Tuesday, May 05, 2015
The history behind Mr. Putin gives a dire warning of what might come
As readers of my blogs will mostly be aware, I am an inveterate skeptic. I don't believe in God, Karl Marx, global warming or the evils of dietary fat, sugar and salt -- and much else besides. So it should be no surprise that I also look skeptically at the current Western evaluation of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. I think the demonization of him is about as well founded as the demonization of carbon dioxide or dietary salt. The demonization is politically convenient for Western leaders -- it is cheap heroics -- but is based on little more than a kneejerk reaction to Russia. Russia has been villainous in the past so treating it as villainous now is plausible.
I see Vladimir Vladimirovich as simply a traditional Russian leader doing what any Russian leader would do and I aim to prove that right now. Proving anything from history is a shaky enterprise but I think this one is pretty clear.
Russian leaders have always had the sort of protective attitude towards all Russians that British and American leaders also once had towards their citizens. There was a time when an American or a Briton abroad who got into trouble could rely on his government going in to bat for him. National diplomatic power would be exercised on behalf of just one individual. If there is a big enough public outcry it can still happen today but it is rare. Western leaders these days don't seem to have much feeling for their own people once those people are outside their national boundaries.
But Vladimir Vladimirovich does. And Vladimir Vladimirovich is very popular in Russia because of that -- because Russians generally feel that way. Russians see themselves as a unique people without any of the Western hangups about "racism". They feel that Russians everywhere are part of a whole that they are proud to belong to. A feeling of connectedness with others is very important to human beings generally and Russians tend to feel that connectedness with all Russians.
That is all pretty well known but let me now prove it from history. How did WWI start?
As I think most people know, it started from Austria's reaction to the assassination of its archduke. In shako and whiskers below:
Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated by a Slavic nationalist -- so Austria invaded Serbia to teach those pesky Slavs a lesson. But what was that about Slavic nationalism? The southern Slavs at the time were split up into a number of nationalities but a lot of Slavs were unhappy about that. They wanted what they got many years later -- a unified nation of the southern Slavs -- Yugoslavia.
But where were the Northern Slavs while all this was going on? They were mostly in Russia. Russians are Slavs too. And Russians shared those pan-Slavic feelings. They saw themselves as the big brother to the oppressed little Southern Slavs. So when Austria invaded Serbia, Russian diplomatic efforts on behalf of the Slavs ramped up. Russia used all its diplomatic power on behalf of the Serbs. But it did no good. Austrian democracy at the time was a shambles, the Austrian Kaiser was very old and Austria was effectively ruled by the generals of the Austrian armed forces.
And the Austrian army was large, modern and well-equipped*. Austria generally at the time was large, modern and well-equipped. The Austrian army even had provision for Jewish soldiers to get kosher food and any other religious articles they required.
So the Austrian generals had no fear of Russia. As it has almost always been, the Russian army was primitive, ill-equipped and badly led. Russia has always had the same sort of difficulty in finding good generals that the British have. The last really capable British general was the first Duke of Marlborough, a guy by the name of John Churchill, ancestor of another Churchill we know about. Austrians, by contrast are Germans, and Germany sprouts good generals like other armies sprout defeats.
And the Austrians knew all that. Everybody knew what a shambles the Russian army was. The Russian navy had been wiped out by the Japanese just a few years before so respect for Russian military prowess was at a low ebb. So how did the Austrians respond to the Russian diplomatic pleas on behalf of the Serbs? They ignored Russia. But Russians HATE being ignored** and the Tsar felt that the honor of all Russia had been insulted -- so he declared war on Austria. And the dominoes leading to a truly awful war began to fall ....
That MUST be a warning for modern times. Vladimir Vladimirovich is doing what the Tsar would have done. Wherever Russians outside Russia are getting a hard time, Vladimir Vladimirovich steps in to help then. That was true of the Russian enclaves in Georgia, it was true of Crimea and, in a quiet way it is true of Eastern Ukraine. Vladimir Vladimirovich has shown prudent restraint so far in not marching his troops into Eastern Ukraine because the Ukrainian Russians are pretty feisty lot and are doing a pretty good job on their own behalf.
