Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Walter Williams: Stubborn Ignorance

Walter Williams: Stubborn Ignorance

Michael Ramirez

Michael Ramirez

Ann Coulter: Obscurity: no crueler punishment

Ann Coulter: Obscurity: no crueler punishment

The Curse of Charisma

Even squirrels know enough to store nuts so that they will have something to eat when food gets scarce. But the welfare state has spawned a whole class of people who spend everything they get when times are good, and look to others to provide for their food and other basic needs when times turn bad.
The 14th amendment to the Constitution prescribes “equal protection of the laws” to all Americans. But what does that mean if the president of the United States can arbitrarily grant waivers, so that A, B, and C have to obey the laws but X, Y, and Z do not — as with both Obamacare and the immigration laws?
Two reports came out in the same week. One was from the Pentagon, saying that, in just a few years, Iran will be able to produce not only a nuclear bomb but a missile capable of carrying it to the United States. The other report said that the American Olympic team has uniforms made in China. This latter report received far more attention, both in Congress and in the media.
People who lament gridlock in Washington, and express the pious hope that Democrats and Republicans will put aside their partisan conflicts and cooperate to help the economy recover, implicitly assume that what the economy needs is more meddling by politicians, which is what brought on economic disaster in the first place. (Skeptics can read The Housing Boom and Bust.)
Racism is not dead, but it is on life support — kept alive by politicians, race hustlers, and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as “racists.”
One of the arguments for Medicare is that the elderly don’t want to be a burden to their children. Apparently it is all right to be a burden to other people’s children, who are paying taxes.
Those who talk as if more people going to college is automatically a Good Thing seldom show much interest in what actually goes on at college: students spending far less time studying than in the past, and a proliferation of courses promoting a sense of grievance, entitlement, or advanced navel-gazing and breast-beating.
One of the most dangerous trends of our times is making the truth socially unacceptable, or even illegal, with “hate speech” laws. It is supposed to be terrible, for example, to call an illegal alien an “illegal alien” or to call an Islamic terrorist an “Islamic terrorist.” When the media refer to “undocumented” workers or to violence committed by “militants,” who is kidding whom — and why?
After the charismatic — and disastrous — Woodrow Wilson presidency, the voters did not elect another president in the next decade who could be considered the least bit charismatic. Let us hope that history repeats itself.
For more than two centuries, the U.S. military never had a public celebration of anybody’s sex life — until the recent “gay pride” event under the Obama administration. Here, as elsewhere, the gay political agenda is not equality but privilege.
Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Then he proceeded to generate fear among businesses for years on end, with both his anti-business rhetoric and his anti-business policies. Barack Obama is repeating the same approach and getting the same results — namely, an agonizingly slow economic recovery, as investors hang on to their money instead of risking it in a hostile political environment.
If we wake up some morning and find some American cities in radioactive ruins, courtesy of a nuclear Iran, nobody is going to care whether the president who lets this happen is the first black president or the last WASP president. But, in the meantime, many people will keep on voting for symbolism, as if an election is a popularity contest, like choosing a college’s homecoming queen or parade marshal.
There seems to be something “liberating” about ignorance — especially when you don’t even know enough to realize how little you know. Thus an administration loaded with people who have never run any business is gung-ho to tell businesses what to do, as well as gung-ho to tell the medical profession what to do, lenders whom to lend to, and the military how to fight wars.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Selective Transparency

