My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Just What Do I Mean By "Systems"? 

When I use the word "system," as I have in several recent posts, I mean an organizational or philosophical structure that cannot be easily undone by one election, or two elections--no matter how "revolutionary" they may be (see "Republican Revolution, 1994").

To illustrate, National Review's The Corner had three consecutive posts this afternoon.

One, from Thomas Ricks:

American insiders in Baghdad say the relationship between the top U.S.commander there, Gen. Raymond Odierno, and the top covilian official there, Amb. Christopher Hill, is deteriorating rapidly. Old hands say the chill between the two brings to the bad old days of Sanchez vs. Bremer . . .

What I am hearing is the Odierno is profoundly frustrated with Hill, who despite knowing almost nothing about Iraq has decided after a short time there that it is time to stand back and stop influencing the behavior of Iraqi officials on a daily basis. In addition, I am told, the ambassador believes the war is an Iraqi problem, not something that really concerns the Americans anymore, despite the presence of 125,000 American soldiers.

Two, in the WaPo:

"We've got to think about giving out cookies," said Gration, who was appointed in March. "Kids, countries, they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement . . ."

And three, from the Law Library of the Congress:

As stated in the answer to question II(a), above, the Supreme Court [of Honduras], based on its constitutional powers, heard the case against Zalaya and applied the appropriate procedure mandated by the Code of Criminal Procedure . . . Available sources indicate that the judicial and legislative branches applied constitutional and statutory law in the case against President Zalaya in a manner that was judged by the Honduran authorities from both branches of the government to be in accordance with the Honduran legal system.

This describes a widespread system of incompetence. People who have no knowledge of their assignments are being put in critical positions, the military people who are in charge of important theaters are ignored, naive worldviews are informing weighty decisions, and--every once in a while--America is choosing to side with the wrong people.

The system that is being put in place in foreign policy is frightening. Add to those three the weakness vis-a-vis Iran, our bowing down to Russia's interests in Eastern Europe, and incessant badgering of our best ally Israel, and you start to see a picture emerging of American disengagement from freedom and democratic governments in favor of Marxists, tyrants and thugs.

This is not the formula for long-term world stability.

To call the first nine months of Obama foreign policy incompetent would be generous. It is difficult to imagine an administration making all of these ridiculous missteps all by accident--there must be a design of some kind. And I'm not talking about tin-foil hat kinds of things--I'm talking about a deliberate series of acts that weaken America's percerption around the world. You can make the case that the world needs to be more involved in saving itself without always needing America's intervention--but to do that, America would not need to look stupid. We could simply go protectionist and withdraw. In fact, to do that might even be responsible as long as we stayed involved in rebuilding a better system with training and material support, etc . . .

What I fear we are creating now is a vacuum. Not just of leadership and competence, but of authority. The world, as it now is built, is not ready to step in to all the holes America has been filling. I would much rather, in a Machiavellian sense, be feared than loved; as it now stands, America is moving toward actual irrelevance--loved the way your narcissistic teenage neice is loved, but not ever listened to.

Before you know it, the French are going to start making jokes at our expense.

Oh, wait . . .


It's the Systems, People! 

Having divorced myself from the day-to-day snark that is so prevalent in the 'sphere, I try to keep an eye on patterns and the big picture.

(Like how I make that sound like it was part of some plan? Really, that's all I can do because I'm just too tired to keep blogging at 2 in the morning all the time! But I digress . . .)

And the big picture is not pretty. Let me just enter a few things into evidence.

--Afghanistan is in a shambles, and the Theater CinC wants more troops, but the President doesn't want to give them to him.

--The President made a big show of "calling out" our allies at the U.N. this week, asking them to shoulder a greater share of the burden of fixing the world.

--Lest we all forget, Afghanistan went back to Hell in a Handbasket after we followed the liberals' advice and "got our allies to help out"--we started the handover of Afghanistan to NATO in 2003 and completed it in 2006.

--In spite of the election of "The One" and the loud show of supplication to our past offendees, there are still, apparently, people who want to hurt us.

--Doesn't the presence of one terror cell, no matter how isolated Najibullah may have been, typically indicate the presence of others?

--Iran has another facility (mon Deiu!), and Israel seems a bit impatient with the rest of the world over its fecklessness.

--The President seems to have chosen sides in this hemisphere, siding with the friends of Hugo Chavez and the Castro Brothers . . . a list that also includes Putin, Ahmedinijad and China and other unsavories.

--The Economy is still not great, with everybody seeming to be of the belief that 1 out of every 10 Americans will be unemployed soon, and perhaps for a while.

--There is every indication that Health Care Reform is going to get shoved down our throats, in some cases without us even being able to read the bill.

Does that seem like an awful lot going on at one time? It does to me. It makes me wonder what's going on behind all the smoke and noise.

