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Tuesday, 22 April 2014
The Hollow Crown
Topic: Decline of the West

Some people (see here for example) have their knickers in a twist because of the media hoopla that surrounded the announcement of Chelsea Clinton’s delicate condition. Come on people, lighten up! Sure, the once and (possibly future) First Daughter’s pregnancy has triggered the predictable gush from the usual suspects. Here, for example, is Good Morning America co-host Bianna Golodryga’s reaction to the announcement: “I’m officially on baby watch this week. Move over, Prince George, though. This morning, Americans have their own royal, or, rather, presidential baby, to look forward to. Chelsea Clinton making the announcement that she and husband, Marc, are expecting at an event discussing efforts to advance women and girls, an event attended by her husband and beaming parents, soon-to-be grandparents.”

Toss. My. Cookies.

Now I can certainly understand the eye-rolling conservative reaction to such wretchedly excessive swooning. But I doubt that it tells you much about the attitude of Mr.  & Ms. Flyover Country USA. Yes, certainly, the mainstream media will do all they can to sell the Clintons as America’s First Family. But it won’t work and to see why, just think back to Camelot. Because of the drama and pathos surrounding their family, the Kennedys were able to fake the American royalty thing for a good long time. But even they turned out to lack staying power. JFK Jr. got himself killed, Caroline Kennedy flopped badly as the “Princess of Camelot” and as for the rest of the third generation, well, the less said about Patrick Kennedy and RFK Jr. the better…

But when it comes to the Clintons, their backstory is sordid without being dramatic—shady Arkansas real estate doings, Oval Office fellatio, flying lamps, curvy definitions of “is”—decidedly downmarket by comparison with the Kennedy Camelot. Thin gruel for a media cabal intent upon coronation! A sad clown (Bill), a thoroughly mediocre consort (Hill) and a nice but decidedly unglamorous heir (Chelsea) do not American royalty make.


Posted by tmg110 at 1:37 PM EDT
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Gloves Off, Please
Topic: Politics & Elections

In response to the Democratic Party’s recent barrage of smears—Republicans are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., etc.—some conservative pundits have opined that the GOP  should forego tit-for-tat retaliation. That would coarsen the country’s political culture, you know! Well, that’s high-minded of them. Also dead wrong.

Republicans and conservatives generally should give as good as they get when faced with such slanders—and they have the ammunition to make their counterblast highly effective. For the stinging charges that can be leveled against Democrats have the added virtue of truth.

For example, to the charge of Republican racism, the Party of Lincoln might well respond with a rhetorical question: What have the Obama Administration and the Democrats done lately for black Americans? Item: Over the Easter weekend, eight people were shot dead and 44 were wounded in Chicago. Though of course the media shrank from indentifying victims by race, the police statement that most of the shootings were gang related tells you all you need to know in that regard. And item: the black unemployment rate is around 12%, twice the national average. But America’s first black president—a Democrat—has done precisely nothing to deal with the moral and economic crisis of black America.

Then there’s the populist card. The recent standoff between a Nevada rancher and the federal Bureau of Land Management shows how deeply estranged from the government ordinary Americans have become. That’s hardly surprising. More and more, the Washington DC establishment has come to see itself as the agent of special interests and grievance groups. At a time when chronic, long-term unemployment is trampling the dreams of more and more American families, official Washington spends its time on such petty issues as same-sex marriage and immigration “reform.” And while it’s true that Republicans share the responsibility for this state of affairs, it’s mainly the left-liberal establishment that caters to the whims of the special interests. Obama’s recent decision to delay the Keystone pipeline yet again is proof of this. For fear of offending the influential environmental lobby, the President raised a middle finger to hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans whom the pipeline could put back to work. The truth is that Democrats and the progressive establishment give short shrift to the problems and priorities of ordinary Americans. Here’s your food stamps—now shut up. That may as well be the motto of the Obama Administration. Time for Republicans to start pointing that out.

Of course such tactics would be met with cries of outrage and redoubled slanders from Dems and their media enablers. But what have the Republicans got to lose? Whatever they say, Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the usual clutch of progressive horribles will squeal racist, sexist, homophobe! In the political arena it’s not the earth the meek inherit—it’s the dirt.

