Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 10, 2009

Someone Should Teach the Democrats How to Be Liberals

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could use a little refresher course in liberal thought.

Speaking at the Berlin Wall, Hillary Clinton used a liberal nickel word: History. But did she actually realize what she was saying? In her first sentence, she spoke of “that night 20 years ago when history broke through concrete and barbed wire and signaled a new dawn…”  She repeats herself later, referring to how “history did not end the night the wall came down; it began anew” (emphasis, in both cases, mine).

A political scholar would see this as a reference to Hegel, who coined the idea of History, as a driving force uniting past and present and pressing toward some utopian ideal. Marx and Lenin took a shining to the concept, using it as a foundation of their political theory. The notion has been latent in liberal thought ever since. You can’t be progressive unless you’re going somewhere, right?

Ms. Clinton must not have realized how loaded her word choice was. After all, History, in that very same context, was used as a justification for many of the communists’ shady or brutal dealings. (Oops.)

Better yet, President Obama accidentally articulated a conservative thought: “Human destiny is what human beings make of it,” he said in his Berlin Wall televised address.

A conservative might wish the extreme thesis and antithesis of the president and secretary of state collided here. The synthesis might be closer to the moderate policy that candidate Obama originally proclaimed. But alas, all we have is nostalgia for Woodrow Wilson, poli-sci prof-turned-president. Apparently, the Zeitgeist is political illiteracy.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could use a little refresher course in liberal thought.

Speaking at the Berlin Wall, Hillary Clinton used a liberal nickel word: History. But did she actually realize what she was saying? In her first sentence, she spoke of “that night 20 years ago when history broke through concrete and barbed wire and signaled a new dawn…”  She repeats herself later, referring to how “history did not end the night the wall came down; it began anew” (emphasis, in both cases, mine).

A political scholar would see this as a reference to Hegel, who coined the idea of History, as a driving force uniting past and present and pressing toward some utopian ideal. Marx and Lenin took a shining to the concept, using it as a foundation of their political theory. The notion has been latent in liberal thought ever since. You can’t be progressive unless you’re going somewhere, right?

Ms. Clinton must not have realized how loaded her word choice was. After all, History, in that very same context, was used as a justification for many of the communists’ shady or brutal dealings. (Oops.)

Better yet, President Obama accidentally articulated a conservative thought: “Human destiny is what human beings make of it,” he said in his Berlin Wall televised address.

A conservative might wish the extreme thesis and antithesis of the president and secretary of state collided here. The synthesis might be closer to the moderate policy that candidate Obama originally proclaimed. But alas, all we have is nostalgia for Woodrow Wilson, poli-sci prof-turned-president. Apparently, the Zeitgeist is political illiteracy.

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Who Was Distracted by Settlements, Rahm?

Rahm Emanuel’s statement today that “no one should allow the issue of settlements to distract from the goal of a lasting peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab world” may be interpreted in a couple of different ways. Some may see it as a jibe at Israel to give in on the issue so as to enable peace talks to proceed. But the truth is, if anyone has been distracted by the settlements to the detriment of peace, it would be Emanuel and his master in the Oval Office.

Some feared that the White House chief of staff’s speech to the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities today in Washington might be the latest in a series of tit-for-tat ripostes between the Obama administration and the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. However, it appears that Netanyahu’s determined effort to pretend — at least in public — that all is well between the two bickering allies has resulted in the administration’s deciding that increasing the tension between the two isn’t in their interest. Thus, although Emanuel’s talk sought to defend his boss’s feckless pursuit of popularity in the Arab world by distancing himself from Israel at every opportunity, it appears as though he passed on the chance to take any direct shots at Netanyahu.

As for his line about letting settlements “distract” anyone from the goal of peace, if anyone has done that, it has been Obama and his minions, whose recklessness on this issue has led to no end of Middle East mischief in recent months. Obama was determined to end what he termed the George W. Bush policy of allowing “no daylight” between the countries (which was hardly true, as Bush’s secretary of state spent her last two years in office trying to push the Israelis into more concessions to the Palestinians). His decision to pick a fight with the newly elected Netanyahu over a settlement freeze in Jerusalem and the territories was as foolish as it was pointless. The Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, had just turned down yet another generous peace offer from Netanyahu’s predecessor Ehud Olmert. And the administration’s settlement stand merely encouraged the Palestinians to dig in their heels and refuse to talk until Netanyahu bowed to a demand that no Israeli government would ever agree to.

The result is that Obama’s settlement distraction helped further undermine the already weak Abbas and strengthened the hand of his Hamas rivals. With Abbas threatening resignation, there is now a chance that the Palestinians will opt, as they always have whenever they have been faced with a serious policy choice in the past, for an escalation of violence in the hope that more bloodshed will result in greater pressure on Israel. Obama and his hatchet man Emanuel have been chastened by the Israeli public’s strong support for Netanyahu’s refusal to bow to American pressure, and they appear to be adopting a more realistic policy on settlements these days. But their resentment of Netanyahu, who they thought they might topple a few months ago, has done nothing to advance the cause of peace, let alone regional stability. Let’s hope they take that line about distractions more seriously in the future.

It should also be noted that in the same speech Emanuel claimed that the administration has made some sort of progress on stopping Iran’s nuclear program since “thanks to the work of the president, there is strong and international consensus against a nuclear-armed Iran.” Sorry, Rahm, but that consensus existed long before Obama arrived in Washington. The problem today is whether the United States and its allies (who have taken a much tougher stand on Iran than Obama has) will draw the right conclusions from America’s failed attempt at nuclear diplomacy with Iran. On Iran, as well as on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama’s first initiatives have been fiascoes. What’s needed now is not rhetoric aimed at reassuring American Jews that Obama cares about Israel but rather a dramatic policy overhaul that recognizes and seeks to correct the dramatic mistakes that have been made in the last ten months.

Rahm Emanuel’s statement today that “no one should allow the issue of settlements to distract from the goal of a lasting peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab world” may be interpreted in a couple of different ways. Some may see it as a jibe at Israel to give in on the issue so as to enable peace talks to proceed. But the truth is, if anyone has been distracted by the settlements to the detriment of peace, it would be Emanuel and his master in the Oval Office.

Some feared that the White House chief of staff’s speech to the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities today in Washington might be the latest in a series of tit-for-tat ripostes between the Obama administration and the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. However, it appears that Netanyahu’s determined effort to pretend — at least in public — that all is well between the two bickering allies has resulted in the administration’s deciding that increasing the tension between the two isn’t in their interest. Thus, although Emanuel’s talk sought to defend his boss’s feckless pursuit of popularity in the Arab world by distancing himself from Israel at every opportunity, it appears as though he passed on the chance to take any direct shots at Netanyahu.

As for his line about letting settlements “distract” anyone from the goal of peace, if anyone has done that, it has been Obama and his minions, whose recklessness on this issue has led to no end of Middle East mischief in recent months. Obama was determined to end what he termed the George W. Bush policy of allowing “no daylight” between the countries (which was hardly true, as Bush’s secretary of state spent her last two years in office trying to push the Israelis into more concessions to the Palestinians). His decision to pick a fight with the newly elected Netanyahu over a settlement freeze in Jerusalem and the territories was as foolish as it was pointless. The Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, had just turned down yet another generous peace offer from Netanyahu’s predecessor Ehud Olmert. And the administration’s settlement stand merely encouraged the Palestinians to dig in their heels and refuse to talk until Netanyahu bowed to a demand that no Israeli government would ever agree to.

