I guess we’re fresh out of unicorns and rainbows and claims to have improved America’s standing in the world today. As you recall, while in China and during an interview there, Obama made the claim that he had changed the world’s attitude about the US. And his claim was based on some poll which apparently reflected that.
Well given that the poll he cited was good enough for him to make the assertion then, I’d be interested in how he’d describe this poll’s results (Pew Global Attitudes survey) in probably the most important region to the US right now (remember this is a survey the left loved to deploy annually telling everyone how detrimental GW Bush was to our “image” abroad):
Now those surveys of 2009 bring findings from the world of Islam that confirm that the animus toward America has not been radically changed by the ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In the Palestinian territories, 15% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 82% have an unfavorable view. The Obama speech in Ankara didn’t seem to help in Turkey, where the favorables are 14% and those unreconciled, 69%. In Egypt, a country that’s reaped nearly 40 years of American aid, things stayed roughly the same: 27% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 70% do not. In Pakistan, a place of great consequence for American power, our standing has deteriorated: The unfavorables rose from 63% in 2008 to 68% this year.
Eventually the left is going to learn that anti-Americanism isn’t a function of who is in the White House or what party is in power. It is a deep seated resentment in which whoever is in the White House or whichever party is in power is irrelevant. They simply become the new face of the same nation the world despises. The reasons are varied and mostly irrational. The sentiment is fed by powerful internal political forces who have a vested interest in the continuation of anti-Americanism as one tool for maintaining power in their country. Such sentiment ranges from blatant anti-Americanism (Venzuela and Iran) to more subtle forms (France and Germany) but it persists whether a Republican or a Democrat is in office.
Obama’s return to reality (and hopefully the left’s) – given these numbers – should see him take a more pragmatic and nationalistic view of foreign policy than he has to this point. Words, as those numbers reflect, have failed him – and they were his greatest strength. Despite the favorable press he received as he made his world apology tour, the numbers have pretty well remained unchanged. A smart man would understand that lesson and learn from it. A leader would reorient his foreign policy when it becomes clear his first policy hasn’t achieved its goal (as if a reasonable foreign policy goal should ever be “to make others like us more”). Obviously putting the rest of the world before the US – while fine with the rest of the world – doesn’t change their perception of the US, but instead simply feeds their anti-Americanism. They do like a weaker US. But that still doesn’t mean they like the US any better.
Obama’s job -should he ever decide to take it- is to put America first in everything he does in the foreign policy arena. He’s not done that and it has not paid off for either him or the US. As I’ve said any number of times, in the anarchy that is international politics, it is much more useful to be feared and respected than to be liked. It’s time the US got back to “feared and respected”. “Liked”, as always, is a bust.
I definitely lean toward defining his presidency as “catastrophic” in more than a general sense. I read a piece by Jacob Weisberg in Salon that managed to inadvertantly define the idelogocial rift between the right and left very well (not that it is any secret, but it is interesting to see it laid out so blatantly at times) and understand how catastrophic Obama could be to our existing way of life if not vigorously opposed.
In his article, Weisberg is essentially trying to explain away Obama’s lack of accomplishment in this first 10 months in office by saying that should he pass just one of his “transformational” agenda items before his first State of the Union address, he will be the most accomplished president in the last 70 years.
If, as seems increasingly likely, Obama wins passage of a health care reform a bill by that date, he will deliver his first State of the Union address having accomplished more than any other postwar American president at a comparable point in his presidency. This isn’t an ideological point or one that depends on agreement with his policies. It’s a neutral assessment of his emerging record—how many big, transformational things Obama is likely to have made happen in his first 12 months in office.
Of course Weisberg’s “neutral assessment” isn’t at all neutral. His assertion that what Obama is trying to accomplish are “transformational” implies that they’re also positive. And that’s the difference between the right and the left as we consider these “things” Obama wants passed into law. The right, of course, wouldn’t consider passing Obama’s agenda to be an accomplishment at all. In fact, the right considers that agenda to be destructive, not transformational. If the right was to use the term “transformational”, it would do so describe the agenda as destructive to the traditions which made America’s great. Or, more succinctly, the right sees his agenda as an erosion of freedom and liberty and a huge step toward the collectivism of America.
