Obama To Poland: Screw You

Let’s not make the mistake of thinking Obama’s decision to backtrack on the Missile Defense agreement with Poland and the Czechs had anything to do with Polish public opinion, stabilizing Eastern Europe, or switching to a “cheaper, more effective solution.

No, it was politics:

Purely a Political Decision

  • Appeasing Russia, Ignoring Our Allies: President Obama’s decision to abandon plans for basing elements of the U.S. global missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic (the “third site”) is entirely political, designed to appease Russia, but it will leave the U.S. more vulnerable to the threat of ballistic missile attack.
  • A Victory for Putin over NATO: This decision is a strategic victory for the Kremlin, which is determined to have a sphere of privileged interest in its region. The U.S. essentially gave Russia a veto over NATO’s support for the third-site defenses in Europe and turned Poland and the Czech Republic into second-class NATO citizens as members whose security is subject to Russia’s whims.
  • Nothing in Return: There is scant evidence that Russia will deliver anything credible in return for Obama’s abandonment of the third site, especially with regards to the growing Iranian threat. Russia has already failed to offer any concessions in return for this policy change and is unlikely to support greater U.N. sanctions against Iran later this year.

To be fair, nobody with half a brain expected Putin to actually give up anything for these concessions.

To be fairer, Obama’s administration doesn’t have half a brain when it comes to foreign policy.

  • Emasculating America’s Credibility: The Obama plan represents the shameful abandonment of two of America’s closest allies in Central and Eastern Europe, who in the future will have cause to question the integrity and credibility of American promises. A Polish spokesperson called the decision “catastrophic for Poland.”

Shameful Surrender

  • The Technology Does Work: The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic were in fact cost-effective and proven technologies that offer protection from long-range missile attack to both Europe and the U.S. The alternative that Obama will now pursue–sea-based Standard missiles and later ground-based variants–will not satisfy those criteria.
  • No Long-Range Missile Defense for Europe Now: America has worked with NATO and European allies to develop Europe’s capabilities against short-range missile attacks, which is hugely important. However, Europe has no capacity to defend itself against long-range missile attacks, while America has limited defenses against long-range missile attacks. This decision undermines the concept of indivisible transatlantic security and enervates NATO’s Article V security guarantees.
  • Growing Iranian Threat: Vice President Joe Biden recently said he is now “less concerned, much less concerned” about the Iranian threat. Where does this assessment come from? The Iranians successfully tested a space launcher in February and could have a long-range missile by 2015, and the United Nations confirms that Iran has enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb today.

Weak and Misleading Arguments

  • Either/Or? The Obama plan will deal with the more “urgent” threat of short-range missiles, but why must we choose one or the other? The Administration say they do not have new “intelligence,” but rather have made a new assessment of existing intelligence. They say they are deploying “proven” systems, but they ignore technological advances when convenient. They say their plan “enhances” European protection, but that is true only if you ignore long-range threats.
  • More Cost-Effective? The Obama team says its plan is more cost-effective, but what that really means is that it’s cheaper: It will cost $2.5 billion instead of $5 billion. It is foolish to shortchange national security to pay for giveaways like the Cash for Clunkers program.
  • A Loss Leader: This is a strategic loss, a security loss, a diplomatic loss, and a major loss for America’s prestige on the world stage.

Here’s the big question:  does an American people so short-sighted and trivial enough to elect an empty suit like Barack Obama in hte first place have the attention span to care about the gathering foreign policy disaster that this Administration represents?

That Specious, Erroneous Sense Of Inevitability

The primary mission of society is to keep goverment at all levels supplied to its satisfaction.

Well, no, that’s absurd.  Or at least, so think most of us.

But to Jeff Van Wychen of MN2020 – writing an “op-ed” at the MinnPost?  Maybe not co much:

Since last December, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has unilaterally cut state investment in Minnesota’s counties by $144 million using his unallotment authority.

Let’s strive for accuracy here; Governor Pawlenty has cut spending.  Government doesn’t “invest”, except in the most gauzy, metaphorical sense of the term. 

 After the 2010 unallotment announced in June, general purpose state aid to counties in 2010 will be nearly 20 percent less than the amount certified to counties in 2008 and nearly 29 percent less than the 2002 aid amount. And this is before taking into account inflation and growth in county population.

Which, depending on your point of view, means one of two things:

  1. Counties are getting screwed
  2. Given inflation (which is another word for “increases in salaries and costs of living”) and population growth, counties’ abilities to raise their own money for their own spending has risen.   

But in Minnesota, we are saddled with a fuzzy, soft-focus myth; the “Minnesota Miracle”.

In the late sixties, Minnesota was a sleeping giant whose alarm clock was ticking toward “wakey-wakey” any way you sliced it; while outstate Minnesota was poor and underperforming, we had a highly-educated, stable, hard-working population, a top-flight university, immense natural resources, and a powerful industrial, manufacturing, technological and management culture (centered in the thriving Twin Cities metro area, in which much of the state’s wealth was concentrated).   Minnesota was poised for growth, and would likely have grown immensely without government intervention.

