Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Leadership Vacuum

In the Summer and Fall of 2008 we were reliably reminded by all and sundry, and particularly by Candidate Obama, that the conflict in Iraq was an illegal and immoral war, drawing American resources from the "war of necessity" in Afghanistan. Indeed, if memory serves, Candidate Obama proudly proclaimed that he had voted against the war in Iraq, although he had not been in the US Senate at the time.

It is now clear that the war in Afghanistan was a "necessity" only to the extent that Candidate Obama needed a stick with which to beat the outgoing Bush administration. Had Afghanistan been a genuine priority for Team Obama, surely they would have developed a number of possible policies over the course of the campaign. These could have been refined with the Pentagon and State during the transition prior to the Inauguration, and then implemented early in the Administration.

Instead, some 9 months after taking office, there is no plan, only a promise to make no hasty decisions. The Israelis could have won the Six Day War 45 times in time it has already taken Mr. Obama to decide on his course of action. More significantly, young Americans have DIED while Mr. Obama has waffled.

In a recent address to troops in Florida, Mr. Obama pledged that he would not risk their lives except in cases of "absolute necessity." In such cases, the nation would "back them to the hilt." The clear message was "You're not going anywhere anytime soon."

But perhaps we should expect no less. After all, Candidate Obama described Afghanistan "a war of necessity," not one of "absolute necessity." Thus he is barred, by his own lights, from sending more troops, and those who are there need not look for additional support.

The message for our men and women in uniform, and indeed for all of us, is clear, dispiriting and frightening.

Our CinC is AWOL

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mao Rebukes Obama

"Our duty is tho hold ourselves responsible to the people. Every word, every act and every policy must conform to the people's interests, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected - that is what being responsible to the people means."

I trust that Ms. Anita Dunn is bringing these passages to the attention of Mr. Obama.

Mao on voting "Present"

What is work? Work is struggle.There are difficulties and problems in those places for us to overcome and solve. We go there to work and struggle to overcome these difficulties. A GOOD COMRADE IS ONE WHO IS MORE EAGER TO GO WHERE THE DIFFICULTIES ARE GREATER."

emphasis added.

Where Mao and Obama Differ

Further from Chairman Mao:

"We stand for self-reliance. We hope for foreign aid but cannot be dependent upon it; we depend on our own efforts on the creative power of the whole army and the entire people."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Memo To Anita Dunn

Re: Mao

Ms. Dunn, I have listened with interest to recent interviews in which you identified Chairman Mao as one of your favorite political philosophers. While granting that he accomplished remarkable things, I cannot overlook the fact that most of his writings, at least in English translation, are unremarkable, or the fact that historians hold him responsible for the deaths of 70 million of his countrymen. Certainly that is a record I do not wish my government to emulate; I also trust it is one you do not support.

I apologize bringing the Chairman's blood soaked record to you in such a peremptory manner, but your comments suggest you are a relatively young person who merely knows Mao as the kindly face beaming from the portrait in Tianamin Square. On the other hand, I recall the Cultural Revolution, have a friend whose father was sent off to be "re-educated," and a copy of Mao's Little Red Book. By the way is it true that re-education camps are part of Mr. Obama's agenda for 2010?

But to improve your understanding of Mao, allow me to offer a sample of what passes as "penetrating thought":

"All men must die, but death can vary in its significance. The ancient Chinese writer Szuma Chien said, 'Though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Tai or lighter than a feather.' To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the fascists and die for the exploiters and oppressors is lighter than a feather."

So I may avoid a "light weight" death, could you perhaps advise who the Administration currently regards as the fascists, the exploiters and the oppressors? Is there perhaps a Web site where I can sign up for automatic updates? I would hate to miss a purge or a show trial; I would dislike that nearly as much as I would to be called a kulak or a wrecker myself.

But if worst comes to worst, and we are both sent for re-education, perhaps you will have the time and the inclination to explain to me how you reconcile the works of Mao with those of Mother Therese. It might help while away the time leading to our appointment with the firing squad.