We are in a transparency mania, but a rather selective sort of one. Bill Clinton, who chose not to tell the truth while under oath and as president, says he is “perplexed” that Mitt Romney did not offer more candor by providing more than a single year’s tax returns. Yet neither Jimmy Carter nor Ronald Reagan released more than one year’s returns. The reformist John McCain released just two.
True, the 2004 Democratic candidate, John Kerry, offered some 20 years of returns; but that gesture meant almost nothing because his billionaire wife, Teresa, supplied the vast majority of the funds that fueled Kerry’s opulent recreational lifestyle — and she kept largely quiet about where her money was banked and invested. Few in the press praised George W. Bush for releasing nine years of tax returns. Even then one could argue “So what?” — given that likely potential candidates can in advance massage their returns through making a bit less money, taking fewer deductions, and giving a little more to charity as they envision a political race in a few years, while incumbent officials usually have open-and-shut government salaries and simple deductions.
If we are truly in the age of transparency, then disclosure of medical records seems just as important. After all, the republic has had a checkered record of presidents failing to disclose their illnesses both before and during their tenure. Woodrow Wilson suffered from hypertension, but concealed that ailment from the public through two elections — until a debilitating stroke left him incapacitated during his second term. Franklin Roosevelt never disclosed the full extent of his paralysis, his weak cardiovascular condition, or a number of other major health problems — all of which predated his presidency and would affect his performance while in office. The tanned, youthful John Kennedy was far sicker than we knew; full disclosure about his health might have made his pasty-faced rival, Dick Nixon, seem robust in comparison. In 1992 Paul Tsongas probably knew of his cancer’s recurrence but did not disclose it during the Democratic primaries.
Given all that history, and the media demands in 2008 that the septuagenarian cancer survivor John McCain should release thousands of pages of medical records for journalists’ perusal, why did not Barack Obama simply release his medical records? The Left had always trumpeted the desire for “full disclosure” and was probably right in wanting McCain to assure us that he was hale; but, again, why was Obama given a complete pass?
Most of us have had to release our undergraduate transcripts either when being considered for a job or when applying for post-baccalaureate education. Yet Barack Obama apparently does not wish the information about his college career known either. Is he afraid that we will learn that his Occidental and Columbia transcripts were as dismal as was John McCain’s Naval Academy ranking, near the bottom of his class? But whereas the media frowned upon McCain’s carousing undergraduate days, suggesting that they might prove a harbinger of an unpredictable presidency, they were content with blissful ignorance about Obama’s serial drug use as an undergraduate.
There is some reason to worry about Obama’s own transparency, given that he is the least vetted sitting president since John Kennedy, whose vita continues to expand in unwelcome ways nearly half a century after his death. A sympathetic biographer has revealed that the main incidents in President Obama’s life, as told in his own memoir, were largely exaggerated, if not fabricated altogether. We are still perplexed why Barack Obama for over decade permitted Kenya to be listed as his birthplace on his literary agent’s biography of him. Obama has not been forthcoming about his complex two-decade relationship with the odious Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We know now that the president was far more intimate with ex-terrorist Bill Ayers and felon Tony Rezko than he ever let on.
When questions come up about the president’s reluctance to release medical records or college transcripts, or the evidence that he was a fabulist in matters of his own autobiography, the Obama campaign’s defense is essentially that his three and a half years as president have established that he is competent; such past questions, his defenders say, are rendered irrelevant by his present performance. But neither the media nor Obama’s supporters extend that allowance to Romney, who, as head of the 2002 winter Olympic games and as a successful governor of Massachusetts, long ago proved that his lucrative business career had not led to malfeasance but rather to fiscal acumen put to good service for the state.
So how much do we wish to detour from the issues to know about the background of either candidate Romney or incumbent Obama? Some sort of compromise seems in order. If transparency is really what the public demands, and if these issues distract attention from a necessary debate over the economy, then in bipartisan fashion let us now demand full disclosure from both candidates: ten years of income tax returns from each, full and complete access for journalists to all known medical records of each, and complete release of all undergraduate and graduate grades, test scores, and other records.
Romney may not wish to release a decade’s worth of careful tax planning and investment that might reveal him to be more concerned about making money and keeping most of it than about outsourcing or foreign bank accounts. Obama may likewise be embarrassed over a prior undisclosed ailment, or a relatively unimpressive Occidental or Columbia record that would belie his media reputation as the “smartest” man ever to serve as president in the nation’s history. Perhaps for much of August we might hear that Romney had a gargantuan Swiss bank account, or more bankers in the Caribbean than we had surmised. Maybe Obama smoked more marijuana than he has admitted to or received lots of Cs and even some Ds in International Relations — grades that would make it almost impossible for most students to get into Harvard Law School.
But such embarrassments would pass by the end of the summer, and we, the wiser, could move on to the campaign debate over the economy. In short, it is time either to demand that both candidates put up everything — or to shut up and return to the debate over two radically different visions of how to fix an ailing America.

