US spy agencies advocate expedient murder of Americans? 1

This is from  the Guardian, the British newspaper that first exposed the extent of the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance capability and practice. We have very seldom found the powerful left-slanted pro-Islam anti-semitic Guardian worthy of quoting unless to argue against it. This time we find value in one of its articles, an interview with their NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, a former technical assistant for the CIA, now in Hong Kong where he has sought asylum for reasons that emerge in what he reveals among these extracts:

Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?

A: The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards. I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under. …

Q: Do you see yourself as another Bradley Manning?

A: Manning was a classic whistleblower. He was inspired by the public good.

Q: Do you think what you have done is a crime?

A: We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. …

Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?

A: Nothing good.

Q: Why Hong Kong?

A: I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People’s Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech.

Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?

A: That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians. 

Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?

A: You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.

Q: Does your family know you are planning this?

A: No. My family does not know what is happening … My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with … I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night. …

Q: Washington-based foreign affairs analyst Steve Clemons said he overheard at the capital’s Dulles airport four men discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended. Speaking about the leaks, one of them said, according to Clemons, that both the reporter and leaker should be “disappeared”. How do you feel about that?

A: Someone responding to the story said ‘real spies do not speak like that’. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general.

Q: Do you have a plan in place?

A: The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me … My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be. They could put out an Interpol note. But I don’t think I have committed a crime outside the domain of the US. I think it will be clearly shown to be political in nature.

Q: Do you think you are probably going to end up in prison?

A: I could not do this without accepting the risk of prison. You can’t come up against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will.

So if Edward Snowden is to be believed, the intelligence agencies of the United States like the idea of killing people to shut them up. Snowden does not say in the interview that they have killed people whose testimony against them they fear, but would they advocate such expedient murders of US citizens if they did not believe they can get away with them? And if they are all for them, and think they can get away with them, is it not highly probable that they have committed them?

*

However –

Scott Johnson of PowerLine, whose opinion we hold in high esteem, has doubts about the value of Snowden’s revelations and his motivation:

If you’ve been queasy about the ongoing disclosures of anti-terror national security programs by lefty Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian (UK), as I have, I doubt the Guardian’s profile of Greenwald’s source — one Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old self-described former technical assistant for the CIA who says he has has worked at the NSA for the last four years as an employee of outside contractors including Booz Allen and Dell — will allay your queasiness.

Read the whole thing and render your own judgment. Snowden seems to me a true believer of doubtful maturity sunk in his own weird grandiosity. Greenwald of course celebrates Snowden as a “whisteblower.” That is a conclusion that begs the question, but I got off the train long before reaching this statement of reassurance, provided to Greenwald from the refuge of a hotel room in Hong Kong:

“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

As for transparency, I think I can see right through him.

Renewing the Republican Party 18

The Republican Party needs to freshen up.  The re-election of President Obama in November 2012 came as a shock to many, perhaps most, possibly just about all Republicans.

What went wrong is the subject of a column by Scott Johnson at PowerLine:

Looking back at the election, it’s worth asking how we got here – because just about everything we thought we knew about politics and presidential elections proved to be false. Or at least just about everything I thought I knew.

First, that a reelection campaign is a referendum on the incumbent president – that was the fundamental thesis of the Romney campaign. Wrong! I bought it. The Romney campaign staked itself on the proposition that it needed to present Governor Romney as a plausible alternative to a failed incumbent. As a result they shied away from a comprehensive critique of the Obama presidency and from ideas generally. 

Second, that a bad economy dooms an incumbent president. Wrong! The Romney campaign seemed to think that the bad economy and high unemployment by themselves made the case for Romney. …

Third, that Americans reject government dependency and laugh off the promise of government support from cradle to grave. Just look at the Obama campaign’s promise of life everlasting in its famous interactive feature The Life of Julia. They told the American public to “See how President Obama’s policies help one woman over her lifetime” and how Mitt Romney would change her story. It was It’s A Wonderful Life redone for the welfare state. …

So … how can Republicans learn from [the Democrats’] success? I want briefly to mention four factors.

1. Technological expertise:

In the realm of technology, the Obama machine crushed the Romney machine. Following the election, the Obama campaign actually put its playbook online – here it is — detailing the workings of the operation called The Cave. … an efficient and data-driven operation that correctly predicted the behavior of millions of Americans. At the same time, it maintained the flexibility to make real-time adjustment and produced votes. Romney’s Project Orca crashed on Election Day.