But how does Weisberg – and the left – see them?
We are so submerged in the details of this debate—whether the bill will include a “public option,” limit coverage for abortion, or tax Botox—that it’s easy to lose sight of the magnitude of the impending change. For the federal government to take responsibility for health coverage will be a transformation of the American social contract and the single biggest change in government’s role since the New Deal.
Weisberg sees this huge expansion of government control as a feature, not a bug. This is a “good thing”, and he implies even more would be better. So there’s little doubt that he will consider such an “accomplishment” as wonderful and Obama as a “consequential” president in a most positive way. Meanwhile the right will also see him as a consequential president but in a catastrophic way – essentially changing forever the dynamic that has made America the exception in the world and instead turning it into another western European semi-socialist “paradise” destined for mediocrity and decline.
And guys like Jacob Weisberg will be standing on the sidelines applauding the whole way down. It is that applause, so to speak, that absolutely puzzles the right. We’ve yet to understand, given what this country has accomplished and done in its short history – its short exceptional history – why people like Weisberg want to so fundamentally change it and make it like the rest of the mediocre countries of the world. It’s simply unfathomable to most of us.
Interestingly, many of those who bought into the campaigning Obama’s promise to be “transformational” are finding his definition (and that of the liberal left) as put into practice to not at all be the transformation they were assuming when they supported him. They’re beginning to realize they were gulled. The problem, however, is now they’re stuck with him, can see the catastrophe on the horizon and can’t really do a whole heck of a lot about it. It’s like New Orleans with Katrina bearing down on it. Stuck in town without a bus ride and getting ready to see life become a whole lot worse than it is now.
Obama the political Katrina, about to lay waste to the exception that has been America and Weisberg and his ilk will tout the destruction as an “accomplishment” and be cheering it on the entire time.
That’s just wrong. It’s also why there can never be accommodation or compromise with the political left.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Usually I try to keep this day as a non-partisan, non-political day in which I wish everyone of every ideological persuasion the blessings of the day (and I still do!). But as it happens, the day provided me with one of the best examples of the differences between libertarians and liberals I’ve seen in a while. Two separate postings concerning Thanksgiving. One from a liberal blogger, Ezra Klein, and one from a blogger who is a visitor at the American Enterprise Institute (Mark Perry).
Klein reprints a food section column (one assumes he does so approvingly) all about controlling behavior:
I asked Ariely how he would set up his Thanksgiving feast to limit overeating without having to exercise self-control. His answer was to construct the “architecture” of the meal beforehand. Create conditions that guide people toward good choices, or even use their irrationality to your benefit.
“Move to chopsticks!” he exclaimed, making bites smaller and harder to take. If the chopsticks are a bit extreme, smaller plates and utensils might work the same way. Study after study shows that people eat more when they have more in front of them. It’s one of our predictable irrationalities: We judge portions by how much is left rather than how full we feel. Smaller portions lead us to eat less, even if we can refill the plate.
There it is in a nutshell – the liberal propensity toward trying to control the behavior of others. The writer decides it is his or her job to make it more difficult for you to “overeat”. Instead of just deciding to put on a great feast in keeping with the day and butt out of the affairs of others, the writer approvingly decides it is incumbent upon the server to construct an “architecture” to control the eating of others. Really – “move to chopsticks”! Or put the mashed potatoes in the kitchen!
Speaking of which, Ariely suggests placing the food “far away.” In this case, serve from the kitchen rather than the table. If people have to get up to add another scoop of mashed potatoes, they’re less likely to take their fifth serving than if they simply have to reach in front of them.
Some people can just suck the joy out of an occasion, I swear. But this seems perfectly in keeping with my observations of the more liberal among us.
On the other hand, Mark Perry decided on focusing on a completely different thing for the day – a celebration of a miracle that occurs daily all over the world that is rarely acknowledged. Thanksgiving provides the perfect day to note it:
Like in previous years, you probably didn’t call your local supermarket ahead of time and order your Thanksgiving turkey this year. Why not? Because you automatically assumed that a turkey would be there when you showed up, and it probably was there when you showed up “unannounced” at the grocery store to select your bird.