Necrophilia Replaces Pedophilia at Penn State : Political Outcast

Necrophilia Replaces Pedophilia at Penn State : Political Outcast

Why Liberals Will Become Extinct : Political Outcast

Why Liberals Will Become Extinct : Political Outcast

Pat Buchanan: Obama's America -- and ours

Pat Buchanan: Obama's America -- and ours

Frank J. Gaffney Jr.: America's 'Iron Lady'

Frank J. Gaffney Jr.: America's 'Iron Lady'

Dennis Prager: Why ABC Tried to Blame the Tea Party for Aurora

Dennis Prager: Why ABC Tried to Blame the Tea Party for Aurora

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mark Steyn: Today's Kids Inherit World Reverting To Barbarism

Mark Steyn: Today's Kids Inherit World Reverting To Barbarism

Obama to business owners: ‘You didn’t build that’

Obama to business owners: ‘You didn’t build that’ – Patriot Update

Remember When Being on the Government Tit Was a Bad Thing?

Remember When Being on the Government Tit Was a Bad Thing? – Patriot Update

Military Rules

The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies,
the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any
group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States
Marine Corps!..........Eleanor Roosevelt

Marine Corps Rules:

1. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
2. Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough.
3. Have a plan.
4. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won't work.
5. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
6. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not
start with a '4.'
7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap.
Life is expensive.
8. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend .. (Lateral
& diagonal preferred.)
9. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
10... Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
11... Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12... In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber,
stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
13... If you are not shooting, you should be communicating your
intention to shoot.

Navy SEAL's Rules:

1. Look very cool in sunglasses.
2. Kill every living thing within view.
3. Adjust Speedo.
4.. Check hair in mirror.

US Army Rangers Rules:

1. Walk in 50 miles wearing 75 pound rucksack while starving.
2. Locate individuals requiring killing.
3. Request permission via radio from 'Higher' to perform killing.
4. Curse bitterly when mission is aborted.
5. Walk out 50 miles wearing a 75 pound rucksack while starving.

US Army Rules:

1. Curse bitterly when receiving operational order.
2. Make sure there is extra ammo and extra coffee.
3. Curse bitterly.
4. Curse bitterly.
5. Do not listen to 2nd LTs; it can get you killed.
6. Curse bitterly.

US Air Force Rules:

1. Have a cocktail.
2. Adjust temperature on air-conditioner.
3. See what's on HBO.
4. Ask 'What is a gunfight?'
5. Request more funding from Congress with a 'killer' Power Point presentation.
6. Wine & dine ''key' Congressmen, invite DOD & defense industry executives.
7. Receive funding, set up new command and assemble assets.
8. Declare the assets 'strategic' and never deploy them operationally.
9. Hurry to make 13:45 tee-time.
10. Make sure the base is as far as possible from the conflict but
close enough to have tax exemption.

US Navy Rules:

1.. Go to Sea.
2. Drink Coffee.
3. Deploy Marines

And the next... (You've got to love the military, and God bless them all.)

U.S. Navy Directive 16134 ( Inappropriate T-Shirts )

The following directive was issued by the commanding officer of all
naval installations in the Middle East (It was obviously directed
at the Marines.)

To: All Commands

Subject : Inappropriate T-Shirts

Ref : ComMidEast For Inst 16134 / / 24 K

All commanders promulgate upon receipt . The following T-shirts are no
longer to be worn on or off base by any military or civilian personnel
serving in the Middle East :

1. 'Eat Pork or Die' [both English and Arabic versions]

2. 'Shrine Busters' [Various. Show burning minarets or bomb/artillery
shells impacting Islamic shrines. Some with unit logos.]

3. 'Goat - it isn't just for breakfast any more.' [Both English and
Arabic versions]

4. 'The road to Paradise begins with me. [Mostly Arabic versions, but
some in English. Some show sniper scope cross-hairs.]

5. 'Guns don't kill people. I kill people.' [Both Arabic and English versions]

6. 'Pork. The other white meat.' [Arabic version]

7. 'Infidel' [English, Arabic and other coalition force languages .]

The above T-shirts are to be removed from Post Exchanges upon receipt
of this directive.

