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September 29, 2009

Standard Fare

I checked out the Weekly Standard site to see how much of the current stellar issue they had made available online, and was glad to see much of it there.....Andrew Ferguson's observations on Obama "relinquishing any [American] claim to indispensability" at the U.N., P.J. O'Rourke pleading guilty to all the hatreds necessarily harbored by conservatives, Fred Barnes on why the Obama team is insistent on dismantling the Medicare Advantage program relied upon by over 10 million seniors, and Stephen Hayes on Obama's Iran policy of "speak timidly and don't carry a stick".

Three remembrances of Irving Kristol are keepers too...by his son Bill, one by Joseph Epstein, and an admiring tribute by Mary Eberstadt.

And leave it to Noemie Emery, long a favorite of this blog for, among other things, her insights on presidents and presidencies, to articulate nicely the source of much of my own unease with Obama in his first nine months. Set aside the hubris, political tone-deafness, insularity and condescension. For me, it's his unwillingness (inability?) to speak with pride in, much less affection for America that is most galling. Not only does he fail to acknowledge American exceptionalism, he unambiguously abdicates the traditional role of the President of the United States as the champion of freedom and democracy in the world. What's worse, he seems to think this makes his bona fides as a sophisticate...a man of the world. Ferguson hits it in his article (linked above), and Emery says a lot in these three paragraphs...

Barack Obama is often described as an inspiring figure, in the vaunted tradition of Reagan and Kennedy, who can arouse in his hearers a sense of great purpose, and set them to dreaming great dreams. He's a fine speaker, but Reagan and Kennedy inspired by their message: the idea that the country is unique among nations, has a singular mission to promote freedom everywhere; in effect, that the country is great. On this point, Obama is dumb. He stresses the country's faults, not its virtues; goes on apology tours, where he asks the forgiveness of nations with much grimmer histories; calls his country arrogant and dismissive of others, who deserve more respect. Cities on hills, beloved of Reagan and Kennedy, are not in his lexicon, and the idea of the "last best hope" of humanity has not crossed his lips. He finds the country exceptional only in its pretense to be so, and has been at pains to let England and Israel, who gave us our values, know that they're also not much. He doesn't seem to be moved by democracy either, as shown by his indifference to those fighting for it in Iran and Honduras, and his indulgence of oppressive regimes.

A normal candidate who struck most of these notes would quickly be tossed on the ash heap of history, but this isn't your average bloke. He is in himself a historical moment, whose breakthrough election was, as was the moon landing, a great giant step for mankind. While denying American greatness, he seems to embody it: No other country had ever atoned for its sins in so stunning a manner, or come quite so far quite so fast.

The candidate at once of the left and the center, of the hot and the cool, of the race conscious and colorblind, he is the candidate too of those who deny that their country is special, and those who believe that he proves that it is. The upside of this is that it allows him to run down the country and still seem aspirational; the downside is that public tolerance for his world view has always been limited (think Jimmy Carter), and sooner or later the truth will come through. If he becomes Carter II, then the glow will fade quickly. No president who hasn't stood up for American greatness has ever been loved for too long.

Read it all, of course. She concludes that the above Obama contradictions "have misled the public, without the intent to deceive." Chief among those contradictions is the moderate temperament of the man, contrasted with the radical agenda. Many who backed him were fooled...but so was Obama, says Emery. He misread the electoral mood. The main question now seems to be whether he will double back or double down.

September 22, 2009

Narrowing the Mission

Rich Lowry

It’s understandable that he’d want to deliberate carefully about a decision to send as many as 45,000 more troops. But on his Sunday-show marathon, Obama questioned the premises of the war. He complained of “mission creep” in Afghanistan and claimed, “I wanted to narrow it.”

If so, this is the only news from his mind-numbing round of interviews. In August, he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars that Afghanistan is “a war of necessity,” because “if left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.” In March, he announced “a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He called for reversing the Taliban’s gains by taking the fight to the insurgents, training the Afghan security forces and promoting a better Afghan government. If the mission “creeped,” Obama did it.

If Obama never meant what he said about Afghanistan — or has changed his mind — this is the time to say it.

More from Jen Rubin and the Washington Post

Remembering Kristol

The Standard blog has a nice roundup of commentary on, and remembrances of Irving Kristol.

UPDATE 9/23: Chris DeMuth and Jonah Goldberg

..and another roundup at the Standard blog.

September 20, 2009

Going Where They've Been

Via Power Line, a report on Sweden cutting income taxes to spur economic growth. John Hinderaker says...

...a generation of economic stagnation has taught the Swedes a lesson. They've learned that government does not produce wealth, and if they want more people to work, jobs have to pay better, after taxes. Sweden is therefore in the midst of a series of tax cuts aimed at preserving the long-term viability of its economy. Today's headline: "Sweden slashes income tax further to boost jobs."

It's an interesting comparison: Sweden experimented with the nanny state, learned that it was devastating to the economic and moral health of its people, and is moving back toward individualism. Here in the U.S., we had the world's most dynamic economy, and the lesson we took away from that--some of us, anyway--was that we were doing something wrong and needed to socialize everything. Curious.

And it's not just Sweden in retreat from nanny-statism, with center-right politics resurgent in nearly all of Western Europe, as a corrective to decades of socialistic policies. Obama's insistence on taking the U.S. down that road anyway betrays him as an ideologue, not a pragmatist. The conclusion wouldn't be so easy to jump to if Obama had given any hint that he is something other than a societal leveler by disposition.

September 15, 2009

In The Public Interest

A new magazine venture called National Affairs is worth checking out, as I'm sure the free content is representative of the full version, with Yuval Levin on the masthead, and names like James Capretta, Charles Murray, Michael Barone, and Leon Kass contributing to the first issue.