The Rule of Law(?)

Of late there has been some reporting and much talk of an Administration "campaign" or "war" against Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and others who believe less government automatically creates more freedom. At the moment, the attacks appear to be limited to smear tactics, rumor - mongering and planting false quotations. One is left to wonder, though, how long it will be before the White House slips into full Nixonian mode, attempting to use the IRS and other agencies to crush its opponents.

Which calls to mind a rather old statute, known to old lawyers as "42 USC 1983." It reads in part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress,....

It means that if an official uses his or her office to deprive others of their civil rights, that official can be sued in civil court, and be stripped of the usual protections that attach when someone is attempting to perform his or her official duties in good faith. As I recall, it is an anti-Klan statute, adopted to put an end to thug sheriffs and the like arresting people for such alleged crimes as "driving while black," "helping blacks" or even "just being black."

Of course, the statute does not protect only blacks against official misconduct; it is admirably colorblind.

It would be a profound irony, however, if the first black president were to sink so low that he could be called to account by a law meant to suppress the evils of the Klan.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thought for Today

There is a difference between leadership and management. The leader and the men who follow him represent one of the oldest, most natural and most effective of all human relationships. The manager and those he manages are a later product with neither so romantic nor so inspiring a history. Managers are necessary, leaders are essential.”

----Field Marshal the Viscount William Slim

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Memo to Charles Rangle

Mr. Rangle,

Recent news reports indicated that you have forgotten the teachings of the Great Leader: "Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure. It should be made clear to all government workers that corruption and waste are very great crimes."

---------------- From the Selected Works of Mao TseTung, 1934.

We will expect you to report to the re-education camp forthwith.

And the word is.....

Conservative critics have of Mr. Obama have lately been commenting that he seems a trifle self-centered. "Is he vain?" has become the rhetorical flourish. He may be. He may also believe that he connects with the common person by relating anecdotes from his underprivileged background. I, for one, am moved to tears by the challenges he faced as editor of the Harvard Law Review.

I am more troubled by what he says in those rare instances when he is not discussing himself (admittedly, I am paraphrasing):
  • "Iran is a little country and far away; it's no threat to us."
  • "But for the war in Iraq, we would have the Arabic speaking soldiers we need in Afghanistan."
Iran is far away, but well placed to disrupt the world's energy supplies if it wants to. Arabic speakers would be of little use in Afghanistan, where Pashtun is the primary language.

Slips such as these, which occur with startling regularity when the teleprompter is off duty, leave me wondering whether Mr. Obama truly grasps the complexities of the real world.

Even his scripted words have a hollow ring. "Hope and change." I can't eat hope and the only change I've seen is soaring unemployment. I haven't even seen the shovel-ready jobs the stimulus package was supposed to provide. By the way, do those jobs - patching asphalt, painting street signs, changing bulbs in traffic lights - open the door to viable careers in this "Information Age?" Does Mr. Obama encourage either of his daughters to study hard so she can grow up to drive the asphalt mixer? Certainly if I had school aged daughters, I'd be telling them to study so they can invent an automated mixer, and make lots of money. Or maybe they could invent a new substance for road paving, something that would outlast asphalt and cost less. I am at a loss to explain Mr. Obama's apparent commitment to making Depression era jobs available to everyone.

I should not forget his acceptance speech, in which he declared a "rebirth of freedom." Some would forgive him for stealing from Lincoln, for Obama, like Lincoln, is an Illinois politician. That fact makes Lincoln's title "Honest Abe" all the more striking. But I found, and still find, the expropriation offensive. Lincoln used the phrase in the depths of the Civil War, when the nation was fighting for its survival, and thousands were giving their lives to end the scourge of slavery. The oppression Mr. Obama overcame was apparently the Bush Administration and its ugly willingness to use force to defend American interests and oppose murderous dictators. (Mr. Obama evidently sees nothing wrong with murderous dictators, but I must leave that for another day.)

