Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Election 2012, Election 2014, History, Law, Politics, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Cut Back on Vote Fraud, Photo Identification, Stop Dead People Voting
The Justice Department is hell bent on preventing any state from requiring photo identification in order to vote. They attempt to claim that it is just like the poll tax, once required by Southern Democrats in Southern states to prevent blacks from voting.
Since you can get a photo ID in any state for free from the DMV, you need a photo ID to open a bank account, to cash a check, to buy an airplane ticket, to get benefits from the government, the claim seems more than a little specious. A photo ID is required to enter the Washington DC Justice Department building. The Justice Department’s claims should be laughed out of court, so to speak. It is a blatant, partisan effort to make minorities think that Republican want to keep them from voting, and Democrats want to ensure their right to vote. Embarrassing.
Filed under: Capitalism, History, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: The Holodomor 1932-33, The Soviet Story, Who Was Worse?
A question that occasionally comes up in conversation: “How come the villains are always Nazis? We hear constantly about the Nazi concentration camps, but never about the Gulag. Stéphane Courtois’ The Black Book of Communism and Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror alone should make it clear that Russia is not exactly going to respond cordially to ‘reset buttons’ or pleas for conversation, even when we have more ‘flexibility.’ Or perhaps Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, Anne Applebaum’s Gulag: A History, Or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’ s The Gulag Archipelago. Why do we choose not to know, when the information is right there? How can our administration be “astonished” when the Russians choose not to risk losing their Black Sea port and access to the Mediterranean? This is the country that planned and carried out the Holodomor — The Great Terror, on the Ukraine.
This is long, an hour and a half film from 2008, that probably most people never saw. If you can’t spare that much time now, make time to watch it later.
Filed under: Capitalism, Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Politics, The United States | Tags: Claremont Review of Books, Hidden Freight Behind Words, The Misuse of Language
In the current Claremont Review of Books, Wilfred M. McClay, Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma, reviews Fred Siegel’s Revolt Against the Masses. This excerpt is his introduction to his subject, but I found it fascinating in itself. I’m familiar, of course, with the term “the narrative,” but there is so much obfuscation going on with our language that I was just inclined to put it aside. Mistake. Very worth pondering this development, aided by focus-group testing of words for their persuasive value. Minds must be subverted.
We have this term now in circulation: “the narrative.” It is one of those somewhat pretentious academic terms that has wormed its way into common speech, like “gender” or “significant other,” bringing hidden freight along with it. Everywhere you look, you find it being used, and by all kinds of people. Elite journalists, who are likely to be products of university life rather than years of shoe-leather reporting, are perhaps the most likely to employ it, as a way of indicating their intellectual sophistication. But conservative populists like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are just as likely to use it too. Why is that so? What does this development mean?
I think the answer is clear. The ever more common use of “narrative” signifies the widespread and growing skepticism about any and all of the general accounts of events that have been, and are being, provided to us. We are living in an era of pervasive genteel disbelief—nothing so robust as relativism, but instead something more like a sustained “whatever”—and the word “narrative” provides a way of talking neutrally about such accounts while distancing ourselves from a consideration of their truth. Narratives are understood to be “constructed,” and it is assumed that their construction involves conscious or unconscious elements of selectivity—acts of suppression, inflation, and substitution, all meant to fashion the sequencing and coloration of events into an instrument that conveys what the narrator wants us to see and believe. These days, even your garage mechanic is likely to speak of the White House narrative, the mainstream-media narrative, and indicate an awareness that political leaders try to influence the interpretation of events at a given time, or seek to “change the narrative” when things are not turning out so well for them and there is a strongly felt need to change the subject. The language of “narrative” has become a common way of talking about such things.
One can regret the corrosive side effects of such skepticism, but there are good reasons for it. Halfway through the first quarter of the 21st century, we find ourselves saddled with accounts of our nation’s past, and of the trajectory of American history, that are demonstrably suspect, and disabling in their effects. There is a view of America as an exceptionally guilty nation, the product of a poisonous mixture of territorial rapacity emboldened by racism, violence, and chauvinistic religious conviction, an exploiter of natural resources and despoiler of natural beauty and order such as the planet has never seen. Coexisting with that dire view is a similarly exaggerated Whiggish progressivism, in which all of history is seen as a struggle toward the greater and greater liberation of the individual, and the greater and greater integration of all governance in larger and larger units, administered by cadres of experts actuated by the public interest and by a highly developed sense of justice. The arc of history bends toward the latter view, although its progress is impeded by the malign effects of the former one.
