Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two Gentlemen on Obama

Shmalentine: I thought it boring but perhaps intentionally so conventional: Part of an effort to recast him as a boring centrist president rather than a commie Muslim.

Shmoteus: Recast being the operative word—the lines were there on the surface (American exceptionalism, etc.), but it’s impossible to believe anything he says about our place in the world when tomorrow we will still have no real agenda abroad beyond the piecemeal approval of predator drone strikes. It was odd—he managed to avoid talking about actual warfighting in his marquee Iraq speech. I’ve come away with a very blurry memory of what he actually said. Bush was good, our troops were good, our relationship with Iraq is good, everything will soon be better, and we mourn our many losses. It was as though he was forcing you to insert meaning into his words—a true cipher.

Not a wartime president, that one.

Shmalentine: Yes, it is amazing how antiseptic he is (clean, Joe Biden once said) when he has in fact droned out countless Afghan women, children, cousins, neighbors who were in the wrong place when an Obamadrone struck. All that done to avoid complex legal issues that arise from trying to hold them. Easier to drone them out. This from our professor of constitutional law. 

But!! You said “tomorrow we will still have no real agenda abroad beyond the piecemeal approval of predator drone strikes.” How unfair. Tomorrow, precisely, we will have the Peace Dinner. All is not lost: The world’s shortest king will be back in Washington. And Mubarak, Kiwi Black all over his dome. And after 18 months of being kept apart by Mitchell’s incompetence, Abbas and Bibi.

Anyway, tomorrow and the day after there is but one agenda: Winning in 2012. 

Shmoteus: And while we’re speaking of recasting, Obama's new oval office rug has five quotations inscribed in the wool:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”—President Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Government of the people, by the people, for the People”—President Abraham Lincoln
“No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings”—President John F. Kennedy
“The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us”—President Theodore Roosevelt
Each line is by itself quite lovely, but in sum they’re just . . . empty. I like the one in the Jefferson Memorial better: “I pledge upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” 

But then, he don’t.

Shmalentine: It is stupid to put that stuff in a rug so everyone walks all over it. Generally speaking I do not favor rug quotations.

Monday, August 23, 2010

If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem, May My Gun Hand Wither and Ramallah Become My Capital

The city of Ramallahwhose Muqata was once the notorious siege-place of Yasser Arafat and today houses his crypt—is now the seat of the “Palestinian” government, such as it is, and building is booming, reports the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh; houses are selling, fancy new restaurants are opening, discotheques are thrumming, and five-star hotels are accommodating “a diverse crowd—young and old, Palestinian and Israeli, Americans and Europeans, as well as Christians, Muslims and even Jews. What is more, Among the countries that have ambassadors and representative offices in the city are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Korea, South Africa, Norway, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, China, Poland, Portugal, The Netherlands, Russia, Jordan, Brazil, Finland, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, India, Japan, the Czech Republic, Canada and Mexico.

Thus, it is fair to say that notwithstanding the many tears, crocodile and otherwise, springing  from the eyes of “Palestinians” over “Al Quds,”or their protestations of love and longing for the city that was left to rot and ruin under the Arab hand and returned to its current Jerusalemite glory only with the tender stewardship of the Jews after 1967, Ramallah is quickly becoming the de facto capital of what may one day be the Palestinian state.

The Palestinian state if, that is, its citizens can renounce once and for all the creeping Islamism that would sooner see them suffering the miseries and oppression of twelfth-century religious and cultural practice than thriving in a modern society; if they can cast off at last the self-strangling mythology of their own victimhood;  and if they can shed their century-old yearning to set the blood of their Jewish neighbors flowing in the streets. And if, that is, those same despised Jewish neighbors can succeed in destroying the Iranian bomb that threatens the potential state, Palestinewhose capital will be Ramallahno less than the Jewish state, Israelwhose eternal and undivided capital is Jerusalemwhich in the meantime the Palestinians have erased from their maps and the schoolbooks of their children.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Middle East Beer Summit

