Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Democracy Comes to Tunisia, Or Does it?

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia.

But, what with the turmoil in Egypt, Syria and Libya that nation’s path to “democracy” has received little attention.

Souhir Stephenson offers a sobering picture in the New York Times. 

Having voted in an election one year ago, Stephenson sees little progress:

A year later, we have no democracy, no trust in elected officials, no improved constitution. Human rights and women’s rights are threatened. The economy is tanking.

Tourism is dwindling. Who wants to vacation among bands of bearded savages raiding embassies, staking their black pirate flag over universities or burning trucks carrying beer? Meanwhile, our government and puppet president watch, without arresting these Salafist extremists.

Stephenson still holds out hope that somehow democracy will arrive in Tunisia. For the time the nation seems to have taken a turn toward Islamist governance:

Today, Tunisians are somber, anxious, rattled by daily tragedies. Recently, a secular party representative was assassinated by an extremist group. A woman gang-raped by the police was later prosecuted. Salafists attacked the U.S. Embassy and burned its school (attended by Tunisians) while the government failed to dispatch police, firemen or soldiers.

The Islamists placed their relatives and buddies in powerful positions. They tried to insert into the Constitution that women are “complementary to men,” which would have reversed 50 years of equality. We did not vote for fanatics to twist our Constitution into Shariah law.

Pre-election Post-mortem for an Empty Narrative

In 2008 America’s elite intellectuals sold the nation an empty narrative. Using their near-monopoly power in the media our cognoscenti convinced the majority of the American people that a man who had no qualifications for the presidency could conduct the office.

Living their own secularized religious narrative they believed that America was being punished for its original sin of slavery and that the only way out of its crises was to find a man who, in his flesh, would redeem the sin.

Now that the painful truth has become so manifest that even the most blindered intellectuals can see it, elite thinkers are steeling themselves for what they sense coming: Barack Obama seems to be losing the upcoming election.

How else to explain the pre-election post-mortems coming from the liberal media? One by one they are lining up to explain how Obama failed. Some will still vote for him, some are hoping that he will pull it out, but all are conspicuously lacking in enthusiasm.

For a group that went all-in for Obama in 2008 the enthusiasm deficit is worth noting.

It is also self-serving. If our leading thinkers did not understand that Obama was an empty narrative, their judgment was severely impaired. If they believed that an empty narrative could  govern the United States they were more interested in flexing their own power than in the nation’s future.

Barack Obama was created out of next-to-nothing by the media. By electing him they demonstrated their extraordinary power to manipulate public opinion.

Selling an empty narrative is far more difficult than selling a substantive product.

As a business model the mainstream print media seems no longer viable. Perhaps they are looking ahead to the day when they will need to become government employees.

If the world wakes up to the scam, the media’s reputation will be severely damaged.

Right now, by pre-emptively blaming Obama the media elites are doing their best to avoid responsibility.

Obviously, some still believe that Obama might win. Some even believe that God has sent us Hurricane Sandy to save Obama’s election chances.

Yet, they are sufficiently disappointed with the Obama performance that one wonders whether they would be happier to see Mitt Romney take over and try to pick up the pieces of a failed presidency.

With intellectuals it’s all about not leaving any fingerprints.

Yesterday Matt Bai wrote in the New York Times that Obama has failed to govern because he has not crafted a governing narrative. Considering the source, it is worth taking notice.

Bai confesses that he has been surprised to see a man who is so good at telling stories be so incompetent at selling the narrative of his presidency.

Apparently, he is shocked to discover that the real Barack Obama has so little in common with the media narrative.

Bai makes an interesting point, even if it is poorly conceptualized.

He ought to have noted that Obama does not need to tell a story because he is a story. He is a story made flesh.

Bai would have done better to see that administrations do not need narratives as much as they need concepts.

To some it will be a distinction without a difference but, like a policy, a concept is an organizing principle. Where a policy defines a consistent pattern of behavior, a concept defines the meaning of the administration.