 

 

 


Posted by tmg110 at 8:14 AM EDT
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Monday, 21 April 2014
President & Mrs. Nosebleed
Topic: Liberal Fascism

This caught my eye today, and isn’t it all too typical of the Most Amazing Administration That Absolutely Ever Was? From Tex-Mex and pork rinds to fitness and veggies: A change in Obama White House

The Prez and his lovely wife “have made it clear they want staff members to take care of their health, especially after a couple of them had scares last year.” Well, here’s a suggestion for the First Nosebleeds: Why not feed the White House staff the same school lunches that Michelle has been trying to cram down the unwilling throats of students from coast to coast? Learn more here: Meanwiches and stinkburgers: Ticked-off kids blame Michelle Obama for pitiful school lunches


Posted by tmg110 at 3:05 PM EDT
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Illusion v. Reality
Topic: The Media

As I’ve noted from time to time, one sure sign of a faltering presidency is a spike in the volume of helpful advice from friendly journalists and pundits.

Such advice, typically proffered in the form of an op-ed piece, is a peculiar subspecies of opinion journalism. On the one hand, you find yourself nodding over the reasonableness of the writer’s advice, even if some of it is pretty obvious. But on the other hand, you’re struck by the disconnect between the writer and reality. Napoleon said that one of the worst mistakes a general can commit is “making a picture”: interpreting the facts in such a way as to support a preexisting bias. Something like that inspires the helpful-advice piece. The writer pitches his advice to his picture of the president, not to the flesh-and-blood politico.

The adulation with which Barack Obama was greeted by the chattering classes in 2007-09 may seem to have dissipated, but illusions of the kind that were generated by the rise of a charismatic charlatan are tenacious. Those journalists—and their name is Legion for they are many—who embraced Obama as a transformational figure cannot quite believe how wrong they were. Yes, certainly, something has gone wrong—the redeemer has been led astray—but we, his friends and guardians of the Fifth Estate, can nudge him back onto the straight and narrow path! So, Mr. President, here’s what you need to do…

Fred Hiatt is the editorial page editor of the Washington Post, and he knows just what Barack Obama needs to do to avoid lame duck status. Yesterday he explained it all. For example:

Imagine…that Obama had embraced the bipartisanship of Simpson-Bowles and tried to steer through Congress a package that made the tax system fairer and solved the nation’s long-term debt problem.

He might have empowered Republicans in Congress — the Roy Blunts and Bob Corkers—who want to work with Democrats and get things done.

The effect on the Democratic Party would have been even more liberating. Instead of chaining themselves to 20th-century arguments and interest groups, Democrats could have begun to shape—and realistically promise to pay for—a 21st-century progressive program focusing on early education and other avenues to opportunity. They could have resources for family policies that really would help address the wage gap.

Instead of a partisan president on the defensive with slipping poll numbers, Obama could have been, as he had once promised, the president of both red and blue America.

Hiatt thinks that the President can still be that kind of president if only…if only…if only he’d he’s stop being the real Barack Obama and start being the Obama whose picture people like Fred Hiatt & Co. have so lovingly embellished. Alas! Barack Obama is nothing like that picture. He is, in fact, a narrow-minded, self-regarding ideologue who disdains opponents and supporters alike, dislikes people generally and treats journalists with a contempt he barely bothers to conceal. Not since Nixon have we had a president who so thoroughly despises the media. But all this is too painful to be candidly admitted. So the Friends of Barry (Media Division) soldier on, still hoping that a strategically deployed word of advice will set everything right. One must almost—almost!—admire their tenacity in the face of such withering scorn as Barack Obama reserves for them.


Posted by tmg110 at 12:34 PM EDT
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So Which Is It?
Topic: Politics & Elections

First Barack Obama says that “Obamacare is working and so the debate is over. Time to move on.” Then he says, “In this election year, Democrats need to go out and defend Obamacare—forcefully.”

Pondering these recent Oval Office pronunciamentos, I find it hard to discern a clever political strategy designed to save the bacon of endangered congressional Democrats in November. On the contrary, I get the impression of a man who’s out of patience with the clueless, ungrateful American people. Clinging to their guns and Bibles, these flyover country boobs simply cannot grasp the elegant bureaucratic architecture, the sheer beauty of Obamacare. Nor in their dimness are they capable of appreciating the wonderfulness of Barack Obama himself. After all he’s done for them—this is how the American people behave!

So Barack Obama is lashing out. I suppose he thinks that if he and his cabal are strident and nasty and duplicitous enough, those ungrateful louts, the citizens of the United States, will be intimidated into silence. Eight million Obamacare signups, you morons! Can’t you see that it’s working? Yeah, sure, but there’s one little problem. Why should anyone believe any such happy story that comes out of the Obama Administration? Where Obamacare is concerned, the President and his people have been flat-out lying since day one. But now they’re telling the truth…?

