Humanitarian Imperialism

March 30, 2014

 “The best minds are not in government.” –  Ronald Reagan

Hard to believe that it has been a quarter of a century since Ronald Reagan began to dismantle the ideological wall that divided Europe. Harder still to believe that American politicians, Right and Left, are trying to resuscitate the Cold War – or something hotter.  Recent events in the Ukraine seem to be giving the citizens of Europe and America hot flashes of deja-vu.

At the tactical level, US policy has devolved to “regime change.” At the strategic level, US policy is simply incoherent, if not nihilistic; swapping corrupt oligarchs for neo-fascists or religious zealots.  The logic for supporting recent coups have little to do with common sense – or democracy. And with Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, and now the Ukraine, language needs to be coined to avoid words like coup.

By any other name, a coup is still a coup. And using a post-facto ‘election’ to legitimize a coup is a little like putting a new hat on a dead cat. The Kerry/Obama team is giving subtlety and sovereignty bad names.

When Vladimir Putin, tongue in cheek, says there are no Russian troops in the Ukraine, he mocks John Kerry and Victoria Nuland who orchestrate dissidents in Maidan square, in some cases neo-fascists who did not get their way on the bail-out treaty with the EU.

The auction for the Ukraine is now closed. The price doubled overnight, from 16 to 35 billion dollars and counting. Politicians break it, now the taxpayer gets to pay for it. Kerry is now offering to buy the next Ukrainian election too.

Speaking of elections, Europe and America might need referendums at home on  future bailouts, foreign and domestic.  The EU and US look like the “two broke girls” of Capitalism.  Angela Merkel might be the only European politician with any jingle left in her jeans these days.

When Putin says he protects Crimean Russians, again with a sneer, he mocks Samantha Power’s, now Barak Obama’s,  humanitarian interventions. The fast track to imperialism is paved with words like “humanitarian.”

When Russia sponsors a referendum in the Crimea, the Kremlin pre-empts, indeed ridicules, the EU sponsored presidential election to be orchestrated by Kiev in May 2014.

When demagogues like Hillary Clinton compare Russian behavior to Nazi Germany, she mocks Allied history and the sacrifice of 5 million Russians in WWII. Russian blood chits, we might add, that made the Allied victory over Nazis possible in 1945.

The name of the game in the Crimea is not the Ukraine in any case. Maidan Square and the Crimea are merely board pieces, according to Vicky Nuland at the State Department; moveable parts in another Great Game – Europe versus Russia redux. Back to the future, indeed!

The pillars of Obama foreign policies are now explicit; Russophobia on one hand and Islamophilia on the other. Indeed, a renewed Cold War with Russia, sponsored by a lame duck, allows Media shills to change the subject. With the Ukraine in the headlines, the domestic health care debacle and those failed Muslim wars fade to background noise.

 Russophobia

Yes, Russophobia! The pragmatic gains of the Reagan era have been set aside for an irrational fear of all things Russian. Never mind that the difference between Putin’s Russia and Gorbachev’s Soviet Union is like the difference between caviar and carp.

America and the EU have nothing in common with Arabia and greater Islam save oil, debt, and indigestible immigrants. Yet, Americans have much in common with Russia: history, religion, art, literature, sports, dance, dogs, music, science, space travel, adult beverages, recreational sex, and almost all things cultural, including Nureyev in tights and Sharapova in shorts.

Russia, the EU, and America also share a common enemy, that insidious fifth column: domestic and global Islamism.

The Cold War, until a few weeks ago, was over. The Warsaw Pact has been dead now for some two decades. Projections about a new Russian empire are fantasies. It is NATO and the EU that aspire to expand to the Russian border. Putin is no eagle scout, but he’s no chump either.  Unlike European and American demagogues, Putin knows the difference between defense and offense.

Islamophilia

Russians are not killing Americans. Putin is not a BFF, but Russia is not the enemy either. The West cannot say the same for Arabs and Muslims. Islamism is the sanguinary enemy whose name we dare not speak.

Pandering Americans, Europeans, and now the Chinese, are complicit in the spread of Islamic political terror. Non-Muslims are killed with such regularity, world-wide, that the civilized world has come to accept each new atrocity as a fair price for assuaging the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Indeed, European social democrats and the American Left now seem to believe that even Israel itself might be a small price for submission.

Russia has no illusions about militant Muslims. Indeed, you could argue that Putin has literally rebuilt the Russian Orthodox Church as an ideological barrier against the spread of toxic Islam in Russia. Would that Europe or America support Judaism and the rest of Christianity with such unapologetic aplomb.

The objective threat to the West and Asia comes from religious fascism.  Cultural arrogance does not allow the West to admit that political Islam and freedom, irredentist Islam and democracy, are mutually exclusive ideas. And sadly, a misguided sense of humanitarian imperialism rationalizes interventions in the Ummah, expeditions that usually fail. The West cannot save Islam from itself. Nonetheless, westerners seem willing to sacrifice a host of Enlightenment values and young lives on the altar of good intentions.

