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By Thomas Sowell
September 09, 2008
Conservatives, as well as liberals, would undoubtedly be happier living in the kind of world envisioned by the left.
Very few people have either a vested interest or an ideological preference for a world in which there are many inequalities.
Even fewer would prefer a world in which vast sums of money have to be devoted to military defense, when so much benefit could be produced if those resources were directed into medical research instead.
It is hardly surprising that young people prefer the political left. The only reason for rejecting the left's vision is that the real world in which we live is very different from the world that the left perceives today or envisions for tomorrow.
Most of us learn that from experience-- but experience is precisely what the young are lacking.
"Experience" is often just a fancy word for the mistakes that we belatedly realized we were making, only after the realities of the world made us pay a painful price for being wrong.
Those who are insulated from that pain-- whether by being born into affluence or wealth, or shielded by the welfare state, or insulated by tenure in academia or in the federal judiciary-- can remain in a state of perpetual immaturity.
Individuals can refuse to grow up, especially when surrounded in their work and in their social life by similarly situated and like-minded people.
Even people born into normal lives, but who have been able through talent or luck to escape into a world of celebrity and wealth, can likewise find themselves in the enviable position of being able to choose whether to grow up or not.
Those of us who can recall what it was like to be an adolescent must know that growing up can be a painful transition from the sheltered world of childhood.
No matter how much we may have wanted adult freedom, there was seldom the same enthusiasm for taking on the burdens of adult responsibilities and having to weigh painful trade-offs in a world that hemmed us in on all sides, long after we were liberated from parental restrictions.
Should we be surprised that the strongest supporters of the political left are found among the young, academics, limousine liberals with trust funds, media celebrities and federal judges?
These are hardly Karl Marx's proletarians, who were supposed to bring on the revolution. The working class are in fact today among those most skeptical about the visions of the left.
Ordinary working class people did not lead the stampede to Barack Obama, even before his disdain for them slipped out in unguarded moments.
The agenda of the left is fine for the world that they envision as existing today and the world they want to create tomorrow.
That is a world not hemmed in on all sides by inherent constraints and the painful trade-offs that these constraints imply. Theirs is a world where there are attractive, win-win "solutions" in place of those ugly trade-offs in the world that the rest of us live in.
Theirs is a world where we can just talk to opposing nations and work things out, instead of having to pour tons of money into military equipment to keep them at bay. The left calls this "change" but in fact it is a set of notions that were tried out by the Western democracies in the 1930s-- and which led to the most catastrophic war in history.
For those who bother to study history, it was precisely the opposite policies in the 1980s-- pouring tons of money into military equipment-- which brought the Cold War and its threat of nuclear annihilation to an end.
The left fought bitterly against that "arms race" which in fact lifted the burden of the Soviet threat, instead of leading to war as the elites claimed.
Personally, I wish Ronald Reagan could have talked the Soviets into being nicer, instead of having to spend all that money. Only experience makes me skeptical about that "kinder and gentler" approach and the vision behind it.
By James Lewis
September 06, 2008
At Wichita State recently, a college debate coach dropped his trousers after a foul-mouthed argument with the opposing coach in a debating tournament. YouTube shows it for the world to see.
Coach William Shanahan, who sports a caveman beard reaching below his belt, said later that, yes, his reasoning might seem "convoluted," but his trouser-dropping act was intended a sign of respect for the opposing coach.
"Obviously it got out of control, but to be honest I thought I was in a safe house," Shanahan said. "I thought I was part of a community that handled its problems internally and that recognized the dangers of exposing ourselves -- no pun intended -- to the rest of the country."
Suppose these fine teachers were working for Governor Sarah Palin. How long would they stay in their jobs?
Believe it or not, this used to be a normal country. Maybe John McCain and Sarah Palin are a sign of a return to normal -- assuming the voters elect them instead of the comedy team on the other side.
"Boomer Weirdness" is the great eruption of irrationality that seized the West three decades ago, when the Boomer Left rose to positions of power. I don't think the Boom Generation as a whole is any madder than other generations; but the Boomer Left --- ah, now we're talkin' several curlicues short of a plumbline.
When the Boomer Left "Marched Through the Institutions" (as they called it) in the 1970s and 80s, you could actually see a sudden wild swerve in our news media, our universities and politics. The Democratic Party was seized by the Far Left after the 1968 Chicago convention. The New York Times went PC in the 70s, and you could actually see the new, Far Left orthodoxy lock down in a matter of months. It hasn't recovered yet.
