Thursday, October 22, 2009

Arrogant elites

There's nothing new in America about the mutual suspicion or incomprehension of city slickers and country bumpkins, says Todd Gitlin, a Columbia University journalism professor and sociologist.

Gitlin points out that you do not have to venture outside urban America to find similar divisions within cities themselves. “There are millions of people in the New York metropolitan area to whom the New York Times speaks a foreign (and alien) language, who don't feel represented by its tone, who even feel outraged by it, seeing it as relaying an insider conversation and dissing outsiders,” he said.

A lethal combination of distrust and apprehension is escalating not only with the media but with the government it covers. Part of the problem is the perception beyond the beltway that the media actually made Barack Obama president. Evidence of that lies in the outrage voiced in town-hall meetings and tea-party demonstrations during this summer’s congressional recess. The body of coverage was tilted to highlight the small percentage of extreme attendees, and media elites and former president Jimmy Carter labeled as “racists” those who disagreed with the president.

Main Street Americans are baffled by these political elites’ perception of them.

The point must be made that this is not a Democrats-specific problem. Former President Bill Clinton and his original communications team (including George Stephanopoulos, Paul Begala, James Carville) understood Middle America, conservative strategist Jordan Sekulow says. “Instead of isolating middle-of-the-road Americans, who pay attention to the news but don’t live and die with the politics of the day, they made them insiders,” Sekulow explained.

The Obama administration almost appears to be forgetting blue-collar Americans who have been the Democrats’ political backbone. The administration still caters to labor leaders, but they don’t dictate policy or wield the same power they once did. If they did, the health-care bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee would be to their liking and the Employee Free-Choice Act – card check – would have been enacted months ago. “The culture has been cutting-loose (from) elites, or those it perceives as elites, for decades now,” said Columbia’s Gitlin, a 1960s political activist.

CNN’s King sees significant anxiety and fear among the people he visits in diners across the country. “Listening to them,” he explains, not to political talking-points, helps him to speak for Americans when he interviews anyone, from congressmen to the president.

Ironically, the nation’s elites probably are more aware of the resentment against them because the country is tighter-knit than before and there aren't too many hiding places, Gitlin says. Yet they tend to remain clueless as to why anyone would resent them.

The anti-elitists, who know the world isn't going their way, are holding onto their theories for dear life.



Does Obama Believe in Human Rights?

Not if you go by deeds rather than words

Nobody should get too hung up over President Obama's decision, reported by Der Spiegel over the weekend, to cancel plans to attend next month's 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany's reunited capital has already served his purposes; why should he serve its?

To this day, the fall of the Berlin Wall on the night of Nov. 9, 1989, remains a high-water mark in the march of human freedom. It's a march to which candidate Obama paid rich (if solipsistic) tribute in last year's big Berlin speech. "At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning—his dream—required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West," waxed Mr. Obama to the assembled thousands. "This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom." Those were the words. What's been the record?

China: In February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Beijing with a conciliating message about the country's human-rights record. "Our pressing on those [human-rights] issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis," she said.

In fact, there has been no pressing whatsoever on human rights. President Obama refused to meet with the Dalai Lama last month, presumably so as not to ruffle feathers with the people who will now be financing his debts. In June, Liu Xiaobo, a leading signatory of the pro-democracy Charter 08 movement, was charged with "inciting subversion of state power." But as a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Beijing admitted to the Journal, "neither the White House nor Secretary Clinton have made any public comments on Liu Xiaobo."

Sudan: In 2008, candidate Obama issued a statement insisting that "there must be real pressure placed on the Sudanese government. We know from past experience that it will take a great deal to get them to do the right thing. . . . The U.N. Security Council should impose tough sanctions on the Khartoum government immediately."

Exactly right. So what should Mr. Obama do as president? Yesterday, the State Department rolled out its new policy toward Sudan, based on "a menu of incentives and disincentives" for the genocidal Sudanese government of Omar Bashir. It's the kind of menu Mr. Bashir will languidly pick his way through till he dies comfortably in his bed.

Iran: Mr. Obama's week-long silence on Iran's "internal affairs" following June's fraudulent re-election was widely noted. Not so widely noted are the administration's attempts to put maximum distance between itself and human-rights groups working the Iran beat.

Earlier this year, the State Department denied a grant request for New Haven, Conn.-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. The Center maintains perhaps the most extensive record anywhere of Iran's 30-year history of brutality. The grant denial was part of a pattern: The administration also abruptly ended funding for Freedom House's Gozaar project, an online Farsi- and English-language forum for discussing political issues.