The result is that Obama’s settlement distraction helped further undermine the already weak Abbas and strengthened the hand of his Hamas rivals. With Abbas threatening resignation, there is now a chance that the Palestinians will opt, as they always have whenever they have been faced with a serious policy choice in the past, for an escalation of violence in the hope that more bloodshed will result in greater pressure on Israel. Obama and his hatchet man Emanuel have been chastened by the Israeli public’s strong support for Netanyahu’s refusal to bow to American pressure, and they appear to be adopting a more realistic policy on settlements these days. But their resentment of Netanyahu, who they thought they might topple a few months ago, has done nothing to advance the cause of peace, let alone regional stability. Let’s hope they take that line about distractions more seriously in the future.

It should also be noted that in the same speech Emanuel claimed that the administration has made some sort of progress on stopping Iran’s nuclear program since “thanks to the work of the president, there is strong and international consensus against a nuclear-armed Iran.” Sorry, Rahm, but that consensus existed long before Obama arrived in Washington. The problem today is whether the United States and its allies (who have taken a much tougher stand on Iran than Obama has) will draw the right conclusions from America’s failed attempt at nuclear diplomacy with Iran. On Iran, as well as on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama’s first initiatives have been fiascoes. What’s needed now is not rhetoric aimed at reassuring American Jews that Obama cares about Israel but rather a dramatic policy overhaul that recognizes and seeks to correct the dramatic mistakes that have been made in the last ten months.

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Who?

The president spoke at Fort Hood today. This portion of his remarks is noteworthy for what it doesn’t mention:

It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know — no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next.

These are trying times for our country. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the same extremists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans continue to endanger America, our allies, and innocent Afghans and Pakistanis. In Iraq, we are working to bring a war to a successful end, as there are still those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that Americans and Iraqis have sacrificed so much for.

What “logic” is he referring to? What sort of “extremists”? Why it is a mystery? It is the ideology the president dares not name. Perhaps the president is too cowed by the political-correctness crowd or too personally uncomfortable to name our enemy. Apparently our commander-in-chief can’t quite get out the words “Islamic fundamentalists” or “Islamic fascists” or “Islamic” anything.

This is a very, very bad sign.

The president spoke at Fort Hood today. This portion of his remarks is noteworthy for what it doesn’t mention:

It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know — no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next.

These are trying times for our country. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the same extremists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans continue to endanger America, our allies, and innocent Afghans and Pakistanis. In Iraq, we are working to bring a war to a successful end, as there are still those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that Americans and Iraqis have sacrificed so much for.

What “logic” is he referring to? What sort of “extremists”? Why it is a mystery? It is the ideology the president dares not name. Perhaps the president is too cowed by the political-correctness crowd or too personally uncomfortable to name our enemy. Apparently our commander-in-chief can’t quite get out the words “Islamic fundamentalists” or “Islamic fascists” or “Islamic” anything.

This is a very, very bad sign.

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Rahm: We Really Like Israel, Honest

Rahm Emanuel declares before a large gathering of American Jews that Obama really isn’t hostile toward Israel. OK, he didn’t say that. But as William Burns said of the Iranians, the Obami have never been so defensive. Politico reports on his speech to the Jewish Federations of North America:

“Those who have questioned” whether the Obama administration has been too tough on Israeli settlements and its outreach to the Muslim world and wondered “that this implies diminished support for Israel, that is not the intent,” Emanuel said. “It is not the case and it never will be. The truth is the opposite. Only through dialogue will Israel achieve the peace it seeks.”

“This is a critical time for all who seek the critical goal of two states that enjoys broad support” in the U.S., Emanuel acknowledged. But he said Obama’s commitment to try to advance a negotiated peace between Israel, the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors will not be deterred by recent setbacks.

Well, “those who have questioned” the administration have, in fact, questioned the policy of trying to extract unilateral concessions. That’s not “dialogue”; it’s bullying. And the “setbacks” — well, that’s what comes from insisting that one side give up what it cannot possibly give up and raising the hopes of the other that it will get this very concession.

Nevertheless, it looks like the critics were right because Emanuel tells us that he agrees with Bibi: Talks should start as soon as possible with no preconditions. Hmm. That’s not what the Obami have been preaching and practicing for months now, is it?

Rahm Emanuel declares before a large gathering of American Jews that Obama really isn’t hostile toward Israel. OK, he didn’t say that. But as William Burns said of the Iranians, the Obami have never been so defensive. Politico reports on his speech to the Jewish Federations of North America:

“Those who have questioned” whether the Obama administration has been too tough on Israeli settlements and its outreach to the Muslim world and wondered “that this implies diminished support for Israel, that is not the intent,” Emanuel said. “It is not the case and it never will be. The truth is the opposite. Only through dialogue will Israel achieve the peace it seeks.”

“This is a critical time for all who seek the critical goal of two states that enjoys broad support” in the U.S., Emanuel acknowledged. But he said Obama’s commitment to try to advance a negotiated peace between Israel, the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors will not be deterred by recent setbacks.

Well, “those who have questioned” the administration have, in fact, questioned the policy of trying to extract unilateral concessions. That’s not “dialogue”; it’s bullying. And the “setbacks” — well, that’s what comes from insisting that one side give up what it cannot possibly give up and raising the hopes of the other that it will get this very concession.

Nevertheless, it looks like the critics were right because Emanuel tells us that he agrees with Bibi: Talks should start as soon as possible with no preconditions. Hmm. That’s not what the Obami have been preaching and practicing for months now, is it?

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Tantrums on Cue

Anyone who has ever watched a toddler work up a howl knows the drill: Assess the situation; determine that the bargaining position would benefit from a wall-eyed fit; begin the choking sniffle; twitch the arms and shoulders; stomp the feet; screw up the face; let fly with the piercing shriek; pause to survey the effect; repeat.

One thing we must acknowledge about the Kim Jong-Il regime is that it has this sequence down. If we were honest, we would acknowledge that the ploy keeps working because we, as the psychologists say, keep enabling the behavior. Except for the brief interim in 2002 when George W. Bush cut off fuel shipments to Pyongyang, after the admission that its nuclear- enrichment program continued, the U.S. has been requiting North Korean tantrums since 1994 with cookies, candy, and regular visits from Santa Claus.

The latest series of elaborate tantrums started in 2008, when Pyongyang began reconstituting its nuclear facility at Yongbyon. It has continued, conveniently for North Korea’s weapons programs, through a rocket test launch in April, a nuclear detonation in May, and multiple launches of short-range missiles in May and October. In the wake of signals that Pyongyang might be willing to rejoin the Six Party talks — and on the eve of President Obama’s trip to Asia — North Korea today threw one of its trademark tantrums by encroaching on South Korean territorial waters and provoking an exchange of naval gunfire. Seoul’s forces got the best of this encounter, sending one North Korean ship fleeing in flames while sustaining no casualties themselves. But the larger question will be whether the U.S., once again, seeks to pacify the tantrum-throwing North by providing billions in assistance in return for a fresh round of negotiations that have no prospect of producing a decisive outcome.

