Last night, Obama tried to distance himself from the haughtily idealistic and much too trusting of others guy who once said that upon being elected, he would run right out and sit right on down face to face with any tin-pot dictator or genocidal mass murderer who would care to use him for the propaganda value of the meeting without preconditions. He did a lot of word games and qualifying (preparation as opposed to preconditions etc…) but it only reminded me of the ultimate language parser Bill Clinton who once retreated behind the smoke screen of “what the meaning of “is” is”.
Judith Apter Klinghoffer has a nice article about her initial reaction to Obama’s personal style in this debate. Her observations are very astute especially, I think, the fact that he cannot seem to find the moral fiber to admit a mistake. I would amplify that observation a little. A debate like this is something like a boxing match. You try to land clean punches on your opponent and parry his blows. It is a sign of tactical and personal weakness if you cannot move on after your opponent stings you. Admitting a mistake is one thing. Obama is obviously not secure enough to do that and it is, arguably, a mistake in the debate format. The unforgivable debating mistake is to try to convince yourself and everyone else that the punch did not land by continuing to parry it over and over again. Your supporters will take your first explanation and everyone else will see that you are hurt and flailing take the advice of the lunatic fringe group that you said the stupid thing for in the first place and Move On- it happened, get over it and keep punching.
And that points up another problem for Obama. That remark got him a lot of points over Hillary when he said it. It ingratiated him with the “War is Not the Answer” types. In return they helped him get the nomination over the more realistic talking Hillary. Last night, he did a lot of tough talking- he even darkly implied that he wanted to kick Osama’s butt so badly that he would invade Pakistan to do it.
So who is he? What does he want us to believe so that he can be elected and what will he really do when he is? In her article Klinghoffer admits freely that she wrote nothing about the substance of Obama’s performance and neither will I- because there wasn’t any that you could depend on. He leaves us trying to read the vapors of his style.
To me the single most interesting statement to come out of last night’s debate, and it was easy to overlook it because it was a little subtle, showed us a titillating glimpse of the true-believing, Progressive, pink underwear that he still has under his new Alpha Male suit. It shows that he is still the elitist, socialist Alinskyite organizer for which the far left forsook Hillary. It was really just a passing turn of phrase, but I think it a very telling one. You may recall, he referred to Putin as a real “twentieth century” tyrant (or was it dictator?). He went on to say something (if any one knows where I can find a transcript of these exact words, I would be very grateful!) about how he had to be made to become a twenty-first century leader.
Aside from the ridiculous image that it brings to mind of Obama calling up Putin on the red telephone and saying, “Whoa, Dude, hold the invasion up! That was, like, sooo last century!” - it was also a great throbbing tip-off that betrayed the intentional ignorance of human nature that is so characteristic of the socialist left.
It shows that he somehow believes that there is some magical process by which “the modern world” of the twenty-first century will somehow change and evolve human nature away from susceptibility to dictatorship, totalitarianism and conquest is a dead give away that he is one of those people who has little regard or respect for the achievement of the American system of government which by acknowledging human nature and building a system of checks and balances to channel the energy and grandeur of the human spirit while protecting against the venal aspects of it.
Obama’s faith in the new century is not naïveté it is something much worse than that. The naïve are educable. In the early years of the twentieth century it was, perhaps forgivable to have that kind of delusional faith in the possibilities of the new century, modernity and the paradise of the workers. People who can still believe in socialism and the possibilities of yet another century have simply refused to see and understand what it led too in Nazi Germany, Russia, China and every failed commune community that has ever tried to implement it.
Sadly, it is not Putin whose behavior and thinking is somehow so out of vogue and déclassé that that he will fail. No Mr. Putin is all too wired-in, capable and on top of his game. It is Barak Hussein Obama who, even though he is twisting every which way but straight, is out of touch, tone-deaf, shopworn and (I hope) just transparent enough for the sharp-eyed American people to see through him.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
There have been hundreds of instances like this that have included staged news, misrepresentations, fraud and inaccuracy that have been exposed by the blogosphere and media watchdog organizations. And yet they keep happening.
It was only this past January that Reuters gave us the Gaza Blackout Fraud. You may recall that, in a clear but silly attempt to smear Israel by accusing her of using collective punishment the Hamas propaganda machine produced a number of photographs like the one at the right. This one purports to show the Gaza government working by candlelight because Israel forced a blackout this one is clearly staged as it can be seen that, even with the drapes drawn, the vast majority of the hall is lit quite well by the bright daylight outside.
This next picture is even sillier as the candlelight parade is proceeding down a brightly lit street with street lights clearly visible in the background. It all seems so shamefully transparent and idiotically simple but, for some reason, it never ends.
In reality there is a vast volume of media fraud and misbehavior happening and most of it is far more subtle and sophisticated that these pathetic examples. Day in and day out, a virtual army of organizations and individuals respond to those fabrications and deceptions- publishing all manner of criticism and even ridicule. The offending media ignore what they can, deny most of the rest, fight legal battles to intimidate critics and, when all else fails, they issue bland corrections- and nothing changes.
That is, nothing changed until May 21, 2008. It was on that day that the chief judge in the Enderlin/France2 vs Karsenty appeal case dismissed all charges against Karsenty and confirmed that he had not overstepped reasonable professional ethics when he became one of the first media critics in the world to actually put into words the previously unspeakable fact that it had become apparent that Enderlin and France2 were either complicit or dupes in one of the bloodiest and most destructive frauds in the history of media.