It's easy to see why Tehran would want these groups de-funded and shut down. But why should the administration, except as a form of pre-emptive appeasement?

Burma: In July, Mr. Obama renewed sanctions on Burma. In August, he called the conviction of opposition leader (and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner) Aung San Suu Kyi a violation of "the universal principle of human rights."

Yet as with Sudan, the administration's new policy is "engagement," on the theory that sanctions haven't worked. Maybe so. But what evidence is there that engagement will fare any better? In May 2008, the Burmese junta prevented delivery of humanitarian aid to the victims of Cyclone Nargis. Some 150,000 people died in plain view of "world opinion," in what amounted to a policy of forced starvation.

Leave aside the nausea factor of dealing with the authors of that policy. The real question is what good purpose can possibly be served in negotiations that the junta will pursue only (and exactly) to the extent it believes will strengthen its grip on power. It takes a remarkable presumption of good faith, or perhaps stupidity, to imagine that the Burmas or Sudans of the world would reciprocate Mr. Obama's engagement except to seek their own advantage.

It also takes a remarkable degree of cynicism—or perhaps cowardice—to treat human rights as something that "interferes" with America's purposes in the world, rather than as the very thing that ought to define them. Yet that is exactly the record of Mr. Obama's time thus far in office.

In Massachusetts not long ago, I found myself driving behind a car with "Free Tibet," "Save Darfur," and "Obama 08" bumper stickers. I wonder if it will ever dawn on the owner of that car that at least one of those stickers doesn't belong.



GOP Congresscritters losing touch with the grassroots

For decades, political observers have watched with fascination the battle raging inside the Republican Party. Whether the contest has been between Sen. Robert Taft and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, between Barry Goldwater and Nelson A. Rockefeller, or Ronald Reagan and Gerald R. Ford, the battle has always been viewed as a fight between "conservatives" and so-called "moderates."

However, as recent events reveal, such a formulation misses the point. In fact, the real battle being waged is between Washington insiders - as represented by the congressional wing of the Republican Party - and grass-roots Americans from all walks of life throughout the country.

The actual events that prompted this observation were hardly anything of consequence. The gadfly, wannabe "cool" chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, issued a policy statement titled a "Health Care Bill of Rights." Within days, Senate Republicans led by Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander lashed out at Mr. Steele, intoning, "We are elected to set the policy."

And that, in a nutshell, points up the real fight being waged in Washington today. The congressional wing has grown alienated from the very people who sent them to Washington.

You see expressions of this almost every day. Just last weekend, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham held a town-hall meeting where he ran headlong into opposition for his love of compromise. When pressed by the crowd, Mr. Graham had advice for the grass roots. He replied to a critic of his many liberal positions, "If you don't like it, you can leave." That may be exactly what is happening.

In a special election to fill a vacancy in New York's 23rd Congressional District, insiders and lackeys of the congressional wing selected a liberal assemblywoman who supports President Obama more than the Democratic candidate, is radical on most social issues and is tied by marriage to the AFL-CIO.

Local activists refused to accept such a candidate, so the Conservative Party mounted a challenger. As of this writing, the Conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman, is rising rapidly in the polls as the Republican sinks toward single-digit support. The real Republican Party finally is rising up against the self-appointed mandarins of the congressional wing.

New York 23 is not an isolated case. In Virginia's 5th Congressional District, a solid conservative, Bradley Rees, has publicly announced he will run as an Independent next year if the D.C. power brokers select a liberal challenger to freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello. Again, grass-roots activists are rising up to tell the congressional wing to either get on board or get run over.

The response coming back from the congressional wing is invariably the same: They do what they want to do, not what the people who sent them to Washington want them to do. You and I are irrelevant.

Well, that is what has gotten us into this mess.

That attitude has allowed the culture of corruption to flourish regardless of which party is in power. It is this arrogant disrespect for citizens that has led us to the brink of financial ruin.

So, with all due respect to Mr. Alexander: Phooey! You and your cohorts were sent to Washington to represent the views of the people back home. You were given the task of implementing the ideas and policy positions embedded in the platform. And, you were sent to Congress to serve, not dictate.

The millions of Americans who have from time to time put their faith in one party or the other are starting to awaken. They will no longer sit by silently and take whatever scrap is thrown their way. They increasingly are taking Mr. Graham's advice - they are leaving.




