We are about two weeks away from something called the sequester. This is a law passed by congress to ensure that congress balance the federal budget by threatening major indiscriminate deep cuts on all government programs across the board – including defense.
Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’
Pro-Israel sources report that the axe on the US budget may eliminate $479 million for joint US-Israel anti-missile programs, namely David’s Sling and Arrow systems, in addition to another $300 cut in military aid.
The slash in aid would come on the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, which has been dubbed “Operation Unbreakable Alliance.”
Senior Israel officials are aware of the possible reductions and are trying to figure out to deal with them, according to Israel’s Globes business newspaper. Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s recent visit to Washington may have been, in part, an attempt to convince Congressmen to dull the axe on funding for the anti-missile programs.
The threat of Israel’s Middle East’s neighbors plunging into anarchy and leaving Al Qaeda and Hizbullah in charge underscores the government’s concerns.
The United States currently gives $3.15 billion in aid, although a large part of it actually is returned to American defense firms that Israel is required to use for much of the equipment and technology.
Congress and the White House have another week until the March 1 deadline, when either the federal deficit is reduced or automatic budget cuts come into effect, which could totally upset financial markets and America’s credit rating.
Republicans control the House of Representatives and are using their power to try to crack the whip on government spending, both at home and abroad.
“So far as is known at this stage, the fate of the aid for missiles is not the fate of the current military aid. We have to hope that won’t be the final situation,” a pro-Israel source told Globes.
Aid to Israel is bound to be reduced in light of massive cuts in domestic spending that, according to The New York Times, will put 14,000 teachers and 4,000 air traffic controllers out of work.
The March 1 deadline also is well before Obama flies to Israel, and he may have to depend only on his oratorical skills to convince Jews in Israel and in the United States of the “unbreakable alliance.”
So after a long bout of mocking Mitt Romney for saying that he sought out binders full of qualified female appointees, complete with protesters outside one of his campaign offices dressed in binders, the appointed hour came and the new cabinet of the man who was too good for binders of women was white and male.
There was some awkward fidgeting in the media. A few suggestions that maybe there should be a little more diversity. And that was followed by the new official talking point that diversity doesn’t matter, it’s all about the impact of the policies. Suddenly the Party of Affirmative Action began making conservative arguments for merit and representation, over racial preferences.
To some this was proof that liberals don’t really believe in anything. And that’s true and it isn’t.
Modern American Liberalism is the movement of a wealthy white upper class meant to suppress the working class and the mercantile class. Think of it as the revenge of the barons against the merchants and the wrath of the old New England elites against the Nouveau Riche. It adopted the Jewish and Catholic immigrants who accepted its values and codes. It even occasionally brings in more exotic figures, like Barack Obama, so long as they have gone to the right schools and share their values.
Liberals champion multiculturalism, they enact diversity requirements and push through immigration, and then they send their children to private schools and buy houses in white neighborhoods. They are mostly unaware that they are doing this. They’re just doing what comes naturally. Like most people, liberals are most comfortable among their own kind.
Their kind is not so much a racial group, as it is a cultural one. If you’ve ever set foot in a liberal stronghold, then you can already recognize the very expensive casual wear, the cars with progressive bumper stickers, the beaming helicoptered children, the reusable bags and the other markings of the American upper class. The one that may spend 5 years slumming it in a big city, gathering tattoos and experiences, before retreating to the traditional comforts of a posh suburb and a high end do-nothing non-profit job.
They emphasize minorities, but most minorities, especially after the passing of the melting pot that another generation of liberals implemented, don’t fit all that well into the cultural liberal landscape. It’s why Obama plays golf, even though he’s bad at it. It’s why his campaign staff and his cabinet leans toward the same white males who still run most things, including liberalism.
Liberals have varying degrees of awareness of this, ranging from aggressive denial to passive denial, much as conservatives have some degree of awareness that FOX News personalities are likely more liberal than they pretend to be. And like most such conflicts, the information gets filed away in favor of focusing on a more immediate problem.
The diversity that could be seen in a photo of Cheney on September 11 or Romney’s appointments are completely meaningless because you cannot win an argument with a liberal by being more liberal than him. It’s fun to try, but it doesn’t actually work for the same reason that you can’t be more Catholic than the Pope.
