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Posts Tagged ‘liberals’

The Obama-Media War

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Revolutions are rarely undone from the outside. Mostly they come apart from the inside as the forty thieves descend into petty squabbling over the loot.

The loot comes in different forms, but at its core it is always power. It may be the power to kill or to steal. It may be the power to claim a nice piece of real estate or to send a million people off to their deaths. The scale of it will occupy historians and shock the people of the future who leaf through the history books and walk through the silent museums, but it is all of one piece. The purpose of power, as a fellow in a little book by George Orwell once said, is power.

The quarrel between Obama and the Media is largely a lovers’ quarrel, but the love is only there on one side. The media made Obama what he is. But what he is, among many other things, is a control freak spawned by a political ideology that distrusts everyone and consolidates power at all cost.

The media loved Obama, but it discovered early on that he did not love it back. Instead of basking in the adoration of the Candy Crowleys and the Anderson Coopers and the massive corporate machines behind them, the love child of every liberal fantasy shut them out, rigidly controlled their access and ruthlessly punished unauthorized conversations with the press.

The media had made Obama into a tin god, but were constantly suspected of heresy. Instead of being rewarded for their loyalty, they were kept at arm’s length.

Obama Inc. knew that their biggest asset was the narrative. A close study of Obama’s qualifications or accomplishments would have given no conceivable reason for voting for him. The only thing he brought to the table was race and even in this he was less qualified than most of the black men who had run for president.

The narrative was the dearest treasure of Obama Inc. It was the one thing that its cronies protected. The economy could tank, wars could be lost and an asteroid could smack into the Pacific Ocean and none of it mattered nearly as much as the golden narrative. They didn’t trust anyone with it including the media.

The media these days doesn’t have much. Its numbers are bad in every medium from the tube to the inky pages of newsprint to the crackling AM radio waves. It isn’t very profitable. Often it’s a dead weight. But it wields a great deal of institutional power. The New York Times and CNN may both be dogs when it comes to the balance sheets, but owning either one gives you an impressive amount of heft in the national dialogue; though not as much as working for one of them does.

Power is all that the media has. Its power is projected in a fairly narrow circle. Fewer people are reading, watching and listening to it, so its circle becomes more incestuous. Everyone has learned to act like a member of the D.C. press corps, interpreting events through the lens of old West Wing episodes. The resulting noise reaches fewer people, but helps form the shaky consensus on which the institutional power of the media stands.

In its dying hour, the media used that power to ensure the double coronation of a corrupt Chicago politician with a facility for mimicking speech patterns. And that politician rewarded it by trying to bypass it and set up his own media.

Obama’s vision of the proper place of the media isn’t just at his feet, but under his control. Instead of dealing with the media, he has tried to cut it out of the loop by putting a larger emphasis on social media and developing narratives through think-tanks and media influencing groups. It was a power struggle that the media was initially baffled by. It had held out an ice cream cone to the little boy, only to have the little boy kick it in the shin, grab the ice cream cone and run away.

For years the media had groused about a lack of transparency, the unprecedented prosecution of whistleblowers and the hostile relationship between Obama Inc’s minions and many reporters. The grousing was usually understated. It could be mentioned offhand, but not too loudly. When Bob Woodward made the mistake of speaking his mind, he was swiftly punished for it by the avatars of the post-media media, while the old media sat silently and watched the show.

The Post-Obama Democratic Party

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Two elections ago, the Democratic Party was on the verge of being torn to shreds. After a long series of dirty tricks and one stolen election later, there was an uncomfortable coming together.

Obama and his cronies kept most of the important positions, while the Clintonites got a few pieces of the foreign policy apparatus. The arrangement satisfied no one, but it kept ticking along until the Benghazi attacks happened.

By the time Benghazi happened, Clinton and Obama needed each other more than ever.  Obama needed the Clintons on the campaign trail to sell him to more moderate Democrats who remembered that times had been better under Bill. Hillary needed Obama to anoint her as his intended successor.

