Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Movie "Nine" Goes Down For the Count

Nine is about the artistic and marital crises suffered by a prominent Italian movie director in the early 1960s. I saw and enjoyed the original theater version in New York in the early 1980s. However, it looks as though the makers of the movie version had some crises of their own.

Nine, like Chicago, is a musical whose numbers have a surreal aspect to them. In fact, it’s very much like Chicago, and by the same director, but largely without the good acting, the good dancing, the good music, the good lyrics, the good script, and the good plot. The title has to do with the main character's flashbacks and emotional attachment to his nine year old self, but why this particular aspect is so important is not clear, at least in the movie version, although I confess to stretches of, ahem, inattention. It has a large cast of non-Italian, non-singers playing Italians with bad accents who occasionally break out in song; why the makers of this movie chose to cast in singing roles so many actresses who cannot sing may be the eternal question about this film. If you do wind up at the theater, my advice is to have your female companion elbow you for the “Be Italian” number, the only one worth distracting yourself for, and then return to your email, your nap, or your deliberations on places to vacation next summer. The "Folies Bergere" number also could have been pretty good – it has a catchy tune, but having the very overexposed and very-post-ing√©nue Judy Dench, heretofore and hereafter not known as a singer, belt it out in a dress with a generous d√©colletage is too much to bear, capturing in a nutshell this miss of a movie.

Richard Balsamo

Monday, December 28, 2009

Obama Team Fails To Prevent Airline Bomber & Then Claims “System Worked”

A known radicalized Muslim, despite previously having been reported to authorities by his concerned and fearful father and despite being on some kind of security watch list, on Christmas Day buys a one-way ticket on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit and in-flight sets off a bomb that he smuggled aboard. The explosion that would have killed all aboard doesn’t happen only because of the bomber’s incompetence in properly setting off his device, which we hear could have brought down the plane, and because of the quick interference by a vigilant passenger, the “Flying Dutchman”, who lunged across seats to grab the bomber and extinguish a flame he had ignited.

Janet Napolitano, the Obama appointee who heads the Homeland Security Department, the federal agency responsible for, among other things, airline security, said of the almost-successful airplane bombing: “the system worked” (link). This is the woman who incorrectly said at one point that the September 11, 2001, terrorists entered the United States from Canada, and who has directed her Department to refer to terrorist attacks as “man-caused disasters”.

Unlike so many of Obama’s other acolytes, who are just dangerous to Americans, Napolitano is an idiot as well. But her fecklessness toward Islamic terrorism is, as the saying goes, not a bug but a feature for this pseudo-moderate President who is culturally a blend of Islam and black radical pseudo-Christianity and who feels that the sins of the West in general and of the United States in particular are the understandable fuel for Islamic terrorism.

The indefatigable Jennifer Rubin writes (link) at Commentary Magazine’s Contentions blog:

Janet Napolitano’s the “system worked” remark is going to go down as one of those memorably idiotic statements that for better or worse become forever associated with an official’s name…. It reveals a fundamental policy cluelessness and sense of denial that we have learned, unfortunately, permeates the entire Obama administration…. A Georgetown University terrorism expert added, “This incident was a compound failure of both intelligence and physical security, leaving prevention to the last line of defense — the passengers themselves.” But the smartest observation comes from Ken Dunlap, security director of the International Air Transport Association: “We’ve spent eight years looking for little scissors and toenail clippers. . . Perhaps the emphasis should be looking for bad people.” But that would entail being candid about who the “bad people” are.
Being candid about who the “bad people” are was not a hallmark of the Bush Administration, with, for example, its random rather than targeted searches at airports, and it isn’t remotely true of the Obama Administration.

John M Greco

Friday, December 11, 2009

There Will Always Be an England (At Least in Memory)

More Islamicization stories out of merry England – they’re the drip, drip, drip of cultural water torture. It seems most Europeans, and many Americans, are in some sort of 1932-like haze, preferring to party like it's 1928 rather than face the coming storm there for the clear-eyed to see. They dismiss Barney Fife's (link) wise advice: Nip it in the bud, Nip. it. in. the. bud.

From Mark Steyn at the Corner at National Review Online (link):
Here are some snapshots of a society in very rapid transformation. First, by immigration: [Headline:] Record Level Of British Population Is Foreign-Born
Second, by the higher fertility rates of those immigrants: [news article excerpt:] The proportion of children born here to foreign mothers has also hit a new high. Some 24 per cent of the births in England and Wales last year – or 170,834 – were to mothers born outside the country.
Third, by marriage and conversion: [news article excerpt:] The former Roman Catholic from Warrington, who converted to Islam last year, gave evidence after swearing an oath to Allah and kissing the Koran.
But, if you look at the deference the state is willing to extend to Islam now and then pitch it ahead a decade or two, after more immigration, more births, more "reversions", one would not be sanguine about the long-term prospects of ancient English liberties. Nonetheless, complacency remains the order of the day. Anne Applebaum thinks we underestimate the appeal of "the very mildness of modern Europe" - or, as I call it, the vast gaping nullity of the multiculti state. Responding to an NR column of mine, Oliver Kamm in The Times of London professes to be "in favour of a vast gaping nullity".
The problem, as he'll live to see, is that that's only a transitional phase.

John M Greco

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why the Left Loves Global Warming, or, What’s It All About, Alfie?

Why? What’s it all about? It seems to be about power -- the real end game of the global warming hype. The surest way to expand the power of government is to have a crisis that seemingly needs a bigger government. If global warming didn’t exist, the left would have to invent it (as it seems they have) or something like it. Some gigantic crisis only a world government run by elites can tackle, for the betterment of a united, and controlled, mankind. A green utopia run by enlightened elites, with the power to end poverty, strife (but only for a while at best), and, while they're at it, perhaps pollution (line from Evita, sung by dictator Peron: “why not [actually] do some of the things you promised to”). And, I think, the power to end liberty.

Posted by Jude at HughHewitt.com (link):
What is it about global warming and environmentalism that has so many leaders falling over themselves to be declared the most saintly and swift in response, even before the facts are in and agreed upon? Maybe, since the fall of Communism - and before that the utopian Marxist ideal - the world's political class, along with the many citizens who root for the elite political class as a matter of principle or to curry favor, have been searching for such a unifying concept to build the Super-State around.... It is all about power.
From Mark Steyn at National Review Online (link):
Beginning with FDR, wily statists justified the massive expansion of federal power under ever more elastic definitions of the commerce clause. For Obama-era control freaks, the environment and health care are the commerce clause supersized. They establish the pretext for the regulation of everything: If the government is obligated to cure you of illness, it has an interest in preventing you from getting ill in the first place — by regulating what you eat, how you live, the choices you make from the moment you get up in the morning. Likewise, if everything you do impacts “the environment,” then the environment is an all-purpose umbrella for regulating everything you do. It’s the most convenient and romantic justification for … “soft despotism.”
John M Greco

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Climategate Shows Global Warming Alarmism Is a Faith-Based Initiative

The “Climategate” scandal, or hoax, has seriously damaged the standing of academic scientists and peer-reviewed science in general, as we have seen how a large group of prominent “scientists” actively engaged in a conspiracy, de facto if not de jure, to deceive the world via faked “data” that purported to demonstrate global warming in the first place and its human origin in the second place.

What we do know: the earth’s temperatures are not static, they are constantly changing, sometimes getting warmer and sometimes getting cooler. At times, the earth has been a relative hothouse and at times it has been a relative icebox. Even recently, relatively speaking, England and Chicago have been under ice, but, on the other hand, Greenland was warm enough to settle on and be named “Greenland” rather than ice-land. All this before man began burning oil and coal in a big way.

We certainly must be as environmentally responsible as possible, consistent with actual science. But we should not destroy our economies and way of life based on fear instigated by fraudsters who stand to gain financially, from scoring big research grants to selling books, films, and “carbon credits.”

And we also know this: some of the big hypesters of anthropogenic global warming don’t behave in a way they themselves describe as environmentally responsible. To wit -- Al Gore’s gigantic and wasteful carbon footprint has been well documented, and the attendees at the upcoming Copenhagen world climate conference will generate a larger carbon footprint in a few days than some countries do in a year. All this makes normal people believe that the leaders of the movement don’t really believe what they’re preaching, appearing to be modern-day Elmer Gantrys.

Will any of this mounting evidence of fraud deter the global warming acolytes? I doubt it, since their faith was never founded in true science, which is properly infused with skepticism and based on open inquiry and reproducibility of results. Rather, they are true believers, for whom faith in man-caused global warming has taken the place of organized religion, bringing a sense of purpose and meaning. True believers are not dissuaded by absence of science, let alone proof of fraud.