The verdict in that trial was only brought about by seven long years of brilliant, innovative and painstaking work by several people. Among those people, it was Richard Landes of Second Draft and Augean Stables who, when the momentum was failing and the world had turned away, kept working, not as an agitator and accuser but as an honest researcher and synthesizer. His integrity, energy, intellectual honesty and the virtual mountain of solid scholarship he produced over the years lead to his becoming the most respected and influential expert witness to give testimony in that case. It also turned the tide against the intentional manipulation of the media by civil society and it will, if properly followed up, tip the balance away from those in the media who willingly (or blindly) assist them.
Thanks, in large part to Richard Landes, we stand at a true turning point in the single most urgent battle for the future of civilization in the twenty-first century- the quest, no, the absolute necessity, to turn the rising tide of chaos and propaganda in the Mainstream Media and the Cybersphere into a dependable, honest and accurate flow of information.
Second Draft, the organization founded to further Landes’ work is prepared to lead this effort. Having been at the center of the seven year long al Durah controversy and having lived through the two trials testing the work and methods of many researchers/writers we know what is required to identify, expose and destroy Islamofauxia. The combination of judgment, knowledge and skill required is unique. Only Second Draft has done such a complete job.
Our next step is to take these abilities and experience and instill them into an organization that will be on 24 hour standby to address and defeat all future attempts to stage and publish such frauds.
Mark Twain wrote, “A lie can travel all the way around the world before the truth can get out of bed and put its shoes on.” Second Draft aims to be there with boots on, ready to stand in the way of the lie.
We are now planning the next, absolutely essential, step toward building that system. We have begun the arrangements for a major three-day conference that will be the definitive work on the Kfar Qana building collapse- the only news story in history ever to have halted a war in progress. Our Kfar Qana conference has two objectives:
1. Condense the same kind of energy, collaboration and talent that it took to understand and debunk the al Durah incident and bring it to one location for three days and bring it to bear on the already discredited but still widely cited Kfar Qana incident.
2. Use the activities to build the relationships and working methodologies that will allow the same team to form rapid response task forces over the internet in the future.
The team gathering for this conference will include the following areas of expertise:
• Forensic medicine
• Military equipment and tactics
• International law
• Crime-scene investigation
• Arabic language and culture
• Journalism and media
• Forensic digital photography and sound
• Structural Engineer
There will also be Israel Defense Force experts, media people, bloggers and Lebanese investigators who were on the ground for the initial investigations.
There is a way of winning the information war and it is not just to "correct" and exhort- as if we were correcting mere mistakes. Islamofauxia is a deadly and intentional problem. Second Draft's combination of solid research and aggressive follow through has been successful beyond our modest means, with your help we can ramp up our capabilities so and continue to turn the tide.
First of all, we need your help to make this conference a success. We would like to hold it this December but there is much to do and arraigning a secure venue, the technical resources and travel for all our experts will not be cheap. Please, help us with a contribution today to support this urgent and vital work!
This is your opportunity to take a pivotal role in insuring that civil society will survive the current challenges and thrive well into the twenty first century.
To donate by PayPal just go to the Second Draft web site http://www.seconddraft.org/ and click on the “Donate” button at the lower right.
If you prefer to send a check, Please make it payable to Second Draft and send it to Second Draft, P.O. Box 150159, Newton Center, MA 02459
Friday, September 19, 2008
OK, class, lets try out a new word, I have been working on a more accurate way of describing the polymorphous phenomenon we study at Second Draft and this one actually came to mind while I was responding to a very good post at one of my favorite Canadian Blogs, Blazing Catfur...
Islamofauxia (pronounced like islamophobia with no "B") – The lies, staged video, PhotoShopped pictures, calumnies, rage triggers, exaggerations and assorted frauds that Islamists concoct and the eager propagation of same by the Mainstream Media.
If all cases of Media Fraud and Islamofauxia were this obvious, you would not need Second Draft...
Back in the summer of 2007 the picture on the right made its way into the media via Agence France Press news agency. It came with this rambling caption, which intentionally blends the mention of the supposed bullets of the coalition forces into inflammatory references to suicide bombs (which the coalition was actually working to prevent):
An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City. At least 175 people were slaughtered on Tuesday and more than 200 wounded when four suicide truck bombs targeted people from an ancient religious sect in northern Iraq, officials said. (AFP/Wissam al-Okaili)
Any one who has ever fired any kind of firearm and most people who have even seen a picture of a gun being fired would, if they stopped to think about it, realize that since those two bullets were still in their casings, it is impossible that they could have “hit” that woman’s house unless someone took them out of a clip and threw them. The picture (taken by an Iraqi stringer) and the caption were concocted with the intent to deceive and mislead. Yonatan Zunger has some very interesting take on the background of the picture here.
The dizzying combination of evil but inept fraud of the Islamists and idiotic complicity by the media that produced this example of Islamofauxia is pretty rare. But one must wonder, “If this transparent incompetency could get as far as it did, what else are they doing that they get away with- and how much damage is it doing?”
Defining, understanding and counteracting Islamofauxia is what Second Draft is all about, In the next few posts I will be exploring the implications of this new word and how it shows that our way of investigating and understanding Islamofauxia has led us to an historic tipping point, that may turn out to have fateful and momentous implications for Western Civilization.
It can be varied for sub categories like Islamofauxist for the perpetrators and Islamofaux-assister for the media dupes
And Islamofauxney (Pronounced Islamo-phoney) as a general description of all ideas, stories and pictures that are manipulative, misogynist, intolerant, hateful, sly, destructive and lethal....