The awkward dance, complete with an injury, a congressional hearing and a 60 Minutes interview and then the real fireworks began.

Hillary Clinton had turned lemons into lemonade, getting what she could out of Obama. State had looked like a good spot for her because it would insulate her from the backlash over the economy. And she would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for Benghazi. It wasn’t quite leaving on a high note, but as bad as Benghazi was, no one in their right mind would want to be associated with what is going to happen in Afghanistan. At least no one who isn’t as dumb as Hanoi John who began his career with Viet Cong and Sandinista pandering and will end it watching the Taliban take Kabul.

Benghazi hasn’t slowed Hillary Clinton down. And her target is the same old target from 2008. We’re back in that 3 A.M. phone call territory. The truce between Obama and Hillary Clinton ended on 60 Minutes. It’s not exactly war, but it is politics.

While Obama and his cronies plot out the second term, Hillary Clinton is plotting out her election campaign. These days every presidential campaign begins with the ceremonial burial of your own party’s predecessor. It wasn’t just McCain who kept a careful distance from Bush, Gore kept a careful distance from Clinton and Bush Sr. kept a careful distance from Reagan. The reinvention invariably involves the ritual jettisoning of some portions of your predecessor’s program and personality.

Hillary Clinton isn’t betting on being able to ride Obama’s coattails. Not only are the coattails short, but the same electorate of younger and minority voters whose turnout he could count on, won’t be quite as eager to come out for her. Her people are not betting on Obama’s strategy of dismissing mainstream voters and counting on making it up with a passionate base. To win, Hillary Clinton will have to win back some of the same voters that Obama alienated during his two terms.

The script is already written. You can spot it peeking through select mainstream media editorials. Watch for those instances where mainstream media pundits blame Obama’s inexperience and his failure to reach out across the aisle for his shortcomings. Those mentions aren’t so much an attack on Obama as they are a campaign sign reading, “Hillary 2016.” It’s subtle for now, but a year from now, those grudging admissions that Obama fell short in some areas will come with the strong suggestion that next time around, someone more experienced and more able to build bridges could do better.

Republicans will rightly wonder on which planet, Hillary Clinton is an experienced bipartisan leader. But compared to Obama, she is, and these days we are grading on one very gentle curve. Clinton had begun building that image for the 2008 election and now her people are taking it out and dusting it off again. The Democratic Party is being given the chance to choose the sensible experienced candidate that it failed to choose last time around. And the fact that the candidate in question is actually neither is one of those things that doesn’t really make a difference.

In preparing for a Post-Bush candidacy, Hillary gambled that the public would want someone a little more to the right and so she cultivated an image as a conservative member of the Democratic Party. Not only did she cultivate the image, but she made an occasional effort to vote that way and build those alliances. It was good planning, but a bad bet. Unlike Bill, Hillary was never an instinctual politician. Bill plays it by ear, while Hillary makes long term plans and is caught by surprise.

Terrorism and the Methodology of the Left

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

The left has a clearly defined set of responses to a terrorist attack. After all the hopes for a properly right wing terrorist have come to naught, it begins the long slow process of rolling back the laws and emotional attitudes stemming from the attack.

For it, terrorism, like anything else, either fits into its narrative or conflicts with it. The narrative defines the world, past, present and future, in terms of the political agenda of the left. An event that clashes with the agenda must have its meaning changed so that the power of the narrative is restored.

Most violent attacks, from a street mugging to September 11, cause people to seek out security by combating the attackers. The left’s task is to shift the narrative so that people see it in an entirely different way. The perpetrators become the victims by the trick of transforming the real victims into the real perpetrators. The lesson shifts from going on the offense to learning not to give offense.

The process is gradual and the playbook is infinite. Weapons of mass distraction are brought out. New villains are introduced and the emotional resonance of the events is drowned in ridicule. The tones are also many, from urging everyone to let love defeat hate to displays of virulent hate against the people “truly” stirring up trouble, but they all share a common agenda. Only the tactics vary.