Manufactured crises, like the Ukraine, are studies in weak or incompetent leadership. Alas, the Obama/Kerry cocker spaniel is no match for the Putin/ Lavrov Rottweiler. NATO leaders have not been the equal of ayatollahs and imams since 1979 either. Jimmy Carter’s ghost still haunts the American Left. Putin should send a case of vodka as a thank-you to Foggy Bottom for providing the Kremlin an excuse to return Sevastopol to Rodina.

John Kerry is the daffiest US administration duck, scion of the Jane Fonda wing of the American Left. Who sends an anti-war “activist” to a Mid-East fracas or East European brawl? Nobody wins a real street fight with their mouth – or frequent flyer miles.

And the American Right is not blameless; excusing terror, regime change folly, the recent litany of imperial failures. In the 2012 US election campaign, there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between candidates, Right and Left, on US foreign or military policy. Indeed, Mitt Romney and most Republicans couldn’t say “me too” fast enough. And neo-conservative sycophants are led by foreign policy loose cannons like John McCain who believes Moscow might be “sanctioned” into submission.  As if sanctions were working with true pariahs like North Korea or Iran!

McCain seems to be the captain of a latter day light-headed brigade; oblivious to what Russians already have; legitimate border concerns, a compliant Crimea, a comparatively robust economy, and a space bus for American astronauts – and a choke-hold on all of Ukrainian and a third of European energy supplies. Demonizing Putin here only strengthens his hand there. The Russian president enjoys genuine popular support like no politician in the West.

The Outlook

The Cold War is making a comeback; this time without deterrence. The nuclear threshold is lowered when conventional capabilities are reduced to a level of assured impotence. Secretary of Defense, Charles Hagel, has unveiled a plan to abandon tactical missions like A-10 close-air-support in favor of unproven and costly technology like the F-35 problem child. Wishful thinking is a poor substitute for facts, performance, or experience. Cyber warfare (see STUXNET) and global drone strikes blur the lines between limited and general war.

Such contractions are not lost on Islamist tacticians or strategists. For the Pentagon, all recent combat is tactical where Islamist motives are defined as local (see almost any RAND Corporation report on the subject).  Ironically, those tactical resources for future fights are on the chopping block. As with speculations about Russia, American myopia fails to accommodate the Islamist world view. For too many Muslims, the struggle, indeed the jidad bis saif, has been global since 632 AD.

With a future US Army under 500,000 troops, America should have just enough soldiers to get into a fight, but not enough to win. And with a small all-volunteer force, every trooper should have enough rotations in the Ummah to get maimed or be killed – in vain.  A small Army in isolated cantons, like air travel, is another target rich environment for terrorists.

Let’s end with a question. How long will it take for the Oval Office, the Intelligence Community, or a complicit Media to acknowledge that the latest airliner “mystery” over the Indian Ocean might be an act of terror, probably another atrocity in the name of jihad, the prophet, or Islam?

The future is Malthusian. The nuclear threshold has been lowered, small war humiliations are more likely, and Islamic terror will continue to be ignored or excused. Politicians care little about how many lives it takes to lose. Yet, the glyphs of the Barak Hussein Obama era are not just appeasement, retreat, and defeat.  The real handwriting on the wall is unilateral disarmament in the world of tactical and strategic ideas.

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Images:

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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-25910834

 

 


Pain in the Ukraine

March 27, 2014

“He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” –Winston Churchill

Say what you will about Vladimir Putin. Some of worst may be true. Say what you will about Kremlin policy. A totalitarian history might still have some traction in Moscow. And say what you will about the Russian majority. They still seem to prefer a strong man at the helm, chaps like Vladimir Putin. But whatever you believe or say about Putin or Russia, you also have to ask; compared to what?

And don’t kid yourself about the Ukraine. The issue there is not right or wrong; legitimacy or illegitimacy. Neither side has a sovereignty argument.  And the dispute isn’t about democracy or freedom either. The real danger in east Europe is nuclear chicken – a dangerous game with a short fuse. Ukraine has 15 active nuclear reactors.

The Ukraine dispute has no moral high ground either.  US foreign policy folly has done much to undermine personal sovereignty, national sovereignty, and the good name of democracy worldwide. America has been slicing and dicing polities in East Europe, Africa, the Arab world, and elsewhere for decades pretending that the default setting is democracy.  Distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate are now arbitrary, in the end, a function of power. And the first democratic election is often the last.

When US State Department sends Assistant Secretary of State Vicky Nuland to Kiev to stir the pot, posing with neo- Nazis, supporting a pro-EU coup; no one should be surprised when Lavrov gives Kerry and Kiev a bloody nose. Any US ‘diplomat’ who flirts with fascists, or plays with nuclear matches, is looking for trouble.

Victoria Nuland is now the central figure in both the Libyan and Ukraine fiascos. Indeed, she was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State by Barak Obama after the Benghazi charade, a cover-up which tried to whitewash the Islamist role in the murder of diplomats. The irony doesn’t end there; Ms. Nuland claims to be a Jew of Russian descent. She and American foreign policy now enable a neo-Nazi coup and regime in Kiev. With Hillary Clinton in the presidential wings, American policy probably hasn’t heard the last from Nuland.