In addition, the following signs are to be removed upon receipt of
this message:

1.. 'Islamic Religious Services Will Be Held at the Firing Range at
0800 Daily.'
2.. 'Do we really need 'smart bombs' to drop on these dumb bastards?'

All commands are instructed to implement sensitivity training upon receipt

Transparency for Everyone . .

As calls increase for Romney to release more of his tax returns, there should be a grand deal with the Obama reelection campaign, one that allows both candidates to be completely transparent across the board, in the manner that John McCain was in 2008, but Barack Obama was unfortunately not. So a suggestion: Each candidate might release five years (or perhaps even ten years) of past tax returns; at the same time, each candidate should release his undergraduate and graduate transcripts, and each candidate should release his complete medical records. The latter is critical as we see in the case of Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., and as we remember the Left tried to make the argument, based on reporters’ access to his school and medical records, that McCain’s age, his injuries, and his bout with cancer should have been a legitimate concern. I recall as well that there were murmurs that McCain’s GPA at the U.S. Naval Academy and class ranking were topics of concern. Such a compromise would end the back and forth and the mutual requests for full disclosure. And given that higher education, student support, Obamacare, and tax policy are now hot-button issues, the public should be informed about their next president’s university record, his full health record, and his recent tax record.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Turncoat Roberts

NUGENT: Turncoat Roberts - Washington Times#pagebreak

Subject: British Health Service Euthanizes 130,000 Patients a Year

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 18:30

Doctor: British Health Service Euthanizes 130,000 Patients a Year

Written by Michael Tennant
The British National Health Service (NHS) — the epitome of socialized medicine — may be prematurely ending the lives of as many as 130,000 elderly patients annually, a top physician told the Royal Society of Medicine in London. Patrick Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals and professor of clinical neurosciences at the University of Kent, said a controversial end-of-life care method called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) now used in British hospitals has become an “assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway,” according to a report in the Daily Mail.

“If we accept the Liverpool Care Pathway we accept that euthanasia is part of the standard way of dying as it is now associated with 29 per cent of NHS deaths,” Pullicino declared, referring to statistics showing that of the 450,000 annual deaths of patients under NHS care, about 130,000 are of patients who were on the LCP.

The Mail offers a brief history of the LCP:
The Liverpool Care Pathway was first developed at a Marie Curie [Cancer Care] hospice in the city with the intention of making the last days and hours of cancer sufferers as decent and painless as possible.

It rapidly became fashionable: recognized as a model for the NHS in 2001; approved by NICE [the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which rations care on a cost-benefit basis] as a recommended practice in 2004; and a 2006 health white paper said it should be adopted across the country. Its use spread from cancer sufferers to all patients. Doctors are supposed to identify a patient who is bound to die in the near future.

The plan then can include withdrawal of treatment, including the provision of water and nourishment by tube. Patients are typically heavily sedated.
The LCP’s quick adoption by the NHS and NICE represented “euthanasia by the back door,” in the words of the Telegraph’s Gerald Warner. “In 2007–08,” he wrote, “16.5 percent of deaths in Britain resulted from continuous deep sedation — twice the rate of the Netherlands with its notorious culture of death and legalized euthanasia.”

Since that time the percentage of deaths due to the LCP has increased by 75 percent, with no signs of slowing. Indeed, with the NHS “heading for an iceberg” (as NHS Confederation chief executive
Mike Farrar put it) of unsustainable costs, the LCP death percentage is likely to grow even more rapidly. It costs far less, after all, to give a patient morphine for a day or two — death occurs on average within 33 hours of beginning the LCP — than to treat his condition for the remainder of his natural life, which could last for months or even years. Pullicino, according to the Mail, recalled taking a 71-year-old patient off the LCP, after which the man lived another 14 months, mostly at home, “at considerable cost to the NHS and the taxpayer.” (He died after being admitted to the hospital for pneumonia and put back on the LCP.)

Other doctors have recounted similar experiences. Dr. Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in palliative medicine at St. Luke’s Cancer Center in Guildford, told the
Telegraph in 2009 that “he had personally taken patients off the pathway who went on to live for ‘significant’ amounts of time.”