Unlike the right, the left is systematic. It studies structures and people and plots its lines of attack accordingly. It pits emotion against emotion and law against law. It waits for the initial shock to fade before launching its first wave of attacks over process.

The left’s honest response, the one that shows up on its Twitter feeds and in posts on its own sites, is that the country is overreacting. Some leftists will even be bold enough to say that we had it coming. But its public response is more discreet. It exploits the grief for its own ends, diverting shocked city residents into interfaith memorials, some of which are progressive enough to include denunciations of American foreign policy and vigils for the dead on both sides.

But even here, the left generally restrains itself. It waits until the weeks or months have passed to begin deadening the emotion surrounding the event with sarcastic remarks and jokes until the sacred becomes fully profane. It waits somewhat less time to begin lecturing the country on how our foreign policy made them hate us, knowing that in a contest between the establishment’s narrative of inexplicable Islamic radicalization for unknown reasons and their narrative of American evil, they have the upper hand because they provide a realistic motive and the establishment does not.

Still this too comes later. The left knows that there is a window on human emotion. There is a time when people need to mourn and a time when they will feel a diminishing outrage and even begin to agree with observations whose thrust is that the United States of America is the real terrorist. And so there are things that the left will say on DailyKos and then on Salon that it will not say on CNN or the editorial page of the New York Times.

The editorials explaining how a lack of American support for Chechen independence led to the marathon massacre are coming. They just haven’t splashed ashore in mainstream liberal newspapers yet. Timing is everything and the difference between the left of the counterculture and the left of the culture is that it knows what people will be willing to listen to and when. And it knows where to begin.

Against the horror of the bombing, the left juxtaposes the horror of police state. It pits the fear of terrorists depriving us of our lives and freedoms against the fear of the government doing the same. And considering the history of government abuses, it does not take long for this line of argument to make a compelling emotional dent in the responses of even many ordinary people to the attacks.

The left begins by raising all sorts of procedural questions about how law enforcement and the military are treating the enemy. It develops a burning conviction that our civil rights are the only thing about the country worth keeping. It hammers away at any law enforcement or military mistake, no matter how minor, and collects these together to amass a narrative of the police state.

Better or Worse: Politics and Conceptions of Change

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

All politics are the politics of the future. The one cause that we all champion, regardless of our political orientation, is the cause of the future. All that we fight for is the ability to shape the future.

The fundamental political question is, “Do you believe things are getting better or worse?” Ruling parties tend to answer, “Better”, opposition parties tend to answer, “Worse”. The deeper answer to that question though lies in our perceptions of the past and the future.

The left tends to view the past negatively and future shock positively. It wants change to disrupt the old order of things in order to make way for a new order. It hews to a progressive understanding of history in which we have been getting better with the advance of time, the march of progress mimics evolution as a means of lifting humanity out of the muck and raising it up on ivory towers of reason through a ceaseless process of change.

The right often views the past positively, it sees change as a destroyer that undermines civilization’s accomplishments and threatens to usher in anarchy. It fights to conserve that which is threatened by the entropic winds of change. The conservative worldview is progressive in its own way, but it is the progress of the established order. It sees progress emerging from the accretion of civilization, rather than from the disruption of revolution.

Where the left tends to be unrealistically optimistic about the future, acting like a child running to the edge and jumping off, without remembering all the bumps and bruises before, the right tends to be pessimistic about the future. It tends to be wary of change because it is all too aware of how dangerous change can be.

Youth who do not understand the value of what is around them rush to the left. As they achieve a sense of worth, of the world around them and of their labors, they drift slowly to the right. Age also brings with it a sense of vulnerability. Knowing how you can be hurt, how fragile the thin skin of the body, the fleshy connections and organs dangling within, brings with it a different view of the world. Once you understand that you can lose and that you will lose, then you also understand how important it is to defend what you have left.

