Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 16, 2008

The Times of London’s Fabulist

People are talking about a Times of London story claiming that Barack Obama will base his Middle East foreign policy on the Saudi peace initiative. The Times publishes a “scoop” of this nature on a regular basis, and they are almost always written by someone named Uzi Mahnaimi, the Times‘ Israel correspondent. The problem with Mahnaimi is that he’s not a journalist. He’s a fiction writer. Very little of what he writes turns out to be true. He is well known for this.

People are talking about a Times of London story claiming that Barack Obama will base his Middle East foreign policy on the Saudi peace initiative. The Times publishes a “scoop” of this nature on a regular basis, and they are almost always written by someone named Uzi Mahnaimi, the Times‘ Israel correspondent. The problem with Mahnaimi is that he’s not a journalist. He’s a fiction writer. Very little of what he writes turns out to be true. He is well known for this.

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Obama Will Honor Iraqis’ Wishes

Today, in a near-unanimous vote, the Iraqi cabinet approved a security agreement that will keep American forces in Iraq through the end of 2011. The Iraqi parliament is likely to pass the agreement before the assembly goes into recess November 24.

What does this mean for the incoming American administration? What happens to the claim that Barack Obama’s drawdown plan was consonant with the hopes of the Iraqi leadership? The agreement calls for American troops to be in Iraq for three more years. That’s 36 months – more than twice the length of time Obama has proposed troops stay in the country.

Nevertheless, President Obama will heed the new reality.

There is far too much resting on the successful fulfillment of this agreement for Obama to defy it. For starters, it is a watershed moment for American-Iraqi relations and Iraqi sovereignty. At last, all the talk about American strings controlling the actions of a puppet regime can be retired. We went in; we didn’t leave; and we respected the wishes of the new regime. Any scoffing at the legitimacy of Iraq’s constitutional government is a thing of the past. It’s very important for Iraq that its neighbors see a burgeoning Arab democracy negotiating seriously and competently with Washington. It is further evidence of the possibilities engendered by consensual government. Tearing up a cooperative agreement so delicately arrived at would go down as a diplomatic and geopolitical travesty for the Obama administration — proving, as it would, that America’s talk of freedom and democracy is piffle.

Also, as fighting intensifies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, any backsliding into lawlessness in Iraq would be seen, rightly, as America’s inability to defeat jihadists and provide security for new Muslim allies. We cannot afford to look like the weak horse while going up against Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, and hoping to recruit partners among the Afghan population. This goes doubly for what may await us in Iran. If Obama is serious about the military option there, then Iraq must remain a stable object lesson in American military success. Iraq must also remain free of Iranian meddling. The mullahs look to buy time for their own nuclear program by distracting us next door. A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces would open the gates for Iranian special groups to try and inflict chaos again.

The agreement provides an opportunity for our next president to put his best assets to work. With masterly oratory and measured resolve, he can sell his commitment to certain withdrawal at the end of 2011 as fulfillment of his campaign promise to “end” the war during his administration. Disgruntled liberals may rail him for not sticking to his 16-month drawdown plan, but no triumphal hawk should exploit the situation by gloating about Obama’s shift. If you believe in the rightness of the cause, there’s no sense in trying to humiliate the president for coming around to what you feel is just. As long as President Obama doesn’t commit foreign policy suicide by pulling out too soon and war advocates don’t revel in playing gotcha, staying the course and finishing the job under the incoming administration could go a long way in furthering America’s interests in the Middle East, and boosting our pride at home.

Today, in a near-unanimous vote, the Iraqi cabinet approved a security agreement that will keep American forces in Iraq through the end of 2011. The Iraqi parliament is likely to pass the agreement before the assembly goes into recess November 24.

What does this mean for the incoming American administration? What happens to the claim that Barack Obama’s drawdown plan was consonant with the hopes of the Iraqi leadership? The agreement calls for American troops to be in Iraq for three more years. That’s 36 months – more than twice the length of time Obama has proposed troops stay in the country.

Nevertheless, President Obama will heed the new reality.