Technology also helped the campaign’s record fundraising efforts. … Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails. During the campaign, Obama’s staff wouldn’t answer questions about them or the alchemy that made them so successful. If there is such a thing as political science, I think the Obama campaign discovered it in its email fundraising. By a rigorous process of trial and error, they determined the most effective email subject line with which to raise money and the correct amount to ask for in order to maximize their return. …

2. Blackening the reputation of opponents – what we call “fighting dirty”:

The Democrats … have a genius for being able to blacken the names and reputations of men of the most sterling character — Mitt Romney is just one, and he was a dead man walking before he got the nomination.

Before he had even formally been nominated, the Obama campaign was running a devastating advertising campaign attacking his business record and personal character in key battleground states. I thought the attacks were ludicrous, but they did the trick.

Romney never responded. He never got off the mat. His campaign operated on the thesis that it was too soon to engage, that voters make up their minds at the end of a presidential campaign. Wrong again!

3. Taking notice of how the electorate is changing demographically:

Something’s happening with the issue of demography. The electorate in our presidential elections is shifting in a direction adverse to Republicans. The Republican consultant Jeffrey Bell has noted that, in the six presidential elections between 1992 and 2012, the Democratic Party has regained the solid popular vote majority it enjoyed during the New Deal/Great Society era from 1932 to 1964 — which it lost in the six elections between 1968 and 1988. …

If the country’s demographic composition were the same last year as it was in 2000, Romney would now be president. If it were still the same as it was in 1992, Romney would have won in a rout. If he had merely secured 42 percent of the Hispanic vote — rather than his pathetic 27 percent — Romney would have won the popular vote and carried Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico. They conclude that Republicans have a winning message for an electorate that no longer exists.

4.  The issue of dependency – or the maddening fact that a lot of people want a lot of free stuff:

Something is happening in terms of how Americans view dependence on government, too. Beyond Social Security and Medicare, we have the continued growth of Medicaid, food stamps, Social Security disability, welfare, and, just over the horizon, Obamacare. … The number of Americans seeking entitlement benefits from the government continues to increase.

We appear to be undergoing a “fundamental transformation” that goes deep into our character. As we can see in The Life of Julia, President Obama promotes it as a positive good.

[President] Lincoln … asked rhetorically in one of his 1858 campaign speeches, in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form. What are these arguments? he asked:

“They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument …” 

It’s as true in 2013 as it was in 1858.

In a recently published booklet titled Go for the Heart: How Republicans Can Win –  and also in an article to be found here – David Horowitz writes:

After voters re-elected an administration that added five trillion dollars to the nation’s debt, left 23 million Americans unemployed, surrendered Iraq to America’s enemy Iran, and enabled the Muslim Brotherhood to gain control of the largest country in the Middle East, the one lesson Republicans should agree on is that elections are driven by emotions, not reason. Moreover, when it comes to mobilizing emotions, Democrats beat Republicans hands down. 

Worse, Republicans appear unable to learn from their losses. Year after year, Democrats accuse Republicans of the same imaginary crimes – waging wars on women, not caring about minorities, and inflicting pain on working Americans to benefit the wealthy. And year after year, Republicans have no effective responses to neutralize these attacks. Or to take the battle to the enemy’s camp.

Horowitz believes that the central issue in any election is “caring“.

Before voters cast their ballots for policies or values they want a candidate or party that cares about them.

How crucial is this concern? In the 2012 election, 70% of Asian Americans cast their ballots for Obama …  because they were persuaded that he cared for minorities – for them, and Romney didn’t.

The Republican response to the Democrats’ attack (that’s “class warfare rhetoric”) doesn’t work because it’s an abstraction. … [Whereas] the Democrats’ attack on the rich is an emotional appeal to those who are not rich. It tells them that someone cares about them.

Using the term “class warfare” is a polite way of discussing a problem, a habit Republicans seem unable to break. It avoids finger pointing – naming an adversary and holding him accountable. Elections are adversarial. They are about defeating opponents …  about “us” and “them.” Democrats are as adept at framing “them,” as Republicans are not. Democrats know how to incite envy and resentment, distrust and fear, and to direct these volatile emotions towards their Republican opponents. …

An exit poll conducted by CNN asked, “What is the most important candidate quality to your vote?” Among the four choices were, “Strong Leader,” “Shares Your Values,” “Has A Vision for the Future,” and “Cares about People.” Romney won the first three by more than 54%. But he lost “Cares About People” by 81-18%. That says it all.