Hargreaves worried that the LCP could “become a self-fulfilling prophecy” because doctors would make the determination as to which patients were likely to die and then, by withdrawing lifesaving treatment and heavily sedating them, guarantee that they would die. As Hargreaves and other experts put it in a
letter to the Telegraph, “Forecasting death in an inexact science,” and “sometimes, when all but essential drugs are stopped, ‘dying’ patients get better.”

In fact, Hargreaves noted, some patients may exhibit signs of dying when their bodies are merely reacting to sedation combined with dehydration and then “be wrongly put on the pathway.” Once a patient is sedated under the LCP, University of London geriatrics professor P.H. Millard told the Telegraph, “it is much harder to see that a patient is getting better.”

Pullicino echoed many of these sentiments, saying that “patients are frequently put on the pathway without a proper analysis of their condition,” that “predicting death” at a specific time “is not possible scientifically,” and that, as a result, “very likely many patients who could live substantially longer are being killed by the LCP.”

He cited “pressure on beds” — which is to say the inevitable shortage of care under socialized medicine — and “difficulty with nursing confused or difficult-to-manage elderly patients” as reasons that the LCP has become so widely employed by the NHS. In other words, it’s much cheaper and easier to bump old people off than to treat them. Who’s going to know which ones might have recovered and enjoyed a few more years with their children and grandchildren?
No one should be surprised that government-run healthcare kills people. All socialist systems end up rationing whatever goods and services they have to offer; and when you’re rationing healthcare, the most vulnerable patients are going to suffer the most. The only surprising thing is that there are still people who think socialized medicine is a dandy idea — among them President Barack Obama, who said multiple times that he wanted a “single-payer universal healthcare program”; his Secretary of State, who once tried to foist such a system on Americans; and his former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services director, Dr. Donald M. Berwick, who declared his undying love for the NHS. Who, then, could doubt that ObamaCare’s purpose is to put the American healthcare system on the LCP — and when the system finally keels over, to convert the United States to a single-payer system and the “death panels” that such a system invariably entails?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Roberts and Intimidation

Given how many more Americans define themselves as conservative than as liberal, let alone than as left, how does one explain the success of left-wing policies?
One answer is the appeal of entitlements and a desire to be taken care of. It takes a strong-willed citizen to vote against receiving free benefits. But an even greater explanation is the saturation of Western society by left-wing hate directed at the Right. The Left’s demonization, personal vilification, and mockery of its opponents have been the most powerful tools in its arsenal for a century.
Since Stalin labeled Leon Trotsky — the man who was the father of Russian Bolshevism! — a “fascist,” the Left has cast its ideological opponents as evil. And when you control nearly all of the news media and the schools, that labeling works.
The liberal media even succeeded in blaming the right wing for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, even though his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was a pro-Soviet, pro-Castro Communist. Similarly, just one day after a deranged man, Jared Loughner, attempted to kill Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and murdered six people in the process, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that it was right-wing hate that had provoked Loughner: “It’s the saturation of our political discourse — and especially our airwaves — with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence. Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right.”
Krugman made it all up. But what matters to most of those who speak for the Left is not truth. It is destroying the good name of its opponents. That is the modus operandi of the Left.
It works.
Two examples in the last month bear testimony to its efficacy. One was the overwhelmingly likely motivation of Chief Justice John Roberts to declare the Obamacare individual mandate constitutional despite his ruling that, as passed, the mandate was in fact unconstitutional.
The other was an op-ed column that David Blankenhorn, the prominent conservative advocate for marriage and against same-sex marriage, wrote for the New York Times.
First Blankenhorn.
David Blankenhorn has committed his professional life to fighting for the institution of marriage. As recently as 2010, he testified on behalf of California Proposition 8, which, in 2008, amended the California constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman — and which was immediately challenged in the courts, where liberal judges overturned it.
Blankenhorn was vilified throughout the liberal and gay media (which, in their invective against proponents of retaining the man-woman definition of marriage, are indistinguishable). As Mark Oppenheimer, editor of the “Beliefs” column in the New York Times, wrote: “During the trial [over the constitutionality of Proposition 8] and in the immediate aftermath, Blankenhorn became a national figure; he was . . . the butt of ridicule. . . . And now, he has decided to give up that fight.
“Blankenhorn would be ridiculed in the New York Times, and he would be . . . [ridiculed] in a play by an Oscar-winning screenwriter, starring a bevy of Hollywood stars.”
Blankenhorn told Oppenheimer: “I had an old community organizing buddy who wrote a note to me after the trial and said how does it feel to be America’s most famous bigot? I used to think you were a good person. Now I know you’re a bad person. How does it feel to know that your tombstone will read that you’re just a bigot?”
Two weeks ago, Blankenhorn wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times in which he announced that he now supports same-sex marriage.
As for Justice Roberts, he and his conservative colleagues on the Supreme Court have been the targets of media and academia vitriol and personal invective for years, and in some cases decades. But while his conservative colleagues don’t care, Justice Roberts does.
As reported by CBS News: “Some of the conservatives, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, deliberately avoid news articles on the Court when issues are pending. . . . They’ve explained that they don’t want to be influenced by outside opinion or feel pressure from outlets that are perceived as liberal.
“But Roberts pays attention to media coverage. As Chief Justice, he is keenly aware of his leadership role on the Court, and he also is sensitive to how the Court is perceived by the public. [“The public” means liberal media and academics.]
“There were countless news articles in May warning of damage to the Court — and to Roberts’s reputation — if the Court were to strike down the mandate.
“Some even suggested that if Roberts struck down the mandate, it would prove he had been deceitful during his confirmation hearings, when he explained a philosophy of judicial restraint.”
David Blankenhorn’s change — he has admitted he is tired of fighting the culture wars, and he has gone from being the object of New York Times derision to being a New York Times hero — and Justice Roberts’s change — New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote a column lauding Roberts for his “statesmanship” — reassure progressives that ridicule, demonization, and character assassination work. With the stakes so high in the forthcoming election, expect it to only increase.