If Obama had had a concept, he would have done as Bai wishes he had done:

You could have imagined, at that moment, an Oval Office address, followed by a national tour, in which the new president laid out the causes and depth of the crisis he had inherited and the measures he would take over the first 18 months of his term — short-term stimulus, long-term investment, modernization of financial regulation and the tax code — to put the country on a different course. All of these policies were probably necessary, and they were probably salable too, if Obama had seen it as one of his central responsibilities to explain how they all fit together. The president and his advisers were, to be fair, inundated with the realities of multiple crises, and so Obama forged ahead with all of these policy solutions (not to mention a massive health care plan and what amounted to the temporary nationalization of the car companies), which, absent any real marshaling of public opinion, emboldened his opponents and caught much of the country by surprise.

Even if he confuses a narrative with a concept, Bai, surprisingly, overlooks the fact that Obama’s presidency does have a concept.

The real problem is that so few people want to buy it.

Call it income redistribution or social justice, but Obama has governed according to the time-honored principles of tax and spend.

It’s not so much that he wants to take from the rich and give to the poor. He prefers taking from the private sector and giving to public sector employees whose unions so generously supported him.

The most powerful moment in the first presidential debate occurred when Mitt Romney said that the concept defining the Obama administration was “trickle down government.”

It's very difficult to craft a winning narrative around the concept of trickle down government.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Should You Forgive and Forget?

For all the psycho-talk about trauma and abuse, little attention has been paid to the question of forgiveness.

By implication this suggests that abusers are implicitly taken to be beyond forgiveness.

If you see the world in terms of crime and punishment, all abusers are near-criminals and none should be forgiven.

In truth, Elizabeth Bernstein reports in her column this morning, people who forgive tend to do better than those who don’t. Yet, in some cases it is not good to forgive.

Happily, that renders the complexity of a difficult question.

When someone has abused you or even traumatized you, ought you or ought you not to forgive and forget?

Which approach will help you to get over the trauma; which one will reinforce it?

Studying forgiveness contributes to our understanding of how people should process trauma. It shifts the focus away from the mental images of trauma toward the question of how they should deal with those who perpetrate the traumas.

The classical psychoanalytic approach to trauma  is purely introspective. Freud and Co. wanted to help patients to process trauma internally, first, by remembering it, and second, by integrating it into a new personal narrative.

When forgiveness is at issue the victim is in contact with his abuser and asks himself what he should do.

Strangely, Bernstein’s experts overlook a fundamental aspect of the question. They do not ask whether the abuser has asked for forgiveness. Has the person who perpetrated the trauma apologized sincerely and vowed never to do it again?

Without putting the question of forgiveness in context one risks getting lost in the theoretical weeds.

When someone offends you or insults you, you will feel anger toward him. Too many therapists recommend that you express the anger, though they must know by now that most intemperate expressions of anger are unhelpful.

If the person who has offended you does not know that he has offended you, the right expression of anger might bring it to his attention. But, a histrionic outburst will merely draw attention to your own intemperance, thereby making your abuser believe that he did nothing wrong.

When it comes to dissipating anger, you know from personal experience that if you are angry at someone and if the person apologizes sincerely for the offense, your anger will dissipate.

At that point, you are obliged to forgive and forget.

When your abuser does not apologize you need not and should not forgive. His failure to apologize means that he meant what he did and will be more than willing to do it again.

If you forgive him, you will be relieving your abuser of responsibility and punishing yourself for his offense.

He might consider you a better friend, but you will be acting like a patsy. Your self-esteem will surely suffer.

In extreme cases, cases that involve criminal abuse, one might say that an apology does not suffice.

Generally, we believe that criminals ought to be remanded to the police and the courts.

And yet, if a criminal shows contrition, a judge will often soften his punishment.

If you are the victim of a crime and the criminal apologizes openly and sincerely, you would probably do well to forgive him.

In most cases, you would also not want to continue to associate with him.

Apologizing is a step toward regaining trust. When someone is on his way to prison he will have few opportunities to rebuild trust.

Psychologists are correct to note that the question of whether or not to forgive depends on whether or not you will continue to have a relationship with the person.

If your abuser is someone you never knew before and with whom you are unlikely to have any future contact, then forgiveness does not have the same value as it would have if the abuser was someone near and dear.

If the person is someone you know well you will need to be able to tell whether the apology is sincere.

Here is one rule: if the apology tries to shift the blame, to you or to some force of nature, then it lacks sincerity.

A sincere apology involves taking full responsibility for the offense, no ifs, ands or buts.