Of course elections are divisive – that is their nature. One side gets to win and the other side loses. … Appeals to reason are buried in the raucous noise that is electoral politics. Sorting out the truth would be a daunting task, even if voters were left alone to make up their minds.

But voters are not left alone. They are barraged by thousands of TV and electronic media messages, which confront them with contradicting data and malicious distortions. These deceptions are not inadvertent. They are the work of the professionals who run political campaigns and who are hired because they are experts in disinformation and misrepresenting the facts. In the world outside politics this is called lying; in politics it’s called spin, and to one extent or another everybody does it. But Democrats do it far better and far more aggressively than their Republican targets.

The Democratic Party has been moving steadily to the left since the McGovern campaign of 1972. It is now a party led by socialists and progressives who are convinced that their policies are paving the way to a “better world.”

This vision of moral and social progress has profound consequences for the way Democrats conduct their political battles. Unlike Republicans, Democrats are not in politics just to fix government and solve problems. …  Their goal is a new order of society— “social justice.” They think of themselves as social redeemers, people who are going to change the world. It is the belief in a redemptive future that accounts for their passion, and their furious personal assaults on those who stand in their way. …

Republicans see Democrats as mistaken. Democrats see Republicans … as enemies of the just and the good. Republicans have no parallel belief that drives them and their agendas, and no similar cause to despise and hate their opponents. …

If Obama and the Democrats were interested in addressing the immediate economic crisis they would not have used their monopoly of power to pursue a trillion dollar new social program opposed by half the nation and by every Republican in Congress.

The reason the Democrats made Obamacare their priority is because they are social missionaries whose goal is to “fundamentally transform” the United States of America, as Obama warned five days before the 2008 election. Creating a massive new government program that would absorb one-sixth of the economy and make every American dependent on government for his or her health care was the true order of their business. This was a program they saw as a major stepping-stone on the way to the fundamental transformation of American society.

That’s the way progressives think and Republicans had better start understanding just what that means. Progressives are not in politics to tinker with the existing system … They are in politics to achieve “social justice” – to transform the system and the way Americans live.

Horowitz then raises and tries to answer a burning question:

Why do progressives not see that the future they are promoting – with its socialist “solutions” – has already failed elsewhere, and particularly in Europe?

Because in their eyes the future is an idea that hasn’t been tried. If socialism has failed in Europe it’s because they weren’t in charge to implement it and there wasn’t enough money to fund it.

It is the very grandeur of the progressive ambition that makes its believers so zealous in pursuing it. Through government programs they are going to make everyone equal and take care of everyone in need. They are going to establish social equality and create social justice. It is an intoxicating view and it explains why and how they are different from conservatives. It doesn’t matter to them that the massive entitlements they have created — Social Security and Medicare — are already bankrupt. That can be taken care of by making more wealthy people pay more of their fair share. In their hearts, progressives believe that if they can secure enough money and accumulate enough power they can create a future where everyone is taken care of and everyone is equal. Everything Democrats do and every campaign they conduct is about mobilizing their political armies to bring about this glorious future, about advancing its agendas one program and one candidate at a time.

No Republican in his right mind thinks like this. 

Those who vote for Democrats want to be taken care of; want a government that would “care for every man, woman and child from cradle to grave”. And “Republicans are reactionary and hateful because they stand in the way of a society that can and should care for every man, woman and child from cradle to grave.”

Republicans take a view of politics that is fundamentally different. Republicans do not aspire to change the world. They want to repair systems that are broken. They are not missionaries, and they are not selling a land of dreams. …Because Republicans are mindful of the past, they are uncertain about the future, and therefore wary of impossible dreams. They hope for a future better than the present but they are mindful that things could be even worse. Many problems are intractable and will not go away. Because this is their attitude, conservative emotions can never be as inflamed as their progressive opponents’. Their instinct is to come up with practical plans and explain how specific problems might be solved. …

Republicans – or “conservatives” – can “never be as enflamed” as Democrats, and yet Horowitz urges them to behave as if they were, because “you can’t confront an emotionally based moral argument with an intellectual analysis. Yet this is basically and almost exclusively what Republicans do”.

The only way to confront the emotional campaign that Democrats wage in every election is through an equally emotional campaign that puts the aggressors on the defensive; that attacks them in the same moral language, identifying them as the bad guys … that takes away from them the moral high ground which they now occupy.

