Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Papers in One

James Taranto, of the Wall Street Journal, has placed in his column Best of the Web the following two justifications from the New York Times:

"The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won't be posted here."--New York Times, on the Climategate emails, November 20, 2009.

"The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. . . . The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match."--New York Times, on the WikiLeaks documents, November 29, 2010.

PIPES: Islamist Turkey vs. secular Iran - Washington Times

An important article to understand the ever shifting dynamics in the Middle East.

PIPES: Islamist Turkey vs. secular Iran - Washington Times

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Free Palestine! by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal

Should the United States offer—and Israel accept—diplomatic guarantees, plus $2 billion worth of fighter jets, for the sake of a 90-day settlement freeze? Er, no. Israel can afford the planes, or at least it can afford them better than the perception that it's getting a free ride from U.S. taxpayers. The U.S. should not put a price on things it ought not to do anyway, like recognizing a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. And bribery is generally a bad idea, particularly between friends.

Then again, bad ideas are what you get when you're operating from bad premises. Premises such as: There is a deal to be had between Israelis and Palestinians, or that the settlements are the core of the problem.

So what is the core of the problem? Consider the predicament faced by a Palestinian named Walid Husayin from the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Mr. Husayin, 26, is suspected of being the blogger known as Waleed al-Husseini and author of an essay, posted on the Proud Atheist Web site (proud-a.blogspot.com), titled “Why I Left Islam.”

The pseudonymous Husseini makes no bones about his opposition to religions generally, which he says “compete with each other in terms of stupidity.” But nothing seems to exercise his indignation more than the religion he used to call his own. Islam, he writes, is “an authoritarian religion that does not respect the individual's freedom of choice, which is easily noticeable from its barbaric verdicts such as stoning the adulterous, pushing homosexuals off a cliff and killing the apostates for daring to express a different viewpoint.”

And that's just Husseini getting started. The essay proceeds by way of a series of questions, such as “Is Islam a religion of tolerance?” Answer: “The sacred texts of Islam also encourage blatant war and conquest of new territories.” What about equality? “Islam has legitimized slavery, reinforced the gap between social classes and allowed stealing from the infidels.” Women's rights? “I have a mother, a sister and a lover and I cannot stand for them to be humiliated and stigmatized in this bone-chilling way.” The prophet? “A sex maniac” who “was no different than barbaric thugs who slaughtered, robbed and raped women.” And so on.

This being the Arab world, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Husayin has spent the past 24 days in detention, that he has been forbidden from receiving visitors or speaking to a lawyer, that he faces a potential life sentence, and that people in Qalqilya have called for him to be burned alive.

The systematic violation of Palestinian rights by Palestinian officials is an old story, as is the increasingly Islamist tilt of what was once supposed to be a relatively secular, progressive society. Whatever might be said in favor of freedom for Palestine, there has been to date precious little freedom in Palestine, whether in the Hamas-controlled statelet of Gaza or in the parts of the West Bank under Fatah's dominion.

That's a problem. It's also a problem that when the Associated Press covered Mr. Husayin's ordeal, reporter Diaa Hadid offered that “the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is among the more religiously liberal Arab governments in the region,” and that “Husayin's high public profile and prickly style . . . left authorities no choice but to take action.”

How nice to see AP reporters sticking up for free expression. Indeed, the consistent willingness of Western news organizations to downplay stories about Palestinian illiberalism and thuggery goes far to explain why so much of the world misdiagnoses the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Settlements are a convenient alibi: They foster the illusion that the conflict can be resolved by Israeli territorial concessions alone. But if that were true, Gaza would have turned peaceful the moment settlements were withdrawn five years ago. The opposite happened.

Why did Gaza become more violent, internally as well as toward Israel and Egypt, the moment it was rid of Israelis? That's the central question, and one too few observers seem willing to address for fear of where the answer might lead. Yet it ought to be self-evident. The culture of Palestinian illiberalism gave rise to the discontents that brought about civil war and then Hamas's swift rise to power. Hamas is theologically committed to Israel's destruction. That commitment is politically popular: It shapes, and limits, what even the most progressive Palestinian leaders might be willing to concede to Israel in any deal. The result is what we now have: Negotiations that are going nowhere, at an increasingly heavy price for all parties, including the United States.

Like George W. Bush before him, President Obama has observed that the U.S. can't want peace more than Israelis or Palestinians themselves do. But America can, uniquely, stand for freedom like no other country. Mr. Husayin—assuming he's the author of those blog posts—surely knew how much he risked by speaking his mind, and it's tempting to conclude he had it coming.