There is far too much resting on the successful fulfillment of this agreement for Obama to defy it. For starters, it is a watershed moment for American-Iraqi relations and Iraqi sovereignty. At last, all the talk about American strings controlling the actions of a puppet regime can be retired. We went in; we didn’t leave; and we respected the wishes of the new regime. Any scoffing at the legitimacy of Iraq’s constitutional government is a thing of the past. It’s very important for Iraq that its neighbors see a burgeoning Arab democracy negotiating seriously and competently with Washington. It is further evidence of the possibilities engendered by consensual government. Tearing up a cooperative agreement so delicately arrived at would go down as a diplomatic and geopolitical travesty for the Obama administration — proving, as it would, that America’s talk of freedom and democracy is piffle.

Also, as fighting intensifies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, any backsliding into lawlessness in Iraq would be seen, rightly, as America’s inability to defeat jihadists and provide security for new Muslim allies. We cannot afford to look like the weak horse while going up against Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, and hoping to recruit partners among the Afghan population. This goes doubly for what may await us in Iran. If Obama is serious about the military option there, then Iraq must remain a stable object lesson in American military success. Iraq must also remain free of Iranian meddling. The mullahs look to buy time for their own nuclear program by distracting us next door. A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces would open the gates for Iranian special groups to try and inflict chaos again.

The agreement provides an opportunity for our next president to put his best assets to work. With masterly oratory and measured resolve, he can sell his commitment to certain withdrawal at the end of 2011 as fulfillment of his campaign promise to “end” the war during his administration. Disgruntled liberals may rail him for not sticking to his 16-month drawdown plan, but no triumphal hawk should exploit the situation by gloating about Obama’s shift. If you believe in the rightness of the cause, there’s no sense in trying to humiliate the president for coming around to what you feel is just. As long as President Obama doesn’t commit foreign policy suicide by pulling out too soon and war advocates don’t revel in playing gotcha, staying the course and finishing the job under the incoming administration could go a long way in furthering America’s interests in the Middle East, and boosting our pride at home.

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Obama’s Problem

Fred Barnes posits: “The more Obama succeeds, the better. The more of his agenda that’s enacted, the more an appealing conservative Republican alternative will emerge.” There is a certain counterintuitive logic here. If President Obama “succeeds” in taking away union secret ballot elections, raising taxes, loosening or abolishing restrictions on abortions, spending hundreds of billions on corporate bailouts, and nationalizing health care then Republicans will seem a whole lot saner and more appealing. The country will be the worse for it, but Republicans prospects will brighten.

We don’t know how this will work in practice, in part because the great mystery — who is the person we just elected 44th President? — is not resolved. But whether the “real” Obama is a moderate or a liberal Democrat, we can be sure he’s not a fiscal conservative. As Barnes concludes:

But don’t bet on his actually advocating tax cuts, especially of the across-the-board variety, aimed at fostering investment. That would represent a total reversal by Obama of his economic plan and cause a serious rift with his liberal followers. . . Rejecting tax cuts, Obama may try to spend his way out of the recession. Deficit spending can help for a while. It did for FDR. But when he had to cut back, the economy worsened. Obama would have to cut back, too. My point is this: Serious, economy-boosting tax cuts have a bright future. That is unless you think the economy will quickly be restored to health without them or that Obama might successfully blame the absence of recovery on Wall Street or business or rich folks, as FDR did. I doubt both those propositions. Obama is likeable and clever, but he’s not a magician.

So in the end the only question in 2010 — and more so in 2012 — will be “Did President Obama make things better?” If he doesn’t (by renouncing key components of his campaign rhetoric), the Democrats will have to come up with something better that “It’s Bush’s fault.” By then it will be Obama’s problem.

Fred Barnes posits: “The more Obama succeeds, the better. The more of his agenda that’s enacted, the more an appealing conservative Republican alternative will emerge.” There is a certain counterintuitive logic here. If President Obama “succeeds” in taking away union secret ballot elections, raising taxes, loosening or abolishing restrictions on abortions, spending hundreds of billions on corporate bailouts, and nationalizing health care then Republicans will seem a whole lot saner and more appealing. The country will be the worse for it, but Republicans prospects will brighten.