The reason your Thanksgiving turkey was waiting for you without an advance order? Because of “spontaneous order,” “self-interest,” and the “invisible hand” of the free market – “the mysterious power that leads innumerable people, each working for his own gain, to promote ends that benefit many.” And even if your turkey appeared in your local grocery stores only because of the “selfishness” or “corporate greed” of thousands of turkey farmers, truckers, and supermarket owners who are complete strangers to you and your family, it’s still part of the miracle of the marketplace where “individually selfish decisions lead to collectively efficient outcomes.”
Thanksgiving is epitomized by the process Perry describes. Our holiday is indeed as much a miracle of the market as anything. It enables everyone who wants too to have what they need or desire for that day – and every day. It is truly something to celebrate.
Free markets. Free people.
You can’t beat the left for not getting the message or understanding the problem, can you:
[Montel Williams, on his Air America program] suggested on Monday that the Fort Hood backlash against Muslims could be so great we would put Muslims in internment camps like the Japanese under Franklin Roosevelt:
WILLIAMS: We pulled something like this back in World War II when we decided to round up all Japanese Americans and put them in internment camps. This is something that I think before we can blink, the [anti-Muslim] rhetoric, Doc, could get out of hand. What do you think?
FRANK FARLEY, psychologist, Temple University: I agree totally. I mean, the possibilities of prejudice and racism and so on are incredible here. You know, we should be treating this as a unique incident and look at the factors involved in this very unique and specific incident, and not overgeneralize. Unfortunately, we tend to overgeneralize all the time. The idea that all Muslims are the same is ridiculous….
Everybody’s got their own personal qualities and individual differences and let’s just treat this as a very specific incident and try to figure out why this particular person did this particular thing.
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. No matter what it comes out to, at the end of the day, even if it comes out in the last five months and all his anxiety around his impending deployment, he decided his frame of reference was his religion and that was what was giving him, you know, the power within himself to make his stand, that doesn’t mean that the religion is to blame.
FARLEY: Absolutely, it’s his interpretation of everything, and his interpretation [of Islam] may vary dramatically from his fellow Muslims.
Wow. As much as I cautioned people to give the facts a chance to come out before coming to conclusions about Hasan, this is just an example of some incredible denial going on here. We now have facts – lots of facts – and informed conclusions can be drawn.
And let’s deal with the internment camp nonsense. That happened because a liberal Democratic president signed an Executive Order (Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942) which enabled US citizens of a particular national background to be interned (a total violation of their civil rights). Is he really suggesting that because we have a liberal Democrat president again in the White House that history may repeat itself. Or is he as ignorant of history as most and assuming it was done by mean, nasty right-wing types?
Something else that sort of hits me here – if there was no “backlash” against muslims after 9/11, why do these yahoos think there will be one now? Who is it who will be involved in this backlash and why is this incident so different from 9/11 that it will spark the backlash 9/11 didn’t? I don’t know. But I would think that the American people, who sorted that out the last time, will sort it out this time as well.
Are there prudent steps to be taken in light of what has happened at Ft. Hood as concerns muslim soldiers? Yes. Given Ft. Hood, the Little Rock incident and the fragging incident in Iraq, all involving muslim soldiers or muslims attacking soldiers, I’d say that it would be prudent to screen the reported 3,500 muslim military members (discretely and unobtrusively as possible) given the deadly action of two (as I recall, the left was all for a purge of the military to look for neo-nazis and white supremacists) . And yes that means, given the unique situation our military is in (fighting in two muslim countries) and the possible conflict that may bring to the minds of some who are of the dominant religion of those two countries – that we’re “profiling”. But then, while it is the antithesis of political correctness, it is the smart thing to do. Show me a compelling reason to screen the rest of the military for those who might be in a similar situation and I’d be for that as well.
Should there be procedures put in place that would encourage the reporting of language or actions that appear to support a radicalized person – be it through religion or ideology? Yes, there should. And the chain of command must be made to take such reports seriously, investigate them thoroughly and act if necessary. Or said another way, political correctness and the fear of being censured if you do report such utterances or actions, must be banned from the military.