The liberal program is not just diversity. It’s a grander and vaster program. And those who promote the program can violate any single aspect of it, without facing any consequences or contradictions, so long as they remain valuable players.
Bill Clinton could act out the bad part in every sensitivity training video. Obama can pay women less. Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton can make racist jokes. Obama can govern through Executive Orders and start illegal wars. So can any Democrat. None of that matters because they’re all plays in the big program. And the “Big Program” means a new world with good stuff for all. Accomplishing it means ignoring the little sins that would lead to any little person being lynched, jailed or denounced.
Liberals are busy lining up to defend Chuck Hagel, a former Republican who hated homosexuals, opposed abortion and on most issues, aside from foreign policy, was fairly conservative. But that doesn’t matter because Hagel is now on Team Prog. Local interest groups may object, but the liberal purpose in having Jewish or Gay or Female auxiliaries is so that they can support the larger program. When they don’t support it, they’re told to shut the hell up.
There was a time when the United States government ran on hooch. Hard up for cash, taxes on whiskey and beer funded the Civil War. With 40 percent of government revenues coming from liquor taxes, alcohol made the dramatic post-war expansion of government possible so that by the 20th Century, the Federal government would have been unrecognizable in scope and function to a man of the 1800s, but would have been all too familiar to us.
The Department of Education was created in 1867, the Department of Justice in 1870, the Department of Agriculture in 1862 and the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903. Within that time, the Federal government had become concerned with every aspect of life throughout the country. After the Civil War, the same whiskey taxes that had paid for cannons, aerial balloons and widows’ pensions began paying for the transformation of the government into a booming engine of social change.
During the same period that the government was being unrecognizably reshaped, the major cities were being transformed by a tremendous immigration boom. Immigration had made it possible for the Union to win the war by providing an endless supply of fresh bodies to throw into the fight. German, Irish and Jewish immigrants came by the hundreds of thousands and made the Union victory possible.
Republican Progressives had looked forward to freeing the slaves, but were far less enthusiastic about filling the country with Catholics and Jews, who were not only bound for Democratic precincts, but did not share their faith. Germany had produced a liberal variant of Judaism that was rather close to Unitarianism and had prospered nicely among upper class Jews in the United States, but the Jewish immigrants who were arriving were members of a more traditional faith in Russia and Eastern Europe. But it was the Catholics who truly worried them.
The Draft Riots during the Civil War had to be put down with the military and the armories were a hulking reminder that the cities could go up in flame at any moment if the Democratic Party’s radicals chose to light a match. Those same Catholic immigrants had been invaluable to building the Union, but with the South defeated, and the expansion of the Union underway, they had become a problem.
Progressive reformers cast an uneasy eye on the slums and the Democratic political machines that ran them and pursued a grab bag of strategies for curing their ills, from birth control to temperance to socialism.
The progressive vision of a New America was being funded by liquor taxes, but a combination of bigotry and health-nuttery, which was another of the elements of the modern country taking off, brought quite a few reformers around to temperance. Associating Catholics with liquor, they went after liquor itself. But liquor could not be outlawed, without also outlawing big government.
For the practical politician the link between liquor and big government was a web that should not be touched. The drinking American was making big government possible and should be left to drink in peace. But progressive reformers are ever deaf to such logic and quick to cut Gordian knots. Faced with a liquor revenue problem, they contrived a solution in the form of the personal income tax.
The personal income tax was unconstitutional, but with the end of the post-Civil War era and the revival of the Democratic Party as a progressive political movement, the country had entered a period where the Constitution meant very little. During the Wilson and Roosevelt administrations, that document, then not very much more than a century old, had come to be regarded as an outmoded work with very little relevance to modern times.
The Anti-Saloon League, rising out of the mists of an uncertain time, had assembled a coalition encompassing Klansmen, Suffragists, Socialists and Preachers focused on a single-minded agenda, but pushing whatever laws it had to along the way to reach its goal. And the road to Prohibition lay through such policy territories as the personal income tax.
Prohibition today is remembered mainly for the quaint scenes of smugglers and lawmen chasing each other on dark roads, speakeasies where liquor made in massive illegal stills was served and the end of national integrity as an age of national hypocrisy was ushered in by wet politicians who voted dry. But Prohibition as a phenomenon matters little compared to the ways in which the campaign to achieve it and then hold on to it transformed the country.