We don’t know how this will work in practice, in part because the great mystery — who is the person we just elected 44th President? — is not resolved. But whether the “real” Obama is a moderate or a liberal Democrat, we can be sure he’s not a fiscal conservative. As Barnes concludes:

But don’t bet on his actually advocating tax cuts, especially of the across-the-board variety, aimed at fostering investment. That would represent a total reversal by Obama of his economic plan and cause a serious rift with his liberal followers. . . Rejecting tax cuts, Obama may try to spend his way out of the recession. Deficit spending can help for a while. It did for FDR. But when he had to cut back, the economy worsened. Obama would have to cut back, too. My point is this: Serious, economy-boosting tax cuts have a bright future. That is unless you think the economy will quickly be restored to health without them or that Obama might successfully blame the absence of recovery on Wall Street or business or rich folks, as FDR did. I doubt both those propositions. Obama is likeable and clever, but he’s not a magician.

So in the end the only question in 2010 — and more so in 2012 — will be “Did President Obama make things better?” If he doesn’t (by renouncing key components of his campaign rhetoric), the Democrats will have to come up with something better that “It’s Bush’s fault.” By then it will be Obama’s problem.

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What Hillary Brings

One commentator offers this:

Asking Hillary to head the State Department might create some headaches for Obama, but could help him in at least one extremely important way: by giving him cover to appoint Larry Summers as Treasury Secretary.

As Jon Chait notes, some feminists are already pushing back against a Summers appointment–saying impolitic remarks he made while President of Harvard should disqualify him for the job. But if Obama announced Hillary will be Secretary of State and then appointed Summers, it would surely take away some of the sting.

That would allow Obama to head off a resurgence of the identity politics that paralyzed Bill Clinton’s first term, while simultaneously putting the best economic mind available in charge solving our most pressing problem–the economic crisis. As an added bonus, it would keep John Kerry and Bill Richardson from heading up the State Department.

It is a bit odd to suggest that identity politics is solved by, well, by playing identity politics sufficiently well to defang the political correctness crowd. The reality is that the latter is never satisfied by half a loaf. So, if Clinton’s selection is the price for disarming a rival or for blocking less deserving pleaders — fine. But the President-elect should be under no illusion that rationality, horsetrading and good old fashioned politics will appeal to intellectual purists.

The real question still remains: is Clinton the best gal for the job? If the job is some domestic policy strategy (e.g. get her out of the Senate and hush a rival), it is brilliant. If the task is finding someone with proven executive skills to manage a large, unwieldy bureaucracy, there might be better choices. (Recall that her campaign set a new low in dysfunction and disorder — until the McCain team came along.) And what of the knowledge and, yes, “temperament” needed for a the country’s chief diplomat? That’s another open question.

But her selection would offer one clear advantage: she would be a clear signal that all that happy talk about wooing the world through personal charm and empathy for the world’s bad actors was just fodder for the campaign. Picking her would be a vote in favor of hard-headed realism. Clinton didn’t buy for a moment that tea with Raul Castro was a peachy idea, and she wasn’t about to lose sleep if the U.N. didn’t look favorably upon the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment. And that’s why many conservatives are hoping that she’s the pick. Frankly, all the other likely picks are infinitely worse.

One commentator offers this:

Asking Hillary to head the State Department might create some headaches for Obama, but could help him in at least one extremely important way: by giving him cover to appoint Larry Summers as Treasury Secretary.

As Jon Chait notes, some feminists are already pushing back against a Summers appointment–saying impolitic remarks he made while President of Harvard should disqualify him for the job. But if Obama announced Hillary will be Secretary of State and then appointed Summers, it would surely take away some of the sting.

That would allow Obama to head off a resurgence of the identity politics that paralyzed Bill Clinton’s first term, while simultaneously putting the best economic mind available in charge solving our most pressing problem–the economic crisis. As an added bonus, it would keep John Kerry and Bill Richardson from heading up the State Department.

It is a bit odd to suggest that identity politics is solved by, well, by playing identity politics sufficiently well to defang the political correctness crowd. The reality is that the latter is never satisfied by half a loaf. So, if Clinton’s selection is the price for disarming a rival or for blocking less deserving pleaders — fine. But the President-elect should be under no illusion that rationality, horsetrading and good old fashioned politics will appeal to intellectual purists.

The real question still remains: is Clinton the best gal for the job? If the job is some domestic policy strategy (e.g. get her out of the Senate and hush a rival), it is brilliant. If the task is finding someone with proven executive skills to manage a large, unwieldy bureaucracy, there might be better choices. (Recall that her campaign set a new low in dysfunction and disorder — until the McCain team came along.) And what of the knowledge and, yes, “temperament” needed for a the country’s chief diplomat? That’s another open question.