This of course is not the first time that our Messiah President, He of the Perfect Trouser Creases, has resorted to low-down character assassination, race-baiting, etc. That anyone who opposes him is in favor of killing sick people, starving children, herding blacks back onto the plantation, etc. and so forth, is a well-known, much-repeated theme of this presidency. But it seems to me that Obama’s tone has become more personal. What was once a cynical political strategy is now an authentic cry from the heart. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? The flip side of the President’s self-regard is his lack of regard for others. Be reasonable, he insists, do it my way. And when they don’t…well, even in his noontime glory there was discernable in Barack Obama a streak of adolescent petulance. In this, the season of his discontent, it has emerged as a dominant trait.


Posted by tmg110 at 10:52 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 21 April 2014 10:53 AM EDT
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Saturday, 19 April 2014
What Our Lords & Masters Think of Us
Topic: Liberal Fascism

So now, if you disagree with Senator Harry Reid, you're a "domestic terrorist."

That was Reid's characterization of the protesters who gathered in support of a Navada rancher during his standoff with federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He called them terrorists despite the fact that their protest was peaceful, with the only acts of violence coming from the feds.

The Nevada land standoff raises some troubling questions, such as why the federal government owns so much land, particularly in westren states. It's also got me wondering why such mundane agencies as the BLM and the Department of Agriculture have their very own SWAT teams. Is it because our bureaucratic masters look upon protests against their arbitrary rule and episodes of stupid bullying as acts of domestic terrorism?

I fear that such a mind-set has indeed established itself in the collective unconsciousness of the bureaucracy, and that the behavior of the Obama Administration has greatly encouraged such thinking. It's all too clear that President Obama and his minions regard opponents as criminals and evildoers. The atrocious behavior of Attorney Eric Holder, with his whining about racism when criticized, is but one of many examples of the Administration's attitude that can be cited. And the rhetoric of that dimwit Harry Reid is remarkable only for its oafish crudity. This is what our federal government thinks of us, folks: We're the enemy.


Posted by tmg110 at 11:34 AM EDT
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Thursday, 17 April 2014
What Rough Beast?
Topic: Decline of the West

Here’s a question for you: Who’s in charge of Obamacare? Stumped for an answer? Don’t feel badly.

If anyone were to ask you who runs, say, Amazon, Facebook or John Deere, you might not know the answer off the top of your head. But it’s no more than a quick Google search away, right? So how about Obamacare? You might finger the President of the United States…but no. President Obama was clueless concerning the unreadiness of healthcare.gov. And as his media claque insisted, he can’t be blamed for that. It’s just impossible, the claque sighed, for a president to be aware of everything that’s happening in the bowels of the federal bureaucracy.

Well then, how about the Secretary of Health and Human Services? Surely that official is the logical nominee for the position of Obamacare CEO. Well, no. Kathleen Sebelius, currently clearing her desk, seems not to have had much knowledge of or responsibility for the management of the president’s signature initiative. Certainly she’s never accepted the blame for Obamacare’s manifest failure to launch. And again, the media claque is at hand with a laundry list of perfectly logical excuses for Sebelius’ incompetence. How can a political appointee be expected to grapple with the complex of highly technical question surrounding a massive initiative like Obamacare?

And here’s the thing: The claque’s excuses are perfectly logical. Of course a president cannot possibly know what’s going on in every nook and cranny of the bureaucracy. Of course a political appointee cannot possibly manage the launch of a technical and regulatory Titanic like Obamacare. But having exonerated Obama and Sebelius, the claque fails to ask the next, the obvious, question: If the President and the Secretary of HHS aren’t in charge—who is?

No one, that’s who.

Obamacare has been described as a train wreck, and that’s a particularly apt simile because nobody’s driving the train. In dozens and hundreds of offices all over the federal bureaucracy, the regulation-writers are indefatigably at work—and no one is coordinating their efforts. In the tens and hundreds of thousands of pages of rules and regulations that these worker bees are generating, there are innumerable glitches, goofs, contradictions and plain stupidities that will adversely affect the lives of millions of Americans in ways large and small. Yet this process is not being managed and, given the crazy-quilt complexity of the original law and its spawn, it can’t be managed in any meaningful sense of the word.

And what’s true of Obamacare is true of the federal government as a whole. The old Progressive ideal—the triumph of expertise and administration over democratic accountability—has reached its logical conclusion. The rule of Leviathan has come round at last—and that rough beast, as it turns out, is not only gigantic but brainless.

