times story:

In ruling in favor of the school, the appeals court cited a 1998 California Supreme Court decision that said the Boy Scouts of America was a social organization, not a business establishment, and therefore did not have to comply with the Unruh Civil Rights Act. That case also involved a discrimination complaint based on sexual orientation.

"The school's religious message is inextricably intertwined with its secular functions," wrote Justice Betty A. Richli for the appeals court. "The whole purpose of sending one's child to a religious school is to ensure that he or she learns even secular subjects within a religious framework."
On its face, the case seems a straightforward confirmation of the bedrock First Amendment guarantees. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote for the majority in the precedent-setting Roberts v. United States Jaycees:

... the Court has concluded that choices to enter into and maintain certain intimate human relationships must be secured against undue intrusion by the State because of the role of such relationships in safeguarding the individual freedom that is central to our constitutional scheme. In this respect, freedom of association receives protection as a fundamental element of personal liberty ... The Constitution guarantees freedom of association of this kind as an indispensable means of preserving other individual liberties.
Despite such basic principles of human freedom, the response to the 4th District's ruling on the left has been entirely predictable. Freddie de Boer of the Extraordinary Bloggers has this:

Hey, why would someone like me be more invested in building a legal defense of gay marriage specifically and a larger lattice of rights to defend gay people generally? Why, maybe because of things like girls getting kicked out of their private high schools because the administration of said high school believes them to be lesbians.

This is why I am concerned with legality, rights and government first. Because right now, today, gay people are the subject of explicit, systematic discrimination. As we have said several times, these are of course connected phenomena, and I want to change both law and culture.
Notice the ultimate totalitarianism here, where Freddie wants to control both law and culture.

It's okay, though, right? That's expected of the
International ANSWER-sponsored progressive gay-rights steamroller. It's what's been going on all along since November 5th and the No on H8 Stalinism that has attacked, boycotted, and excoriated regular folks who expressed a legitimate policy preference at the polls, peaceably. The progressive nihilists want their culture war - and they want it now!, even if there's little substantive connection on the issues other than excessive emotion and juvenility.

Notice how Freddie's discussion at
the post is all about "discrimation" and "rights," but the rights discussed only favor the two lesbians who were expelled for behavior inappropiate to the norms and values inherent to a private sectarian educational establishment. Just forget the First Amendment rights of those "Christianists," naturally, those torture-loving bigots.

What's especially interesting is Freddie's spurious extrapolation to gay marriage. Gays do not face discrimination on questions of marriage.
Same-sex marriage is not a civil right, and has yet to be considered one in U.S. constitutional jurisprudence. Homosexuals are free to marry, in any case, as is everyone else. They cannot, however, simply strongarm their way to a same-sex right that society does not recognize nor want, for fear of cultural destabilization and anti-social licentiousnesss. Moreover, the plight of the two girls can hardly be taken as representing a larger social climate of intolerance toward gays. Poll after poll finds phenomenal support for equal treatment under the law, as Newsweek recently found:

Seventy-four percent back inheritance rights for gay domestic partners (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 73 percent approve of extending health insurance and other employee benefits to them (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 67 percent favor granting them Social Security benefits (compared to 55 percent in 2004) and 86 percent support hospital visitation rights (a question that wasn't asked four years ago). In other areas, too, respondents appeared increasingly tolerant. Fifty-three percent favor gay adoption rights (8 points more than in 2004), and 66 percent believe gays should be able to serve openly in the military (6 points more than in 2004).

The same poll found that just 31 percent "support FULL marriage rights for same-sex couples," to quote from the language from the questionnaire.

To gain said rights, secular progressives demand that the great majority of Americans capitulate to their coercion and hostility. And if they don't - as we've seen - marriage traditionalists involuntarily subject themselves to Soviet-style show trials and aggressive boycotts designed to stifle freedom of speech and association, which are exactly the same issues that the District court protected by ruling in favor of the Lutheran school.

As a red herring, the plaintiffs alleged that the school master sat too close to the girls during their questioning, "intimidating" the students in an "prurient fashion," although the court rejected such claims outright.
Pam Spaulding's playing this "abuse" angle in a classic leftist victimology shake-down grab. As for the Extraordinary Brotherhood of Traveling Bloggers, Freddie's post is one in a series labeled "Same Sex Marriage and Nomenclature," so no doubt we'll be seeing more jackbooted opposition to the traditional majority dripping like death from their page.

I'll have more on the august work from this extraordinary bunch, with special attention to the extra-extraordinary blog-master Mark Thompson, who was once considered a freedom-loving libertarian, but who now cheers the rationality of Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli citizens, and who has now apparently joined forces with a some ultra-orthodox gay-marriage ayatollahs who want to ram down cultural change on the rest of us.