The American Right and Left now share common ground. Hillary Clinton and John McCain  now occupy the same foreign policy turf, sod with more than a whiff of imperialism and anti-Semitism. Strange bedfellows indeed! One of the few sober voices on today’s crisis is Jack Matlock, former ambassador to the USSR. Matlock fingers NATO’s ham fisted interventions and expansion as the source of Kremlin angst. Progressive imperialism marches under a “humanitarian” flag these days.

The Ukraine, like Georgia, is a political cesspool cum economic basket case; civic train wrecks with ready nuclear potential. Loose lips in Kiev are already talking about banning the Russian language, “scorching” the ground under Russians, and rearming opportunists with nuclear weapons.  With luck, the Ukraine no longer has any nuclear warheads on hand, but Kiev still has a very sophisticated nuclear infrastructure, a support system for 2000 weapons until a few years ago.  Half of Ukraine’s electric power comes from nuclear plants.

A dirty bomb might be had in six months or less. Putin and his colleagues, predictably, will not tolerate a hostile, unstable, nuclear armed border state. The possibility that NATO would rearm or fortify a regime sharing power with crypto-Nazis in Kiev is every Russian’s worst nightmare – indeed, an open invitation for Moscow to secure all of Ukraine’s infrastructure in the name of nuclear sanity.

Russian can no more live with a hostile nuclear border state than the United States could tolerate nuclear weapons in Cuban, Venezuelan, or Mexican cartel hands. The crucial distinction between Moscow and Washington at the moment is not policy, however.  The difference at the moment is adult leadership.

Russia has been a relative success since the demise of the Soviet Union, because the Kremlin has had a modicum of political stability and just enough natural resources not to mortgage its national integrity to creditors.  In the same two decades, America and the EU have done their best to flirt with cross-border chaos, default, and bankruptcy.

The chickens of proliferate social democracy are home to roost too.  Political acedia, apathy, and incompetence are ever the ingredients for failure. Domestic malfunction is often the source of manufactured political distractions abroad.

All of this leads to a larger strategic question. Does the EU and America still have game?

If economic, military, and foreign policy performance of the past two decades is evidence, the answer is no! If progress with terror and associated Islamism is a measure, the answer is no! If courageous, moral, or innovative leadership is a metric, the answer is still no!

Does NATO really want to raise the ante with Obama, Kerry, Power, Hagel, Clapper, and Brennan at the helm? A chronically weak American politburo might not be the best team to field in a spat over Ukraine. And a government, nay an administration, which cannot manage a web site in the digital age, is not one likely to persecute a successful economic or shooting war, one with atomic potential.

Also, remember that any US general who might be a tad independent or think for himself has been put out to pasture. There isn’t a serving Obama flag in the Pentagon with a winning record, won a war, anywhere.

The US may have had variety of military adventures globally since the Korean War, but America hasn’t prevailed since 1945. And with general officer honor, measures of military effectiveness, and quaint notions like victory off the table; who wants to double down?  Or worse, hazard an economic or shooting war with Russia with team Obama at the helm – “leading from behind?” Remember any pain from a conflict over the Ukraine will be European; and there, Russia has a home field advantage.

Before the White House raises the stakes, or puts another ‘bailout’ on the table, in East Europe; America might want to wait for regime change in Brussels and Washington. At the moment, Europe and the US are playing with bush league coaching and very little game.

Or as a doomed Scottish politician of another day might put it: “Something wicked this way comes … It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and furysignifying nothing.” In the classic tale of regime change, a king literally loses his head. But in the end, Macbeth’s failure, like Barack Obama’s, is metaphorical; a self-inflicted wound. Hubris is a terrible thing to waste.

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G Murphy Donovan is a former Intelligence officer with tours at USAF, NSA, DIA, and CIA. He now writes about the politics of national security

Images:

Putin;

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Nuland with neo-Nazis;

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John McCain with Tayhnybok (center) in Kiev;

http://www.businessinsider.com/john-mccain-meets-oleh-tyahnybok-in-ukraine-2013-1

Kiev street scene;

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The Obama Girls

March 16, 2014

                                           

Where are the angry American women? - Leymah Gbowee

Bimbos are drawn to powerful men like moths to the proverbial flame. Like courtesans, some women will humiliate themselves for power or personal loyalty. Politics is better than sex because power may get ugly but, unlike sex, power never gets old. All the same, sex and politics are literally joined at the hip.

Indeed, intern programs in Washington, DC provide an endless supply of young girls (and boys). Political predators may age but the prey is forever young – and predictably naive. Politicians, like professors, frequently see sex with youngsters as a perk of office or tenure. New talent every year is the fountain of youth for aging politicos.

Naomi Wolf’s brilliant essay, The Silent Treatment, described her predator experience at Yale University as “a soft spot of (female) complicity.” The G-spot of collaboration might have been a better metaphor.

