Thursday, October 10, 2013

Obama Just Made a Terrible Mistake on Egypt. By Eric Trager.

Obama Just Made a Terrible Mistake on Egypt. By Eric Trager. The New Republic, October 9, 2013.

Netanyahu and the End of Days. By Victor Davis Hanson.

Netanyahu and the End of Days. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, October 10, 2013. Also at Real Clear Politics.


So far, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s peace ruse is still bearing some fruit. President Obama was eager to talk with him at the United Nations — only to be reportedly rebuffed, until Obama managed to phone him for the first conversation between heads of state of the two countries since the Iranian storming of the U.S. embassy in 1979.
Rouhani has certainly wowed Western elites with his mellifluous voice, quiet demeanor, and denials of wanting a bomb. The media, who ignore the circumstances of Rouhani’s three-decade trajectory to power, gush that he is suddenly a “moderate” and “Western-educated.”
The implication is that Rouhani is not quite one of those hard-line Shiite apocalyptic theocrats like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who in the past ranted about the eventual end to the Zionist entity.
Americans are sick and tired of losing blood and treasure in the Middle East. We understandably are desperate for almost any sign of Iranian outreach. Our pundits assure us that either Iran does not need and thus does not want a bomb, or that Iran at least could be contained if it got one.
No such giddy reception was given to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In comparison with Rouhani, he seemed grating to his U.N. audience in New York. A crabby Netanyahu is now seen as the party pooper who barks in his raspy voice that Rouhani is only buying time from the West until Iran can test a nuclear bomb — that the Iranian leader is a duplicitous “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Why does the unpleasant Netanyahu sound to us so unyielding, so dismissive of Rouhani’s efforts at dialogue, so ready to start an unnecessary war? How can the democracy that wants Iran not to have the bomb sound more trigger-happy than the theocracy intent on getting it?
In theory, it could be possible that Rouhani is a genuine pragmatist, eager to open up Iran’s nuclear facilities for inspection to avoid a preemptory attack and continuing crippling sanctions. But if the world’s only superpower can afford to take that slim chance, Netanyahu really cannot. Nearly half the world’s remaining Jews live in tiny Israel — a fact emphasized by the Iranian theocrats, who have in the past purportedly characterized it as a “black stain” upon the world.
After World War II, the survivors of the Holocaust envisioned Israel as the last-chance refuge for endangered Jews. Iranian extremists have turned that idea upside down — when, for example, former president Hashemi Rafsanjani purportedly said that “the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything.”
Netanyahu accepts that history’s lessons are not nice. The world, both ancient and modern, is quite capable of snoozing as thousands perish, whether in Rwanda by edged weapons; in Iraq when Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds; or, most recently, more than 100,000 in Syria.
Centuries before nuclear weapons, entire peoples have sometimes perished in war without much of a trace — or much afterthought. After the Third Punic War, Carthage — its physical place , people, and language — was obliterated by Rome. The vast Aztec Empire ceased to exist within two years of encountering Hernán Cortés. Byzantine, Vandal, and Prussian are now mere descriptors; most have no idea that they refer to defeated peoples and states that vanished.
The pessimistic Netanyahu also remembers that there was mostly spineless outrage at Hitler’s systematic harassment of Jews before the outbreak of World War II — and impotence in the face of their extermination during the war. Within a decade of the end of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel throughout the Middle East had become almost a religion.
In the modern age of thermonuclear weapons, the idea of eliminating an entire people has never been more achievable. But collective morality does not often follow the fast track of technological change. Any modern claim of a superior global ethos, anchored in the United Nations, that might prevent such annihilation is no more valid now than it was in 1941. Again, ask the Tutsis of Rwanda.
The disastrous idea of a preemptory war to disarm Iran seems to us apocalyptic. But then, we are a nation of 313 million, not 8 million; the winner of World War II, not a people nearly wiped out by it; surrounded by two wide oceans, not 300 million hostile neighbors; and out of Iranian missile range, not well within it. Reverse those comparisons and Obama might sound as neurotic as Netanyahu would utopian.
We can be wrong about Hassan Rouhani without lethal consequences. Netanyahu reviews history and concludes that he has no such margin of error. That fact alone allows us to sound high-minded and idealistic — and Israel suspicious and cranky.