This word is catching on because is close enough to Islamophobia so that it take some of the venom out of the accusation. Also, it is a good antidote to cultural relativism. If you call it Taqiya or Kitman liberals will say "oh, its a cultural thing, its ok." Giving it our own name says, "cultural thing it may be, but its not ok in this culture and last time I checked this is the successful one."
Thanks for supporting the concept!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
My friend JHM sent me a short, schematic note the other day. He may be on to something, He wrote:
“Liberals are female and conservatives are male.
Males do war and business/the economy.
BHO wants to talk, not fight and his economics are really a redistribution of income. Plus another feminine issue is the environmental stuff [See "Mother Earth]
This speaks to why the liberals go bullshit with Sarah Palin.“
I think JHM is right in that there is something about the traditional sex-roles and gender determined behavior that is driving the absolute frenzy on the part of Obama’s supporters and much of the Mainstream Media.
This is really a mess to think about so let’s take it a piece at a time. My first Google on the idea turned up an interesting article, Hillary is From Mars, Obama is From Venus By Michael Scherer, on salon.com. It compared Obama to Hillary and found her to be more of a man than he.
Scherer sets the tone of his analysis by quoting Clara Oleson who he describes as an Iowa Democrat and former labor lawyer:
"Obama is the female candidate. Obama is the woman," she said, after admitting that she was one of his supporters. "He is the warm candidate, self-deprecating, soft, tender, sad eyes, great smile."
The article continues:
“So what does that make Hillary Clinton? "She is the male candidate -- in your face, authoritative, know-it-all." To be clear, Oleson was not doubting the symbolic power that Clinton retains as a woman. But she was calling it as she saw it, using the language of Iowa City, a university town. "It's what the academes would call the difference between sex and gender," Oleson explained."
This is interesting, nobody but a Democratic functionary could have opened this discussion using these highly charged terms without suffering a fusillade of accusations ranging from sexism to genocide. Since the suite has been opened by one of them, though, I would like to see how it plays out.
Neither Obama nor Clinton can avoid their obvious racial and gender “identities” as either white female or black male but they can and have taken on meta-gender personae in order to embody the required Democratic constellation of compulsory ideologies. Hillary Clinton is what I will call a DemWoman. Since the bygone days of real originals like Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm the ideal Democratic woman has evolved into a serious, masculinized icon. They dress in pointedly characterless clothes (not unlike designer Mao suites) and do their best not to show any authentic emotion or spontaneity of any kind. Obama mimics what I will call a DemFemMan- Doe-eyed, talkative, lip biting, smiley, warm and not-too-assertive.
Democrats are usually very conscientious and defensive about identities; they are, after-all, the party of Identity Politics. Still, they don’t usually talk about it as honestly as Oleson did. An even rarer example of a Democrat talking directly to the assumed identities of Democrat politicians was Geraldine Ferraro back in March when she said to The Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance, Calif.: “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”
Ferraro, is somewhat of an authority on this. Her sex, after all, was the very first entry on the “pro” side of the pro/con list when she was vetted for VP all those years ago. I find it fascinating, though, that she says, “If he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position”. I wondered if this is just victim talk- that kind of throw-in that people who make a fetish of blaming every slight and failing (imagined or real) on what they imagine to be the thing (that is not their fault) that is keeping them from the wonderful life and public adoration that they know they deserve (because they are who they are)? Or is it something more complicated?
Well, here’s a video clip that offers some clues:
This, of course, is a clip from last week, after Palin was nominated. It is interesting, not just because here Ferraro does not seem to be participating in the media and liberal elite’s desire to discredit and “un-nominate” Palin, she seems, in fact, almost to be ignoring Palin, she digresses about how Hillary was “treated badly” not just by the press but by the Democratic National Committee and the party apparatus in general. She pointedly adds that Howard Dean did not speak up “when sexism reared its ugly head”.
We should, at least commend her that she does not go after Palin but we need to try to figure out why she responds with that rant.
Victor Davis Hanson could well have included Ferraro’s name in his recent article about “Palin Derangement” where he writes:
“When we consider, in contrast (to Palin), the latticed background of careers of successful contemporary female role-model politicians, such as a Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Mary Landrieu, or Hillary Clinton — or pundits like Sally Quinn, Eleanor Clift, Andrea Mitchell, Campbell Brown, Gail Collins (the list is depressingly endless, in which marriage or lineage provides either the necessary capital, contacts, or insider influence — or sometimes all three) — then surely, whatever one’s politics, there should be some concession that what outsider Palin has accomplished, given where she began, is nothing short of remarkable.
In short, Sarah Palin is the emblem of what feminism was supposed to be all about: an unafraid, independent, audacious woman, who soared on her own merits without the aid of a patriarchal jumpstart, high-brow matrimonial tutelage and capital, and old-boy liaisons and networking.”
Note that the political women he mentions are all Democrats. So, how does Hanson’s article fit with Ferraro’s point?
I have to say that I believe that the whole thing about gender roles is a very acute observation but goes deeper than the observation that Obama acts like a woman and Hillary acts like a man. It is true that Hillary acts like a white man it’s a simple enough pose for her. But Obama has a harder task. If you read about his high school years, it would appear that he (raised by white people) taught himself how to act like a black man back then. If this is true, then today he would be what we used to call an oreo (black on the outside/white on the inside) a retro-fitted black man who acts like white woman who is trying to act like a white man.