The vital mantra of the left is do something for the sake of doing something. Change for the sake of novelty. Action for the sake of action. This carnival drumbeat loses its appeal when you come to understand how dangerous change can be. Personal history becomes national history becomes personal history again as you live through it. Seeing what a mistake change can be as you watch politicians disgraced, causes revealed as fool’s errands and crusades fall apart, is a great teacher of the folly of change for the sake of change.

Reagan’s question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is the fundamental challenge of the conservative that asks whether the change was really worth it. It is the question at the heart of the struggle between the right and the left.

Are you better off than you were twenty years ago or forty years ago? It’s an uncomfortable question because it has no simple answer. In some ways we are better off and in some ways we are worse off. Examining the question points us to the sources of the problem. The places where the tree has grown wrong, the branches that have to be pruned so that it may live.

The power of this question is that it challenges the narrative of change. It asks us to examine that most basic premise that change is good. But beyond the narrative tangles of those in power and those out of power, is the larger echo of that question which asks whether the world overall is becoming a better or worse place.

This question has deeper resonances. Is history a wheel or a rocket shooting up to the stars? Are we on an inevitable evolutionary trajectory rising up or are we doomed to repeat dark ages, progress and then dark ages again? Beneath all the speculations and theorizing is the grim question, what becomes of us? Not us individually, but our societies, our nations, our civilizations, our accomplishments and our way of life.

The Dreaded Drone

Monday, March 11th, 2013

At the end of last week we were consumed by the question of whether the President of the United States can order a drone strike on an American in the United States.

But why ask that question only about a drone?

Suppose that Obama decides that he wants Rush Limbaugh gone once and for all. He gives the order and B-52s from the 11th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana are dispatched to put an end to the talk show host once and for all.

The B-52s arrive over Rush Limbaugh’s Palm Beach compound in under two hours and begin to pound away at his 2 acre estate dropping 2,000 pound bombs until absolutely nothing is left standing. Every building has been destroyed, the staff is dead, the golf courses are wrecked and there is no sign of life.

The 11th returns to base and receives a congratulatory call from Obama on a job well done.

Why can’t this happen?

For one thing it doesn’t make much sense. If Obama ever gets that determined to take down Rush, Team O will put together some ex-Feds turned private investigators to plant evidence of a Federal offense and then bring in the FBI. It’s a lot cheaper and less likely to make even Obama’s most loyal lapdogs balk at wrecking Palm Beach.

Federal prosecutors have nearly as good a track record at getting their man, innocent or guilty, as drones do. And they raise a lot fewer questions. Even mad dictators in totalitarian states aren’t known for sending air strikes to take out individual critics. Not unless they have no control over the territory that they are in.

So why not send in the B-52s to get rid of Rush Limbaugh? Because despite last week’s filibuster, military operations in the United States are far more restricted than law enforcement operations. The odds of a member of the United States Air Force killing you outside of a bar fight is very slim, but the odds of a member of a local or state police force killing you are far higher.

When it comes to the Federal government killing Americans, the civilian law enforcement side is far more likely to kill you than a USAF Staff Sergeant taking out Taliban across the border in Pakistan.

Every Federal agency has its own SWAT Team which is why every Federal agency is also buying up huge amounts of ammunition.

That means that you are far more likely to be shot by a SWAT team from the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General than by a drone operator from the 3d Special Operations Squadron in New Mexico (Motto: Pro Patria, Pro Liberis – For Country, for Freedom.)

The DOE’s private police force has the authority to use lethal force, conduct undercover operations, including electronic surveillance, and may not have drones, but does have 12 gauge shotguns and far more authority to use them on you than the Staff Sergeant in New Mexico does.

The Department of Energy has two SWAT Teams. The National Parks Service has four. And if any of them do shoot you, it will not result in congressional hearings or collateral damage. Law enforcement officers kill hundreds of Americans every year. One more won’t be a big deal. And the militarization of the police and the proliferation of Special Response Units in the Federal government are a far more serious concern than being taken out by a drone while sitting in a Starbucks.