Rush Limbaugh: Conservatism Is a Way of Life.

Conservatism Is a Way of Life. By Rush Limbaugh. Rush, October 10, 2013.


Conservatism is not tax cuts. Conservatism is a way of life that is rooted in values and traditions that have contributed to the greatness of this country. Conservatism is the way you live, and that just has to be pointed out to people. To people growing up today, conservatism . . . God, I shudder to think what it is. What is conservatism to somebody that's 18 today? Conservatism is a deranged, lunatic, stupid cowboy, George Bush who wanted to go into Iraq for no reason.
What do you think it is? The way the media and the Democrat Party have defined conservatism today is a bastardization of what it is. One of the frustrating things is, the Republican Party has always been the modern day repository for conservatism, but you can’t find anybody there who’s willing to stand up and articulate it ’cause they’re afraid to or they don’t know what it is, or they don’t believe in it, whatever.
But Cruz and Mike Lee – and there are a bunch of others, and they are largely from the Tea Party – are willing to do it. Allen West was one. Ben Carson is another. There are all kinds of people standing up out there willing to articulate what it is, and when you listen to ’em, you find out it’s a lifestyle. It’s a value-based lifestyle that's rooted in personal responsibility, achievement, freedom, liberty.
Conservatism is not a bunch of policy wonks sitting around writing position papers. Conservatism is simply how happy, content-ful, responsible people live their lives. People who respect others. That’s conservatism, but it’s been so bastardized in the media – it has been so mischaracterized, demonized, you name it – that young skulls full of mush maybe as old as 30 or 35, get asked, “What do you think they think conservatism is?” and there hasn’t been a conservative articulate spokesman in politics for I don't know how long.
So the Democrats and the media have been able to define what a conservative is. It’s a racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, extremist. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. So Cruz and Lee came along, and, in the process of trying to get what they wanted, were articulating conservatism for people. I signed on immediately because, to me, it’s about ideas. But the delay people, I love ’em. I love ’em, too. Same objective. The point was to stop Obamacare. There were arguments about how best to do it.

Thinking Like a Conservative: A Leftist View. By Rick Perlstein.

Thinking Like a Conservative (Part One): Mass Shootings and Gun Control. By Rick Perlstein. The Nation, September 25, 2013.

Thinking Like a Conservative (Part Two): Biding Time on Voting Rights. By Rick Perlstein. The Nation, September 26, 2013.

Thinking Like a Conservative (Part Three): On Shutting Down Government. By Rick Perlstein. The Nation, September 30, 2013.

Thinking Like a Conservative (Part Four): Goalpost-Moving. By Rick Perlstein. The Nation, October 10, 2013.

Can We Just Admit That the Libyan Adventure Was a Really Bad Idea? By Walter Russell Mead.

Can We Admit That the Libyan Adventure Was a Really Bad Idea? By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, October 10, 2013.

When Liberals Became Scolds. By George F. Will.

When liberals became scolds. By George F Will. Washington Post, October 9, 2019. Also here.

George Will on the JFK Assassination and the Advent of Punitive Liberalism. By Rush Limbaugh., October 10, 2013.


“Ex-Marine Asks Soviet Citizenship”
— Washington Post headline, Nov. 1, 1959
(concerning Lee Harvey Oswald)

“He didn’t even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. It’s — it had to be some silly little Communist.”
Jacqueline Kennedy, Nov.22, 1963 