Finally, people like Williams and Farley must be pointed out and ridiculed because it is their sort of denial which leads to incidents like Ft. Hood. We all need to grow up a bit, quit taking everything as an insult and understand that your feelings don’t take precedence over someone else’s life. Yes, we’re diverse. Yes, we’re an amalgamation of peoples.
However, if you are consistently being bitten on the leg by dogs, you don’t go looking for cats or chickens. We have to learn to honestly and forthrightly address the threat. Radical Islam has been attacking us since the embassy takeover in Iran 30 years ago. They are the ones we should be looking for right now – and you’re not going to find them among Christian, atheist or Jewish military personnel.
The threat appears to be a segment of Islam that becomes violently radicalized and strikes out at those it considers “infidels”. In the case of Hasan that was obviously anyone within reach. And, as experts say, self-generated jihadis are not unusual and are, as we’ve found out, more dangerous than those with organized connections (those with organized connections are easier to find and track). Given all I’ve read about Hasan – and it has been a lot – that’s what I believe he is. A self-generated jihadi who became increasingly radicalized over the years to the point that he finally decided he must act.
I understand and appreciate the attempts to warn us off of using too broad a brush. That was one of the points of my previous post that generated so much discussion. But it is no longer a secret that there are radicals among the religion of Islam who find it to be their duty to do similar acts to those of Hasan. Pretending Hasan wasn’t one of those stretches credulity to the max. The first day of the shootings – yes, a perfectly acceptable argument. We had few facts and much of what was reported we subsequently found out was wrong. However now, given the veritable avalanche of information which has been provided about this man and verified, it is more than a little lame to pretend he might have been something our experience and the facts tell us he’s not.
Willams and Farley do a disservice to us all by claiming those who have concluded his religion radicalized him and was the reason he did what he did are “overgeneralizing”. Not anymore. Sure it was a “specific incident” as Farley claims, but so was 9/11. And after we learned about each of the radicals who committed that atrocity we found men not unlike Nadal Malik Hasan, didn’t we?
Tell me how else I should interpret this?
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops delivered a critical endorsement to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday by signing off on late-night agreement to grant a vote on an amendment barring insurance companies that participate in the exchange from covering abortions
For other than political reasons, why even involve the USCCB? I mean I’m sure they were more than happy to comply given abortion is anathema to them, but God help them if they try putting a nativity scene on the US Capital grounds. It’s not that I blame them for taking the opportunity to influence legislation to conform with their religious belief. My question is why isn’t the secular “keep the church out of politics or we’ll have a theocracy” left screaming its bloody head off?
It’s because they’re a bunch of unprincipled hypocrites whose only real desire is the accumulation of power by any means. By Christmas, they’ll be back to their old “ban that stuff” selves (and more than likely hinting, if not outright saying, that every Catholic priest is a pedophile), just watch. But for right now, it’s just peachy keen to have those Catholic bishops weighing in on secular legislation. Yessiree Bob.
From a short post about The Wire by Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:
A lot of conservatives today are too quick to think that because liberals have some affinity for Marxist sentiments that they are actual Marxists. Liberals often make the same mistakes as Marxists, but they’re not Marxists.
I suppose this is true, but it got me to wondering. So I have a question for QandO readers.
Suppose, completely hypothetically, that Obama were a hard-core Marxist who wanted to go in the direction of Marxist programs as quickly as the system in place in this country allowed him to move.
Looking at his history in office so far, do you think there are any decisions that the hypothetical Obama-the-Marxist would obviously have made differently than the real Obama? If so, which ones?
I must have missed it – when has Al Sharpton ever been a major player in NFL circles?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. So why is Al Sharpton calling on the NFL to reject a bid by Rush Limbaugh to buy the St. Louis Rams? What possible business is it of his?
In a letter sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, Sharpton wrote that he was “disturbed” to hear about Limbaugh’s interest in the Rams and asked for a meeting with Goodell “to discuss the myriad of reasons as to why [Limbaugh] should not be given an opportunity” to purchase the team.