In sum, Mr. Obama has a gift for a well turned phrase. More, with his stage presence and polished delivery, he can make even a passing remark seem profound. But in most cases, none of the words survive close scrutiny; the speaker is exposed as glib, but without substance.

In a word, Mr. Obama is fatuous.

Monday, October 5, 2009

One Further Thought On Copenhagen

How ironic that Mr. Obama's exposure should come in the home of Hans Christen Andersen.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Copenhagen in 100 Words Or Less

The greatest orator in history and the most persuasive speaker in our time could not persuade a bunch of elite Euro-libs to bring their dog and pony show to his home town.

Why should people who do not share his world view, or who have antipathy towards America, find him any more persuasive?

Khrushchev gambled on missiles in Cuba after deciding that JFK was young and weak. How will the current generation of dictators react to such a patent demonstration of presidential ineffectiveness?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

An Open Letter To Michael Moore

Dear Mr. Moore:

I write in response to your recent comments to the effect that "Capitalism is legalized greed."
I congratulate you on an insight we would expect from any slightly below-average third grader. By fifth grade, I would expect a more sophisticated insight, such as "Capitalism is legalized ambition."

The difference might escape you. Ambition is the drive to better one's self. Greed is an unconstrained quest for wealth, with little or no regard for the means or consequences of acquisition. While greed itself is not illegal, many of the behaviors is produces are - theft, fraud, corruption, etc. Selling snake oil under the guise of documentary films is not currently illegal, but perhaps it should be. So much for your implication that capitalism is legalized theft, if not an out and out license to steal.

Semantics aside, consider some of the benefits wrought by capitalism:

  • Thomas Edison made 100s of experiments before hitting upon a workable filament for the electric light bulb - because he hoped to make lots of money.
  • Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others gave us the personal computer - because they wanted to make lots of money.
  • Even Warfarin - the famous rat poison and blood thinner - was brought to market to generate revenues for the University of Wisconsin - hardly a bastion of reactionary Robber Barons.
  • Or, closer to home, look in the mirror. Who was Michael Moore before "Roger and Me"? Are you a conscienceless Robber Baron? A ruthless exploiter of the laboring classes? Or are you simply a successful capitalist - someone who identified an unmet need and cashed in? Does that make you and astute business person or, as your comments suggest, a loathsome leach on the proletariat?
Yet questions remain. What alternative economic system would you suggest? Feudalism, in which might makes right? I am rather doubtful that you would be able to fend off either ravening Vikings or avaricious Normans. Your girth might qualify you as Friar Tuck, at least until the vow of poverty made itself felt, but a sycophant like you would doubtless settle for nothing less than Fool.

Socialism? "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"? Would a successful, happy and prosperous socialist society need a maker of hack propaganda films? Neither can we overlook your rather conspicuous consumption. Surely you consume more than your fair share. Not to mention your health care shadow (I claim copyright to the phrase) - what it will cost the rest of us when your arteries finally clog and your heart throws in the towel.

If you are serious about socialism, you'll need to reduce your consumption, and thereby ease shortages of food and fabric. Indeed, you might donate some of your shirts to earthquake relief. They would doubtless make excellent tents. More, you will need to find a useful and productive trade and learn to survive on the same types of food as the working stiffs. I just can't see you embracing those challenges.

There is yet another system - cronyism. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Also known as The Chicago Way. It is a wonderful system for those with larceny in their hearts, but it does not promote law and order. You might still be able to make movies, provided you do not offend Mr (or Ms) Big, and as long as you make all the requisite pay offs. Rather like dealing with the Obama administration.

I fear I remain confused. You believe capitalism is immoral, even though it has made you rich. Perhaps you can explain your thinking to me. The next time you are in town, we can tool around in your limo, smoke a couple Cuban cigars, swill some cognac and you can explain to me, first hand, how we are helping end the oppression of the working man.