When in doubt, give the benefit of the doubt to the person who is apologizing.

Psychologists believe that you should only forgive someone who you believe will not repeat the offense or the abuse.

Again, they would have done better to state that when someone apologizes he is stating that his act has no relation to his character. He is pledging, implicitly or explicitly never to do it again.

To forgive someone on the basis of a future probability feels difficult and complicated. Yet, there is an easy way to put him to the test.

If you forgive someone who has apologized for offending you and he repeats the same offense, his apology has been rendered null and void.

By his actions he has shown that he is not a man of his word.  If he repeats his offense and offers to apologize again, you do better to take his apology as insincere, even when that entails ceasing to associate with him.

Hurricane Sandy: Black Swans and the Mandate of Heaven

For New York City and much of the rest the East Coast Hurricane Sandy was a black swan event.

The meteorologists warned us; we watched it grow in the Atlantic. Yet, no one predicted how bad it would be.

Cities and states in the hurricane’s path were certainly prepared, but, for good or for ill, many people ignored the warnings. They had toughed it out in the past; why not now?.

Meteorologists have offered too many dire predictions that did not work out. Like the boy who cried wolf they lose credibility and people cease to take their predictions seriously.

By all accounts city authorities have been fully engaged, yet, aside from calling for mandatory evacuations there are limits to what you can do when half the city is under water. 

Last night Mayor Bloomberg exclaimed that the people in charge of the NYU Medical Center had assured him that their back-up generators were fully functional. But then, in the midst of the storm the generators failed and patients had to be evacuated from the hospital.

We have not heard the last of the heroic efforts of the hospital staff.

And we have certainly not heard the last of the damage inflicted on New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut.

It is cold comfort not to have lost power when we witness the suffering of so many of our neighbors.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the phrase “black swan” events to illustrate our inability to predict the future. We are persuaded, not without reason, that the past repeats itself. We we spend time and energy preparing for the past and become blindsided by events for which we did not prepare.

On the other hand, our government is so absorbed with investing in its fantasy of the future, by funding solar and wind energy companies that it has ignored the infrastructure investments that would actually matter to today’s citizens: like burying power lines.

If we were living in China, a hurricane Sandy would cause everyone to ask whether or not the ruling dynasty had lost the Mandate of Heaven.

Historically, Chinese rulers have claimed that their authority was based on the Mandate of Heaven. It’s something like the divine right of kings.

Scholar Burton Watson explained it:

Like the Greeks and Romans, the early Chinese firmly believed in the portentous significance of unusual or freakish occurrences in the natural world. This belief formed the basis for the Han theory that evil actions or misgovernment in high places invites dislocations in the natural order, causing the appearance of comets, eclipses, drought, locusts, weird animals, etc…

Misrule causes situations that makes the population especially vulnerable to a natural disaster. Thus the disaster casts a judgment against the dynasty.

This appears to be why President George Bush lost the good will of the American people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Whether it was his administration’s inept response to the catastrophe or the fact that the storm was, in itself, completely devastating is subject to debate. The Bush administration never recovered from Katrina.

One might say that 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, another event that Taleb calls a black swan, did not quite change a dynasty, but it surely changed America’s terrorism policy and America’s relationship with the Islamic world.

Today, the nation’s pundits are weighing the political significance of Hurricane Sandy. Some are saying that it will help President Obama to look presidential. For once in his presidency Obama will have the chance to unite the country.

Others suggest that the catastrophe will tamp down voter turnout in areas of the country that are bluer than blue.

Of course, we don’t know whether Obama will be seen to have lost the Mandate of Heaven or whether the judgment will fall on blue state policies, in general. 

Then again, Obama might win the election even after losing the Mandate of Heaven. Nate Silver of the New York Times insists on it. I find it unlikely.

If there is anything to the Chinese concept, expect a sea-change in American politics and American culture.

Anyone who suggests that he can predict the fallout is probably indulging in wishful thinking.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Stacey Hessler Story: Her Family For a Cause

At around this time last year Stacey Hessler caught Occupy fever.

The Florida housewife abandoned home, hearth, husband and four children to camp out in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. She was on a mission to save the world.

