Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Obama ignores reality
By MARK STEYN
Half a decade or so back, I wrote: "It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice cream and a quart of dog feces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the U.N."
Absolutely right, if I do say so myself. When you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way.
That's what happened in New York last week. Barack Obama is not to blame for whichever vagary of United Nations protocol resulted in the president of the United States being the warm-up act for the Lunatic-for-Life in charge of Libya.
But it is a pitiful reflection upon the state of the last superpower that, when it comes to the transnational mush drooled by the leader of the free world or the conspiracist ramblings of a terrorist pseudo-Bedouin running a one-man psycho-cult of a basket-case state, it's more or less a toss-up as to which of them is more unreal. To be sure, Col. Gadhafi peddled his thoughts on the laboratory origins of swine flu and the Zionist plot behind the Kennedy assassination. But, on the other hand, President Obama said: "No nation can or should try to dominate another nation."
Pardon me? Did a professional speechwriter write that? Or did you outsource it to a starry-eyed runner-up in the Miss America pageant? Whether any nation "should try" to dominate another, they certainly "can," and do so with effortless ease, all over the planet and throughout human history.
And how about this passage? "I have been in office for just nine months — though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted, I believe, in a discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences ... .."
Forget the first part: That's just his usual narcissistic "But enough about me, let's talk about what the world thinks of me" shtick. But the second is dangerous in its cowardly evasiveness: For better or worse, we are defined by our differences — and, if Barack Obama doesn't understand this when he's at the podium addressing a room filled with representatives of Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela and other unlovely polities, the TV audience certainly did when Col. Gadhafi took to the podium immediately afterward.
They're both heads of state of sovereign nations. But if you're on an Indian Ocean island when the next tsunami hits, try calling Libya instead of the U.S. and see where it gets you.
This isn't a quirk of fate. The global reach that enables America and a handful of others to get to a devastated backwater on the other side of the planet and save lives and restore the water supply isn't a happy accident but something that derives explicitly from our political systems, economic liberty, traditions of scientific and cultural innovation, and a general understanding that societies advance when their people are able to fulfill their potential in freedom.
In other words, America and Libya are defined by their differences. What happens when you pretend those differences don't exist? Well, you end up with the distinctively flavored ice cream I mentioned at the beginning. By declining to distinguish between the foreign minister of Slovenia and the foreign minister of, say, Sudan, you normalize not merely the goofier ad libs of a Gadhafi but far darker pathologies.
The day after the U.S. president addressed the U.N., the prime minister of Israel took to the podium and held up a copy of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference at which German officials planned the "Final Solution" to their Jewish problem. This is the pathetic state to which the U.N. has been reduced after six decades: The Jew-hatred of Ahmadinejad and others is so routine that a sane man has to stand up and attempt to demonstrate to lunatics that the Holocaust actually happened.
One sympathizes with Benjamin Netanyahu. But he's missing the point. Ahmadinejad & Co. aren't Holocaust deniers because of the dearth of historical documentation. They do so because they can, and because it suits their own interests to do so, and because in the regimes they represent, the state lies to its people as a matter of course and to such a degree that there is no longer an objective reality, only a self-constructed one. In Libya and Syria and far too many "nations," truth is simply what the thug in the presidential palace declares it to be.
But don't worry, Obama assures them, we're not "defined by our differences." Hey, that's great, isn't it? Yet if you can no longer distinguish between the truth and a lie, why be surprised that the lie metastasizes and becomes, if not yet quite respectable, at least semi-respectable and acceptable in polite society?
Some Western nations walked out of Ahmadinejad's speech: Canada was first; Austria stuck around; America left somewhere in between. "It is disappointing that Mr. Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to espouse hateful, offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric," huffed U.S. spokesman Mark Kornblau. Oh, come off it, you ludicrous poseur. President Obama's position is that he's anxious to hold talks "without preconditions" with his Iranian colleague. How can you do that if you're going to flounce out like a big drama queen at the first itsy-bitsy pro forma Judenhass?
Although he affects a president-of-the-world manner, I don't think Barack Obama cares much about foreign affairs one way or the other. He has a huge transformative domestic agenda designed to leave this country looking much closer to the average Continental social democracy. His principal interest in the rest of the planet is he doesn't need some nutjob nuking Cleveland before he's finished reducing it to a moribund socialist swamp. And so, like many European nations, when it comes to the global scene, Obama has attitudes rather than policies. If you're on the receiving end — like Israel, Poland, Honduras — it's not pleasant, and it's going to get worse.
It was striking to hear Gadhafi and Chavez profess their admiration for Obama, call him "our son." and declare their fond hope that he remain president for life. The Chinese and Russians are more circumspect in public, and laughing their heads off in private. As for the saner members of the U.N., many Europeans still think they've got the American president they've always wanted: They would agree with John Bolton's indictment — that this was a post-American speech by a post-American president — but mean it as high praise.
As the contours of the post-American world emerge, they will have plenty of time to reconsider their enthusiasm.
Proof conclusive that Obama is a robot
Just watch the smile
Media trying to shoot the messenger: "Every journalism inquiry from the mainstream media continues to focus on the successful operation that exposed ACORN, not on ACORN itself, as if there is no evidence to sift through or common traits to be found in the videos. Why is the story about journalistic process rather than institutional corruption? The Washington Post and the Associated Press have had to issue embarrassing retractions for falsely implying Mr. O'Keefe's motives were racist. The New York Times, too, had to issue a retraction on an issue raised to impugn his tactics."