Start the next electoral campaign now, he advises Republicans, and put the other side on the defensive. Use the emotional weapons of “hope and fear”. Chiefly fear. Republicans must attack the Democrats as job destroyers. They must “frame them as the enemies of working Americans and the middle class”. They must pin the subprime mortgage crisis on them where it rightfully belongs.

The bottom line is this: If Republicans want to persuade minorities they care about them, they have to stand up for them; they have to defend them; and they have to show them that Democrats are playing them for suckers, exploiting them, oppressing them, and profiting from their suffering. 

It’s a case that can be powerfully made:

Large populations of the African American and Hispanic poor are concentrated in America’s inner cities … [where] the unemployment rates are off the charts, the school systems so corrupt and ineffective that half the children drop out before they graduate and half those who do are functionally illiterate. They will never get a decent job or a shot at the American dream.

In these inner cities, every city council and every school board and every school district are 100% controlled by Democrats and have been for more than 70 years. Everything that is wrong with the inner cities and their schools that policy can affect, Democrats are responsible for. Democrats have their boot heels on the necks of millions of poor African American and Hispanic children and are crushing the life out of them every year.

But Republicans are too polite to mention it.

… Democrats will fight to the death to prevent poor parents from getting vouchers to provide their children with the same education that well-heeled Democratic legislators provide for theirs. This is a moral atrocity. This is an issue to get angry about and mobilize constituencies over. This is an issue that could drive a Gibraltar-size wedge through the Democratic base.

But Republicans are too polite to do that. 

This is merely the most obvious atrocity that Democrats are committing against America’s impoverished minorities. Subverting family structures through a misconceived welfare system, encouraging food stamp dependency, providing incentives to bring into this world massive numbers of children who have no prospect of a decent life just to earn a welfare dollar. These are the corrupt fruits of Democratic welfare policies …  Republicans criticize these programs as “wasteful.” They need to start attacking them as destructive, as attacks on the human beings who are ensnared by them.

The way for Republicans to show they care about minorities is to defend them against their oppressors and exploiters, which in every major inner city in America without exception are Democrats. Democrats run the welfare and public education systems; they have created the policies that ruin the lives of the recipients of their handouts. It’s time that Republicans started to hold Democrats to account; to put them on the defensive and take away the moral high ground, which they now occupy illegitimately.

Government welfare is not just wasteful; it is destructive.

The public school system in America’s inner cities is not merely ineffective; it is racist and criminal.

Because Democrats regard politics as war conducted by other means, they seek to demonize and destroy their opponents as the enemies of progress, of social justice and minority rights. Republicans can only counter these attacks by turning the Democrats’ guns around — by exposing them as the enforcers of injustice, particularly to minorities and the poor, the exploiters of society’s vulnerable and the reactionary proponents of policies that have proven bankrupt and destructive all over the world.

All these ideas of Scott Johnson and David Horowitz – that the Rpublican Party must fight harder, dirtier, much more aggressively, appeal to emotions, learn lessons on how to campaign from the Democratic Party and stop being so stupidly polite (for which they never get any credit anyway) – are all good. But are they enough?

Scott Johnson makes an important point about demographic changes. Perhaps even more important are generational changes.

Our own view – or vision – is that the Republican Party should bend towards libertarianism to appeal to a rising generation of voters who don’t want government to interfere in their private lives. No laws against smoking pot. Stop the wasteful, unwinable and counter-productive war on drugs. Have nothing to do with questions of who may marry whom. Leave the issue of abortion out of the political discourse and out of the party platform.

Also: Learn and use Spanish, even let it be a second official language, why not? – English, the biggest and most used of all languages, will not cease to be the first language of America (and of all nations in their dealings with each other). Lift the regulatory burden on business. Put human activity above the preservation of animal bird and fish species. Go heavily for fossil fuel and nuclear energy. Keep church and state sternly separated, and positively encourage secularism. Add all this to the perennial policies of lower taxes, smaller government, market economics – and strong defense (the issue over which we conservatives part company with pacifist libertarians).

And yes, as the man says, learn to fight dirty. Attack. Be personal and ruthless. Engage with malice and fury every issue the other side raises. Accuse them of everything bad you can think of with passion. It can be done by rational beings when there is reason enough to do it. And there is reason enough. The Democrats must be put out of power.

