Monday, June 29, 2009

Obama's Foreign Policy: Status Quo

When President Obama was running for the highest office in the land, his slogan was "Change". His entire campaign was based on that one simple and apparently meaningless word.

I think that's much more honest a slogan, at least when it comes to foreign policy. Despots, dictators, and tyrants take heart!

Friday, June 26, 2009

An Open Letter To My Congressman

Dear Rep. ---------,

I'm very disappointed to see that you voted in favor of HR2454, but I can't say I'm really surprised. This would normally cause me to just complain to my friends about you, and then complain some more online, but this time I've decided to do something a little different.

I'm going to oppose you in your re-election. No, not personally. My wife's already said she'll divorce me if I ever decided to run for office, and I'd like to keep her around. No, I'm going to oppose you by supporting your opponent in 2010.

Of course I voted for your opponent last time too, but you still won. Here's the big difference: last time, I didn't donate any money, and I didn't donate any time to your opponent. This time it's going to be a little different.

Every time you vote against a bill that I consider to be an absolute legislative abomination, I'm going to put twenty bucks aside. All of that money will be donated to your general election opponent come October of 2010.

That's not all. Every time you cast a vote that proves you can't be trusted with the responsibility that comes with the office, I'm pledging to donate two hours of my time to the campaign of your general election opponent. That time will be spent manning phones, licking envelopes, knocking on doors... all of the things that up until now I never really wanted to do. Actually, I'd still prefer not doing it, but I will, because neither I, nor this country, can afford to have people like you taking and spending our money.

Consider yourself put on notice, Congressman. By the way, after I finish sending this to you, I'm emailing it to every friend I have in this district.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

US Threatens Iran: We're Having a Totally Awesome Party and You Can't Come

It occurs to me that telling the Iranian regime, "you can't come to our 4th of July parties" may be as colossal a misreading of a group of people as Marie Antoinette's, "let them eat cake!"

The regime is engaged in a power struggle for their very survival, and we tell them they can't have the potato salad and hot dogs that we were saving them.

The regime is killing dozens if not hundreds of innocent civilians, and we tell them that they're going to miss some great fireworks.

The regime is shutting down the press, and trying to block the release of information from Iran, and we tell them that no matter what, they're no longer invited to our party.

As if that wasn't pathetic enough, none of the Iranian diplomatic staff had ever replied to any of our embassies to accept the invitation.

The world isn't just watching Iran. They're watching us as well, and the actions of the past week must surely have the tinpot dictators and two bit despots rubbing their hands together with glee.

Obama, Bush, and the Price of Stability

Has anyone else noticed that President Obama's response to events in Iran is very similar to the response by President George Herbert Walker Bush to the events in China 20 years ago? Both presidents offered muted responses to the outbreak of freedom, and neither offered much beyond platitudes in response to the violence committed against protestors.

In Bush's case, his treatment of the Tiananmen Square massacre became part of a larger narrative in his re-election bid in 1992. It was Bill Clinton and his campaign who chastised the President for failing to take a tougher stance with China in the wake of the events at Tiananmen Square. Now Clinton's wife is once again standing behind her man. The difference is, her "man" is President Barack Obama, and his policy towards Iran looks a lot like the same policy her husband criticized when he was running.

The chief argument made in favor of the 41/44 foreign policy is that it maintains "stability". It also maintains tyranny. Democrats spoke out against this policy twenty years ago, but they're fully supporting it today. Many Republicans opposed 41's policy at the time, and are at least being consistent in opposing the current policy of our President.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Sayings Inspired By The Obama Administration

"The only thing we have to fear is another country accusing us of meddling in democracy!"

"All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to speak up against it."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

We Will Succeed, Even If We Have To Fight Alone

While the White House blathers on about not wanting to meddle in Iran's affairs, those fighting for their self-determination seem a bit underwhelmed with the logic of President Obama and his spokesperson, Robert Gibbs.

"We are fighting with our lives and the world is just watching," said Ali, a Tehran University student who asked that his full name not be used. "They see how the government is trying to silence us, how they are beating us -- but they don't come to our help. It's OK. We will succeed, even if we have to fight alone."

That's because our president seems to have accidentally mailed his backbone to Gordon Brown along with the bust of Winston Churchill he felt clashed with the other decorations in the Oval Office. If it's any consolation, Ali, there are a lot of us here at home wondering what the hell our government is doing as well.