In response to “Climategate,” global warming advocates must rely on the “fake but accurate defense” – there may be some fraud, but is should not distract us from acting urgently on global warming, since the so-called scientists were only faking data to demonstrate the man-caused global warming we all know is happening. It’s wasted effort to argue with true believers that it's largely from faked and uncertain "science" in the first place that we “know” that global warming is happening and that it is man-caused.

Given the scope of what the alarmists want the people of the world to do, what they advocate is, to borrow a phrase from the Bush II years, the ultimate faith-based initiative.


John M Greco

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Liberals Feigning Ignorance of History, To Their Advantage, So They Think

Two recent statements by liberals have astounded me for the boldness of their dishonesty, or, as Obama would say, of their “bearing false witness.” It happens all too frequently, unfortunately. For example, how about the immeasurable dishonesty from Democrats lately about Obamacare being budget neutral, not raising taxes, “bending” the medical cost curve downward, not negatively impacting Medicare (despite the hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts in black and white right in the bill), etc., etc.

I know these falsities are made to fool the foolable and to influence those inattentive to politics and history. But here’s what has struck me lately.

First from a liberal “journalist” at The Atlantic magazine, whom I see is still around – I would read the occasional article by him back 15+ years ago when I flipped through his magazine. Courtesy of Peter Wehner at The Corner at National Review Online, James Fallows writes this (link) at The Atlantic online:
I am not aware of a case of a former president or vice president behaving as despicably as Cheney has done in the ten months since leaving power … Cheney has acted as if utterly unconcerned with the welfare of his country, its armed forces, or the people now trying to make difficult decisions. He has put narrow score-settling interest far, far above national interest.
I could only shake my head reading this bald lie. I immediately thought of the multitude of outrageously disparaging comments made by Al Gore about Bush and Cheney during their 8 year run. Fallows is not an idiot – he surely remembers them. But as an apparent ultraliberal enslaved to his ideology, he can’t acknowledge that. He pretends Gore’s comments didn’t happen and thinks most of his readers won’t know any better.

Wehner reacts (link):
Let’s see if we can help Mr. Fallows by going way, way, way back in history — to, say, the George W. Bush presidency, when former vice president Al Gore charged that Bush had “brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon,” and that Bush had “betrayed this country” and was a “moral coward.”
Funny, but I’m not aware that Fallows had anything critical to say about Gore at the time, even though what Gore said about Bush is far more personal and ad hominem than anything Cheney has said about Obama. You would think that Fallows, if he were concerned about the welfare of his country, its armed forces, or the people then trying to make difficult decisions, would have spoken up at the time. But shockingly he did not.
And there’s this whopper -- on November 6 Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, apparently responding to a report that one person of tens of thousands at various anti-Obamacare rallies had a sign with Obama as Hitler, said: “Imagine just a few years ago had somebody walked around with images of Hitler…” (link). Gibbs is either an idiot or a liar, and I suspect he’s not an idiot. If there was one constant about the many anti-Bush rallies over the years, it was the heavy doses of Bush as Hitler imagery (and Bush as a chimp as well). Just watching the occasional TV news show I saw countless examples. Yet here’s Gibbs, pretending none of that happened, and seizing on one supposed case to slur all opposed to Obamacare.

The Weekly Standard picked up on this bald lie and ran a collage of photos from rallies and exhibits with 56 images of Bush as Hitler (link; also nearby). As with Fallows, Gibbs surely remembers all that, but won’t acknowledge it, preferring to pretend the ubiquitous Bush as Hitler and Bush as a chimp imagery never happened.

I honestly don’t know why people like Fallows and Gibbs lie like this, when their falsities are so obvious to anyone half awake during the Bush/Cheney years. As I said, I know they say these things to fool the foolable and to influence those inattentive to politics and history, but in doing so they only reveal their debased morality.

Addendum: In the past, when liberals were in control of almost all national media, before conservative talk radio, the internet, and Fox News, Fallows and Gibbs would have gotten away with their statements uncontroverted media-wise in any effective, widespread way. But that was then. In today's world, easily refutable falsities won't fly any more (ask Dan Rather), though Fallows and Gibbs seem not to know that yet, almost certainly because they only read and watch liberal media, and they know those outfits won't call them on any fibs. Old habits die hard.

John M Greco

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Navy Seals Charged with Assault in Capturing Terrorist – Military Leaders Once Again Fail Their Own Troops

The American military leadership continues to show its fecklessness in sticking up for and protecting the backs of the very men and women it leads into battle. Close on the heels of the Islamic Jihadist murder spree at Ft. Hood that led the Army’s top general, one George Casey, to disgrace himself by declaring that as bad as the murders were, it would be even a greater tragedy if Army diversity should suffer, comes this story from the Navy.

Not to be outdone by the Army in prostrating before the liberal god of political correctness and sensitivity, the Navy now is prosecuting three Seals for allegedly assaulting a terrorist prisoner this past September. According to this Fox News story (link), the prisoner came up with a bloody lip after being transferred to Iraqi authorities and claimed that the Americans had done it. He is suspected of being behind the horrific murders and mutilations of the four American Blackwater security personnel in Iraq a few years back, a story that had shocked the nation. The news story notes that “[t]he military is sensitive to charges of detainee abuse highlighted in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.”

George Bush’s military leaders charged many servicemen with various war crimes, and to my recall the charges have been dropped one by one after lengthy investigations, though not before the accused and their families suffered much. George Bush’s Justice Dept. even went after Border Patrol agents. The American military leadership continues to periodically sacrifice men and women to show their bona fides to the liberal establishment, home and abroad, and to the Muslim world. This disgrace started under Bush and there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Obama will do anything but fan the fires.

John M Greco

Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama’s Health Care Push -- Destroy for Socialized Medicine

The Wall Street Journal reports (link) today that the Chinese are very critical of Obama’s fiscal management as they increasingly worry about the ability of America to repay its massive debt, much of which is owned by the Chinese themselves. And a big part of that fiscal mismanagement is Obama’s and the Democrats' relentless push for ObamaCare, with the unwillingness to try sensible alternative market-based and patient-centered reforms, all in the face of a massive federal deficit and unprecedented peacetime spending orgy.

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson writes today (link) in a piece titled Obama’s Malpractice:

Recovering slowly from a devastating recession, it's widely agreed that … a prudent society would embark on long-term policies to control health costs, reduce government spending, and curb massive future deficits…. So, what do they [the Democrats] do? Just the opposite. Their sweeping overhaul of the health care system -- which Congress is halfway toward enacting -- would almost certainly make matters worse…. The disconnect between what President Obama says and what he's doing is so glaring that most people could not abide it…. But reconciling blatantly contradictory objectives requires them [Obama and the Democrats] to engage in willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both.
So why are the Democrats pursuing this reckless and destructive path? John Steele Gordon writes (link) today at Commentary Magazine’s Contentions group blog:

Obama, Pelosi & Co. see this as a one-time opportunity to make socialized medicine inevitable. By destroying the current health-care system under the name of reform, they would make single-payer unavoidable…. [Obama] is bent on sharply shifting power in the direction of the government, away from individuals and the free market, and is willing to defy both the public and fiscal sanity to achieve this goal.
John M Greco

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ft. Hood Jihad Attack Shows Lethal Liberal Political Correctness Infests the Army

I cannot get over the astonishing comments (link) by the leader of the United States Army, General George Casey: “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

A peacetime “political general” if there ever was one. He and undoubtedly many other higher-ups have lost their way in the fog of modern liberal political correctness. This general does not see that the primary and essential purpose of the American military is to protect America and Americans, not to celebrate diversity at the cost of security to those it should protect. To be sure, the American military should embody American cultural principles to the extent consistent with its purpose. Muslims have been serving in the military along side Christians, Jews, and people of other faiths, and should continue to do so, but only under the same rules for all, not under special hands-off, look-the-other-way rules especially for them. Evidence is streaming out that the Army has become so focused on not appearing anti-Muslim that it has become anti-everyone else. Thirteen Americans are now dead, and many others are wounded, because the Army looked the other way at numerous signs of an impending Jihadist attack, and indeed, evidence strongly suggests, created a culture of intimidation that has made soldiers afraid to report disturbing information about a Muslim lest it damage their careers. Will General Casey meet with and tell the wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters of the dead that “as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse”? He was able to say those words for the liberal hosts of the Sunday morning political talk shows on the liberal networks; if he won’t say the same thing to the families of the dead he’s a coward.

