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Jeffrey Goldberg's Relativist Extremism

Jeffrey Goldberg provides an excellent example of the contrast between those who take seriously the threat to the West from global Islamic terrorism and those who discount the danger in favor of a moral-relativist strategic epistemology.

At issue for Goldberg is the alleged cabal of Jewish extremists behind the political documentary movie, "Obssession: Radical Islam's War Against the West":

If you read Goldberg's essay, he lays out not so much a criticism of the movie itself, but of the temerity of the movie's backers and cast to adopt an attitude of Western exceptionalism.

Goldberg's project is to focus on the background of the film's producers as Likud-backing totalitarians, and then to throw out the red-herring of Nazi Germany's industrial-scale extermination:

The tragedy of "Obsession" is not that it is wrong; the tragedy is that it takes a serious issue, and a serious threat - that of Islamism - and makes it into a cartoon. Its central argument is that the "Islamofascism" of today is not only the equivalent of Nazism, but worse than Nazism. This is quite a thing for a Jewish organization to argue. One of the featured speakers in "Obsession" is a self-described "former PLO terrorist" named Walid Shoebat, who argues on film that a "secular dogma like Nazism is less dangerous than Islamofascism is today."
With the exception of Stalin's murder of tens of millions in the Soviet Union, there's never been anything like the industrial killing of Hitler's Reich. And what the Soviets made up in pure scale is not matched in Hitler's program a racial eliminationism.

But for Goldberg to lay it out as he does is really a ploy to cut off discussion of the genuine existential danger that radical Islam poses to the West.

The point for Goldberg really isn't to debate the legitimate threat of global jihad to the survival of the Western democracies, but to preempt criticism of Barack Obama:

The film is meant to suggest that Obama will provide aid and comfort to Islamism, or is an Islamist himself. There is not one shred of proof on this planet that Barack Obama is anything other than an Israel-supporting Christian. Yes, he went to party with Rashid Khalidi. So did I. Does that make me a member of Hezbollah?

I actually have another idea for a film: I would call it "Obsession" as well, but it would be about the poor souls who believe that Obama is a radical Muslim, that Israel has a right to expel Arabs from its lands, and that America should declare war on all of Islam.
Actually, this is not what the film says at all.

The opening credits declare that the film is not directed at the great majority of Muslims worldwide who are peaceful and abhor terrorism. Viewers can judge for themselves if folks like Carolyn Glick are extremists, but to take such a narrowly partisan view of an issue of great importance, to dismiss it with the same cartoonishness that he decries, shows Goldberg as no more than a blind partisan hack intent to demonize his alleged demonizers, and to dismiss as conspiracy the deep, underlying sympathy that Barack Obama holds for those who have long committed themselves to the destruction of the United States.

Donald blogs at American Power

Sarah Palin and the John Birch Society?

In 1995, Sarah Palin, as a member of the Wasilla City Council, was photographed reading an publication of the John Birch Society, as Ben Smith reports in, "What's on the Desk?":

Palin John Birch Society

In a picture supplied by Sarah Palin's family to the Associated Press, Palin appears with some rather odd reading matter: The magazine of the ultraconservative John Birch Society.

The picture, dating to 1995, when Palin was a member of the Wasilla City Council, ran beside a profile of Palin in Saturday's New York Times. The magazine, The New American, is sitting on top of her calendar on her desk, unopened.

The current, and then-, president of the group, John McManus, confirmed that the cover fit the description of a 1995 issue of the magazine. The headline, "Con-Con Call," refers to discussion at the time of a constitutional convention. The headline appears above a picture of then-Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, who had floated the notion as a way of returning the balance of power back toward the states. But the author warned that the convention could actually be a devious ploy aimed at increasing government power.

McManus said Palin wouldn't have had to have any connection to the society, or the journal, to have wound up with that issue on her desk."Any attempt to link her to the John Birch Society would be ridiculous," he said of speculation on the liberal blogs that first noticed the magazine.

Let's think about this.