The review is interesting as well. The Claremont Review of Books, a quarterly, is one of my favorite publications. A great bargain. You can subscribe at the link, but there’s lots of good stuff there.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Environment, Freedom, Health Care, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Disgraceful Decisions, Environmental Extremism, Humans Don't Count
King Cove, Alaska is a remote town in the Aleutians of around a thousand people. It’s a fishing village that has a tiny airport which is often locked in by gale-force winds and fog. The town has a clinic, but no doctor and no hospital. For trauma cases, childbirth and complications of all sorts, they must get to the all-weather World War II airport in Cold Bay, 22 miles away, for transportation for the 600 miles to Anchorage, doctors and hospitals.
King Cove requested of the Interior Department a 22 mile-long, one-lane gravel road to Cold Bay which would allow for all-weather access to lifesaving medical care. Etta Kuzakin, a 36-year-old King Cove resident who serves as Agdaagux tribal president, needed an emergency Caesarean section in March after going into early labor with her now 9-month-old daughter. Giving birth in King Cove could have killed her and her baby. Medevac flights into King Cove were grounded by ugly weather. Ms. Kuzakin waited in labor for ten hours until a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew her out in the afternoon.
“If there had been a road, it would be two hours out,” she said. “I sat there in labor not knowing if I was going to die or my kid was going to die. Pretty traumatic.” Fishing is also hard work, and injuries are common. According to local Aleutian elders, 19 people have died since 1980 because bad weather during emergency evacuations prevented them from getting out.
Sally Jewell, U.S. Interior Secretary, met with Aleutian citizens in the gymnasium in King Cove, to hear their request for a simple one-lane gravel lifeline to a dependable airport. Ms. Jewell, former head of REI, told her King Cove audience that “I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals.“ She rejected the road, saying that “it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge.”
The assorted kinds of waterfowl with which I am familiar are a moveable species. If a truck is coming down a road, they are capable of moving off or across a one-lane road. These are not flightless species. Bears can manage to cross roads as well as other species to be found in the Aleutians. What could this woman who calls herself an “environmentalist” have possibly been thinking?” A waterfowl’s potential annoyance at having to move from a road trumps human life every time? Well, that’s environmentalism for you every time. Self-righteous in their passion for wildlife; callous and cruel to humanity. Obama can really pick them. Disgusting.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Politics, The United States | Tags: Focus Group Tested Words, Telling the Truth, The Poverty Line
President Obama, speaking yesterday in Connecticut said:
Nobody who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.
Nice warm sentiment. Who could disagree? But this is the triumph of nice words, as is customary from this president, over reality.
A person who works full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, earns more than the official poverty line. We can’t win “the war on poverty” until we start talking about it truthfully. See here. It’s a game played to get votes, not to actually improve anyone’s life.
Improving lives is not a game, and is done with a growing, thriving economy that provides jobs for those who want to work, and take pride in the work they do.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Freedom, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, The United States
Elizabeth Scalia, the Anchoress, came up with the best single sentence observation of the day:
“The man’s sense of himself has been over-indulged to a reckless point.”
Her article is excellent, and here. Elliott Abrams article on the interview President Obama gave to Jeffrey Goldberg which shows a chief executive who has learned nothing about the world in his five years in office. Must reading.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Taxes, The United States | Tags: No President is Above the Law, The Meaning of the Constitution, What is a Law?
Cynthia Burwell, Director of the White House Office of Management And Budget testified before the Senate Budget Committee on the problematic problem of President Obama’s just submitted budget. Currently, federal discretionary spending is capped by the Ryan-Murray comprehensive spending bill that President Obama signed just 10 weeks ago. So ranking Republican Jeff Sessions asked Ms. Burwell whether the president’s budget increases spending above the Ryan-Murray level passed by Congress and signed by the president into law.
Cynthia Burwell, presidential appointee, refused to give a straight answer to a simple yes or no question. She implicitly acknowledged that the president’s budget does indeed pay no attention whatsoever to the agreement that Republican and Democrats agreed to less than three months ago. She kept claiming that it is “paid for.” That simply means that in addition to ignoring the spending caps, the president’s budget raises taxes to pay for it. Sleazy work from a sleazy administration that is choosing to ignore the limitations the Constitution places on his actions. Out of control and unrestrained by reality.