Zogby Interactive: Obama Job Approval Falls Back to 49%: "President Barack Obama's job performance rating has fallen slightly to 49% in the most recent Zogby Interactive survey, slipping below the majority job approval mark of 52% he enjoyed late last month. The Zogby Interactive survey of 3,694 likely voters nationwide found 49% approving of Obama's job performance, 51% disapproving and 1% undecided. The survey was conducted Oct. 16-19, 2009, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.6 percentage points. A Sept. 28 Zogby Interactive survey was the first time since early June that President Barack Obama's job performance received majority approval in a Zogby Interactive poll of likely voters."

RINO calls cops on reporter who asked her about Card Check: "John McCormack is a reporter working for The Weekly Standard. Dede Scozzafava is the extremely liberal New York Assemblywoman running as a Republican to succeed Rep. John McHugh from the Empire State's 23rd congressional district in the upcoming special election. Scozzafava was speaking at a GOP dinner Monday evening. McCormack was reporting on Scozzafava's campaign, including her recent pledge to the AFL-CIO to support Big Labor's top legislative objective, the Card Check proposal - currently stalled in Congress - to abolish the secret ballot in workplace representation elections. Scozzafava apparently didn't appreciate being asked about her support of Card Check because after she left and McCormack went to his laptop to file a report on the evening's event, the police showed up.

Top NYC cop back in jail: "Bernard Kerik, New York City’s disgraced former police commissioner, went to jail Tuesday after a judge revoked his bail for disclosing sealed trial information that could poison his upcoming corruption trial. Robinson revoked Kerik’s $500,000 bail following a hearing that lasted more than three hours regarding confidential trial information that Kerik disclosed to the trustee of his legal defense fund, who in turn released it to The Washington Times. The newspaper did not publish the information. Kerik’s attorney, Barry Berke, argued that the trustee was part of Kerik’s legal team and therefore was allowed to see the information. But Robinson, who had warned Kerik last month that he would be jailed for similar behavior, said he did not believe Kerik and delivered a stern rebuke.”

SCOTUS reins in cops: "The US Supreme Court has let stand a ruling in Virginia that police officers must personally observe erratic driving before stopping a suspected drunken driver. On Tuesday, the high court declined to take up an appeal involving a Richmond motorist who was pulled over by a police officer based on an anonymous tip that he was driving under the influence of alcohol. The issue in the case, Virginia v. Harris, was whether the officer was justified in confronting the driver with a roadside sobriety test, or whether he should have waited until Harris’ driving gave rise to a reasonable suspicion of drunk driving independent of the anonymous tip.”

Alienated and radicalized: "Comes now, the ‘Oath Keepers.’ And who might they be? Writes Alan Maimon in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oath Keepers, depending on where one stands, are ‘either strident defenders of liberty or dangerous peddlers of paranoia.’ Formed in March, they are ex-military and police who repledge themselves to defend the Constitution, even if it means disobeying orders. If the U.S. government ordered law enforcement agencies to violate Second Amendment rights by disarming the people, Oath Keepers will not obey. ‘The whole point of Oath Keepers is to stop a dictatorship from ever happening here,’ says founding father Stewart Rhodes, an ex-Army paratrooper and Yale-trained lawyer. ‘My focus is on the guys with the guns, because they can’t do it without them. We say if the American people decide it’s time for a revolution, we’ll fight with you.’"

Some competition in Britain at last?: "Airport operator BAA has agreed to sell Gatwick, Britain's second busiest airport, for 1.5 billion pounds (2.5 billion US dollars, 1.6 billion euros), the Financial Times reported. Citing people familiar with the matter, the FT reported on its website that the deal with Global Infrastructure Partners, which already own London City Airport, will likely be announced before markets open on Wednesday. The Competition Commission approved details of the sale late Tuesday, it said. In August last year, British regulators called for BAA to sell three of its seven airports in Britain -- two in London and one in Scotland -- in order to end a dominance they said hurts both passengers and airlines."

Church of England to lose some of its real Christians to Rome: "The Roman Catholic Church today moved to poach thousands of traditional Anglicans who are dismayed by growing acceptance of gays and women priests and bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams admitted that he had been caught out after Pope Benedict XVI announced a new “Apostolic Constitution” to provide a legal framework for the many thousands of Anglicans and former Anglicans who wish “to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church”. The announcement paves the way for thousands of Anglicans worldwide to join the Roman Catholic church while maintaining elements of their own spiritual heritage. The constitution, a canonical structure, will provide “personal ordinariates” that will allow Anglicans to “set up church” within the Catholic church while retaining elements of their former ecclesiastical identity, such as Anglican liturgies and vestments. Traditionalists, including up to six Church of England bishops, had visited and pleaded with Rome to provide some sort of structure inside the Catholic Church for their wing of the Church of England because of liberal moves towards women bishops and gay ordinations."


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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)


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