Palin, as a member of the city council, with mayoral aspirations - and perhaps ambitions for higher state office - may have been intrigued by cutting-edge issues in federalism and local government, such as "devolution" and "reinventing government" (which were the rage in public policy the 1990s). Or, perhaps a municipal colleague gave her a copy of the New American to look over. Maybe Palin admired Utah's Governor Leavitt (on the cover), who made his mark in state government leadership issues during Palin's tenure, and was president of the Council of State Governments in 1996...

In other words, Palin might have no more interest in an extreme right ideological 'zine than she might in a copy of Vogue featuring the latest in haute couture.

Or, as the Smith article notes:

 

"This photo from the early to mid 90s shows the Governor having her photo taken in front of a three ring binder of information from local citizens presented regularly to Wasilla council members by the town clerk," said Palin spokesman Michael Goldfarb. "These binders featured material given by members of the public to all council members."

In other words, the magazine's just a routine piece of city government literature made available to all council officers.

But don't try and tell that to Dave Neiwert, of course, who's at it again with more of his "pseudo-fascist" smear jobs, "Is Sarah Palin A Closet John Bircher?":

 

The Birchers are best known for their ardent McCarthyism and their long career in promoting cockamamie conspiracy theories about supposed Communist infiltration of government -- not just in the '50s and '60s, but well into the late '80s, until the fall of the Soviet Union. At that point, they simply picked up the same act and transferred it to promoting similar theories about the "New World Order" under Bill Clinton in the 1990s. (Chip Berlet has one of the best disquisitions on the Birch Society's long career.)

These same theories were the raison d'etre of the militia movement -- and indeed, the Birch Society ardently promoted the militias and related "Patriot" activity. I used to see their material on sale at militia gatherings regularly.

One can see where this is going...

Apparently, Sarah Palin, in 1995, was a proto-fascist, white supremacist, separatist extremist, no doubt with supposed ties to anti-government fundamentalist organization such as "The Order" or the "Silent Brotherhood."

The problem, of course, is that the closest anyone can get to substantiating such claims is by noting that Governor Palin attended meetings of the Alaska Independence Party, and her husband, Todd, was briefly a member of the group around the same time, 1995.

That's it ... So why the fuss among the nihilists at Daily Kos and Firedoglake?

Cinnamon Stillwell provides the clues (via GSGF):

 

There's a new affliction sweeping the nation, and it's known as Palin Derangement Syndrome. The phenomenon is similar to Bush Derangement Syndrome, a term coined by political columnist Charles Krauthammer to describe the personal animosity and irrational hatred directed at President Bush by his leftist opponents. But this time, Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, is the object of wrath.

The feeding frenzy began with the news of Palin's selection, but it was her electrifying speech at the Republic National Convention last month that really set it off. In one fell swoop, Palin managed to energize the Republican base, breathe life into the McCain campaign, launch some very effective jabs at Barack Obama, and quite possibly, attract the support of the 18 million Hillary Clinton voters.

The attacks on Palin have ranged from patronizing to vicious to fantastical. She has been caricatured as an inexperienced rube, a baby-making automaton, an uneducated underachiever, a bad mother, trailer-park trash, a rightwing religious fanatic, a sexual fantasy, and of course, a fascist. No subject has been deemed taboo in the effort to take Palin down.

It's true: Absolutely nothing has been considered too low, or too vile, in the weeks-long and completely psychotic campaign of defamation and destruction against Sarah Palin and her family.

As Dr. Rusty Shackleford notes:

 

I just happened to have been forwarded an e-mail to the DU post earlier by a rabid Obama supporter trying to convince me that Sarah Palin is a right-wing lunatic. The original "gotcha" find was posted here and quickly went viral in lefty circles - including several Kos diaries linking it and tying the accusation to false rumors circulating that Sarah Palin belonged to the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party.

Yep, a "right wing lunatic." I guess if the left can conjure up a few more of those, they'll be able to seal a Barack Obama electoral fraud on the American people in November.

That is, if they don't completely alienate "small town" Americans across the country first (the more likley scenario, amazingly).

Donald blogs at American Power

Sarah Palin, Neoconservative

I just watched the first installment of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's interview with Charles Gibson, on ABC's World News Tonight.

Palin gave a confident, intelligent interview. She appeared cool, calm, and perfectly comfortable responding to Gibson's line of questioning.

