Thursday, November 5, 2009

On the 2009 elections

To hear Nancy Pelosi or David Alexrod tell it, it was the Democrats who won the 2009 elections because of a win in a special election for a congressional seat in upstate New York formerly held by a Republican. This is despite the fact that Republicans won governorships in New Jersey and Virgina from Democrats, states Obama carried just one year ago.

But if you were to ask me (or any other Republican observer) which race I would most rather lose, it would be the congressional seat in New York.

Even most of the legacy media has rejected this spin. I wonder if Pelosi and Axelrod believe it themselves.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Was the White House trying to turn the NEA into its own Department of Propaganda?

"Godwin's Law" was originally stated as thus: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." "Godwin's Law" was quickly adopted as a rule of internet etiquette or social construction that the guy who fell back on a Hitler analogy had lost the argument.I know that I'm at risk in violating "Godwin's" law with this post, but I hope I'll be excused because (1) I won't do so with words, and (2) I can't help myself.

The images to the right were pulled off the Obama/Biden campaign website by Jay Cost at

On August 10 the White House hosted a now-infamous conference call with a number of artists, the transcript of which was posted on

As Fox News reported:

Several officials on the call -- including then-NEA Director of Communications Yosi Sergant, Buffy Wicks, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Michael Skolnik, political director for hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons -- sought focused efforts by the artists in health care, energy and environment, education and community renewal.

"We're going to need your help, and we're going to come at you with some specific 'asks' here," said Buffy Wicks, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. "But we know that you guys are ready for it and eager to participate, so one we want to thank you, and two, I hope you guys are ready."

Sergant, who has since been reassigned by the NEA, said on the call that the effort was the first of a "brand new conversation."He told the artists, "Pick -- I would encourage you to pick something, whether it's health care, education, the environment, you know, there's four key areas that the corporation has identified as the areas of service. My task would be to apply artistic, you know, your artistic creative communities' utilities and bring them to the table."

Patrick Courrieleche, one of the artists on the call, first wrote about the experience on the blog Big Hollywood. Courrieleche, 39, of Los Angeles, said the ubiquitous Obama "Hope" poster by artist Shepard Fairey and musician's "Yes We Can" song and music video were offered as examples of the artist group's clear impact on Obama's landslide election.

"What I heard was a well thought-out pitch to encourage artists to create art on these issues," he told in August. "We were told were consulted for a reason, and they specifically stated those issues we should focus on, to plant the seed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what they're attempting to do."According to a transcript of the call, Skolnik told Courrielche and the other artists that he had "been asked by folks in the White House and folks in the NEA" to participate about a month prior to the call.

"You are the thought leaders," Skolnik told the artists. "You are the ones that, if you create a piece of art or promote a piece of art or create a campaign for a company, and tell our country and our young people sort of what to do and what to be in to; and what's cool and what's not cool. And so I'm hoping that through this group and the goal of all this and the goal of this phone call, is through this group that we can create a stronger community amongst ourselves to get involved in things that we're passionate about as we did during the campaign but continue to get involved in those things, to support some of the president's initiatives, but also to do things that we are passionate about and to push the president and push his administration."

But this was just insult to injury. Earlier, on May 12, the White House and the NEA met with some 60 artists to promote the Administration's agenda. As reported, they even proposed creating a "Department of Alternative Thinking." There isn't even a hint of irony here. Orwell couldn't have done a better job with a more believable name for such an aptly named department of Big Brother's government if he tried.

The images from the Obama/Biden website seemed to me to be eerily familiar. That's as far as I'll go. You can look at the images below and draw your own conclusions.

Nazi propaganda art

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Are Jewish liberals suffering buyers' remorse over Obama's handing of Iranian bomb?

I may be mistaken, but I'm beginning to get an early sense of buyer's remorse from Jewish liberals in Congress over their support for President Obama because of his handling (or lack thereof) of Iran's headlong quest for nuclear weapons. It appears that some liberal Jews now might sense that Obama intends to do virtually nothing to stop Iran.

In Saturday's Washington Post, Los Angeles area Rep. Howard Berman wrote:
Tehran's admission this week that it has secretly constructed a second enrichment plant suggests that its program may be further along than we had imagined. We do not have much time to wait.