This whole affair is a massive disgrace to the Army command structure and a betrayal to Americans. One would not have thought that the rot of liberal political correctness would have infested the Army, but it obviously has to horrific consequence. We have an immense scandal, and one imagines that lots of people should be fired over this but probably won’t be. Knowing what I now know, I do not have faith in either the Army or the Obama Administration to honestly get all the facts and properly fix things to minimize the chance of future deadly internal Jihadist attacks. For the modern American Army, it seems that scrutiny of a Muslim, even when seemingly warranted by myriad danger signs, is regarded as anti-Muslim and violative of its foremost purpose and principle – “diversity.” The Army used to sacrifice lives to defend America; now it sacrifices lives to defend diversity.

JMG

Related Posts:

US Army Has Been Choosing Diversity Over Security; After the Ft. Hood Jihadist Murder Spree, Will the Army Take Responsibility?

On the Ft. Hood Muslim Terrorist Mass Murder & Military Liberal “Political Correctness”

Monday, November 9, 2009

US Army Has Been Choosing Diversity Over Security; After the Ft. Hood Jihadist Murder Spree, Will the Army Take Responsibility?

As more stories about the Ft. Hood Islamic Jihadist mass murder come out, one thing is becoming clear – the United States Army has chosen “diversity” and liberal political correctness over the physical security of our country and that of its own soldiers. Anyone watching TV or reading the papers has now seen multiple current or former colleagues of the Ft. Hood Jihadist relate how they were uncomfortable with his often-professed radical Islamic ideology and anti-Americanism, how he had had counseling, but that nothing seemingly was done about him by Army authorities out of fear of appearing anti-Muslim.

Army Chief of Staff General George Casey appeared yesterday on the NBC News interview program “Meet the Press.” Here’s my partial transcript; the clip is available on You Tube.
Host David Gregory: “How did the Army miss this [increasingly unstable guy]?”
Casey: “I don’t want to say we missed this. We’re starting to see [Islam-related] anecdotes like this come out, [but] I worry a little bit about speculation like this based on anecdotes….” After describing how there will be a thorough investigation, the results of which we all should wait for, Casey stated “Right now, it’s way too soon to be drawing any conclusions about what his motivations were.”
Gregory asks about possible anti-Muslim backlash in the Army:
Casey: “Our diversity, not only in the Army but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”
Losing some diversity would be worse than what, General Casey? Eradicating the Army of vocally pro-Jihadist Muslims would be worse than what, General Casey? No statement from Casey about how the Army never has and never will allow liberal political correctness and special sensitivity toward Muslims to endanger this country or service men and women. Not a whit. Only that diversity is all important, trumping security. And Casey calls the Jihadist murder spree a “tragedy,” as if it were a tornado or a flood, something out of the Army’s control.

And this interview was not an aberration. Casey repeated this line of thought on other interview shows (link). His attitude is a disgrace, and helps explain why numerous Army personnel were afraid to forcefully speak up and/or take action against the man who became a Jihadist murderer for fear of Army repercussions against them. A fish rots from the head down. General Casey should resign – he has failed the Army and his country, and his attitude is patently a danger to service men and women going forward.

Linda Chavez writes (link) at Commentary's blog Contentions:
Taken at his word, Casey’s chief concern seems to be not protecting American soldiers from death at the hands of a jihadist in their midst, but preventing a “backlash” against “diversity” …. The statements were offensive on several levels. It’s as if our leaders — civilian and, in this case, military — believed that Americans are a pack of bigots who’ll be beating up innocent Muslims on the streets and vandalizing mosques if given the least excuse. That hasn’t happened, even in the aftermath of 9/11…. From President Obama on down, including the military chain of command, government officials seem to want to squelch legitimate questions about the role that Hasan’s religious views played in his decision to open fire at Fort Hood. That kind of willful myopia will breed suspicion and distrust among the American people and put servicemen and women at risk. And if Gen. Casey truly believes that “diversity” is more important than protecting his troops, he should hang up his uniform.
In WWII, to take just one of innumerable examples, Italian Christians fought Italian Christians, German Christians fought German Christians, and Japanese Americans formed one of bravest combat units in the war. This country should expect no more and no less from service men and women of any ethnic background or religion, including Islam.

Mark Steyn asks (link) at National Review Online the broader question about who the more dangerous enemy of Western culture is, and he doesn’t think it’s a bunch of Islamic Jihadists in a cave in Afghanistan.
So who's nuttier? The [Ft. Hood Jihadist] guy who gives a lecture to other military doctors in which he says non-Muslims should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats? Or the guys who say "Hey, let's have this fellow counsel our traumatized veterans and then promote him to major and put him on a Homeland Security panel? Or the Army Chief of Staff who thinks the priority should be to celebrate diversity, even unto death? Or the columnist who, when a man hands out copies of the Koran before gunning down his victims while yelling "Allahu akbar," says you're racist if you bring up his religion? Or the Secretary of Homeland Security who warns that the principal threat we face now is an outbreak of Islamophobia? Or the president who says we cannot "fully know" why Major Hasan did what he did, so why trouble ourselves any further?
In the larger context, the Ft. Hood Jihadist murder spree is just part of the ongoing attack on Western culture by the Unholy Alliance (link) of radical Muslims and anti-Western leftists and ultraliberals. It will be a long struggle.

JMG

Related Post: On the Ft. Hood Muslim Terrorist Mass Murder & Military Liberal “Political Correctness”

Sunday, November 8, 2009

From the Politburo to Obama -- Twenty Years After the Berlin Wall the Left Still Attacks Western Civilization, But Now from Within

Musing on the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the false sense of triumph over communist ideology that it inspired, Melanie Phillips, writing (link) in the Daily Mail, reminds us (not that much reminder is needed) that the far left simply switched tactics and now attacks us from within:
Soviet Communism was a belief system whose goal was to overturn the structures of society through the control of economic and political life. This mutated into a post-communist ideology of the Left, whose no-less ambitious aim was to overturn western society through a subversive transformation of its culture.

This was what might be called 'cultural Marxism'. It was based on the understanding that what holds a society together are the pillars of its culture: the structures and institutions of education, family, law, media and religion. Transform the principles that these embody and you can thus destroy the society they have shaped.

This key insight was developed in particular by an Italian Marxist philosopher called Antonio Gramsci. His thinking was taken up by Sixties radicals -- who are, of course, the generation that holds power in the West today. Gramsci understood that the working class would never rise up to seize the levers of 'production, distribution and exchange' as communism had prophesied. Economics was not the path to revolution.

He believed instead that society could be overthrown if the values underpinning it could be turned into their antithesis: if its core principles were replaced by those of groups who were considered to be outsiders or who actively transgressed the moral codes of that society. So he advocated a 'long march through the institutions' to capture the citadels of the culture and turn them into a collective fifth column, undermining from within and turning all the core values of society upside-down and inside-out. This strategy has been carried out to the letter.

This Through The Looking Glass mindset rests on the belief that the world is divided into the powerful (who are responsible for all bad things) and the oppressed (who are responsible for none of them). This is a Marxist doctrine.
Fourteen months ago, Melanie Phillips wrote, also in the Daily Mail, about one of Gramsci’s acolytes:
The seditious role of the community organiser was developed by an extreme left intellectual called Saul Alinsky. He was a radical Chicago activist who, by the time he died in 1972, had had a profound influence on the highest levels of the Democratic party. Alinsky was a ‘transformational Marxist’ in the mould of Antonio Gramsci, who promoted the strategy of a ‘long march through the institutions’ by capturing the culture and turning it inside out as the most effective means of overturning western society. In similar vein, Alinsky condemned the New Left for alienating the general public by its demonstrations and outlandish appearance. The revolution had to be carried out through stealth and deception. Its proponents had to cultivate an image of centrism and pragmatism.
His creed was set out in his book ‘Rules for Radicals’ – a book he dedicated to Lucifer, whom he called the ‘first radical’. It was Alinsky for whom ‘change’ was his mantra. And by ‘change’, he meant a Marxist revolution achieved by slow, incremental, Machiavellian means which turned society inside out. This had to be done through systematic deception, winning the trust of the naively idealistic middle class by using the language of morality to conceal an agenda designed to destroy it. And the way to do this, he said, was through ‘people’s organisations’.
And who, Phillips writes, reportedly idolized Alinsky, was trained in community organizing by “the Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in Chicago, worked for an affiliate of the Gamaliel Foundation, whose modus operandi … is rooted firmly in the Alinsky method,” … and who “himself taught workshops on the Alinsky method”?

Star pupil Barack Obama himself.


JMG

Friday, November 6, 2009

On the Ft. Hood Muslim Terrorist Mass Murder & Military Liberal “Political Correctness”

Yesterday an American-born Muslim Army doctor opened fire on unarmed Army personnel in the Fort Hood military base in Texas, killing 13, as of now, and wounding 29 while shouting the seemingly now-requisite “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great” in Arabic). Liberal media, as always, are turning themselves into pretzels to avoid even mentioning (link) that the killer is a Muslim and that Islam was connected in any way.