Military operations in the United States are fairly tightly constrained and while that line has blurred at times, it’s still a much more difficult and controversial process. Today’s military is far less likely to be deployed against civilians than in 1932 when General Douglas MacArthur and Major George Patton led a fixed bayonet charge across Pennsylvania Avenue to dislodge unemployed protesters to protect President Hoover. And that is because Federal law enforcement has been militarized to such a degree that it can cope with just about anything short of a full-fledged civil war. And whatever it doesn’t have now, it will soon enough.

But let’s get back to the B-52s bombing Rush Limbaugh’s mansion. We all know that’s not likely to happen. But the idea of flesh and blood pilots climbing into planes and dropping bombs across Palm Beach has too much reality to it. The power of the drone is that it appears to be inhuman. It’s a new technology and it can do anything.

The Road to Oligarchy

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Regardless of how many wars on poverty are declared and how often calls are issued to make the rich pay their fair share, neither the rich nor the poor will be going anywhere anytime soon. The question is what forces will keep the poor impoverished and where the rich will derive their wealth from.

The founder of Subway recently said that he could not have started up his company today. Similar messages have come from the founders and heads of other major companies. That isn’t to say that companies will cease to exist. What we think of as business has been changing for some time.

In most countries, starting a business does not begin with a great idea. It begins with connections. Knowing the right people is still important, but in most places it’s the most important thing.

Under the current American model, a company becomes successful and then begins to lobby Washington to gain a competitive advantage or to avert hostile lobbying directed at negating its existing competitive advantage. That is a perversion of free enterprise, but in much of the world companies begin lobbying first and then become successful. This is the model that has evolved under Obama. And it’s a familiar model to anyone doing business in Russia or China. Political connections come first and then the business becomes feasible.

Oligarchy is the inevitable outcome of an economic climate where the governments acts as a gatekeeper to the country’s customers. Measures that began as limited safety and fraud regulations have become a comprehensive political economic system that controls every aspect of every economic transaction.

The government creates markets. It creates companies and customers. It sets prices and taxes industries that it does not favor out of business.

Corporate lobbying isn’t just about the proverbial 200 dollar screwdriver. It’s about making it more expensive for some companies to make screwdrivers than others. It’s also about forcing independent screwdriver manufacturers out of business. It’s about government grants to make environmentally friendly screwdrivers and heavy taxes on companies that don’t make environmentally friendly screwdrivers.

Tactics like these aren’t new. The Esch Act eliminated white phosphorus matches through a punitive tax back in 1910. But a century later, the government wiped out the incandescent bulb industry, not for health reasons, but to comply with a trendy ideology. Microsoft, which had hardly bothered to lobby before, was dragged to Washington on monopoly charges that Google, the ultimate dot com insider, today laughs off. And Microsoft learned its lesson, investing in sizable amounts of lobbying capital.

The government is a bigger factor in business models for both large and small businesses than any other. Whether it’s struggling against the mountains of paperwork or looking for ways to profit from the latest regulations, business has come to be defined by government. The tier of governments at every level have accumulated huge amounts of wealth and power. Government power is used to control how business is done while government spending makes political officials into the country’s biggest consumers.

The fusion of business with government leads to oligarchy. The rich are not going anywhere, but wealth becomes a factor of their government connections, rather than skill or even inheritance. Government control over business began under the banner of combating monopolies only to end by creating government monopolies. The war against income inequality will end the same way and with the same results as the oligarchies in Russia, China, Mexico and everywhere else.

The future of Obamerica is a country full of corrupt government officials and tycoons. The future is an aristocracy of union bosses running their own guilds, corporate monopolies that change with each election and government officials with mansions and armed bodyguards.