But it wasn't just the US. Today the old, high-brow Times of London reads like a tabloid, with girlie pics and all. Britain is now a shadow of its former self; nobody knows if it will ever recover. Europe has become a defense parasite on the United States, and we tolerate it. The Western world went from rational thinking to the Planet of the Weird. It's been slip-slidin' away ever since. Normal people watch it happening everywhere, and they feel utterly helpless to stem this epidemic weirdness, often rising to the level of criminality.
Our Leftist politicians are all kind of weird. From Howard Dean's Scream to Obama's uncontrollable God Complex, from Hillary Who Must be Queen to Bill's sly seductions, all the way to John Kerry's delusions of Swiftboat heroics, and Algore's weird idea that NASA should launch a hundred-million dollar satellite specifically to beam TV pictures of a rotating Planet Earth back to all of us -- these people are not planted on terra firma. They have little planetoids going around their heads.
Nancy Pelosi's bubblehead response to questions about oil drilling is "I'm trying to Save the Planet." Don't tell me that's normal. It's not even normal in the hare-brained precincts of San Francisco. This is the woman who took it upon herself to negotiate with Bashir Assad as soon as she was elected Speaker, while her sidekick Steney Hoyer went to the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, to the distress of the Egyptian government. Barack Obama even sent Zbig Brzezinski over to Damascus -- to do what? Negotiate with Bashir Assad? Tell him that help was on the way?
This is madness. But running a separate foreign policy has been a Democrat routine ever since Ted Kennedy tried to undermine Reagan and House Democrats tried to aid the burgeoning Communist Sandinistas. But Cold War liberals like Jack and Bobby Kennedy would have called it treason.
The Boomer Left even gave its weirdness a pretentious name: Post-Modernism. Old-fashioned Modernism, according to this tale, is the height of rationality. The ideal of Modernism is good sense, objectivity, reason, logic, and tolerance for competing ideas. Its symbol is the Empire State Building, square, tall, and built to minimize real estate costs on Manhattan.
The US Constitution was built as a bulwark against untrammeled lust for power. The Founders didn't know Nancy and Harry in person, but they were pretty sure that power-mad demagogues would show up some time. They had studied history and understood human nature. As we can plainly see, they were right.
Post-Modernism leaves all that rational thinking far behind, like Alice tumbling through the looking-glass. The weirdness of the Left is not an accident; our hebephrenic media folk were taught flashy Po-Mo nonsense in their Ivy League classrooms, and they were dumb enough to fall for it. That is why they deliberately abandoned all those old-fashioned newspaper ideals of truth, objectivity and fairness. (And that's why the Old Media are finally going bankrupt today. Hooray!)
Count Alfred Korzybski is not a household name, but he is relevant here. Korzybski was one of those eccentric Polish geniuses who come along every now and then. His useful contribution to this topic is one word: Unsanity. For Korzybski a society could be unsane without being insane. He wrote about that in his book Science and Sanity, which came out in 1933, just in time to watch the world go mad. His timing was impeccable.
We don't have to consult a psychiatrist to see that our culture today is at the very least unsane. Just one little example:
We have more college-educated adults today than ever before. But our college grads are so superstitiously afraid of the little word "nuclear" that we have surrendered part of the very oxygen of our national life -- our energy supplies -- to the likes of King Abdullah, Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez El Loco de Caracas, and Putin the Poisoner.
That is unsane.
That's only one little example. There are hundreds, constantly infecting our national discourse, to the point that we take it for granted. It's just the way it is. Our national conversation has become polluted, sabotaged by media weirdness.
This is where the McCain/Palin ticket may be of historic importance, because both the Senator and the Governor are quite sane folks. You can't survive five years in the Hanoi Hilton if you don't have a pretty firm handle on concrete reality. You don't grow up hunting moose in Alaska if you confuse polar bears with teddy bears, as our eco-freaks seem to. Alaska is the polar opposite (so to speak) of Marin County.
If McCain and Palin win this election, we may be able to push the culture back to a level of sanity we haven't seen for thirty years. Our colleges could start teaching reason and logic again. That would be wonderful.