Note: the following is Daniel Pipes’ response to a question posed by Commentary Magazine to over 50 writers and academics for its January issue.
Like so many other conservatives, I had come to assume that the Tea Party, the 2010 election results, Solyndra, 8 percent unemployment, Benghazi, and an aroused opposition (One Romney adviser said that, on election day, “you just don’t want to get in the way of a Republican heading into the polls.”) assured defeat for Barack Obama’s bid for a second term. His victory was therefore particularly bitter. Was I alone in sleeping badly and avoiding the news for days?
So many analyses have been proffered for what went wrong: Romney was too conservative or not conservative enough, he ran on his biography, he shied away from winning issues, he could not connect with the masses. So many conclusions have also been drawn: conservatives need to modernize (hello, gay partnerships), they must reach out to non-whites (welcome, illegal immigrants), they should nominate true conservatives.
Myself, I subscribe to the “politics is downstream from culture” argument. While conservatives sometimes prevail in policy debates, they consistently lose in the classroom, on the best-seller list, on television, at the movies, and in the world of arts. These liberal bastions, which provide the feeders for Democratic party politics, did not develop spontaneously but result from decades of hard work traceable back to the ideas of Antonio Gramsci.
Conservatives should emulate this achievement. With Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, I look forward to the day when it will be as cool “to believe in the principles of free enterprise, the need for strong national security, the merits of traditional families, and the value of religious faith as it is to sneer at capitalism, demean the military, denigrate parents, and deride religion.”
Happily, American conservatives have a counter-establishment already in place: the Wall Street Journal and Fox News Channel may be best known, but the Bradley Foundation, Pepperdine University, the Liberty Film Festival, and Commentary matter no less. Yes, conservative institutions rarely enjoy the history, resources, and prestige of their liberal counterparts – but they do exist, they are growing, and they possess a convincing and optimistic message.
It will be a long, hard road to traverse, but there is no short cut and it can succeed.
There was a temporary interval in American life when a shooting spree by a madman would have been viewed as the crime of one man. The dead would have been mourned. The killer, if he had been taken alive, would have been punished, and while the memorial might have been accompanied by some leading sermons, the country would have been spared the media exploitation and blame-a-thon that invariably follows such events.
The trouble is that there are no more individuals. Or rather the individual is no longer recognized as having any standing. “All private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger,” Roosevelt declared in 1940 to the Democratic National Convention. And the repeal never seems to have been repealed. Instead all private plans and private lives are being constantly repealed by a turmoil of overriding public dangers, most of them sociological in nature.
A shooting takes place and the media urges that millions of firearms be confiscated. Every crisis requires that more freedoms be sacrificed for that overriding public danger that the talking heads are screaming about this week over news feeds from every corner of the globe. There are no more private lives. Only public ones. Everyone will sooner or later pass before the camera and be judged by millions of strangers in a narrative that will transform him or her into a hero or villain in the great social struggle against the public danger of the day.
Calling Adam Lanza a madman has little meaning now. The madman retreats to a private world of his own making. But the collective culture does not recognize madness as a detachment from the crowd. Instead it views it as yet another social malady to be solved. Re-open the asylums. Provide more mental health funding. Open hotlines for anyone with suicidal thoughts. Social solutions for a social society coping with the anti-social.
But even our madmen are public figures now. Cut off from the collective culture by their minds, they still strive to connect to its most fundamental value. Fame.
America’s spree killers don’t drive pickup trucks with gun racks. They aren’t NRA members and have never opened a bible. They are young, mentally ill and famous. They are exactly like the real and fake celebrities who crowd magazine covers, television screens and paparazzi-choked premieres. But they can’t sing or dance, and have no unique way to embarrass themselves into staged fame. Instead they kill their way to being famous.
As schizophrenic as our shooters were, as unable to connect to the groupthink of the larger culture, they understood the one thing that we valued. And they got it in a brute force way. They became what every girl with dyed blonde hair waiting on line to impress the judges of television’s dueling singing competitions, every waiter with sunglasses waiting to become a movie star on Rodeo Drive, every “internet personality” leaning precariously over a webcam on YouTube, every kid trying out rhymes on his friends and building a fake biography of all the people he shot in drug deals gone bad, want to be. Famous.