Sharpton argued that Limbaugh has been “anti-NFL” in his comments about several of the league’s players, specifically naming Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb. Limbaugh sparked controversy several years ago by contending that the media want McNabb to succeed simply because he is black.
In addition, Sharpton wrote that Limbaugh’s “recent statement — that the NFL was beginning to look like a fight between the Crips and the Bloods without the weapons — was disturbing.”
Hmmm … as I recall, the remark Limbaugh made about McNabb was he got more media coverage than he deserved, probably because he was black. Limbaugh believed McNabb is/was an average quarterback not deserving of such coverage. I happen to disagree with his assessment of McNabb, but felt his comment was more about the media and our culture than about race. And former Miami running back Mercury Morris finds Limbaugh’s remarks about gangs and the NFL to make “some relative sense.”
But back to Sharpton. I love the “anti-NFL comments” line used by Sharpton who is now, apparently, the arbiter of all things which are “pro-NFL” I guess. Sharpton’s smarter than he acts at times though – he’s picked up on the fact that playing the race card is becoming detrimental to those who play it. So he’s shifted a bit and now features himself as the savior of the NFL, substituting “NFL” for “black”. Essentially Sharpton is asking the NFL to discriminate against Limbaugh because Al Sharpton (whose only real connection to the league is most likely watching football on Sunday) finds Limbaugh to be unacceptable to him as an owner in the NFL.
Yeah, that’s a good reason to turn him down. I’m sure the other owners will weigh that heavily in their decision making process – right after “is it a good bid” and “do they have the money”?
Tell you what Al, the best way to make sure Limbaugh doesn’t get the team is make a better offer. In a capitalist system, that’s how it works. And, truth be told, that’s what worries Sharpton, isn’t it?
The title is a quote from Eugene Robinson’s latest effort in which he indulges himself in another leftist “history began January, 20th, 2009” moment. His ire and the reason for his rhetorical question comes on the heels of the announcement that Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize and the derision by which that was met on the right.
Robinson then spends the rest of his article taking pot shots at those who find the award to be a travesty. But in the entire 700 to 800 word spread, he never once even attempts to justify the award. The best he can do is this:
Obama has shifted U.S. foreign policy away from George W. Bush’s cowboy ethos toward a multilateral approach. He envisions, and has begun to implement, a different kind of U.S. leadership that I believe is more likely to succeed in an interconnected, multipolar world. That this shift is being noticed and recognized is to Obama’s credit — and to our country’s.
Of course, as any student of foreign affairs will tell you, that all remains to be seen. But again, one has to pretend that there was no multilateralism in existence prior to Obama to make this sort of a claim. And, of course, that’s simply not the case. So if Robinson’s reason for the prize is to be taken seriously, then the detractors are correct – it’s a travesty.
In the short term at least, it has become what most thinking people realized when it was awarded to Jimmy Carter – the “You’re Not George Bush” award. In reality, the Nobel Peace prize has degenerated into a political award given to those who best reflect the politics of the decidedly leftist award committee. It has little to do with peace. It has nothing to do with objectivity. It has everything to do with partisan leftist politics.
There are certainly many more worthy candidates who’ve worked very hard to bring peace to troubled areas. But they simply don’t provide the committee with the political visibility it craves. And they certainly don’t provide the committee the platform from which to make some sort of statement about what it finds acceptable in US politics and, frankly, what it doesn’t.
Anyone who brings as weak an argument to the table as has Eugene Robinson must in the back of his mind realize how undeserving Obama is of this award. To say he’s really accomplished nothing of substance in his first 9 months as president is an understatement. But it is also a fact.
One of the reasons the Medal of Honor is so difficult to earn is because the standards of courage, sacrifice and bravery required are set at an almost unachievable level. And those standards are never compromised for politics or any other reason. That’s why when you see a man wearing the MOH, you know without having to wonder that he met those standards. And when he meets another MOH recipient, there’s no doubt in his mind that recipient also met the very same high standards of courage under fire that he did.
That’s why the MOH is revered so highly.
