Thursday, April 17, 2008

You Just Don't Get It, Dude

They like stirring up controversy and they like playing gotcha games, getting us to attack each other. And I have to say Senator Clinton looked in her element...She was taking every opportunity to get a dig in there. You know, that's all right. That's her right. That's her right to kind of twist the knife a little bit.---Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), alleged Next President of the United States of KKK-A

You mean like your dig when you casually put the knife right back where it came from, bringing up Bill Clinton's midnight pardon of the Weather Underground?

By the way, who's "they?" Hillary? Me? Seems like The Great Unifier has at least 2/3 of God Damn America on his spitlist. A whole lotta "they" coming out of the woodwork, and a shrinking "us."

That was the roll-out of the Republican campaign against me in November. That is what they will do...they will try to focus on all these issues that don't have anything to do with how you pay your bills at the end of the month.

Yeah, they just might. Unlike you, Sen. Obama, many in the GOP believe that when Americans enter the voting booth, they just don't cling to their checkbooks. They have more than their material well-being on their minds.

You call those things "distractions." Many of your fellow Americans prefer to think of them as "principles."


Words Escape Me

And, believe me, that happens, well, rarely. With respect to how Obama's bitterness quote happened to become public, I quote Michael Barone:

Kit Seelye in the New York Times and Pajamas Media correspondent Bill Bradley (the California political writer, not the former New Jersey senator) fill us in on how the story got on the pro-Obama Huffington Post. It seems that Arianna Huffington approved it by cellphone while on David Geffen's 454-foot yacht in Tahiti. No, I'm not making this up.

Like I said: Words escape me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Elitism, Judicial Activism---You Name It

Basically, the charges of Barack Obama's "elitism" stem from a perception that he believes he knows better than you, and that your disagreement comes from irrationality.

By a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court just upheld lethal injection as constitutional. Justice John Paul Stevens dissented. Why? “I have relied on my own experience in reaching the conclusion that the imposition of the death penalty [is unconstitutional]."


But Antonin Scalia rides to the rescue, and comes down on Justice Stevens bigtime. Justin Levine over at Patterico kindly types out this gem from the PDF of Scalia's opinion:

As JUSTICE STEVENS explains, ‘objective evidence, though of great importance, [does] not wholly determine the controversy, for the Constitution contemplates that in the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment.’

Purer expression cannot be found of the principle of rule by judicial fiat. In the face of JUSTICE STEVENS’ experience, the experience of all others is, it appears, of little consequence. The experience of the state legislatures and the Congress—--who retain the death penalty as a form of punishment—--is dismissed as “the product of habit and inattention rather than an acceptable deliberative process.”

The experience fellow citizens who support the death penalty is described, with only the most thinly veiled condemnation, as stemming from a “thirst for vengeance.” It is JUSTICE STEVENS’ experience that reigns over all.

And that's elitism in a nutshell. Principled disagreement with the "Elect" is impossible; it's stupidity or irrationality or bitterness or just being downright lazy. Opposing views don't even rise to the level of being wrong---they're simply not valid.

Such arrogance rubs some people the wrong way, like me, tens of millions of other Americans, and the great Nino Scalia.


The Trouble With Talking

So Nobel Peace Prize winner, former US President, and peanut farmer Jimmy Carter has spent his time in the Middle East laying a wreath at the tomb of Yasser Arafat and will now, reportedly, be meeting with leaders of Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls the Gaza strip and is officially committed to the destruction of Israel, the establishment of an Islamist state, and is on the State Department's terrorist list, among other highlights. Giving honor to Arafat, an unrepentant terrorist and scourge of his own people, is bad enough, but even Obama wouldn't meet with Hamas. (Though why, exactly, is unclear, since they're certainly not any nastier than Iran).

We're often told - and Carter seems to be operating under this premise - that it does no harm and possibly great good to talk to enemies. "You make peace with your enemies, not your friends," or so the saying goes. But in what way is that true - when exactly should one talk to your enemies? It seems to me that Carter's view - talk to everyone - betrays a dangerous and rather silly naivete, particularly because it lumps all of one's "enemies" together. Of course, you make peace with your enemies, but any reasonable understanding of history shows that you don't make peace with *all* of your enemies. Or, to put it a bit too bluntly, sometimes the only peace available is the peace of the dead - you get peace, but only because one of you is no longer on the scene.