The Hallmark Card school of diplomacy 1

Since Islam regards women as punch-bags, chattels, sex-slaves, at best worth only half as much as a man (as heirs to property or witnesses in a sharia court), it would not seem a sensible idea to send women ambassadors to Islamic countries. But when last did the State Department have a sensible idea?

April Glaspie was US ambassador to Saddam Hussein, and is charged or credited with giving the green light to that abominable tyrant to invade Kuwait in 1991, though whether she intended to or not remains unclear. Saddam probably didn’t give a fig what the woman said anyway.

Now there is a woman in Cairo, Anne Patterson, who represents the US to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt. How well is she doing?

This is from PowerLine, by Scott Johnson:

I’ve foolishly wondered why we’re giving Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime — you know, the one in which the President from the Brotherhood forced out the country’s top two military chiefs in order to consolidate his power over the armed forces — a slew of F-16s. If I’d only waited a few days, all would have become clear.

At a ceremony marking the delivery of the first four F-16s to Egypt on Sunday, US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson explained:

“Today’s ceremony demonstrates the firm belief of the United States that a strong Egypt is in the interest of the U.S., the region, and the world. We look to Egypt to continue to serve as a force for peace, security, and leadership as the Middle East proceeds with its challenging yet essential journey toward democracy. … Our thirty-four year security partnership is based upon shared interests and mutual respect. The United States has long recognized Egypt as an indispensible [sic] partner.”

A pretty statement, typical of the Hallmark Card school of diplomacy, where charming dreamers, in select US embassies round the world, substitute their sentiments for reality .

Suitably rough comments by Daniel Pipes are quoted by Scott Johnson:

1) Is not anyone in the Department of State aware that Egypt is now run by an Islamist zealot from the bowels of the Muslim Brotherhood whose goals differ profoundly from those of Americans?

(2) Willfully ignorant, head-in-the-ground statements like this are the embarrassment and ruin of American foreign policy.

(3) What a launch for [new Secretary of State] Kerry, whose mental vapidity promises to make Hillary Clinton actually look good in retrospect.

This report by the (pro-Obama) Washington Post indicates just how much of “a force for peace and security” Egypt is and has been, and just how much its government deserves Americans’ respect:

A recent spate of police violence has highlighted what many Egyptians say is the unchanged nature of their country’s security forces two years after a popular uprising carried with it hopes for sweeping reform.

Long a pillar of Hosni Mubarak’s abusive regime, Egypt’s Interior Ministry, with its black-clad riot police, has increasingly become a sign of renewed repression under Islamist President Mohamed Morsi

A series of clashes between anti-Islamist protesters and police that began on the second anniversary of Egypt’s revolt has snowballed into a much broader tide of anger toward the police force. Opposition leaders and rights groups say police used excessive force over 10 days of clashes that left more than 60 people dead across the country.

Two recent incidents have fanned the flames of popular dissent. And rights groups and analysts warn that if police reform does not come soon, the force’s brutal tactics are likely to spur more clashes in a cycle that could prove deeply destabilizing

The death … of Mohammed al-Gindy, a member of the opposition Popular Current party, has driven some of that rage. Gindy’s colleagues said the 28-year-old was tortured to death in police custody after disappearing from a protest Jan. 27.

Sayed Shafiq, the head of investigations at the Interior Ministry, said that Gindy was hit by a car and that his body was found “far away from the area of the clashes,” citing hospital sources.

But Gindy’s ribs and skull had been smashed, and his back and tongue bore the burns of electrical shocks, a party spokesperson said Monday, citing Gindy’s autopsy report. His case follows three deaths by torture since Morsi came to power in June, according to a report on police abuse released last month by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a Cairo-based watchdog group.

It was Ambassador Anne Patterson who issued this statement when the US embassy in Cairo was attacked on the anniversary of 9/11 last year:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

John Tabin at the American Spectator aptly called it “a shameful statement” and further commented:

A stand against those who “abuse” their right to free speech is best suited to authoritarianism, and it’s absolutely grotesque to see American diplomats embracing it. The effort at appeasement was as inefficacious as it was depraved: The protests against the film in question turned more violent after the statement was issued, when the embassy wall was scaled and the American flag was torn down and burned.