But worse: what happens if the "next thing" does happen? What happens if Israel acts in its own best interest? How does Iran retaliate? Does it stay confined to the Middle East, or does Iran use its platform in South America to spread the fun? And what of other cells in North America and elsewhere? And what effect does that have on the already fragile U.S. economy?
And at what point do China and Russia get involved by calling in all the debt they own?

And doesn't that make for a great "crisis" to enact "fundamental transformations"?

For a while there, I was starting to understand Pres. Obama in a Chamberlain-like role--I was just hoping that we would find a Chuchill to lead us out. Now, I don't think that's quite right.

More like Romulus Augustulus, I fear. The big question is who plays Odoacer. Let's see, do we know any Eastern Europeans who despise America ?. . .


Ever Get The Feeling Somebody's Feeding Us More Rope? 

There's an axiom of war, either military or political: when your enemy is destroying itself, stay out of the way. There's a corrolary of that that goes "give him enough rope to hang himself."

If I were America's enemies, I think I might be inclined, at this moment, to just stay out of the way.

Tomorrow is 9/11. Will you be able to tell this from going to any public school tomorrow morning? Not very likely. Could you tell this from the evening news broadcast tonight? No. Hell, even Congress assembled last night to pay tribute to . . . politics. A policy debate that has NOTHING to do with the eighth anniversary of the day America got punched in the nose.

And in the midst of this, we are all totally caught up in whether Joe Wilson was mean to the President. This, only a few moments after the President called his opponents liars. I half-expected a "Gary Condit: Where Is He Now" story on the news tonight.

What brought us together has been forgotten.

Sure, many MANY people will be marching in D.C. on Saturday, which will probably have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the debate at hand. The simple fact that one side has suddenly discovered that it is strong when it acts in concert doesn't really mean that we're more unified.

In fact, we are so dis-unified that at the site of the main attacks on 9/11, there is, right now, a . . . hole in the ground.


It took us less time than this to go from the first generation of supersonic airplanes to the FRACKIN' MOON! Surely, we can build a stupid memorial to the innocent victims of 23 Islamofascist terrorists!

Can we agree, maybe, to at least put something there in remembrance of the children killed in the daycare?

No. The actual news of tomorrow will be polls about a speech, donations to a political opponent, one of the President's cronies telling somebody how to create an underage prostitution ring and hide it from the taxman, and, no doubt, some other completely unimportant minor story about how another of the President's political opponents did something stupid.

In the meantime, school children will pass the day taking another set of diagnostic tests so public schools can show an anxious public that we can quantify brilliance, industry, laziness, and stupidity. And, having dodged one political indoctrination earlier this week, they can rest in their desks secure in the knowledge that there will be no more uncomfortable political and societal reminders that people hate us.

I am an American. I remember what it felt like to watch the second plane fly into the tower that morning while I was changing my daughter's diaper. I remember the hole in my gut as I was driving my children to school. And I will once again be dismayed that the schools will not be doing anything about it . . . just like they were eight years ago. And I will pause in the morning to recognize the sacrifices that have been required of Americans that both culminated in and have been the result of 9/11.

I thought those attacks would change the world. In fact, I was writing a book that I thought I had to give up on because the premise was supposedly blown out of the water by 9/11. I think I can take that project up again.

But what I'd really like to do is help actually reunite the country around some set of values and principles. We've become, as Pat Buchanan writes today, like a married couple that has been so at each others' throats for so long that we don't remember what brought us together to begin with, much less care.

I'm under no illusion that things are actually so much worse today than they've ever been--our current Vice President has never been in a duel (thank God!). And this President didn't have to sneak out a bathroom window on the way to his inauguration to avoid an assassination attempt. But there are, now, SYSTEMS that are in place and being constructed every day that almost guarantee that there is no mechanism remaining to reclaim our right to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

But that's a debate for another day. For today, for this 9/11, I'd like to simply remember that Americans died for no reason because we were not vigilant enough and, perhaps, we were a little naive.

Tomorrow I'll think about the rest of it.


Obama as an Abusive Husband: UPDATED 

NO, I am not saying he's an abusive husband.

Besides, have you seen Michelle's arms? Did you see him throw out the first pitch? My guess is she could kick his ass.

No, I'm talking about the relationship between President Obama and the American people.

Patience--slipping into "metaphor mode" here.

The campaign was like the dating period. He seems really nice, he's charming, he has a great way with words. Never mind that he's never really held a long-term job--he's just trying to find himself. Besides, he's got this uncanny way of getting people to give him money!

And those crazy friends of his? Well, he'll grow out of them once he's got a few responsibilities. They're not really who HE is, they're just some guys he hangs out with and has a good time.
Once he has the love of a good woman (proverbially speaking) he'll drop them.

And, sure, occassionally he misspeaks--he says things like "spread the wealth" and "necessarily increase taxes". But you shouldn't read too much into those. He's just passionate and every once in a while his mouth gets out ahead of his brain.