Our Six Party ally China has spent the past six weeks bolstering the Kim regime, with a visit to Pyongyang by Premier Wen Jiabao, calls for stronger trade ties, an invitation to Kim Jong-Il to visit China, and the cessation of reporting on trade data with North Korea. Some analysts interpret the latter as a means of averting embarrassment for Pyongyang, but another possibility is suggested by this story outlining the military’s takeover of North Korea’s minerals industry, which sells almost exclusively to China. Secrecy about the numbers associated with that trade would be explained well by involvement from Beijing in cultivating rising regime power players inside North Korea.

China’s main concern is to preserve the status quo on the Korean peninsula, lest it shift in favor of a reunification led by a Western-oriented, U.S.-allied Seoul. As long as Beijing’s interest is in keeping a China-friendly regime viable in the North, China will not put the kind of pressure on Pyongyang that might get us all out of the tantrum-tending do-loop. We still have the option, however, of changing the terms of our own participation in it.

Anyone who has ever watched a toddler work up a howl knows the drill: Assess the situation; determine that the bargaining position would benefit from a wall-eyed fit; begin the choking sniffle; twitch the arms and shoulders; stomp the feet; screw up the face; let fly with the piercing shriek; pause to survey the effect; repeat.

One thing we must acknowledge about the Kim Jong-Il regime is that it has this sequence down. If we were honest, we would acknowledge that the ploy keeps working because we, as the psychologists say, keep enabling the behavior. Except for the brief interim in 2002 when George W. Bush cut off fuel shipments to Pyongyang, after the admission that its nuclear- enrichment program continued, the U.S. has been requiting North Korean tantrums since 1994 with cookies, candy, and regular visits from Santa Claus.

The latest series of elaborate tantrums started in 2008, when Pyongyang began reconstituting its nuclear facility at Yongbyon. It has continued, conveniently for North Korea’s weapons programs, through a rocket test launch in April, a nuclear detonation in May, and multiple launches of short-range missiles in May and October. In the wake of signals that Pyongyang might be willing to rejoin the Six Party talks — and on the eve of President Obama’s trip to Asia — North Korea today threw one of its trademark tantrums by encroaching on South Korean territorial waters and provoking an exchange of naval gunfire. Seoul’s forces got the best of this encounter, sending one North Korean ship fleeing in flames while sustaining no casualties themselves. But the larger question will be whether the U.S., once again, seeks to pacify the tantrum-throwing North by providing billions in assistance in return for a fresh round of negotiations that have no prospect of producing a decisive outcome.

Our Six Party ally China has spent the past six weeks bolstering the Kim regime, with a visit to Pyongyang by Premier Wen Jiabao, calls for stronger trade ties, an invitation to Kim Jong-Il to visit China, and the cessation of reporting on trade data with North Korea. Some analysts interpret the latter as a means of averting embarrassment for Pyongyang, but another possibility is suggested by this story outlining the military’s takeover of North Korea’s minerals industry, which sells almost exclusively to China. Secrecy about the numbers associated with that trade would be explained well by involvement from Beijing in cultivating rising regime power players inside North Korea.

China’s main concern is to preserve the status quo on the Korean peninsula, lest it shift in favor of a reunification led by a Western-oriented, U.S.-allied Seoul. As long as Beijing’s interest is in keeping a China-friendly regime viable in the North, China will not put the kind of pressure on Pyongyang that might get us all out of the tantrum-tending do-loop. We still have the option, however, of changing the terms of our own participation in it.

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What’s in It for Them?

Obama turned out a record number of young voters, which in turn lifted many Democrats in marginal districts into office. The Virginia 5th is a case in point where university students and young voters swarmed to the polls, lifting Tom Perriello into office. But what has Obama actually done for young voters?

Well the unemployment rate for them is sky-high. And the president is trying to foist a new requirement that even the young and healthy must buy not simply catastrophic coverage but super-duper Pelosi-approved coverage. And it will be more expensive for them as they subsidize older Americans:

The bill would limit how much insurers can vary premiums based on the age of the person buying the policy. The narrower the range, the lower the premiums for older people, a help to those who currently pay some of the highest rates for insurance and often need coverage the most. But such a limitation tends to raise premiums for younger folks, who are sometimes reluctant to buy coverage. In the House bill, the ratio can only be as much as 2 to 1, meaning older people could pay no more than twice what the youngest customers are charged. … A calculator on the Kaiser Family Foundation Web site gives a rough sense. It suggests that under the House’s 2-to-1 cap, a 20-year-old would pay $3,169 in annual premiums and a 60-year-old would pay $6,339 for comparable plans, if they both had incomes above the subsidy-eligible level. Under a bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee, which had a 4-to-1 age-rating ratio, the 20-year-old would pay $2,258 and the 60-year-old would pay $8,357.

And Republicans have figured this out as well:

“We are going to tell every young American who has decided that they don’t want to pay those premiums, they want to save up to get married or to buy a home, that, by golly, they are going to have to take insurance. And they are going to pay three to four times what they would under the current system because there is only a 2-to-1 ratio,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas) during the weekend House debate.

Maybe young people don’t mind being forced to buy insurance or pay greater amounts so that Pelosi can stifle the shouts from seniors (who are already upset about cuts in Medicare Advantage). But we’ll find out in 2010 when they go to the polls. Or not.

Obama turned out a record number of young voters, which in turn lifted many Democrats in marginal districts into office. The Virginia 5th is a case in point where university students and young voters swarmed to the polls, lifting Tom Perriello into office. But what has Obama actually done for young voters?

Well the unemployment rate for them is sky-high. And the president is trying to foist a new requirement that even the young and healthy must buy not simply catastrophic coverage but super-duper Pelosi-approved coverage. And it will be more expensive for them as they subsidize older Americans:

The bill would limit how much insurers can vary premiums based on the age of the person buying the policy. The narrower the range, the lower the premiums for older people, a help to those who currently pay some of the highest rates for insurance and often need coverage the most. But such a limitation tends to raise premiums for younger folks, who are sometimes reluctant to buy coverage. In the House bill, the ratio can only be as much as 2 to 1, meaning older people could pay no more than twice what the youngest customers are charged. … A calculator on the Kaiser Family Foundation Web site gives a rough sense. It suggests that under the House’s 2-to-1 cap, a 20-year-old would pay $3,169 in annual premiums and a 60-year-old would pay $6,339 for comparable plans, if they both had incomes above the subsidy-eligible level. Under a bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee, which had a 4-to-1 age-rating ratio, the 20-year-old would pay $2,258 and the 60-year-old would pay $8,357.

And Republicans have figured this out as well:

“We are going to tell every young American who has decided that they don’t want to pay those premiums, they want to save up to get married or to buy a home, that, by golly, they are going to have to take insurance. And they are going to pay three to four times what they would under the current system because there is only a 2-to-1 ratio,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas) during the weekend House debate.

Maybe young people don’t mind being forced to buy insurance or pay greater amounts so that Pelosi can stifle the shouts from seniors (who are already upset about cuts in Medicare Advantage). But we’ll find out in 2010 when they go to the polls. Or not.

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Harder to Play Dumb Every Day

Yes, it is Onion day in America, as the absurdities pile up. This report tells us that we already have a defense for Maj. Hasan: “The strongest defense would be for him to say he has suffered post-traumatic stress from getting ready to deploy and years of debriefing soldiers who have been there as part of his work and that he reacted violently due to that stimulus.” So this is pre-post-traumatic stress, a defense that pretty much applies to every person in the military who has been deployed, is going to be deployed, or is worried about being deployed. The diversity cheerleaders will love it — it applies to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, and reality.