As convolute and fascinating as the sexual personae of the denizens of the Democrat political establishment is, it is a distraction from the most important thing that can be learned here. That is, that journalism in the form of our current elite band of mass media practitioners are the “hand that rocks the cradle” in the way we view our politicians. They are the ones who present the candidates and their ideas to us in ways that subtly highlight these behavioral traits and lead the public perception to points of view. Point of view, in fact, is the journalist’s stock in trade. And journalism’s point of view is essentially aligned with the feminine persona- Story telling, social consciousness, caring for the weak, preventing conflict…,
Just as Hillary covers her female identity and becomes the “male candidate”, through being, in Oleson’s words, “in your face, authoritative, know-it-all” journalists usually layer those behaviors over the female persona of their profession in order to compete with each other for authority and “professionalism” .
Knowing everything and maintaining the initiative to be in everybody’s face all the time makes you brittle, defensive and inflexible it forces you to keep the world at a distance and to be guarded and combative.
It’s the lack of warmth and humor that is the tip-off. There’s no warmth because the layers of insulating role-play isolate the human core of the personality and keep it under pressure and molten with stifled rage, even while the outside facade is iced over with a brittle shell of outward calm that the merest hint of humor would shatter. When the keen edge of humor touches that icy shell, that slick veneer of smugness fractures and the rage bursts forth like volcanic eruptions.
It is counterintuitive in a way. They want to be loved so they put up barriers. They want to be respected so they never give anyone permission to see who they really are. They want to be egalitarian so they seek power. They want to be right about everything so much that they will not engage in debate and reasonable discussion without denial, labeling and hysteria. Most of all they want everyone to agree with them; so they believe in ineffectual, “consensus” policies and useless platitudes that are easy to rationalize and then build fortifications of emotion, identity and empathy so that anyone who dares to try to breach it with reason becomes an identity abuser (racist, sexist, fascist, etc…), an emotion crusher and an inhumane monster without empathy.
Look at all the Democrat women that Hanson mentioned above. They all have some variant of that layered-on masculine stiffness and control. They are all “professional women”. Which, as near as I can tell, requires them to comport themselves as a superannuated, over intellectual college sophomore playing a lesbian in a community theater performance. I’ve know a few real lesbians in my day and they have most are a hell of a lot more interesting and natural than those creepy Madame Tussaudes versions that Pelosi and Clinton Play on television.
And yet, as Hanson pointed out, they have advanced their careers to this stage- by means that are specifically feminine (what Tennessee Williams might have called “depending on the kindness of strangers”).
With all this gender bending and manipulative affectation going on, it should be no surprise that when a vivacious, unaffected, and un-androgynous woman like Sarah Palin comes along, and with a straightforward appeal, cuts through all the posturing and playacting with which Dem Women and Dem Fem Men trick out their lives, they don’t just resent it, they fear and loath. It doesn’t just threaten their ideological house of cards; it exposes the silly, debilitating game they play with their public images.
Palin reminds me of no one so much as a female Ronald Reagan- The Happy Warrior, The Great Communicator never had to pretend to be anything that he wasn’t to attract attention. His emotional security and self-possession made him an almost irresistible charmer. Secure in her identity, Palin is natural, direct and just as charming in he was.
Sarah Palin has not been untrue to herself. That is why she comes across as a real person to us. Absent the tension of the personality layering and façade maintenance she, as Reagan did presents a strikingly open and affable face to the world. This makes her charming and persuasive in a way that Hillary, Pelosi, all the political crones and media furies that Hanson mentions and many more, could only dream of. No wonder they (and their frustrated supporters) are furious.
And if you think the Dem Women and DemFemMen have knotted themselves up, wait till you take a look at those journalists who have made an career out of the same, very intimate sacrifices in order to be accepted by their editors and peers as well as have to access to their news sources.
They write news stories with semi-subliminal emotional and empathic slant that attempt to lead the reader into their interpretation of the events and evidence being covered. Under the banner of “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted” they blindly support insurgencies that promise change even if it is obvious to most observers that the change they advocate will bring disastrous consequences. They fail to report on pertinent events that might “embarrass” anyone they consider sensitive or an underdog. Worst of all, they allow evil to go unchallenged by resorting to the sickening moral relativism of “evenhanded” reporting in place of accurate and honest reporting.
The pain and rage with which much of the media have reacted to Sarah Palin’s nomination for Vice President is an instructive example. It forces them to admit that their professional ethics are negotiable. They claim that They are journalists to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted; Even as they feverishly search her past for reasons to declare her unworthy and ineligible- to find some flaw or misdeed that might forced John McCain to ask this talented, hard working, successful woman of the people to resign from the ticket. They must be aware at some level that in rushing to the defense of the elite, independently wealthy, powerfully connected (yes, connected to the despised white patriarchy!) DemFem Man Obama, that they are actually comforting the comfortable. He is comfortable, they are comfortable and they expect to get us comfortable with him too. That awareness that their pretense is being exposed inflames their rage even more.
They are all so busy building, elaborating and justifying their careers and their personality composites that they seem to have forgotten why they are there. They are so occupied with keeping the whole creaking, smoking, wobbling Rube Goldberg system working (and paying them) that they often forget to care whether anyone in the real world even wants to read, hear or watch The News as they are constrained to present it. This is one reason why the Internet has sucked away so much of the Mass media’s audience.
