Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's easy to see why he's so beloved

Inspiration for this post: Mark Steyn's essay on how the world is now entering a "post-American era".

Then Senator Obama ran on a platform that said, essentially, that America will no longer play leader to the world. He was adored overseas for that new angle on international relations, and I think there is little doubt that "average" Europeans were quite happy with the result of our election in November.

Since he has actually assumed residence in the White House, the one thing Obama has NOT backtracked on is his determination to make sure America doesn't assume too much center-stage on the international scene. In fact, if you believe French President Sarkozy, Obama actually had to be prodded into speaking up at the recent G-20 summit at all. Between bowing to a fellow head of state to weakly responding to a 50-minute anti-American diatribe from another head of state, I think there can be no doubt that Obama intends to make sure that this country is never again accused of trying to take lead on any international issue.

So, world, you're getting what you wanted: an America walking around with a big ol' "kick me" sign pasted to our backsides. And yes, playing the fool on the international stage is going to make Obama wildly popular. Wildly.

I am reminded now of the ever-popular adage "be careful what you wish for."

Truth be known, America is AT WORST only marginally less potent today than it was on November 3rd. So it's not like this country is impotent. The differnce between then and now is about the people at the top: the country's leadership just doesn't have interest in carrying water up all those hills anymore.

Now this position hurts some countries noticeably. First to mind is Israel, who must feel like they're going to be forced into going it alone in dealing with Iran's burgeoning nuclear capability. Fortunately, that country just elected the right guy for the job (if you think the preservation of the nation-state of Israel is a worthwhile thing).

But to most of the places out there that aren't sneered at by our bettors in the media, a lesser America is cause for celebration.

. . .I just wonder how long the music will last?

What just might happen--I'd put it in the "highly likely" category, actually--is that some "crisis" is going to arise that really demands global leadership from somewhere.

And there aren't a lot of countries that can take that mantle, if I'm being honest with you. Nor are there good organizations for that situation (yes, NATO and UN, that line was directed at you).

No, there might just come a time when the world waits for their knight in shining "O" armor to walk up to the podium and plot the course that leads the world away from the edge.

But when that time comes, will America be able to turn the tide?

There will be a great speech, to be sure. (TOTUS is a given under all circumstances) But a player on the international stage is only as powerful as the country he/she commands. If this country I love so much goes too "soft". . .well, even the Magic Man riding in on the white horse ain't gonna amount to a hill of beans in the real world.

And I know what you're thinking: how can America go soft? I've written it before, and I sincerely mean it: this country is the greatest country in the world by a country mile.

But that doesn't mean we're omnipotent. Heck, for evidence, just ask Obama--he'd be glad to tell you about all the things we can't do.

And that's today, fresh off decades of being the lone superpower. What about tomorrow? Or a thousand tomorrows after that? Will we --the people-- have the reserve to answer the world's call for leadership? Will we remember how to even act in that position?

I'm afraid of the answer to that question. Look around right now, and ask yourself this: where's the accountability? Where's the dream of making things right through hard work and patience? Where's the pride in all the good things this country has done for the world in the last 2 decades? Where is the ANYTHING that helped forge your spirit in your youth?

I heard a "man who tracks these things" say that there are as many young people that favor socialism as favor capitalism. (he could have been referring to this poll from Rasmussen) Socialism! What a cop-out; a romantic idea of equality that has, without exception, failed everywhere it's been tried. Not failed to bring about equality, mind you--failed to bring about prosperity. Failed to inspire greatness. Failed to provide any signature symbol of that country's place in the world.

And most importantly, failed to lead the world through challenges. And yet, that mindset is as attactive to our young people as is the frame of reference in which they were raised.

So buck up world, you got what you wanted. Us crazy Americans will no longer assume our place is at the head of every table. Heck, all we seek is to even HAVE a seat at the table, no matter the means of which that state acquired the place.

But you, world, had better do well. Because if you ever find yourself in a place where you need help. . .

. . .I don't know where you're going to be able to turn.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I KNEW this was coming

Remember the other day how I noted that Obama was being particularly bold lately?

Today, TNR's health care blog reports that Senate Dems and the White House have come to an agreement to make the Senate a majority-rules legislative body in order to pass a bill featuring monumental health care reform later this year.

Higher house, indeed. I'd say maybe higher in hypocrisy, but as long as Obama is in the White House, the Senate still has a way to go in that measure.

Elections have consequences, folks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On the OLC memos

The Administration made headlines earlier this week by declassifying internal memos from the Office of Legal Counsel--ostensibly a nonpartisan body--to former President Bush regarding the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on certain detainees.