But her selection would offer one clear advantage: she would be a clear signal that all that happy talk about wooing the world through personal charm and empathy for the world’s bad actors was just fodder for the campaign. Picking her would be a vote in favor of hard-headed realism. Clinton didn’t buy for a moment that tea with Raul Castro was a peachy idea, and she wasn’t about to lose sleep if the U.N. didn’t look favorably upon the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment. And that’s why many conservatives are hoping that she’s the pick. Frankly, all the other likely picks are infinitely worse.

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Calling for a Nuke-Free Israel

Today, the Israeli media is quoting a new paper put out by the Institute for Science and National Security in Washington . Of particular interest is this controversial recommendation:

The Obama administration should make a key priority of persuading Israel to join the negotiations of a universal, verified treaty that bans the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear explosives, commonly called the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). As an interim step, the United States should press Israel to suspend any production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Toward this goal, the United States should change its relatively new policy of seeking a cutoff treaty that does not include verification.

I expect such recommendations will become more frequent in the coming months, and so do some Israeli officials familiar with such matters. There are two reasons for this: 1. Some members of the Obama camp will be receptive to these ideas. 2. The international community has found no way of stopping Iran, and is now looking for new solutions to the problem of a nuclearized Middle East.

In fact, the authors of this new paper do understand that the problem starts with Iran:

Because of growing insecurity in the Middle East resulting from Iran’s nuclear progress in defiance of United Nations Security Council demands, other countries will likely start to consider their own options, perhaps including the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

So, do they go to the source and take care of Iran (thus, maybe avoiding the resulting nuclear race)? No. They have no solution for Iran. David Albright, the principal author of this paper, does not believe in the military option, and also doesn’t have any other brilliant ideas – aside from “robust diplomacy.”

Albright, an expert on nuclear issues no doubt, isn’t the only one who can’t find a way out of the Iran crisis. And he will not be the only one to seek the solution for Iran in Dimona. After all, pressuring Israel will presumably be much easier for the U.S. than pressuring Iran.

But here’s the problem: Where Albright and Andrea Scheel see a plan that “would establish international confidence in the peaceful nature of Middle Eastern nuclear programs,” Israel will see a plan concocted by people who failed to deal with a neighborhood bully and turned their attention to other places, so as to avoid a necessary confrontation. This is not establishing “confidence in the peaceful nature…” – but rather establishing disbelief in the ability of the international community to deal with aggressors. In fact, applying the pressure that the authors seem to want will achieve the exact opposite of their intended outcome: It will make Israel even more suspicious, and much less prone to give up whatever capabilities it might have to defend itself. And rightly so.

Today, the Israeli media is quoting a new paper put out by the Institute for Science and National Security in Washington . Of particular interest is this controversial recommendation:

The Obama administration should make a key priority of persuading Israel to join the negotiations of a universal, verified treaty that bans the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear explosives, commonly called the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). As an interim step, the United States should press Israel to suspend any production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Toward this goal, the United States should change its relatively new policy of seeking a cutoff treaty that does not include verification.

I expect such recommendations will become more frequent in the coming months, and so do some Israeli officials familiar with such matters. There are two reasons for this: 1. Some members of the Obama camp will be receptive to these ideas. 2. The international community has found no way of stopping Iran, and is now looking for new solutions to the problem of a nuclearized Middle East.

In fact, the authors of this new paper do understand that the problem starts with Iran:

Because of growing insecurity in the Middle East resulting from Iran’s nuclear progress in defiance of United Nations Security Council demands, other countries will likely start to consider their own options, perhaps including the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

So, do they go to the source and take care of Iran (thus, maybe avoiding the resulting nuclear race)? No. They have no solution for Iran. David Albright, the principal author of this paper, does not believe in the military option, and also doesn’t have any other brilliant ideas – aside from “robust diplomacy.”

Albright, an expert on nuclear issues no doubt, isn’t the only one who can’t find a way out of the Iran crisis. And he will not be the only one to seek the solution for Iran in Dimona. After all, pressuring Israel will presumably be much easier for the U.S. than pressuring Iran.