And so the state embarked on an epic program of social engineering, redistributing money from the Twin Cities (which at the time were the state’s success stories) to Greater Minnesota.  “Local Government Aid” was the vehicle of this redistribution; it set government – led, we must point out, by a coalition of gigantistic DFLers and a Republican minority even more cowed by decades of post-New-Deal politics than the GOP in the rest of the nation – up as the regulator for a massive money shift…

…which was coupled by the establishment of almost unfettered power in the state’s urban cores, the Twin Cities and Duluth.  DFL leveraged their immense power, and the financial oomph of immense money-laundering, accountability-obscuring engine that was LGA, to turn the state’s major cities into spending engines and social engineering laboratories; the Twin Cities became warehouses for the poor, and welfare-state hothouses that, inside a generation, because net consumers of resources, even given the frequent booms – the sixties, the eighties, the nineties – that swept the region.

During that time, successful feckless DFL administrations used the LGA shell game to jack up spending to unprecedented levels, without having to be accountable via directly taxing their own (few remaining taxpaying) constituents to pay for it.

And then, to balance a budget knocked askew by generations of DFL profligacy, Governor Pawlenty told the counties “start passing your costs directly to your consumers, rather than laundering it through the state”. 

Which brings us back to Van Wychen:

While some reduction in county aid was inevitable given the size of the state’s budget deficit during the FY 2004-05 biennium, the scale of the cuts forced deeper budget cuts on counties than state government made. Thus began a trend by which Pawlenty shifted the state’s budget problems disproportionately to counties (along with cities and towns) and property taxpayers.

“Disproportionately?”

What would be “proportionate”?  The obvious answer – to those not cursed with a Democrat’s innumeracy – is for a county to provide 100% of what it spends. 

Minnesota politicians have been bred out of the “local accountability” business, though.

There have been two major effects of the cuts in county revenue imposed by the state over the last eight years. First, county budgets have shrunk. Total real per capita county revenue is projected to drop by 7.1 percent from 2002 to 2009, which is greater than the decline in state revenue net of transfers to local governments. This is an indication that the budget balancing measures taken by the state have hit counties harder than they have hit state government.

Alternate explanation, for those who don’t believe “funding government no matter what the consequences” is the proper mission of government; counties have had to adjust their spending to account for reality – that they are less able to fob their profligacy off on the state.

A disproportionate share of the state’s budget problems have been shifted on to local governments, causing property taxes to increase at the same time that funding for local services and infrastructure falls.

No, Jeff Van Wychen; a disproportionate share of the counties’ budgets were pushed up to the state to finance an epic DFL power grab; the curtain’s been cast aside, and the counties are having to deal with reality. 

Responsible state leadership is needed to honestly deal with the state’s fiscal mess rather than merely shifting the problem to counties, cities, and schools.

Better idea;  responsible leadership is needed at all levels – especially the gabbling, spendthrift State Legislative level, but also at the counties, cities and schools – to stop treating the taxpayers’ wallets as entitlements.  Keeping government running is not the primary goal of a free people.

Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce

It’s Bruce Springsteen’s sixtieth birthday today.

Yeah, you read that right.

Wish I had a ticket to the Stone Pony tonight. Not to mention airfare to Newark…

And while Glory Days will indeed pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye, it’s good to remember what got a guy where he is.

Someone did the world the estimable service of posting videos shot at two concerts at the old Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey – sorta Springsteen’s home turf in those years after he outgrew the clubs on the Shore, but before he could fill the Meadowlands.  It was from two nights just a shade over 31 years ago, on the epic Darkness on the Edge of Town  tour.  Bruce and the band – a very young Max Weinberg, a very thin Miami Steve, a very skeezy-looking Gary Tallent, a very tough-looking Danny Federici, a very Scorsese-esque Roy Bittan, and a very fly Clarence “Big Man” Clemons - were in probably the best form ever, on home turf, playing as the rocket to “legend” was just blasting off from the station.

The concert shows sides of the band we’ve rarely seen since super-super-stardom hit in the eighties; Federici stepping out front with the accordion on “Sandy”; the whole band coming down front to sing along on “Not Fade Away”; Miami Steve taking as many solos as Bruce (“Jungleland”, “The Promised Land”); the Big Man and Roy singing lots and lots of background vocals back in the days before Patti Scialfa and Nils Lofgren took them over, Clelmons’ jungle sounds in “She’s The One”…

Check them out.  I’ve thought about trying to put the links in concert order – but that’s a project that’s gonna have to wait.

Anyway – happy sixtieth, Bruce!

Outsourcing Incivility

I was going to give the President kudos for making this observation while on the Letterman show during the media’s Obamapalooza this past few days…:

Addressing suggestions that recent criticism of his health care reform efforts has been grounded in racism, President Obama this afternoon quipped, “I think it’s important to realize that I was actually black before the election.”…

…Mr. Obama said the notion that racism is playing a role in the criticism, which has been voiced by former President Jimmy Carter and others, is countered in part by the fact that he was elected in the first place – which, he said, “tells you a lot about where the country’s at.”

Well, that’s cool. 

But the kudo-ing is somewhat tempered by the knowledge that the President can afford to take the high road.  He’s got all sorts of flaks, minions and stooges who are on the payroll to do all the dirty, uncivil, defamatory work for him:

Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union, issued the following statement today regarding recent attempts of right wing extremists to silence working families by attacking progressive individuals and community organizations:

“This is a moment of profound change for this country–from kitchen tables to town halls to the floor of the Senate, this nation is engaged in a vigorous and heated debate about how we rebuild our economy, solve our national healthcare crisis and restore the American Dream.