 


Posted by tmg110 at 9:25 AM EDT
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Normandy: Monty Regroups
Topic: Military History

The consolidation of the Normandy bridgehead was complete by 12 June. The front was now some 60 miles in length and 25 miles deep at its widest point. On the Allied right was US First Army; on the left was British Second Army. During the second half of June the Americans concentrated on the capture of the Cotentin Peninsula with its port city, Cherbourg. The Cotentin was cleared by 20 June and the German garrison of Cherbourg surrendered on 26 June, though not before the city’s port facilities were largely destroyed. Thus the capture of Cherbourg was a pyrrhic victory. It took three months to make the port fully operational, by which time the Battle of Normandy was over and the front had moved far to the east.

In the British sector, a renewed drive on Caen broke down with heavy casualties in the second week of June. Second Army was now facing elements of several German panzer divisions on the approaches to Caen and it was clear that the city could not be taken by direct assault. However, American pressure farther west had opened up a gap in the German line. Montgomery sought to exploit this gap by pushing an armored division south to the town of Villers-Bocage, from which position it could move east against Caen, outflanking the German defense. This was a good enough plan, but faulty execution led to a humiliating fiasco in the Battle of Villers-Bocage on 13-14 June. Particularly disheartening for the British was the poor performance of the veteran 7th Armored Division, the Desert Rats of North African fame.

The British failure at Villers-Bocage ended Montgomery’s hopes of disrupting the German defense by seizing Caen. Slowly but surely, more German divisions were reaching Normandy. Many of these reinforcements were concentrated in the Caen sector where, as both sides realized, an Allied breakthrough would spell instant disaster for the Germans. Meanwhile, after clearing the Cotentin Peninsula and capturing Cherbourg US First Army turned south. But its bid for a quick breakout floundered amid the Norman bocage, terrain characterized by fields, meadows, farm buildings and small villages enclosed checkerboard-fashion by wide earthen banks thickly planted with hedges and trees. In effect, the bocage created innumerable miniature battlefields, each one of which had to be individually stormed and captured. Observation and mobility alike were greatly restricted and the close-quarters nature of the fighting partly negated the Allies’ air and artillery superiority. On the other hand, it was ideal terrain for the employment of machineguns, mortars and infantry antitank weapons. The German defenders were amply equipped with and expert in the use of all three.

The layout of the German defenses added to the Allies’ problems. In effect, they turned the bocage into a series of interconnected, mutually supporting strongpoints. Hamlets and farm buildings might be defended by an infantry platoon with two or three antitank guns. In the fields and meadows, a single dug-in tank with infantry support usually formed the defense. Mortars were positioned to deliver immediate suppressive fire in the event of an attack. Allied penetrations were instantly counterattacked, which usually succeeded in stalling the advance. A defense of this kind could be undermined, but only slowly and at the price of painfully high casualties.

Realizing that his bid for a quick breakout had failed and that Normandy was now an attrition battle, Montgomery revised his plans. While not abandoning his hopes of capturing Caen, he perceived that continued pressure by Second Army against the enemy’s sensitive right flank would pin down the Germans’ reserves, including most of the panzer divisions. This in turn would ease the task of First Army on the opposite flank, creating conditions for a breakout to the south and east. And so the campaign developed, but not for many weeks was the German defense sufficiently worn down to make the hoped-for breakout possible. The Battle of Normandy thus developed into a seemingly endless series of bitter, bloody, small-unit actions, with progress messured in yards. For the Allies, it was a painful experience, as between mid-June and late July both the American and British armies in Normandy demonstrated a want of battle effectiveness that caused much worry and many recriminations among the senior Allied leadership.


Posted by tmg110 at 8:10 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014 10:32 AM EDT
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Saturday, 12 April 2014
The Face of Failure
Topic: Politics & Elections

So this is the thanks she gets! Barack Obama, relying on some dubious stats, just declared that his signature initiative was a huge success after all. And to nprove it he sacked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the good soldier who carried the can for Obamacare’s disastrous rollout.

I’ll say this for Sebelius: Though incompetent, she was loyal. Recall how she insisted that poor President Obama, isolated in the Oval Office, had no idea in the world that the Obamacare website was unready for prime time. You sort of have to respect a woman who can recite a lie that big with a straight face. But then as the weeks and months of torture by Obamacare wore on, Sebelius had plenty of opportunities to perfect her trademark stony expression, which will remain the face of Obamacare long after she has vanished into well-deserved obscurity behind the walls of some Kansas think tank.