But what about the Baltic States? There are significant Russian populations there too. If the West puts too much pressure on Vladimir Vladimirovich, he could well decide to invade there. He might well feel that he has nothing to lose. There would be NO public support in the West for a war with Russia so all Western leaders could do in response would be to rattle their lips.
Sanctions combined with low oil prices have put Russia under considerable economic pressure so Vladimir Vladimirovich might well feel that a nice little war in the Baltic would distract his people's attention from that. The West might try to deploy air power to oppose Vladimir Vladimirovich but nine tenths of the planes in the Luftwaffe are not fit to fly and America's F35 is not yet battle-ready -- so Russia would deal with that very easily. It would be a welcome and triumphant exercise.
Western leaders should be engaging Vladimir Vladimirovich, not antagonizing him. Sanctions against Russia are perilously like shooting an Austrian archduke. Those who believe in prayer should be praying that Vladimir Vladimirovich's restraint continues. Once war starts, you never know where it will lead. The Austrians didn't.
* Footnotes: The regiments of the Austrian army were of uneven quality but that was true of most armies at the time. The Austrian generals would have been aware of the poor performance of British troops in the Boer war around 10 years previously. To defeat a few Dutch farmers on that occasion, the British had to resort to terror attacks on the civilian population. It was from that war that we have the term "concentration camp". The British concentration camps killed off Dutch women and children by the thousands. Hitler admired British propaganda. You can see why.
** Russians STILL hate being ignored. That is why Vladimir Vladimirovich sends his majestic old TU-95 nuclear bombers on flights that skirt Western airspace. He knows the panic that induces and enjoys it. It keeps Russia in the forefront of Western minds.
It’s Not About Hillary’s Scandals: It’s Her Ideas
Republicans haven’t laid a glove on Hillary Clinton yet, because, to paraphrase James Carville, Mrs. Clinton’s longtime chief apologist, "It’s not about Hillary’s scandals: It’s her ideas stupid!"
To defeat Hillary Clinton Republicans should be challenging and campaigning against her policies – yet they remain fixated on attacking her at what may be her strongest point – the ability to weather a crisis.
Yes, the mindboggling revelations about the venality, conflicts of interest and prima facie illegal conduct by Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State set forth in Peter Schweizer’s new book “Clinton Cash” would have driven any Republican from the presidential race and straight into an interview room at their local U.S. Attorney’s office.
There would have been a stampede of donors disavowing such a Republican candidate and a legion of elected officials and others withdrawing their endorsements, while the conservative pundit class would have demanded the candidate’s head on a platter.
But Democrats do not think like Republicans.
As far as we can tell the revelations in “Clinton Cash” have cost Hillary only the support of a few obscure Democratic-leaning donors, while 28 of 44 sitting Democratic Senators, including the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have now endorsed her.
Likewise, 60 out of 188 Democratic House members have announced they back Mrs. Clinton and none have withdrawn their endorsements in the wake of the revelations in Schweizer’s book.
Establishment Republicans can’t grasp that while the Clintons and their team are terrible at crisis avoidance, they wrote the book on how to weather a scandal – it’s what they do every day, and they do it better than anyone.
Bill Clinton was on the verge of an expected victory in New Hampshire, when his campaign faced the biggest media feeding frenzy of the 1992 presidential campaign cycle. As The Washington Post put it ever so delicately, “allegations arose of an extramarital affair with Arkansas state employee and cabaret singer Gennifer Flowers.”
Clinton faced down the press with a series of boldfaced lies and went on to defeat incumbent establishment Republican President George H.W. Bush whose acknowledged heroism in World War II and veneer of old fashioned New England Protestant rectitude gained him not a single vote he didn’t already have.
The reason Bush lost was not a shortage of Clinton scandal – it was a failure to draw a clear conservative contrast with what the election of Bill Clinton might mean; “giving” Americans health care, more taxes, more spending – in short the policies that promptly handed control of Congress over to Republicans in the very next election.
The Republican establishment, who remain fixated on Hillary Clinton’s scandals, seem immune to history.