Majority Backs Tax Cuts Over Increased Spending

Well, this is the perfect follow-up to my previous entry (hammering Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman), "Democrats to Milk Economic Crisis for Trillions."

It turns out that Rasmussen's new survey finds 53 percent of Americans favoring tax cuts over jacked-up spending (via Memeorandum):
Paul Krugman, last year's winner of the Nobel Prize for economics and a regular columnist for the New York Times, recently wrote that you should “write off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.”

If you follow that advice, you’ll be writing off a majority of Americans. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 53% say that it’s always better to cut taxes. Only 24% share Krugman’s views.

Krugman was recently named the
most influential liberal in the media. In making that selection, noted that Krugman’s “prose is as pungent as his academic credentials are impeccable. Last year's Nobel in economics was widely seen as a vindication of his politics.”

Clearly, his New York Times column was based on his convictions rather than his sense of public opinion, and his purpose in writing is to persuade, not report. The survey data simply highlights how much persuading he has ahead of him.

Republicans overwhelmingly say it’s always better to cut taxes, and so do 50% of those not affiliated with either major party. Twenty-three percent (23%) of unaffiliateds take the opposite view and agree with Krugman.

Democrats are evenly divided—38% say tax cuts are always better while 34% disagree.

Democrats to Milk Economic Crisis for Trillions

No one doubts Americans are facing the most severe economic crisis in decades, but while conservatives are inclined toward targeted tax cuts and perhaps a market-oriented jobs-relief stimulus, Democrats on the progressive left have turned to end-of-times economic rhetoric to justify the biggest expansion of the pork-barrel welfare state in American history.

Paul Krugman, who is generally recognized as the most important leftist advocating an unprecedented governmental spending bailout, is a perfect case in point. I read Krugman's "Letter to President Obama" last night, and the scope of this man's proposals, and the economic fearmongering used to justify it, is truly breathtaking:

How bad is the economic outlook? Worse than almost anyone imagined ....

There's nothing in either the data or the underlying situation to suggest that the plunge in employment will slow anytime soon, which means that by late this year we could be 10 million or more jobs short of where we should be. This, in turn, would mean an unemployment rate of more than nine percent. Add in those who aren't counted in the standard rate because they've given up looking for work, plus those forced to take part-time jobs when they want to work full-time, and we're probably looking at a real-world unemployment rate of around 15 percent — more than 20 million Americans frustrated in their efforts to find work.

The human cost of a slump that severe would be enormous. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research group that analyzes government programs, recently estimated the effects of a rise in the unemployment rate to nine percent — a worst-case scenario that now seems all too likely. So what will happen if unemployment rises to nine percent or more? As many as 10 million middle-class Americans would be pushed into poverty, and another 6 million would be pushed into "deep poverty," the severe deprivation that happens when your income is less than half the poverty level. Many of the Americans losing their jobs would lose their health insurance too, worsening the already grim state of U.S. health care and crowding emergency rooms with those who have nowhere else to go. Meanwhile, millions more Americans would lose their homes. State and local governments, deprived of much of their revenue, would have to cut back on even the most essential services.
I love the tweaking of the unemployment estimates, designed to get closer to that magic number of 25 percent unemployment in the 1930s, which would make all those FDR analogies slightly more compelling. Krugman dismisses tax cuts as an insufficient stimulus, and suggests that we need "to spend $800 billion a year to achieve a full economic recovery. Anything less than $500 billion a year will be much too little to produce an economic turnaround."

And where's all that spending going to go? It's not just road, bridges, and telecommunications infrastructure:

FDR rebuilt America not just by getting us through depression and war, but by making us a more just and secure society. On one side, he created social-insurance programs, above all Social Security, that protect working Americans to this day. On the other, he oversaw the creation of a much more equal economy, creating a middle-class society that lasted for decades, until conservative economic policies ushered in the new age of inequality that prevails today. You have a chance to emulate FDR's achievements, and the ultimate judgment on your presidency will rest on whether you seize that chance.

The biggest, most important legacy you can leave to the nation will be to give us, finally, what every other advanced nation already has: guaranteed health care for all our citizens. The current crisis has given us an object lesson in the need for universal health care, in two ways. It has highlighted the vulnerability of Americans whose health insurance is tied to jobs that can so easily disappear. And it has made it clear that our current system is bad for business, too — the Big Three automakers wouldn't be in nearly as much trouble if they weren't trying to pay the medical bills of their former employees as well as their current workers. You have a mandate for change; the economic crisis has shown just how much the system needs change. So now is the time to pass legislation establishing a system that covers everyone.