We also learn this:

In Washington, intelligence officials focused on Hasan’s communications with Aulaqi, who wrote Monday on his Web site that the Fort Hood attack was “a heroic act.” He wrote that a Muslim who “properly” understands his religious obligations cannot serve as a U.S. soldier, as American forces are engaged in fighting Islam and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. Army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal,” Aulaqi wrote, according to a translation.

At Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, where Aulaqi was an imam, mosque leaders denounced his statements.

“This was a really disgraceful statement from a blog of our former short-lived Imam Aulaqi,” the mosque’s outreach director, Johari Abdul-Malik, said Monday. “Aulaqi wasn’t angry like that when he was here with us. He changed after he left, after 9/11. He became a different imam.”

Not the imam they knew, it seems. But putting aside the Islamic Center, it once again makes the willful-blindness industry go into overdrive when this stuff pops up. Hasan was doing research when chatting via e-mail with the imam. Or he was stressed out already. Or, what? We’re getting a picture of the ideas and milieu in which Hasan chose to immerse himself.

I suspect that, with each passing day, it will get harder for government officials and media elites to play dumb. The inconvenient facts are too numerous, and the explanations why we should ignore them are increasingly preposterous.

Yes, it is Onion day in America, as the absurdities pile up. This report tells us that we already have a defense for Maj. Hasan: “The strongest defense would be for him to say he has suffered post-traumatic stress from getting ready to deploy and years of debriefing soldiers who have been there as part of his work and that he reacted violently due to that stimulus.” So this is pre-post-traumatic stress, a defense that pretty much applies to every person in the military who has been deployed, is going to be deployed, or is worried about being deployed. The diversity cheerleaders will love it — it applies to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, and reality.

We also learn this:

In Washington, intelligence officials focused on Hasan’s communications with Aulaqi, who wrote Monday on his Web site that the Fort Hood attack was “a heroic act.” He wrote that a Muslim who “properly” understands his religious obligations cannot serve as a U.S. soldier, as American forces are engaged in fighting Islam and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. Army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal,” Aulaqi wrote, according to a translation.

At Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, where Aulaqi was an imam, mosque leaders denounced his statements.

“This was a really disgraceful statement from a blog of our former short-lived Imam Aulaqi,” the mosque’s outreach director, Johari Abdul-Malik, said Monday. “Aulaqi wasn’t angry like that when he was here with us. He changed after he left, after 9/11. He became a different imam.”

Not the imam they knew, it seems. But putting aside the Islamic Center, it once again makes the willful-blindness industry go into overdrive when this stuff pops up. Hasan was doing research when chatting via e-mail with the imam. Or he was stressed out already. Or, what? We’re getting a picture of the ideas and milieu in which Hasan chose to immerse himself.

I suspect that, with each passing day, it will get harder for government officials and media elites to play dumb. The inconvenient facts are too numerous, and the explanations why we should ignore them are increasingly preposterous.

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Same Old, Same Old

Bibi Netanyahu delivered a speech yesterday that invited the Palestinians to “immediately” get to the bargaining table. The reaction was revealing: “Palestinian and Arab leaders responded coolly to the speech, which had been seen by the White House as an opportunity for new concessions by Israel.” Yes, every day hope springs eternal in the White House that Bibi will begin shuffling concessions across the table. And that expectation has only re-enforced the Palestinians’ and Arabs’ inclination to do nothing, offer nothing, and wait for Obama to deliver concessions to them. This is what 10 months of Obama’s smart diplomacy has gotten us.

And as if they had not been offensive enough in stalling the Israeli prime minister, trying to wring concessions out of him, and downgrading the visit, the Obami sneer at the speech — on background, of course:

U.S. officials working on Mideast policy were underwhelmed by the speech, saying it didn’t add anything new.

These officials also said they didn’t expect anything significant to come from the Israeli leader’s meeting with Mr. Obama, which they described as “low-key” and only happening because Mr. Netanyahu was already in town.

“We’re going to continue what we’re doing: which is to try and get negotiations going,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on Mr. Netanyahu’s visit. “I’m sure the president will make this clear to the prime minister tonight.”

And what exactly are they doing to get negotiations going? Ah, alienating Israel and encouraging unrealistic expectations on the other side! What could go wrong? But the Obami like creativity and yearn for something new. So what will the president tell Netanyahu? “Mrs. Clinton last week reiterated that U.S. policy called for a complete settlement freeze in the disputed territories. U.S. officials said they believed Mr. Obama would again stress this point to Mr. Netanyahu.” Ah, nothing new there. This is the same failed settlement fetish that got us this far (which is nowhere). Well, maybe if they say it louder or slower or dress it up with a nice bow, it will work this time.

Bibi Netanyahu delivered a speech yesterday that invited the Palestinians to “immediately” get to the bargaining table. The reaction was revealing: “Palestinian and Arab leaders responded coolly to the speech, which had been seen by the White House as an opportunity for new concessions by Israel.” Yes, every day hope springs eternal in the White House that Bibi will begin shuffling concessions across the table. And that expectation has only re-enforced the Palestinians’ and Arabs’ inclination to do nothing, offer nothing, and wait for Obama to deliver concessions to them. This is what 10 months of Obama’s smart diplomacy has gotten us.

And as if they had not been offensive enough in stalling the Israeli prime minister, trying to wring concessions out of him, and downgrading the visit, the Obami sneer at the speech — on background, of course:

U.S. officials working on Mideast policy were underwhelmed by the speech, saying it didn’t add anything new.

These officials also said they didn’t expect anything significant to come from the Israeli leader’s meeting with Mr. Obama, which they described as “low-key” and only happening because Mr. Netanyahu was already in town.

“We’re going to continue what we’re doing: which is to try and get negotiations going,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on Mr. Netanyahu’s visit. “I’m sure the president will make this clear to the prime minister tonight.”

And what exactly are they doing to get negotiations going? Ah, alienating Israel and encouraging unrealistic expectations on the other side! What could go wrong? But the Obami like creativity and yearn for something new. So what will the president tell Netanyahu? “Mrs. Clinton last week reiterated that U.S. policy called for a complete settlement freeze in the disputed territories. U.S. officials said they believed Mr. Obama would again stress this point to Mr. Netanyahu.” Ah, nothing new there. This is the same failed settlement fetish that got us this far (which is nowhere). Well, maybe if they say it louder or slower or dress it up with a nice bow, it will work this time.

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Re: Not from the Onion

While Mr. al-Bishi resembles my high-school homeroom teacher in more ways than one, it’s hard to translate, never mind negotiate, certain career arcs from one culture into another.

For example, when you’re a kid, someone inevitably asks you what you want to be when you grow up. And your response is usually culled from the same trite list of cultural expectations: medical transcriptionist, mystery shopper, furniture tester … professional beheader.

You see, that last item — doesn’t quite work in, say, Queens, where the sing-song phrase “It’s all fun and games until someone puts his eye out” is every overprotected child’s peculiar form of tinnitus.

Just think about birthdays:

“Here, son — your first scimitar.” “Golly gee, Dad, that’s awesome! Can I try it out on Suzy?” “Let’s not get a-head of ourselves! Ah ha ha ha ha ha!”