Yet, the emerging meme on the left is that Palin was "stumped" on the Bush Doctrine. Granted, Palin seemed to search for a response, but if that's what Palin's critics want to focus on, so be it.

The greater significance of Palin's talk is the way the Alaska Governor offered a ringing confirmation of the basic, underlying ideals that have guided not just the Bush administration's forward policy of preemptive defense and democracy promotion, but that of America's foreign policy tradition historically. This came at Palin's response on the question of God's will:

I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That, in my world view, is a grand - the grand plan.

This is, in essence, Reaganite neoconservatism. It is an affirmation of the "shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere."

It is, moreover, why the left wants to destroy Governor Palin.

Neoconservatives initially had their biggest successes in American domestic culture and social policy. Neoconservatives, starting with Democrats like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, attacked the debilitating effects of the welfare state on the traditional nuclear family. Neocon big-shots like Daniel Bell, Irving Kristol, and Norman Podhoretz, among others, took aim at New Left orthodoxies, from affirmative action to radical feminism. More than any other strand on the right, neocons built on the moral firmament of the ideology's social model, and then consolidated the concepts of American's international exceptionalism to shape a consistent vision of U.S. leadership and power in the world. In that tradition, Sarah Palin radically repudiates the domestic postmodernist culture, and adds the flourish of moral clarity in foreign policy to boot.

Palin's got what it takes, with or without an academic familiarity with concepts like "anticipatory self-defense." The Alaska Governor, with her frontier conservatism and a doctrine of inalienable rights worldwide, embodies the tradition of robust assertion of might and values that has been a hallmark of the Bush administration's post-9/11 foreign policy, and now John McCain's.

Donald blogs at American Power

Kos and Andrew: Merchants of Hate

Some time back, when I reported on Daily Kos' vehemently anti-Semitic essay, "Eulogy Before the Inevitability of Self-Destruction: The Decline and Death of Israel," left-wing commenters on my blog argued that the post was "just a diary," and did not reflect the views of Markos Moultisas himself.

I utterly reject that view, of course, and I've shown here repeatedly that Kos indeed welcomes both the diary contributions AND the individual comments found in the threads to his blog's diaries and essays (commenters at Daily Kos aren't just commenters, "They are creators of content").

These facts are relevant to the recent left-wing smear attacks against Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Almost as soon as John McCain announced Palin as his vice-presidential running mate, Daily Kos began spreading rumors that Governor Palin's 17 year-old daughter Bristol was the mother of Palin's son Trig.

In response to the backlash from the McCain campaign and conservatives, Moultisas refused to take down the allegations, telling the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that the smears were "legitimate" journalism:

The intensity of media inquiries [into Sarah Palin's background] hit a new level after an anonymous blogger on the liberal Web site Daily Kos last weekend charged that McCain's running mate is actually the grandmother of Trig Palin, the 4-month-old baby born with Down syndrome, and that the real mother is her daughter, 17-year-old Bristol Palin. That led to mainstream media inquiries, which prompted the McCain camp to disclose in a statement Monday that Bristol is five months pregnant and plans to have the baby and marry the teenage father.

The site's founder, Markos Moulitsas, said he did not know the contributor's identity but thought that the admittedly "weird" pregnancy questions were a legitimate line of inquiry that he should not suppress.
Keep in mind, that Moultisas has announced that Daily Kos represents the "mainstream" of the Democratic Party, and Moulitsas and Barack Obama openly coordinated on the publication of Obama's certification birth at Daily Kos in June.

Moultisas' key ally in spreading the anti-Palin hate rumors has been Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic, and Sullivan's in fact been the originator of some of the nastiest untruths seeking to destroy the Palin family.