What should this system look like? Some progressives insist that we should move immediately to a single-payer system — Medicare for all. Although this would be both the fairest and most efficient way to ensure that all Americans get the health care they need, let's be frank: Single-payer probably isn't politically achievable right now, simply because it would represent too great a change. At least at first, Americans who have good private health insurance will be reluctant to trade that insurance for a public program, even if that program will ultimately prove better.
This is why progressive leftists love Paul Krugman. The guy's a Princeton economist and Nobel laureate. More importantly, the man's an "establishment" statist who can use his "credentials" to discredit those who rightly repudiate his socialist program.

But folks shouldn't be fooled by the sky-is-falling rhetoric. This morning's Wall Street Journal has a useful piece, "
A 40-Year Wish List," which notes that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once said to President Obama, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste."

But check out David Harsanyi, "
The Biggest Con — Ever":

Democrats have concocted a surefire political victory. They've notified America that the so-called "stimulus" bill might take a long time to work — which is exceptionally handy, considering we always come out of a recession at some point.

The problem is there is no evidence that colossal government spending and expansion will help a nation claw its way out of economic trouble or, more importantly, generate a single job through real economic growth.

So what do you do with an unproven idea? Well, you go big. Make the proposal the most expensive to ever adorn paper — or, more precisely, a trillion scraps of paper. Scare the holy living hell out of detractors with doomsday scenarios worthy of Nostradamus.

Tammy Bruce on the Anti-American Left

From Gateway Pundit who links to Tammy Bruce on O'Reilly Factor (and remember this is what's best about Fox News):

"It takes a liberal to suggest or to say directly that liberating 53,000,000 people is a war crime. It takes a liberals to say that keeping this nation safe from another horrific attack by terrorists amounts to a war crime."

Tammy Bruce
O'Reilly Factor
January 27, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jewish Anti-Zionism

Cathy Young's recent post on Eric Alterman got me thinking about Jewishness, Zionism, and anti-Semitism, but I didn't really have enough intellectual wraparound at the time to write a post about it (in other words, I'm "duh" on some of this stuff).

Well, now I have the wraparound.

Cathy's discussing a feud she's had with the Nation's Eric Alterman, which ended up getting some big media play at the time,
here and here (related: "Eric Alterman and the Politics of Anti-Semitism"). The comment at the post from "Fat Man," discussing whether Alterman was a "self-hating Jew," was rather provocative:

No, Alterman is not a self-hating Jew, the only person he has any regard or love for, is himself.

What Alterman is, is a Jew hating Jew. Unfortunately, there are more than a few of them including Noam Chomsky, Tony Judt and the late (PTL) Harold Pinter.

The Jihadists love them because they conform to and prove their theology of Jewish degradation. The leftists who have taken up the support of Jihadists as their greatest cause (in order to demonstrate that their support of the Soviets was humanitarian, no doubt), are thrilled with the Jew hating Jews because they prove that there are men even more craven than the leftists.
That's some serious talk, and, again, I had no comment, but Carl in Jerusalem (discussing "baseless hatred") linked to David Solway's piece today at FrontPage Magazine, "The Beginning of the Night," so it got me thinking:

This degree of self-abhorence must be nearly unprecedented, for rarely, if ever, has an ethnic or national collective turned against an entire nation made up of people with whom it shares an ancestral tradition and a millennial archive. History furnishes many examples of a social or intellectual group targeting a particular class of a society with which it is in one way or another associated or identified. But to defame an entire country with whose inhabitants one shares a cultural or genealogical relation, to dispute its founding principles, to cast suspicion upon its moral character, to support its enemies and to question its right to existence is surely a unique phenomenon. Even those Germans horrified by the abominations of the Nazis, or Russians sickened by the excesses of the Communists, rarely went to the extremes of repudiation evinced by the truants of the Jewish faith.

The late Harold Pinter won a Nobel Prize, not for his over-rated plays, but for his anti-Israeli (and anti-American) posturing. Equally influential are fellow Jewish anti-Zionists like Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Naomi Klein, Joel Kovel, Tony Judt, Ilan Pappe, Tom Segev, Sara Roy, Henry Siegman, Avrum Burg, Jaqueline Rose and Richard Falk, to mention only a sparse handful, whose denunciation of Israel is so extreme and untextured as to be scarcely distinguishable from antisemitism.

Such apostates do not scruple to trade in apocrypha when indulging their animus against their own people, even when they can be readily exposed. In Fabricating Israeli History, Efraim Karsh has abundantly demonstrated how left-wing Israeli “New Historians” have cooked the documents they work with. The lamentable Naomi Klein falsely accuses Israel of having cynically profited from “endless war” and calls for academic and economic boycotts. Noam Chomsky’s gross fabrications have been outed by Peter Collier. The list goes on ....