The Obama Foreign Policy

The 2012 election will hinge on the economy, not on U.S. foreign policy, unless there is a major overseas crisis — an Israeli attack on Iran, an Iranian detonation of a nuclear weapon, a Middle East war, a North Korean attack, or something of that sort. That said, there is much to lament in the current administration’s foreign policy. But Mitt Romney should be careful in critiquing the status quo, given that it is full of paradoxes and contradictions.
The war on terror? Forget the absurd euphemisms like “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters,” the hypocrisy of railing against waterboarding three known terrorists while blowing up over 2,000 suspected terrorists (and anyone near them), and the half-hearted efforts of both using and trying to close Guantanamo and envisioning Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court. What Obama said he wanted to do and what he actually did do are quite different things. In truth, he embraced or expanded almost all the Bush-Cheney protocols that he demagogued against as a state legislator, a senator, and a presidential candidate. That he gave George W. Bush absolutely no credit for surging in and saving Iraq, or setting up the procedures for operations like those that killed bin Laden, is again a matter of ingratitude, not foreign policy, given that the war on terror is now a successful eleven-year continuum.
But there is one caveat. Words ultimately have consequences. The constant naïveté from the administration — the characterization of the Muslim Brotherhood as largely “secular,” the mythography of the Cairo speech, the taboo against using the phrase “radical Islam” — may have been designed to offer a politically correct mask for Obama’s continuance of the Bush-Cheney protocols, but it may also have had the effect of suggesting to our enemies that the U.S. is ambiguous about radical Islam and does not necessarily connect it with anti-American terrorism.
In general, given American exhaustion over Afghanistan and Iraq, combined with the economic crisis, the Obama administration correctly gauged the public desire for no more interventions, but it finessed that isolationist impulse into its own sense of a multipolar world where America was merely one among many nations.
Aside from the war on terror, then, what are the ten legitimate areas of criticism?
1. Securitygate. The Obama administration has leaked the most intimate secrets about U.S. covert operations — the cyber war against Iran, the Predator-drone assassination program, the Yemeni double agent, the bin Laden raid — in a transparent attempt to chest-thump over the once covert anti-terrorism efforts. This was a shameful thing, and we have not yet felt the full consequences of this disaster.
2. The administration initially did not care much about the Arab Spring, but was dragged into it by the looming fall of Hosni Mubarak. Leading from behind in Libya was incoherent, and what followed Qaddafi was more incoherent. Not going into Syria was wise, even if the reasons for not going in were again muddled. Obama remains ashamed of Iraq and ostracizes it (even as it so far remains the most stable of the new Arab consensual governments), and he makes no distinction between the Muslim Brotherhood and secular democratic movements. In other words, rather than encouraging those who thought the Arab Spring might offer a pluralistic society, Obama stood back as Islamists, Khomeini-style, took control, and he then ex post facto labeled them democrats, even though, as in the case of Hamas and the Iranian theocrats, they favor one free election, just one time.
3. Russian reset is mostly a failure. Embarrassing the Czechs and the Poles over missile defense got us little. Putin has been no help with Iran. An occasional peep about Russian human rights was unceremoniously swatted down. Putin now assumes Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics fall under his own Russian Monroe Doctrine. A new loose axis of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea threatens to create a nuclear buffer to U.S. interests.