Sullivan's extremism continues this morning. As Darleen Click shows, Sullivan's gone off the deep end with a post attacking Jewish influence in Sarah Palin's foreign policy coaching:

I'm posting a screenshot because I'd rather not link to RAWMUSLGLUTES more than necessary. This morning he is little more than Palin-vulva-phobia spewing. However, in one instance he likes to spread a thin film of anti-Semitism over the PDS like room-temperature cream cheese scraped across a nicely toasted bagel:

Andrew Sullivan Anti-Semitism

Plus, Ace of Spades takes the baton from Dean Barnett to shed additional light on Sullivan's smear merchandising:

Andrew Sullivan is known for many things -- general histrionics, "excitability," intellectual shallowness that requires him to blog about the only things he's marginally capable of discussing (emotion and scandal), unquenchable vanity, a guileless passion for conspiracy theories of all sort, "gobsmacking" outbursts of hypocrisy and inconsistency so laughable he's chiefly read for his inadvertent entertainment, casual antisemtism that was all the rage at British boarding schools but doesn't play as well in America, power glutes, seeking anonymous three-way sex, and an endless stream of insults that sound vaguely "smart" but are really just variations of "fascist" and "hater" tarted-up with a thesaurus and some memories of introductory-level college classes.

And that's just the beginning!

Sullivan's a mainstream journalist as well as a partisan blogger, and nowadays that's getting to be a distinction without a difference. Prominent hard-line leftist blogs and top journalists at previously respectable institutions like the Atlantic, can slime, smear, and slander, while the principle of journalistic objectivity is sacrificed upon the altar of Barack Hussein Obama, aka "The One."

There's no denying these facts.

Markos Moultisas and Andrew Sullivans are hate-filled smear merchants. Those who want to argue that Kos doesn't endorse this stuff, or Sullivan's a "legitimate" reporter, are living in an alternative reality.

Donald blogs at American Power

Palin's National Security Credentials

John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as vice-presidential running mate is proving more shrewd by the hour. As Blackfive points out, Governor Palin, as Alaska's chief executive, has shared strategic command of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard:

Photobucket

One area of Sarah Palin's background that may help her is Alaska's unique role in our national security and homeland defense. Several folks have have mentioned this but Tom W. was specific and his info jibes with the record.

Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It's on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.

As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden's.

She's also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security's counterterrorism plans.

Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country's defense. Given Alaska's proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don't even know about.

According to the Washington Post, she first met with McCain in February, but nobody ever found out. This is a woman used to keeping secrets.

She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is.
This really is too much!

Barack Obama would kill to have had that much access to classified defense information as a member of the U.S. Senate!

Meanwhile, the radical left contingents are mucking themselves up with more sexist allegations and totally unhinged anti-Palin smears.

Of course, both rigorous polling data and home town reactions indicate that the Obama campaign's treading water on the eve of the Republican National convention. Note though, with Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast, the Republicans plan to scale back first-day convention activities. Plus, the Bush adminstration and Senator McCain will focus their attention on protecting people in the storm's path. A successful response to the storm raises the possibility of a boost in public relations, which will help innoculate the GOP from Democratic attacks on Republican incompetence following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The whole episode, handled well, will allow the McCain camp the opportunity to burnish its image of putting people first.

Donald blogs at American Power

Michael Dukakis Emerges from Political Exile in Denver

Former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis disappeared from the top echelons of the party establishment after his devastating loss to George H.W. Bush in 1988. I recall in 2004, during the Democratic Convention in Boston, where Senator John Kerry was being nominated, commentators still spoke of Dukakis as a disgraced loser who would not be on hand to address the delegates.

So it's interesting to see Dukakis reemerging from obscurity to attend this year's festivities in Denver. Katie Couric, in the video below, interviews Dukakis outside the Pepsi Center arena. The former Massachusetts Governor is apologetic for his loss in 1988, lamenting that he didn't combat the GOP attack-machine effectively. He says this year Obama's got to "fight fire with fire":

Continue reading "Michael Dukakis Emerges from Political Exile in Denver" »

Joe Biden's Disastrous Foreign Policy Liabilities

Barack Obama's selection of Senator Joseph Biden was designed to bolster the Democrats' flagging standings on the national security issue. Biden, a 35-year veteran of the Congress, serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, looked to provide foreign policy gravitas to Obama's dangerous inexperience on the international stage.

Yet, as analysts and bloggers take a closer look, Obama's Biden pick may end up being a disastrous liability for the campaign.