By late this evening this was obvious at the White House: “The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” [said] a source characterized as a “senior administration official” …

That’s all well and good; the statement does indeed look like it wasn’t carefully vetted (the missing period after “others” … [is] how it is on the embassy website). But a not-for-attribution walk-back is hardly sufficient here. Somebody needs to be fired. Given that the embassy’s Twitter account spent the day defending the statement, it’s likely to be more than one somebody that needs to go, perhaps including Ambassador Anne Patterson herself.

It’s not enough to say, after the fact, that a diplomatic statement isn’t the position of the government; if the same diplomats remain on the job, the views that led them to make that statement will lead them to make similar statements in the future. This is a case where personnel is policy, and the clarification of White House policy cannot be taken seriously unless it’s accompanied by a change in personnel. 

Yes, a change of personnel above all in the White House itself.

Help denied 1

This poem, titled Mesopotamia 1917, by Rudyard Kipling, is quoted by Scott Johnson at PowerLine in connection with the tragedy of Benghazi, where Americans were left to die. We share Scott Johnson’s feeling for the aptness of it.

They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,

The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:

But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,

Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

 

They shall not return to us; the strong men coldly slain

In sight of help denied from day to day:

But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,

Are they too strong and wise to put away?

 

Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide–

Never while the bars of sunset hold.

But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,

Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?

 

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour:

When the storm is ended shall we find

How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power

By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

 

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,

Even while they make a show of fear,

Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their friends,

To conform and re-establish each career?

 

Their lives cannot repay us – their death could not undo–

The shame that they have laid upon our race.

But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,

Shall we leave it unabated in its place?

Swinging to the right 0

The extreme importance of the 2012 presidential election is recognized by (among millions of others, we hope) Diana West, who warns at Townhall that “Election 2012 is anything but politics as usual. It is an existential crisis.”

She writes:

This election is for keeps. If Barack Obama doesn’t lose his bid for a second term, he and his vast, left-wing support network of Marx-inspired think tanks, strategists and elected officials will fulfill Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to “fundamentally” transform this nation, thus bringing the American experiment in liberty to what could be the final curtain…

Americans are about to decide whether to empower the increasingly dictatorial executive branch of Barack Hussein Obama, whose future plans to distort “checks and balances” promises to transform the U.S. government out of all recognition, or to break the momentum of government centralization by electing Romney-Ryan.

Yes. And we find signs that are good; signs that there is a swing to the right in public opinion, considerably boosted since Paul Ryan was selected as candidate Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential choice.

This is by Scott Johnson at PowerLine:

GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan appeared at a rally this morning at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, Virginia. … An audience of more than 2,000 turned up for the rally. More impressive than the size of the crowd is the fact that supporters started lining up for the event around 2:00 a.m. Recent alumni of Deep Run High School, where Ryan spoke … joined the line around 7:00 a.m. with [Chick-fil-A] breakfast in hand.

In these faces we can see what optimism looks like:

Ryan is a star. Romney’s pick of him for his vice-president has energized the Republican Party and brought excitement to the electorate. Even the heavily left-biased British newspaper the Guardian has to concede that:

Democrats’ nerves start to show as Ryan fires up conservative voters …

And:

The Democrats have been sending out panic-laden appeals for donations, one of them expressing concern over the size of the crowd. One of the appeals, for $3 or more, said of Romney-Ryan attacks: “This could cost us the election.”

And quoting American pundits with a message the left canot be happy with, the Guardian raises the prospect of Republican government for the next 16 years:

 If Romney wins, then Ryan, as vice-president, will be well placed as a Republican presidential candidate for the future. …

Roger L. Klavan writes at PJ Media that the Democrats are scared of Ryan:

Obama’s main man David Axelrod looks depressed. Why wouldn’t he be? Forced to run a campaign based on lying about or distorting what the other side says, fanning the flames of non-existent racism, etc., is a sure loser, even if you win — perhaps especially if you win. Winning ugly in this instance will not be a triumph of any sort. Obama, at his worst, may succeed in destroying America as we know it, but he would destroy himself and everyone around him in the process. At this moment, I’m betting none of this will happen. Romney’s choice of Ryan, for me, saved the day.

But the black vote – that’s remaining pretty solid for Obama, isn’t it?

Or is it? A formerly prominent black Democrat has gone over to the Republicans. Former Democratic Representative Artur Davis, who was also a candidate for the governorship of Alabama in 2010, and was one of Barack Obama’s campaign managers in 2008 – making one of the nominating speeches for him at the 2008 Democratic National Convention – is to speak this year at the Republican National Convention in support of the Romney-Ryan ticket. (Read more about this in the Washington Post here.)