The French think pedophilia is OK: "France's political elite has rallied to the defence of Roman Polanski, calling on Switzerland to free the 76-year-old film director rather than extradite him to the United States. Artists and film makers also urged the release of Polanski, who faces charges of having sex with a girl of 13 in 1977, accusing Switzerland of being overzealous in pursuing such an old case and bowing to US demands. Polanski was due to receive a prize for his life's work at the Zurich Film Festival on Sunday, but was arrested on a 1978 US arrest warrant after arriving in Switzerland on Saturday. "I think this is awful and totally unjust," French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand told reporters. "Just as there is an America which is generous and which we like, so there is an America which is frightening, and that is the America which has just revealed its face," he added. The culture ministry said French President Nicolas Sarkozy was following the case closely and wanted the swift release of Polanski, while Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he had expressed his concerns to his Swiss counterpart." [Details of the crime here]
Two troops for every civil servant in Britain's defence ministry: "Britain has more military bureaucrats for every active serviceman than any of its Nato allies, it can be disclosed. Figures obtained by the Daily Telegraph show that the 27 other western alliance countries, including the United States, all employ proportionately fewer civilians in their defence ministries. While Britain has just two active troops for every civil servant in the Ministry of Defence, France has almost five, Spain has almost eight and several smaller countries have many more. The MoD employs 85,730 civil servants. Separate figures showed that the MoD spent more than £61 million on public relations last year – enough to pay the annual wage bill for 3,656 new privates in the Army. The Conservatives last night accused Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, of running a “bloated administration” while troops in Afghanistan faced equipment shortages. The bureaucracy figures will put pressure on Mr Ainsworth to divert funds to the front line or cut the MoD’s budget by reducing the number of officials in his department."
Obama rudely twists the lion's tail: "Barack Obama, as my Examiner colleague Byron York has noted, has been snubbing British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. This strikes me as highly regrettable and foolish in the extreme. Does Obama have some gripe against the British related to his Kenyan colonial heritage? If so, it’s time to get over it. Britain has been by and large an exemplary ally. It is one of the few nations in the world with a significant out-of-area military capacity, it maintains constructive ties with its former colonies through the Commonwealth, it shares with us an Anglospheric heritage based on common law and individual freedom which is of priceless value."
William Safire, 1929-2009: "Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist, language expert and former White House speechwriter William Safire died Sunday, his assistant said. Safire, who was 79, had been diagnosed with cancer and died at a hospice in Maryland, assistant Rosemary Shields said. She declined to specify the type of cancer Safire had or say when he had been diagnosed.”
Job losses, early retirements hurt Social Security: "Big job losses and a spike in early retirement claims from laid-off seniors will force Social Security to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the next two years, the first time that’s happened since the 1980s. The deficits — $10 billion in 2010 and $9 billion in 2011 — won’t affect payments to retirees because Social Security has accumulated surpluses from previous years totaling $2.5 trillion. But they will add to the overall federal deficit.”
Kelo battle ends in farce: "Weeds, glass, bricks, pieces of pipe and shingle splinters have replaced the knot of aging homes at the site of the nation’s most notorious eminent domain project. There are a few signs of life: Feral cats glare at visitors from a miniature jungle of Queen Anne’s lace, thistle and goldenrod. Gulls swoop between the lot’s towering trees and the adjacent sewage treatment plant. But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to come wrapped and ribboned with up to 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues? They are noticeably missing. Proponents of the ambitious plan blame the sour economy. Opponents call it ‘poetic justice. … They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing,’ said Susette Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the landmark property rights case. ‘I don’t think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision.’”
The common good = collectivism: "Politically-structured collectivism, in whatever form it manifests itself, debilitates and disables individuals, depriving each of us of our biological and experiential uniqueness. This, of course, is its purpose. As long as men and women think of themselves as little more than fungible units in a group-think monolith, they and their children will continue to be ground down into a common pulp useful only to their masters. Collectivism is a religion for losers; a belief system that allows the state to marshal the wealth and energies of people for a coerced redistribution to those it favors. Barack Obama did not invent this vulgar, anti-life concept that he works so assiduously to expand. The collectivist proposition had long been in place when George W. Bush echoed its sentiments in the phrase ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us.’ Nor are the protoplasmic units (i.e., you and I) to be heard questioning the purposes or the costs of our subordination to what is the basic premise of every political system. The state shields itself from such inquiries under the pretense that ‘national security’ would be threatened thereby.”
How to lose friends …: "Instead of reaffirming the importance of our relationship with Israel, Obama has renewed our membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council, presided over by exemplars of self-determination and human dignity, such as Libya, Syria, and Angola. The hobbyhorse of this organization is accusing Israel of war crimes, which isn’t surprising. Noted intellectual George Gilder argues in his most recent book, The Israel Test, that where you stand on Israel — not always, but in general — is an indication about how you feel about the ideals of liberty and capitalism. The debate over Israel, he claims, is the manifestation of a deeper moral and ideological war around the world.”
California reports on excessive regulation: "A report was recently released by the State of California detailing the cost of regulation to the state’s economy. The results are damning. Regulation costs just under half a trillion dollars annually. It costs the state four million jobs. It costs the state twelve billion in taxes. The cost to the state’s economy is equal to what is currently one third of the state’s GDP. The twelve billion in taxes would close the existing budget gap without resorting to fancy accounting. The four million jobs would put the state’s unemployment rate below, instead of above, the national average.”
If you want to know what's true of Leftists, see what they say about conservatives: "One of the best lines in Sam Tanenhaus’s wonderful little book on The Death of Conservatism comes in its opening chapter. Surveying intellectual life on the right in the opening months of the Obama administration, Tanenhaus concludes that too many conservative intellectuals ‘recognize no distinction between analysis and advocacy, or between the competition of ideas and the naked struggle for power.’ Quite so, as one can see from the response (or non-response) of the right to Tanenhaus’s own book. Tanenhaus is a tough critic of the conservative movement, but he is also a deeply informed one.”
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Posted by JR at 1:34 AM