I am a great admirer of the fearless Senator Jeff Sessions.
Filed under: Europe, Foreign Policy, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Russia, The United States | Tags: Foreign Policy Failure, Putin Is Not Our Friend, Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin just pitched the post Cold War rule-book out the window, and the European countries are understandably nervous. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement that he wants to downsize the military to the size it was before World War II, may go down in history as the most inappropriate announcement ever made by a cabinet member.
The White House spin machine is telling friendly reporters that Vladimir Putin has fallen into a trap, which may be carrying the idea of “spin” a little too far. Walter Russell Mead said “Putin is increasingly likely to go down in history as a failed state builder, a man who took Russia down the wrong path and who added to the burden of Russian history.”
But those are long term considerations that, unfortunately for the diligent White House staffers working to spin the next news cycle, won’t help the President now. In the short term President Putin has put President Obama in an ugly spot. President Obama’s foreign policy depends on three big ideas: that a working relationship with Russia can help the United States stabilize the Middle East, that a number of American adversaries are willing to settle their differences with us on the basis of compromises that we can accept, and that President Obama has the smarts to know who we can trust.
Putin’s attack on Ukraine calls all three propositions into question. What Obama’s belief in the possibility of deals with countries like Russia and Iran leaves out is that some countries around the world may count the reduction of American power and prestige among their vital interests. They may not be hampering and thwarting us because we are unnecessarily and arbitrarily blocking their path toward a reasonable goal; they may be hampering and frustrating us because curbing our power is one of their central objectives. This is not necessarily irrational behavior from their point of view; American power is not a good thing if you hate the post-Cold War status quo, and it can make sense to sacrifice the advantages of a particular compromise with the United States if as a result you can reduce America’s ability to interfere with your broader goals.
Washington’s flat-footed, deer-in-the-headlights incomprehension about Russia’s Crimean adventure undermines President Obama’s broader credibility in a deeply damaging way. If he could be this blind and misguided about Vladimir Putin, how smart is he about the Ayatollah Khameni, a much more difficult figure to read? President Obama is about to have a difficult meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in which he will tell Netanyahu essentially that Israel should ground its national security policy on the wisdom of President Obama and his profound grasp of the forces of history. The effect will be somewhat undermined by President Obama’s failure to understand the most elementary things about Vladimir Putin.
Foreign policy is harder than it looks, and Mr. Obama’s foreign policy team is not an impressive bunch. Will the American public see this as just another case of difficult foreigners doing bad things in some little-known country, or will they see this as clear evidence that this president is too naive and too passive and he is endangering the country?
Secretary Kerry said huffily on Face the Nation: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country. That’s not the act of somebody who’s strong, Putin is acting out of “weakness” and “desperation.”
It’s easier to threaten friends. They probably won’t do anything. Obama said essentially that if Israel wouldn’t agree to the U.S. idea of a peace deal with the Palestinians, then the U.S. won’t be able to defend Israel if the peace talks fail. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which began last July, have made no visible progress. Palestine refuses to recognize the right of the Israeli state to exist, won’t stop shooting rockets into Israel, continues to teach its small children that martyrdom in the interest of killing Jews is a holy aim, and insists of the ‘right of return.’ Obama’s ideas about Israel were likely formed by his friendship with the radical Palestinian professor Rashid Khalidi. He does not change his mind.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Russia, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: An Ill-Informed Media, Anticipating Events, Russian History
A Politico report called it “a crisis no one anticipated.” The Daily Beast, reporting on Friday’s US intelligence assessment that “Vladimir Putin’s military would not invade Ukraine,” and quotes a Senate aide claiming that “no one really saw this kind of thing coming.” The American Interest noted that the mainstream media remains deeply convinced that President Obama and his dovish team are “the masters of foreign relations, nothing poor Putin did could possibly derail the stately progress of our genius president. There were, we were told lots of reasons not to worry about Ukraine. War is too costly for Russia’s weak economy. Trade would suffer, the ruble would take a hit. The 2008 war with Georgia is a bad historical comparison, Putin doesn’t want to spoil his upcoming G8 summit, or his good press from Sochi.”