“As has always happened when progressive change is in the air, the backlash gets fierce, ugly and anti-American. This time is no different. Right now, there is an insidious and coordinated effort on the part of the extreme right to target individuals and grassroots community groups as a way to silence the voices of women and men who have suffered the most under 8 years of right wing policies.

“These extremists will attempt to shut down and shout down anyone with a different point of view.

Why, yes, that’d be Andy Stern of the SEIU, whose goons actually did silence people at last month’s Town Hall rallies.  But don’t dare call them un-American, mind you.  As someone who (unlike most DFLers) is a former union member, I’m ashamed at Stern’s disingenuity.

And of course, Jimmuh Cartuh, Babs Boxer, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are still roaming around trying to defame all who dissent.

But hey – at least the President said the right thing.  Right?

I’m Not Sure What’s More Remarkable

Is it more remarkable that the Twin Cities mainstream media is finally acknowledging that Chris Coleman has an opponent in the Saint Paul mayor race – Eva Ng?  The Cities’ media has been famously reticent to criticize the incumbent mayor – perhaps because he’s the little brother of one of their own, former Strib and PiPress columnist and ex-KSTP and Air America host Nick Coleman.  As we noted during the 2006 Senate campaign, being related to a former Twin Cities media eminemento (Senator Klobuchar is the daughter of former longtime Strib columnist and Studs-Terkel-wannabee Jim Klobuchar) guarantees almost as much selective amnesia as, well, being a DFLer does.

Or is it that they’re reporting that Ng is onto something?

MPR’s Tom Scheck, writing at Polinaut:

Coleman’s mayoral opponent, Eva Ng, is calling on Coleman to explain why his campaign committee is spending money on airline tickets, restaurants and hotels outside the city of St. Paul.

Bear in mind that Coleman is putatively running for Mayor of Saint Paul.  I don’t know what the laws are re spending money for one campaign on another race, but… 

Here’s the list compiled from Ng’s campaign:

Travel & Hotels

  • 3/12/09 Midwest Airlines for $619.39
  • 3/13/09 Orbitz.com for $107.88
  • 7/23/09 Alexandria, MN Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center Deposit for $200.00
  • 7/30/09 Rochester, MN Kahler Grand Hotel for $452.98
  • 7/30/09 Northwest Airlines for $249.19
  • 8/17/09 Alexandria, MN Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center Lodging Payment for $107.80

Meals & Restaurants

  • 6/18/09 CD7 Dinner for $60.00
  • 7/29/09 Rochester, MN Gilligan’s Cove restaurant for $13.00
  • 7/30/09 Rochester, MN Kahler Grand Grill for $86.89
  • 8/3/09 Granite City Brewery for $35.82 (There are no Granite City Brewery locations in St. Paul: http://www.gcfb.net/locations.cfm) [Although to be fair there is one at Rosedale, maybe a mile north of Saint Paul; not sure if "fairness" covers observing that Coleman should know the difference, whether it's close enough for county work or not.  Rochester, naturally, is right out  - Ed. ]

Donations to Political Units Outside St. Paul

  • 2/7/09 Senate District 32 DFL (includes Maple Grove, Osseo, Rogers) received $50.00
  • 6/11/09 Rice County DFL received $200.00

I’m waiting for a response from the Coleman campaign and will post it when they comment.

Let’s try to be fair; maybe the Rice County DFL is going to send busloads of canvassers and door-knockers.

I’ll watch for the comment…

“Building me a fence, Building me a home, Thinking I’d be strong there, But I was a fool”*

Sweden, often held up by “progressives” as a model of socialism’s efficiency has collectively come to realize the error of it’s ways and is employing a radical tact to stimulate job growth.

Sweden’s centre-right government on Saturday announced income tax cuts…to stimulate the job market, its primary objective.

[needle scratching on Abba record]

Income tax cuts! To stimulate the job market?!!!

Back here in the U.S.S.A, Obama would be focused on bolstering the job market too if it weren’t for his Magical Mystery Tour promoting health care reform that most of America doesn’t want or need, and the government can’t afford.

The proposal, to be presented to parliament on Monday as part of the 2010 budget bill, is the fourth leg of a tax cut programme introduced in January 2007 to stimulate employment.

Tax cuts stimulate employment? Really? I wonder why Obama and his stooges uber-czars haven’t thought of that (you know, cutting taxes for those that are in a position to hire employees, versus cutting taxes for those that don’t pay them)?

“The coalition government has agreed on reforms for jobs and entrepreneurialism that will increase employment in the long-term. It has to be more profitable to work and more companies should be able to hire employees,” the government said.

Companies hire employees in Sweden? Naw, really? Here in America, under the Obama administration, the government hires employees. Are we missing something?

Since coming to power in late 2006, the government has launched a series of measures aimed at inciting Swedes to return to the job market instead of living off of state subsidies.

But that would require effort. Here in America we are sustained by Hope® and Change®.

The government said it would also propose a series of measures in the budget bill aimed at boosting incentives to start companies and improve the business climate.

Seriously, somebody should text TheOneWhoWon this innovative idea.

