Thursday, January 29, 2009

Some Things Just Speak For Themselves.

Click to enlarge.

International Law and the Gaza Conflict.

One thing that's clear from the recent Gaza conflict is that to many leftists, "violations of international law" is simply shorthand for "a country is engaging in military action that I don't approve of."

Read the whole thing.

The Black Tie Guide: A Gentleman's Guide to Evening Dress.

Because some of you chumps might someday get invited somewhere nice....the Romney Inaugural ball in January of 2013 perhaps. The guide is here.

Three Cheers for the Rangel Rule.

I assume the IRS will be this generious with all of us.

All U.S. taxpayers would enjoy the same immunity from IRS penalties and interest as House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Obama Administration Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, if a bill introduced today by Congressman John Carter (R-TX) becomes law.

Carter, a former longtime Texas judge, today introduced the Rangel Rule Act of 2009, HR 735, which would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from charging penalties and interest on back taxes against U.S. citizens. Under the proposed law, any taxpayer who wrote “Rangel Rule” on their return when paying back taxes would be immune from penalties and interest.

h/t NRO

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not everyone stands in stunned adoration of the new messiah...

My friend Edward Mariscal posted this on his Facebook page yesterday. I reprint it here with his kind permission.

Why President Barack Obama Will Fail. By Edward Mariscal

I’m looking for a reason to support a Barack Obama presidency, but I can’t find it. That’s not to say that John McCain would do much better - John McCain was under the impression that the world is great and everything is fine and dandy, and all we really have to do is to bomb a couple more areas in the world (a bomb here, a couple there) and all will be well with the world again.

President Obama, on the other hand, has an agenda that reads like a sophomore year in college term paper on "The Joys of Socialism." It's nice, it's sweet, it's humane... it's unrealistic bull. Oh, and if you would like to challenge that world view, please inform me how this man intends to balance the budget (with its huge deficit), hire 100,000 more Federal employees and implement Universal Healthcare (which anyone would tell you wouldn't exactly be affordable). Or, if you are ill and can’t afford healthcare and you don't care how this gets financed, explain to me again how he will "convince" the businesses that left the United States for China or India to come back to the United States, where they will have to pay both higher taxes AND labor costs, plus whatever new taxes he intends to raise to finance your healthcare. Ok, now back to Senator McCain for a second.

Now, a lot of you will think this is an essay to make Mr. McCain look good at the expense of Mr. Obama. But unfortunately, I am going to have to disappoint you. Mr. McCain didn’t win. It wasn’t even close. The Republican Party never backed him. The Republican Party did what the Democrats did in 2004 - we ran a candidate for the sake of running a candidate. Nothing was in the favor of this man: the base hates him cause he is secular; his views on the war are incredibly unpopular with middle-America; he has a wife whose history makes Michelle Obama look like the Saint she isn’t. Last, but not least, the age thing. Not to mention, with absolute Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, he would be a lame-duck President from day one, and nothing would ever get done. So now, we have to prepare ourselves for the future monumental failure of the Obama Presidency. Oh wait, you don't agree, do you? Ok, fine, I guess I am going to have to go into detail to why exactly I believe that Mr. Obama will fail.

You see, if you ask any supporter of Mr. Obama, they will tell you that they are supporting the man because he gives them hope. Now, Oscar Wilde once said that the basis of all hope is fear, and I intend to agree with Wilde on that one. So what exactly are the supporters of Mr. Obama afraid of? Well, it's really simple. After 8 years of President Bush and of having the government repeatedly inform them that they are living in a threatening world that doesn't like them (which, by the way, is true, and it disliked us during Clinton's presidency too I may add) and that they are going to have to hunker down, get though and prepare to fight this for the long haul, they are afraid that this is really the way the world is. Enter Barack Obama, who tells them in all kinds of inspiring fashion that this isn't necessarily true, that the world isn't really dangerous and that all we need to do is to talk to one another, and then all will be well in the world and we will all sing Kumbaya together. So, desperate and clinging to anything, his supporters believe him, because the alternative is so scary, so stressful and depressing, that they may have to up their Zoloft dosage, and anti-depressants are really expensive nowadays.