I have two observations:

-- First of all, I'd like to ask: does anybody doubt that the release of these memos has made us more susceptible to terrorists?

I ask for a couple reasons. For starters, there was NOTHING that the Bushies could do regarding what was termed the War on Terror that did not draw immediate cries from the left that the policy/practice/event in fact just made the U.S. less safe because the act was so boneheaded that the recruiting stations for these terrorists movements were just flooded with new people eager to take the fight to America. . .or something like that. Now I know what Obama meant to do with releasing these memos--or at least I know one part of his intentions--but you can't tell me that in these areas where terrorist recruiting happens that the talking points from these memos is something other than "America tortures us after all!" And that, my friends, is a message that can really make people hate us. Perhaps Obama thinks he controls the conversation throughout the world, but just because he says "we're different now" doesn't mean that those words are relayed hand-in-hand with the part about the torture. I have a funny feeling that these memos are not changing the views of America in the places of the world that are really concerning to our counter-terrorism guys. . .

Secondly, and most importantly, I can't help but think that we have just about killed any need for the bad guys to compartmentalize the information in their plots--and that is baaaaad news. One of the most omnipresent concerns of anybody participating in an underground activity such as a terrorist attack is the need to limit information given to participants to a "need to know" basis--that way, if one person gets discovered, the whole event is NOT NECESSARILY compromised. The need to compartmentalize information about the operation among the participants puts self-imposed barriers on internal communication, which serves to slow down implementation and helps introduce uncertainty into the operation--both of which serve as possible "opportunities" for counter-terrorist activities to get a sniff of something amiss. But now. . .well, I doubt any "believer" is honestly fearful of giving away the goods if captured before the individual d-day, which means that there is no more need for compartmentalization. It was one thing when there was a public "conversation" about our treatment of detainees--there were still doubts about how far an interrogation might go, and whether all situations were covered in the talks, etc. But those days are long gone. Now, not only is the former playbook out there in black and white for everybody to see, but we also know that those techniques employed in the past are hasta la bye bye as well. In other words, there is NO REASON to fear that the capture of one operative in a plan will necessarily lead to the roll-up of the operation. As long as the evidence found as part of an arrest doesn't lead investigators to the rest of the team. . .well, that team is still operative. So the bad guys now have less incentive to compartmentalize information, which means more rapid hatching of plans with fewer opportunities (primarily time) for counter-terrorism teams to develop information. Add in the fact that more bad guys will have to be found AND DEVELOPED as sources of information. . .and you have a really, really tough job ahead to stop potential attacks in this country. I'm glad,at least, that the bad guys have to find a way to breach our fortress-like borders before they can attack us. . .wait, what's that you say?

-- It has been written other places, so this is not original, but that won't keep me from echoing the thought: I would be ALL ABOUT the release of these memos if that action begat an HONEST conversation regarding the protection of U.S. citizens. Is the job of the government to protect its citizens from a looming terrorist attack at all costs? Or are there limits regarding the measures the government should take in the name of protecting Americans? Alas, that honest conversation will not happen right now--which is too bad, because the talk is long overdue.

I just hope that those who think the US is "better" than needing to use every tool in the toolbox--even the dirty, rusty tools--aren't forced to wake up one day wondering "what if?"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

starting to show real audacity

The Obama administration in the last 3 days has:

-- revisited nationalizing banks, this time through backdoor maneuvering (and gee, guess what happened in the market?);
-- backtracked on itself regarding potential prosecutions of the prior administration for its legal opinions;
-- allowed itself to play the stooge on another international stage, this time with our closest neighbors not named Canada.

Does this sound like somebody who is remotely concerned with appealing to moderate voters?

No, it does not--and that has me greatly concerned.

The only thing keeping him from fundamentally reshaping this country in the next 2 years is fear over retribution in the mid-term elections. As long as he was wary of overreaching, there was a chance that the damage incurred could be minimized.

But he must not be concerned any longer. The only thing he's playing straight is his loyalty to special interests--or to the loudest yellers. Squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that. . .

So this is where we stand today: A President who is starting to feel that his power will never be challenged domestically, no matter the depths of partisan hackery he plumbs; a media still willfully providing love and political cover with every single bullhorn at their disposal; a public still playing ignorant and/or hopeful; and an energized far-left that is starting to call in favors from the administration.

I'm not prone to "end of the world" arguments, mind you, but even I think these are the ingredients for serious trouble.