But here’s the problem: Where Albright and Andrea Scheel see a plan that “would establish international confidence in the peaceful nature of Middle Eastern nuclear programs,” Israel will see a plan concocted by people who failed to deal with a neighborhood bully and turned their attention to other places, so as to avoid a necessary confrontation. This is not establishing “confidence in the peaceful nature…” – but rather establishing disbelief in the ability of the international community to deal with aggressors. In fact, applying the pressure that the authors seem to want will achieve the exact opposite of their intended outcome: It will make Israel even more suspicious, and much less prone to give up whatever capabilities it might have to defend itself. And rightly so.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A fascinating report from Stephen Hayes from the Republican Governors conference. The contrast between the charismatic Sarah Palin and her wonkish colleagues is apparent. In their own distinctive way, each is impressive — vastly more so than any Republican in Washington.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is a lonely opponent of bailout mania.

A must-read debunking of five election myths from Chris Cillizza includes this: “For skittish conservatives looking for more evidence that McCain understood their needs and concerns, [Sarah] Palin did the trick. It’s hard to imagine conservatives rallying to McCain — even to the relatively limited extent that they did — without Palin on the ticket. And without the base, McCain’s loss could have been far worse.” The issue for Palin will be if she can retain the affection of the base while becoming someone who can be embraced by those beyond the base.

Karl Rove has plenty of savvy advice for Republicans including this (which won’t be greeted warmly in some conservative corners): “Republicans must find a way to support secure borders, a guest-worker program and comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens citizenship, grows our economy and keeps America a welcoming nation. An anti-Hispanic attitude is suicidal. As the party of Lincoln, Republicans have a moral obligation to make our case to Hispanics, blacks and Asian-Americans who share our values. Whether we see gains in 2010 depends on it.”

Gail Collins gets to the heart of the best argument in favor of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State: “While there are many excellent arguments for offering Clinton the job, one of the best is that until now, Senator Kerry was supposed to be the front-runner for State. Does that sound right, people? When one is out searching for the nation’s top diplomat, does it make sense to pick a guy who gets low scores in sociability?” The second best reason? Bill Richardson is also in the running.

Meanwhile, Maureen Dowd notes: “And Joe Biden would probably like a little less blond ambition at State so he could be the shadow secretary. But as James Carville has said, a campaign is the time to stab your enemies and a transition is the time to stab your friends.”

That’s rich — Eliot Spitzer doling out advice about excess and greed. If ever there were an argument against investing undue power in the hands of a government that can be bullying, undisciplined, and unprincipled, he is it. And in the most mindless suggestion yet? Appoint him to the Senate! Ah, where his arrogance and obnoxious behavior will fit right in?

The Washington Post should work harder at eliminating bias, says its ombudsman. Next time, how about during the campaign ?

This has a measure of truth: “Obama won the election not because of anything the McCain campaign did wrong. Obama won the election because he had the more plausible ‘change agent’ message and because he had vastly more resources with which to get this message out.” But two alternative conclusions might follow: either no one could have beaten Obama or McCain was the wrong candidate from the get go.

A fascinating report from Stephen Hayes from the Republican Governors conference. The contrast between the charismatic Sarah Palin and her wonkish colleagues is apparent. In their own distinctive way, each is impressive — vastly more so than any Republican in Washington.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is a lonely opponent of bailout mania.

A must-read debunking of five election myths from Chris Cillizza includes this: “For skittish conservatives looking for more evidence that McCain understood their needs and concerns, [Sarah] Palin did the trick. It’s hard to imagine conservatives rallying to McCain — even to the relatively limited extent that they did — without Palin on the ticket. And without the base, McCain’s loss could have been far worse.” The issue for Palin will be if she can retain the affection of the base while becoming someone who can be embraced by those beyond the base.

Karl Rove has plenty of savvy advice for Republicans including this (which won’t be greeted warmly in some conservative corners): “Republicans must find a way to support secure borders, a guest-worker program and comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens citizenship, grows our economy and keeps America a welcoming nation. An anti-Hispanic attitude is suicidal. As the party of Lincoln, Republicans have a moral obligation to make our case to Hispanics, blacks and Asian-Americans who share our values. Whether we see gains in 2010 depends on it.”