Not to mention, Americans really want the world to like us, which is a silly desire shared by no other nation on earth. You don't see the Russians worrying about the world liking them, or the Chinese. Do you know of any other nation in the world who actually has this stupid girl-with-low-self-esteem-in-junior-high fixation? Hell, even the Israelis, arguably the current most hated country in the world are not as fixated on getting the world to like them the way the Americans do, because most of them have resigned themselves that the world really never will like them. So yeah, the Americans stand alone when it comes to that silly desire and we have constructed a notion why the world dislikes us: It's because the world thinks that we are a racist nation that is also prejudiced against Islam. So, in order to remedy that, we vote and nominate a black man with an Arab name who comes from a Muslim background, as if saying, "Here! This is how far we are willing to go. Do you like us now?"

And the world will answer: Ehh, no, not really!

There are those who will argue with this, citing great support for Barack Obama all over Europe and the world. True, but that's because he is the Anti-Bush, a charismatic man who says he doesn't want war. The world would love Gary Coleman if he was the person who said this after 8 years of President Bush. Plus, the world is excited for the Obama presidency because they view it as some sort of novelty, the black man who became President after all of the country's history of slavery. We as Americans are inundated with the images of slavery and the struggles and Rosa Parks, Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So, really, this election cycle and the coverage of Mr. Obama is like watching a 250 year old movie where one character keeps getting screwed over and finally, through a lot of fighting, becomes President. Oh happy ending. We love Happy endings. What we didn't wrap our head around yet is that this isn't a movie. There is no fade to black after Mr. Obama takes office. He actually becomes the President and executer of policies. He will become a symbol of the country people love to hate and this won't exactly end because he is a charismatic guy. It's a nice fantasy, but let's get real here. There are too many people who have vested interest in hating the United States and always will hate it, no matter who the runs her. Now let's examine this notion a little.

One of Barack Obama's foreign policy objectives is to get things right with the Arab and Muslim world. And that's when you are going to watch the best circus in the world, because not a single leader in the Arab or the Muslim world really wants to get right with the United States. Hell, Arab and Muslim rulers have justified their entire existence in power by positioning themselves opposite of the United States. Arab and Muslim leaders continue, in their state-sponsored media, to point fingers at the United States and say "See, those bloodthirsty Americans. They will kill you all, rape all of your women and drink the blood of your babies, if we are not here to protect you. So eat and shut up!" If you think I am exaggerating please check the state-sponsored media of Egypt, Syria, Iran, Yemen, etc.. etc.. The leaders of those countries have built their entire rule on the Anti-American notion. You think they are going to give that up because the silly Americans voted for a black man with an Arab name who comes from a Muslim background? Get real! And in terms of the Arab and Muslim street, let's not forget that their number one issue has always been Israel. Now, do you think Mr. Obama will go against Israel, after watching him suck up to AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee)? Ha. So yeah, that will be a disappointment also. Not to mention that Mr. Obama won't withdraw from Iraq. He won't. He can't. At best he will do a partial withdrawal, while leaving a good chunk of US soldiers there. But bring all the troops home? Not gonna happen. And that's what the Arab and Muslim street wants, no? Let's not even contemplate the notion for a second that he is serious about going after Pakistan, like he said over and over again during the campaign.

Oh, and I am sure that once he takes office that the Islamists will warm up to him immediately. You know, because there is nothing that Islamists like more than a former born Muslim who chose, by his own accord, to become a Christian and an active one at that. Yeah, I am sure they will be very impressed and quit fighting the United States immediately. After all, he said that he intends to deliver a speech from a Muslim nation in his first 100 days of office. Yeah, that kind of pandering really calms Islamists down, especially coming from an apostate. They will surely respect him if he withdraws partially from Iraq and not mistake it as a sign of weakness or that they are winning or anything. Since we are on the topic, can you imagine what will happen if a terrorist attack took place during the Obama Presidency, after he does all of this? Can you imagine how America will feel, when we realize that even after we voted for the black man with an Arab middle name and Muslim background who gave a speech during his first 100 days in a Muslim nation, that the world still hates us and that Islamists still want to kill us? Talk about a rude awakening. Can you imagine if we as Americans demand a response from Mr. Obama, and Mr. Obama decides to take off the dove hat and put the hawk hat? Do I have to remind you how things went the last time a dove tried to be a hawk? Ehud Olmert (who ran on the platform of withdrawing from the Westbank) during the Lebanon war, anyone? Ok, how about Jimmy Carter and the rescue mission in Iran? How about President Clinton in Somalia? We getting the picture? Should be a fantastic fun time for everyone involved.

