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Political Gifts Can Only Briefly Make Up For Executive Ineptitude

In many ways, the Administration’s reaction to Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) shakedown comment says more about the Obama team’s modus operandi than anything else officials have said or done in the past month.  They would rather focus on developing a political response than on formulating an appropriate executive solution.

Let us hope then that rumors are true of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s imminent departure.  It could not come soon enough.  He is a political operative extraordinaire.  His expertise is the down and dirty of electoral politic, not the nuts and bolts of executive administration.

Emanuel and his team delight in such “political gifts” which they hope will make up for their absence of administrative accomplishment.

If Bush were president, McChrystal would be speaking truth to power

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:07 pm - June 22, 2010.
Filed under: Bush-hatred,Media Bias

As V the K reminded us in his comment to my post on General McChrystal’s inappropriate comments, “Generals who publicly criticized Bush were hailed as heroes.”  And let me repeat my up-update, Glenn Reynolds, linking the same article that V did, reminds us how times have changed:   “Flashback: Media Promoted Military Criticism Of President Bush. Well, sure. Under a Republican President, it’s listen to the generals. Under a Democratic President, it’s all about civilian control of the military.”

If W were still president and McChrystal made the same comments he just made but about the Republican not the Democrat, he’d be hailed as the teller of truth, rather than a disrespectful subordinate.

How to explain liberal fascination with left-wing tyrants*?

On Monday, in the Wall Street Journal’s Political Diary (available by subscription), Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote about how Oliver Stone’s film South of the Border, “which lauds Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez as the nation’s messiah, has flopped spectacularly in, of all places, Venezuela”

To be fair, the film is about more than Mr. Chávez. It also praises the region’s latest crop of left-wing authoritarians, from Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Brazil’s Lula da Silva and Mr. Stone’s favorite Latin bad boy, Fidel Castro. In Mr. Stone’s mind, however, none is more unjustly maligned than Mr. Chávez. The director pulls no punches in his admiration for the Bolivarian bully. “I think he is an extremely dynamic and charismatic figure,” he told the press last year. “He is open and good-hearted, as well as a fascinating personality.”

And this got me wondering why so many liberals in America’s cultural élite, particularly self-described intellectuals. have become so fascinated with despotic rulers like Chávez and Castro.  (I doubt their views would change if they talked to some of the refugees from those tyrannical paradises, including a number of gay people of my acquaintance.)

For such cultural élitists, a critique of Western society has become admiration for, if not adoration of, its enemies, no matter how diabolical their ideas or record (in office).  These tyrants may preside over systems far worse than those the élite criticize, but so long as they oppose such systems, they are (to the élite at least) by definition, worthy of adulation.

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*and other demagogues.

McChrystal’s Inappropriate Comments

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:30 pm - June 22, 2010.
Filed under: Republican Form of Government,War On Terror

In a choice between General Stanley McChrystal and President Barack Obama to head national security policy (or to determine which strategy and tactics to use to implement that policy), I would, without hesitation, pick the former.  I believe he has a better understanding of the risks we face and the means we need take to mitigate them.

That said, I cannot defend, indeed, strongly criticize the comments the top commander in Afghanistan made to the Rolling Stone‘s Michael Hastings.  I agree with Defense Secretary Robert Gates who, according to Politico

publicly rebuked Gen. Stanley McChrystal Tuesday, saying in a statement that the top commander in Afghanistan had “made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment” in the biting remarks he and his aides made in a Rolling Stone article about President Barack Obama and others in the administration.

Simply put, a military commander should not make “dismissive and derogatory remarks to a magazine reporter about U.S. government officials involved in” setting military policy.  Once again, the indispensable Jim Geraghty:

Many people I know think highly of McChrystal, and he has earned his accolades. But a general in the American armed forces cannot, on the record, mock or deride the vice president and the U.S. ambassador, much less the president of the United States. You and I can; we’re just some schmoes; we don’t report to him in the chain of command. I’m sure many generals have thought many colorful expressions of criticism toward presidents over the years, but they cannot blab them to reporter.