For one thing, Biden's holds a near-religious commitment to diplomacy before the resort to military force in a crisis. Biden's hedging has left the Delaware Senator a legacy of vacillation and hypocrisy in foreign affairs. For some background, here's Michael Gordon:

As the Bush administration was fine-tuning its plan to invade Iraq, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. helped draft a proposed resolution that emphasized the need for diplomatic efforts to dismantle Saddam Hussein's weapons programs but gave President Bush the authority to use military force as a last resort....

Mr. Biden is widely seen as a liberal-minded internationalist. He has emphasized the need for diplomacy but has been prepared at times to back it with the threat of force. An early advocate of military action to quell the ethnic fighting in the Balkans, he has not been averse to American military intervention abroad. As the debates over Kosovo and later Iraq showed, he has been loath to give the United Nations a veto over American policy decisions. But he has also sought to ensure that the United States acted in concert with other nations.

The Los Angeles Times has more:
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. joins the Democratic ticket as an acknowledged foreign policy sage whose 36-year record has won him bipartisan praise as a liberal internationalist who generally hews close to his party's center. But he has sometimes found himself at odds with members of his own party as well as with Republicans.

Biden has frequently favored humanitarian interventions abroad and was an early and influential advocate for U.S. military action in the Balkans in the 1990s. He also advocates U.S. action to stem the continuing bloodshed in Darfur.

Some liberal Democrats remain distressed by his 2002 vote for the Iraq war, which Barack Obama opposed. Other critics say Biden was misguided or even naive in his most recent proposal to resolve sectarian conflict by giving broad autonomy to Iraq's three major population groups, the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. And he opposed last year's troop "surge," which by most accounts has contributed significantly to the reduction in violence in Iraq.

What appears to bind Biden and Obama in the realm of foreign affairs, however, is a shared belief in strong cooperation with America's traditional allies and in the use of force only as a last resort. The Democratic standard-bearers reject the belief of President Bush and some other conservatives that the United States should not hesitate to act unilaterally if other nations demur.

Continue reading "Joe Biden's Disastrous Foreign Policy Liabilities" »

The Neocons, Russia and the Soviet Union

I'm surprised, frankly, at the ahistoricism of Andrew Sullivan and Josh Marshall.

These two guys are not only among the very top-tier bloggers on the scene, they are also Ph.D. recipients in political science and history, from Harvard and Brown respectively. Given such esteemed backgrounds, the apparent ignorance of these two on the continuities of Russian history as they relate to the current war in the Caucasus is stunning.

Sullivan, for example, wants to excoriate the "neocons" for what he perceives is their abuse of historical analogies:

It's very bizarre to read the neocons' speaking about Russia as if the Soviet Union were still in existence. Here's a classic slice of the mindset from Max Boot, who wants a third little war in the Caucasus:

It should be no surprise that Russian spokesmen are masters of the Big Lie-their Soviet predecessors practically invented the technique.

Condi Rice, who really should know better, said:

"This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it. Things have changed."

Yes, things have changed: the Soviet Union no longer exists. Wasn't the entire point of the Cold War that totalitarian expansionist states are different than authoritarian ones? Are we now going to elide this Kirkpatrick distinction when it comes to Russia? Putin is not a saint; and his attitude is Cheney-esque in his fondness for secrecy, brute force and contempt for international law. But he is not a communist and he is not attempting to take over the world. The West fought the Cold War based on this distinction. Why should we forget it now it's over?

Tagging along close behind is Marshall, who pumps up Sullivan with some big huzzahs for taking down the "neocon" warmongerers:

Andrew Sullivan, who's been on a tear on this story, has another good post on the bankrupt posturing of the neocons, jumping at the hopes of a new Cold War with the Russians, despite the lack of the ideological underpinnings on which we fought the first and any Russian global ambitions or capacity to fight it.

Marshall goes on to throw in a few more digs at the denizens of the American Enterprise Institute (a hothouse of neoconservative ideas), and he suggests that for people like Bill Bennett and Charles Krauthammer, the Georgian crisis is like an "80s era Gilligan's Island reunion flick."

The reality of anti-neoconservative fervor is well-recognized, but in the cases Sullivan and Marshall, their attacks exhibit a sense of irrationalism, almost an "acute paranoia" in reaction to neoconservative analyses of contempory security issues.