Ah, good fun, good times …

It’s usually at this point in our program that a giant illustrated foot comes crashing down on one and all for a quick cut to the next sketch, except, as I said, in certain cultures …

While Mr. al-Bishi resembles my high-school homeroom teacher in more ways than one, it’s hard to translate, never mind negotiate, certain career arcs from one culture into another.

For example, when you’re a kid, someone inevitably asks you what you want to be when you grow up. And your response is usually culled from the same trite list of cultural expectations: medical transcriptionist, mystery shopper, furniture tester … professional beheader.

You see, that last item — doesn’t quite work in, say, Queens, where the sing-song phrase “It’s all fun and games until someone puts his eye out” is every overprotected child’s peculiar form of tinnitus.

Just think about birthdays:

“Here, son — your first scimitar.” “Golly gee, Dad, that’s awesome! Can I try it out on Suzy?” “Let’s not get a-head of ourselves! Ah ha ha ha ha ha!”

Ah, good fun, good times …

It’s usually at this point in our program that a giant illustrated foot comes crashing down on one and all for a quick cut to the next sketch, except, as I said, in certain cultures …

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Not from the Onion

Hard to believe that this is not from the Onion: it is actually a “serious” interview … courtesy of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation:

Hard to believe that this is not from the Onion: it is actually a “serious” interview … courtesy of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation:

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Turkey Denies Another Genocide

Anyone who still thinks Turkey is a Western ally ought to pay close attention to what Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of his AKP party this weekend. Defending his decision to invite Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to Istanbul for an Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, AP reported, he said he has no problem with the fact that Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for mass murder in Darfur, because the accusation is clearly false.

“It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide,” he declared.

In other words, Erdogan is convinced that his co-religionists can do no wrong, in blatant disregard not only of the facts in Darfur but also of Muslim atrocities in many other places around the globe. And not only did he make it clear where his loyalties lie — with Islam, not the West (which supported Bashir’s indictment) — but in the process, he also rejected two of the cornerstones of the Western world, rationality and empiricism, preferring to disregard any facts that are inconvenient to his theology.

But lest anyone think this was a mere slip of the tongue, Erdogan went on to say that Israel committed far worse crimes during January’s war in Gaza than anything that happened in Darfur. Moreover, even if Bashir were responsible for state killings, he would still find it much easier to talk with Bashir than with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hmm. Human-rights groups estimate that as many as 300,000 people were killed in Darfur in 2003-05, and the killing continues even today, albeit at a slower pace. The highest estimate of Palestinian fatalities in Gaza is 1,440. Any unbiased observer would naturally agree that 1,440 deaths are much worse than 300,000 — given that the 300,000 were killed by Muslims (who, as we know, cannot commit genocide) and the 1,440 by non-Muslims. My co-religionists, right or wrong.

Adding a further note of surrealism to all this, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said last Friday that Turkish-Israeli relations would improve if only Netanyahu would let Turkey resume its role as mediator in Israeli-Syrian talks. Netanyahu has flatly refused, saying (correctly) that Turkey has forfeited any pretense of being an honest broker. It requires a serious disconnect from reality to even imagine that you can accuse someone of being the world’s worst war criminal one moment and expect him to treat you as an impartial mediator the next. Have we mentioned yet that Erdogan’s Turkey doesn’t seem too keen on rationality?

The Bashir contretemps is hardly the first time Erdogan has behaved in a matter incompatible with Turkey’s traditional alliance with the West. But it is past time for the West to finally admit the unpalatable truth. Turkey’s departure from the Western camp undoubtedly leaves a gaping hole. But only if Western leaders finally admit that this hole exists can they start thinking, as they must, about how to fill it.

Anyone who still thinks Turkey is a Western ally ought to pay close attention to what Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of his AKP party this weekend. Defending his decision to invite Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to Istanbul for an Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, AP reported, he said he has no problem with the fact that Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for mass murder in Darfur, because the accusation is clearly false.

“It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide,” he declared.

In other words, Erdogan is convinced that his co-religionists can do no wrong, in blatant disregard not only of the facts in Darfur but also of Muslim atrocities in many other places around the globe. And not only did he make it clear where his loyalties lie — with Islam, not the West (which supported Bashir’s indictment) — but in the process, he also rejected two of the cornerstones of the Western world, rationality and empiricism, preferring to disregard any facts that are inconvenient to his theology.

But lest anyone think this was a mere slip of the tongue, Erdogan went on to say that Israel committed far worse crimes during January’s war in Gaza than anything that happened in Darfur. Moreover, even if Bashir were responsible for state killings, he would still find it much easier to talk with Bashir than with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hmm. Human-rights groups estimate that as many as 300,000 people were killed in Darfur in 2003-05, and the killing continues even today, albeit at a slower pace. The highest estimate of Palestinian fatalities in Gaza is 1,440. Any unbiased observer would naturally agree that 1,440 deaths are much worse than 300,000 — given that the 300,000 were killed by Muslims (who, as we know, cannot commit genocide) and the 1,440 by non-Muslims. My co-religionists, right or wrong.

Adding a further note of surrealism to all this, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said last Friday that Turkish-Israeli relations would improve if only Netanyahu would let Turkey resume its role as mediator in Israeli-Syrian talks. Netanyahu has flatly refused, saying (correctly) that Turkey has forfeited any pretense of being an honest broker. It requires a serious disconnect from reality to even imagine that you can accuse someone of being the world’s worst war criminal one moment and expect him to treat you as an impartial mediator the next. Have we mentioned yet that Erdogan’s Turkey doesn’t seem too keen on rationality?

The Bashir contretemps is hardly the first time Erdogan has behaved in a matter incompatible with Turkey’s traditional alliance with the West. But it is past time for the West to finally admit the unpalatable truth. Turkey’s departure from the Western camp undoubtedly leaves a gaping hole. But only if Western leaders finally admit that this hole exists can they start thinking, as they must, about how to fill it.

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It’s Good for Diversity!

Eugene Robinson tries his best to provide a modicum of common sense on Fort Hood, but alas he is forced to dress it up in the gauze of diversity. He first declares:

There’s a difference between sensitivity and stupidity. If there were indeed signs that Maj. Nidal Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood mass murderer, was becoming radicalized in his opposition to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army had a duty to act — before he did.

So far, so good. Let’s see if the self-deluded liberal scribes intent on ignoring the obvious have the nerve then to lump Robinson in with the “bigots” in the right blogosphere who’ve been saying this for a few days now.

But Robinson feels compelled to tread carefully here. Why is it that we should have acted? Well, to help Maj. Nadal Hasan and Muslims more generally, you see. There was plenty of evidence of Hasan’s radicalized religious views, Robinson advises:

All this should have been enough to prompt an urgent intervention by Army brass, regardless of Hasan’s religion. That it did not is unfair to the thousands of Muslims who have served in the military, and continue to do so, with honor and distinction.

And really, Hasan was a victim here, believing, says Robinson, that “his faith was under assault.” So Robinson assures his fellow liberals that it really was OK to intervene:

Had authorities learned in advance of any link between Hasan and radical Islam — as opposed to the mainstream Islam practiced by more than a billion people worldwide — they could have moved immediately to ensure that Hasan could not hurt others or himself. That wouldn’t have been an act of bigotry, it would have been an act of prudence, even compassion.