By the way, Mr. President, if these protestors do succeed, your attitude pretty much guarantees that nothing will be different with Iran's policy towards the United States. That'll be your fault, however, not the fault of the millions of people throughout Iran who are risking their lives in support of self-governance.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Jig Is Up

I thought this comment deserved a post of its own.

We’re broke! There is no money left! The middle class and wealthy, whose tax dollars for decades were thrown around to keep entire peoples from killing each other wholesale, will not exist within ten years in these United States, thus rendering our Treasury empty for a long time to come. The jig is up. Wake up already, and accept that an era has ended. It’s over. Something will take it’s place, for better or worse, but for pete’s sake, stop the mental anguish already. Nobody is particularly happy about it, but that’s the way it is. Something else: did you notice how all the money spent (trillions of dollars), all the diplomacy (manipulation), all the commentary, all the good intentions, decades of it, and people still want to kill each other wholesale and they still hold onto the very beliefs and ways of thinking that leave them impoverished and demoralized? Yeah. It’s a head-scratcher.

As I've said before, I believe that the United States has grown weaker over the last several decades, and much work has to be done to restore this nation to its full potential. Doing that while we face such grave threats to our national security will not be easy. It may not even be likely. Still, it must be done.

I will never believe that this country cannot be great again. I will never believe that we cannot reverse the declines. I will never believe that we have failed, that it is too late to change, that all hope is lost.

I will not allow myself to become a part of a movement that says our best days are behind us. I will fight as hard as I can, for as long as I can, to ensure that my children have a country on a firm foundation of liberty and prosperity, no matter how difficult it may be to get there.

Reaction to "America Sleeps"

It's usually an exercise in frustration to read the comments of any column that gets posted at Pajamas Media. Someone invariably criticizes the headline of the piece (which I don't write, incidentally), there's the usual partisan back and forth, and then the thread usually devolves (or evolves, depending on your perspective) into something only tangentially related to what I'd written.

This time however, there were some interesting comments made. I figure this is as good a place as any to address them.

I enjoyed the energy in which you wrote about the situation in Iran, and how POTUS should respond. However, the America in which you wrote about does not exist anymore.

Our government has sold out to special interests, put us in hock to China, empowered and enriched themselves. We are lead by children.

Until we vote out the likes of BLT POTUS, SanFran Nan, Harry Reed, and Barney back door Frank, do not hope for what you have written.

First of all, I think the name-calling, especially one sentence after saying "We are lead by children" really detracts from what the writer had to say. I don't disagree with his premise, but here's the bottom line: if we're lead by children and we want it to change, then it is up to us to be the grownups. It doesn't matter how emotionally satisfying it may be to point out that Barney Frank is gay (and frankly, I'm not even sure why that matters), but as soon as you start with the juvenile name calling, you lose credibility.

Secondly, it may be true that the America I spoke of no longer exists, but I don't believe that's the case. When conservatives outnumber liberals 2-1, that tells me that the biggest thing we've "lost" is motivation and desire to get our country back on track. I don't deny that there are big problems in this country, problems that date back decades and are deeply entrenched in American culture and policy. None of these problems are unfixable, however, as long as we have the courage and commitment do so.

I see all the people in the streets, being oppressed by Ahmadinejad’s goons, and I feel so much compassion for them.

Until I remember that they are supporting another Israel-hating Jew-annihilationist thug. At the drop of the hat, aren’t these the same mobs that will be burning the American flag and cheering as bombs fall on schoolgirls in Israel? This is no Cedar or Orange revolution, is it?

There were several comments that fell along these lines; that we should not concern ourselves with these events, because the freedom lovers of Tehran are still haters of the United States. That may be true in some cases, I doubt it is true for all of them. Still, I’d much prefer the lovers of freedom be in charge instead of the autocratic despots, even if both groups hate me. The lover of freedom can grow into the responsibilities of self-government, because they have a incentive to do so. The autocratic despots, on the other hand, have no such incentive. Give me a freedom-loving, America hating democracy and in 20 years it stands a good chance of being an ally. Not so much with the America-hating dictatorships.

Dude, I have to disagree with your use of the word opposition, Mousavi & Ahmadinejad are one in the same. Mousavi is more representative of the old guard, while Ahmadinejad is emblematic of the next generation of revolutionaries. Both are ultra loyal to the tyrannical Ayatollah whose mullahcracy controls the governmental, economic, social, military, diplomatic and religious affairs of every Iranian. No free speech, means no free press, means no free thought, means no critique, means no opposition.

Events on the ground would seem to be proving him wrong. Besides, this is less about Mousavi than it is about the millions of people turning out across Iran.