Continue reading "The Neocons, Russia and the Soviet Union" »

Obscenities and the Left-Wing Blogosphere

A couple of weeks back I wrote a post examining the tendency toward profanity among leftist bloggers: "Obscenities in the Blogosphere."

I argued that crude vulgarity has become essentially the lingua franca of the hard-left blogosphere and commentocracy. Widespread profanity appears to provide leftists with some assumed heightened firepower with which to beat down opponents, who are demonized as fascist imperialists intent to exterminate racial minorities and the poor, among other things.

My observations derived from recent experience, as well as the debate surrounding profanty at last month's Netroots Nation conference in Texas.

Well it turns out that Matthew Sheffield at the Washington Times has performed a Google content analysis to determine the relative propensity to profanity between top left and right blog communities: "Profanity Greater on Liberal Blogs":

Are liberals more profane than conservatives? Online, the answer seems to be yes. Profanity, those taboo words banned from the broadcast airwaves, is a feature of many people's daily lives. It's much less so in the establishment media world. TV and radio broadcasts are legally prohibited from using it, most newspapers (including this one) have traditionally refrained from its usage.

That's not the case with the Web, where bloggers and readers face no such restrictions. That likely comes as no surprise; what may be surprising, however, is to what degree profanity seems to be a feature more common on one side of the political blogosphere than the other....

The top 10 liberal sites (Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Democratic Underground, Talking Points Memo, Crooks and Liars, Think Progress, Atrios, Greenwald, MyDD and Firedoglake) have a profanity quotient of 14.6.

The top 10 conservative sites (Free Republic, Hot Air, Little Green Footballs, Townhall, NewsBusters, Lucianne, Wizbang, Ace of Spades, Red State and Volokh Conspiracy) have a quotient of 1.17.
What explains this disparity?

Sheffield hypothesizes that Bush derangement is a precipitating factor. But beyond that, religious belief among conservatives inclines them less toward the use of profanity in their daily lives, and thus in blogging:

Conservatives, especially those who are more religious, are less likely to use profanity in their daily conversation.
This ties in pretty much with the my thesis on the left's secular demonology:

How might we explain all of this? Well, in my view, these folks are essentially Marxist, and at base, we might consider Marxist thought a doctrine of hatred, a secular demonology:

We hate those, whose existence urges us to reconsider our theories and our vocabularies. We hate what places a safe and irresponsible categorization of the world in jeopardy. We hate what threatens the purity and predictability of our perception of the world, our mode of discourse, and in effect, our mental security.

Thus, for the left, rather than consider that vulgarity has no proper place in the respectable exchange of ideas, crude language is a tool to beat down those who would challenge their way of seeing the world, especially those allegedly in the right-wing superstructure of greedy imperialistic designs.

Donald blogs at American Power

Antiwar 2.0

Now that victory in Iraq has reached near-consensus, the antiwar press and netroots masses have turned their attention to the next stage of anti-Bush opposition.

The New York Times is leading the way, for example, with its editorial today mocking Salim Ahmed Hamdan's Guantanamo conviction as "Guilty as Ordered."

Andy McCarthy exposes the Times' allegations as tiresome liberal "bombast."

But that's not all. Today's paper includes a weepy front-pager attacking the administration's "good war": "500: Deadly U.S. Milestone in Afghan War"

Abe Greenwald notes the coming of Antiwar 2.0:

The New York Times, at a loss for bad news from Iraq, is mining Afghanistan for tragedy and defeat. Today's front page bears the headline, "500: Deadly U.S. Milestone in Afghan War." The piece, by Kirk Semple and Andrew W. Lehren, contains heart-wrenching stories of young life cut short, and the online edition contains interactive features with graphs showing casualty breakdowns and mini-bios of lost troops. With this bit of morbidity, the Times has sent out a signal to left-wing media outlets, progressive bloggers, and activists looking for a march: It's time to switch from death in Iraq to death in Afghanistan.

Running tallies of American causalities in Afghanistan can now go up on websites; Digital collages of Americans killed by the Taliban arranged to form George W. Bush's face are sure to follow.

The thing about the Times' milestone is -- it's completely artificial. The casualty count for Americans in Afghanistan passed 500 months ago. The number now stands at 563. The "milestone" framework is just a pretense for the paper to shift its gruesome focus onto a new front.