The Nobel Peace Prize has, as critics are now claiming, has become a travesty driven by partisan politics. It isn’t “highly revered” anymore. The fact that Robinson wants to keep up the charade that this “honor” is something worth having (much less deserved) because it is politically useful for his side to do so speaks volumes about his integrity. He claims the right thing to say is “congratulations”. But I have little doubt that had the committee awarded George Bush the peace prize for ousting Saddam, defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq, and returning the country to the people, Robinson would have been among the first on the “travesty” bandwagon. The last thing he’d have said is “congratulations”. He’d also have been among the first to wonder why he was being accused of “hating America so”.
Those who remember the period before January, 20th 2009, remember when the Eugene Robinson’s of the world thought dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Now, with history beginning on that date for those like Robinson, dissent is just plain old hate.
Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Other than whistling-past-the-graveyard willful ignorance, how is it that the left and the media (yeah, I know, same thing) can still be so clueless when it comes to the Tea Party movement? The catalyst was the passage of the TARP bill last year, and the continued profligacy of government spending has served to fan the flames of these growing protests. Despite being deemed racist, ignorant, lunatic fringers who are nothing more than astroturfed loud-mouths bought and paid for by (take your pick) the GOP, the insurance industry, et al., the tea partiers have only become stronger and more noticeable. And although the message is excruciatingly simple (Taxed Enough Already), the left/media is still shocked to discover that this isn’t some devious plot to overthrow Obama and the Democrats that was orchestrated by Karl Rove:
While the energy of the anti-tax and anti-Big Government tea party movement may yet haunt Democrats in 2010, the first order of business appears to be remaking the Republican Party.
Whether it’s the loose confederation of Washington-oriented groups that have played an organizational role or the state-level activists who are channeling grass-roots anger into action back home, tea party forces are confronting the Republican establishment by backing insurgent conservatives and generating their own candidates — even if it means taking on GOP incumbents.
“We will be a headache for anyone who believes the Constitution of the United States … isn’t to be protected,” said Dick Armey, chairman of the anti-tax and limited government advocacy group FreedomWorks, which helped plan and promote the tea parties, town hall protests and the September ‘Taxpayer March’ in Washington. “If you can’t take it seriously, we will look for places of other employment for you.”
“We’re not a partisan organization, and I think many Republicans are disappointed we are not,” added Armey, a former GOP congressman.
In other words, it’s not the party, it’s the spending stupid.
However, for some the message is still not getting through:
The right-wing “Tea Party” activists are, obviously, deeply opposed to the Obama White House’s policies and the Democratic agenda in general. But Alex Isenstadt reports that they’re not especially pleased with the state of the Republican Party, either. Apparently, the Teabaggers think the GOP is too moderate…
Now, the notion of hostilities between right-wing activists and really right-wing activists is, to a certain extent, entertaining. State and local Republican parties are already pretty unhinged — pick a state GOP platform at random and read it — but that’s apparently insufficient.
But the part of this that’s really remarkable to me is the notion that the Republican Party of 2009 is just too darn reasonable and open to compromise with those sneaky Democrats, as far as this crowd is concerned.
Yes, the recovery-opposing, nominee-blocking, ACORN-hunting, Fox News-following, health care-rejecting, gay bashing, global warming-denying, scorched earth-raging Republican Party isn’t far enough to the right for the Teabggers.
Talk about misreading the Tea leaves. Benen misses the boat completely. He and his lefty adherents are convinced that the GOP started some fake grassroots campaign to take on Obama and the Democrats, stoked by racial fears of having a black man in the White House, and that the movement has now turned on them. But that was never the case. Instead, it was always about the runaway spending in Washington:
Tea party organizers say their resistance to Republican Party-backed primary candidates has much to do with what they perceive as the GOP’s stubborn insistence on embracing candidates who don’t abide by a small government, anti-tax conservative philosophy.
There it is in a nutshell. The people are tired of speaking out against runaway spending by Democrats just to get Republicans who do the same thing, only at a slightly slower pace. It’s the fundamental thinking in Washington that needs to change, not the letter behind the politician’s name.[ad#Banner]
You have to watch carefully. The producer of this is kind enough to provide a few visual clues to help you with your determination:
Another “History began on January 20th, 2009” moment for the left.