*from Winner Takes It All (Abba)

Waste Not

An observation that eludes many people, especially in these hopey-changey times when the less-”gifted” are seeking a savior from Washington and Michael Moore stalks the land; government is a machine that is designed to waste; waste money, waste resources, waste lives, waste initiative – waste.
R. Steven Rogers – a Minneapolis guy  – observes Minneapolis govenment doing what all govenment does best: on the one hand, demanding more…:

Last year, they sold us the $60 Million per year referendum to increase funding for the Minneapolis Public Schools, assuring us that it would help do things like buy needed books, supplies, and manage class sizes.

…and on the other?  Profligate waste:

Then they closed 4 more schools. That makes for 10 since April of 2007. And at the Folwell School, they are throwing away an entire school, one dumpster at a time. Perfectly good books, tables, sewing machines, sporting equipment, you name it. All of this could be donated to charities, other schools, youth groups; the list of people in need is quite long, especially these days.

Hey – it was all paid for!

By us.

Read the whole infuriating thing.

And They Will Write 500 Miles, And They Will Write 500 More…

Did someone say the President is just a tad overexposed?

He’s turning the presidency into an infomercial,” warned former White House speechwriter Matt Latimer. “It’s not just damaging to the White House. It will also ultimately hurt President Obama’s image as a fresh, non-Washington leader.”

The media blitz has won Obama unprecedented wall-to-wall coverage in the mainstream media.

The factoid?  Obama has had three times the TV appearances of Bush and Clinton combined.

Fawning?  They got it!

In the New York Times alone, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, 405 stories on the Obama administration have appeared on the front page through mid-August of this year totaling 119,678 column inches. That’s 9,973 column feet of Obama coverage on the Times front page alone.

Endless This Campaign!

This Hardly Ever Happens

One of my life’s ambitions has always been to leave a word, or especially an aphorism, to the English language.

It’d seem that according to at least one source, I’m on my way.  One of my aphorisms has turned up on a list (OK, a website) amid Euripides, Benjamin Franklin, Somerset Maugham, Stalin, Oscar Wilde, Stalin…

Oddly, it’s a toss-off from the blog some time ago:

When I die, I’d like to be scattered over my hometown. But not, like, cremated or anything.–Mitch Berg

A quick vanity-google shows that the saying has popped up in a whole bunch of places – including the chapter heading of a book.

Wow. The mission is proceeding apace.

“Capitalism is actually legalized greed”

…says Michael Moore on Leno, promoting his next documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story.

Um, Michael, greed actually is legal. I’m sure you’re donating all the revenue from your film to charity then, right?

[crickets]

I can’t wait to go see his latest film because what with the economy and all, I’m a little short on cash and I’m sure a film extolling the evils of greed is…free…right?

[crickets]

Moore explained that his vision of democracy is redistributionist, and he gave no voice to the idea that self-reliance and hard work can propel one to great wealth.

“…we live in a democracy,”

“We’re supposed to have like fairness and equality.

Exactly. One citizen, one vote; and the American dream is *like* still widely available to *like* anyone willing to like do the work, at least *like* for now.

“And you know when you have a pie on the table … there’s 10 slices and one guy at the table says nine of those slices are mine…”

Gee Michael, I wonder who that guy is?

“…and the other nine of you, you can fight over the last slice. I mean that’s essentially the kind of economy we have now.”

Well, not everyone can be Michael Moore, can they?

What Michael doesn’t seem to understand is that the reason the one guy gets the nine pieces is that the other nine people don’t “go” for them, and in fact the one guy actually bakes the pie and gives the one back to the other nine.

It’s called a salary.

In America however, the recipe for the pie is public information. Anyone can bake themselves their own pie, and Moore has been doing it for a long time.

Typical liberal: A prescription for thee but not for me:

Many people find it tough to swallow Moore’s jokes about the wealthy and then watch him fly first class at his publisher’s or film distributor’s expense to his posh home in New York City’s Central Park West, where he also sends his teenage daughter to an elite private school.”

Michael Moore is a talented filmmaker who like many in Hollywood have confused their success in the entertainment industry with an almighty ordination to entreat and admonish the minions at their feet with the gravity of their omniscient wisdom.

“Hey look everybody, it’s Madonna, arriving via private jet and limousine convoy to teach us how to ‘Go Green!’”

Moore’s hypocrisy is legendary, from investments he has made, people he has hired and then stiffed, to his own conspicuous enjoyment of the larger, juicier fruits of capitalism.

One can only imagine the sacrifices a 500-pound man has imposed on himself.

But the Hungry Hippocrit doesn’t care who knows all of this as there is always an ample supply of sycophants, unconscious objectors and serial protesters to stand in line and pay full price to see his drivel.

Which is to say, his hypocrisy hasn’t cost him a penny, so he doesn’t even bother to lift a hammy finger to conceal it.

…which pretty much makes him…a capitalist…pig.

All Talk

Edward Lucas Obama has big plans…:

But none of them are working.

Regimes in Moscow, Pyongyang and Tehran simply pocket his concessions and carry on as before. The picture emerging from the White House is a disturbing one, of timidity, clumsiness and short-term calculation. Some say he is the weakest president since Jimmy Carter.

He left out “micromanager”!