The antiwar focus is also shifting to the end of the administration, and potential war crimes trials against President Bush and top officials alleged to have violated international law and "shredded the Geneva Conventions."

No doubt the Times will be leading that effort as well.

Donald blogs daily at American Power

Racist Double Standards

The left's deafening silence on Ludacris' controversial rap that Barack Obama's going to "paint the White House black" is matched today with the latest hypocritical campaign by Obama backers to smear the GOP as racist.

In response to John McCain's new ad buy questioning Barack Obama's experience to lead, the nihilists have charged the McCain campaign with exploiting white fears of black predation on young white women. Here's Crooks and Liars:

The McCain campaign is looking increasingly desperate with each attack ad has chosen to take a tried and true approach to their latest ad -- veiled racism. Referring to Barack Obama as the "biggest celebrity in the world," McCain's ad conveniently and quite overtly slides footage of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton into the mix.
Here's Melissa McEwan's attack:

Once again, McCain reveals himself to be eminently, shockingly willing to embrace the heinous tactics of the Bush team that he once deplored. That anyone still considers this guy an honorable rogue, a maverick, or a hero is beyond laughable. He doesn't possess any lingering shred of integrity, and his alleged independent streak came to a screeching halt as it collided with the stumbling zombie corpse of his credibility the moment he stood in New Hampshire with his arm around the shoulders of the man whose operatives called his wife a junky and his adopted daughter illegitimate. He may have been honorable and brave once upon a time, but he's not anymore.
Is there any reason left in the political world?

Various observers, including journalists at the major national dailies, have noted the presumptuousness of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. But making that argument, too, it turns out, is racist:

But what I'm most interested in today is the new meme the McCain campaign has been pushing for the last few weeks that Obama is presumptuous, arrogant and well ... just a bit uppity.

Both sides, left and right, make the same allegations - that the other has nothing going for itself but allegations of corruption or racism.

Yet throughout the entire 2008 campaign, the genuine racism that Americans have seen has been in the Democratic Party ranks, from Bill Clinton to Jesse Jackson to Luducris' incitement for John McCain to be shot and paralyzed.

Donald blogs daily at American Power

Lone Madman Used to Smear GOP

I put out the call this morning, perhaps idealistically, for partisans of both sides to end to the politicization of personal tragedies, with reference to Sunday's shooting tragedy at Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

It turns out that the alleged killer, Jim David Adkisson, was a fan of right-wing media personalities such as Sean Hannity and Michael Savage. In a four-page letter outlining his intentions, Adkisson reportedly declared not only his hatred of the "liberal movement," but also "anyone different from him." Adkisson was deeply frustrated with his employment prospects and he was divorced after a deeply troubled and potentially violent marriage.

Carol Smallwood of Alice, Texas, an acquantaince of Adkission's for 25-30 years, suggested he was facing psychological crisis:

He always had the attitude the government was trying to get him ... He's a very intelligent man but he couldn't get in the mainstream and hold a job, Smallwood said. He's not a beast. He needed help a long time ago and never got it.
More information will certainly be forthcoming throughout the week, but media reports and blogging analyses have zoomed in on Adkisson's professed hatred of liberals while ignoring his economic dislocation and his statements signaling a larger social-psychological alienation. Yet, I'd argue it's unwise to generalize from this one case, to impugn the entire conservative establishment as "out to kill" left-wingers.

Continue reading "Lone Madman Used to Smear GOP" »

The Far Left's Attack on Direct Democracy

I'm not always a big fan of the initiative process, one of the mechanisms of direct democracy. For the most part, at least in California, the measures have been taken over by the moneyed interests, exactly the opposite of what the Progressive reformers had in mind a century ago.

Yet, there's a majoritarianism to initiatives that's hard to dismiss, and in recent years conservatives have been able to beat back the excesses of the postmodern rights movement with popular revolts from the ballot box.

It's no surprise then, that entrenched minority special interests would work to thwart the will of the voters by abusing the signature petition process by which intiatives qualify for the ballot. John Fund has the story:

The initiative is a reform born out of the Progressive Era, when there was general agreement that powerful interests had too much influence over legislators. It was adopted by most states in the Midwest and West, including Ohio and California. It was largely rejected by Eastern states, which were dominated by political machines, and in the South, where Jim Crow legislators feared giving more power to ordinary people.