This shapes up as a battle between “Professionalism” (shackled by ideological group-think and prejudice) and Authenticity (freedom of thought and expression) and I do believe that the people instinctively know which one they favor. I also believe they are right.
Friday, September 5, 2008
With John McCain’s stirring acceptance speech last night he made it official. This is a contest for the very soul of America- the most basic and vital campaign waged in modern American History. It is a contest between the country that was created by the framers of the constitution and the country that we have slowly been becoming.
Maybe its just that I have been reading between the lines for so long, but I am sensing things- I heard a refreshing tone in McCain’s speech last night that I have been longing for since Ronald Reagan left office.
I am talking about the promise of America. When the Jefferson, Adams, et al laid the plans for the country they even more concerned with creating safeguards against new ruling classes arising as they were about getting rid of the old ruling class. They wanted to leave behind the dead hand of aristocracy and plutocracy that made the old world of Europe stagnant and devoid of real opportunity.
They knew that success and power accumulate in groups at the top and lead to abuses after a while. The contest between Democrats and Republicans is so often a duel of special interests and agendas that we loose sight of the reason why we have elections in the first place. Elections are part of the process because they are the most efficient way to insure that ruling elites cannot become entrenched and can be changed without blood when a majority of the people thinks its necessary.
The continuing danger in our two party system is that those two parties are sometimes more interested in cooperating on their own business than they are on the people’s business. The government in Washington is always in danger of becoming more of an insider’s club than an instrument of the will of the people. Change, which is a theme for both Presidential campaigns, is a reflection of the public’s sense that things have gotten too cozy again.
It is not a question of whether we want change. Change always happens. The question is: : What kind of change do we need?”
I would submit that the first thing on the list of things to change ought to be that sense that the current elite is becoming more like a ruling class. I’m not just talking about the current administration and its corporate connections, I am talking about the political machines, the entrenched bureaucracies and the vested interests that, together, make up “business as usual”. It is not a Republican or a Democrat ruling class, it is worse than that. Elections are designed to fix that. I am talking about folks who have climbed inside the power structure, rolled up the windows, locked the doors, turned on the A/C and tuned the radio to the Insider Network. Elections don’t fix that because there are a great many Democrats and Republicans who broker positions and power, for their own comfort and gain- not for the good of the republic. It is a way the have of trying to insulate themselves from the restorative powers of elections.
The first thing I liked about McCain’s speech is that he reminded us that he is a maverick and a reformer. That he has always been the guy who blows whistles on the cozy and the bureaucratic. He served notice on this when he acknowledged his own party’s short comings. When he said, “We were elected to change Washington and we let it change us. We’re going to change that!” It was not a personal mea culpa, it was a signal that he is an American first and a Republican by affiliation only- that he sees the problem and intends to do something about it. “We're going to change that.” He pledged, “We're going to recover the people's trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics.”
“Back to basics”, this leads me to the most important thing about John McCain’s speech. Beyond the party, there is the underlying philosophy. The most accurate summation ever written of the American political milieu was these two sentences by Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”
America has always had a basic culture of self-reliance, responsibility, enterprise and liberty. There have been many changes enforced on America by liberal activism, some have been beneficial but many have eroded the liberty and self-reliance of our people. It is the conservative impulse to let culture shine through, combined with his combative reformism that makes John McCain’s speech important and inspiring.
This guy has always been a pain in the ass for all his colleagues in the Senate. He does not toe the party line nor does he respect the trans-party structures of power. He, like his VP choice has Character. Put a bunch of people with character together in one country and your have a republic, a powerhouse of ideas and achievements. If you have a bunch of people with no character, you wind up with a totalitarian state with a stagnant economy because without people willing to stand up for something, you get fascism. McCain says, “I am going to say what I think is right.”
Obama, as Sarah Palin pointed out, “…says one thing about you when he is in Scranton and another thing altogether at a wine and cheese reception in San Fransisco.”
For McCain, it is not about his personal glory or success. He has been there and done that he is about repaying a debt on a different level. Here is something his opponent could never say:
“I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.” John McCain is about America and her promise and Obama is about Obama and his chance to “make history.”
Can you picture John McCain standing in front of a massive rally in Germany, a country that forced us to destroy her cities and kill her people in order to prevent her from subjugating the world to Nazi brutality, and uttering this, “I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.” Then his next words are, “But I also know how much I love America…” as if THAT, the love of Obama, is what is important. You men out there, try going home tonight and telling your wife, “Honey, you may be a little homely and sorta boring but you mean well and I love you.”
John McCain knows that nobody’s perfect. Nothing in this world is perfect. He, better than anybody, knows America is a work in progress. But he knows there is no excuse to be made. America is the best.
To keep us focused and working on helping her to continue to grow into the dream of the founding patriots, we need to have a leader who can call on us with a more confident voice than that, a voice that inspires and encourages, a voice with Chuchillian echoes of determination and pride- like the end of John McCain’s speech last night. How about the call he made at the end of his speech. Here it is:
“I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach.
Fight with me. Fight with me.
Fight for what's right for our country.
Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.
Fight for our children's future.
Fight for justice and opportunity for all.
Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.
Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.
Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We're Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.
Thank you, and God bless you."
Yes indeed, America and whole hearted Americans make the history around here Mr Obama.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Democrats, howling lefties, upper-income revolutionaries and the semi-educated demi-elite are having a gleeful carnival at the expense of McCain about his choice of Sarah Palin for his running mate. So transported have they been by this rapture, they have "end-zone danced" themselves very far out onto the leafy end of a slender limb.