The Army has a lot to answer for, but given the atmosphere of liberal speech censorship commonly referred to as “political correctness,” I seriously wonder if it will even ask the questions, let alone formulate solutions, especially considering that the commander-in-chief is extremely deferential to Islam, being culturally some unique blend of Islamic and radical Christian influences admixed with the radical leftist views, as he grew up, of his family and their friends.

Here are the facts in evidence at this time. An American-born devout Muslim Army psychiatrist begins to exhibit increasingly angry behavior about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and praises Muslim suicide killers. He had received at least one poor performance review as a doctor, and in the past had to be counseled to behave better with patients. He had scrawled Arabic on his apartment door in Maryland. He was training on his own with small arms, unnecessary for his job as a doctor. The Army transfers him to Fort Hood from the D.C. area for a reason as yet unknown, and this year promotes him to the rank of major. He comes to the attention of authorities because of pro-jihad internet postings. The Army’s response to all this: as yet unknown.

How enervated the military has become from liberal “political correctness” about what is being referred to as “Muslim soldiers with attitude” remains unclear, but every honest and attentive American will have very strong suspicions and will form rebuttable presumptions.

Former soldier Ralph Peters has justifiably harsh words (link) in the New York Post:
The US Army’s unforgivable political correctness is also to blame for the casualties at Ft. Hood. Given the myriad warning signs, it’s appalling that no action was taken against a man apparently known to praise suicide bombers and openly damn US policy. But no officer in his chain of command, either at Walter Reed Army Medical Center or at Ft. Hood, had the guts to take meaningful action against a dysfunctional soldier and an incompetent doctor.
Had Hasan been a Lutheran or a Methodist, he would’ve been gone with the simoon. But officers fear charges of discrimination when faced with misconduct among protected minorities.
Now 12 soldiers and a security guard lie dead. 31 soldiers were wounded, 28 of them seriously. If heads don’t roll in this maggot’s chain of command, the Army will have shamed itself beyond moral redemption.
There’s another important issue, too. How could the Army allow an obviously incompetent and dysfunctional psychiatrist to treat our troubled soldiers returning from war? An Islamist whacko is counseled for arguing with veterans who’ve been assigned to his care? And he’s not removed from duty? What planet does the Army live on?
For the first time since I joined the Army in 1976, I’m ashamed of its dereliction of duty. The chain of command protected a budding terrorist who was waving one red flag after another. Because it was safer for careers than doing something about him.
Stephanie Gutmann, author of The Kinder, Gentler Military: How Political Correctness Affects Our Ability to Win Wars, writing (link) at The Corner at National Review Online, reminds us of history:
This is not the first time American soldiers have been victims of politically correct policies. In 2000, Navy brass were so concerned about appearing to be "sensitive guests" in Yemen's Port of Aden, that sailors patrolling the deck of the U.S.S. Cole were not allowed to carry loaded weapons. The ship did not deploy "picket boats" and establish a perimeter. In other words, the destroyer was totally unprotected when a small motorized skiff packed with explosives steered by two men, now believed to have been al-Qaeda, plowed into its hull, killing 17.
Even two hours after the attack, as the wounded ship listed in the harbor, sentries spotted yet another small skiff motoring deliberately toward them. One [sentry] raised his rifle and aimed, not to shoot them — he couldn't have — but in the spirit (as he told Navy Times) of "Nobody's getting near this ship." Almost immediately, his superior told him, "Let me tell you something about the rules of engagement. You can't point a loaded weapon at these people. That's an act of aggression."
The U.S. military would like to pretend it's not about defense and aggression, and it's sacrificed many young men and women to maintain this fiction. How many more victims of political correctness can we afford?


John M Greco

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Pelosi House Democrat Health Care Bill – Why the Lies?

The House Democrat/Pelosi Health Care Bill, HR 3962, is finally out. Connie Hair writes (link): “The new bill is essentially the same bill as the old bill -- H.R. 3200 -- but they’ve added an extra thousand or so extra pages of statist policy, bringing the bill in at a whopping 1,990 pages of nationalized medicine.” The same massive government take-over of heath care, the first step of a two-step maneuver to fully nationalized government-run health care, combined with budget trickery so egregious one can only call it an outright lie to the American people. The Wall Street Journal calls it (link) “among the worst bills Congress has ever seriously contemplated.” There’s no good – just the bad and the ugly.

The bad is that the usual Democrat wish list is all there. There’s the government run plan (link), the so-called “public option,” that would lead to Medicaid for all from de facto government-employed doctors. There’s the mandate that all individuals must buy health insurance or pay a fine, the constitutionality of which has been challenged (link), and as well the costly mandate that employers must offer health insurance to workers (link). The bill includes an expansion of Medicaid (link), where roughly half the costs will be kicked on to the states, many of which are functionally bankrupt. And as expected, what’s not in the bill is lawsuit reform -- in fact, there is specific language to prevent states from enacting meaningful “tort” reform (link).

But the ugly is the how the Democrats purport to pay for all this largesse -- it will cost about $1.3 trillion, or over $1,300 billion, over 10 years, much more than the "net" $894 billion number the Democrats are touting (link). Much of the money will come through higher income taxes and other assorted taxes and fees, like those on medical device manufacturers. And much will come from more than $200 billion of cuts to Medicare, led by a massive reduction in payments to doctors (link) that are mandated by the Medicare sustainable growth rate formula (link), but which the Dems will try to repeal in an action separate from the heath care “reform” bill, thus eliminating elsewhere the “savings” they are counting in their bill -- a disgraceful lie to the American people.

But here’s the big Democrat disgrace: In order to pretend that this massive, unprecedented spending will be “budget neutral,” even beyond the trickery involved with the Bill’s spending cuts to doctors and hospitals that they know will never happen, the Democrats must resort to egregious and transparent “budget trickery” (link): “the bill relies on some of the same budgetary gimmicks as the Senate Finance Committee's bill. Once again, we see that the Democrats backload the spending provisions into the final six years of the CBO's 10 year budget window to make it appear cheaper. Specifically, the CBO says the bill's gross spending will be $60 billion in the first four years, and $995 billion in the next six years (or 94 percent of the total).” In other words, roughly 10 years of revenues but only 6 years of spending in the Bill that the Congressional Budget Office, which looks at only the first 10 years, declared to be budget neutral.

It is beyond belief that any American political party, let alone one as large and important as this one, would resort to such blatant and transparent lying and trickery to convince Americans of their falsehoods that this Bill will pay for itself and not add to the national deficit, leaving aside for the moment its destructive content. This sordid episode is perhaps the best indication of what the Democratic party leadership really thinks of the American people – that we are simply proles who must be tricked into supporting what the liberal elite thinks is in our (and no doubt its) best interest.

John M Greco

Monday, October 26, 2009

Latest Data – Newspapers Still Dying; But the Chicago Sun-Times Has New Owners Who Bet They Have a Miracle Cure

Editor & Publisher reports (link) that over the past six months, of the 22 largest circulation newspapers for which there is data, all but one lost circulation; only the Wall Street Journal increased sales. In fact, percent declines for 15 of the 21 were in double digits. The Associated Press reports (link) that “average daily circulation at 379 U.S. newspapers plunged 10.6 percent in the recent April-September period from the same six-month stretch last year.

The internet has dealt the newspaper business a serious blow, but not just because the news and information is free and always available. It’s also because the internet houses all sorts of information from all sorts of political views, allowing readers to bypass the heavy, typically liberal biases of publishers. Moreover, faced with shrinking sales, many papers seem to have dumbed down the content, apparently trying to make inroads with what I have previously described as the demographic that doesn’t read much. That can’t be a smart strategy.

If “newspapers” are to survive, they need to see themselves as being in the news and information business, need to be able to charge customers for their content whether on paper or on the internet, and need to maximize the potential customer base by delivering news and information that’s balanced and fair -- a tall order for what seems like most newspaper publishers who apparently would rather die with a biased product than succeed without one.

Megan McArdle writes (link) at the Atlantic:
I think we're witnessing the end of the newspaper business, full stop, not the end of the newspaper business as we know it. The economics just aren't there. At some point, industries enter a death spiral: too few consumers raises their average costs, meaning they eventually have to pass price increases onto their customers. That drives more customers away. Rinse and repeat . . .
Meanwhile, a Chicago investor group has put up about $26 million to now own (link) what’s left of the Chicago Sun-Times, which in recent years has not only been dumbed down like so many other papers but has been driven hard to the left, leaving even middle of the road liberalism in the rear view mirror. The last bunch had a business plan whose key point was to alienate 50% of its potential readership base -- the only thing at which it succeeded. Do the new owners have some secret sauce or just hubris? We’ll find out soon.