The self-described “vegan freak” who had been “unschooling” her children: “… proudly identified herself as a midwife’s assistant, roller-derby queen, rock-star musician, dreadlock princess and African-bee keeper.”

Hessler did not just go to New York for a weekend jaunt. She made clear that she was in it for the duration. She was happily going to sacrifice her family to her cause.

When The New York Post first reported the story it cast aspersions on Hessler’s lifestyle choice.

The opening paragraphs of its story were slightly judgmental:

Here’s your mom, kids. Proud?

The hippie Florida mother of four who ditched her children and banker husband to sleep in Zuccotti Park’s squalor hit rock bottom yesterday when she was hauled off in handcuffs, her dreadlocks flying wildly in every direction, for blocking a street near the New York Stock Exchange.

Stacey Hessler, 38, was lifted off the pavement in the center of Broad Street by three cops who slapped plastic bracelets on her wrists and dragged her away kicking and screaming.

“What did I do? What did I do?” she kept shouting.

Writing for Gawker, Hamilton Nolan took serious exception to the Post’s take on the story. Unwilling to judge Hessler, Nolan was happy to judge the Post:

The New York Post, the pandering tabloid of the fascist power structure, has spared no effort chronicling the most important story of the Occupy Wall Street movement: the presence of some hippie lady of which the New York Post does not approve.

One might agree with Nolan that Hessler’s dreadlocks were not the most important aspect of a protest movement. The most important part was that the Occupy movement caused some trouble and accomplished nothing.

The biggest story is that a year later no one remembers it or cares about it. The Occupy movement will go down in history as an especially impotent protest.

But why does Nolan not find anything wrong when a woman voluntarily abandons four children to join a mindless protest movement?

Does he feel nothing for Hessler’s motherless children? Does voluntary child abandonment not register on his moral barometer?

Anyway, Hessler was good to her word. The Occupy movement fizzled and disappeared but she stayed on, the last straggler of an exercise in political futility.

The divorce agreement stipulates that she can only see her children when they want to see her. Apparently, they are not very proud of Mom.

Again, the New York Post did not paint Hessler in a very flattering light. It did not approve.

Fear not, Hessler still has her friends at Gawker.

Another Gawker writer, not Hamilton Nolan was horrified at the New York Post’s judgmental attitude and responded that, “The Post… [was] predictably enraged at this small showing of personal freedom….”

“… small showing of personal freedom….” That is how the reliably progressive Gawker describes a woman who abandons her home and her children for a moribund cause.

If you will, Hessler has freed herself of all personal responsibility for her family. But should we not see this as a form of child abandonment and child abuse?

Allowing herself to be swept up in a cause, to the exclusion of all else, does not look like freedom. It looks like someone who has lost her mind, taken leave of her rational faculties and sacrificed her children on the bonfire of her moral vanity.

At the very least, it is reprehensible.

At the worst, it is a sign of a nervous breakdown.

If we want to be charitable, Hessler’s exercise of “personal freedom” might well be a symptom of an underlying mental illness.

Unfortunately, Hessler thinks that she is sane but that the world is crazy. She believes that she is fighting for a better world. Gawker thinks she is a martyr for the cause.

Good luck getting her treatment.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Anti-Semitism and the Radical Left

Nine day from now a large majority of American Jews will march to the polling booths and vote for Barack Obama.

Blind to Obama’s record on Israel, blind to his close association with notable Israel-haters, blind to his sympathy for Islamists, , blind to his serial attempts to humiliate the Prime Minister of Israel, American Jews will still vote for Barack  Obama.

Chalk it up to naivete, if you like, but American Jews feel a visceral loyalty to the Democratic Party.

Idealistic to a fault, they believe they must support the position dictated by their ideals, even if it aligns them with people who despise them.

It has something to do with sacrificing oneself for a higher ideal.

At a time when Republicans are far more likely to be unflinching supporters of Israel, American Jews have not noticed. They seem still to be fighting the last war.

Unadulterated by reality their minds still see Republicans as right wing. Since Nazis are right wing, a vote for Republicans is a vote for near-Nazis.

More than a few American Jews still believe that Republicans hate Jews.

They see the Democratic Party as the party of love and tolerance. They see the Republican Party as the party of hate and intolerance.