In mass culture, fame is the only oxygen of the individual. It is the only thing that distinguishes the vanishing individual from the herd. The celebrity is to 21st Century America as the general, the writer, the poet, the politician and the genius were to former eras. All these things and many more have been distilled down to the simple status of celebrity. You are either famous or you aren’t. You either have a private life that everyone knows about or your private life has already been repealed by the overriding public dangers of cow farts, racism and large sodas. You are either a slave to the public or just a public slave.
A culture of crowds makes crazy people even crazier. There’s nothing for paranoia like a major city and these days we all live in the major city of a culture that is crowded in even its most rural areas. Crowd culture expects everyone to follow the leader, to join the meme, to move with the flow, but that is something that crazy people cannot do. The madman is always out of step and out of sync, the paranoid schizophrenic occasionally makes a compelling leader, but he is unable to be a follower.
Madness can at its simplest be viewed as the gap between his thinking and our own. Like cultural differences, it often explodes into violence, but unlike cultural differences it cannot be bridged because there is no common language. The madman is a member of a unique culture of one. He is a citizen of himself. He has his own laws, his own values and even his own mental language. And it is one that no sane person will ever understand.
The madman is the ultimate individual dying in his own private rebellions that mean nothing to anyone else. A sane society may lock him up, it may crudely tinker with his brain chemistry or even carve up his gray matter, but it will never truly make him one with the group. And our society, addled by nearly as many drugs as your average madman, is a long way from sane. It flirts with madness in its aimless attempts at reestablishing the place of the individual in a collectivist culture, and it veers recklessly from sympathizing with violence to pretending not to understand where violence comes from. It’s the feigned innocence of those who are just jaded enough not to want to know how jaded they have truly become.
If the madman has lost the ability to speak to the crowd, the crowd has equally lost the ability to speak to the individual. The madman suffers from a defective mental vocabulary and the mad society has lost the ability to formulate concepts relating to individual behavior.
In our society the individual is always seen as putting on a public performance of accepting or rejecting group values. All private lives become a public competition to see who recycles the most, is the least racist, the most giving and the best example of what a cog in the great social machine should be. Every individual act is a commentary, not ultimately on the individual, but on the social machine. Crime is no longer a private act, but a public one, that emerges out of social factors such as the poverty rate, race relations, the availability of firearms, cold medication in pharmacies and the amount of funding for midnight basketball, outpatient mental health therapy and a thousand others.
All private plans are a public danger. All individual acts are really collective acts. There is no “I” in individual. There is only the crowd, its avatars who live out their fantasies and entertain them, and the masses shuffling off toward their daily labors until they are released from the grind and allowed a few hours to entertain themselves watching their avatars live a public show of private life.
How does one speak of individual responsibility to such people and how can they be expected to distinguish individualism from madness? The ant hive cannot be expected to think of the ant. It cannot understand anthood apart from the hive.
The Blame-a-Thon continues. Blaming Adam Lanza for his own actions is insufficient. Even blaming his dead mother is insufficient. Individuals do not matter. Only groups do. Corporations. The NRA. The Tea Party. Private tragedy becomes a political event complete with campaign speeches and fundraising letters. Organizations converge. New offices are opened and phone lines are installed. Press conferences are given. “This is a wake up call. A call for action. It’s time we did something.”
Within an hour, the responsibility is transferred from a killer to the society at large and then to the groups that do not share the values of the new collectivist society. War is declared. Press releases are faxed. Letters are sent out. “We need your help, Michael.” “Stand with us, Susan.” The dead are buried and their bodies are used to make the mulch of a new wave of political repression and profiteering. The dead, like singing competition contestants, are ultimately disposable, as are their killers. It is the producers and the judges who endure.
Each call to action is signed with the promise, “So that this will never have happen again.” That is the sociological siren song of the crowd. The promise of a powerful government safety net that will keep every terrible thing from ever happening a second time. But there is no net that madmen cannot slip through when they choose to. It is possible to repeal the private lives and private plans of all gun owners, but not the private lives and plans of madmen who are not peninsulas, but islands in the stream, who do not care about laws, regulations and expectations. Broken men looking to break.