Some Previous Related Posts:

Sinking Liberal Newspapers Throw Readers Overboard, & the Chicago Sun-Times as a Case in Point

Chicago Newspapers Fight for Air – Struggle for Control at the Sun-Times, and the Tribune Dumbs Down

Ray of Hope at the Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper


John M Greco

Monday, October 19, 2009

Obama, Losing Arguments on the Merits, Attacks Fox News

The Obama administration’s attack on Fox News, the only one of the many TV news organizations not slavishly smitten with Barack Obama, continues. Headline from a post (link) yesterday at the mildly liberal The Hill: “White House officials on Fox News: 'It's not a news organization.'” The other day White House Communications Director said Fox News was the communications arm of the Republican Party.

John Hinderaker at Powerline writes (link):

One might wonder why the Obama administration is so outraged that a single network fails to toe its line. The administration acts as though it deserves a monopoly on the news. Isn't that unreasonable? Maybe, except the fact is that the Democrats do need a monopoly. Their problem is that controlling almost all news outlets isn't quite enough, because without a complete monopoly, inconvenient news still gets out--ACORN, Van Jones, Anita Dunn, and so on. If it weren't for Fox, criticism of the Democrats wouldn't be illegal, it would just be nonexistent. Or invisible, anyway. Hence the administration's frustration.
Jay Nordlinger at National Review Online writes (link):
The White House war on Fox News is quite interesting. My impression is that the Obama people are very, very unused to criticism or “pushback” — especially from the media. They are used to support…. So Fox looks very exotic and alien to them…. Obama-supporting networks are normal and legitimate; the one non-Obama-supporting one is weird, freakish — probably un-American.
John Podhoretz once remarked that all conservatives are bilingual: We speak both conservative and liberal. Liberals are monolingual, because they can afford to be. To the Obama crowd, Fox News is a foreign tongue. When conservatives hear liberal bias, they say, “Yeah, so? The sun rises in the east.” When liberals hear conservative bias, or even a point or bit of news uncongenial to liberals, they’re apt to say, “Eek, a mouse!”

Peter Wehner writes (link) what many no doubt have begun thinking -- this is all "vaguely Nixonian."

Rather than debate the merits with opponents, Obama and his team seek to vilify opponents – a sure sign they continue to lose policy arguments and continue to slip in popular opinion polls. This behavior is unseemly and beneath the dignity of the office of the presidency. It bodes ill for Obama, his presidency, and the body politic.

John M Greco

Friday, October 16, 2009

Obama Tries Cash To Dupe Seniors on Obamacare

Facing poor support among seniors for his version of health care reform, President Obama now tries to lure them into complacency with a special one-time payoff. The Wall Street Journal reports (link):

President Obama announced that he wants to send every American senior a $250 check…. Supposedly these "economic recovery payments" are justified because seniors won't get an inflation-adjusted increase in Social Security benefits this year. This zero cost-of-living, or COLA, increase has many seniors alarmed, and AARP and other lobbies have been fanning their anxiety.
Mr. Obama's $250 check would be the equivalent of another 2% increase, and he is proposing no compensating spending cuts to pay for it. This means the checks will come out of general revenues, which means that they won't be financed based on the traditional calculations of what seniors pay into the system over their working lives.

This $250 gambit also underscores the dishonesty behind the budget math propping up ObamaCare. Democrats are claiming that half of the new entitlement's outlays will be "paid for" with Medicare cuts in future years. But if Democrats can't tolerate a zero COLA for one year in Social Security, how in the world are they going to bless $500 billion in cuts to doctors, hospitals and other Medicare reimbursements?
The real calculation here is political …. Every poll shows that seniors are among the most opposed to ObamaCare—by more than a 10-point margin in a late-September Gallup survey. Democrats are panicked that the zero COLA will feed senior opposition to health care and stop their attempt to ram it into law in the next few weeks. Mr. Obama's $250 checks are essentially bribes, a sort of political anesthesia intended to hush up seniors until the legislation is on the books.
Let’s see – the most recent Democrat version of health care reform just voted out of committee is the Senate Finance Baucus “bill", that I have written about here and here, which seeks to pay for its massive new spending primarily through over $400 billion in cuts to Medicare plus taxes and fees that will be passed along to health care consumers. And even worse, this Democrat plan seeks to turn each Medicare patient’s physician into his or her personal death panel (link) via a powerful incentive to doctors to reduce medical spending on seniors. Seniors are rightly very, very worried.

So Obama thinks he can distract them with a one-time payment of $250 per person.

Larry Kudlow said on his CNBC show today that “This is a naked attempt to buy senior citizen support for this outrageous health care plan, [in which] Medicare is getting slashed.”

Obama, with his support steadily eroding, is looking increasingly desperate.

John M Greco

Murderous Mao Tse-Tung is a Hero to Obama Spokeswoman

Every thinking person, whether he or she will admit it out loud, knows Obama is quite to the left in his true political beliefs, beyond ultra-liberal even, if one judges him by his past actions, associations, and words, and not by his enticingly soothing centrist demeanor that he adopted, right out of the “Rules for Radicals” playbook, some years ago to fool the foolable in his run for the presidency.

Now there is yet one more person from Obama's circle whose “moderate” mask has been pierced – his Communication Director Anita Dunn. Writes (link) Hans von Spakovsky at National Review Online:
Glenn Beck showed an absolutely damning video of Anita Dunn on his show yesterday. As everyone knows, she is the White House communications director who has declared war on Fox News. The video shows Dunn giving a speech in which she highlights the two most important political philosophers shaping her outlook on politics: Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa. The first “political philosopher” Dunn is praising was a tyrannical dictator who imprisoned, tortured, and killed millions of his own people. In fact, it is estimated that the Chinese Communists — led, inspired, and controlled by Mao — have killed 65 million Chinese citizens since 1949 through the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the Gulag system of slave-labor prisons (the “Laogai” system) that Mao implemented.
The liberal press has always relatively ignored the murderous reigns of Mao Tse-Tung (or Mao "Zedong") and Joseph Stalin, the two greatest mass murders of the 20th century and probably the two greatest of all time, preferring to focus on Adolf Hitler because he is commonly though inaccurately believed to be a man of the political “right.” Readers of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism know, if they didn’t know it already, that Hitler and his Nazi party were socialists based on nationalism, as distinct from the Soviets in Russia whose socialism was an international movement based on class. When Nazi Germany attacked Communist Russia and then declared war on the United States, leftists portrayed Hitler’s Nazism as a movement of the right rather than of the left. In reality, the fight between communism and nazism and other strains of fascism were intramural fights among different stripes of socialist totalitarian movements. But with Hitler’s Nazism as the bogeyman, American leftists are free to voice their admiration for communists.

Andy McCarthy, also at NRO, writes (link):
While Dunn's unabashed affection for the most execrable mass-murderer in history is shocking, the Maoists in Obama's attic are not a new story — just a story obstinately ignored by the mainstream media. Before the election, I wrote a column ("Another Communist in Obama's Orb") about Obama pal Mike Klonsky….

Roger Kimball, at his blog at Pajamas Media, writes (link) in a post entitled “A Maoist in the White House:”

Jeremiah Wright. William Ayers. Van Jones. Where does the rogues’ gallery of Barack Obama’s radical friends end? These people are not liberals. They are not “progressives.” They are radicals who hate America and in many cases have advocated or even perpetrated violence in an effort to destroy it.
Thanks to Glenn Beck, the American public has now been introduced to yet another radical member of Obama’s inner circle: Anita Dunn, Interim White House Communications Director, former top advisor to Obama’s political campaign, and wife of Obama’s personal lawyer, Robert Bauer.

In a speech before high school students last June, Dunn spoke passionately about her two favorite political philosophers, “the two people I turn to most” for answers to important questions like “how to do things that have never been done before.” Who are these paragons? One was Mother Teresa. Dunn didn’t have much to say about her. Most of her enthusiasm was lavished upon her other favorite fount of political wisdom: Mao Tse-Tung.

Mao Tse-Tung. That would be the deviant monster who, quite apart from his disgusting personal life, engineered the mass murder of anywhere from 50 to over 100 million people. Estimates vary so widely because murder on that wholesale scale is difficult to tabulate, especially in a country as backwards as China was under Mao’s long reign. But there is little doubt that Mao has the grisly distinction of being the greatest mass murderer in history.

Yet this is the man that one of Obama’s closest advisors commends to an audience with warmth and enthusiasm…..

Anita Dunn is not just an Obama hanger-on. She is part of his inner circle, one of his top aides …. What does it mean that someone in that position proffers one of the greatest monsters the world has ever seen for emulation? ….