But let's say you are the kind of American who doesn't care about all that, like the silly Obama supporters I meet everywhere I go who tell me that "the basis of hope is hope" and "I just want to be proud of my country again!" Ok, fair enough. So one would assume you are supporting Mr. Obama for domestic policy reasons. That you believe that he will clean Washington from the special interests and the lobbying and all that jazz he has been talking about, and implement his "socialism is fun" program, aided surely, by the fact that the House and the Senate tilted in the favor of the Democrats again this year, finally giving them full majority in both the House and Senate. I am sure he will be able to cut out the special interests and implement his policies in a jiffy, right? Because even if he is not beholden to special interests - which I am not sure is exactly true (every single politician in the House and the Senate is) and they kinda like their seats. Not to mention, about half of the Democrats who won in 2006 and 2008 are Pro-War, Pro-Guns, Anti-Abortion Democrats - i.e. confused Republicans - who will undoubtedly, given how they are now fully in power, start fighting amongst themselves in earnest, the way the Democrats always do. If you don't believe me, check 1992, the first Clinton Presidential term. It's the Same. A charismatic unlikely Democrat in the White House after 12 years of Republican rule, bridled with unrealistic expectations of a starved political base who somehow expected him to miraculously solve all of their problems in the first 100 days, and had the majorities in the House and the Senate to pull it off. But he didn't. He couldn't. The Democrats were too busy fighting amongst themselves, and he was too busy trying to be a centrist and work with an institution that wouldn't work and all the hopes, dreams and expectations evaporated by the end of his first year in office. But yeah, I am sure Mr. Obama’s first term will be different, because he is the vision of hope and a Washington outsider. Yes, that's the kind of person who can get things done in Washington, no doubt! But I digress. When I think of Mr. Obama, I don't think of Clinton. When I think of Mr. Obama, one name really comes to mind: Jimmy Carter!

Mr. Obama is the second coming of Jimmy Carter, there is no doubt about it. From the way he took over the party, to the election against an uncharismatic standard-bearer opponent in the primary elections, to his belief that America is bad, and it's all America's fault anyway, and that all that is necessary to make everything work is appeasement and humility, and oh, let's try to fix our suffering economy by implementing socialist ideas. So yeah, if you are reading this and you remember those days, then please brace yourself, because it's gonna be that bad again for the next four years. But don't fret, there is a bright side to this, because remember, after Jimmy Carter came President Ronald Reagan. Maybe that's what America needs right now - to experiment with Mr. Obama to see if there is any truth to his fiction. If there is, sweet, I am not gonna hate, but there likely isn't, and that will be the necessary wake-up call that half of the United States has been needing for the past 4 years. That's what it's gonna take: a colossal presidential failure of the size of Jimmy Carter (whose approval ratings, by the way, make President Bush's look really high, believe it or not), to get the United States back into thinking about how to deal with their problems, instead of pretending they don't exist.

That being said, I will feel bad for Mr. Obama when this eventually happens though, because unlike every other President before him, Mr. Obama isn't just a President. He is hope. He is change. He is, in his words, “what we have been waiting for.” Americans are congratulating ourselves for his election. The novelty of the first African-American candidate will wear off, and the next African-American President will be assessed based on his or her experience and plans, instead of just being an inspiring notion whose time has come to be President of the United States of America. I hope this wouldn't be the case, but I doubt it!

On the whole I think its spot on. In particular, the observation that European anti-Americanism significantly pre-dates the advent of the Bush administration is worth understanding. Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams during their stints as foreign ambassadors wrote extensively on the subject of the disdain that European elites held us in. There is I suppose good reason for this enmity. The United States was created, more or less, to be the anti-europe; a place where man could be free of the constraints of the old world. Today this is more or less still true.

I also share Edward's concerns about the intrinsic emptiness of phrases like "Hope and Change". It begs the question: "Hope for what and change to what?". Apparently if you have a plunging economy, an unpopular war and an adoring media fan base its acceptable to leave such questions until after the election. No reason to bother the electorate with actual answers until after the investiture.

On the whole though, I think its likely that it will be the left that deserts Obama first. The simple truth is there is no realistic hope that they can achieve broad political and social change with the Congress as its currently constituted. When you achieve majorities by knocking off moderate Republicans and replace them with conservative Democrats, don't be surprised if enthusiasm is lacking for some brave new world. When that realization sinks in, there are going to lots of unhappy folks in places like Berkley and in the Daily Kos forums.