They have been so busy egging each other on, they have neglected to notice that most of America is made up of real people. While chortling over the teen pregnancy of Bristol and mocking Palin’s support of abstinence education, they failed to notice that this kind of thing happens to families in the real world. They just went on chortling while many real people all over the country just saw the daughter of a friend or relative reflected in the situation.
Sometimes, you see, in spite of what a child has been taught, they will get into trouble. Real people know and experience that every day. It is all very well to say that teaching her 16 year old about condoms would have prevented her from becoming pregnant at 17 but that is of no more use to Bristol or her baby than pointing out that if that boy’s parents had been successful in imbuing him with respect for women, concern for life and reverence for the personal intimate bond, there would not have been a problem.
Many, I dare say, might even be thinking that there has been way too much of the kind of sex education in this country that resigns itself to young teens having casual sex and limiting its message to trying to get them to do it responsibly. Yoo Hoo- Does any one out there have a teenager in the house?
In any case, what all this has a whole lot less to do with what kind of VP Palin would make than how she handles it now. She is not hiding or sheltering or coddling her daughter- what you see is what you get. With a mom like Sarah Palin, you know that Bristol is going to have to take responsibility, because that’s the kind of family she comes from.
What the elitist jokers who have been cutting capers on this woman and her family can never know is the way she handled the knowledge that she was carrying a downs syndrome child. How many of the dancing fools out on that limb would have gone to term and resolved to do their best by that baby? Sarah Palin and her husband will be still making hard decisions and giving love to that kid- a lifetime’s worth- when they have stopped dancing and gone home.
Sooner or later those jerks are going to look around and notice that the rest of us are noticing how shallow, weasely and feckless they and their Presidential candidate are. If that doesn’t freeze the smiles on their faces it will when they realize that the American people will, in the end, compare all of the candidates on the issue of character.
At first it seemed curious to me that these people who think they are so much more clever than folks who, as he says, “... get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment…,” are making “experience” their point of attack. They know that they are at an obvious disadvantage on the experience issue. They betray that knowledge every time they say “She’ll be a heartbeat away from the presidency”. The conclusion I come to is that they really have nothing left to say because if the address character directly everyone will notice that the Republican candidate, John McCain is the man who had the courage of his convictions and the raw moral strength to endure five years of torture and captivity rather than desert his fellow prisoners of war and allow the enemy to use him for propaganda against us and our country. McCain, who is after all, the Presidential candidate has never hesitated to do what he thought was right for us and our country regardless of whether it meant that he had to work with someone from the other party or call for reform in his own. But, since they are going after the comparison between Mr Obama and Sarah Palin let’s just look at the character issues between them.
Palin has a long history of saying exactly what she means. She is not a liberal consensus-seeking politician, she is a conservative who will tell you exactly what she thinks needs to be done and strive to implement it. She doesn’t need to run a focus group or take a poll- she speaks in specifics and she works with facts.
Let’s compare honesty and straightforwardness.
As an example- how about the question about drilling for oil in ANWR?
Palin is for it. We need energy independence and its good for Alaska. Drill in ANWAR!
What kind of character does Obama show?
He is staunchly against all oil exploration not just drilling in ANWR. Does that mean he is a green candidate- against burning hydrocarbons? No. He is one of the most avid supporters of ethanol- the idiotic halfway measure that has driven up the price of everyone’s food disastrously in the past eight months. Why does he support Ethanol? Because he happens to be a senator from Illinois which is one of the top ethanol producing states. Illinois is reaping huge profits from the current food price bulge and that’s OK with Mr O. Meanwhile, he supports windfall profit taxes on the oil companies.
A. Well, shrewd maybe…
Defend our country or at least respect those who do.
Palin’s own son is going to Iraq next week. She has visited the troops in Iraq already, travelling all the way there for the purpose.
Obama’s political career was launched in the living room of a couple (Bill Ayres and Bernadette Dohrn) who took part in bombings of the Capitol and the Pentagon. Ayers still says that he wishes he had done more. Mr. O is beginning to follow the same pattern with Ayers as he did with Jeremiah Wright . You will recall that Wright was, at first, leader of his church and his spiritual advisor and when the public saw who Wright was, Obama demoted him to “crazy old uncle” and is now, finally, ( and not because Obama objected to anything Wright said or did but because almost everybody else did) persona non grata. Since the Ayers connection will not go away on its own, Obama surrogates are now beginning the slow process of “stuffing” Ayers and putting him into the museum of Obama’s former friends, his “rungs on the ladder”; all this without ever addressing directly whether he hates America as much as Wright and Ayers avowedly do. Then too he could not even be bothered to visit wounded soldiers in the hospital in Germany when he found out that there would be no photo opportunity in it for him.
To tell the truth he sounds a little self-serving and cynical to me. That kind of thing plays well in the Starbucks and the Sushi Bars on the coasts and in Chicago but I think the old coffee shops and Burger Kings in between might have a bit less understanding.
Suddenly, tonight, the madcap dancers out on the limb stopped dancing. The smiles have frozen on their faces. They have heard the unique voice Sarah Palin. From the momrnt she walked out on the stage at the convention and showed the world that she is not the trailer-trash bumpkin they have been hoping she would turn out to be.