In the 1960s and 1970s, many American universities, along with some other Western redoubts of privilege and irresponsibility, harbored a few deluded characters who declared themselves Maoists and were fond of toting around his pathetic compendium of absurdity, “The Little Red Book.” These creatures were the sorriest detritus of our own cultural revolution. Some destroyed themselves. Others grew up, in whole or part, and were absorbed by a rich and forgiving society into the tissues of American life. Only now is it clear that some of the most radical and benighted have subsisted long enough in the outer corridors of power to find themselves suddenly translated into its inner sanctum, the White House and other top agencies of the United States government. It is an eventuality that would be risible were it not repulsive and, indeed, frightening.

So, we have a self-professed admirer of Mao Tse-Tung in a top job at the White House. Where does it end? Where?


John M Greco

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Lie to the Lie that is the Baucus Senate Democrat Health Care Plan

The Baucus/Senate Finance Democrat "Health Reform" plan apparently will be voted on this week in committee. In addition to this proposal's harmful nature and deceitful portrayal that I reviewed in my last post (link below), on today's Fox Special Report news show Dr Charles Krauthammer stressed, uncontroverted, that the Baucus plan's benefits do not begin for another three years, but that the revenues, from new taxes (explicit and de facto) and Medicare spending cuts, are counted from year one, meaning that the Congressional Budget Office's financial evaluation ("scoring") that concluded that the plan is "budget neutral" for the next ten years is based on 10 years of revenue but only 7 years of expenditures. The Senate Dems undoubtedly revised their 10 year "plan" to include 10 years of revenue but only 7 years of benefits knowing that the CBO must by the rules "score" plans exactly as they are written, regardless of their sensibility or the likelihood that their assumptions will ever come to pass. Krauthammer stressed that on a year-by-year basis this plan "runs a deficit." As I wrote earlier, this Baucus plan is "a mistake inside a sham surrounded by a lie." This additional information just adds more lie to the lie.

Related Post:
The Revised Senate/Baucus Health Care So-called “Bill” – A Mistake Inside a Sham Surrounded By a Lie


John M Greco

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Revised Senate/Baucus Health Care So-called “Bill” – A Mistake Inside a Sham Surrounded By a Lie

Sorting through the Democrat smoke about the latest developments regarding the Senate Finance version of health care reform – also known as the “Baucus bill”:

1. There is no “bill” – there is no legislative language that has been reduced to paper that can be read to begin to understand the details of what the Democrats are proposing to do (link);

2. The Democrats are working with a “plain-English” conceptual “framework” of what the bill intends to say; in other words, all of the very important details and the specific wording that can mean the difference between lightning and a lightning bug do not exist to be read and thought about (link);

3. Furthermore, most Democrats have no intention of ever putting any legislative language on the internet for citizens to read and think about, and a proposal to do just that has been defeated in the Senate Finance committee by the majority Democrats (link); Why? -- because Democrats think citizens as well as themselves will just be “confused” by the actual legislative language (link), but the real reason is to hide the objectionable nature of many of the provisions, such as the hidden financial pressure on physicians to withhold care for Medicare patients, called by some “death panels by proxy” (link) or by me each patient’s "personal death panel” (link);

4. Nevertheless, the Senate Democrats asked the Congressional Budget Office to evaluate the costs of (i.e., “score”) the “plain-English conceptual framework” of the bill; this it just did (link), with a result less unfavorable to the Democrat proponents than before, so that now the Democrats are claiming victory (the “bill” won’t add to the deficit) and are pretending that the CBO “scored” an actual proposed piece of legislation rather than the plain-English conceptual framework;

5. This Senate Finance “conceptual framework” essentially calls for a new entitlement that the CBO says will cost about $829 billion over 10 years and actually save $81 billion (link). Yes, spend $829 billion to save $81 billion. Who could possibly believe this nonsense? Sentient beings know this "bill" would wind up costing much, much more, as programs like these always have.

6. And where will the $829 billion come from (link) so that this new program will be “budget neutral” so as not to add to the federal deficit? Well, from new taxes, which of course will not be called new taxes, and from deep cuts to Medicare (over $400 billion) that the Democrats know will never in actual fact happen. No one, no one, honestly can actually believe that Democrats will be cutting over $400 billion from Medicare. Apart from the merits or demerits of the actual content, anyone who believes this latest proposal will not add to the deficit in a big way is either a fool or a liar (as President Obama would say, I'm just "speaking truth to power" against "those would would bear false witness").

7. To those that disagree with the content of this “conceptual framework”, and who bemoan the secret, very non-transparent way the Democrats are trying to push it through, and who decry the dishonest way the cost and method of payment are being pitched, this whole sordid episode in Congressional history is a mistake inside a sham surrounded by a lie.


John M Greco

Friday, October 2, 2009

Writer Jan Morris is 83 Years Old Today, Author of the Masterpiece Pax Britannica Trilogy

Jan Morris, the remarkably talented and prolific writer of history and travel narratives, is 83 years old today. She is the writer I enjoy reading the most -- her powers of observation, analysis, and description are unparalleled. I have very much enjoyed her historical travelogues such as Hong Kong, The World of Venice, The Venetian Empire, and Trieste; but her masterpiece, though, and a true one it is, is her trilogy on the history, ethos, and meaning of the British Empire, the Pax Britannica trilogy: Heaven’s Command: An Imperial Progress (1973); Pax Britannica: The Climax of Empire (1968); and Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat (1978).

In Pax Britannica, writing as James Morris at the time, hers is history written as it should be, through the sensitive eye of a travel writer with the wordcraft of a poet, often through excerpts of apposite lines of poetry or etchings from gravestones in forgotten far-away cemeteries; sensual and rhythmic, her narrative evokes the sounds and smells of empire about you as you drift through the pages: "In one of the lonely cemeteries in which, buried where they died, the Anzacs lay lost among the Gallipoli ravines, the parents of one young soldier wrote their own epitaph to their son, killed so far away, so bravely we need not doubt, in so obscure a purpose: 'God Took Our Norman, It Was His Will, Forget Him, No, We Never Will' ... for all too often the sacrifices of the Great War, as its contemporaries called it, were given to a cause that was already receding into history, like those discredited grey battleships, their smoke-pall filling the sky, hull-down on the Aegean horizon."

Her narrative has all the stories, the wars (some obscure, like the British invasion of Tibet), the adventures, and of course all the characters (Curzon, once Viceroy of India, "died in 1925 after a career full of irony and vicissitude."). And humour abounds, subtle and dry: she writes of the last of the Moghul monarchs, who “believed himself to possess magic powers; for instance, he thought, wrongly as it proved, that in time of necessity he could turn himself into a house-fly.” Remarking on the work of Christian missionaries: “Not that such catechism training was always successful. The Hau Hau cult of New Zealand, though partially biblical in its beliefs, included among its rituals the sacrifice of Anglican clergymen.” Or: “Though mostly deserted [now], Mbau [in Fiji] is still a peculiar place to visit.... approaching it from the mainland by boat, the silence broken only by the swish of the paddles, the squawks of recondite water-fowl, and perhaps the chop of an axe from the hidden recesses of the island, is an experience partly Venetian but mostly Stygian.”

One's understanding of the world today is immeasurably nourished by her telling of the Imperial story. And as for the British themselves, she writes: "if Britain [is] to be prosperous and influential in the future it must be as an island Power off the coast of Europe. Now as always, it had not been the British Empire that the world really respected. It had not even been, as a matter of fact, Great Britain. It had been England, the heart of it all, England of Shakespeare and the Common Law, England of the poets and the liberators, Churchill's England of the white cliffs and the Cockney courage."

From her introduction to Pax Britannica: “I have fondly imagined my book orchestrated by the young Elgar, and illustrated by Frith; its pages are perfumed for me with saddle-oil, joss-stick and railway steam; I hope my readers will feel, as they close its pages, that they have spent a few hours looking through a big sash window at a scene of immense variety and some splendour, across whose landscapes there swarms a remarkable people at the height of its vigour, in an outburst of creativity, pride, greed and command that has affected all our lives ever since.”

She writes in the Prologue to Heaven’s Command: “I am, though, chiefly attracted to the aesthetic of empire: its feel, its look, its human passions, the metaphysics of its power, the sense of it, the intuition – its ships too, and its horsemen, and the dust of its high veld, and its distant trains streaming across the Punjab plain: and paramount for me in this jumble of suggestions is a sense of alter ego – as though the British had another people inside themselves, very different from the people that Dickens or Cobden portrayed, who yearned to break out of their sad or prosaic realities, and live brilliant lives in Xanadu…. I resolved to write a big, ornate, frank but affectionate work about Victoria’s empire, start to finish: an imperial trilogy, a pointillist portrait less of an age than of a conviction, in whose colours I would try to illustrate not only the extraordinary energies of the imperial generations, but also, suggested here and there in the shade or brush-stroke, some retrospective emotions of my own.”