People, please--get unplugged!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A matter of movements

Today, I tackle the issue of the Conservative Movement, and how it can compete with the Liberal Movement in order to gain the hearts and minds of current non-followers.

This is an easy topic about which to write. Really, it is.

Because Conservatives don't HAVE a movement.

We have an ideology. We have a system of beliefs that, when spoken about passionately, actually make followers want to do "something".

But then there's never anywhere to invest that energy.

Liberals, on the other hand, have achieved the fundamental trait of a "movement": mobilizing the masses.

Their movement, I'd argue, is based on nothing other than power, which they wield in any willy-nilly fashion they see fit on that given day. The foot soldiers of that movement span every special interest group to which the Democratic party is beholden, sometimes with great irony.

Arguments from that movement need not include historical accuracy, civility, nor common sense. It is a mass--a large, vocal, omnipresent mass of humanity that feels neither shame nor honor--that sets about enacting the movement's goal with focus and hubris.

Conservatives have. . .Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. And half of us don't even embrace them!

We decry the lack of civility in public discourse. . .but then remain silent when slandered or libeled. Seriously, how hasn't Justice Alito brought action against Barney Frank for calling him a homophobe in an interview?

We laugh at--and take note to caution against--the protests for which the left is famous. But in the face of no counter-action, an unimformed person might simply assume that there IS no counter to the action on the left. And trust me, there's a lot of people out there who are uninformed.

We rail against the direction of public education, citing both its ideological bent and its ineptitude. But where are we when in comes to fixing the problem with the education system? What do we do to combat ideologically overzealous educators who have no problem letting their politics mix with their teaching in the classroom?

In truth and in terms of actions, the conservative "movement" is exactly what we accuse the Democratic Party of being: an organization that points out problems without ever offering solutions. (This piece, of course, is one of those. And no, the irony is not lost on me)

We have high-minded folks who love to talk a good game. But they are noticeably absent from the trenches.

Which is why I give a lot of credit to Limbaugh and Coulter. They don't mind mucking it up.

An ideology that won't fight for itself won't survive. And right now, conservatives have a set of principles that have no warriors.

The Tea Parties could--COULD--be a turning point. Here is an opportunity for conservative-minded folks to harness the outrage of everyperson, USA, against the overt encroaches of the liberal ideology into our personal finances, all in the name of furthering the special interests to which the ruling party is currently deeply indebted.

But the parties need to be focused on that issue. Done properly, this is a potential rallying moment as we get ready for the mid-term elections.

Done improperly, and there's a whole host of citizens who will feel (AGAIN!) like the conservative party doesn't know what they actually stand for.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Journalism Happens

. . .and I am shocked. Seriously, SHOCKED!

Disclosure: I am not black. I don't live or work in an atmosphere where I can overhear/participate in frequent conversations with blacks about current events. In fact, I have not even talked to one black person about Obama's trip to the Middle East.

But that doesn't mean I'm wrong:

Today CNN ran a story that not only called Pres. Obama's gesture to the Saudi King a bow, but also took Press Secretary Gibbs to task for trying to play cute with a direct question. (h/t: HotAir)

Now I never expected "the bow" to get ANY coverage in the MSM. Not. One. Lick.

On this score, I am happy to be wrong.

Here's why I didn't think it would ever happen: how do you think this is going to play among certain numbers of the black population?

Obama got elected, AT LEAST IN PART, because he was a symbol of black pride. There are hundreds of blacks--maybe even thousands or millions--who voted in November because they couldn't wait to see a black person in the most important role in the world. They wanted to see him change politics.

Be careful what you wish for!

Forget about Obama's head-of-state place in the world (please! :)) for just a second. To this audience--the color-before-creed audience--it doesn't matter that it was the President who performed this act.

The everlasting optic of the exchange to this (hopefully small) part of the population that helped put Obama in the oval office will be nothing other than a black man--ANY black man--bowing before someone else.

And the whole business would have been kept off the radar screens were it not for the administration's belief that they can get away with saying anything to anyone at anytime. Honestly, how foolish does this WHOLE GROUP OF POLITICAL HACKS look because they tried to play jedi mind tricks at the press conference on Wednesday? There might be a lesson in there somewhere. . .

So I ask you: what kind of message does "the bow" send to the black population?

If anybody EVER has "made it", it's Obama. He is now in a position only held by 42 other people in the history of man, a position that ever since it was created has been pretty much the top job in the whole world. . .

. . .and yet there he was, bowing to a person who runs an oppressive, deeply unenlightened country.