But surely just talking to one's enemies couldn't do any harm, could it? Well,consider what talking might accomplish (and by "talking" I have in mind general diplomatic exchanges, to include everything from meet-and-greets to formal negotiations). Talking could very well clear up misunderstandings and provide greater transparencies, mitigating conflicts and solving problems before they get dangerous. Talking can also be a vehicle for getting one side to understand clearly that their position is untenable and finding ways for them to do a "climb-down" with minimal damage. Talking can also be a means for bargaining, where one side gives something up in exchange for something else.

But none of that covers the sort of "talking" Carter and others have in mind with respect to Hamas and, say, Iran. What seems to be at work in this sort of talking is the profoundly naive hope that simply by talking to them, both will come to see the unreasonableness of their views and will modify their behavior accordingly. But why, if one talks to them (and does so publicly) without preconditions, will they come to see the unreasonableness of their views and modify their behavior? It is precisely those views (and the actions they produce) that have pushed you (so they will think, perhaps rightly) to the talking table. With Hamas, if you are willing to talk to them, willing to "negotiate" with them, then haven't they already won half the battle? Haven't they pushed you to a position of "talking" precisely with the sort of behavior you hope they will give up? And if their most fundamental goals - say, the destruction of Israel - are precisely what you want them to give up, isn't the "talking" inevitably bound to fail, unless you allow them to maintain those fundamental goals? That is, Hamas (and a similarly constructed argument could be made with respect to Iran as well) is constituted fundamentally as an organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel. They will not give that up (whatever they may claim) except that they decide to close up shop and exit the stage of history; talking to them will not change that and will instead merely put you in a position of implicitly legitimating that goal, since it is something that can be negotiated over.

It's a shame ol' Jimmy wasn't satisfied with peanut farming.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Just a Thought...

Wouldn't it be ironic if the first serious black presidential candidate in American history were undone in part because of a perception that he was "elitist"?

I mean, if Obama goes down - and who knows at this point what will happen - it will be because some portion of the Democratic or general electorate decided that his views were more representative of Harvard Law School than deepest, palest Pennsylvania. That's pretty remarkable, isn't it?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Giving Obama a Break, Sort Of

In fairness to Barack Obama, I sincerely believe that by "religion" he was explicitly referring to opposition to gay marriage, and politically, to the GOP's exploitation of the issue in Ohio '04. [Although it may not have made the difference, contrary to popular Democrat belief.]

From Barack's backtrack today:

So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage...

The rest of his explanation was sophistic hogwash, but I think he was honest there. After a free pass from the chattering class, it's ironic that he's getting it both barrels [gun pun intended, sorry] for the wrong reason.

On the other hand, Obama falls into Thomas Frank's Marxist-friendly "What's the Matter with Kansas" view of the human condition, that the Great Unwashed should vote their pocketbooks instead of their social values about what kind of country they want to raise their kids in.

Hey, I live in a cosmopolitan area---I know lots of folks who are unsympathetic, if not hostile, to organized religion. I can take it. But this is why Frank doesn't get Kansas, why Obama doesn't get America and why the left doesn't get what all the hubbub's about:

It's the leftism, stupid.


Other than Tibet, China's OK?

So here's what I don't get about the current contretemps regarding the Olympics and whether heads of state should boycott the opening ceremonies and all: it seems entirely framed in terms of the recent events in Tibet (where China has been behaving thuggishly for a good half-century). Soooo...if the crackdown hadn't happened in Tibet, would we be talking about this at all? Is the idea that the repression in Tibet means that China has crossed some line but that its continued repression of political opposition and religious liberty, forced abortions, support for genocidal regimes, and the like don't cross the line? Is the message that we want to send that you can throw Christian pastors in jail at your whim, lock up and torture people who merely ask for free speech, and act as a de facto sugar daddy to some of the world's ugliest regimes, but just don't act similarly toward the Tibetans?

I'm not especially impressed with calls for Olympic boycotts or whatever - they seem to me a sort of grandstanding that makes the protesters feel good, but has little actual effect. (It would be much better if each American athlete, for example, carried with them a picture or name of a Chinese dissident in jail or under house arrest - or even better if they decided to go meet with them and dare the Chinese to arrest them or get in their way). But what seems to me the rather weird way in which some events galvanize opposition and others are merely par for the course is troubling and doesn't speak well of us.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

McCain People Sleeping Just a Bit Easier These Days

Religion, Government, and Obama

Has anyone else noticed that Obama seems to think that bitter people will abandon their descent into religious faith when they have a government that they can count on? Do I actually have that right? Well, OK then: In Obama's sophisticated view, religion is just the opiate of the masses!

I think that the McCain people ought to be sleeping just a bit easier these days.