Jan Morris, with a sensitive melancholy perhaps from her Welsh heritage, is a wonderful writer leading a remarkable life, and what treasures she has crafted.


Richard Balsamo

Related Post:  Writer Jan Morris Turns 85

Chicago’s Bid to Host Olympics Eliminated in First Round Vote; Obama & Chicago Democrats Look Like Pikers

Obama, Daley, and their gang of Chicago pols and celebrities could not win a vote that wasn’t pre-arranged through back-room deals and strong arm tactics. In the Olympics vote in Denmark, the Democrats of Chicago weren’t up against honest but milquetoast local Republicans, they were up against accomplished wheelers and dealers from all over the globe and came up looking like pikers.

Of course, had Acorn been there to stuff the ballot box on the front end with fraudulent votes and had the Chicago Democrats been able to run the selective, rigged vote count of which some Democrats are so fond (see Florida, 2000; Minnesota, 2008 [link]), the outcome surely would have been different.

UPDATE: Rich Lowry at National Review Online's The Corner Blog posts a comment from a reader: "Top Ten Reasons Chicago Didn't Get the Olympics" (link). I especially like these:
10. Dead people can't vote at IOC meetings
7. The impediment is Israel still building settlements.
4. This isn't about the number of Olympics "lost", it's about the number of Olympics "saved" or "created".
3. Clearly not enough wise Latina judges on the committee
1. It's George Bush's fault.
Then also at The Corner Mark Steyn posts this (link):
Re that Number One on your Top Ten list, here's how the Olympians see it: "I'm still in a state of shock. I can't believe we couldn't get past the first round. I still thought the (Chicago) bid overall was the best," said three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ambrose "Rowdy" Gaines. "Maybe there is some hangover from politics, from the last eight years," Gaines said.

As the saying goes, you can't make this stuff up.

John M Greco

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Democrat Congressman Says Republicans Want Sick Americans To Die; Sensible Reform Ideas

As support for the Democrats’ version of health care reform continues to decline (now way below 50% of Americans), conservatives and Republicans have been experiencing increasingly reckless and disgraceful charges from Democrats. The worst, the most toxic and tragic of all, of course, is the Democrat charge that opposition to their health care plans is racist. Now comes a charge that is not so toxic as it is bizarre.

Florida Democrat Representative Alan Grayson charged yesterday on the floor the United States House of Representatives that the Republican health care plan is for Americans to die quickly (link): "If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly," he said. He characterized America’s current health care system as “a holocaust in America.” Evidence? -- I suspect in his mind nothing more than the failure to see things the Democrat party way.

This from a Democrat whose party currently wants to cut Medicare spending by half a trillion dollars. This from a Democrat whose party, in the Senate Finance Committee bill, among other things, wants to turn Medicare patients’ doctors into personal death panels by incentivizing physicians to reduce spending on medical care, a subject of my last post (link).

Most Americans are smart enough to know that we have the best medical care system in the world (link), despite what detractors try to prove with dishonest statistics. We need to improve our system, yes, but most Americans now recognize that the Democrats are trying to throw the baby out with the bath water on their quest for socialized government run heath care.

Once again, I quote Peter Wehner, who recently wrote (link) that “Obama’s critics are now routinely labeled as unpatriotic, racists, liars, mobsters, evil mongers, practitioners of un-American tactics, and more. As Obama’s failures mount up, it will only get worse. The volume will only get louder. And the charges will only get more desperate and incendiary.”

Republicans and conservatives have lots of ideas and plans for responsible heath care reforms (link; link). For some sensible proposals, see these from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (link), summarized here (link):
  • Modify tax policy to eliminate the disincentives for individual purchase of health insurance and health care.
  • Eliminate regulatory barriers that prevent small businesses from cooperatively pooling and self-insuring their health risks by liberalizing the rules that govern voluntary health-care purchasing cooperatives.
  • Eliminate laws that prevent interstate purchase of health insurance by individuals and businesses.
  • Eliminate rules that prevent individuals and group purchasers from tailoring health insurance plans to their needs, including federal and state benefit mandates and community rating requirements.
  • Eliminate artificial restrictions on the supply of health-care services and products, such as the overregulation of drugs and medical devices, as well as state and federal restrictions on who may provide medical services and how they must be delivered.
  • Improve the availability of provider and procedure-specific cost and quality data for use by individual health consumers.
  • Reform the jackpot malpractice liability system that delivers windfall punitive damage awards to small numbers of injured patients while it raises malpractice insurance costs for doctors and incentivizes the practice of defensive medicine.
John M Greco

Monday, September 28, 2009

Senate Democrat Health Care “Reform” Bill Seeks To Turn Medicare Physicians Into Personal Death Panels

Senate Democrats do NOT want anyone to see the actual wording of the health care “reform” bill on which they are planning to vote, if indeed there ever is actual wording given the recent track records of Democrat legislators in the age of Obama to vote into law “bills” that are not yet fully reduced to actual writing.

The Washington Examiner reports (link):
A proposal by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., that would have required the Senate Finance Committee to post the final language of the $900 billion health care reform bill, as well as a Congressional Budget Office cost analysis, on the committee’s website for 72 hours prior to a vote was rejected 12-11. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., [who is expected to face a tough reelection race next year] was the only Democrat to side with [the Republicans]…. [Democrat] Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., himself admitted that “This probably sounds a little crazy to some people that we are voting on something before we have seen legislative language.” Indeed.
The reason for all this secrecy is obvious to everyone – despite all of their speechifying about “transparency,” the Democrats do not want the public to know the details of what they are trying to enact into law. They want to just stick with general platitudes about better health care for all.

Just one of the undoubtedly many features of the bill Democrats are trying to hide relates to what the Washington Times (link) calls “Death Panels By Proxy”:
Yes, there are death panels. Its members won't even know whose deaths they are causing. But under the health care bill sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, death panels will indeed exist - oh so cleverly disguised as accountants.
The offending provision is on Pages 80-81 of the unamended Baucus bill, hidden amid a lot of similar legislative mumbo-jumbo about Medicare payments to doctors. The key sentence: "Beginning in 2015, payment would be reduced by five percent if an aggregation of the physician's resource use is at or above the 90th percentile of national utilization." Translated into plain English, it means that in any year in which a particular doctor's average per-patient Medicare costs are in the top 10 percent in the nation, the feds will cut the doctor's payments by 5 percent.

Forget results. This provision makes no account for the results of care, its quality or even its efficiency. It just says that if a doctor authorizes expensive care, no matter how successfully, the government will punish him by scrimping on what already is a low reimbursement rate for treating Medicare patients. The incentive, therefore, is for the doctor always to provide less care for his patients for fear of having his payments docked. And because no doctor will know who falls in the top 10 percent until year's end, or what total average costs will break the 10 percent threshold, the pressure will be intense to withhold care, and withhold care again, and then withhold it some more. Or at least to prescribe cheaper care, no matter how much less effective, in order to avoid the penalties. The National Right to Life Committee concludes that this provision will cause a "death spiral" by "ensur[ing] that doctors are forced to ration care for their senior citizen patients."
This sordid episode is disgraceful behavior by the Democrat majority to ram through in secrecy a disgraceful provision, and all true patriots should call them on this.


John M Greco

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Universality of Podhoretz’s Question: Why Are Jews Liberal?

Last week the Wall Street Journal featured a short essay by Norman Podhoretz titled “Why Are Jews Liberal,” (link) which presumably touches on key points from his new book (link) of the same name. He makes the observation that although most liberal Jews seem to assert that their liberalism stems directly from the teachings and cultural values of Judaism:

The upshot is that in virtually every instance of a clash between Jewish law and contemporary liberalism, it is the liberal creed that prevails for most American Jews. Which is to say that for them, liberalism has become more than a political outlook. It has for all practical purposes superseded Judaism and become a religion in its own right. And to the dogmas and commandments of this religion they give the kind of steadfast devotion their forefathers gave to the religion of the Hebrew Bible.