I support President Obama's efforts to engage Iran. Thanks to these efforts, no one will be able to say that we failed to do everything possible to give Iran a diplomatic way out. But there is more than ample reason to be skeptical that the regime in Tehran intends to come clean about its nuclear program. Friday's revelations about the second uranium enrichment plant cast a particularly dark shadow over Iranian intentions, and they come after more than 20 years of deception and stonewalling by Tehran.

It is critical that we set clear timelines and benchmarks by which to judge Iranian intentions as well as unambiguous consequences if Iran fails to meet the criteria. The window for Iran to demonstrate seriousness of purpose should start with the Oct. 1 meeting and, as Obama has indicated, should close by the end of the year. If Tehran is serious about engagement, it should agree early on to meaningful steps, such as a "freeze for freeze" in which Iran does not add to its enrichment capabilities -- including halting construction on the second enrichment facility, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- in exchange for an agreement that no additional international sanctions would be imposed during this period. Iran must also agree to verifiably suspend nuclear enrichment by year's end. Were that tohappen, the international community could enter into detailed negotiations with Iran about all issues of concern and the incentives that could be offered in exchange for a satisfactory understanding of Iran's nuclear intentions and assurance that Iran would not be able to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.

But if, as I expect, that scenario does not come to pass, we should be ready immediately to impose what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has led a call for "crippling sanctions." Iran's economy is in terrible shape, and the regime no longer can take for granted the support of its citizens. The best conduit for such sanctions would be a mandatory U.N. Security Council resolution. That would require the difficult-to-obtain acquiescence of Russia and China. Failing that, multilateral agreement by the Europeans, Japan, Australia and Canada to impose coordinated financial, trade and investment sanctions would be a serious alternative. If even that proves impossible, I believe the threat posed to our national security by the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran obligates the United States to impose sanctions unilaterally.

In July, Rep. Barney Frank changed his position from opposing a blockade of Iran to prevent it from acquiring a bomb to supporting one. As Robert Naiman wrote in the Huffington Post:

Frank is one of more than 200 Members of the House of Representatives who have co-sponsored a resolution (HConRes 362) heavily promoted by AIPAC that effectively calls for a blockade of Iran, an act of war. But when peace activists complained, he did something that, to my knowledge (and I eagerly look forward to being corrected), none of those other Members of Congress have done. He publicly admitted that he was wrong.
I can appreciate someone changing their position when they realize they were wrong, but what concerns me here is that Frank, Berman and their ilk wee happy to demagogue Bush's refusal to engage in direct talks with Iran without precondition in order to get their man elected, apparently never thinking he would actually do nothing of real consequence to stop Iran from getting the bomb or put Israel on the chopping block before the United Nations:

We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. The time has come to re-launch negotiations — without preconditions — that address the permanent-status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians; borders, refugees and Jerusalem. The goal is clear: two states living side by side in peace and security — a Jewish State of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people. As we pursue this goal, we will also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and a broader peace between Israel and its many neighbors. In pursuit of that goal, we will develop regional initiatives with multilateral participation, alongside bilateral negotiations.

It should not need to pointed out that there is no way to effectuate this "clear goal" to make Palestine "contiguous" without ruining Israel's own contiguity. Apparently Jewish liberals were happy to naively accept the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had abandoned working on a nuclear weapon, while the U.S. Government was nonetheless aware that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons facility at Qom.

All the NIE accomplished is to give Iran two years to keep the centrifuges spinning. Obama's current talks with Iran will only accomplish more of the same.

Maybe Berman, Frank and the like took Obama at his word during the campaign when he expressed support for Israel or that he would not permit Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, but are alarmed at the alacrity with which Obama breaks his promises.

This weekend, I saw one post where an anonymous blogger claimed to have spoken to Frank (I have no way to determine whether or not this is actually correct), but Frank was reported to opine that with respect to the Iranian bomb, we found out about Obama's true intentions about "eight months too late." "There is nothing that can now be done." [my paraphrase].

Great. They demagogue the issue while Bush is in office, get their man in, and find out too late that he will raise not one finger in support of Israel and will do virtually nothing of consequence to stop Iran from getting a bomb. They should have known better, and now because of their playing politics with national security, we're all screwed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Death of Conservativism - Liberal wishful thinking?

The President's poll numbers are tanking faster than any previous president, the Democrats are likely to lose the governorships of New Jersey and Virgina in November, the latter an historic bellweather of what to expect in the next mid-term elections. Ordinary citizens for the first time are showing up at town hall meetings, going to tea parties, and marching in the 9/12 movement. Obama's key initiatives (health care and cap and trade) have stalled in Congress. The DNC has shown a significant downturn in fundraising from just over a year ago, and in August, Republican campaign committees outraised Democrats by $1.7 million, despite being the minority party in Congress. Jimmy Carter, Maureen Dowd and a multitude of others are frantically playing the race card from the bottom of the deck.