Well, it’s better than what Gen. Casey was spewing out. But the laborious effort to defend the need for intervention and the convoluted justification for focusing on Hasan’s infatuation with radical Islam reveal the depth to which the Left has become paralyzed by political correctness. They can only defend Americans as part of a mental-health or  diversity-outreach campaign.

This is nonsense, of course. The purpose of intervention would not have been to secure the reputations of other Muslims. It would have been to prevent Hasan from slaughtering innocents. National security need not be justified as a diversity program. It’s a life-saving program.

It is the diversity obsession and the give-no-offense mentality that, we fear, allowed Hasan to avoid a stringent inquiry. I suppose Robinson can satisfy himself and those like-minded, squeamish souls who can’t bear to think they’re trampling on the sensibilities of anyone. But let’s be clear: the Army didn’t fail the “Muslim community”; it failed 43 wounded or slain people and their families. And to prevent it from happening again, we need to get over the diversity fetish (which imagines that Americans are too dumb to distinguish between nonviolent Muslims and those who’ve adopted a murderous ideology) and get on with the business of fighting a war against those who want many, many more Fort Hoods.

Eugene Robinson tries his best to provide a modicum of common sense on Fort Hood, but alas he is forced to dress it up in the gauze of diversity. He first declares:

There’s a difference between sensitivity and stupidity. If there were indeed signs that Maj. Nidal Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood mass murderer, was becoming radicalized in his opposition to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army had a duty to act — before he did.

So far, so good. Let’s see if the self-deluded liberal scribes intent on ignoring the obvious have the nerve then to lump Robinson in with the “bigots” in the right blogosphere who’ve been saying this for a few days now.

But Robinson feels compelled to tread carefully here. Why is it that we should have acted? Well, to help Maj. Nadal Hasan and Muslims more generally, you see. There was plenty of evidence of Hasan’s radicalized religious views, Robinson advises:

All this should have been enough to prompt an urgent intervention by Army brass, regardless of Hasan’s religion. That it did not is unfair to the thousands of Muslims who have served in the military, and continue to do so, with honor and distinction.

And really, Hasan was a victim here, believing, says Robinson, that “his faith was under assault.” So Robinson assures his fellow liberals that it really was OK to intervene:

Had authorities learned in advance of any link between Hasan and radical Islam — as opposed to the mainstream Islam practiced by more than a billion people worldwide — they could have moved immediately to ensure that Hasan could not hurt others or himself. That wouldn’t have been an act of bigotry, it would have been an act of prudence, even compassion.

Well, it’s better than what Gen. Casey was spewing out. But the laborious effort to defend the need for intervention and the convoluted justification for focusing on Hasan’s infatuation with radical Islam reveal the depth to which the Left has become paralyzed by political correctness. They can only defend Americans as part of a mental-health or  diversity-outreach campaign.

This is nonsense, of course. The purpose of intervention would not have been to secure the reputations of other Muslims. It would have been to prevent Hasan from slaughtering innocents. National security need not be justified as a diversity program. It’s a life-saving program.

It is the diversity obsession and the give-no-offense mentality that, we fear, allowed Hasan to avoid a stringent inquiry. I suppose Robinson can satisfy himself and those like-minded, squeamish souls who can’t bear to think they’re trampling on the sensibilities of anyone. But let’s be clear: the Army didn’t fail the “Muslim community”; it failed 43 wounded or slain people and their families. And to prevent it from happening again, we need to get over the diversity fetish (which imagines that Americans are too dumb to distinguish between nonviolent Muslims and those who’ve adopted a murderous ideology) and get on with the business of fighting a war against those who want many, many more Fort Hoods.

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Re: Will They Use the Time Wisely?

No, they didn’t. This report explains that Obama and 50 members of the Jewish Federations of North America talked a lot about health care and social services. Anything about the existential threat to the Jewish state? Anybody brought up the abject rudeness toward the Israeli prime minister, who was stalled, held up for concessions, and then given a “low key” meeting with Obama (minus the usual photo op)? Puleez. These folks are thrilled to be in the presence of the One:

William Daroff, vice president of public policy and director of The Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office, said that the group discussed “issues of concern to the Jewish community, including social services, foreign policy and the recession” with the president and his senior staff.

“To have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the president and socialize with White Hosue staff is a once in a lifetime opportunity for which we are grateful,” Daroff said. “It helped to move the ball forward on our public policy goals.”

Actually it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to demonstrate that they are in fact “leaders” and not starstruck sycophants who raise nary a complaint or concern about the president’s shockingly inept and counterproductive approach to the “peace process” or his engagement-turned-quicksand outreach to Iran. Israel faces an existential threat to its survival, but they want to talk about health-care reform. I’m sure they’re quite concerned about the abortion amendment, as that and the environment are tropes in the Torah of Liberalism.

But really, they posit themselves as defenders of Israel and the interests of American Jews. When do they plan on showing us that they are more than simply cheerleaders for Obama’s liberal agenda?

No, they didn’t. This report explains that Obama and 50 members of the Jewish Federations of North America talked a lot about health care and social services. Anything about the existential threat to the Jewish state? Anybody brought up the abject rudeness toward the Israeli prime minister, who was stalled, held up for concessions, and then given a “low key” meeting with Obama (minus the usual photo op)? Puleez. These folks are thrilled to be in the presence of the One:

William Daroff, vice president of public policy and director of The Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office, said that the group discussed “issues of concern to the Jewish community, including social services, foreign policy and the recession” with the president and his senior staff.

“To have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the president and socialize with White Hosue staff is a once in a lifetime opportunity for which we are grateful,” Daroff said. “It helped to move the ball forward on our public policy goals.”

Actually it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to demonstrate that they are in fact “leaders” and not starstruck sycophants who raise nary a complaint or concern about the president’s shockingly inept and counterproductive approach to the “peace process” or his engagement-turned-quicksand outreach to Iran. Israel faces an existential threat to its survival, but they want to talk about health-care reform. I’m sure they’re quite concerned about the abortion amendment, as that and the environment are tropes in the Torah of Liberalism.

But really, they posit themselves as defenders of Israel and the interests of American Jews. When do they plan on showing us that they are more than simply cheerleaders for Obama’s liberal agenda?

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Berlin and Obama, or Vice Versa

Last summer, Berlin served as a backdrop for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, as he gave his citizen-of-the-world speech that began by noting that he did not “look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city.” His speech referred to Berlin as a place “where a wall came down,” without describing how that happened (other than through a world that “stands as one”) — and without mentioning the names of the prior U.S. presidents whose Berlin speeches were part of the reason the wall eventually came down.

Yesterday, the heads of state of Germany, France, England, and Russia stood as one in Berlin, marking one of the most historic days of the 20th century. President Obama chose not to attend and sent a two-minute video instead. In it, he noted that “few would have foreseen [on that day in 1989] that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent.”

There used to be a newscaster in Los Angeles whose legendary self-regard generated an oft-repeated description: he thought “the news was there to bring you him.” The fall of the Berlin Wall apparently played a similar role in the history of Barack Obama.

Last summer, Berlin served as a backdrop for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, as he gave his citizen-of-the-world speech that began by noting that he did not “look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city.” His speech referred to Berlin as a place “where a wall came down,” without describing how that happened (other than through a world that “stands as one”) — and without mentioning the names of the prior U.S. presidents whose Berlin speeches were part of the reason the wall eventually came down.