But if Palestinians cannot abide a single free-thinker in their midst, they cannot be free in any meaningful sense of the word. And if the U.S. can't speak up on his behalf, then neither, in the long run, can we.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com

Sunday, November 21, 2010

QE2 Explained

So you are on of the millions that heard the news about Quantitative Easing and didn't know what it meant?  No problem.  This video will clarify everything.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why Israel is a Rogue State

Last October 21, a debate conducted by the Cambridge Union Society argued the proposition "Israel is a rogue state."  Gabriel Latner, a 19 years old law student, went on to argue for the proposition; but did so from a very different perspective than the one expected.  He argued for the proposition by actually providing support for Israel.  His conduct during the debate has earned him a banning for life from the Cambridge Union Society.

Here is Mr. Latner's unedited speech:

Why Israel is a Rogue State

This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully, idealists. I'm not. I'm a realist. I'm here to win. I have a single goal this evening – to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the 'Aye' door. I face a singular challenge – most, if not all, of you have already made up your minds.

This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already have a set opinion. I'd be willing to bet that half of you strongly support the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it. I want to win, and we're destined for a tie. I'm tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do – simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they'll even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or more accurately, against Israel. It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international 'laws' to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that's been done to death. It would be easier still to play to your sympathy, with personalised stories of Palestinian suffering. And they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues. But the truth is, that treating people badly, whether they're your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state' rogue'. If it did, Canada, the US, and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations. Britain's treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigour.

More importantly, I just don't think we can win with those arguments. It won't change the numbers. Half of you will agree with them, half of you won't. So I'm going to try something different, something a little unorthodox. I'm going to try and convince the die-hard Zionists and Israel supporters here tonight, to vote for the proposition. By the end of my speech – I will have presented 5 pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is, if not a 'rogue state' than at least 'rogueish'.

Let me be clear. I will not be arguing that Israel is 'bad'. I will not be arguing that it doesn't deserve to exist. I won't be arguing that it behaves worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is 'rogue'.

The word 'rogue' has come to have exceptionally damning connotations. But the word itself is value-neutral. The OED defines rogue as 'Aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time ', while a dictionary from a far greater institution gives this definition 'behaving in ways that are not expected or not normal, often in a destructive way '. These definitions, and others, centre on the idea of anomaly – the unexpected or uncommon. Using this definition, a rogue state is one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner. A state that behaves exactly like Israel.

The first argument is statistical. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state: There are 195 countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular. Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish. Or, to speak mathmo for a moment, the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051% . In comparison the chance of a UK lotto ticket winning at least £10 is 0.017% - more than twice as likely. Israel's Jewishness is a statistical abberation.

The second argument concerns Israel's humanitarianism, in particular,Israel's response to a refugee crisis. Not the Palestinian refugee crisis – for I am sure that the other speakers will cover that – but the issue of Darfurian refugees. Everyone knows that what happened, and is still happening in Darfur, is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab League will call it such. [I actually hoped that Mr Massih would be able speak about this - he's actually somewhat of an expert on the Crisis in Darfur, in fact it's his expertise that has called him away to represent the former Dictator of Sudan while he is being investigated by the ICC.] There has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt – where they are treated despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the border. Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated with compassion – they are treated as the refugees that they are – and perhaps Israel's cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees Citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.

But the real point of distinction is this: The IDF sends out soldiers and medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets. Compare that to the US's reaction to illegal immigration across their border with Mexico. The American government has arrested private individuals for giving water to border crossers who were dying of thirst – and here the Israeli government is sending out its soldiers to save illegal immigrants. To call that sort of behavior anomalous is an understatement.

My Third argument is that the Israeli government engages in an activity which the rest of the world shuns -- it negotiates with terrorists. Forget the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his hands – they're in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo also used to be a leader of the PFLP- an organisation of 'freedom fighters' that, under Abed Rabbo's leadership, engaged in such freedom promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high school students. And the Israeli government is sending delegates to sit at a table with this man, and talk about peace. And the world applauds. You would never see the Spanish government in peace talks with the leaders of the ETA – the British government would never negotiate with Thomas Murphy. And if President Obama were to sit down and talk about peace with Osama Bin Laden, the world would view this as insanity. But Israel can do the exact same thing – and earn international praise in the process. That is the dictionary definition of rogue – behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal.

Another part of dictionary definition is behaviour or activity 'occuring at an unexpected place or time'. When you compare Israel to its regional neighbours, it becomes clear just how roguish Israel is. And here is the fourth argument: Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbours. At no point in history, has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East- except for Israel. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a small measure of equality. In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, who are put to death. Israeli homosexuals can adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions, and are protected by exceptionally strongly worded ant-discrimination legislation. Beats a death sentence. In fact, it beats America.