It's gotten so bad that the Democrats in Congress won't even let the American People read the health care bill before passage lest that complicate efforts to get it passed before the elections in new Jersey and Virginia.

But none of this seems to factor into the number of books, magazine and Internet articles and blog postings that boldly proclaim "The Death of Conservatism" (by Sam Tanenhaus), just to name one representative title.

Tanenhaus is hardly alone. Just peruse the blogs and the websites: "The GOP is Still Shell-shocked"; "Republicans Deaf Ear on Health Care"; "Is the GOP Overreaching on Health Care?"
"Which Political Party is Decadent and Sick"; "The Bankruptcy of Ideological Conservatism"; "GOP Disorder - Purge or Binge"; "Americans Trust Obama, Not the Republicans."

In a review of Tanenhaus' book for The New Republic, Damon Linker writes:

Surveying intellectual life on the right in the opening months of the Obama administration, Tanenhaus concludes that too many conservative intellectuals “recognize no distinction between analysis and advocacy, or between the competition of ideas and the naked struggle for power.”
WTF!! Do Tanenhaus and Linker inhabit the same planet that I do? Try an experiment, tonight watch any debate between a real conservative and liberal (preferably, but not necessarily on Fox News) and see who it is who can't recognize the distinction between analysis and advocacy. Or who doesn't understand the difference between competition of ideas or the naked struggle for power.

Feel like you're in the twilight zone, or in Alice in Wonderland? You're not alone. In responding to Linker, Jonah Goldberg writes:

Much has been written about Tanenhaus's book already. Indeed, it's hard to think of a book that unites more factions of conservatism than Tanenhaus's tome, about which the apparently universal consensus is that it is completely, totally, and in every way imaginable unpersuasive. Not bad or uninteresting, mind you; just unpersuasive, like a wild-eyed witch-doctor ooga-boogaing about why he should be allowed to remove your spleen.

* * *

Don't be alarmed by that Twilight Zone vibe you're getting. It's perfectly normal. In fact, it's intended. At an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, I told Tanenhaus that his description of things had a decidedly "otherworldly" feel to it. He responded by pleading "Guilty as charged" and saying that otherworldly writing was a great tradition among intellectuals, or some such, and that he did not shirk from the accusation one bit. It almost sounds like he's saying his narrative is fake-but-accurate.

If you spend any time surfing the comments sections on conservative blogs and websites you'll notice the ubiquitous presence of what some call "trolls," moonbats" or "libtards" who engage conservatives not with ideas, but with profanities, insults, ad hominem attacks, and (often irrelevant) talking points. Some have theorized that these trolls are agents of George Soros paid to scour the internet to challenge conservatives with their "facts and superior analysis." [O.k., sarcasm off now].

To be fair, Linker also wrote in the same article:

Far from being dead, ideological conservatism will have proven its enduring capacity to express, provoke, and mobilize populist anger and resentments. That has been ideological conservatism’s great strength—and its path to political power—for over forty years now.

Liberals and temperamental conservatives like Sam Tanenhaus can and should be working to prevent the pattern from repeating itself. But before they can do that, they must resist the temptation to engage in wishful thinking.

And that's my point. Read any normal day's offerings from Real Clear Politics or Politco and you'll see numerous titles that amount to little more than "wishful thinking." (And I haven't even touched titles like "Al Franken will be a superlative Senator" (Like anyone could possibly know that!)).

The liberals will probably have to learn the hard way, like President Obama eventually will, that saying it doesn't make it so.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Random thoughts on a Friday afternoon

The Obama administration was going to restore friendships with the nations of the world that the U.S. supposedly lost under George Bush.

Yesterday, the White House announced it was going to scrap the missile defense shield based in Poland and the Czech Republic. Basically it threw two friends under the bus in favor of Russia, who isn't going to like us no matter what we do.