They just can’t grasp that scandalmongering isn’t going to defeat Hillary Clinton. Scandals are a part of the Clinton package that has already been accepted by Hillary’s base in the Democratic Party and they will be old news to general election voters when they come around to making a decision in November 2016.
Does that means Republicans should ignore the scandals – no, of course not.
But it does mean that Republicans must stop treating them like a silver bullet and start telling voters what the election of Hillary Clinton would mean, and drawing a sharp and clear contrast between conservative policies and those far-Left policies upon which Hillary Clinton is already campaigning.
First, and most importantly, Republicans ought to be asking if voters really want the third term of the disastrous Obama presidency.
Mrs. Clinton supports Obama’s unconstitutional use of executive power to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Those who have expressed fear for the future of constitutional government under Obama ought to be in abject terror at the thought of Hillary Clinton with unfetter executive power. Yet the Republican establishment has not made the use of executive power an issue, no doubt because they secretly support the amnesty for illegal aliens that Obama’s use of executive power has achieved.
Mrs. Clinton is also a firm believer in manmade global warming or “climate change” saying, “The science of climate change is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers may say; sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc.”
This would appear to lead her to support any number of policies that would wreak further havoc on the U.S. economy, particularly in coal country and the coal-dependent Midwest. But the Republican establishment hasn’t said a word against Clinton in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio – key presidential election states where her policies would send thousands, if not millions, to the unemployment lines and drive up electricity prices for those who did still have jobs.
Finally, Hillary Clinton has firmly embraced the far-Left social agenda on same-sex marriage, abortion and the purging of religious belief from the public square. The delegates to the 2012 Democratic Convention who booed mention of God and purged religious references from the Democratic Party Platform are the core of Mrs. Clinton’s base.
These far-Left secular liberals are so far out of sync with majority opinion in America it’s as if they were on another planet.
Yet the Republican establishment has failed to stand for religious liberty and against liberal bigotry against believers every time it has been put to the test. In Indiana and Arkansas, establishment Republican Governors, including Indiana’s Mike Pence who some conservatives saw as a potential presidential candidate, quickly caved when challenged by the secular-Left on state religious freedom legislation.
These are just three of many areas where Republicans have given Hillary Clinton a pass on her truly radical ideas and policies – and instead played to her strongest point – the ability to weather a crisis.
Republicans never win the big national elections unless they draw a clear contrast between the conservative worldview and the liberal Democratic worldview. And when they run content-free campaigns or worse yet, campaign as Democrats-lite, they almost always lose.
Unfortunately, as things stand right now the Republican establishment is stuck on talking about Mrs. Clinton’s scandals, rather than drawing a clear conservative contrast between her far-Left progressive worldview and the conservative worldview. Perhaps this is because on all too many issues they, and their preferred candidate Jeb Bush, have embraced policies that are strikingly similar to Mrs. Clinton’s.
Republicans hungry for victory in 2016 should take history as their guide and recognize that scandalmongering while running a Hillary-lite candidate is sure to put the real thing in the White House.
4th Amendment protections are needed as never before
Today, with the unprecedented level of attacks on religious liberty, free speech, and free markets, Americans need the Fourth Amendment. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has been shredded.
Government bureaucrats are today’s massive and politically unaccountable police state. Local police officers are required to obtain warrants from judges for searches and seizures unless there are emergency circumstances or “plain-view” violations of the law. New Deal legislation and FDR’s Constitution-bending court, however, ignored the Fourth Amendment, and gave federal agencies the power to bypass judges and the requirement of “probable cause” by unilaterally issuing their own “administrative subpoenas.”
These “judge-less” warrants are institutionalized violations of the Fourth Amendment, and give government bureaucrats immense power to threaten, bully, and intimidate American citizens and businesses. This results in bureaucrats making law by coerced “consent decrees,” bypassing our guarantee of “republican” government.
Judge-less administrative warrants let unaccountable government bureaucrats violate nearly everything in which we conservatives believe: property rights, religious liberty, the constitutional separation of powers, the rule of law over government.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
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Posted by JR at 12:33 AM