That is not to say that John McCain doesn't have his faults; he does. We can all give a list of serious mistakes, like the campaign finance law, which has now whip-lashed McCain's own campaign. But McCain is solid on energy and national security, on the economy and taxation. He may turn out to be exceptionally good on fiscal responsibility. John McCain takes abortion seriously, unlike our Left, which has trivialized fetal extermination so completely that we aren't even allowed to talk about it any more
On the great issues of the day McCain and Palin just seem a lot more rational than the opposition. They can think straight. After almost two years of national exposure, Barack Obama is a bigger blank slate than ever; if anything he has deliberately confused Americans even more. Nobody knows what he would do if elected, and his potential appointees are freakier than Clinton's. As for Joe Biden, over 35 years in the US Senate he solidified his rep at the biggest loose cannon on that wildly careening deck. Between Robert Byrd and Joe Biden, the Senate has become as weird as the Oprah Show.
Our choice in the fall will come down to two pretty normal people who seem to think straight, versus two Lefty oddballs.
Weirdness has its entertainment value, of course, and public comedy may be the biggest contribution politics ever makes.
But when it comes to steering the ship of state, I'd rather go for steady character and strong values than for the wildly gyrating compass of Barack O'Biden.
They will call me weird, of course.
By James lewis
September 10, 2008
Obama: ... I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated ... Bill, what I've said is--I've already said it succeed beyond our wildest dreams.
O'Reilly: Why can't you say, "I was right in the beginning, and I was wrong about the surge"?
Obama: Because there's an underlying problem where what have we done. ..." (etc.,etc.)
When you walk through the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, and you see the oil bubbles still rising from the sunken wreck of the USS Arizona below the Memorial, you have to ask yourself a simple question: Why is Hawaii an American State, rather than a subject colony of the Empire of the Rising Sun? If you look at the map, Hawaii is right in the middle of the Pacific, and Japan was a major naval power, totally dedicated to an ideology of war, suicide charges, divine emperor worship, and racial superiority.
The reason for Hawaii's sunny well-being today, of course, is the American response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Everybody knows that, we hope; but apparently Barack Obama still doesn't get it.
If Obama had grown up in Hawaii under the whip of the Japanese Imperial Army he would never enjoyed his stellar Harvard career. He would not be running for the American presidency today. He would not even have been body surfing on Hawaii's magnificent beaches. As a teenager Barack Obama would have been drafted into work battalions and sent to serve the Emperor somewhere in the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Imperial Japanese were not apologetic about dominating other races. They were taught to hate, enslave and arbitrarily kill whites, blacks, Chinese, Filipinos, and Indonesians if they got in the way of the Emperor's forces.
Senator Barack Obama is a lifelong beneficiary of the American answer to Pearl Harbor. The ironies are endless; apparently Obama's first father figure, Frank Davis, was sent to Hawaii by the Communist-controlled Longshoremen's Union to beef up the CPUSA network on the islands, with all its military bases and personnel. Apparently Frank Davis didn't serve in the US Army against fascism. As a loyal Stalinist he supported the Hitler-Stalin pact before Hitler invaded Russia. Thanks, Frank. You were just the right father figure for the young Barack Obama.
We all fall for the seductive illusion that we are the natural and inevitable outcome of human history, because, well, we're us and we deserve our good fortune. Right?
Wrong. That's a delusion historians call "presentism." Every teenager in the world falls for it; if we're lucky, we learn better as we grow up. In fact, our unprecedented well-being today came from a hundred thousand close calls in the past, which just happened to turn out the way they did --- plus the endless hard work, vision, courage, and determination by millions of people who built what we have today. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
A Jewish Holocaust survivor once told me that his family's survival was "pure luck." He was too modest to say "plus endless courage, determination, intelligence and faith." But of course it was all of those things, and more.
Had history taken a different turn after Pearl, we might now be the racially oppressed subjects of the Emperor of Japan. But our parents and grandparents did not surrender in World War I, II and the Cold War -- the most recent historical turning points that made our comfortable lives possible.
This is where the war in Iraq comes in. Obama completely misunderstands what happened in Iraq -- the surge and everything that came before it. That is because he believes the liberal media, which have done their best to misinform the country ever since 9/11/01. As a result, our Democratic candidate for president just doesn't get what turned things around for the United States, just as he doesn't get why we overthrew Saddam, and how the US has won its wars historically. He doesn't get any of our history, including the Civil War, which liberated the slaves. None of it was easy; none of it was inevitable; all of it took extraordinary self-sacrifice, courage, and leadership by thousands and thousands of our forefathers and mothers.