Gail Collins gets to the heart of the best argument in favor of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State: “While there are many excellent arguments for offering Clinton the job, one of the best is that until now, Senator Kerry was supposed to be the front-runner for State. Does that sound right, people? When one is out searching for the nation’s top diplomat, does it make sense to pick a guy who gets low scores in sociability?” The second best reason? Bill Richardson is also in the running.

Meanwhile, Maureen Dowd notes: “And Joe Biden would probably like a little less blond ambition at State so he could be the shadow secretary. But as James Carville has said, a campaign is the time to stab your enemies and a transition is the time to stab your friends.”

That’s rich — Eliot Spitzer doling out advice about excess and greed. If ever there were an argument against investing undue power in the hands of a government that can be bullying, undisciplined, and unprincipled, he is it. And in the most mindless suggestion yet? Appoint him to the Senate! Ah, where his arrogance and obnoxious behavior will fit right in?

The Washington Post should work harder at eliminating bias, says its ombudsman. Next time, how about during the campaign ?

This has a measure of truth: “Obama won the election not because of anything the McCain campaign did wrong. Obama won the election because he had the more plausible ‘change agent’ message and because he had vastly more resources with which to get this message out.” But two alternative conclusions might follow: either no one could have beaten Obama or McCain was the wrong candidate from the get go.

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The Democratic Assault On Democracy

In the post-election analysis, a lot of people are saying that the Republicans lost because they drifted away from their core principles. But oddly enough, right now the Democrats are engaging in assaults on something even more fundamental to their own nature — the very democratic process itself. Three examples come to mind.

First, we have the Orwellian “Employee Free Choice Act,” which has been crafted to make it easier for unions to organize workplaces. Many of the provisions of the bill are debatable, but there is one aspect that is garnering all the attention — and well it should, for it ought to be a deal-breaker for anyone with the least bit of interest in the rights of the individual.

Under the EFCA, unions would be able to bypass the requirement for a vote by the workers by collecting signed pledge cards from a majority. In other words, the current requirement for a vote by secret ballot will be replaced by union organizers requesting, face to face, that the worker make a declaration whether or not they support bringing in a union.

Thank heavens that unions have no history of violence, intimidation, corruption, or deception. Because if they did, the potential for the abuse of this system would be instantly realized.

The right to the secret ballot — to cast one’s vote in private, with no fear of retaliation or intimidation — is fundamental to freedom. We have scorned — and rightly so — so-called “elections” in other nations where there is no secret ballot, or where voter otherwise compelled to reveal to any and all concerned parties precisely how they voted. And in this case, the Democrats in Congress wish to strip that right, that fundamental protection, from American workers.

Another example is what has been unfolding in California since the election. On that day, Californians passed Proposition 8, which overturned a court decision and once again banned same-sex marriages.

The system worked, the people have spoken, the measure passed. Right?
Wrong.

This is the second time that Californians have used the referendum process to reject gay marriage. The first time, the supporters got a court to set aside the decision. This time, they’re being a bit more forceful.

Gay marriage supporters have assembled their own “blacklists” of those who donated money in favor of the referendum. They are picketing their places of work, urging that people boycott their employers, and have cost at least one man his job. At one of their rallies, a little old lady showed up with a Styrofoam cross. She was screamed at, intimidated, and had her cross taken away and smashed.

The Mormon Church was very much in favor of the proposition, and urged its members to work to get it passed. As a consequence, it finds itself under attack on numerous fronts, with all sorts of threats (legal and otherwise) being made.It’s worth noting that the Mormons who worked and voted in favor of the proposition are vastly outnumbered by the black and Hispanic churches who did much the same in greater numbers.

Finally, in Minnesota, the Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken has yet to be decided. However, the number of voting irregularities continues to skyrocket — “misplaced” ballots turning up in an official’s trunk, “errors” in reporting vote totals almost entirely for the Senate race and no others, many of the new numbers coming out of three small precincts, and so on. Meanwhile, the Franken campaign is working to match up absentee ballots with voters, shredding the anonymity of the ballot. And the Democratic Secretary of State has been making public statements that the Coleman campaign is “trying to win at any price,” then denying he said it.