She spoke clearly about things about which that the fools on the limb would rather forget; families, the need to explore for new oil, patriotism and (heaven forbid) Islamic Terrorism. And worst of all for them, she talked about them in ways that showed that she has undeniable Character. Just as she said about John McCain, she is not someone who will tell you one thing to your face in Scranton and then say something quite different about you to a bunch of sleek metrosexuals in San Francisco. Trustworthy and loyal are part of character too.
Both the Presidential and the Vice-Presidential Republican Candidates by themselves have more character than Mr Obama, and I can hear that long leafy bough starting to groan and creak. I think, if it were me, I’d be stepping a bit closer to the trunk- maybe even getting ready to shinny down…
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Hell is empty, and all the devils are here. William Shakespeare,
The Tempest, 1. 2
It is fashionable in some circles to blame religion for the evil that men do. Hitchens, Dawkins and others are leading a new resurgence of aggressive atheism that seeks to vilify all religions as the source of a large part of the chaos and misery in the world. They specifically negate the value of all religions and blame them for most of the violence and misery of the human race.
This bothers me, partly because I have a strong personal religious inclination, but it also bothers me because it is totally illogical. Ironically, I love reading Hitchens on most subjects and find his style, logic and command of fact and history impressive on just about everything with the exception of religion and Israel. I think it possible that his blindness on these two issues is a combination of negative personal history with religion, a vestigial (and erroneous) leftist belief that Israel is a colonialist enterprise and an unfortunate inability to see Israel apart from his prejudice against religion. More about Hitchens later because he is the exception that proves the rule.
I ran across an article about the French philosopher Rene Girard on the blog CUANAS a while ago that got me thinking about this. Since then I have read a lot of his work and I have been inspired by a couple of very clear and original insights, For one thing, Girard saw that it was not that religion caused the evils of human sacrifice but that religion evolved to govern and channel the natural competition for resources, jealousy and fear inherent in the human condition that led to the violence and horror of sacrifice. Girard exposes an important and much denied view of human nature. CUANAS writer Jaco Pastorius quoted this from Girard, “"When we describe human relations, we lie. We describe them as normally good, peaceful and so forth, whereas in reality they are competitive, in a war-like fashion."
Of course religion is not the only “culprit”, if you don’t happen to have strong religious faith, don’t worry, whatever cultural institutions you respect and depend on in this world, there is likely some nut-job who thinks your positive values are the cause of mayhem, madness and destruction. There is someone out there who will be happy to tell you that the fault lies with (pick one or more-) government, marriage, society, money (capital), science or some mixture of these. They make passionate cases for their allegations but can they all be right?
Without becoming involved in the numbingly arcane objections, squabbles about definitions, speculations about theology, theories of economics and hair splitting about psychology into which discussions about these matters tend to degenerate, allow me, please, one general anthropological observation. All of the above mentioned supposed causes of evil (and any others of which I am aware) have one thing in common- they are all systems or conceptual frameworks that were created by people.
Think about that. Leave aside the obvious question of how several different systems could be The Source(s) of All Evil; could any single one (or combination) of them actually be The Source(s) of Evil? Does it not stand to reason that any evil that is in the systems ultimately derives from the people who created and inhabit these systems?
Like the old comedy routine in which someone floating in a small boat notices a bit of water in the bottom of the boat and essays to let the water out of the boat by drilling a hole in the bottom so it can run out, it is a curious and quixotic spectacle when we see these attacks on western institutions and culture by people who under any other known system on earth would be outcasts, imprisoned as traitors or burned in the streets as heretics. In the West they are educated, protected and given a platform by the very same institutions they decry.
This inverted protest- in which the blame for humanity’s violence, misery and pain is projected onto the institutions which, of all the similar institutions in the world, have the best record of managing and minimizing the violence, theft, hatred, xenophobia, abusiveness and uncontrolled rage about which they are complaining- is the diagnostic symptom of western cultural anomie.
We have already discussed the most obvious signs (anti-theism, moral relativism, political correctness, post modernism, liberal cognitive egocentrism and post-colonialism) of this anomie at length. But, somehow, there has always been the nagging question of how so many, otherwise intelligent and well-educated people could be blind to the obvious internal contradictions inherent in their behavior and thought-process.
This unconsciously self-destructive behavior is a special case of what Richard Landes calls Demopathy. Demopathy, is the cynical and calculated use of the ideals, language and institutions of democratic western civilization to weaken or destroy it. Under Landes’ definition, someone who indulges in the form of blindly suicidal behavior described above is referred to not as a full-fledged Demopath but, rather, a Dupe of Demopathy. A Dupe takes up the arguments and reframing of true Demopaths and in a well-intentioned but overly emotional, and sub-rational state, they can not see how the ideas they profess weaken the very fabric of there own culture.
The question has remained open- what could possibly motivate people with no obvious mental incapacity to want to weaken and possibly destroy the culture that made them who they are- the only culture in the history of humankind that would have a place and tolerance for people who think and behave as they do. The energy source for this powerful screen of denial lies in the deeply disturbing idea that the source and magnitude of the evil of human nature is not an aberration but an inherent part of every individual.
This is the wellspring of demopathy. The Demopathic westerner has a very personal, deeply emotional investment in projecting the evil within himself (which otherwise he has to recognize as analogous to, if not identical with, the evil behind all the atrocities and horrors committed by the whole human race) onto his closest support system.
To make this work, he willingly believes that all individuals are either good or totally neutral until they become trained or enlisted by one of these (evil) institutions. This is what makes it seem like a good idea to some people to weaken or try to destroy the very structures that make us free and safe. There is not even a corresponding assumption that we are not as safe or free as we might be under a system that denies our true nature and attempts to turn us into totalitarian tools.