She thought it robbed his death of any meaning. But a meaning would be quickly manufactured to serve a new politics. First, however, an inconvenient fact — Oswald — had to be expunged from the story. So, just 24 months after the assassination, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the Kennedys’ kept historian, published a thousand-page history of the thousand-day presidency without mentioning the assassin.
The transformation of a murder by a marginal man into a killing by a sick culture began instantly — before Kennedy was buried. The afternoon of the assassination, Chief Justice Earl Warren ascribed Kennedy’s “martyrdom” to “the hatred and bitterness that has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots.” The next day, James Reston, the New York Times luminary, wrote in a front-page story that Kennedy was a victim of a “streak of violence in the American character,” noting especially “the violence of the extremists on the right.”
Never mind that adjacent to Reston’s article was a Times report on Oswald’s Communist convictions and associations. A Soviet spokesman, too, assigned “moral responsibility” for Kennedy’s death to “Barry Goldwater and other extremists on the right.”
Three days after the assassination, a Times editorial, “Spiral of Hate,” identified Kennedy’s killer as a “spirit”: The Times deplored “the shame all America must bear for the spirit of madness and hate that struck down” Kennedy. The editorialists were, presumably, immune to this spirit. The new liberalism-as-paternalism would be about correcting other people’s defects.
Hitherto a doctrine of American celebration and optimism, liberalism would now become a scowling indictment: Kennedy was killed by America’s social climate, whose sickness required “punitive liberalism.” That phrase is from James Piereson of the Manhattan Institute, whose 2007 book Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism is a profound meditation on the reverberations of the rifle shots in Dealey Plaza.
The bullets of Nov. 22, 1963, altered the nation’s trajectory less by killing a president than by giving birth to a destructive narrative about America. Fittingly, the narrative was most injurious to the narrators. Their recasting of the tragedy in order to validate their curdled conception of the nation marked a ruinous turn for liberalism, beginning its decline from political dominance.
Punitive liberalism preached the necessity of national repentance for a history of crimes and misdeeds that had produced a present so poisonous that it murdered a president. To be a liberal would mean being a scold. Liberalism would become the doctrine of grievance groups owed redress for cumulative inherited injuries inflicted by the nation’s tawdry history, toxic present and ominous future.
Kennedy’s posthumous reputation — Americans often place him, absurdly, atop the presidential rankings — reflects regrets about might-have-beens. To reread Robert Frost’s banal poem written for Kennedy’s inauguration (“A golden age of poetry and power of which this noonday’s the beginning hour”) is to wince at its clunky attempt to conjure an Augustan age from the melding of politics and celebrity that the Kennedys used to pioneer the presidency-as-entertainment.
Under Kennedy, liberalism began to become more stylistic than programmatic. After him — especially after his successor, Lyndon Johnson, a child of the New Deal, drove to enactment the Civil Rights Act , Medicare and Medicaid — liberalism became less concerned with material well-being than with lifestyle and cultural issues such as feminism, abortion and sexual freedom.
The bullets fired on Nov. 22, 1963, could shatter the social consensus that characterized the 1950s only because powerful new forces of an adversarial culture were about to erupt through society’s crust. Foremost among these forces was the college-bound population bulge — baby boomers with their sense of entitlement and moral superiority, vanities encouraged by an intelligentsia bored by peace and prosperity and hungry for heroic politics.
Liberalism’s disarray during the late 1960s, combined with Americans’ recoil from liberal hectoring, catalyzed the revival of conservatism in the 1970s. As Piereson writes, the retreat of liberalism from a doctrine of American affirmation left a void that would be filled by Ronald Reagan 17 years after the assassination.
The moral of liberalism’s explanation of Kennedy’s murder is that there is a human instinct to reject the fact that large events can have small, squalid causes; there is an intellectual itch to discern large hidden meanings in events. And political opportunism is perennial.

Ending the West’s Proxy War Against Israel. By Gunnar Heinsohn.

Ending the West’s Proxy War Against Israel. By Gunnar Heinsohn. Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2009. Also here.

Stop funding a Palestinian youth bulge, and the fighting will stop too.

Exploding Population. By Gunnar Heinsohn. New York Times, January 7, 2008.

Youth and war, a deadly duo. By Christopher Caldwell., January 6, 2007.

“Youth bulge” violence. By Jonas Attenhofer. Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2007.

A Demographic Theory of War. By Clark Whelton. The Weekly Standard, October 5, 2007. Also here.