Wolf is no bimbo. Maybe she’s just a satin suit of contradictions. Reading a fashionista on the superficiality of beauty or fashion is a little like hearing from Warren Buffet on the perils of capitalism. Wolf served as one of William J. Clinton’s female “advisors.”

The tone of political culture is set at the top. Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton are the modern standard bearers for exploitation. The irony here is that so-called “feminists” and predators come from the same political stable. Surely, the political Right is no model of probity, but no politician a droit comes close to the iconic stature of Kennedy and Clinton – or their abuses. Indeed, Clinton freely admits that John F. Kennedy was an idol, a role model.

Such icons are pregnant with contradictions. If wife and children can’t trust a man, why should a voter – or the nation for that matter?  American feminists claim that the personal is political, yet seldom apply that axiom to their idols.

Liberal cynics might point to La belle France where ministers flaunt their liaisons. Such chauvinism is not without consequence or cost. The first casualty of modern French history was loyalty. When confronted with the Nazi menace, “liberte, egalite, and fraternite” were jettisoned.  The Jewish population of Paris was the burnt offering that sealed the affair with Berlin. Collaboration is a dear price to pay for personal or national virtue.

Withal, the average hussy and the political bimbo are different doxies. The everyday tart is willing to give up the goods just to be close to power. The political bimbo is more ambitious. Her virtue has a higher price. A political bimbo might be defined as any women willing to sacrifice her personal or feminist integrity on the altar of expediency or venal ambition. Collaboration captures the thought.

Here we shouldn’t confuse floozies with professionals. Unlike political bimbos, sex workers provide a real service and honest economic incentive in the best tradition of capitalism; a gross national product indeed.

Without hookers; ugly, fat or liberal men might have to make do with the Internet, other men, or the Irish clergy. Compared to modern feminist politics, prostitution is a higher calling – and a freer market. With ‘working’ girls and boys, unlike political bimbos; talent, performance, and accomplishment are real job requirements. Hard to believe that recreational marijuana is now legal while selling commercial shag is still a crime.

So much for bimbo theory. Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Huma Weiner, and Samantha Powers, just to name a few, provide the evidence.

Hillary

Everyone knows Hillary’s back story; loyal wife to a governor and president. Once serial betrayal became too public, Mrs. Clinton assumed the defensive crouch of victim and stood by her man. By any feminist logic she could, or should, have kicked Bill to the curb but, instead he gave her an IOU. Feminist virtue is pricey indeed!

Payback came on two coattails; an open senate seat followed by an appointed cabinet post. Obama was no fool. Keeping the Clinton circus on a short leash was prudent. Hillary did little or nothing as senator or Secretary of State save maintain her political viability. She did nothing so well that Bill’s wife is now poised to have the 2016 Democrat nomination for the asking. Say what you will about Hillary, she got more out of Bill’s bimbos than did her husband.

Susan

National security advisor Susan Rice is a Hillary doppelganger, hewing to the party line at all costs. The Benghazi stonewall is vintage Clinton; deny, deny and apologize only if you have to. Throw a political appointee, like Jim Clapper, or the Intelligence Community under the bus if necessary. Alas, Susan’s mendacity is not as profitable as Hillary’s. Rice will never see a confirmation hearing. Catherine Sebelius is the domestic edition of Susan Rice, a party apparatchik who defends any program failure with ideological relish.

Huma

Huma Abedin Weiner makes the list here because she and husband Anthony (aka Carlos Danger) are living proof that sexual predators and political bimbos are generational phenomena; Kennedy to Clinton to Weiner, an unbroken line of protégés and predators. And we haven’t heard the last from Mr. and Mrs. Weiner. They are sure to be rehabilitated in Clinton III.

Samantha

Samantha Powers is the most dangerous of the Obama girls; dangerous for many reasons. The most worrisome of which is her world view, the ambition to subordinate American national interests to some vague, select, if not warped, notion of global humanitarianism. She laments the fate of Bosnian Muslims, yet seldom speaks to 1400 years of backwardness and brutal social pathology, including lethal misogyny, in the larger Arab and Muslim worlds.

She has little to say about clerical child abuse in Ireland or America either. Nonetheless, Ms. Powers has the ideological chops to make policy. Indeed, historians may come to know Ms Power’s theories as “humanitarian imperialism.” The Obama/Clinton apology tours in the Muslim world are examples. Samantha’s affection for Jane Fonda’s politics also speaks volumes. Indeed, you could do worse than think of Powers as a politicized Barbarella.

Powers’ Islamic tilt comes with burkas, aggressive zealotry and outspoken anti-Judaism; the kind of anti-Semitism that invests contemporary Irish and French politics. Both countries have histories of sympathy with, first political and now religious fascism.

Powers has suggested that Israel should be occupied and coerced to sign what would be a death warrant with unstable Arab neighbors. Ironically, the American Judenrat supported her appointment to the UN. Powers’ more recent comments about Daniel Pearl resurrect the ancient slander that Jews deserve what they get. Samantha Powers’ ambition and world view are echoes of the Internationale, Orientalism, and all self-anointed prophets for globalism, chaps like Harry Dexter White.