And this is where I must return to Hitchens. I have to stress that I use him to stand for all who, like him, want us to believe that belief in a supreme being is not essential to living a principled existence and is even somehow retrogressive.
Humanists would have us believe that secularism, rationality and “universal values” will suffice to safeguard our liberty and guide us to the next stage of human liberation. Humanism embraces a variety of related philosophies, according to Wikipedia, “…that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities – particularly rationality.” This faith in human beings and their intellectual devices would not seem justified in the light of what the antitheist regimes of the last century have done to the human race. One would think that Hitchens, as a substantially reconstructed Trotskyite, would have an idea about that.
To depend only on human values and reason- to claim dependence on universal moral values is itself an exercise in faith. Viewed only from the human perspective, though, there can be nothing truly universal about those morals and the effect of it is to deny that evil exists in the human nature. The greatest evils in the history of humankind have been a result of the denial that evil exists in the human heart- that it is only governments (like the monarchy of Louis XVI) and systems (such as capitalism) that need to be eliminated (along with thousands or even millions of arbitrarily selected people) to allow the reign of reason and humanistic values (from each according to his means, to each according to his needs) to prevail. In 1911 Joseph Conrad, in Under Western Eyes, Wrote “The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.”- And that goes for institutional, cultural and social sources of wickedness too.
The greatness of the American off-shoot of the western tradition is that in its foundational spiritual sources the society of Freemasons, farmers and frontiersmen who framed the republic were deeply involved with the “Old Testament” and had made a commitment to responsibility and self-reliance in preference to the soul deadening interpretations of original sin so prevalent in the old world of Europe. This hopeful, productive and democratic strain of the Judeo-Christian tradition acknowledges that evil (as well as righteousness) is part of what makes us human. Its greatest innovation is that it saw that the only good reason for religion, government and tradition is the to make it difficult for the any one group to gain too great a proportion of the power. We need all the help we can get to keep us from acting in ways that are (in the long run at least) counter to our own interests- it does us no good to sanctify humanity and project our evil side onto God and religion (and our freely elected government) we need to continue to try to live up to our best understanding of the goodness, order and balance that are the visible manifestations of Godliness.
The constant battle between The Judeo Christian West and the various retrograde Western ideologies, (Nazism, Socialism, Communism, Utopianism, religious fundamentalism, etc...) of which I believe Humanism and its corollary, Progressivism is one, is the same battle that divides the west from Islam. It is the conflict between utopian approaches that believe the human being is neither good nor evil but can be molded and remade in a political or religious image and the liberal western approach that acknowledges the human character accepts the good and the evil, acknowledges the human freedom to take responsibility for choosing between them and attempts to devise a system that balances and restrains the two sides of human nature in the most liberating and productive way possible.
Balance, indeed, is the signal innovation and genius of the Constitution of the United States of America. The framers of the Constitution were men versed in scripture. They well understood the problem of evil. They built a system with so many redundant safeguards that even the demopathic paranoid fringe that feigns courage by calling the current president Bushhitler and accusing him of being a fascist thug do so in complete confidence that they will not wake some night to a raid by the Secret Police and be “disappeared” into a mythical American Gulag.
It reminds me of nothing so much as the paranoid bravado that I (yes, even I), like many of my generation, felt in 1968 about what we would do “when the revolution comes”. We had convinced ourselves that a revolution was required to stop the evil we saw around us- and that our ascendance as leaders was Inevitable because of our own youth and purity. We fancied ourselves important in an adolescent and grandiose fantasy.
The revolution never came nor will today’s progressives be rounded up and turned into lampshades by the Bush administration. In time, we will gain enough perspective to see today’s pathetic attempt to appear heroic by challenging the most benign and open democracy on earth to suppress them with just as much condescending nostalgia as we do the “when the revolution comes” fantasy of 1968. But the similarity is no accident and it is important to see that they are both analogous to “feeling ill, calling a doctor, letting the doctor treat you and then blaming the physician for the disease”. They are quintessential expressions of that same human urge to avoid the reality of the chaotic evil that is present in all of us by projecting it onto the very institution(s) that have evolved to balance it with the good in each of us.
Our Judeo-Christian Western experiment is a flawed and human enterprise. Any human endeavor is doomed to embody a mixture of good and evil. But it is unique in human history as the one that has most productively valued introspection, fostered intellectual honesty and supported the dignity and rights of the individual. We can only continue the evolution and perfection of these powerful forces for good by, at last, putting away the childish omnipotence and imaginary purity of the extreme ends of the political spectrum.
As embodied in the US constitution, balance is the key. The rights and dignity of the human race can only be defended and expanded by first understanding the human being and respecting his qualities- both the positives and the negatives- then the checks and balances we devise will be felt as fair and effective and we can stop hating them and helping our enemies (the Demopaths of all stripes) to undermine them.
It is not, after all, the fault of religion or government or George Bush, Osama bin Laden or even Dick Cheney that there is evil in the world. It is not even the things that are done that seem evil. The things that seem evil to us are the violence and the hatred and the fear that are inherent in the human soul. Rene Girard offered a singularly brilliant insight when he observed that the source of evil was not the institutions but the nature of the human being. He falls short, however in carrying that insight through to its full meaning. In my next post I will discuss what Girard missed. In doing so, I will also show that progressivism and Islamism are actively engaged in behaviors that multiply and spread the violence and pain (and the denial that causes them).