I hope the administration got something for it. For example, if we obtained concessions from Russia on stopping missile sales to Iran, or for agreement to support Iranian sanctions, it could be argued that this is a defensible move. But I suspect that this is really nothing but unilateral disarmament for its own sake. Hillary Clinton said that dropping the missile defense shield will make us safer. To me it sounds like Neville Chamberlain saying that through the Munich agreement with Hitler, that he accomplished "peace in our time"

One has to wonder if the White House's decision to announce this move on the 70th anniversary of the day that the USSR invaded Poland is more evidence of their stark incompetence. The only other theory explaining the move on this of all days is that they are just sick.

The White House is also starting an unnecessary trade war with China, over a surge in rubber tire imports. The reason for the punitive tariffs, says Obama is because trade agreements must be enforced in order for trading systems to work. Huh? Having the legal right to do something isn't the same thing as being legally required to do it. Good luck now in getting Chinese help with North Korea.

Yeah, this is the way to restore U.S. credibility around the world.

As a lawyer who successfully represented the California Republican Party against ACORN, I am completely sympathetic to (and grateful for) the stings by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles. But I wonder if they would have been more successful if their costumes weren't so outrageous. If this pair walked into my office on any day other than Halloween, I'd immediately suspect I was being filmed. Giles' outfit, while still credible, could have been toned down a bit. But O'Keefe looked like a cartoon character. The fact that anyone at ACORN fell for it at all shows how stupid these people really are.

Finally, I saw the following comment on a blog post somewhere:

Wal-Mart halter top: $2
Cheap sunglasses: $3
Faux fur coat: $39
Defunding ACORN: Priceless.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blacks gone wild?

In our so-called "post racial era" Maureen Dowd in Sunday's New York Times predictably ascribed Congressman Joe Wilson's outburst to President Obama speech on healthcare to a joint session of Congress that "you lie" to racism:

Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber. . . . Some people just can’t believe a lack man is president and will never accept it.

But today we woke up to two news stories regarding blacks gone wild.

At the MTV Music Video Awards, in a bizarre scene where Taylor Swift (who is white) was giving an acceptance speech for her VMA Award, Kanye West (who is black) took the microphone from her hand, apparently because he apparently believed that Beyonce's "Single Ladies" deserved the award instead. Rolling Stone reported:

"Yo Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'll let you finish, but Beyonce has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!," Kanye shouted to a mortified Swift and the speechless audience. According to sources at the VMAs, Swift was seen hysterically crying backstage after Kanye's outburst, making it convenient that her performance of 'You Belong to Me,' which immediately followed the acceptance speech, was prerecorded. Wale, who is serving as MC for the house band, told the crowd, 'You can't fault a man for speaking his mind,' which was promptly met by boos from the Radio City Music Hall crowd.
It would be easy to ascribe unvarnished racism as the animating force behind West's outburst. West later apologized for his behavior.

Also on Sunday, tennis great Serena Williams had some apologies to make of her own. As reported by Total Pro Sports:

Last night's semifinals match between Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters was the epitome of craziness as the game ended in the most unusual fashion after Serena was penalized on match point, costing her the game, set, and match. After already receiving a code violation warning for breaking her racket after losing the first set, Williams was serving 5-6, 15-30 in the second. She faulted on her first serve and on her second attempt was called for a foot foul by the line judge. That cost her a crucial point at an important part of the game as Clijsters was now one point away from advancing to the finals. Serena responded to the call in a rather inaffable manner, making her way over to the line judge to shout and curse at her as she waved her racket and ball in disgust.

Dropping the f-word liberally, Williams said, "I swear to God I'm [expletive] going to take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat, you hear that? I swear to God."

Again, was race the motivating factor behind Williams' tantrum? Maybe. She could have been angry, losing to Clijsters (who is white) or one could take notice that the tirade was launched against the line judge who is a diminutive Japanese woman.

And let's not forget Van Jones, who among other things, called Republicans (as Ben Stein put it) a "barnyard epithet." Something Jones later had to apologize for on his way out the White House door.

But in the end, what difference does it make whether West's tactless behavior was motivated by racism. It was still awful. The only bright spot of the episode was Beyonce's graciousness in later inviting Swift back up to the stage to finish her acceptance speech.

What difference does it make whether racism caused Williams' meltdown? It was shameful nonetheless.

We should declare a moratorium, or even better retire the old "racism" trope. Bad behavior whether by Wilson, West, Williams (is it racism, poor temperament or because their last names begin with "W"?) is still crass, rude and beneath the dignity of all involved. Let's not questions anyone's motives any more and just call unacceptable behavior out when we see it. There's really no good reason to try to score extra cheap political points by crying racism to condemn already appalling behavior.