But more power to ordinary people remains unpopular in some quarters, and nothing illustrates the war on the initiative more than the reaction to Ward Connerly's measures to ban racial quotas and preferences. The former University of California regent has convinced three liberal states -- California, Washington and Michigan -- to approve race-neutral government policies in public hiring, contracting and university admissions. He also prodded Florida lawmakers into passing such a law. This year his American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) aimed to make the ballot in five more states. But thanks to strong-arm tactics, the initiative has only made the ballot in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska.

"The key to defeating the initiative is to keep it off the ballot in the first place," says Donna Stern, Midwest director for the Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). "That's the only way we're going to win." Her group's name certainly describes the tactics that are being used to thwart Mr. Connerly.
Fund details a long list of abuses by BAMN and other left-wing actors: Claiming that random "duplicate" blank lines on a petition sheet is evidence of fraud; completely rewriting an initiative's ballot summary to negatively influence voter understanding of the measure, as in case of Missouri's Secretary of State; and harassing and citing local signature-gatherers for circulating petitions in front of a local library in Kansas City, for example.

The article goes on:

In Nebraska, a group in favor of racial preferences ran a radio ad that warned that those who signed the "deceptive" petition "could be at risk for identity theft, robbery, and much worse."

Those on the left are asssumed to be more concerned with the "rights" of the people, and with the "democratic process." Indeed, leftists are often thought to be more "tolerant" than the mean, old conservative troglodytes.

In truth, it's a mistaken view that liberals are more concerned about "rights," and they're not more "tolerant." In fact, precisely the opposite is true.

Donald blogs daily at American Power

McCain, Obama and the "Shorthand" of the Surge

Here's John McCormack's comment on McCain and the surge from yesterday morning:

The "surge" ... is often shorthand for both the addition of U.S. troops as well as the adoption of a counterinsurgency strategy.
Debate on this shorthand is currently raging across the left blogosphere.

Matthew Yglesias says, for example:

So John McCain said the surge led to the Anbar Awakening even though the Awakening, in fact, happened before the surge began. So he's ignorant. Or maybe dishonest....

Shawn Brimley
tries to bring common sense to bear on this: "The word "surge" has always been used to as shorthand referring to President Bush's decision to deploy about 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq in early 2007, the first of which did not arrive in Iraq until later in the spring." McCain is arguing, I guess, that "the surge" doesn't refer to the manpower boost more formally termed the "surge of forces" by the military. Instead, "surge" is, perhaps, short for "counterinsurgency."

The main problems here would be that nobody uses "surge" that way...
Well, that's not correct.

Security studies experts do indeed use the term as a "shorthand" for the Bush administration's overall combined military AND political adjustments designed to bring order and progress to the Iraq deployment.

For example, in "The Price of the Surge," the lead article from the May/June 2008 issue of Foreign Affairs, Steven Simon noted:

In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new approach to the war in Iraq. At the time, sectarian and insurgent violence appeared to be spiraling out of control, and Democrats in Washington - newly in control of both houses of Congress - were demanding that the administration start winding down the war. Bush knew he needed to change course, but he refused to, as he put it, "give up the goal of winning." So rather than acquiesce to calls for withdrawal, he decided to ramp up U.S. efforts. With a "surge" in troops, a new emphasis on counterinsurgency strategy, and new commanders overseeing that strategy, Bush declared, the deteriorating situation could be turned around.
Thus, while there are technically discrete elements in the overall approach to strategic adjustment in Iraq, it's generally understoood that reference to the "surge" implies a macro-analytical concept, and the direction of success is evaluated by unpacking the various components in the military/political balance and making additional revisions .

Of course, the whole debate's something of a smokescreen hiding the fundamental issues: Victory in Iraq's impending, and the left forces are out to portray John McCain as a bumbling, fumbling old man, confused about the facts on the ground. This meme combines with a second thrust currently in play on the Iraq debate: that victory in Iraq means American troops can come home, and that Barack Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan is the ticket to "responsibly" ending the deployment.

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