Here's Levin with the quarterly's inaugural editorial and mission statement.

Mighty Oaks in Jeopardy

It's all ACORN all the time, at Andrew Breitbart's biggovernment.com site. Take a look, because you won't find it in your local newspaper or on the TV news.

September 14, 2009

Censure Whom?

Michael Ramirez at IBD Editorials


Lectures on civility from Democrats are the order of the day...as if the last eight years never happened. As Victor Davis Hanson says..."it's all quite amazing, really"

As we all remember, novels were published outlining dreams of killing Bush; a film on that theme won an award. Al Gore, John Glenn (of all people!), and Robert Byrd compared Bush to a brownshirt or Nazi, and they were echoed in the popular culture by the likes of Linda Rondstadt and Garrison Keiler ("brownshirts in pinstripes"). There was no liberal outcry in response.

The Guardian published a sick column by one Charles Brooker, who asked out loud, "John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?" Howard Dean, head of the Democratic party, raged, "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for." I think it was The New Republic that published Jonathan Chait's infamous "Why I Hate George W. Bush" article — imagine the outcry should anyone now do the same reprehensible thing with Obama substituted for Bush (e.g., "Why I Hate Barack H. Obama"). A play ran in New York called "I'm Gonna Kill the President."

...lots more.

UPDATE 9/17: Peter Wehner documents Democrats' civility and respect for the office of the presidency during the Bush years.

September 11, 2009

Dr. Lou Talks to the Buckeyes

Lou Holtz' pep talk for the Buckeyes before facing USC. Lou has a pretty funny Woody Hayes story.

Here's my game preview at TheClevelandFan.com, which contains links to some other pregame talk.

UPDATE 9/14: My thoughts on the USC game outcome.

September 9, 2009

Has Obama Been Listening?

Newt's 10 point Checklist for the Obama health care speech, a speech that should be listened to with one overriding question in mind..

Is this a speech designed to bring together Americans to pass bipartisan health reform?

Or is this a speech designed to appease the Left?

Then there's Fred Barnes, who has five questions.

And here's Michael Barone

There is an element of convenient fantasy as well in Obama's health care statements to date. We are going to save money by spending money. We are going to solve our fiscal problems with a program that will increase the national debt by $1,000,000,000,000 over a decade. We are going to guarantee you can keep your current insurance with a bill that encourages your employer to stop offering it.

The list goes on. We are going to improve health care for seniors by cutting $500,000,000,000 from Medicare. We aren't going to insure illegal aliens, except that we won't have any verification provisions to see that they can't apply and get benefits.

September 6, 2009

Van Under The Bus

Now that he has resigned, the New York Times and others are forced to report that there has been a "controversy" about Van Jones. The Times says it has been "slowly escalating", and in fact it just "erupted" Friday. That's probably why they haven't gotten around to covering it.

UPDATE: Linkfest at Ed Driscoll

More at Ed's, including Jimmie Bise's three things.

And if Trutherism and Free Mumiaism had not been enough, I'm thinking the words of Jones monologue on the CD he recorded with Mumia might have been troublsome for him... as reported via PowerLine...say, like this for example...

We see violence against poor people, and poor people of color, within the US border, at the US border, and beyond the US border. And you see US tax dollars funding all of it. And so we have now a global struggle against the US-led security apparatus and military agenda that impacts people here and impacts people around the world...

You'd think that kind of thinking might have been problematic for a President of the United States, who, you know, controls the security apparatus on which Van Jones has declared global war. Even more troublesome is the sense that Jones and the President are of one mind on the issue.....and then that Jones' position renders him unfit for service in the White House.

...semi-regretting the unoriginal post title, which I selected before I saw how ubiquitous it is in the right blogosphere...too good I guess.

UPDATE: Andrew Breitbart

David Horowitz' blog post in full...

Lessons of the Van Jones Affair: Democrats Are Comfortable With Communists, Racists and Anti-Semites

There is no more mystery about Van Jones. He was a passionate defender of cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, a self-satisfied and described "Communist," a supporter of the destruction of the Jewish state, and a promoter of the theory that the Katrina tragedy was a white racist plot, and so forth. That's okay with Democratic chairman Howard Dean, and Obama's Environmental Quality Council head Nancy Sutley. (See Ron Radosh's current blog for chapter and verse, and also the many blogs on Jones at our own www.newsrealblog.com.) This should surprise no one. The recent heads of the black caucus in the House -- part of the 120 member "progressive caucus" -- have all been Castro-loving racists -- Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee to name two off the top of my head. Diane Watson is probably next. The Democratic Party today is a "popular front" organization (to pluck an appropriate term from the 1930s when liberals and Stalinists lined up together as well). There are no scoundrels, America haters, racists -- that Democrats won't assimilate. One of the more obnoxious racists and crooks in public life -- Charlie Rangel -- is still chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee because Nancy Pelosi can't remove him, so strong is his support in her party.

And if you don't believe how far left the Democrats have lurched when I say it, here's authentication from Alan Colmes who, after ignoring all the evidence about who Van Jones actually is and what he believes, and pretending that it's all a Glenn Beck-World Net Daily-Horowitz plot, concludes "Van Jones is a mainstream liberal." That's exactly right Alan. And that's exactly the problem.

How did things get to this pass? Let me just single out one problem, because it's the one conservatives can actually affect. And that is to start calling things by their right names. The timidity and cowardice of Republicans towards Democratic Party outrages of this nature is a principal culprit. When you call Communists "liberals," it legitimizes them. The time has come to stop it. To stop the charade, stick your head out the window and say "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."

September 4, 2009

For Slow Learners

Clearly what's needed here is another speech.

Jonah Goldberg

Funny how the people who run the most sophisticated communication operation in the history of the presidency keep concluding that their difficulties stem from their inability to get their message out and never from what their message actually is.