4. Obama has snubbed our closest allies, so much so that should the U.S. ever find itself again in need of a coalition, it is hard to imagine who would join it. Canada got mostly ingratitude for its presence in Afghanistan, and it is still furious over the Keystone Pipeline debacle. Our once closest ally, Great Britain, recognizes that the United States is now neutral on the Falklands (a.k.a. the Maldives), and that if Argentina were to invade again, the U.S. would probably withhold help. Israel knows that the U.S., at best neutral, votes present on the Middle East and does not much worry that Israel may soon be surrounded by Islamist frontline states. Whether we would fully supply Israel in its next war is legitimately in doubt. In contrast, Turkey, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood, for the first time in history, believe that America is more sympathetic to their causes than to Israel’s. Anti-democratic Venezuela and Cuba, and their Latin American kindred Communist states, also sense that the U.S. is a friend of such totalitarian movements — a suspicion shared by the vanishing number of regional democrats.
5. President Obama was quiet when nearly 1 million Iranian protesters hit the streets in the spring of 2009, almost as if he felt his own multicultural bona fides should be given a chance to finesse the Khomeinist theocracy — or as if the pro-democracy protesters were some sort of inauthentic neocons. It was a shameful decision at a rare time when the Iranian people were looking for pro-democracy affirmation — offering the last chance to stop the Iranian bomb without some sort of military intervention.
6. The new emphasis on Asia is so far in utter confusion. Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are less, not more, assured that a diffident U.S. would come to their defense in case of an existential crisis. Are they still under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, or is the umbrella itself shrinking fast? Simultaneously borrowing from and lecturing China leads to the image of U.S. impotence. The timing of looking eastward was terrible, as NATO sinks into irrelevance at precisely the moment when an insolvent southern Europe is waging a propaganda war against an ascendant Germany. As the euro zone unravels, a strong U.S. presence in Europe is needed more than ever.
7. Despite the growing anti-democratic tendencies of the Erdogan government in Turkey, Obama has structured his Middle East policy around that government, unconcerned that its policy of insidious Islamization is a model for slowly subverting what follows from elections.
8. The apologies, contextualizations, and bowing were trivial gestures, but in aggregate they added to the sense of U.S. diffidence and decline. As they became right-wing talking points, they also became rarer — a reflection that Obama’s own advisers understood that the optics of his one-worldism were becoming harmful to U.S. interests.
9. The addition of $5 trillion in national debt was disastrous in terms of U.S. foreign policy. It lost us what leverage we had over China. It destroyed any credibility in advising the European Union about its own financial meltdown. It curtailed options in the Middle East. Massive defense cuts loom. In this regard, the associated decisions not to open federal lands to new oil and gas leasing, and to cancel Keystone, were also strategically dense, given that an additional 2 to 3 million barrels of North American production would have given us greater leeway in the Persian Gulf and lessened our exposure to foreign creditors.
10. With a little deft diplomacy, Obama could have salvaged a vestigial American presence to monitor the security of Iraqi democracy and blunt Iranian subversion. The failure to attempt this was an especially ironic lapse, given that the administration now wants to radically increase U.S. troop levels in nearby monarchical Kuwait.
The key for the Romney campaign is not, in the manner of the anti-Bush unthinking Left, to offer blanket condemnations, given that on many aspects of the war on terror, Obama, to his credit, continued the successful policies that he inherited. In contrast, there are plenty of policies that are Obama’s own — and therefore quite dangerous.