Consider the case of Jim Webb. In defeating George Allen (in 2006) the left scored quite a coup. They had knocked off a prominent pro-Iraq War senator and a likely presidential candidate in one fell swoop. Their joy was muted however by the realization that they had in fact replaced him with someone who was MORE conservative. It's true that Webb opposed the Iraq war, as did a number of others on the right. So did Pat Buchanan. But on virtually every issue he is likely to vote on in his senate career, the people of Virgina have gained a strong conservative champion. Good luck getting support for an assault weapons ban from a guy who packs heat on the Senate floor.

Obama is for better or worse the President of all of us. I wish him all the luck in the world. He is I believe, a fine and decent man and I have no interest in seeing his Presidency fail. I have to say however that I am not optimistic.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More good news...

U.S. military report warns 'sudden collapse' of Mexico is possible

Mexico is one of two countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse," according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.

The command's "Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)" report, which contains projections of global threats and potential next wars, puts Pakistan on the same level as Mexico. "In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.

The full article is here.

New Calfornia law requires HMO's to provide translators.

The state's diversity is cited as a reason for its torch-bearing role: 42.6 percent of Californians do not speak English at home, according to 2007 census figures. In some populations, such as Vietnamese and Korean communities, 60 percent of the population has limited English proficiency.

Well...if the article is correct and 42% of Californians don't speak English at home the state is gonna have all kinds of problems down the road. I've got to say I never suspected the number was that high.

I can see the utility of this law, having understandable doctor visits is just common sense. But by forcing the health care companies to bear this cost you've just raised every one's premiums to in effect remove one of the incentives that people used to have to learn English.

When I lived in Lincoln Nebraska I knew a family of illegal immigrants. After having lived and worked in this country for more than a decade, neither of the parents were able to speak any English whatsoever. If Mrs. Rodriguez had to find ...and possibly pay someone to translate for her...well that was a burden...a burden that in time, would encourage her to learn English.

This is a classic example of how in trying to solve an isolated problem, lawmakers have likely made the situation worse. Whatever you subsidize, you get more of. No wonder California is going broke.

The full article is here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Richard John Neuhaus dead at age 72.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, a leading voice of Catholic conservatism in America, and one of those rare theologians and spiritual leaders whose influence vastly exceeded the boundaries of their religious community, has died at 72.

He'll be missed.

A deterrent restored?

Israel may have reached a deterrent moment in its war in Gaza against Iranian-backed Hamas. I spoke with a senior Arab diplomat last night. He told me that the Arab street is afraid that "the Jews have gone crazy."

Yes, it's true. He noted, "Israel has begun to restore its deterrence" in the Arab world. "Hamas miscalculated," he added. They had thought Israel would not attack, but would merely accede to tougher Hamas demands for an improved "Tahdiya," their version of a temporary calm.

More here.

Is it too soon to talk about the failed Obama presidency just because Obama isn't president yet?

Come on, Obama, what kind of Democrat are you? I thought Democrats were supposed to be good at this stuff. It's us Republicans who stink at political corruption. One clumsy little elephant misstep and it's GOPterdämmerung with villainy that lives on in popular legend for generations--McCarthyism, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Enron, Jack Abramoff.

But when Democrats get their hand (or other body part) caught in the till, folk heroes ensue--Boston's James Curley being reelected while jailed, Washington's Marion Barry being jailed while elected, Quixotic Bill Clinton unfazed by the Rush Limbaugh windmill and riding off into the sunset with fair Dulcinea Lewinsky unceremoniously dumped from the saddle. And, of course, there's Obama's Toddling Town, the Windy City of Richard and Richie Daley with its "corruption that works."

P.J. O'Rourke has more here.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

There aint no such thing as a free house.

RESIDENTS of a model housing estate bankrolled by Hollywood celebrities and hand-built by Jimmy Carter, the former US president, are complaining that it is falling apart.

Fairway Oaks was built on northern Florida wasteland by 10,000 volunteers, including Carter, in a record 17-day “blitz” organised by the charity Habitat for Humanity.

Eight years later it is better known for cockroaches, mildew and mysterious skin rashes.

More here.

EU president: Israel ground op in Gaza 'defensive not offensive'

PRAGUE - European Union president, the Czech Republic, said Saturday an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza was "defensive, not offensive" action.

"At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik said.

More here.

I have to say I agree. People who lob rockets at civilians shouldn't be shocked when somebody decides to do something about it.