So if Obama goes to the UN and denounces the election. Or if McCain had been elected (I voted for him), he would have rallied international support for the democratic uprising and gave his full unconditional support…..

Isn’t that all forms of diplomacy, which some of you abhor? You can rally all the support outside Iran you want. But how is that going to bring down the theocrats? Or maybe you folks haven’t thought of that?

Of course, if we weren’t still bogged down in Bush’s Iraq adventure, maybe we could place some military pressure on Iran. Or maybe not?

I’ll offer the situation in Iran is far more complex than some of you think. After all, we fought an 8 year proxy war with Iran in the 1980s and there was no change in Iranian government. You all do remember that the Reagan administration supported Saddam in the ’80s and supported the Iranian Mujahadeen, based in Iraq, don’t you?

You can blame Obama all you want. But I have yet to see any solution posted from any of you that will bring about regime change in Tehran.

If we're lucky, the Iranian people can bring about regime change themselves, though I think we should be providing at least moral support. If, on the other hand, the opposition fails, then I believe we (and by "we", I mean you and I, not the politicians in Washington) have to accept the fact that the Iranian regime is committed to waging war against any who try to stand up to them, including their own population... and ours.

We’re broke! There is no money left! The middle class and wealthy, whose tax dollars for decades were thrown around to keep entire peoples from killing each other wholesale, will not exist within ten years in these United States, thus rendering our Treasury empty for a long time to come. The jig is up. Wake up already, and accept that an era has ended. It’s over. Something will take it’s place, for better or worse, but for pete’s sake, stop the mental anguish already. Nobody is particularly happy about it, but that’s the way it is. Something else: did you notice how all the money spent (trillions of dollars), all the diplomacy (manipulation), all the commentary, all the good intentions, decades of it, and people still want to kill each other wholesale and they still hold onto the very beliefs and ways of thinking that leave them impoverished and demoralized? Yeah. It’s a head-scratcher.

Actually, this one deserves a post all of its own.

Monday, June 15, 2009

America Snoring

I haven't forgotten about my post on how Republicans can start to make an impact in our urban areas (in fact, it's turning into quite a lengthy piece), but events in Iran have made me put that topic on the back burner for now.

I'm very pleased that Pajamas Media has posted my latest column. We are now clearly facing a regime, not a country, and our response to the crackdown on democracy in Iran has been, in a word, un-American. The silence from our president is appalling, and I would encourage the American people to raise their voices in solidarity with the Iranian people who demand a free and fair election, since our President evidentally has no desire to do so.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why Does James Carville Hate America?

James Carville's new book 40 More Years might be one of the more frightening books on the shelves these days.

What happens to a society after 40 years of Democratic rule? Look at Detroit, where the last Republican mayor stepped down in 1962. A third of the city is below the poverty line. Nearly half of all children under the age of five live in poverty. The violent crime rate is more than three times the national average. Less than 1/4 of high school freshmen go on to graduate. How's that Democratic majority working out for ya, Detroit?

Detroit's a festering cesspool though. How about Chicago? It last had a Republican mayor in 1931! The poverty rate in 2007 was 20 percent, far above the national average. The violent crime rate is more than twice the national average. The high school graduation rate is 52.2 percent, far below the national average (but good enough that Arne Duncan, former superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, is now our U.S. Secretary of Education!).

Washington, D.C. has never had a Republican mayor. Philadelphia's last Republican mayor was 1952. St. Louis last had a Republican mayor in 1949. Buffalo's last GOP mayor was 1965. New Orleans, Oakland, San Francisco, Camden... not a single Republican mayor within the past 40 years.

I look at that list, and I see misery for the residents, and opportunity for Republicans. Yes, it would be an uphill climb. It may even be necessary to run as Democrats to begin with, but I've always believed that conservatism should work for everyone, not just suburban and rural voters.

What kind of conservative message could sell in these one-party towns? That'll be the subject of my next post.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Administrative Despotism

Eric Scheie notes the fact that people seem afraid to use the term "socialist" to describe Barack Obama's policies, though they certainly bear a striking resemblance to socialism.

Eric wonders who "owns" the word these days, but I think it's less a question of ownership than of our collective mangling of what words like socialism really mean. Regardless, "socialism" is one of those "It-can't-happen-here" words, like communism and facism. This is America! We can't be socialist, or facisct, or communist. We're Americans!

That, of course, is ridiculous. We can be whatever we want to be, or (perhaps more appropriately) whatever we allow ourselves to be. I've been quoting from Toqueville's "Democracy in America" lately, and I find it interesting that when Toqueville was describing despotism in a democratic society, he had a difficult time coming up with a word that would fit what he was describing.