Blind to reality, American progressives, including their many Jewish adherents, have not noticed that the European radical left, their ideological vanguard, has been infused with anti-Semitism.

This morning, to my surprise, the New York Times ran an important opinion piece by Colin Shindler about the anti-Semitism of the European radical left.

In Shindler’s words:

Today, a sizable section of the European left has been reluctant to take a clear stand when anti-Zionism spills over into anti-Semitism. Beginning in the 1990s, many on the European left began to view the growing Muslim minorities in their countries as a new proletariat and the Palestinian cause as a recruiting mechanism. The issue of Palestine was particularly seductive for the children of immigrants, marooned between identities.

The radical left opposes Israel because it sees Israel as an occupying power, a colonialist regime oppressing the Palestinian neo-proletariat.

We are not talking about a far-left fringe group. Former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone was happy to display his anti-Semitism.

Shindler writes:

Ken Livingstone, a former newspaper editor and mayor of London, has a long history of insensitive remarks about Jews — from publishing a cartoon in 1982 of Menachem Begin, then Israel’s prime minister, in Gestapo uniform atop a pile of Palestinian skulls to likening a known Jewish reporter to “a concentration camp guard” 20 years later. Today, he contributes to Press TV, the English-language outlet for the Iranian government.

Famed Berkeley professor Judith Butler also showed where her “progressive” sympathies lay:

Similarly, I think: Yes, understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements. It doesn’t stop those of us who are interested in non-violent politics from raising the question of whether there are other options besides violence.

You have to wonder how ignorant you have to be to consider Hamas and Hezbollah as progressive social movements.

Now if you want to remain a progressive in good standing does this mean that you need to embrace Hamas and Hezbollah?

Butler was roundly criticized for these remarks. She responded by citing the line where she rejected violence as a means to the end she seeks—presumably the creation of a greater Palestine that will be free of Jews.

After all, that is the goal of Hamas and Hezbollah. And it is Butler’s goal. She wants to achieve it by running divestment campaigns, by excluding Israelis from international forums and by slandering the Jewish state as colonialist and imperialist.

Being a good progressive means aligning your sympathies against Israel and against what it represents.

This might feel like a bit of a stretch but many of Barack Obama’s closest friends and associates have identified themselves as supporters of the Palestinian cause.

Weren’t Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi associated with the international movement to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza?

Why have American Jews shown so little concern for the company that Barack Obama kept?

As a card-carrying leftist Butler suffers from what Shindler calls Israelophobia:

Such Israelophobia, enunciated by sections of the European left, dovetailed neatly with the rise of Islamism among Palestinians and throughout the Arab world….

The New Left’s profound opposition to American power, and the convergence of reactionary Islamists and unquestioning leftists was reflected in the million-strong London protest against the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It was organized by the Muslim Association of Britain, the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and the Stalinist Communist Party of Britain. When some Muslims voiced apprehension about participating in the protest with non-Muslims, the M.A.B. leadership decreed that it was religiously permissible if halal food was provided and men and women were given separate areas.

But, why are leftists willing to lie down with the reactionary forces of Hamas and Hezbollah?

Are they simply too stupid to understand that these groups favor a Sharia law that persecutes and oppresses women and homosexuals, that murders heretics, apostates, mini-skirted teenage girls and Jews?

In Shindler’s words:

But the question remains: why do today’s European socialists identify with Islamists whose worldview is light-years removed from their own?

Shindler offers one explanation, guilt:

Given the deep remorse for the misdeeds of colonialism, it was easier for the New Left of the 1960s to identify with the emerging Palestinian national movement than with the already established social democratic Israel.

A second explanation is fear. Radical leftists are so terrified of the rise of Islam, especially for what it has in store for people like them, that it has chosen appeasement.

A third possible explanation has it that the progressive and radical left is progressive in name only.

As a radical political movement it does not believe in liberal democracy; it believes in the dictatorship of the proletariat.. that is, the intelligentsia.

It hates capitalism and free enterprise and wishes to grant government the power to redistribute income in the name of social justice.

These might be mere shadows of radical leftist positions, but one ought to be aware of the fact that Barack Obama’s policies owe far too much to the radical international left.