Israel's protection of its citizens' civil liberties has earned international recognition. Freedom House is an NGO that releases an annual report on democracy and civil liberties in each of the 195 countries in the world. It ranks each country as 'Free' 'Partly Free' or 'Not Free'. In the Middle East, Israel is the only country that has earned designation as a 'free' country. Not surprising given the level of freedom afforded to citizens in say, Lebanon- a country designated 'partly free', where there are laws against reporters criticizing not only the Lebanese government, but the Syrian regime as well. [I'm hoping Ms Booth will speak about this, given her experience working as a 'journalist' for Iran,] Iran is a country given the rating of 'not free', putting it alongside China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Myanmar. In Iran, [as Ms Booth I hoped would have said in her speech], there is a special 'Press Court' which prosecutes journalists for such heinous offences as criticizing the ayatollah, reporting on stories damaging the 'foundations of the Islamic republic' , using 'suspicious (i.e. western) sources', or insulting islam. Iran is the world leader in terms of jailed journalists, with 39 reporters (that we know of) in prison as of 2009. They also kicked out almost every Western journalist during the 2009 election. [I don't know if Ms Booth was affected by that] I guess we can't really expect more from a theocracy. Which is what most countries in the Middle East are. Theocracies and Autocracies. But Israel is the sole, the only, the rogue, democracy. Out of every country in the Middle East, only in Israel do anti-government protests and reporting go unquashed and uncensored.

I have one final argument – the last nail in the opposition's coffin- and its sitting right across the aisle. Mr Ran Gidor's presence here is the all evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state. For those of you who have never heard of him, Mr Gidor is a political counsellor attached to Israel's embassy in London. He's the guy the Israeli government sent to represent them to the UN. He knows what he's doing. And he's here tonight. And it's incredible. Consider, for a moment, what his presence here means. The Israeli government has signed off,to allow one of their senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy. That's remarkable. Do you think for a minute, that any other country would do the same? If the Yale University Debating Society were to have a debate where the motion was 'This house believes Britain is a racist, totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the world', that Britain would allow any of its officials to participate? No. Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never. And there is no chance in hell that an American government official would ever be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. But Israel has sent Mr Ran Gidor to argue tonight against [a 'journalist' come reality TV star, and myself,] a 19 year old law student who is entirely unqualified to speak on the issue at hand.

Every government in the world should be laughing at Israel right now- because it forgot rule number one. You never add credence to crackpots by engaging with them. It's the same reason you won't see Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins debate David Icke. But Israel is doing precisely that. Once again, behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. Behaving like a rogue state.

That's five arguments that have been directed at the supporters of Israel. But I have a minute or two left. And here's an argument for all of you – Israel willfully and forcefully disregards international law. In 1981 Israel destroyed OSIRAK – Sadam Hussein's nuclear bomb lab. Every government in the world knew that Hussein was building a bomb. And they did nothing. Except for Israel. Yes, in doing so they broke international law and custom. But they also saved us all from a nuclear Iraq. That rogue action should earn Israel a place of respect in the eyes of all freedom loving peoples. But it hasn't. But tonight, while you listen to us prattle on, I want you to remember something; while you're here, Khomeini's Iran is working towards the Bomb. And if you're honest with yourself, you know that Israel is the only country that can, and will, do something about it. Israel will, out of necessity act in a way that is the not the norm, and you'd better hope that they do it in a destructive manner. Any sane person would rather a rogue Israel than a Nuclear Iran. [Except Ms Booth]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Incompatibility of Islam and the West, by Robert Redeker

01.11.10: Robert Redeker is a French philosopher and teacher who, on September 19, 2006, published an opinion piece critical of Islam in the newspaper Le Figaro. Death threat rained upon his head immediately, and since then he has lived in hiding under police protection. His situation, however, has not prevented him from continuing to speak out fearlessly and eloquently. In this essay, which appears here in English for the first time, he ponders the incompatibility of the narrow Koranic worldview and the message of the gospel that made possible the freedoms we now associate with the Enlightenment.