In retrospect it appears that despite her high-and-mighty title Kathleen Sebelius actually had little to do with the design and rollout of Obamacare. Certainly she was not distinguished by any special expertise in the area of healthcare reform. And of course, she was the second choice for the post of Secretary of HHS, shoved into the job at the last moment after the original pick, former South Dakota senator Tom Daschle, crashed and burned due to tax problems. Sebelius has been roundly criticized for poor management—but how was she, a political appointee with no clue, supposed to mange the regulation-writing process that put flesh on the bones of Obamacare? The truth is that the DC bureaucracy has become unmanageable.  The monster has taken on a life of its own. No one really understands what it’s doing or what the consequences of its actions may be. Feed the thing a new law and it will regurgitate a mountainous stack of administrative regulations, usually incomprehensible, often contradictory.

Where Sebelius really let down the side was on the PR front. Once the scope of the rollout fiasco became clear, the Obama Administration needed a competent, upbeat, hands-on crisis manager to take charge of the repair job—or at least, someone like that who appeared to be taking charge. But instead there was Sebelius, seemingly the very epitome of clueless incompetence. Among American public figures, she may now hold the record for cringe-inducing moments of public embarrassment. And the fact that she appeared unmoved by all that humiliation and mockery somehow made it worse.

The President can dance in the end zone all he wants, but Obamacare’s comically inept debut has reserved for his signature initiative an early grave. Public opinion already reviles Obamacare. The cynical strategy of postponing the law’s more damaging provisions until after the next elections will only make the pain worse when they do kick in. The next president, whoever that turns out to be, will have no choice but to euthanize Obamacare and replace it with something else. And though Kathleen Sebelius was not the architect of this Rube Goldberg masterpiece, she will always be remembered, and not fondly, as its poster girl.


Posted by tmg110 at 10:59 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 12 April 2014 1:52 PM EDT
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Friday, 11 April 2014
The Shame of the Sisterhood
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Brandeis University just provided us with an exemplary demonstration of politically correct cowardliness by reversing its decision to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is well known for her strident critique of radical Islamism, particularly as regards its oppression and mistreatment of women. Under pressure from apologists for Islamist extremism including the disreputable Council on Islamic-American Relations, Brandeis caved to the false charge that Ali is a hate-spewing Islamophobe. But now that Muslims have become a designated mascot group of progressivism, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. And to expect a demonstration of moral courage from university administrators is, well, utopian in the literal sense of the word.

Even so, can we take a moment to express disgust for one group that might possibly have been expected to rise to Hirsi Ali’s defense? I mean feminists, on the Brandeis campus and elsewhere. These women—privileged Western women who never had to worry about undergoing genital mutilation or being forced into an arranged marriage or being stuffed into a burka—spend endless hours gassing about the glass ceiling and the pay gap and the patriarchy and the injustice of being denied the right to a partial-birth abortion on demand. Wouldn’t you think that they could spare a particle of outrage on behalf of a sister who is battling far worse forms of oppression?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has walked the walk. A native of Somalia, she grew up in a fundamentalist Muslim family that inflicted upon her genital mutilation among other horrors. Fleeing her homeland, she found refuge in the Netherlands. There her vocal opposition to radical Islamism, her exposure of its oppression of women and girls, led to a partnership with a Dutch filmmaker. Together the produced a documentary on the subject. In return they received multiple death threats from Muslim fanatics, one of whom eventually stabbed to death Hirsi Ali’s partner. This so frightened the liberal Dutch establishment that there was talk of revoking her refugee status. The Dutch police expressed doubts that they could protect her from assassination. So she came to America. And here this courageous woman has been welcomed, though not of course by progressives and certainly not by feminists.

You can read what Hirsi Ali planned to say in her Brandeis speech and judge for yourself if the charges of bigotry and Islamophobia leveled against her are true. Personally, in view of her life story, I find such charges nothing short of vile. They confirm every negative judgment I’ve formed about the intellectual and moral corruption of liberalism, progressivism, leftism—call it what you will. Confronted with an inconvenient truth—that their latest mascot group, adopted out of dislike for George W. Bush and his war on terror, is the primary culprit in the great crime of our time—progressives stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and chant the same old la-la-la. And that portion of progressivism that markets itself as the champion of women’s rights is particularly worthy of contempt. The shame of Brandeis is nothing compared to the shame of feminism.


Posted by tmg110 at 3:02 PM EDT
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