Today, one must be aware of the fact that the radical left despises Israel and fully supports the Palestinian cause. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Diversity Is Bad for Your Health

We have it on no less authority than the United States Supreme Court that diversity is an intrinsic and transcendent good.

It doesn’t matter that minority children placed in academic environments where they are destined to do poorly are damaged by the process.

What matters is how it all looks. That is, the aesthetic is more important than the practical. If it looks like America then all is right with the world.

Thus spoke the United States Supreme Court.

To add injury to the insult we now discover, via the American Journal of Public Health, that minority group members who live in more diverse neighborhoods pay for it with poorer health.

Diversity is making them very sick.

The Daily Caller reports on the study:

Diversity may be killing older African-Americans and Hispanics, according to a new peer-reviewed study published in the America Journal of Public Health, which shows that people suffer less cancer and heart disease when they live among their racial or ethnic peers.

“Living in an ethnically dense neighborhood is beneficial when it comes to heart disease and cancer,” said Kimberly Alvarez, a co-author of the new study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Alvarez’s phrase, “ethnically dense,” describes a community in which at least 50 percent of people are from the same ethnic group.

Let’s see. The progressive groups who believe that we must engineer the most diverse communities are unwittingly contributing to elevated levels of cancer and heart disease among minority group members.

If someone wants to live in a more “ethnically dense” community, that doesn’t mean he’s a racist. He may just not want to get cancer or heart disease.

Should you ever be tempted to ask yourself why Americans spend so much money on health care, a significant contributing factor might be diversity.

Why should this be so?

It appears that people who live in “ethnically dense” communities have better health habits than do those who live in more diverse communities.

Diversity fosters anomie and social disharmony. People do not know their neighbors, do not feel like they belong to a community and do not know the rules of good conduct. They live lives filled with a constant barrage of inadvertent insults.

When people adopt good habits they are not just asserting self-interest. They are doing it for family and community. If their family is falling apart and their community feels like a hodge-podge they will be less motivated to do the right thing.

Not knowing what the rules are and what they need to do to feel like they belong to the community they are more likely either to give up, or, if they are younger to join subgroups that are defined by bad habits.

Obama Under Fire Over Benghazi

Douglas Brinkley should have his own special corner in the Hall of Shame.

Given the opportunity to question President Obama, Brinkley, a professor, a writer and a supposedly serious intellectual lobbed the softest of softball questions.

Unfortunately, American intellectuals are so corrupted that Brinkley’s reputation will not suffer from his dereliction.

Interviewing Obama for Rolling Stone, Brinkley asked:

1.   Let's start with how the campaign has been going. Ever since the first debate, Romney has abruptly shifted his position on a whole host of issues, from his tax plan to financial regulation.   
2.   Many observers have commented on how Romney has misrepresented or even changed his positions in this last leg of the campaign – that he's been like a chameleon on plaid. Do you feel that he has lied to the American people?  
3.   Where were you when you first saw Romney's speech in Boca Raton about the 47 percent? What was your first reaction?  
4.   What has surprised you the most about the Republican campaign this year?      

5.    Do you have any fear that Roe v. Wade could be overturned if the Republicans win the presidency and appoint another Supreme Court justice?

Compare those to the questions a local Colorado reporter, Kyle Clark asked:

1.   Were the Americans under attack at the consulate in Benghazi Libya denied requests for help during that attack? And is it fair to tell Americans that what happened is under investigation and we'll all find out after the election?

2.   Were they denied requests for help during the attack?

3.   In a national address, you touted the stimulus money going to Abound Solar - a Colorado company connected to one of your billionaire fundraisers. Now, as you may know, Abound Solar is out of business and under criminal investigation. The jobs are gone and taxpayers are out about 60 million dollars. How do you answer critics who see Abound Solar as Colorado's Solyndra - a politically connected clean energy company that went under and took our money with it?

4.   Mr. President, you've called for more civility in our nation's political conversation - and much has obviously been made about the tone of this race. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, you called Governor Romney a "bullshitter." What did you mean and why did you choose that word?

Hat tip to Mollie Hemingway.

Of course, as Jake Tapper reported, Obama did not answer the questions. To use a basketball term, he is playing out the clock on Benghazi, hoping that nothing more damaging will be revealed before the election.

Other members of the administration are forming a firewall to protect the president.