Yesterday, the heads of state of Germany, France, England, and Russia stood as one in Berlin, marking one of the most historic days of the 20th century. President Obama chose not to attend and sent a two-minute video instead. In it, he noted that “few would have foreseen [on that day in 1989] that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent.”

There used to be a newscaster in Los Angeles whose legendary self-regard generated an oft-repeated description: he thought “the news was there to bring you him.” The fall of the Berlin Wall apparently played a similar role in the history of Barack Obama.

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Lacking Seriousness

David Brooks is fed up with the Fort Hood ninny-ism:

Public commentators assumed the air of kindergarten teachers who had to protect their children from thinking certain impermissible and intolerant thoughts. If public commentary wasn’t carefully policed, the assumption seemed to be, then the great mass of unwashed yahoos in Middle America would go off on a racist rampage.

He reiterates what the Left really doesn’t want reiterated, namely that “evidence is now mounting to suggest he chose the extremist War on Islam narrative that so often leads to murderous results.” Brooks observes the air-brushing of history and willful ignorance practiced by those who shirk their obligation to confront reality and defend America:

The conversation in the first few days after the massacre was well intentioned, but it suggested a willful flight from reality. It ignored the fact that the war narrative of the struggle against Islam is the central feature of American foreign policy. It ignored the fact that this narrative can be embraced by a self-radicalizing individual in the U.S. as much as by groups in Tehran, Gaza or Kandahar.

It denied, before the evidence was in, the possibility of evil. It sought to reduce a heinous act to social maladjustment. It wasn’t the reaction of a morally or politically serious nation.

But let’s be clear: this wasn’t the “nation” lacking seriousness. It was the president, his Army chief of staff, his Homeland Security secretary, and the elite media mavens. I suspect that the country is quite serious, and increasingly disgusted with leaders who pretend the public doesn’t have access to facts and who lack resoluteness in the face of America’s enemies.

Why has the president — not the country — feigned ignorance and shied away from “the possibility of evil” (evil, not mental derangement)? Well, it doesn’t mesh with Obama’s worldview or his outreach to the “Muslim World” if the perpetrators of violence are easily fingered. It upsets the construct that it is poverty or misunderstanding or American hubris that is responsible for much of the world’s ills.

Hasan is the ultimate inconvenient truth — a living (barely, thanks to the decency of Army medics) example that engagement and ingratiation don’t work with evil actors. The president is not uninformed or lacking in basic deductive reasoning skills. He is trapped — at least for now — in a narrative, a false one about the world and our enemies. Americans deserve better.

David Brooks is fed up with the Fort Hood ninny-ism:

Public commentators assumed the air of kindergarten teachers who had to protect their children from thinking certain impermissible and intolerant thoughts. If public commentary wasn’t carefully policed, the assumption seemed to be, then the great mass of unwashed yahoos in Middle America would go off on a racist rampage.

He reiterates what the Left really doesn’t want reiterated, namely that “evidence is now mounting to suggest he chose the extremist War on Islam narrative that so often leads to murderous results.” Brooks observes the air-brushing of history and willful ignorance practiced by those who shirk their obligation to confront reality and defend America:

The conversation in the first few days after the massacre was well intentioned, but it suggested a willful flight from reality. It ignored the fact that the war narrative of the struggle against Islam is the central feature of American foreign policy. It ignored the fact that this narrative can be embraced by a self-radicalizing individual in the U.S. as much as by groups in Tehran, Gaza or Kandahar.

It denied, before the evidence was in, the possibility of evil. It sought to reduce a heinous act to social maladjustment. It wasn’t the reaction of a morally or politically serious nation.

But let’s be clear: this wasn’t the “nation” lacking seriousness. It was the president, his Army chief of staff, his Homeland Security secretary, and the elite media mavens. I suspect that the country is quite serious, and increasingly disgusted with leaders who pretend the public doesn’t have access to facts and who lack resoluteness in the face of America’s enemies.

Why has the president — not the country — feigned ignorance and shied away from “the possibility of evil” (evil, not mental derangement)? Well, it doesn’t mesh with Obama’s worldview or his outreach to the “Muslim World” if the perpetrators of violence are easily fingered. It upsets the construct that it is poverty or misunderstanding or American hubris that is responsible for much of the world’s ills.

Hasan is the ultimate inconvenient truth — a living (barely, thanks to the decency of Army medics) example that engagement and ingratiation don’t work with evil actors. The president is not uninformed or lacking in basic deductive reasoning skills. He is trapped — at least for now — in a narrative, a false one about the world and our enemies. Americans deserve better.

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He’s Trying to Help, Right?

In an interview with ABC News, the president highlighted two controversial aspects of his health-care bill and inadvertently may have harmed its prospects. First, he declared that the Stupak amendment, which enabled pro-life Democrats to get on board, would have to go:

Saying the bill cannot change the status quo regarding the ban on federally funding abortions, the President said “there are strong feelings on both sides” about an amendment passed on Saturday and added to the legislation, “and what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo.”

Yes, the status quo for more than 30 years has been that taxpayers don’t subsidize abortions. But the president thinks women’s “insurance choices” would be restricted, so the Stupak amendment is kaput.

Then Obama was asked about the draconian Medicare cuts. They’re not real, right? I mean seniors already have trouble getting doctors to treat them at Medicare rates. Oh, no! The president is dead set on slashing Medicare:

“Are you willing to pledge that whatever cuts in Medicare are being made to fund health insurance, one third of it, that you will veto anything that tries to undo that?” [Jake] Tapper asked.

“Yes,” the President said. “I actually have said that it is important for us to make sure this thing is deficit neutral, without tricks.”

One has a sense that the White House is operating in a parallel political universe, one in which there is no pro-life contingent that nearly sunk the bill and in which Medicare cuts are a selling point. (Yesterday, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson declared he wouldn’t be supporting the bill without a provision like the Stupak amendment.) If he keeps this up, ObamaCare opponents will start using Obama in their ads.

In an interview with ABC News, the president highlighted two controversial aspects of his health-care bill and inadvertently may have harmed its prospects. First, he declared that the Stupak amendment, which enabled pro-life Democrats to get on board, would have to go:

Saying the bill cannot change the status quo regarding the ban on federally funding abortions, the President said “there are strong feelings on both sides” about an amendment passed on Saturday and added to the legislation, “and what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo.”

Yes, the status quo for more than 30 years has been that taxpayers don’t subsidize abortions. But the president thinks women’s “insurance choices” would be restricted, so the Stupak amendment is kaput.

Then Obama was asked about the draconian Medicare cuts. They’re not real, right? I mean seniors already have trouble getting doctors to treat them at Medicare rates. Oh, no! The president is dead set on slashing Medicare:

“Are you willing to pledge that whatever cuts in Medicare are being made to fund health insurance, one third of it, that you will veto anything that tries to undo that?” [Jake] Tapper asked.

“Yes,” the President said. “I actually have said that it is important for us to make sure this thing is deficit neutral, without tricks.”

One has a sense that the White House is operating in a parallel political universe, one in which there is no pro-life contingent that nearly sunk the bill and in which Medicare cuts are a selling point. (Yesterday, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson declared he wouldn’t be supporting the bill without a provision like the Stupak amendment.) If he keeps this up, ObamaCare opponents will start using Obama in their ads.