Why are the relations between Western societies and Islam so perturbed? Of course, the terror involved in the discriminant charge of "Islamophobia," as its originator, the Iranian regime, intended, to intimidate intelligent worldwide criticism, plays a role. But there is a deeper reason: paradoxically, our era of memorial inflation forgets history. This cult of memory is an interminable act of contrition centered on a politically correct self-righteousness that erases history. That history would reveal the length and bitterness of the conflict between Islam and the West. Naive Westerners refuse to recall that this story is violent and that, from the beginning, it has been more or less obvious that a kind of permanent war has been underway. They forget that it took a mighty struggle to contain and to roll back Islam. They forget that the Judeo-Islamo-Christian harmony in medieval Spain is a fairy tale, a utopian myth fabricated to obscure for contemporary Europeans the reality of Muslim oppression. In the face of this naïve myth, historians are recovering the truth, which was quite violent. Afflicted by a willful blindness, these naïfs refuse to acknowledge the clash between Islam and the West, history’s only age-old conflict. The context is the fundamental antagonism between the values of Christianity and its offshoot, the Enlightenment (concern for the individual, for the Other, for freedom etc.), and those of Islam.

If Muslim culture has been unable to take part in the great political progress of humankind, it is primarily because the Koran forbids it on principle. Political progress is the consequence of Christianity, its native soil, its humus. Born of Christianity, the Western world is an oasis in history, as precious as it is fragile: never have men and women been so free, so esteemed, so educated, so protected against violence and injustice, disease and death, arbitrary treatment and hunger – never have women and children known such respect – as in Western Europe and the modern Anglo-Saxon countries. Never has civilization reached such a zenith. Western civilization, the paradise that the West has constructed, was not invented in the Muslim world. It is no coincidence. The ideological universe shaped by the Koran is not fertile turf for the development of a free humanity striving for gentleness and justice for all. In a landmark book, Islam and the West, the philosopher Christian Delacampagne wrote: "No historian will manage to convince me that it is Islam, rather than the agnostic Europe of the Enlightenment, that gave the world the idea of tolerance.”

Open the Koran. Read. You will notice this: the Qur'an is from the outset a political book. Before offering the reader biography (in the form of the life and achievements of Muhammad), hagiography (the life told in the manner of a legend), and spirituality, the Koran presents itself as a political book. On the one hand, the Prophet's life is indeed that of a party boss, a clan chieftain, a military leader who did not hesitate to shed blood and to engage in intrigues that unfold in the heat of battle and political conflict. On the other hand, the Koran is a collection of political laws describing precisely how society should be organized and governed. Hence this book, and the religion it established, Islam, is a matrix that has given rise to societies made in its own image. These are societies in which theology and politics have been intimately fused together, forming a jumble that makes it impossible to distinguish between that which is essentially political and that which is essentially religious. The Western world emerged from an antithetical set of ideas: Jesus called on us to distinguish between the commandments of politics and of theology, to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's." Unlike the gospel, the Koran, a jumble of politics and religion, makes impossible the two events that made possible the human political progress that has led to the West’s moral superiority: the separation of politics and religion and the emergence of a highly developed and differentiated civil society.

Nothing is more obvious that the incompatibility between Islam and Western democratic societies. These societies are wary of Islam, and rightly so. They fear, not without good reason, the cultural transformations brought about by its development. Girls fear that new social norms, inspired by Sharia law, are becoming ingrained in, and beginning to govern, their daily lives.

Obama Comes Up Short on Asia Trip

What a sad spectacle.  The president of the United States treated like the head of a Third World nation by South Korea and China, lectured by Germany, Brazil and others and finally admitting failure in a press conference.  A pathetic performance by an administration that fails to understand that G-20 meetings are supposed to be photo opportunities to conclude agreements negotiated a priori.

When ABC says that that Obama's trip "came up short," shades of Jimmy Carter begin to emerge. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Must See TV

Michael Coren interviews Mark Steyn on Canadian television.  A wonderful 45 minutes discussing topics that the politically correct world  would not dare touch.  Enjoy and share.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fred Thompson and Howard Dean on the 2010 election

If you have some time, and nothing to do, here are former senator Fred Thompson and former governor Howard Dean conducting a civilized debate about the 2010 election. Mark Steyn moderates.

If we could have presidential debates in this style, we would be able to elect much better candidates. 

Americans Vote for Maturity, by Peggy Noonan

Obama gets a rebuke, but so do Republicans who seem unqualified.
The Wall Street Journal: November 5, 2010

'The people have spoken, the bastards." That would be how Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill are feeling. The last two years of their leadership have been rebuffed. The question for the Democratic Party: Was it worth it? Was it worth following the president and the speaker in their mad pursuit of liberal legislation the country would not, could not, like? And what will you do now? Which path will you take?

The Republicans saw their own establishment firmly, sharply put down. The question for them: What will you do to show yourselves worthy of the bounty?

The Republicans won big, but both parties return to Washington chastened. Good.