This is not the kind of thing you can learn by cramming for the next day's headlines, which is what Obama has been doing -- trying to learn the ropes on the fly.
But maybe it all starts with a lack of gratitude and understanding for America's response to Pearl Harbor. Obama should go back and look at the Arizona Memorial, and start rethinking his history.
The United States has experienced devastating setbacks in every major war. Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Truman, and Reagan were all told to quit and cut our losses. They didn't -- even when the newspapers and their political enemies screamed and yelled, walking a fine line near treason. George W. Bush's experience with Iraq has been absolutely straight down the mainstream of American history, including all the setbacks, the gut-punching pain of losing good soldiers, the military turnaround once we found the right leaders, the betrayals by our political class, and the victory we are seeing today.
Judging by his words Obama would have given up at all the crisis points in the past: Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Bulge, the Berlin Airlift, Bull Run, the British burning the White House in 1812, and Valley Forge. After all, the Left did not want us to fight Hitler either -- not until Stalin ordered them to flip.
Barack Obama is a highly-educated Harvard lawyer, but he doesn't get the most important things a president must know. The September 11 attacks were the closest thing to Pearl we've encountered in more than two centuries. We were massively attacked, by surprise, by merciless enemies we had hardly thought about, who deliberately killed thousands of innocent Americans in a single day.
After Pearl Harbor the United States rallied powerfully and struck back; but after 9/11 we didn't seem to have the guts any more. But our president did, and our armed forces did, with the support of conservative Americans -- maybe 60 percent of all adults, according to the Pew Survey covered in these pages by Bruce Walker.
Obama gave up after 9/11, just like the Democratic Party. We can only guess that had he been FDR he would have sued for peace with Imperial Japan. That is consistent with his loud preference for "talking" with all the disgusting tyrants, including Ahmadinejad and presumably Al Qaida.
Obama and his advisors are just deeply confused about the reasons why we had to strike back in an unmistakable way: Not for revenge, not for bloodlust, and not for machismo -- but to make it clear beyond doubt that we could never be attacked again by a rogue power -- Al Qaida, Saddam, Iran, North Korea, China, Putin's Russia, you name it. Libya's Qaddafi got the message fairly quickly. That is the strategic reason why Al Qaida, Saddam, and the Iraqi insurgents have had to pay the ultimate price.
And if Ahmadinejad thinks we will not do the same to him when the time comes, he is very badly mistaken.
War is hard. That's why leaders with a clear moral center make the only possible war leaders in a democracy. Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, FDR, Truman, Reagan. War requires the most delicate and precise moral judgments; nothing else is nearly as difficult. All the simple-minded slogans are tested, and all turn out to be inadequate.
The standard liberal argument is that we should have fought Al Qaida in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. But Iraq has turned out to be the killing field for all the eager Al Qaida martyrs from all over the Muslim world. It was the honey trap that killed the biting ants.
Every war is an ego-crunching learning process. The Israelis, who've had to face that more often than any other country today, have always had heated arguments after every single conflict. There's something to be said for that, because if the argument is conducted rationally (a big if), the truth does emerge after a while. Certainly the US armed forces always look for lessons to learn after a battle, because you cannot rely on your moment-to-moment impressions in the fog of war. It always looks different when you analyze it afterwards with full knowledge of the facts.
Bob Woodward just wrote another sleazy book in which he tells us how it shoulda been done. According to Woodward "Bush didn't exercise leadership" in the surge. Hog patooties. "Leadership" is not some mystical quality that only highly educated WaPo journos can spot. Leadership is what allows you to win against huge opposition from all the Bob Woodwards of the media, from the Demagogue Party, from al Qaida, from Saddam and his minions, the Iraqi militias, the opportunists and corrupt Iraqi politicians, the worldwide Left, the academics, the demoted generals, the do-nothing CIA chairwarmers, and all the other saboteurs.
Leadership is what George W. Bush has demonstrated in spades. And he's been abused for it just like Truman was, and Lincoln and all the others.
What would Barack Obama have done? Obama just thought it was all a miracle. "I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated ... I've already said it succeed beyond our wildest dreams."
But it wasn't a miracle. It wasn't beyond our wildest dreams. It was just the same grueling learning process that Lincoln had to go through, and FDR and all the others. The Petraeus strategy didn't just happen. It was the product of years of hard, slogging, bloody, and finally victorious efforts. It was extremely painful, but in the end, it worked.
War and peace are much too serious to be left to naive amateurs.