What these Jewish quislings have not understood is that Jews, as Primo Levi insisted, are not permitted to forget. Survival demands that contemporary Jews retrieve the Maccabean strain in their heritage, eschew the myopia of complacency, and take the necessary measures—starting with memory and awareness—to combat a menace that remains perennial. But countering the dissimulation and calumnies of the anti-Zionists is not easy. We know that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth. But it seems that a truth repeated a thousand times becomes an irritation.

Given the virulent anti-Zionist advocacy of so many prominent Jewish self-haters, one remains skeptical of ever achieving collective assent or reasonable consensus. Masking the syndrome of self-contempt as a quest for “justice,” these Jewish turncoats seek redemption in a denial of both history and genealogy. Diagnostically speaking, it is not so much a mental illness or clinical aberration we are witnessing, but a sickness in the soul supple enough to contort itself into a spurious idealism, a simulacrum of ideological nobility.

Few of these people, I suspect, have ever been viciously targeted and physically assaulted merely for being Jewish. Very few have ever lived under the constant threat of military invasion, of suicide bombers wreaking carnage in their public spaces and of randomly incoming missiles on their towns and cities as a matter of everyday existence. They hail largely from among the privileged who have been spared the traumatic experience of confronting the bloody and unflinching enmity of their antagonists. They have jobs, salaries, leisure, prestige, comfort and security. They are bubbled in their groups and organizations. Their children do not live in Sderot where an entire generation of Israeli youngsters, growing up amidst the relentless shelling of their homes and playgrounds, suffers from acute PTSD and severe psychological regression.

This state of fortunate exemption has allowed them the luxury of sanctimonious censure of those who are on the receiving end of all they have managed to avoid. Our renegades would do well to read George Steiner’s Language and Silence. Steiner writes: “If Israel were to be destroyed, no Jew would escape unscathed. The shock of failure, the need and harrying of those seeking refuge, would reach out to implicate even the most indifferent, the most anti-Zionist.”

But of course, it is not only a question of Israel. “Somewhere the determination to kill Jews,” Steiner continues, “to harass them from the earth simply because they are, is always alive.” Those Jews who affect otherwise are living in a fool’s paradise.
I'm sorting through all of this stuff myself. In fact, in the wake of Israel's Gaza campaign, and both the global parade of violent anti-Semitism, as well as the academic and journalistic abandonment of Israel, the existential question of the Jewish state seems all too real.

I'll have more later.

Palin Forms PAC in Signal of 2012 Intentions

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has launched a political action committee, which is a sure sign of the former vice-presidential candidate's intentions for 2012. Susan Davis reports:

Need another indication that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is eyeing a 2012 bid? Today she launched a new political action committee, SarahPAC, to dole out political donations to Republican candidates.

“SarahPAC believes America’s best days are ahead. Our country, founded on conservative principles and the fight for freedom, must confront the challenges of the 21st century with integrity, innovation, and determination,” states
the PAC’s Web site, which boasts that the governor of the oil-rich state is committed to “energy independence.”
More at the link.

The way things are turning out for Barack Obama's first hundred days, the 2012 GOP primaries may be even more heavily contested than anticipated. Some might think that a younger candidate like Palin ought to consider waiting until 2016, after perhaps a second Obama administration. But given the toughness among congressional Republicans right now in lining up against this week's stimulus package, perhaps we'll see President Obama's first term as a repeat of Bill Clinton's - a repudiation, in other words, which took a Herculean rescue effort on the part of the Clinton White House and the DNC to fend off a Republican upset in 1996. Had Bob Dole not been the GOP standard-bearer, who knows? Clinton never won a majority of the vote. A better candidate could have driven down the Democratic numbers.

I think Palin's right to stay in the game while the getting's hot.

There was
all kinds of debate and dismissal of Palin after the Republican ticket was trounced in November. But she's the star, and it's her nomination to lose. She's apparently lining up a mutimillion-dollar book deal, and while she'll no doubt have her work cut out on the wonkier side of things, Palin's a natural superstar in the great communicator mold. In her introductory speech as John McCain's runing-mate, her address to the Repubican National Convention, her vice-presidential debate, and in her fabulous performance on Saturday Night Live, Palin showed the world a combination of poise, command, and true star power.

With Palin-apostles like Rush Limbaugh already setting the tone for "heartland conservatives" across the country, Palin'll be in even better positioned to capitalize on her stature as
the odds on front-runner at this stage of the game.