Income inequality will be huge with oceans of poverty and small islands of wealth locked away behind gated communities. Populists will promise power for the people, only to make the system even more corrupt. One company or one boss will be brought down, only to be replaced with the favorites of another party.

Everyone will despise the tycoons and the government. The government will promise to protect the people from the tycoons, even as it works closely with them, and the tycoons will lavish money on certain areas in exchange for loyalty. Both the government and the tycoons will be closely tied up with organized crime which will launder its drug profits through the tycoons and use its political connections to gain protection and sanctions against rival organizations.

Will Obama Make Israel “an Offer it Can’t Refuse”?

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

There is a report making the rounds that unnamed “Israeli sources” claim that Barack Obama will shortly “demand a timetable for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank,” presumably in return for the U.S. dealing with Iran. A 2014 deadline to establish a Palestinian state is mentioned.

Things like this surface all the time, and mostly they are simply nonsense. It is irresponsible for a journalist, or even a blogger, to publish what is essentially a rumor based on a single report which does not even include a source.

And yet…

There are certainly people in the White House who would think this is a good idea. Everyone knows, they would say, that only details prevent a two-state solution, and the main obstacle to moving forward is right-wing influence on the Israeli Prime Minister. Here’s an opportunity, they are saying, let’s take it.

The simple reason that there can be no two-state solution is that it entails the acceptance by the Palestinians of the continued existence of the Jewish state west of the Green Line, and that contradicts the essence of the Palestinian national project. Indeed, one could — I would — go so far as to say that Arabs who would accept a peaceful state alongside Israel as a permanent goal could not properly be called ‘Palestinians,’ since the very definition of a ‘Palestinian people’ negates Zionism (but perhaps I digress).

Dennis Ross, who knows as much about ‘peace processing’ as anyone, recently put forward a 14-point plan to bring about a two-state solution. It illustrates two things: one, that Ross possesses a paradoxical combination of intelligence, experience and the inability to see his nose in front of his face; and two, that the concessions it would require from the Palestinians are, as I said above, unthinkable.

Regardless, while a ‘solution’ — that is, an agreement that ends the conflict — is impossible, a coerced Israeli withdrawal in the context of an agreement that pretends to end the conflict is possible. And that is the danger.

Whether those who would like to force a withdrawal cynically understand that it would be disastrous for Israel’s security and don’t care (or welcome such a disaster), or whether they actually believe it would be a step toward peace is not important. What is important is that they might be able to sell the idea to a public — particularly liberal Jews — that to a great extent continues to believe in the two-state idea. And if they don’t object strongly enough, how could it be stopped?

The confirmation of Chuck Hagel, and particularly the collapse of Sen. Charles Schumer should be instructive. When push comes to shove, today’s liberals — even “strong supporters of Israel” like Schumer are Obama supporters first.

There is another aspect of the situation. That is that the combination of a blow against Iran with a blow against Israel would be a win-win for Sunni Muslim interests in the Middle East: the Saudis, the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey would all like to see Iran defanged and Israel weakened vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Interestingly, Islamist Turkey, the Brotherhood and the Saudis seem to be the people that President Obama finds the most congenial in the region.

Everything seems to be lining up to their advantage. Israel withdraws, the U.S. bombs Iran, Hizballah responds by attacking Israel. Sunni forces, in particular those supported by Turkey, take advantage of the chaos (and the preoccupation of Hizballah) to finish off Assad and take control of Syria. Although the U.S. will support the Palestinian Authority for a time, Hamas — don’t forget, it is the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood — will soon get control of Judea and Samaria one way or another.

There are other unpleasant possibilities — U.S.-led U.N. or NATO troops in Judea/Samaria to ‘protect’ the peace agreement, which will end up protecting Palestinian terrorists against Israel, even the possibility of the IDF and Americans shooting at each other. Sound impossible? Chuck Hagel thought it was a good idea, as did Samantha Power, Obama’s “Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fresno-zionism/will-obama-make-israel-an-offer-it-cant-refuse/2013/03/05/

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