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Bimbo activists are joined by several threads: weaponized mendacity; selective if not contradictory feminist or humanitarian values; rhetoric or writing that trumps achievement; and a willingness to jettison virtue in a heartbeat at the first whiff of political aftershave. In doing so, distaff chippies make men like Kennedy, Clinton, Obama and the post-Communist social patriarchy possible.   

Alas, the political bimbo phenomenon in America may also explain why the feminist Left in America has yet to produce an Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Margaret Thatcher, or Angela Merkel.

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Images:

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Christie in the Crosshairs

February 15, 2014

“My father was a statesman, I’m a political woman. My father was a saint. I’m not.”  - Indira Gandhi

The 2016 US Presidential Campaign is underway. Not underway officially of course, but interest groups and pundits are already taking sides and stirring the political pot. Presumptive front runners seem to be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and New Jersey governor Chris Christie for the Republicans. There are no third party spoilers on the horizon for the moment.

Two Media themes are evident to date; the lionizing of Hillary as a seasoned statesman and the demonization of Christy as a loud, rude, thug from New Jersey. Mitt Romney was portrayed as the insensitive, rich, business mogul in the 2012 campaign with effect. Seems Romney was way too genteel to win a Chicago street fight.

Hillary has few significant policy or program accomplishments to her credit. Her time at the Senate and the State Department seem to have been a kind of resume burnishing. “What does it matter?” might well be her campaign theme song.

Still, early opinion sees her as heir apparent; window dressing wife to a flawed ex-president and faithful handmaid to a weak sitting president. Never mind two unsuccessful wars, economic malaise, the healthcare fiasco, the PRISM meltdown, and the Benghazi blunders. None of the Obama bumbling has tarnished Hillary’s prospects on the Left – or the iconic status she enjoys with major Media outlets.

A Press corps which failed to hold the “first black” president accountable is unlikely to queer the chances for the first woman to hold the country’s highest office. Hillary’s genitals, like Obama’s African father, are likely to play a major role in the run-up to 2016. Sex, race, and social pandering are the threads from which a progressive campaign is woven these days.

Facts and accomplishments seldom matter as much as spin in any election. Hillary is clearly the front runner in the more crucial emotional contest. “First woman” cuts a wider emotional and demographic swath than “first African” American by any reckoning. The sensitivity sweet spot for 2016 will be the quest for another cultural milestone; a woman in the Oval Office. Hillary is the woman of the Left at the right moment. Her time is now – or never.

Surely, Mrs. Clinton has ridden Bill’s coat tails to the Senate and Cabinet. Nonetheless, if she goes for the brass ring, her opponent will not be running against Hilary; her opposite number will be running against a cultural “first,” a formidable challenge for any potential candidate. The only way Republicans might neutralize the gender edge would be to put a woman at the top on their ticket or nominate a stellar female second chair. Some gal without a pants suit or priapic spouse might offer a telling contrast.
The smartest Clinton move to date was to put Foggy Bottom in the rearview mirror. Hillary has three years now to burnish her image, cultivate the like-minded, and let any previous missteps fade from public memory. Any mess that Obama leaves will be difficult to pin on Hillary.

In contrast, Christie’s every public move and spoken word as governor will be sifted for ammunition for the next three years. The pot shots have already begun.

Traffic jams in Fort Lee are now national news. What’s Fort Lee you might ask? Fort Lee is the Jersey end of the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River. Traffic there is now big news, as is pork barrel arm twisting in any New Jersey borough populated by Democrats.

How does any of this compare with the Benghazi fiasco? Every New York bound commuter knows the crawl through Fort Lee. That same demographic probably couldn’t find Benghazi or Fallujah with a compass, a map, and GPS. American national security fiascos are background noise, sponsored traffic jams are real traumas in places like New Jersey and New York.

In many ways, Christie seems to be the perfect foil for Mrs. Clinton, caught as he is on the horns of the gender dilemma. If Christy swaggers at the national level as he does in Jersey, he will look like a bully. If he reinvents himself to look like a Romney clone, Hillary will ‘bravo’ slap him like a wimp. If performances before the Select Committees on Intelligence provide any evidence, male politicians have to change their knickers after any encounter with Hillary.

Sex in modern politics, like race, has advantages and immunities. Hillary should be better at dealing from the bottom of the gender deck than Obama plays race cards. Just as criticism of Obama is now dismissed as racism, surely any criticism of Mrs. Clinton will be portrayed as sexism or misogyny – by team Hillary and the Media.

If democrats are allowed to define the next presidential election as a “war on women,” instead of a “war of women,” a third term for the Clintons becomes a sure thing.

Facts never matter as much as emotions. In a world of girly men and manly women, Mrs. Clinton has a pant leg up. The black and minority vote was near unanimous for Barak Obama and he captured the lion’s share of ladies. When you add these groups to the overlapping dependent demographic, Hillary almost seems inevitable. Like 2012, Mrs. Clinton may emerge as the better of two poor choices.