I just can't imagine that this is going to play very well in every corner of black America.

And that's why I never thought a story about the bow would see the light of day. There is no REAL way to spin this in a good manner for Obama.

But that doesn't mean they won't try. In the story by Jeanne Moos (very evenhanded, I must say), she gives camera time to one black woman who thinks Obama's act was a result of his extraordinary knowledge of "their culture". And I don't doubt that such logic is the mantra being muttered all over the liberal world right now.

Call me crazy, but I'd prefer a President who was knowledgeable enough of OUR culture to know that the President does not bow to anybody.


I guess that just makes me one of those bible-quoting, gun-toting folk that so bedevil this country, eh?

Damn straight! And proud of it, too!

And I have a funny feeling there's more and more of "me" out there every day. . .

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Coming soon to a state near you--CLARIFIED

Same-Sex Marriage.

As reported on, "Vermont legalized same-sex marriage Tuesday when both houses of the state legislature voted to override the governor's veto.

The first state in the United States to adopt civil unions, Vermont is now the first to legalize marriage for homosexual couples by legislative action, The Burlington Free Press reported."

It's that last sentence there that makes this action by the state's legislature such a huge, huge deal.

3 other state courts have said that bans on homosexual marriage are unconstitutional. I had serious doubts that such a ruling would withstand further judicial scrutiny. (Indeed, there was never likely to be any further judicial scrutiny)

Now those rulings won't have to be placed under further scrutiny to expand the realm of influence. It's Roe v Wade, part II: the expansion of the liberal movement through judicial overreach.

Roe, as you may recall from my earliest writings on this blog, was--in my humble opinion--an atrocious decision. 1970's science became entrenched as "the law" for all time; the state constitution of Texas was left as stating that "life begins at conception"--but then that state-recognized life had no rights to state-provided protection.

But more than ALL of that--and many, many other reasons--my biggest beef with Roe was the use of the 14th amendment as a jackhammer to pass a law from one state to another through the courts.

All it takes is for the law in one state--pardon me, a "right" granted in one state that is not granted in the next--to be claimed as "fundamental".

And honestly, what is more "rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people" than the union of two people into one familial unit?

Such will be the argument anyway, probably popping up in a court somewhere in this great country of mine right about. . .now.

And it will go to the Supreme Court before too long.

So I ask you: what are the chances that Justice Kennedy will side with the Roberts block in keeping one state's law from becoming the law of the land?

TO CLARIFY: The reason the Vermont Legislature's action yesterday was so important is because now the same-sex marriage movement has it's one shining example of a legislative body granting this right to a jurisdiction. It is hard--indeed, unprecedented--for a court to say that a certain right is "fundamental" when that right hasn't been protected by a single state-wide legislature.

As for marriage being a fundamental right? That determination already exists, under Turner v Safley in 1987 (and that's a good thing, by the way).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

What I think the Conservative movement needs to stand for

All right, first a disclaimer: I am an optimist by nature. Perhaps to the point of being foolish at some things, I normally am a "things will work out" kind of a guy--and then I get around to the business of making them work out. I am conservative, after all--I know that everything I want takes work.

So the tone of this post is going to be a little surprising, given that background.

I am convinced that conservatives are already in the political wilderness, and I will not be surprised if we stay there forever.

When you think about it, the liberals have a perfect storm aligned in their favor: a leftist President; a leftist media; a leftist AG; a willing army of cheats that don't mind mucking it up on the sidewalks of battleground locations; and a leftist Congressional leadership with a huge margin in the House and a comfortable margin in the Senate.

And they will each cover the other as necessary to make sure that nothing is derailed.

The Blue Dog Democrats? Forget about it. They'll vote against Pelosi's agenda enough to make them look reasonable to their home districts, but they won't go against leadership in enough numbers on game-changing legislation to actually stop anything. They know where their bread is buttered, and unfortunately they know that it isn't with their constituents. So a quarter--or more--of them will oppose each ridiculous piece of legislation that comes to the floor, voting on a rotational basis to be able to go home and say "I stood against Speaker Pelosi on (insert name of crap bill here) because I thought it wasn't the kind of thing that is good for you". But the House isn't going to stop anything. Anything.

There is small hope that the Senate can stop some things from being enacted--but they will be pilloried in the media for their work. Even with the early claims of discontentedness from some Dems about EFCA, that little piece of legislation will be hung around the GOP's neck--and not in a good way. Mind you, I'm not advocating a cave on that piece of crap bill--but the fall out will be brutal. And the GOP will pay for it in 2010--I predict the Senate Dems will get a veto-proof majority in that body.