His is an analysis that applies just as well to Christians who believe that their religion dictates the tenets of modern liberalism (a big government social welfare state primarily concerned with monitoring and enforcing equality) rather than those of modern conservatism (the importance of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and self-reliance enabled and protected by a divided, limited government based on the impartial rule of law).Podhoretz distills the issue thusly:

The great issue between the two political communities is how they feel about the nature of American society. With all exceptions duly noted, I think it fair to say that what liberals mainly see when they look at this country is injustice and oppression of every kind—economic, social and political. By sharp contrast, conservatives see a nation shaped by a complex of traditions, principles and institutions that has afforded more freedom and, even factoring in periodic economic downturns, more prosperity to more of its citizens than in any society in human history. It follows that what liberals believe needs to be changed or discarded—and apologized for to other nations—is precisely what conservatives are dedicated to preserving, reinvigorating and proudly defending against attack.
A few days later the WSJ published some letters to the editor (link) that disagreed with Podhoretz’s view. Then, the WSJ published letters (link) that disagreed with the disagreers. Abraham Irwin, of Passaic, N.J., wrote:
All of the letters [disagreeing with Podhoretz] essentially state that Jews are liberal because the religion teaches concern for the poor and disadvantaged. I agree but strongly contend that the policies suggested and currently being enacted by the government will in the long run do just the opposite. Over the past 150 years classical liberalism and free-market capitalism revolutionized economies and did more to improve the conditions of the poor than any other competing system.

John M Greco

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican Principles, & Bearing False Witness

Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine said the other day in an interview (link) that although she hasn’t changed as a Republican, “I think more that my party has changed.” She strongly implied that the Republican party has strayed from “the traditional principles” of “limited government, individual opportunities, fiscal responsibility, and a strong national defense.”

Snowe has social “moderate” views such as pro-choice and pro gun control, and that’s her prerogative, and the Republican party is a big tent. Politically conservative/socially moderate people are a big part of the Republican party, and I read of nothing to suggest that Snowe is being hassled by other Republicans for her views. But Snowe, for example, voted for the massive and grossly irresponsible Democrat spending bill, the so-called “stimulus,” and against the Bush tax cuts, so how much of a believer in limited government and fiscal responsibility is she really? Answer – can't be that much.

God knows that the Republican party has seriously strayed from the principles Snowe names, although lately it seems to be getting back on track. And maybe this is some sort of come-on ploy to Democrats, who knows. But for Snowe to intimate that, as a limited government/fiscal responsibility type, she’s so disappointed with Republicans that she’s now going to work more closely with the Democrat party of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid, ultra-liberal and the very antithesis of the Republican principles she claims to embrace, well, as Obama would say, she’s bearing false witness.

John M Greco

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Amnesiac Pelosi Now Worried About Heated Language in Political Debate

Just yesterday I posted (link) on how some liberals are melting down in response to widespread and growing dissatisfaction with Democrats in general and Obama in particular. I quoted Peter Wehner, who wrote (link) that “Obama’s critics are now routinely labeled as unpatriotic, racists, liars, mobsters, evil mongers, practitioners of un-American tactics, and more. As Obama’s failures mount up, it will only get worse. The volume will only get louder. And the charges will only get more desperate and incendiary.”

Now comes Democrat Speaker of the US House Pelosi, who recently saw “Nazis” among the August town hall citizen participants, worried that heated language could lead to violence by conservatives, saying (link):
“I have concerns about some of the language that is being used”…, Pelosi said, choking up and with tears forming in her eyes. “This kind of rhetoric is just, is really frightening and it [in the past] created a climate in which … violence took place and … I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made.”
This is Pelosi, leader of a party of verbal flamethrowers and an accomplished one herself, now worried about “language” that might provoke violence. What this really is of course is just part of the disgraceful Democrat effort to stifle debate and play the victim card.

Remember Howard Dean, who as national chairman of the Democrat party said “I hate Republicans and everything they stand for”? Or recent Obama Czar Van Jones, who not too long ago said in a public forum that Republicans are “assholes”? Remember the years of Bush is Hitler rhetoric? But those are just words -- Michelle Malkin in her book Unhinged documented the physical violence committed by some Democrats and liberals against their political opponents. Lately, we’ve seen an Obamacare supporter bite off a finger of a peaceful protestor. We’ve just seen a town hall attendee in St. Louis get beaten by union thugs.

Today, Victor Davis Hansen reminds (link) us all that the language being used now by opponents of Obama/Democrat policies and actions is tame compared to what Democrats have been dishing out for years against Republicans and conservatives:
In the Bush years, "hate" was a favorite word of liberal critics, from both officials (cf. Howard Dean) and mainstream publications (cf. The New Republic). "Assassination" was the rage among liberal culture (cf. Alfred Knopf, the Toronto film festival, the Guardian). "Liar," "Nazi," and "brownshirt" were casual slurs from high-profile Democrats (cf. Gore, John Glenn, Robert Byrd, Harry Reid, Pete Stark, etc.).
The words of Army attorney Joseph Welch (link) to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings are just as fitting today to Ms. Pelosi: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency? And if there is a God in Heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good.”

John M Greco

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Criticizing Obama is Racist in Liberalism’s Post-Racial America

We are witnessing an alarming and corrosive melt down by some Democrats, who, seeing serious and successful challenge to Obama’s ultra-liberal policies and inclinations, now resort to that last refuge of scoundrels – hurling charges of racism at those who dare oppose Obama (link). The liberal media joins in (link), in what Abigail Thernstrom calls “a sad and dangerous moment in American politics” (link).

From the disgraced and hapless former President Jimmy Carter, Democrat: “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American.”

From US Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat from Georgia, who happens to be black: “We’ll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again, and riding through the countryside intimidating people.”

So much for Obama’s promise to usher in a post-racial America. Obama and so many of his Democrats are all about race and racial grievance, real or feigned. This most recent “national conversation about race” began when Republican Representative Wilson shouted “you lie” to President Obama in his recent speech to a joint session of Congress when he (Obama) said that illegal aliens would not be covered under his health care reform. Ultra-liberal columnist Maureen Dowd of the NY Times apparently spoke for many Democrats when she wrote that when Wilson said “you lie” he really in his heart meant the racial slur “Boy, you lie.”

In the Bush years, to gloss over their gross incivility and at times near traitorous behavior, some Democrats would assert that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Now, as the new quip goes, according to Democrats for Republicans “dissent is the highest form of racism.” (link)

Accusing those who oppose Obama’s policies of racism is despicable, and I can only hope will be a major losing strategy for those Democrats who embrace it, explicitly or tacitly. Charles Krauthammer on Fox News (link):
“The accusation of racism is a sign of desperation by people who know they are losing the national debate, and they want to hurl the ultimate charge in American politics…. it is a disgusting tactic. It's done as a way to end debate…. Accusations of racism are the last refuge of the liberal scoundrel.

Some conservatives (link) take a defensive stance, which is quite wrong as it almost seems to concede the premise. The only way to respond is to denounce those who charge racism every time they lose a policy debate.

Victor Davis Hanson writes (link) at National Review Online:

[I]n the Bush wilderness years, the Left assumed permanent political marginalization, adopted an ends-justify-the-means strategy of street rhetoric against Bush, then found themselves unexpectedly as the establishment, and now are appalled that anyone might emulate their own past emotional outbursts…. [T]he larger question is why the Left is now nearly unhinged about criticism of a black liberal president, when it was silent … about the racial implications of the constant and vicious anger directed at Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice…. For that matter, the ubiquitous [ultra-liberal Democrat US representative] Pete Stark once said some particularly unkind and racist things about former health and human services secretary Louis Sullivan (who is black).
Here’s Peter Wehner at Contentions (link):
[This is] evidence of how unhinged and desperate many liberals and some within the Democratic party are becoming. The hatred and fury that consumed them during the Bush years is returning with a vengeance. It turns out that the cause of their derangement during the Bush years may not have been Bush after all; he may simply have been the object of their crazed attacks. It’s fascinating to watch how furious liberals have become despite Obama’s being president and Democrats’ controlling the Senate and the House by wide margins. This period should be—they expected it to be—years of milk and honey for them. But events and reality have intervened. They see the Anointed One, Barack Obama—their “sort of God”—failing. He is not only a mere mortal but also a deeply flawed one.
They see support for Obama’s effort to nationalize our health-care system collapsing. They see the American people rising up against his brand of liberalism. They see Republicans with all the intensity on their side.
Many liberals simply cannot process this new data, this horrible turn of events. What we are seeing is the equivalent of a computer crash. As a result, they are returning to what has become for some liberals an emotional and psychological norm: anger and fury, overheated and reckless charges, bitterness and pettiness…. We’re only eight months into the Age of Obama—the period in which he promised to unite our divided country, heal our wounds, and bind up our divisions—and Obama’s critics are now routinely labeled as unpatriotic, racists, liars, mobsters, evil mongers, practitioners of un-American tactics, and more. As Obama’s failures mount up, it will only get worse. The volume will only get louder. And the charges will only get more desperate and incendiary.

Obama promised us all a post-racial America. Instead, this is what we’ve gotten.

John M Greco