They are touting it as the resumption of bilateral peace negotiations between Bibi Netanyahu’s Israel and Mahmoud Abbas’s “Palestine”—the crowning achievement of nine months of flitting hither to Jerusalem and thither to Ramallah by George Mitchell for “proximity” talks intended to bring together (for “imity” talks?) a disposed enough Netanyahu and an Abbas so reluctant he was begging the Arab League to hide him; and double that many months of pressure on Bibi by the president of the United States, et al., to make concessions no Israeli leader could possibly make—yet here, so far, is what the team of Obamic geniuses has actually accomplished: A dinner at the White House scheduled for September 1st for three—Obama, Netanyahu, and Abbas—and twenty—“King” Abdullah of Jordan will be among them, as will Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak (who’ll be tearing himself away from his busy schedule of suppressing democracy and imprisoning human rights activists in his own country), Tony Blair, to speak for Salam Fayyad, the author of whatever progress toward modernity there is to be had in Arab Judea and Samaria, and a whole bunch of lackeys, likely including the American tools Dennis Ross and Dan Shapiro (whose embarrassing job it was to try to sell this ludicrousness to the American Jewish community); and, the following day, a trilateral meeting convened by Hillary “Human Rights” Clinton at the State Department. In other words, one mighty big beer summit here, minus the beer.

Nothing good has ever come of decades of American meddling in the Israeli-Arab “peace process”—at best, it’s been a monumental waste of everyone’s time; at worst, it produced the Second Intifada—and nothing good can come of this latest and most farcical effort.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fitzgerald Flameout: Prosecution Fail

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald indicted a ham sandwich—Rod Blagojevich—on 24 counts, and all he has to show for it is one guilty verdict—making false statements to federal authorities—and a mistrial. What a shame for Mr. Fitzgerald that the mendacious blarney-meister Tim Russert was no longer available to testify. On the other hand, Mr. Russert’s testimony, one may be forgiven for wagering, might have been good only for the prosecution of an innocent man.

Could it be time for Fitzgerald to bag the Judas Cradle and rat torture  and set up shop in another line of business? There’s always Armitage International, where Rich Armitage and his band of fixers ply their trade.  After all, Armitage owes him one—a big one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Let Them Eat the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Before Marie Antoinette “Farmer in the Dell” Obama’s even had a chance to teach low-income obese children how to sow and harvest and eat like so many little Johnny Appleseeds, her “Let’s Move” initiative may lighten them up perforce, as Dem legislators find they are obliged to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, to pay for it.

“Food stamps have made multiple appearances on the fiscal chopping block because Democrats have few other places to turn to offset the cost of legislation,” The Hill reports. Of course, not everyone is on board: “This is one of the more egregious cases of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and is a vote we do not take lightly,” say Jim McGovern and Keith Ellison. Still, increases in funding for food stamps that were part of the stimulus

were already scheduled to phase out over time. The changes proposed in the state aid and nutrition bills would simply cut off that increase early, in March 2014. Because the cuts would not take effect for more than three years, Democratic leaders have voiced the hope that they will be able to stop them in future legislation.

Stop them in future legislation . . . or not. Three years is a long time, especially these days, especially for the Dems. Stamping out childhood obesity—and food stamps along with it—could have no role to play at all in their struggle to get back into Congress. As for Marie and her courtiers, they, too, may well have moved on to greener pastures—and trimmer children.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

President Poltroon

Last night you allocuted on the Ground Zero mosque with the clear clarity of clearness that so often characterizes your public discourse:

But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.

Today you muddied up the place, sloshing some really very Hillaryesque dishwater all over it:

I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about. And I think it’s very important as difficult as some of these issues are that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.

For God's sake, Mr. Obama, you are not the mayor of Podunk arguing with the City Council over sewer versus septic; you are the president of the United States of America, the greatest country in the world! It may be that your utterances are sounding like indefensible rubbish to more and more of us, but at the very least you, the presidential enunciator of them, ought to have the courage to defend themespecially when theyre already in writing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Repeal! Repudiate! Reprehend!

Mr. Obama rehashes his Inaugural address, lamely, and makes some really rather condescending assertions about Muslims in American history to an audience including questionable guests (the Islamic Society of North America was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case) at this year’s Ramadan iftar at the White House (h/t Jennifer Rubin):

Like so many other immigrants, generations of Muslims came here to forge their future. They became farmers and merchants, worked in mills and factories, and helped lay the railroads.  They helped build America. They founded the first Islamic center in New York City in the 1890s. They built America’s first mosque on the prairie of North Dakota.  And perhaps the oldest surviving mosque in America—still in use today—is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Today, our nation is strengthened by millions of Muslim Americans. They excel in every walk of life. Muslim American communities—including mosques in all fifty states—also serve their neighbors. Muslim Americans protect our communities as police, firefighters and first responders. Muslim American clerics have spoken out against terror and extremism, reaffirming that Islam teaches that one must save human life, not take it. And Muslim Americans serve with honor in our military.

