Friday, March 27, 2015

Obama is Beau Geste's Sgt. Markoff

Remember the movie Beau Geste (1939)? I barely do. However I do remember the sadistic Sgt. Markoff of Fort Zinderneuf. I particularly recall Markoff's good fortune to have the Arab attackers appear when he needed them, and then flee when they no longer served his purpose. His line from the movie reminds me of President Obama's political career: "Look at them [the Arabs besieging Fort Zinderneuf]. They come when I want them, and they go when I don't need them anymore."

Such was Obama's good fortune both instances he ran for president. The press would magically appear to cheer when it served him, but disappear when no longer needed, or when Obama wanted time on the links.

Just as Markoff's good fortune ran out, so has Obama's. The press is questioning his ability to conduct foreign policy, and the real Arabs besieging Iraq and Syria, and the Russians menacing Ukraine and the Baltic states are showing little sign of decamping to suit Obama's golfing commitments.

Zinderneuf is now the whole Middle East. From Syria and Iraq struggling with ISIS, to the proxy war in Yemen between Iran and the US, and the precarious situation along Africa's Mediterranean coast, events have plainly outstripped Obama's abilities.

This is what happens when you grow up having everything magically go your way. In the past, Obama could count on people working to advance him. It worked all the way through law school, and his whole political career. Even the Nobel Committee did their part.

Unfortunately for him, the wider world doesn't exist to help him with either his plans, nor to help lower his handicap.

Expecting a Deus ex machina solution is not a foreign policy.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Defeating ISIS is simple (in theory)

The strategy is simple and consists of two prongs. As the British did in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising, ISIS must be made unfashionable (a quote from one of the British generals fighting the Mau Mau was that it was his goal to make it unfashionable to join) in the eyes of moderate Muslims. With the burning of the Jordanian pilot, ISIS is well on it's way to occupying that moral low ground. More lay and religious Muslim leaders are speaking out against the group.

Military action goes hand in hand with showing ISIS's essentially anti-Muslim behavior. Inflicting a series of military defeats on the group will serve to dissuade more young men searching for an identity from joining. After all, as bin Laden noted, who would choose a weak horse to ride?

Thankfully, this is also underway. ISIS holds a great deal of land, but is unable to control it. Territorial shrinkage is a given when its enemies press in from several directions, as is happening.

Although their military defeat is a near certainty -- especially if Iran or Turkey become involved, ISIS can only be extinguished by Muslims turning away from it. Making the group and its violence unfashionable can do this.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Obama as Greek myth: why our modern day Icarus crashed

Jim Geraghty notes that the Dems' foreign policy -- I would add much of their domestic policy as well -- lies in ruins.

What happened to the once promising approach to foreign policy that so many felt would transform the world's opinion of America?  In a word: reality.  You can't place a near neophyte who believes himself to be an expert (there's a term for that: Dunning-Kruger effect) and expect anything other than confusion, desperate hopefulness, and an abiding wonder as to why others won't cooperate.

In fact, the whole thing looks like an updated story of Icarus' doomed flight.  In this version, Icarus is Obama.  The sun that warms Icarus' constructed wings and exposes him is reality, while the role of Icarus' father Daedulus -- the man who made Icarus' disastrous flight possible is composed of many factors.  The media, who portrayed Obama as a man able to fly as high as he chose is the primary factor.  Affirmative action, political and academic, is implicated.  Certainly his ability to craft wonderfully vague and hope filled speeches seemed to confirm our hopes for a competent president.

Anyway, our modern Icarus donned the wings made for him, and him alone, and took off into the sky.  The sun's warmth seemed not to touch him at first.  He largely got what he wanted legislatively. He certainly got the foreign policy he wanted.  Now five years into his presidency, he finds the heat of the sun to be uncomfortable.  But that's the way the Icarus story always turns out: reality triumphs over everything -- especially incompetence.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Obama's proposed addition to the Christian Beatitudes

Blessed are the wealthy and middle class, for they have the most to take from.

Monday, September 24, 2012

UN Sec Gen has a problem with freedom of expression

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General has some thoughts on freedom of expression, and they aren't very friendly to those whose speech offends others:
[...] Freedom of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose. When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way.[...]