Even good moves are ruined by bad presentation. Changing Mr Bush’s costly and untried missile-defence scheme for something workable was sensible. But offensively casual treatment of east European allies such as Poland made it easy for his critics to portray it as naïve appeasement of the regime in Moscow.

Many lefties don’t see the real problem; it’s not the missile system itself.  Lefties treat missile defense the same way they treat economic recoveries (when Republicans are in control, anyway); just as every recovery is a “jobless” one until employment skyrockets to unignorably record levels, missile defense will be a “boondoggle” until it becomes airtight (which it’s not yet – but then, no engineering achievement ever succeeds until it does).

No – even thoughtful Obama partisans seem to be unable to get it, but it’s the betrayal.  Just as Chamberlain and Daladier casually decided the fate of Czechoslovakia in a summit with Hitler without bothering to invite the Czechs, and as the UK and France abrogated their treaty obligation to rescue Poland without telling the Poles about it, Obama went behind Donald Tusk’s back, directly to Putin.

Mr Obama’s public image rests increasingly heavily on his extraordinary speechifying abilities. His call in Cairo for a new start in relations with the Muslim world was pitch-perfect. So was his speech in Ghana, decrying Africa’s culture of bad government. His appeal to both houses of Congress to support health care was masterly – though the oratory was far more impressive than the mish-mash plan behind it…

But for what? Mr Obama has tactics a plenty – calm and patient engagement with unpleasant regimes, finding common interests, appealing to shared values – but where is the strategy? What, exactly, did “Change you can believe in” – the hallmark slogan of his campaign – actually mean?

Silly Mr. Lucas.  It means “the people can believe in the Change and the Hope”.  Or something like that.

The President’s domestic critics who accuse him of being the sinister wielder of a socialist master-plan are wide of the mark. The man who has run nothing more demanding than the Harvard Law Review is beginning to look out of his depth in the world’s top job. His credibility is seeping away, and it will require concrete achievements rather than more soaring oratory to recover it.

And Obama’s problem is that his Administration is basically a factory that builds rhetoric.  Like any factory, changing the product – from rhetoric to achievement – is a costly re-tooling operation.

Racists!

New York Governor David Paterson is afro-American.

Therefore the only reason to want him out of office is racism:

National Democratic Party leaders have asked Gov. David Paterson to consider withdrawing from the 2010 governor’s race, according to two senior New York Democratic advisers…

…The New York Times, which originally reported the request on its Web site, said that it was President Barack Obama who asked Paterson to withdraw.

Racists!  And probably Nazis to boot!

A Tale Of Two Leaders

Earlier this week, on the seventieth anniversary of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II, President Obama announced that the United States is reneging on a promise to build a missile defense shield against future, likely Iranian nuclear missiles. This program was started under Bush, enacted in Poland and the Czech Republican at the cost of immense political capital to the Polish and Czech governments.

The date, of course, was Vladimir Putin’s way of telling the recalcitrant, west-leaning, NATO-joining Poles that he’s watching them.

But the reverse on the missile program?  That was all Obama.   The President seems to think, as Jimmy Carter did, that if he just gives a few more concessions to Putin, to the Mullahs, to the world’s thugs and gangsters, that eventually even they’ll start believing in all the Hope and Change.

Of course, as we saw earlier this summer, earnest promises of Hope and Change didn’t stop the mullahs from gunning down protesters in the streets of Teheran.
What a contrast with thirty years ago, as Jeffrey Lord noted earlier this summer in American Spectator:

One need look no further than President Obama’s cautiously timid response to the demands of freedom from Iranians. Contrast this with Reagan’s response to similar demands from Poles in the 1980s and the miserable inadequacy of the Obama foreign policy is thrust into a stark and shameful relief.

Finding historical parallels is a slippery slope that leads to madness.  But sometimes they’re illustrative:

When Reagan took office in January of 1981, Poland had been a Soviet satellite for almost four decades. The American foreign policy establishment had long since settled into an acceptance of moral equivalency between the United States and the Communists. The policy was acted out in a thousand different ways ranging from so-called “détente” (a relaxing of tensions) to a vast, arcane arms control process which over time had substituted the process itself instead of the unconditional victory of freedom as America’s chief foreign policy goal.

Sound familiar?

As opposed to the example from the last time we had a thug-ocracy beating freedom-loving demonstrators in the streets, I mean?…:

Reagan had campaigned on a completely different idea, a very old principle when dealing with an adversary. He phrased it this way to his first national security advisor, Richard Allen: “We win, they lose.” It was this goal that Reagan sought, and thus caused him to speak bluntly about America’s adversary in the Cold War. An “Evil Empire” is how he early-on famously described the Soviet Union, completely horrifying the Obama-like striped-pants set in the State Department and Establishment foreign policy circles…

Joe Biden said during the campaign that Obama would face a foreign policy “test”.  Well, Ronald Reagan certainly did:

One of the very first items that arose on Reagan’s watch was the rising demand for freedom from the Polish people. On January 21, his first full day in the Oval Office, word reached the White House that a young shipyard worker and union leader named Lech Walesa had informed the Communist government of Poland he had called a series of strikes in four Polish cities, beginning the next day. Within 24 hours hundreds of thousands of Poles in ten cities — not four — were publicly defying the Polish Communist dictator, General Wojciech Jaruzelski.

