August 19, 2015

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The ”fake peace” of the Dems gets the Kevin Williamson treatment.

Republicans don’t talk about peace as much as they used to, or as much as they should. President Dwight Eisenhower, whose unflashy élan masked the difficulty and danger of the serial crises he managed, put “waging peace” at the center of his agenda, even as circumstances obliged him to wage war. President Reagan famously described his agenda as “peace through strength,” a formulation that goes back at least as far as Hadrian. Since then, Republicans have been relatively good on the “strength” part — they have rarely encountered a line item on the military budget that did not enrapture them — but, with the notable exception of Senator Rand Paul, the “peace” side of the equation is something of a stepchild for the Right.

Democratic presidents have more enthusiastically embraced the role of “peacemaker,” and by “role” I mean just that: Democratic peacemaking has amounted to very little more than political theater. From Carter to Clinton to Obama, the Democrats have not been peace-makers but peace-fakers. …

… American leadership is necessary in this world. As Carly Fiorina and others have persuasively argued, an America-sized vacuum in world affairs draws out monsters. That leadership need not always be rifles-first, nor is it, as the reasonable efficacy of the Iranian sanctions shows. What invites disaster — and the disaster of war — is wishful thinking, including the wishful thinking that the terrorist regimes in Havana and Tehran can be reformed by gentle talk and good wishes. And those of us who put peace high on our agendas must begin with a frank acknowledgment that whatever it is that Iran and Cuba are engaged in, it isn’t “waging peace.”

The Obama administration is opening the door to a nuclear conflict in the Middle East, and perhaps beyond. The Iran deal is not a prelude to peace, but a prelude to war. …



Victor Davis Hanson thinks this administration’s failures come from a defective understanding of human nature.

The common bond among the various elements of the failed Obama foreign policy — from reset with Putin to concessions to the Iranians — is a misreading of human nature. The so-called Enlightened mind claims that the more rationally and deferentially one treats someone pathological, the more likely it is that he will respond and reform — or at least behave. The medieval mind, within us all, claims the opposite is more likely to be true.

Read Gerhard Weinberg’s A World at Arms or Richard Overy’s 1939, for an account of the negotiations preceding World War II, and you will find that an underappreciated theme emerges: the autocratic accentuation of the human tendency to interpret concession and empathy not as magnanimity to be reciprocated, but rather as weakness to be exploited or as a confession of culpability worthy of contempt.

The more Britain’s Chamberlain and France’s Daladier in 1938 genuinely sought to reassure Hitler of their benign intentions, the more the Nazi hierarchy saw them as little more than “worms” — squirming to appease the stronger spirit. Both were seen as unsure of who they were and what they stood for, ready to forfeit the memory of the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of their own on the false altar of a supposedly mean and unfair Versailles Treaty.

Hitler perversely admired Stalin after the latter liquidated a million German prisoners, and hated FDR, whose armies treated German POWs with relative humanity. In matters big and small, from Sophocles’ Antigone to Shakespeare’s King Lear, we see the noble and dutiful treated worse by their beneficiaries than the duplicitous and traitorous. Awareness of this pernicious trait is not cynical encouragement to adopt such pathologies and accept our dog-eat-dog world. Rather, in the postmodern, high-tech 21st century, we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we have evolved to a higher level than what Thucydides saw at Melos or Corcyra — a conceit that is dangerous for the powerful and often fatal for the weaker. …




Craig Pirrong posts on Hillary’s latest excuses.

… Hillary was Secretary of State, the officer of the government responsible for the “foreign relations of the United States,” and who dealt with national defense issues as part of that job. So, if Hillary wrote anything in an email pertaining to her job that would have damaged the United States had it been disclosed, or received any email pertaining to her job that would have damaged the United States had it been disclosed, she violated the law.

So Hillary’s defense would have to be: “All I did as Secretary of State–or at least, all I did via email–was discuss frivolous matters that would not have mattered in the least had they been disclosed.” In other words, she was a total cipher as SoS whose electronic correspondence (sent and received) was utterly trivial and required no protection against unauthorized disclosure. Not some of it. All of it.

Well Okay then! Who am I to disagree that Hillary was a cipher?

But if that’s her defense, why the extreme measures to prevent disclosure of this information? Why protect the banal and irrelevant? Why have a private server in the first place? Why fight tooth and nail to delay and impede turning over even paper copies of the allegedly trivial email? And most tellingly: why wipe the server clean? The latter act particularly suggests guilt. …




Joel Kotkin with a couple of thought provoking essays; the first is on how the left is “downsizing the American dream.” 

Barack Obama has always wanted to be a transformational president, and in this, at least, he has been true to his word. The question is what kind of America is being created, and what future does it offer the next generation.

President Obama’s great accomplishment, arguably, has been to spur the evolution of a society that formerly rested on individual and familial aspiration, and turn it into a more regulated and centralized regime focused on broader social and environmental concerns. This tendency has been made much stronger as the number of Americans, according to Gallup, who feel there is “plenty of opportunity ahead” has dropped precipitously – from 80 percent in 1997 to barely 52 percent today.

The shift away from the entrepreneurial model can also be seen in the constriction of loans to the small-business sector. Rates of business start-ups have fallen well below historical levels, and, for young people in particular, have hit the lowest levels in a quarter century. At the same time, the welfare state has expanded dramatically, to the point that nearly half of all Americans now get payments from the federal government.

In sharp contrast to the Bill Clinton White House, which accepted limits on government largesse, the newly emboldened progressives, citing inequality, are calling for more wealth transfers to the poorer parts of society, often eschewing the notion that the recipients work to actually improve their lives. The ever-expanding regulatory state has powerful backing in the media, on campuses and among some corporations. There is even a role model: to become like Europe. As the New York Times’ Roger Cohen suggests, we reject our traditional individualist “excess” and embrace, instead, Continental levels of material modesty, social control and, of course, ever-higher taxes. …



The second by Kotkin is how progressive policies drive more into poverty

Across the nation, progressives increasingly look at California as a model state. This tendency has increased as climate change has emerged as the Democratic Party’s driving issue. To them, California’s recovery from a very tough recession is proof positive that you can impose ever greater regulation on everything from housing to electricity and still have a thriving economy.

And to be sure, the state has finally recovered the jobs lost in the 2007-09 recession, largely a result of a boom in values of stocks and high- end real estate. Things, however, have not been so rosy in key blue-collar fields, such as construction, which is still more than 200,000 jobs below prerecession levels, or manufacturing, where the state has lost over one-third of its employment since 2000. Homelessness, which one would think should be in decline during a strong economy, is on the rise in Orange County and even more so in Los Angeles.

The dirty secret here is that a large proportion of Californians, roughly one-third, or some 3.2 million households, as found by a recent United Way study, find it increasingly difficult to keep their heads above water. The United Way study, surprisingly, has drawn relatively little interest from a media that usually enjoys highlighting disparities, particularly racial gaps. Perhaps this reflects a need to maintain an illusion of blue state success. If Republican Pete Wilson were still governor, I suspect we might have heard much more about this study. …

… Anyone who criticizes the current policy drift, no matter how social democratic their perspective, will likely be written off as a “denier” or right-wing, or simply ignored by the mainstream media. In contrast to the people-centered progressivism of a Gov. Pat Brown or President Harry Truman, today’s Left increasingly seems unconcerned about their policies’ true impact on the poor and struggling middle class. Call it progressive heart failure.

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