Now to follow the SG down the rabbit hole: How would the SG treat Islam and Judaism, both of which deny the divinity of Jesus, and therefore offend a couple of billion Christians, seems clear in light of his sentiments.  Same for Jews and Muslims being offended by the Christian claim that Jesus was the messiah.  This is doubtless offensive to them.  Simply celebrating Christmas must provoke and offend a great many others' values and beliefs.

Rather than seek to limit our freedom of expression, the thing to do is strengthen our freedom to provoke and humiliate others.  If we deny protection, we've agreed to a system that favors the least tolerant among us and encourages ever more violent and destructive protests. Better by far to tell these folks to grow up and not worry about how others view their religious beliefs.

Friday, June 01, 2012

This will be Obama's political epitaph

The Roman historian Tacitus wrote this of the Emperor Galba (3 BC - 69 ) and it struck me that it describes Obama very well:
He seemed too great to be a subject so long as he was subject, and all would have agreed that he was equal to the imperial office if he had never held it.
Many Americans would doubtless agree that the Hope and Change Obama of 2007-08 as built up by his supporters and the press bears little resemblance to the man bumbling through his first three years.

Candidate Obama held out such hope for, well, everything that some let down was inevitable. But the change from what he promised (post-racial, competence, economic recovery, etc.) to the small ball playing, constant campaigner is startling. Turning to the politics of class envy and seeking to pit one group of Americans against another as a way of holding power is a sign of both desperation and a glimpse of his true character.

In the end he should have stuck to voting present, giving inspiring speeches and eating the occasional stray.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Little Brett Kimberlin needs more exposure

For some time now, a felon by the name of Brett Kimberlin has been targeting bloggers who refer to his criminal past when posting about him.  Kimberlin has convictions for drug dealing, perjury, and being the "Speedway bomber".  This last was a nasty bit of work that seriously injured a bystander.

Since his release from prison, he became a minor celebrity among left leaning bloggers.  Also -- and this may at least partly be why he seeks to persecute bloggers who refer to his felonies -- he appears to be involved with two charities that together have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are numerous posts on the internet about this unpleasant fellow, and he may feel that the bloggers' actions are threatening to cut into donations and the grants he has gotten from sources such as a Soros foundation, Babs Streisand, and John Kerry's frau.  Or he may be unstable.  Whatever the reason, he has gone out of his way to harm those who truthfully report on his past actions.

Many bloggers have agreed to post on this cretin today in an effort to show solidarity with those bloggers Kimberlin and his associates have targeted.  Although I often don't agree with the politics of Kimberlin's victims, I really hate folks that attempt to bully and intimidate others into silence.  So this is my part of the push back.

Brett Kimberlin is an odious man.  He is a little man.  I hope the publicity he receives today (and over the past few months) leads to media investigations of the charities he is involved with as well as his finances in general.  He owes millions of dollars in damages to a woman whose husband was injured during his bombing spree.  If the aggressive persecution of bloggers reporting on his past leads to increased scrutiny of his finances, and causes him to pay what he owes, I will applaud this new example of unexpected consequences.

Here are some links to get you started

Washington Examiner has a story

Blogger Patterico describes his tangle with Kimberlin and his supporters.  It has gone on for about a year,  Patterico also provides a great deal of background info

Lee Stranahan has organized the get-out-the-story day, and provides an introductory video

Perhaps the most harrowing tale is that of blogger Aaron Walker


Thursday, April 26, 2012

See if you can tell the difference between the EPA's methods to ensure compliance and those of the USSR

An EPA apparatchik administrator discussed his methodology for ensuring compliance from those he oversees.  It involves attacking a few subjects to get the rest to stay in line.  Let's let him describe his methods:
“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.

“Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”
Now compare that to this bit of advice from Soviet administrator apparatchik Politburo member Molotov during Stalin's de-kulakization program (necessary for forced collectivization of the peasantry):  The kulaks must be dealt "such a blow" that "the middle peasant will snap to attention before us."

This is not to claim that Obama is Stalin nor that Obama practices Stalinist techniques (his own administrator insists the technique is Roman).  But it is interesting that the Obama administration views those to be controlled as little more than recalcitrant serfs who respond best to threats and administrative violence.  Why else gloat about making examples of some in order that the rest "snap to attention before us."