How about the Sikhs who arrived here from India in the 1800s to work on farms and railways in order to secure better lives for themselves and become good Americans? Should they get a dinner? And what about the Buddhists and Taoists who came from China, and, as little more than slave labor, really helped lay the railroads, and nevertheless managed to forge a remarkable future here? Where’s their dinner? 

And while we’re on the subject of religion and Mr. Obama’s self-righteous touting of his own embrace of diversity, the practice of hosting an annual iftar was established by George W. Bush in November of 2001. It was an extremely ill-conceived effort then, to persuade the world in the period immediately following the Islamofascist slaughter of 3,000 Americans that we were not Islam-allergic, and it remains so today, almost a decade later. Islamofascists are still trying, and succeeding, to kill Americans, and no amount of genuflecting at White House dinners will make it otherwise.

What is more, Mr. Obama may insist that it is so until the day he and the rest of his crew of tone-deaf incompetents are escorted via Marine One to Andrews Air Force Base and hence off to forge their own future, but we are not just fighting al Qaeda. Our enemy—the West's enemy—is a web of Islamic terrorists and state sponsors that includes Hamas, Hizballah, Islamic Jihad, al Aksa Martyrs' Brigade, Ansar al Islam, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Harakat ul Mujahidin, among a long and probably growing list of others.

Which brings us to the Obamic endorsement of the Ground Zero Mosque project, an act of appeasement on the order of his Cairo speech, his flirtation with the despots of Iran, and his refusal to name terrorist names: It will avail him the same scornful response he’s received repeatedly already, and it will keep the rest of us in harm’s way. 

Repeal him, repudiate him, and reprehend him!

Rome, On the Way to San Pietro in Vincoli and the Statue of Moses: Graffito of the Decade

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Christopher Hitchens and the Invisible Foe

Notwithstanding either the inclinations of Journolisters to do concrete damage to their political opposites, or Christopher Hitchens’s suspicion that his intellectual adversaries would take pleasure in seeing him suffer a mortal illness, it is possible to think ill of someone without actually wishing him ill. And thus I’ve been sorry to learn that Mr. Hitchens has lately had the terrible misfortune of discovering he’s got cancer, an enemy that creeps upon you, still as the grave and in the dead of night, so to speak, and, whether bidden—rough living, such as he has done, “knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light”—or not, drops you with a brutal double whack to your knees, first with the news of its existence and then with the cure.

Writing about it in the September issue of Vanity Fair, he boasts “I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me.” It may be he’s been playing chicken with Death for years. It’s something in any event he seems to want to brag about. Nevertheless, the fierce atheist wants to live, too, just like the rest of us: “Will I really not live to see my children married?” he asks. “To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read—if not indeed write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?”

As for being bored by cancer, that’s simply ludicrous, and not at all believable, even from such a candle-burner and lover of the “lovely light” as he claims to have been. If it bored him, he wouldn’t be writing about it. Anyway, nobody who has cancer is bored by it. On the contrary: it—or rather escaping it in order to stay alive—becomes the subject of greatest fascination to the people who’ve got it. Indeed, they may often need to talk about it, just as Mr. Hitchens does, though not, on the whole, to catalogue their emetic emissions or the dissolution of their sexuality (“In the war against Thanatos, if we must term it a war, the immediate loss of Eros is a huge initial sacrifice”) with the gusto and flair with which he does so, and not, most of them, certainly, in the pages of a glossy gossip rag featuring a very undressed Lady Gaga on the cover and a “profile” of her inside.

However, that’s his venue and metier, so talk about it there he will, and not without some pathos, and even, dare one say it, not without an indirect though no doubt unwitting appeal to a Higher Power:

I am quietly resolved to resist bodily as best I can, even if only passively, and to seek the most advanced advice. . . . Against me is the blind, emotionless alien, cheered on by some who have long wished me ill. But on the side of my continued life is a group of brilliant and selfless physicians plus an astonishing number of prayer groups.

For to Whom, one can’t help asking, does he think those prayer groups are praying?

Or Save Yourself the Trouble and Go To the Movies