And Republicans seem to have learned nothing from the last presidential election. They seem to be using the same playbook that led to the Romney defeat. Take the Robert Gates book tour as an example. Robert Gates, moderate Republican and former Secretary of Defense, is doing for Mrs. Clinton what Chris Christie did for Mister Obama just before the 2012 voting.

When Christie embraced Obama between hurricane Sandy and the 2012 election, that iconic moment allowed Obama to look bipartisan and presidential. Real world Obama might be the most divisive president of the 21st Century. Christie could have taken a federal hand-out and avoided that very public fawning, a moment that was sure to be more fungible for Obama than Romney – or Christie.

Now we see Bob Gates doing a similar favor for Hillary. Not just in the book, Duty, where Hillary is celebrated as a strong and effective on national security, but high praise is repeated for television audiences on the various chat shows whenever the Hillary presidential prospect is predictably discussed. Gates, like Christie, is too savvy not to know that such televised moments will be replayed like endorsements in the voting season. If we assume that Christie and Gates act from conviction, we might also assume that they believe that Democrats are putting up better candidates.

Democrats and other liberals should be celebrating conservative affection for the Second Amendment. Republican leaders, like no other political party, seem to have a generational propensity for self-inflicted wounds, shooting themselves in the foot.

Liberals and Democrats seem to understand modern politics better than Republicans and conservatives anyway. Truth for the Left is whatever advances the ball towards nirvana. Logic and morality, if they matter, are the servants of promises that cannot be kept. Alas, the average voter probably couldn’t spell syllogism or recognize a moral argument in any case. Political emotions talk while tedious facts just squawk. If an argument doesn’t touch an emotional G-Spot, the political message is likely to be lost.

Politics is also a zero-sum game, winners and losers. If you don’t win in modern democratic elections; facts, reason, and moralizing become so much posturing. Being right or ethical may be necessary, but it’s never sufficient. Only winners get to change or retool the rules.

A Clinton/Christie contest in 2016 is by no means a certainty; but, if such a match does occur, there’s a lot to be said for good political theater. Overstating the potential entertainment values in three face-to-face Clinton/Christie national debates is impossible – even this far out.
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Images: Clinton and Christie

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The Psychobabble Bubble

December 21, 2013

“Where id is, there shall ego be.” – Sigmund Freud

Those looking for symptoms of cultural lunacy never have far to look. Two recent examples tell the tale. A six year old from Colorado was suspended from public school for kissing a classmate’s hand. Never mind that the little girl friend was flattered and not offended. Nonetheless, by a teacher’s reading of school rules, the lad was guilty of “sexual harassment.” It’s never too early to sexualize or criminalize childhood in public schools these days.

Meanwhile out in California, a troika of progressive judges is flushing hard core adult felons back onto the street. The major concern of court oversight seems to be prison overcrowding as if hot bunks were not part of the prison ambiance in any jail. God forbid that some convict should feel confined in prison. And never mind that most recidivists get three squares, air conditioning, recreation, health care, free education, and entertainment. Felons in California are provided more comforts than the working poor in many an American barrio or slum. Quiescent taxpayers are now the only chumps subject to double jeopardy these days.

Mass commutation for “non-violent” offenders has become judicial remedy in California. No violence of course to anything but the law. It takes years and a small fortune in tax money to put the worst behind bars. Now Uncle Sam’s judiciary is sponsoring a jail break, a recidivist stimulus program. Taxpayer and victims alike now get to pay thrice for the privilege of enabling the worst among us.

The Left Coast inversion of values signifies a culture where concern for professional criminals trumps the interests of victims and citizens, the folks who literally pay for judicial malpractice. Still, the decay of common sense cannot be attributed only to imprudent social and judicial activism. Science is part of the slide too.

Values depreciation is now a generational and cultural phenomenon. Who worries about fairness or justice for victims and law-abiding citizens? Who worries about a diminished productive class that pays the bills for bleeding hearts – and who worries about all those good intentions that bleed innocents?

Judgment and common sense are America’s most serious scientific deficits according to Theodore Dahlrymple (Doctor A. M. Daniels) on the pages of the autumn edition of the City Journal. Dahlrymple is a rare modern polymath, a scientist by trade and an artist by inclination. Indeed, Dahlrymple might be the most prescient writer about culture and society since Charles Dickens or John Steinbeck.

Physician and criminal psychiatrist, Dalyrymple uses the recently revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (aka DSM-5) to excoriate the practitioners and profession of psychology/psychiatry. After reading Dalrymple’s critique, it’s hard to put psychology, psychiatry, and science in the same sentence. Indeed, were it not for the common bond of drugs and chemistry, it might be difficult to think of many psychiatrists as physicians – or scientists of any description. “Do no harm” indeed!

Like too few practitioners, Dalrymple seeks to draw distinctions between the diversity or variability of human behavior and verifiable sickness. He uses DSM-5 as a point of departure for criticizing the failure to prudently separate common personality ticks, poor judgment, moral deficits, and chronic pathology. Biology, another source for excuses, gets little sympathy as a rationale or default setting for bad behavior in Dalrymple’s analysis.