I think, then, that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world; our contemporaries will find no prototype of it in their memories. I seek in vain for an expression that will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it; the old words despotism and tyranny are inappropriate: the thing itself is new, and since I cannot name, I must attempt to define it.

Toqueville did just that, and I think that chapter of "Democracy in America" should be required reading for every American voter. The entirety of the piece is too long to quote, but here's another snippet.

Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions only exhibits servitude at certain intervals and throws the burden of it upon a small number of men. It is in vain to summon a people who have been rendered so dependent on the central power to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity.

I add that they will soon become incapable of exercising the great and only privilege which remains to them. The democratic nations that have introduced freedom into their political constitution at the very time when they were augmenting the despotism of their administrative constitution have been led into strange paradoxes. To manage those minor affairs in which good sense is all that is wanted, the people are held to be unequal to the task; but when the government of the country is at stake, the people are invested with immense powers; they are alternately made the play things of their ruler, and his masters, more than kings and less than men. After having exhausted all the different modes of election without finding one to suit their purpose, they are still amazed and still bent on seeking further; as if the evil they notice did not originate in the constitution of the country far more than in that of the electoral body.

I'm sure many will disagree, but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the United States of America has fallen into such a state. Administrative despotism is in full sway in this country, but Barack Obama is not the instigator. In fact, I believe that I have lived the entirety of my existance in country which has given itself over to that unnamed menace that Toqueville warned us about. This is not Barack Obama's doing, though his adventures are certainly leading us further down the wrong road. Still, he is only vigorously and substantially building on despotic policies that were in place long before he assumed office.

Our republic has been buried underneath the rubble of decades of partisan political battles, to the point that there's not much of the original country and culture left for us to see. When we began healing ourselves with other people's money, paying for our retirement on the backs of our children and grandchildren, placing them further in debt so we can enjoy our own life a fundamental aspect of Americanism was destroyed. When the dream of opportunity for all was replaced with the reality of entitlements for some, when government deemed certain businesses "too big to fail", when "citizen" became synonymous with "resident", when the very framework of our government became subject to not just interpretation, but re-imagining, when we decided that every aspect of our lives, from the food that we eat to the pillows on our beds should be subject to governmental regulation, the nature and purpose of our government became something very different than what our founders put in place.

Our parents and grandparents, even as they fought the biggest external threat to Western Democracy, dreamed an impossible dream: that the United States could maintain its greatness even as it discouraged greatness in its citizens. The schemes they devised gave us an Indian Summer of prosperity and success, but only by delaying the inevitable costs associated with their utopian vision. Now the bill has come due, and we are confronted with a decision: pay now, or force our children into a life of misery and servitude.

Can we get restore our nation? I honestly don't know. Still, that doesn't mean that we are bound to endure the future miseries of a fully failed state. As Thomas Paine said, we have the power to begin the world anew. Other generations have had to make do with admiring men and women like Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, James Madison, Mercy Otis Warren, Abigail Adams, Eliza Pinckney, Phyllis Wheatley, etc. We, however, are asked to do more than just pay homage to them. Our generation has been tasked with emulating them. Just like our forefathers, who were called to create this nation, and our grandfathers, who were called to defend it, our generation must restore the principles of this nation, and in doing so, dismantle the Leviathan that has grown around our system of government.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Despotism In An Age Of Equality

From Democracry in America:

The nature of despotic power in democratic ages is not be fierce or cruel, but minute and meddling. Despotism of this kind, though it odes not trample on humanity, is directly opposed to the genius of commerce and the pursuits of industry.
I readily admit that public tranquillity is a great good, but at the same time I cannot forget that all nations have been enslaved by being kept in good order. Certainly it is not to be inferred that nations ought to despise public tranquillity, but that state ought not to content them. A nation that asks nothing of its government but the maintenance of order is already a slave at heart, the slave of its own well-being, awaiting only the hand that will bind it. By such a nation the despotism of faction is not less to be dreaded than the despotism of an individual. When the bulk of the community are engrossed by private concerns, the smallest parties need not despair of getting the upper hand in public affairs. At such times it is not rare to see on the great stage of the world, as we see in our theaters, a multitude represented by a few players, who alone speak in the name of an absent or inattentive crowd: they alone are in action, while all others are stationary; they regulate everything by their own caprice; they change the laws and tyrannize at will over the manners of the country, and then men wonder to see into how small a number of weak and worthless hands a great people may fall.

Just something to think about.