In all three examples, and in countless others, the message is the same: the people can be trusted only as long as they choose the “right” way. Certain things are too important to leave up to the unwashed masses to decide, because they’ll simply screw it up. The list of such matters grows longer all the time, but it now apparently includes whether the state should sanction gay marriage, whether a worker should join a union, and who should serve as your senator.

There’s an old aphorism that “in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” One ideal example is the commonwealth of Massachusetts, where the government is almost entirely Democratic (100% of the Congressional delegation, the governorship, and over 85% of the two houses of the state legislature) and is quite possibly the most dysfunctional state government in the nation.

It appears that that is being supplanted by “the people get the government we think they deserve, whether they want it or not.” That doesn’t seem quite democratic — but it’s rapidly becoming very Democratic.

In the post-election analysis, a lot of people are saying that the Republicans lost because they drifted away from their core principles. But oddly enough, right now the Democrats are engaging in assaults on something even more fundamental to their own nature — the very democratic process itself. Three examples come to mind.

First, we have the Orwellian “Employee Free Choice Act,” which has been crafted to make it easier for unions to organize workplaces. Many of the provisions of the bill are debatable, but there is one aspect that is garnering all the attention — and well it should, for it ought to be a deal-breaker for anyone with the least bit of interest in the rights of the individual.

Under the EFCA, unions would be able to bypass the requirement for a vote by the workers by collecting signed pledge cards from a majority. In other words, the current requirement for a vote by secret ballot will be replaced by union organizers requesting, face to face, that the worker make a declaration whether or not they support bringing in a union.

Thank heavens that unions have no history of violence, intimidation, corruption, or deception. Because if they did, the potential for the abuse of this system would be instantly realized.

The right to the secret ballot — to cast one’s vote in private, with no fear of retaliation or intimidation — is fundamental to freedom. We have scorned — and rightly so — so-called “elections” in other nations where there is no secret ballot, or where voter otherwise compelled to reveal to any and all concerned parties precisely how they voted. And in this case, the Democrats in Congress wish to strip that right, that fundamental protection, from American workers.

Another example is what has been unfolding in California since the election. On that day, Californians passed Proposition 8, which overturned a court decision and once again banned same-sex marriages.

The system worked, the people have spoken, the measure passed. Right?
Wrong.

This is the second time that Californians have used the referendum process to reject gay marriage. The first time, the supporters got a court to set aside the decision. This time, they’re being a bit more forceful.

Gay marriage supporters have assembled their own “blacklists” of those who donated money in favor of the referendum. They are picketing their places of work, urging that people boycott their employers, and have cost at least one man his job. At one of their rallies, a little old lady showed up with a Styrofoam cross. She was screamed at, intimidated, and had her cross taken away and smashed.

The Mormon Church was very much in favor of the proposition, and urged its members to work to get it passed. As a consequence, it finds itself under attack on numerous fronts, with all sorts of threats (legal and otherwise) being made.It’s worth noting that the Mormons who worked and voted in favor of the proposition are vastly outnumbered by the black and Hispanic churches who did much the same in greater numbers.

Finally, in Minnesota, the Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken has yet to be decided. However, the number of voting irregularities continues to skyrocket — “misplaced” ballots turning up in an official’s trunk, “errors” in reporting vote totals almost entirely for the Senate race and no others, many of the new numbers coming out of three small precincts, and so on. Meanwhile, the Franken campaign is working to match up absentee ballots with voters, shredding the anonymity of the ballot. And the Democratic Secretary of State has been making public statements that the Coleman campaign is “trying to win at any price,” then denying he said it.

In all three examples, and in countless others, the message is the same: the people can be trusted only as long as they choose the “right” way. Certain things are too important to leave up to the unwashed masses to decide, because they’ll simply screw it up. The list of such matters grows longer all the time, but it now apparently includes whether the state should sanction gay marriage, whether a worker should join a union, and who should serve as your senator.

There’s an old aphorism that “in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” One ideal example is the commonwealth of Massachusetts, where the government is almost entirely Democratic (100% of the Congressional delegation, the governorship, and over 85% of the two houses of the state legislature) and is quite possibly the most dysfunctional state government in the nation.

It appears that that is being supplanted by “the people get the government we think they deserve, whether they want it or not.” That doesn’t seem quite democratic — but it’s rapidly becoming very Democratic.

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