Indeed, Dalrymple illuminates the core cultural issue of the new millennium. The great ciphers of the future are moral not scientific questions; not what we can do, but what should we do. A few other scientists elsewhere have tried to elevate the moral dimensions of individual or collective behavioral analysis but none have done it as well as Dalrymple.

And he is not reluctant to question the motives of his colleagues as they inflate the psychosis balloon. Indeed, a bigger stock of “sick” behaviors is more than a little self-serving. If almost any behavior can be certified as mental health problems, then the motive is more likely to be revenue not remedy. In the money matrix; the medical, legal, and judicial professions make common cause. The vaguest of mental pathologies have cash cow potential.

It might be convenient to label drunks and junkies as victims, but alcohol or drugs are not the proximate causes of trauma. Nobody catches delirium tremens or cirrhosis of the liver from public toilets. And to say that substance abuse alters human biology is a little like saying that jaywalking alters your golf swing.

The proximate cause of broken bones in traffic is usually a poor choice on behalf of driver or pedestrian. Choice and behavior are moral not science problems. There are no biological solutions to moral questions. Indeed, reason and ethics are too often treated as mutually exclusive by science.

You seldom hear of an orthopedist or ophthalmologist trolling for, or manufacturing, pathology either. In this, psychiatry is not unlike government, an institution capable of making spare parts for itself – with other people’s money of course.

There are two tethers for the psychobabble bubble. One is the expanding catalogue of ailments and the other is the quest to reduce all human judgment to some biological explanation or predisposition. In short, erode the social cement provided by traditional restraints like choice, will, personal responsibility, and accountability. Moral restraint as remedy is at once obvious and ignored.

Why is “choice” invoked to defend the taking of life and then discounted when the issue is bad behavior or mental health? We are free to terminate life (abortion, capital punishment, and war come to mind) but somehow we are not in control of all other life choices?

Clearly such double talk is not illuminated by logic, reason, or any medical “science.”

And if biology is behavior, what need have we for lawyers, legislatures, judges or jails? If there is no personal or institutional accountability, then logic suggests better chemistry is the “scientific” answer to civility. Are better pills future silver bullets? Surely both are equally fantastic.

Biological pretense is part of the side show too, the notion that treating a symptom might be the same as solving a problem. Depression and attention deficit disorders get to take a bow here. If you cannot tolerate a kid’s predictably annoying behavior, you can always anesthetize the child. Pediatric ‘mental’ pathology has become too easy a stand-in for adult selfishness, impatience, or incompetence.

And when an adult has the blues, why not pop a pick-me-up pill too? The ‘science’ of psychology and the ‘science’ of education allow for such remedies – and abuse. If modern mental health practice is a charade, the game is still very good news for diagnosticians and chemists.

One of Dalrymple’s readers provides a telling anecdote. A young woman complained to her grandmother about depression, yet admitted that she couldn’t think of a single reason for the malaise. Grandma suggested that her grandchild consider “ungrateful” as an explanation for the black dogs of angst.

Indeed, selfishness and ingratitude are common sense explanations for much bad behavior, anxiety, and associated guilt. Those with such symptoms are, albeit, true victims – victims of affluence. Parents and schools are too eager to medicate rather than tolerate. And medical professionals and chemists are only too happy to cooperate. Selfishness has metastasized into a social disease.

Many mental health problems are now, like dependency in general, generational tautologies or self-fulfilling prophesies. Smokers get to play on the same ethical plane as vegetarians. Medical professionals provide the excuses and then politicians provide monetary incentives. No one worries much about real solutions.

Drunks, junkies, and depressives are examples. Once certified as chronic, the law subsidizes disability, monetary motive that insures future dysfunction. And when such dilemmas are underwritten by tenuous claims of biological determinism, social and civic pathology becomes a closed loop.

Psychiatry and psychology are omniscient when it comes to diagnosis, but incapable of professional restraint or anticipating the unintended consequences of indulgence and quackery. Psych practitioners often plead for equality with other medical specialties and then do their damnedest to court ridicule. Credibility is earned, not assumed, in any discipline. Good intentions are a weak tea.
The mix of behavioral immunities and financial incentives is a toxic social mix. In such a world, childhood is criminalized and adult felonies are furloughed. Without the candor and courage of chaps like Theodore Dalrymple we might all be disabled, on the dole, and on the couch.
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Published last week in American Thinker.


Thanks For What?

December 3, 2013

Thanks For What?.


Thanks For What?

December 3, 2013

“For all sad words from mouth or pen, the saddest of these are, what might have been.” – Whittier

Thanksgiving was always the best of Yankee holidays; indeed, unlike most things we celebrate, a unique occasion, a special American institution. In its original incarnation, the last Thursday in November was set aside to thank God and our ancestors for the blessings and bounty that make America what it is.

Somehow the institution has become the enemy of the original idea.