A fight for freedom was on — and Ronald Reagan had zero intention of standing on the sidelines…Liberals all over Washington paled. This, they insisted, was no way to conduct diplomacy. One just does not say these things in public. But Reagan had only just begun.

And we all know how that ended – in this case, with a free Poland; a nation that reveres the Reagan legacy; a place that is probably the best place in Europe to be an American; a place that has repaid Reagan’s efforts many-fold, by becoming not just a leading voice for freedom, but a leading supplier of muscle to defend it; Polish troops were among the largest allied contingents in Iraq.

Iran today and Poland in 1980 aren’t perfect analogues – but the similarities are strong enough to help us gauge the character of our nation’s leadership.

Which is bad news for Obama:

As Walesa and his fellow Poles demanded the most basic of human liberties, Moscow responded by sending troops on maneuvers along the Polish border, then installing a military government with instructions to stop Walesa in his tracks.

Distinctly unlike Obama’s reaction to the demonstrators filling the streets of Iran, Reagan looked at similar crowds in Poland and said the sight was “thrilling.” Said Reagan: “I wanted to be sure we did nothing to impede this process and everything we could to spur it along.”

And so he did. In a stiff note to Soviet boss Leonid Brezhnev, Reagan said that if the Russians kept up their thuggish response to Poland they “could forget any new nuclear arms agreement.” Gone too would be better trade relations, and in their place would be the “harshest possible economic sanctions” if they even thought of invading Poland as they had done with Czechoslovakia in 1968 or Hungary in 1956.

Of couse, Reagan did much more; he formed an unlikely alliance (according to Dinesh D’Souza) with Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and AFL-CIO president Layne Kirkland to send financial as well as moral aid to Solidarity.

Hope and change didn’t come for free in 1980, either; as tensions ratcheted up, Reagan took the occasion of the normally-pacific Christmas speech to stump for the Poles…:

… “We can’t let this revolution against Communism fail without offering a hand,” he wrote that day in his diary. “We may never have an opportunity like this in our lifetime.”

Christmas or not, Reagan proceeded to write Brezhnev about the “recent events in Poland.” Warned the President: “Attempts to suppress the Polish people-either by the Polish army or police acting under Soviet pressure, or through even more direct use of the Soviet military force — certainly will not bring about long term stability in Poland and could unleash a process neither you nor we could fully control.” Reagan said the Soviets were encouraging “political terror, mass arrests and bloodshed” and they must either halt this behavior or “we will travel a different path.”

On Christmas morning, Reagan had a heated, angry reply from Brezhnev. Furious, he accused the President of “defaming our social and state system, our internal order.” It was a charge, Reagan said, “to which I pleaded guilty.”

Words were followed by actions – sanctions against Poland and the USSR – and then by years of committed agitation to bring down, not Poland, but the USSR itself.  These efforts paid off almost twenty years ago, as first the Poles, and then the rest Eastern Europe, and finally the Russians themselves cast off the Communists.  History’s bloodthirstiest regime fell without a shot in less than ten years, because of a show of backbone and resolve.
And some people know it:

Lech Walesa went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize and later become the freely elected President of a democratic Poland. In 2007, Walesa’s successor as President of Poland traveled to the Reagan Library to present Nancy Reagan, who accepted on behalf of her late husband, The Order of the White Eagle, the oldest and highest honor within the gift of the Polish people. Today one can visit Ronald Reagan Square in Krakow, a Reagan statue is planned for Warsaw and Reagan streets and parks dot the country. He is considered, in the words of the Polish president, the “architect of democracy.”

Compare and contrast:

This is a lesson that one realizes the Obama White House simply doesn’t have the courage to embrace. As over a million Iranians fill[ed] the streets of Tehran, the message from this President of the United States is that he is afraid to be seen as “meddling” — precisely the charge Reagan faced down from Brezhnev. Instead Obama backs away from standing up for freedom, saying (as if Iran were a free country): “It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be. We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.” He does say he is “deeply troubled.”

As those Iranians who seek freedom are literally shot dead in the streets, Obama observes cautiously that “the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent — all those are universal values and need to be respected.” Instead of dealing with the mullahs of Iran in the fashion Reagan dealt with Brezhnev and the Polish Communist puppets, Obama refers deferentially to Ayatollah ali Khamenei, as the “Supreme Leader.”

And so inside a generation, American leadership has gone from embracing and pressing for freedom, to equivocating and waffling – and, worse, betraying it, allowing Vladimir Putin not only to use the symbol of Poland’s subjugation before the Soviets to deliver his message, but carrying Putin’s water for him.  Obama’s selling-out of Poland in the face of Putin’s pressure was the sort of thing that might make pragmatic sense to those diplomats more allied to “process” than to the goal of liberty…

…and it’s the sort of thing that wouldn’t have gotten on Ronald Reagan’s short list.

The Recovery is Here!*

Obama’s Stimulus is working!*

Bernanke is a God! …where would we be had the government not intervened?! (!?!?!?!!)

One doesn’t usually turn to old TV shows for economic insights. Yet the best way to put the Fed’s role in the recent crisis in perspective is by recalling an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies — the one in which Granny convinces everyone that a spoonful of her medicine can cure the common cold. Sure enough, it can: It just takes between a week and 10 days.

Things are awesome, save the fact (or should I say “selective amnesia” Mr. President?) that unemployment is still rising.