Sure, my parents don't like him--they don't see all the potential in him. I just know he's capable of doing really great things, even if he's never accomplished a thing in his whole life. Besides, my brother who always looks out for me likes him, so he can't be all bad, right? (Never realizing that the brother was bought off by season tickets!)

He makes me feel safe, 'cuz he's never grumpy or mean like my old boyfriend. Of course, I don't think I can trust him to protect me in a barfight, BUT I WON'T NEED TO because everybody likes him so darn much. Why, I'll bet he could talk his way out of a UFC cage match with one of those really belligerent guys with no neck (and an underground nuclear program).

Now, it's a few months into the marriage, and the luster is wearing off. All that money he seemed to have? It turns out he's just as happy to be piling up the credit card, with no end in sight and absolutely no plan for paying it off. And the way with words? Sometimes, enough is enough, and too many words makes for too many empty promises.

And just last week, two of those crazy friends came to live with us! And he didn't even bother to ask--one day, they're suddenly there.

Those passionate misspeaks, it turns out, were more Freudian than accidental. He seems perfectly happy to make me work and work while he figures out ways to spend it, even though we've gotten some really good advice about how to make our money grow and last. At this rate, I'm going to need another job just to support his habits. I just wish he'd stop buying new cars!

Yesterday, my brother came to me and asked what I saw in the guy. I told him everything great about how I feel when he's around me and at his best, and he asked how often that was. Turns out it's not a lot, but when I asked him why he never said anything about it before, he just got all quiet and embarrassed.

And did I mention that when some punk stole my purse, he did nothing? The kid was bad news, you could see it a mile away, but he just ignored it. When I warned him I was worried, he just laughed at me; and when the kid started coming over, he even reached out give him "five." He never saw the danger coming. I was lucky it was just my purse, this time.

I don't know what I was thinking. The problem is, now he's transferred all the money controls into his name, so even if I wanted to leave there would be no way out for me. I'm scared of his friends, and they seem to be everywhere.

Oh, and here's the best part: he seems to go out of his way to make friends with people who HE KNOWS don't like me and don't want me to succeed, but seems completely willing to publicly insult my best friends.

Boy, do I feel stupid. I should have listened to my mom when she said "you can't pick a partner based on the hope that they will change."

Or something like that.

UPDATE: Well, one of the crazy friends just moved out. Everybody thinks it's my fault.


Not Ready For Prime Time, Or . . . 

So, as amusing as its been the last couple days to watch the various schools I'm involved with try to figure out a way to do what they really want to do, but to do it in a way that doesn't completely tick off the community, I think there's a bigger lesson to be learned here.

First of all, the President's decision to speak to schoolchildren directly is just wierd. If he wants to do a big PR thing, ask the networks to run a 45-second PSA of him talking up the value of education. Everybody in America would see it, parents could discuss it with their children, and no problem. But instead, he's asked for a captive audience of children who are away from their parents and in the control of somebody else--often, somebody else who has decidedly strong views on the President, Hope, Change, and children's role in the coming revolution. All I need to know about this is what my 13-year old said: that kinda sounds like Hitler. BINGO! And, mind you, this is the same 13-year old who rolls her eyes and starts making faces whenever I start to talk about history, so . . . I'm glad something is soaking in, at least.

Then, there's the schools. I've seen everything from memos that informed teachers what time to bring their classes down to the gym for the whole-school broadcast to statements of "room-based decision" whether to show it. One office had to send teachers three different emails talking about the event, and then forward the district talking points about the event! The smartest thing I saw was from a principal who said, in effect, you can watch it if you want, but we're not going to force you to, we'd ask you to only show it if you can see some curricular correlation, and if the speech deviates from the stated intent (to talk about the value of education) we will shut it off. Here's my question: if the stated intent is motivational, that's at best a tangential curricular correlation; if the speech becomes political, you're going to shut it off; is there any remaining possible purpose to this? Why show it at all, IF you're concern is curricular.

But mostly, I can NOT believe that the "assignment" asking for children to write a letter talking about how they could support the President ever made it off the table! Does nobody read these things before they go out!?! The Orwellian overtone of that is just creepy.

Which begs the question: is the White House really this amateurish? Are they really that clueless? The problem is that we've been told by a breathless media that this is the smartest President we've ever seen, that the operation he runs is tip-top, etc. . . which, I guess would mean that somebody would be able to read this and understand the strangeness of the thought process.

Which leaves one possibility: the ARROGANCE of the comfortable liberal is finally starting to show. And I say "finally" with tongue planted firmly in cheek. SO convinced of his own popularity; SO certain that the GOP is collapsing; SO positive that his charm can overcome any doubts . . . but not nearly self-aware enough to recognize the reality staring him in the face.

So the staff and the President continue to make bush-league mistakes. How long do think it will be before one of these blunders happens on a big stage with immediate and big consequences?

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