The cynic sees Thanksgiving as just another paid holiday; but the optimist knows better. Thanksgiving is a starting gun, advent for a Christmas shopping orgy. “Black Friday,” is the spending riot that follows turkey Thursday, eclipsing the day before – and preventing acid reflux.

How much Americans consume between the end of November and the first of January is now both an annual economic metric and a cultural marker. Spending on turkey day is the jingle that stimulates Kris Kringle. More spending every year is good; less spending than last year – not so much.

If you like your shopping; you can keep your shopping – 24/7. Commerce never takes a holiday anymore.

Forget those tedious turkey dinners with riotous kids and obnoxious in-laws. Hit the mall before last call. Give thanks to Uncle Sugar for the day off and give thanks to the big boxes for giving us a place to go besides home, some place other than a hot kitchen and a noisy dining room on a weekday.

Speaking of government, let’s not forget to give thanks for that too. Withal, like consumption, more government does not necessarily make for happier campers.

Take the new healthcare circus. Watching Obamacare (nee Hilarycare) blow up on the launch pad might be a blessing too. It’s not just the prospects of a new regime; more significant is the possibility that implementation equals implosion. But for the moment, if you like the Affordable Care Act, you can keep it – and all those “navigators” that will help sign you up for new taxes.

While you’re in the queue, take comfort in knowing that Congress and staffs have special access to the exchanges and special subsides for their healthcare plans. Those between the ages of 18 and 64 might also send a tweet to individual representatives and wish them all the best in 2014.

And while the subject is politics, give thanks for another pair of breeding lawyers in the White House. The Clintons were a hard act to follow, but the Obamas are doing them proud. Hard to believe that Barak Hussein could out fudge William Jefferson. Facts don’t lie; but lawyers can factor by God.

When the subject is mendacity, the Clintons and Obamas are mirror images. Bill lied to a grand jury and Barak sold snake oil to tomorrow’s patients. One was diddling the help and the other was screwing the Hippocratic Oath. Deficits of candor and surpluses of pander make for a thoroughly modern commander.

If you like your politicians; you can keep your politicians! Hilary and Howard Taft are waiting in the wings. Yes, Hilary – hands down favorite to give Bill another chance with the interns on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Did we say Howard Taft? No, no; Taft was another Republican where girth might have been a measure of worth. It’s Jersey not Ohio that we’re thinking of. Chris Christie is likely to be Hilary’s opposite number a few years hence.

Before the Jersey shore comes south, Christie may have to squeeze past the titular head of the Republican Party, John Boehner. You might recall that Boehner is another Ohio guy who starts to weep every time someone shouts, “mister speaker!” Never mind, give thanks anyway for a polity that is about to cough up the most entertaining political dog fight of the new millennium.

So let’s raise a glass to the loyal opposition too, Boehner’s Republicans. Party tenure is the political stream that keeps deadwood afloat. Politicians and academics are alike in that regard. If either stays around long enough, they get promoted to their level of incompetence. The Speaker of the House does have one thing going for him. He’s not a lawyer.

And while the eggnog lasts, let’s give thanks for shysters too. Indeed, the legal profession is our 21st Century oligarchy, clever authors of the invisible coup- and the seamier side of democracy. Nearly every ambulance chaser dabbles in politics now. All three branches of government are dominated by the legal profession. When it comes to public office; cowboys, plowboys, and plumbers need not apply.

Seems only lawyers are fit to rule the modern social democracy. Ironically, when it comes to public approval, politicians and lawyers rank somewhere between cat scat and the curb. Not that this is an impediment. Surely the differences between Democrats and Republicans in America are obliterated by the standards of a common profession. We all have needs, we are all plaintiffs. Without lawyers how could we cope?

The purpose of social democracy after all is to insure that every citizen gets three hots, a cot, a laptop, condoms, a significant other, a Stairmaster, an allowance, health insurance – and daycare until mom and dad hit menopause. Ask not what you can do for yourself. Ask what your country can do for you. Happy 50th anniversary Jack!

Thanksgiving is like the Academy Awards, when you give thanks you need to make sure that you don’t forget anyone.
Alas, let’s not forget then to give thanks to the new Janissary on the E-Ring. Pentagon peacocks have come a long way in the last five years too: from helmets to hijabs,” from victory to “transition,” and from no-man-left-behind to “cover-your-behind.” “What does it matter?” says Mrs. Clinton on behalf of the JCS. Indeed!

The general officer corps (or corpse as the president might put it) is now on the cutting edge of social progress and fashion. Diversity is the best defense. Ambiguity is the best offense. Unisex puts the moxie in slogans like “An Army of One.”

And if you like silly hats on your head and fruit salad on your chest; you can keep them too, thank you. The Pentagon is not unlike T-Ball today. Win or lose, everybody gets a ribbon. Why reward performance or battle field victories when appearances will do?
So there you have it; a litany of thanks for another year in the world’s foremost social democracy. Happy holidays!
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American Thinker did not publish this assessment as part of their holiday fare. Too tart perhaps.


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