How many times did foolishly confident American experts and officials come out with some variant of the phrase “We all share a common interest in a stable and prosperous Ukraine.” We may think that’s true, but Putin doesn’t.
We blame this in part on the absence of true intellectual and ideological diversity in so much of the academy, the policy world and the mainstream media. Most college kids at good schools today know many more people from different races and cultural groups than their grandparents did, but they are much less exposed to people who think outside the left-liberal box. How many faithful New York Times readers have no idea what American conservatives think, much less how Russian oligarchs do? Well bred and well read Americans live in an ideological and cultural cocoon and this makes them fatally slow to understand the very different motivations that animate actors ranging from the Tea Party to the Kremlin to, dare we say it, the Supreme Leader and Guide of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As far as we can tell, the default assumption guiding our political leadership these days is that the people on the other side of the bargaining table (unless they are mindless Tea Party Republicans) are fundamentally reasonable people who see the world as we do, and are motivated by the same things that motivate us. Many people are, of course, guided by an outlook not all that dissimilar from the standard upper middle class gentry American set of progressive ideas. But some aren’t, and when worlds collide, trouble comes.
Canada has promptly recalled its ambassador to Russia, and cancelled their attendance at the G8 conference. The G7 are suspending their participation in any international summit in Russia. I think that The American Interest has it exactly right. The White House operates on the assumption that the people with whom we negotiate are really reasonable people who basically want the same things that we do. Well, no they’re not. Has no one noticed that Putin has allied himself with Syria, Iran, North Korea. Moscow denounced the overthrow of Moscow’s man in Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych as the illegal work of fascist bandits.
Obama wants stability. He sees Ukraine as a crisis to be managed. Democracy must come organically from international developments, not imposed by outside intervention. What he does not understand is that American inaction creates a vacuum. Obama’s meaningless “red line” in Syria invited in Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. Obama’s failure to get a status of forces agreement with Iraq invited in Iran and al Qaeda. And he is apparently ready to turn Afghanistan over to the Taliban. Obama’s lifting of the sanctions against Iran has allowed them the freedom to finish developing their nuclear weapons.
These are not reasonable people who want the same things we do.The citizens of these countries may be reasonable people, but their governments are a different bunch. The people of Iran were once quite cosmopolitan, but the Mullahs await the return of the Mahdi and expect nuclear weapons to hasten the reestablishment of the Caliphate.
The Saudis and the leaders of the Gulf States are deeply worried about Iran. One might assume that they are more familiar with their neighbors than we are. We should perhaps pay attention.
Putin has told us over and over that the fall of Soviet Russia was the world’s greatest catastrophe, and he clearly regrets the loss of superpower status. Part of restoring the Soviet Union would seem to be recapturing its former satellite states. If we paid attention, and knew our history, we might anticipate such crises. That seems a worthy goal.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, History, National Security, Russia, The United States | Tags: Formal Approval From Parliament, Obama Speaks Out, Russian Troops Invade Crimea
The situation in the Ukraine continues to deteriorate. Putin has invaded the Crimea, as expected. President Obama skipped the National Security Meeting on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
A Ukrainian official at the U.N. said an additional 15,000 Russian troops were streaming into Crimea after President Vladimir Putin received formal approval from the upper chamber of parliament to send forces into his neighboring country.
Ukrainian officials said two Russian anti-submarine warships had approached the coastline near Sevastopol, violating the two countries’ agreement on the Russian naval base there.
These moves came shortly after Obama said in the White House press briefing that “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” There’s a statement designed to send chills down the backbone of any Russian czar, or not.
“Russian troops will remain deployed until the “political-social situation in the country is normalized,” the Kremlin said.
President Obama skipped the National Security Meeting on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine., but I repeat myself.
He told us so back when he was running for office, but you didn’t pay attention. Richard Fernandez notes:
During the height of the Cold War it was believed that having to emphasize the obvious represented a failure of policy. Deterrence had to be self-evident; a daily thing. You didn’t go on the air to issue bloodcurdling warnings. You didn’t have to because stability was there, part of the normal like the air or the earth. The Russian president only had to look at the his daily briefing to know that the USAF was flying and hence that the day could begin as peacefully as the previous one.
Well, when the world heats up, just issue a firm statement — “there will be costs.” That should do it.