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The More They Know, the Less They Like It

Gallup has more bad news for the proponents of Obama-PelosiCare. Not only do most Americans want their representatives to vote against it, but they like it less than they did in October. Some highlights:

Thirty-eight percent now say they would advise their member of Congress to vote against a new healthcare bill this year, while 29% would advise their member to vote for it, and about a third have no opinion. When those with no opinion are asked which way they lean, the verdict becomes 48% ‘against,’ and 43% ‘for.’ Both of these results are more negative than those from early October. …

Independents are more negative than positive by a 2-to-1 margin.

Yet the Democrats, on the narrowest partisan majority, want to ram this home. But they are right about one thing: the longer this goes on, the worse it gets. In just a month, the percentage of those who want their representative to vote for a government takeover of health care has dropped 11 percent. When this comes up for a final vote at the end of the year, or in 2010, who knows how unpopular this legislation will have become.

But how can this be, with the president as the secret weapon, the ultimate salesman? It seems the public has tuned him out and figured out what’s in the bill — taxes, fines, Medicare cuts, and the like. Sometimes you just can’t pull one over on the voters. At least not when the issue is this critical to their daily lives and the legislation is so flawed.

Gallup has more bad news for the proponents of Obama-PelosiCare. Not only do most Americans want their representatives to vote against it, but they like it less than they did in October. Some highlights:

Thirty-eight percent now say they would advise their member of Congress to vote against a new healthcare bill this year, while 29% would advise their member to vote for it, and about a third have no opinion. When those with no opinion are asked which way they lean, the verdict becomes 48% ‘against,’ and 43% ‘for.’ Both of these results are more negative than those from early October. …

Independents are more negative than positive by a 2-to-1 margin.

Yet the Democrats, on the narrowest partisan majority, want to ram this home. But they are right about one thing: the longer this goes on, the worse it gets. In just a month, the percentage of those who want their representative to vote for a government takeover of health care has dropped 11 percent. When this comes up for a final vote at the end of the year, or in 2010, who knows how unpopular this legislation will have become.

But how can this be, with the president as the secret weapon, the ultimate salesman? It seems the public has tuned him out and figured out what’s in the bill — taxes, fines, Medicare cuts, and the like. Sometimes you just can’t pull one over on the voters. At least not when the issue is this critical to their daily lives and the legislation is so flawed.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

That Saturday PelosiCare vote may prove decisive for Democrats, just not in the way they imagined: “Republicans pronounced the political death of Rep. Thomas Perriello (D-Va.), pointing to the vulnerable freshman congressman’s vote in favor of the bill. … And in the aftermath of the politically charged vote, Perriello wasn’t the only Democratic congressman whose fortunes were being reassessed. The GOP, which voted nearly in lock step against the measure, began crowing about the demise of various other vulnerable members and seized on the moment as a milestone in the path back to a House majority.”

Dorothy Rabinowitz on Fort Hood and the ensuing self-delusion: “What is hard to ignore, now, is the growing derangement on all matters involving terrorism and Muslim sensitivities. Its chief symptoms: a palpitating fear of discomfiting facts and a willingness to discard those facts and embrace the richest possible variety of ludicrous theories as to the motives behind an act of Islamic terrorism. All this we have seen before but never in such naked form. The days following the Fort Hood rampage have told us more than we want to know, perhaps, about the depth and reach of this epidemic.”

A good question from Thomas Joscelyn: “The most disturbing threads of evidence link Hasan to a prominent al Qaeda recruiter named Anwar al Awlaki. … The FBI dropped the ball when investigating Awlaki at least twice in the past. So one must ask: Will the FBI and other U.S. authorities properly investigate Awlaki, including his purported ties to Hasan, this time?”

Robert Reich or Bob McDonnell? “Obama’s focus on health care rather than jobs, when the economy is still so fragile and unemployment moving toward double digits, could make it appear that the administration has its priorities confused. While affordable health care is critically important to Americans, making a living is more urgent. Yet the administration’s efforts to date on this more basic concern have been neither particularly visible nor coherent.”

If Sudan and Burma are on the engagement list, why not North Korea? “Senior administration officials said Monday that Obama decided last week to dispatch Stephen W. Bosworth, his special representative for North Korea, to Pyongyang after months of “intensive” discussions with U.S. allies in East Asia over how to reengage North Korea on its nuclear program.” After all, engagement negotiations with Iran went so well, we’re taking it on the road, it seems.

Attorney General Eric Holder is at it again, agreeing to give a keynote speech next week to a group that “includes the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations even though the FBI has formally severed contacts with the controversial Muslim civil rights organization. … The FBI claims it cut ‘formal contacts’ with CAIR after federal prosecutors in the 2007 criminal trial of officers of a Texas-based Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, introduced documents the government said showed links between CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood, which gave rise to Hamas.”

That Saturday PelosiCare vote may prove decisive for Democrats, just not in the way they imagined: “Republicans pronounced the political death of Rep. Thomas Perriello (D-Va.), pointing to the vulnerable freshman congressman’s vote in favor of the bill. … And in the aftermath of the politically charged vote, Perriello wasn’t the only Democratic congressman whose fortunes were being reassessed. The GOP, which voted nearly in lock step against the measure, began crowing about the demise of various other vulnerable members and seized on the moment as a milestone in the path back to a House majority.”

Dorothy Rabinowitz on Fort Hood and the ensuing self-delusion: “What is hard to ignore, now, is the growing derangement on all matters involving terrorism and Muslim sensitivities. Its chief symptoms: a palpitating fear of discomfiting facts and a willingness to discard those facts and embrace the richest possible variety of ludicrous theories as to the motives behind an act of Islamic terrorism. All this we have seen before but never in such naked form. The days following the Fort Hood rampage have told us more than we want to know, perhaps, about the depth and reach of this epidemic.”

A good question from Thomas Joscelyn: “The most disturbing threads of evidence link Hasan to a prominent al Qaeda recruiter named Anwar al Awlaki. … The FBI dropped the ball when investigating Awlaki at least twice in the past. So one must ask: Will the FBI and other U.S. authorities properly investigate Awlaki, including his purported ties to Hasan, this time?”

Robert Reich or Bob McDonnell? “Obama’s focus on health care rather than jobs, when the economy is still so fragile and unemployment moving toward double digits, could make it appear that the administration has its priorities confused. While affordable health care is critically important to Americans, making a living is more urgent. Yet the administration’s efforts to date on this more basic concern have been neither particularly visible nor coherent.”

If Sudan and Burma are on the engagement list, why not North Korea? “Senior administration officials said Monday that Obama decided last week to dispatch Stephen W. Bosworth, his special representative for North Korea, to Pyongyang after months of “intensive” discussions with U.S. allies in East Asia over how to reengage North Korea on its nuclear program.” After all, engagement negotiations with Iran went so well, we’re taking it on the road, it seems.

Attorney General Eric Holder is at it again, agreeing to give a keynote speech next week to a group that “includes the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations even though the FBI has formally severed contacts with the controversial Muslim civil rights organization. … The FBI claims it cut ‘formal contacts’ with CAIR after federal prosecutors in the 2007 criminal trial of officers of a Texas-based Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, introduced documents the government said showed links between CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood, which gave rise to Hamas.”

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