Emphasis added.  In our system of government, the military is subordinate to civilian authority.  You and I may prefer McChrystal’s judgment to that of Obama, but the latter was elected and the former serves at his pleasure.  Criticize Obama we can — and should — but McChrystal has a duty to follow his commands.  If he disagrees with the president, he should make his disagreements known to the Administration, but through private channels not in a widely-circulated (or even a not widely-circulated) publication. (more…)

The former Congressman dons clown shoes

In the upcoming primary for the United States Senate seat currently held by 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, I have been quietly rooting for the 4-term incumbent, not entirely because of his record (while stellar on national security and spending, has not been as conservative in other arenas as I would like), but also because of his opponent.

The American Spectator’s Philip Klein explains:

I understand why many Arizona Republicans would want to dump John McCain for a more conservative Senator, but I’ve never understood those who argue that J.D. Hayworth is the conservative who should replace McCain. Hayworth, after all, was a top recipent of donations linked to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and was a reliable vote for President Bush’s big government agenda.

The weakness of Hayworth’s claim to be a small government conservative was brought into sharper focus with the release of this 2007 infomercial that Hayworth recorded for the National Grants Conference, which offers seminars on how to people can get free money from government through grants.

Pretty much summarizes my views of the former Congressman.  Hayworth may talk a good talk on immigration (from time to time), but when he comes to spending, he ain’t a conservative. Got the Klein quote via Jim Geraghty who offers:

Beyond that, the ad is so tacky it makes those “Real Housewives” series look classy. You’re a U.S. congressman, you’re supposed to be above these sorts of things. After you leave Congress, you’re supposed to makeyour money the old-fashioned, honest way: writing a book no one will read, teaching a class that is only for the most diehard of political geeks, trading on your connections with a fat-cat, Gucci-wearing lobbying firm, and in the case of former Ohio congressman Jim Traficant, making license plates. If we have congressman popping up in infomercials, next thing you know we’ll have the President of the United States appearing in commercials for late-night shows.

Like Klein, I too understand why some conservatives are upset with John McCain.  But, at a time of ballooning budget deficits, an earmark-loving, big-spending former Congressman is not the man to replace him.

Today’s Must Read: Is US Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?

Thomas Sowell, one of our time’s great political thinkers, has a chilling piece up today

When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

“Useful idiots” was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

The president’s poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don’t believe in constitutional government.

That last bolded statement is so simple and true.

When it comes to Sowell’s question though, I believe the answer to it is: “We are already there.”  I think the next few weeks, especially events toward the end of the year, will show if Americans want to give up 200 years of our Constititutional experiment and drift into a dark age of tyranny.

Last summer I asked readers “Is The US In A Low Grade Civil War?”   I stated seven reasons why I thought so:

  1. There is a clear distinction between those who want a more authoritarian/socialist nation versus those who want to preserve the capitalist/democratic America we live in.
  2. There is a clear distinction between those who understand the principles and guidance and importance of the representative legislative process versus those who hide behind the Constitution as an excuse to create laws from the bench.
  3. There is a clear distinction between those who favor strong national security vs. those who want a borderless, global government.
  4. There is a clear distinction between those who hold US Constitutional principles dear (1st, 2nd, 10th Amendments in particular) and those who are ignorant or want to subvert those principles.
  5. There is a clear distinction between those who want to maintain a sensible fiscal policy versus those statists in Washington who spend our tax money with reckless abandon.
  6. There is a clear distinction between those who see themselves as Americans first versus those who want to segregate themselves into communities and ignore the national identity.
  7. Despite his promises, surveys show that Americans have elected one of the most divisive Presidents [Obama] since Richard Nixon.

These factors have gotten worse, not better in the course of the year.  You know it when you talk to friends and relatives.  I can feel the tension everywhere: airports, supermarkets, office complexes.  Those who don’t are Unicornists or aren’t paying attention.

I pray I am wrong and that the resolution to these severe conflicts happens in November at the ballot box.  I don’t think it will.  This will be a long hot summer for the United States of America and future generations will mark the year 2010 for its historical inflection point.  For that, I have no doubt.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)