Secretary of Defense Panetta, a life-long partisan Democrat denounced critics as Monday-morning quarterbacks and stated that the senior military commanders had recommended against an assault.

To my knowledge Panetta said nothing about the possibility of sending air support.

Obama himself has stated that he was not aware of what was going on while it was going on.

In the world of prevarication that one deserves a special reward.

Hundreds of members of the Obama administration were watching an attack on an American ambassador on American territory over a period of hours in real time and no one thought to inform POTUS.

Either the Obama administration is more incompetent that even I think they are or the president is lying to run out the clock.

Yesterday, Jennifer Griffin of Fox News revealed that CIA operatives had been crying out for help during the assault and had been told to stand down.

In her words:

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that three urgent requests from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. Consulate and subsequent attack nearly seven hours later were denied by officials in the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were part of a small team who were at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. Consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When they heard the shots fired, they radioed to inform their higher-ups to tell them what they were hearing. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. An hour later, they called again to headquarters and were again told to “stand down.”

We do not know who told them to stand down? In fact, it doesn’t matter whether Obama did or did not give the order. He is the commander-in-chief and he is the officer ultimately responsible.

William Kristol states that the Secretary of Defense would not have made the decision on his own. I concur.

David Petraeus, however, is not going to do the president’s political bidding on this one.

His spokeswoman issued this statement yesterday:

We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi. Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.


Friday, October 26, 2012

A Feminist View of Ann Romney

If feminists had their druthers women like Ann Romney would no longer exist.

They see her as a relic, a vestige of a past that is long gone and forgotten.

At a time when women have been indoctrinated into believing that she should not marry young and should not to be housewives, homemakers and helpmates to their husbands, along comes Ann Romney to present an alternative.

Noreen Malone expresses the feminist chagrin:

What is more powerful about Mrs. Romney is how she seems to encapsulate a bygone way of life, the old America that seems to have slipped away, an America in which people are prosperous enough to raise five children on one salary, and fill their garage with “a couple of Cadillacs.” An America where the wife has time to make Welsh skillet cakes and volunteer for equine therapy programs and wears pink dresses with nipped waists because that’s how her husband prefers her to look, where her favorite movie, after all these years, is the one she saw on their first date, where she and her husband look at each other adoringly and hold hands in public like they’ve been doing since they were teenagers, because they have. 

Ann Romney came of age at the onset of second wave feminism. Second wave feminists had passed beyond issues like suffrage and property rights and arrogated to themselves the right to dictate how women lived their lives.

It was nothing if not audacious. Second wave feminists passed withering judgments on any woman who dared to live her life as she saw fit. They despised and shunned women who refused to sacrifice their lives to the feminist cause.

They did not approve of Ann Romney.

For those who do not remember those times, Ashley Parker reports on Ann Romney’s struggles with her peers:

She married young and started a family over the protests of her parents. She chose to become a homemaker, even though the newly emboldened career women of her era in Boston would, as she put it, “turn their noses down at me.” 

And also:

Mrs. Romney found herself a young mother — she had one son, with a second on the way — in a world where women were immersed in the feminist movement. Friends and family members say Mrs. Romney felt disparaged for her choice to stay home with her boys.

Defy feminist precepts and you found yourself criticized and shunned.

Dripping with her own special contempt, Amanda Marcotte declares that Ann Romney’s life cannot possibly be real:

It would have never occurred to me that a lot of Americans still romanticize the idea of marrying your high school sweetheart or that people still think there's honor in marriages that subsume the individuals into the concept of "us." In part, that's because no one I know, liberal or conservative, actually lives like that. But as Noreen writes, Ann Romney captures a "simmering wistfulness" for an era when women knew their place and love means being attached at the hip. That fantasy must be pretty widespread, as Romney's approval ratings are close to Michelle Obama's at this point. Knowing this helps me understand, for instance, why so many conservatives become unhinged with anger at the very existence of a Sandra Fluke or a Stephanie Cutter. They're comparing them to women like Romney, imagining that these women would have ended up as cookie-baking political spouses in an alternate universe where second wave feminism didn't happen, and that perceived loss creates anger.

Doubtless this says more about Marcotte’s circle of friends than about reality. Keep in mind, as reported on this blog, that 84% of working mothers would rather stay at home with their children.

