John McCain and Britain's David Cameron are best suited to defy Russian aggression
McCain and the British Conservative leader were decisive while Gordon Brown (the British Labor Party Prime Minister) and Obama dithered
Suddenly we have a very different picture of the sort of political leader that we need. The world is not the same place that it was when the four main players on the Anglo-American political scene came on to the field. Barack Obama and John McCain began their contest in an atmosphere of relative security and prosperity. David Cameron emerged at a time of such general contentment that work-life balance seemed like the most urgent question facing the nation. (Remember that?)
When Gordon Brown took office he was immediately presented with a series of what seemed at the time to be testing crises that he surmounted with stoical authority: now the floods, the amateurish terror attacks and the brief revival of foot-and-mouth disease seem like flea bites. Where is he now that we are facing the most genuinely terrifying international confrontation in a generation? This is the man who has reminded us repeatedly (and rather plaintively) of the triumphal opening chapter of his premiership, implying that he would like nothing more than another opportunity to display Courage Under Fire. And he is missing in action. Gone AWOL? Hidden deep in his bunker surrounded by reassuring aides? Paralysed by the collapse of relations with his own Foreign Secretary? Hunched over his plans for a great autumn relaunch? Who knows?
Mr Cameron, meanwhile, cleverly filled the vacuum by taking himself off to Georgia to utter an uncompromising message of defiance to the Russians - and to deliver an unambiguous message to the British media that he wasn't just a politician for the soft times. He may have the luxury that Heaven bestows on opposition politicians of being powerless and therefore not encumbered with the problem of actually having to make anything happen, but his statements were unequivocal enough to commit him to a course of action in office - which is brave enough.
So in Britain we have seen a startling role reversal: the man billed as a brusque but resolute presence who came into his own in times of danger and anxiety has disappeared from the scene. And the one who was supposed to be cuddly and consumed with lightweight lifestyle issues is bestriding the world stage handing out ultimatums to an aggressive superpower.
In the United States, the story is taking a more predictable but no less riveting course. John McCain was always going to be the net gainer in a foreign crisis. Not only does he have precisely the experience - both personal and political - of coping with war and international threat, but his manner and his presence seem designed to be both reassuring and inspiring.
The Great Depression Hoax
I slapped the side of my television in April when economist Joe Stiglitz called this the worst recession "since the Great Depression." But now the economy is not only hurting homeowners; it's apparently harming parakeets, too! An AP item reports that pet owners are abandoning their furry and feathery friends to animal shelters because they can no longer afford to feed them. Never mind that GDP is puttering along in positive terrain. Headlines still scream that we're closing in on 1929, not 2009.
Are we a nation of whiners, as Phil Gramm put it a little while ago, getting himself kicked off John McCain's advisory team? No, the American public is not whining. One reason may be that consumers are swallowing $13 billion of pick-me-uppers like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. (A doctor friend who volunteered at a sleepaway camp said that, every morning, 20% of the kids lined up for their psychomeds.) More likely, though, Americans are just leaving the whining to pundits and trend reporters. The fellow who filed the pet story did not bother to point out that, in this alleged new Great Depression, the Pet Products Manufacturers Association says that Americans have spent 5% more this year on their pooches and pussies than last year.
Where are the Hoovervilles camped out under the Washington Monument? Where are the soup lines? Willie Nelson is still on tour, beseeching us to save the family farm. But it must be tougher for him to gin up support when the typical American farm, thanks in part to ever expanding ethanol subsidies, has see its annual income surge 50% past its 10-year average. Apparently Willie is traveling on a biodiesel, soybean-fed bus. So now we know at least what Willie's bus is smoking.
The fact is that most Americans get up in the morning to work hard, feed their families and pay for soccer uniforms and maybe a vacation, if they can stand the security lines at the airport. Most Americans don't let whining get in the way of work. That separates us from the French, who would join a picket line to protest against picket lines. The problem with whining, as with socialism, is that it requires too many evenings. And forget about the organized whining that we know as social activism. That requires too many meetings and too many covered-dish dinners too. I'm still not sure what Barack Obama accomplished as a professional "community organizer." I doubt he was another Martin Luther King, but I'm pretty certain he carried a lot of macaroni salad.
Sure, we gripe about higher food prices and shaky home prices, but we are still living "La Vida Latte," lining up every morning before a barista and otherwise indulging in the imperatives of the good life. Yes, the share price of Starbucks has sunk of late, but Americans spent more, not less, at Starbucks last year than the year before. And if you add premium coffee sales at McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts, the growth rate of this liquid luxury has soared. I should point out that the price of a Starbucks latte is about $1,200 a barrel. Makes that SUV fill-up a little easier to swallow, doesn't it?
Believe it or not, the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy has come out in defence of Hillary! See the video here.
Beijing Olympics: British athletes do well: "Britain's athletes have won four more gold medals in Beijing as their remarkable success over the weekend is hailed as the "greatest in British Olympics history". Sailors, cyclists, rowers and a teenage swimmer claimed eight golds in 48 hours and placed Britain third in the medal table ahead of Australia and Germany. Britain now has 11 gold - more than Athens - five silver and seven bronze medals to its name with another week to go. The homegrown Olympic squad is tipped to win a possible eight more golds. Prime minister Gordon Brown described the weekend as "unprecedented", while Buckingham Palace said the Queen was taking such an interest she had decided to invite all the Olympians to a reception on their return". [I suppose I expose myself to the charge of being curmudgeonly but I feel that I should note that the triumphs were no accident. Britain has spent a huge amount of charity money on preparing its athletes. Whether that is a good use for charity money I will leave for others to judge]
For more postings from me, see OBAMA WATCH, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)