Unemployment rose in 27 U.S. states in August, with California and Nevada reaching record levels of joblessness.

Rhode Island rounded out the list of states with the highest level of unemployment since data began in 1976, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. California’s unemployment rate reached 12.2 percent and Nevada’s climbed to 13.2 percent.

Ah, 1976. The last time we had a President so utterly incapable of understanding economics, banking, markets, business management, money, or math.

*No, it aint.

“You Waffle!”

Gosh, my Democrat friends.  I apologize.

You were right.  Joe Wilson was wrong when he called the President a “liar” during his health-care pep rally two weeks ago.

Obama wasn’t lying.  He was pelting us with weasel words:

“Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don’t simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday evening in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. “That’s why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else.

Mr. Obama added, “If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all.”

In other words; he won’t be giving healthcare to “illegals”, because anyone who can get across the Rio Grande or the St. Lawrence will be legal.

Republicans said that amounts to an amnesty, calling it a backdoor effort to make sure current illegal immigrants get health care.

“It is ironic that the president told the American people that illegal immigrants should not be covered by the health care bill, but now just days later he’s talking about letting them in the back door,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

So on behalf of all Republicans, I apologize.

The President isn’t a “liar”.  He’s a word-game-playing weasel.

Where Credit Is Due

I finally got to meet KTLK-FM’s Chris Baker at the Tea Party last night.

And when he was addressing the crowd, he came up with a spiel about the Dem’s pro-forma “you oppose Obama because you’re a racist” slur, that I have been slapping myself upside the head for the past 18 hours for not thinking of myself.

I’m going to paraphrase as closely as I can…

Yes; I’d love to support nationalizing healthcare and destroying our healthcare system – if only the President were a white guy.

I’d jump to jack taxes through the roof, destroy the economy and pass trillions in deficits on to my grandkids - if the President were white!

I’d beg to have the UN run our foreign policy – if only the Prez were a cracker!

Not bad for an FM guy.

Raw Nerves

Hundreds of years of vassaldom to the Russians, Germans and Austro-Hungarians.

6-7 years under the Nazi jackboot, with millions – millions – dead as they served as a battlefield, a killing field, a death factory, and finally a battlefield again.

Two generations as slaves of the Soviets.

Just saying, all you Obama supporters – P Obama isn’t bringing Eastern Europe the change they were hoping for:

Poles and Czechs voiced deep concern Friday at President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap a Bush-era missile defense shield planned for their countries.

“Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back,” the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama’s new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous “gray zone” between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere.

And the Poles’ experiences with being in “gray zones” – like when the Brits and French crossed their fingers behind their backs when promising to protect them from the Germans – isn’t all that good.

Recent events in the region have rattled nerves throughout central and eastern Europe, a region controlled by Moscow during the Cold War, including the war last summer between Russia and Georgia and ongoing efforts by Russia to regain influence in Ukraine. A Russian cutoff of gas to Ukraine last winter left many Europeans without heat.

The Bush administration‘s plan would have been “a major step in preventing various disturbing trends in our region of the world,” Kaczynski said in a guest editorial in the daily Fakt and also carried on his presidential Web site.

There’s a reason many Czechs and Hungarians and Georgians keep photos of Ronald Reagan in their houses; in not a few Polish houses, Reagan’s photo is next to Pope John Paul II’s on the mantelpiece.

And I’m thinking they’re in no danger of moving.

Maybe Kerry was right; we could learn a lot from the Europeans…

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NotsoSmartAnalysis, Part III

Yesterday, we responded to Eric Ostermeier’s collective slur against conservatives from Wednesday (“Red States have Higher Crime than Blue States“) by factoring in an overarching, non-partisan sociological issue – the propensity toward violence and crime in the states of the Old South, the former Confederacy; there is a social dynamic in the Old South that makes the whole place a lot more angry and violent, no matter who people vote for for President, governor or the state legislature.

It’s a real, current factor that predates and transcends modern politics – but it’s not strictly tied to America’s current partisan divide.

So what about statistics around an issue that is fully tied to modern politics, and the sociology and pathology that’s sprung from it?

———-

Eric Ostermeier’s statistics were calculated on a state by state basis. 

But are head-to-head comparisons of states especially meaningful?  Most states, especially most larger states, are diverse political microcosms in their own right.  New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan and California are dominated by huge, vastly powerful liberal machines – but their outstate, non-metro areas are quite conservative by contrast.  Other states – Minnesota, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Virginia – are deeply split, with small but intense clusters of urban liberals surrounded by a suburban/rural expanse that votes reliably Republican (and which usually carries the rest of the state financially). 

But if there’s one thing that’s true across the country, it’s this:  major metropolitan areas are almost universally governed by Democrats (or liberal Republicans, like Michael Bloomberg); even in cases like Giuliani’s New York, Brett Schundler’s Jersey City or Norm Coleman’s Saint Paul, the dominant political culture was sharply to the left, with the mayor fighting a David Vs. Goliath insurgency.  And while it’s by no means as uniform, the outlying areas in all these examples are much more likely to be center to right-leaning.