Like other feminist zealots Marcotte offers no respect for a woman who has chosen to be a wife and a homemaker, who defines herself as a companion to her husband, who cooperates with him and who sees them as one marital unit.

For Marcotte a women who would make such a choice would be sacrificing her individuality. She disapproves of all women who do not make their lives and their marriages into battlegrounds in the class struggle between men and women.

Unfortunately, for Marcotte, the Romney marriage seems, by all appearances, to work very well for both parties.

Thus, Malone and Marcotte are obliged to pronounce it as unreal.

When she begins to offer something like an analysis Marcotte explains that the popularity of this or that First Lady is a barometric indicator of how the culture sees women.

I suspect that she also fears that Romney marriage might liberate young women from the pressure to live the feminist nightmare.

For Marcotte, the ideal marriage might resemble the Obama marriage, because Michelle Obama did have a career. Better yet, the feminist ideal might be like the Clinton marriage.

All of us, except Marcotte, know how well that has worked out.

Marcotte describes the Clinton marriage, thusly:

The nerdy feminist draws the cutest boy in school!

Marcotte ignores the salient fact that the cutest boy in school has spent his marriage cheating on the nerdy feminist. Calling it a sign of a loving marriage would be a stretch.

For her feminist purposes Marcotte drops this salient detail. Apparently, she cannot tell the difference between reality and an ideal?

Join Obama's Harem

The political world is abuzz over Lena Dunham’s video endorsing President Obama.

Apparently, Dunham is the voice of her generation. For my part I believe that her generation deserves better.

Presumably, Dunham's ad is directed to young women. It tells them that their “first time” should be with Barack Obama.

It would be interesting to discover how many voting age women are still virgins. It sounds like the ad is directed to a very small demographic.

Even so, Dunham does not seem to realize that she is inviting the nation’s voting-age virgins to join a harem. 

Wherever he is today, Bill Clinton is wondering why no one ever did an ad like that for him. 

Obama Grieves with the Families of the Benghazi Victims

Beware loud displays of self-righteous moral indignation.

People who hide from responsibility by taking offense are not to be trusted.

Witness our president during the second presidential debate on Long Island. Asked about his management of the Benghazi crisis, Barack Obama took serious umbrage that anyone would accuse him or anyone on his team of playing politics with the “crime:”

Obama said:

The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

Grieving with the families…. That’s not how Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods, one of the Navy SEALS who was killed while awaiting an intervention that never came.

The Weekly Standard provides a transcript of a radio interview the grieving Mr. Woods did with Lars Larson:

When [Obama] came over to our little area” at Andrew Air Force Base, says Woods, “he kind of just mumbled, you know, ‘I’m sorry.’ His face was looking at me, but his eyes were looking over my shoulder like he could not look me in the eye. And it was not a sincere, ‘I’m really sorry, you know, that your son died,’ but it was totally insincere, more of whining type, ‘I’m sorry.’”

Woods says that shaking President Obama’s hands at his son’s memorial service was “like shaking hands with a dead fish.”

“It just didn’t feel right,” he says of his encounter with the commander in chief. “And now that it’s coming out that apparently the White House situation room was watching our people die in real time, as this was happening,” Woods says, he wants answers on what happened—and why there was no apparent effort to save his son’s life.

Obama could not look him in the eye and could barely shake his hand.

Whatever this means, it speaks ill of the president. It does not look like the behavior of someone who had done everything in his power to save the man's son.

The failure to uphold the minimal standards of decency, to treat the event as a perfunctory obligation speaks volumes about Barack Obama.

And then, Woods met with that monument to human empathy, Hillary Clinton.

Here he describes her remarks:

“Well, this is what Hillary did,” Woods continues. “She came over and, you know, did the same thing—separately came over and talked with me. I gave her a hug, shook her hand. And she did not appear to be one bit sincere—at all. And you know, she mentioned that the thing about, we’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video. That was the first time I had even heard about anything like that.”

Could there be better evidence of how two-faced the Obama administration has been? Could there be a better picture of false sincerity?

On the one side the self-righteous president wants to bring the criminals to justice. On the other side, Hillary Clinton tells the father of a Navy SEAL that his son was murdered by a filmmaker who now needs to be brought to justice.