Two small points on the election's atmospherics that carry implications for the future. The first is that negative ads became boring, unpersuasive. Forty years ago they were new, exciting in a sort of prurient way. Now voters take for granted that politicians are no good, and such ads are just more polluted water going over the waterfall. The biggest long-term loser: liberalism. If all pols are sleazoid crooks, then why would people want to give them more governmental power to order our lives? The implicit message of two generations of negative ads: Vote conservative, limit the reach of the thieves.

The second, not much noticed, is that all candidates must assume now that they are being taped, wherever they are, including private conversations. Sharron Angle was taped in a private meeting with a potential supporter, who leaked it to the press, to her embarrassment. The taper/leaker was a sleaze and a weasel—a sleazel—but candidates can no longer ever assume they are speaking in confidence; they have to assume even aides and supporters are wired. (Go reread "Game Change" and wonder if some of the conversations reported there were taped.) The zone of privacy just got smaller, and the possibility of blackmail, a perennial unseen force in politics, wider. Prediction: this fact will, at some point in 2012, cause an uproar.

On to the aftermath of the election. On Wednesday President Obama gave a news conference to share his thoughts. Viewers would have found it disappointing if there had been any viewers. The president is speaking, in effect, to an empty room. From my notes five minutes in: "This wet blanket, this occupier of the least interesting corner of the faculty lounge, this joy-free zone, this inert gas." By the end I was certain he will never produce a successful stimulus because he is a human depression.

Actually I thought the worst thing you can say about a president: that he won't even make a good former president.

His detachment is so great, it is even from himself. As he spoke, he seemed to be narrating from a remove. It was like hearing the audiobook of Volume I of his presidential memoirs. "Obama was frustrated. He honestly didn't understand what the country was doing. It was as if they had compulsive hand-washing disorder. In '08 they washed off Bush. Now they're washing off Obama. There he is, swirling down the drain! It's all too dramatic, too polar. The morning after the election it occurred to him: maybe he should take strong action. Maybe he should fire America! They did well in 2008, but since then they've been slipping. They weren't giving him the followership he needed. But that wouldn't work, they'd only complain. He had to keep his cool. His aides kept telling him, 'Show humility.' But they never told him what humility looked like. What was he supposed to do, burst into tears and say hit me? Not knowing how to feel humility or therefore show humility he decided to announce humility: He found the election 'humbling,' he said."

What Democrats have to learn from this election: Cut loose from that. Join with Republicans where you can, create legislation together, send the bill to the White House, see what happens. Even as the Republicans have succeeded in getting out from under George W. Bush, this is your chance to get out from under Mr. Obama, and possibly prosper in 2012 whatever happens to him.

What the tea party, by which I mean members and sympathizers, has to learn from 2010 is this: Not only the message is important but the messenger.

Even in a perfect political environment, those candidates who were conservative but seemed strange, or unprofessional, or not fully qualified, or like empty bags skittering along the street, did not fare well. The tea party provided the fire and passion of the election, and helped produce major wins—Marco Rubio by 19 points! But in the future the tea party is going to have to ask itself: is this candidate electable? Will he pass muster with those who may not themselves be deeply political but who hold certain expectations as to the dignity and stature required of those who hold office?

This is the key question the tea party will face in 2012. And it will be hard to answer it, because the tea party doesn't have leaders or conventions, so the answer will have to bubble up from a thousand groups, from 10,000leaders.

Electable doesn't mean not-conservative. Electable means mature, accomplished, stable—and able to persuade.

Conservatives talked a lot about Ronald Reagan this year, but they have to take him more to heart, because his example here is a guide. All this seemed lost last week on Sarah Palin, who called him, on Fox, "an actor." She was defending her form of policical celebrity—reality show, "Dancing With the Stars," etc. This is how she did it: "Wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn't he in 'Bedtime for Bonzo,' Bozo, something? Ronald Reagan was an actor."

Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I'll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president.

The point is not "He was a great man and you are a nincompoop," though that is true. The point is that Reagan's career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn't in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn't in search of fame; he'd already lived a life, he was already well known, he'd accomplished things in the world.

Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can't just bully them, you can't just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.

Americans don't want, as their representatives, people who seem empty or crazy. They'll vote no on that.

It's not just the message, it's the messenger.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thank You, America!

Well, the Americans have spoken, and the message to the new Congress is loud and clear: Just Say No!

On that vein, read the latest column by Michelle Malkin, where she basically recommends that we tell the Democrats "Take the olive brunch and shove it."

Read Michelle Malkin's article

Meanwhile, an interesting development for the Congressional Black Caucus.  “Racist” America elected three additional black congressmen.  Two of them, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Allen West of Florida, are Republicans who won with the support of the “racist” Tea Party.  How will their Democrat black counterparts receive them?  Let’s wait and see.