There is more danger than safety in the crowd. Not only can the crowd not deter a madman, for the same reason that Kitty Genovese bled to death lay dying for an hour, but the crowd is also mad. It is a madness that is harder to detect because it is the madness of a crowd. The individual irrationality of a madman is detectable by outsiders, because of its conflict with the group reality, and even to the person of the madman by that same conflict, which fuels his paranoia toward the outside world, but the group cannot detect its own irrationality and is too large and pervasive for its irrationality to be recognized on the outside.
Our crowd is not yet as collectively insane as Adam Lanza, but it’s getting there. And it will not be pretty when it does. The madness of crowds is not a pretty thing. It can be seen in the hysterical crowds that greeted Hitler or the equally hysterical crowds swooning at the sight of a celebrity. Individual madness is flawed chemistry, but crowd madness is a will to madness, a raving desire to be one with the collective view, to be famous or almost famous, to exchange reason for sensation and individuality for the group immortality of the group.
Originally published at Sultan Knish.
There is no better outcome that the Democrats could have hoped for than the demographic despair that has overtaken some sections of the conservative movement. While the Republican establishment prepares to accept Obama as the new FDR, the grass roots feels alienated and willing to write off the whole country.
Demographics is a serious issue, but it’s not a done deal either. Countries are not static. America was created because a large number of Europeans moved to a place that had formerly been populated by the descendants of Siberian refugees crossing over the Bering Strait. I have often said that demographics kind is destiny, but it’s a mathematical destiny. Change the numbers and you change the destiny.
Taking back America demographically is a matter of having enough children within a cultural structure that passes down the values of adults to the children, while focusing on limiting immigration as much as possible. This isn’t an impossible task.
The Amish population doubles every 20 years and they retain the majority of their children within their communities despite the obvious appeals of the outside world. There are 250,000 Amish in the United States and Canada now. By 2040 there will be over a million of them.
Utah has the highest fertility rate in the country and 9 out of 10 children are born to married couples. The Mormon Church is slowing down its expansion, and is having some retention and birth rate issues, perhaps due to its liberalization and growing investment in overseas missionary work, but its numbers are still a reminder of what is possible.
Demographics can be deceptive, because what we are really talking about are the economic and cultural factors that dissuade large family sizes and that alienate children from the values of their ancestors. What we are really talking about is a clash between progressives and traditionalists.
As an Orthodox Jew, I represent a group that is at the front lines of the clash. In the last century and a half, Jewish progressives have done everything possible to destroy Jewish religion, values and even nationhood. For half that time they were enormously successful, wreaking havoc across entire communities, using state power to force parents into their own schools, and building a literary and cultural infrastructure aimed at ridiculing and destroying traditional values.
They are still at it today, and their tactics and propaganda are as bad as they ever were, but they also losing. While the progressives embrace the culture of abortion and gay rights, the traditionalists have children. Within a decade, a majority of New York Jews will be traditionalist and the impact of that is already being felt in elections. The progressives have ramped up their usual hate campaigns against Orthodox Jews, which is why you see so many negative stories in the media, but the demographics of their progressive culture doom them to extinction.
This same outcome would have taken place nationally in the clash between American traditionalists and progressives, if not for the ace in the hole of immigration. And yet immigration is only half the picture. The bigger half of the picture is culture.
Would the Amish be who they are if in between plow breaks they were watching Reality TV and getting lessons on liberal values? Instead the Amish segregated themselves from the culture and have thrived because of it. And that can be done without completely abandoning technology as a whole.
Orthodox Jews built a cultural infrastructure to convey their values to our children while cutting them off, as much as possible, from the cultural programming of progressives. The largest expense of Orthodox Jewish parents and the community as a whole is on the infrastructure of private schools that teach traditional values to their children. An Orthodox Jewish community is defined by its schools and its best and brightest go into Chinuch or Education.
But schools aren’t enough. Orthodox Jews raise their children on their own books and their own music. Everything that children are exposed to from the youngest ages is supposed to come from within their own culture to such an extent that when Oprah visited a Chassidic family they had no idea who she was, or who Mickey Mouse and Beyonce were. Obviously this isn’t universal and the degree of exposure varies, but retention rates and birth rates are highest among those with the lowest levels of progressive cultural exposure.