And statistically, it’s a blowout; nationwide, violent crime in Metropolitan areas is 58% higher than in non-metropolitan areas  (459 to 290/100,000).  In states that voted for Obama, it’s drastic; violent crime in metro areas is 86% higher than outside them (448 to 240); in McCain states, metro areas are 32% more violent (465 to 350/100,000)…

…and that’s if we forget about yesterday’s issue with traditional southern violence.  In the states of the former Confederacy, violent crime in metro areas is 20% higher than the national average (553 to 459/100,000), while in non-metro areas it’s a whopping 48% higher than in non-metro areas nationwide (429 to 290/100,000); indeed, non-metro crime in the former Old South (less Virginia) is only about 6% lower than crime in metropolitan areas nationwide (429 to 459/100,000).  Wanna see some danger?  Non-metro crime in South Carolina is 65% higher than the national average for metropolitan areas (760 to 459/100,000); Louisiana isn’t far behind. 

Indeed – Obama’s metro areas are eight percent more violent than Mac’s states overall (448 to 411/100,000); that ratio climbs to 38% when counting McCain’s non-Southern states (337/100,000), and 52% higher than McCain’s non-southern, non-metro areas (with 294 violent crimes per 100,000).

States – most states – seesaw slowly back and forth across the political divide; California used to vote GOP; the South was once reliably Democratic, and backed the New Deal.

But for generations, now, America’s major metropolitan areas have been the province of the left; the bigger the metro areas (New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, Philly), the further to the left they are. 

And while Ostermeier noted that ”Blue” state income is 11% higher than “Red” states (without citing cost of living variances, naturally), he missed another point; the poorest cities in America are the ones that have been the longest strangled by the left, of the ten poorest cities in the US, the record is clear:

  • #”1″ Detroit has been GOP-free for the past 48 years.
  • #2 Buffalo?  55 years.
  • #3 Cincinnati?  25 years.
  • #4 Cleveland – it’s been 20 years
  • #5 Miami and #7 El Paso have never had Republican mayors;
  • #6 St. Louis – sixty years.
  • #8 Milwaukee?  101 years!
  • #9 Philadelphia – 57 years!
  • #10 Newark – not only has it been 102 years since Newark, “America’s Vacationland”, had a Republican mayor, but it’s been almost a generation since they had a mayor that wasn’t indicted or jailed for some kind of corruption or another; Newark’s mayors and mayoral staff may actually impact New Jersey’s property crime figures. 

You have to drill waaaay down in the stats before you can find a metro area with even a centrist governing tradition outside the Old South (which, as we noted yesterday, is problematic for different reasons).   Phoenix used to be a decent example – but the influx of violent narcotraficantes has screwed up a good thing.  But again, that’s not a partisan issue.

So why are the crime numbers so bad in the cities?  Ostermeier invoked the “Chicken Vs. Egg” simile in his piece on Wednesday; to try to unpack urban crime, it’s more of a chicken/egg/farmer/omelet thing.  Which came first? 

Do Democrats control cities because they’re so relatively poor (and especially because they pack so much poverty in next to so much wealth)?  Or are cities poor because Democrats have spent the past couple of generations using them as warehouses for welfare clients and as social engineering laboratories?  And on the other hand do the cities serve as social labs and welfare warehouses because the Dems know that clients make good, multigenerational voters?

I’lll take “C”…

———–

Well, I would – if I thought that it was civil or responsible to try to use stats like this to try to impugn my opposition. 

Of course, just as the tradition and stats about southern crime added crucial context to Ostermeier’s original claims, there is reams of other context behind any specific claims that one tries to tie to politics.

Which leads to the other two questions I mentioned in my original post on the subject last Wednesday.

Question 2: Knowing this (and Ostermeier is a smart guy – he has to be, since he’s involved with the Humphrey Institute and all, right?), why would Ostermeier write this?  I’m accepting theories.

Question 3: Smart Politics is a product of the Humphey Institute.   How much taxpayer money was put into this piece of – let’s be honest – group slander?

Dear President Obama

To: President Obama

From: Mitch Berg, perplexed peasant

Re: Huh?

Dear President Obama:

About that whole “cancelling missile defense” and “selling out our political allies in Eastern Europe” thing?

Well played, sir.  Seriously.

“This regime (Israel) will not last long. Do not tie your fate to it … This regime has no future. Its life has come to an end,” [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] said in a speech broadcast live on state radio.

No, no sarcasm here.

That is all.

Wishful Thinking

Nancy Pelosi is  projecting again:

I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw … I saw this myself in the late ’70s in San Francisco,” Pelosi said, choking up and with tears forming in her eyes. “This kind of rhetoric is just, is really frightening and it created a climate in which we, violence took place and … I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made.”

Funny thing about Republican enthusiasm; it may be boistrous, but nobody gets hurt.

It’s Pelosi’s team that is behind every single act of political violence in America today.

Stick The Knife In And Twist

Not only did Obama sell America’s allies in Eastern Europe down the river, he did it on the seventieth anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, which completed the final parting-out of Poland’s fledgling democracy in 1939.

There are many areas where I’m willing to chalk Obama’s actions up to stupidity, and the invincible ignorance that follows whenever you put a bunch of Ivy Leaguers in the same place.

But I’m sorry – there was no way in hell Obama and his staff didn’t know the signifiance of 9/17 in Poland.  No f****ng way.

All things considered, I’m happy that Polish prime minister Tusk snubbed Hillary.