And there’s this (also from the Washington Post).  The story of a black community organizer’s disillusionment with Obama. He is “disillusioned” for the wrong reasons, and he probably will not be coming over to the right, but if he decides to cast his vote for Obama, it won’t be with any enthusiasm. The point is, redistributive economics and collectivist politics don’t work, and the Obama episode in American history has proved it. Once Obama has gone – and go he absolutely must with the coming election – his bad four years in the White House can be seen as a lesson millions of Americans needed to learn.

He still walks the same streets here as his old acquaintance Barack Obama once did. That is about all they have in common anymore. At 50, Chicago activist Mark Allen … [is] the head of a small, community-assistance organization called Black Wall Street Chicago. Allen regards his personal survival alone as a small victory, grateful he can pay the rent on his modest office space, aware he is doing better than many on this city’s restive South Side.

“Things haven’t gone the way we’d hoped after Barack got elected,” he says. Surveys place unemployment rates above 25 percent here, and indications are that South Side residents such as Allen aren’t nearly as passionate about the 2012 election as they were during Obama’s trailblazing 2008 campaign.

Historically, community organizers such as Allen have wielded outsize influence in the black-majority neighborhoods of the South Side, with none better known than Obama, who directed a group called the Developing Communities Project for three years during the 1980s. But old bonds between the two have frayed. Allen, who as a member of another group worked on community issues with Obama during their organizing days, has grown frustrated with his former ally in the Oval Office.

Obama’s much ballyhooed 2009 stimulus package has failed to touch ordinary South Side residents, says Allen, who has reached out to Obama administration officials, including fellow Chicagoan and prominent White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, to express his dismay. …

Allen, who views the South Side’s pain as common to U.S. inner cities, also offers a political warning for Obama’s campaign strategists. The disillusionment of once fierce Obama admirers, he suggests, may hamper the president’s reelection chances by subtly dampening black voter turnout.

Best of all there’s this:

 

The gigantic heresy of an apostate generation 1

Very well worth reading is Scott Johnson of Power Line quoting Paul Rahe quoting Walter Lippmann arguing against collectivism and the augmentation of the power of government:

“Throughout the world, in the name of progress, men who call themselves communists, socialists, fascists, nationalists, progressives, and even liberals, are unanimous in holding that government with its instruments of coercion must by commanding the people how they shall live, direct the course of civilization and fix the shape of things to come. . . . The premises of authoritarian collectivism have become the working beliefs, the self-evident assumptions, the unquestioned axioms, not only of all the revolutionary regimes, but of nearly every effort which lays claim to being enlightened, humane, and progressive.

So universal is the dominion of this dogma over the minds of contemporary men that no one is taken seriously as a statesman or a theorist who does not come forward with proposals to magnify the power of public officials and to extend and multiply their intervention in human affairs. Unless he is authoritarian and collectivist, he is a mossback, a reactionary, at best an amiable eccentric swimming hopelessly against the tide. It is a strong tide. Though despotism is no novelty in human affairs, it is probably true that at no time in twenty-five hundred years has any western government claimed for itself a jurisdiction over men’s lives comparable with that which is officially attempted in totalitarian states. . . .

But it is even more significant that in other lands where men shrink from the ruthless policy of these regimes, it is commonly assumed that the movement of events must be in the same direction. Nearly everywhere the mark of a progressive is that he relies at last upon the increased power of officials to improve the condition of men.”

What worried Lippmann the most was the failure of those who considered themselves progressives to “remember how much of what they cherish as progressive has come by emancipation from political dominion, by the limitation of power, by the release of personal energy from authority and collective coercion.” He cited “the whole long struggle to extricate conscience, intellect, labor, and personality from the bondage of prerogative, privilege, monopoly, authority.”

It was, he said, “the gigantic heresy of an apostate generation” to suppose that “there has come into the world during this generation some new element which makes it necessary for us to undo the work of emancipation, to retrace the steps men have taken to limit the power of rulers, which compels us to believe that the way of enlightenment in affairs is now to be found by intensifying authority and enlarging its scope.” It is with Lippmann’s warning in mind that we – and Barack Obama’s economic advisors — should contemplate the present discontents.

Posted under Commentary, communism, government, nazism, Socialism, Totalitarianism by Jillian Becker on Thursday, October 1, 2009

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