And then the fun is going to begin.

And that's not even talking about 20 years from now. The demographics of this country already tilt strongly in favor of the Dems, even without all the advantages listed above. When 40% of babies are born to single mothers--a population likely to teach the self-serving value of an open hand more easily than that of a calloused hand--well, I don't think it's a stretch to say we, as a country, have already gone around the bend. And it will only get worse when the illegal immigrants get their vote.

SO when it comes to all the questions of "how do conservatives proceed in this environment?", I have an answer that flows very clearly from my above hypothesis that, for us, the worst is yet to come:

We need to be clear about our priorities. No mixed messages, no playing along with the President's agenda in any form. Quick quips about how the freedom is a gift to the individual, not a blessing to be controlled by the government. Make the arguments CONTAIN aspects of fiscal responsibility when necessary--there are some people who still care to listen to such things--but the central thrust needs to be Jeffersonian in nature. Inalienable rights and all that. Simple stuff, you would think--and appealing to the emotions of patriots. In other words, an argument that we have not made for the last 3 years very well.

But then that simple argument needs to be made everywhere. EVERYWHERE!

You want to know why it's so easy to paint Limbaugh as the leader of the GOP? Because Steele has been anything but consistent, and Boehner has deferred on some key issues to others of the caucus. And really, the arguments haven't been that hard to make--why Boehner and McConnell aren't doing such is anybody's guess. But that void leaves Rush--doing nothing more than he normally does--getting an awful big spotlight. Thank heavens he is able to handle it, because the media has been the hacks that we on the right know them to be.

Anyhow, what will all this do? Well, it won't win elections anytime soon--but let's face it, neither will today's Republican party. And it isn't Rush's fault, and it isn't Bush's fault (well, okay, it's partly Bush's fault)--it just is. We didn't fight the fight on every front when we needed to (heck, we acted like we didn't even know a fight was being waged, in places like campuses, lower courts, and in the buildings inside the beltway), and the territory that is now so far gone in the hands of liberals is feeding their movement with new signees every day.

And conservatives won't overcome that disparity by participating in a party that tries to form a "bigger" tent. It is arguable that we "supported" the biggest-tent candidate possible this past year, and the results of that effort speak for themselves.

No, we need to be a forceful opposition. And to stand for something clearly.

EVENTUALLY--probably long about Obama's 3rd term, if it happens at all--people will tire of hearing one thing from the administration and the media but feeling and experiencing a whole different world. And they will look for options.

And when that happens, conservatives need to be able to enter the room and say "this is what we believe"--without pause or fear of contradiction.

You know, there's a little part of me that marvels at the audacity of Obama. He won as a centrist candidate, has been anything but as he executes his office, and he has no fear of ever being called out for it. Except by Rush, but in the future I bet he will just let those pitches by while he goes about reshaping the country.

Being a liberal, of course, means never having to say you're sorry. Or you were wrong. Or that you ARE wrong. (All of those things, of course, are fair game to assess to your predecessors, even if doing so significantly cheapens the value of your office)

Anyhow, the American people do have a stubborn streak. And at some point in time, the bill will come due.

But conservatives won't be able to take advantage of the situation if we don't stand clearly for something.

What exactly was he talking about

There were too many gems from Pres. Obama's speech in Strasbourg the other day to do a full and honest vetting of just how horrible of a representative this guy is for the America that I love. But I'll focus in on just one line for now:

Obama said "In America, there is a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world."

My question is: in what role does Europe lead THE WORLD?

There may be--MAY BE--some areas where a country here and a country there have the best program in the world. There are dozens of countries in Europe, after all--hopefully one of them gets something right.

But how have they exported that program to THE WORLD?

Economically? Politically? How?

And has been pointed out in other forums, this was not a simple misspeak. These were prepared comments, and he purposefully chose to describe Europe's role as the preeminent role in the world. In other words, America's role is NOT as the leader of the free world--at least in Obama's world.

Not an "important" role--which would be undeniably true.

A "leading" role. Coming from the man who represents what many others--especially in this country--think is the country that "leads" the world in just about every worthwhile endeavor.

I would like some insight as to what the President thinks regarding this, please.

Not "clarification of what he said"--it's pretty obvious what he said. And again, he was reading a prepared text of his trusty teleprompter.

In what ways does Europe--all of Europe, mind you, just like his comments--"lead" the world?

Will anybody ask that of him or of his team?

Enquiring minds want to know.