Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obama wants the Jedi Council to reinstate Palpatine as Galactic Chancellor.

Don't be surprised if Honduran restaurants start popping up in your nearby metro area:
There was a coup all right, but it wasn't committed by the U.S. or the Honduran court. It was committed by Zelaya himself. He brazenly defied the law, and Hondurans overwhelmingly supported his removal (a pro-Zelaya rally Monday drew a mere 200 acolytes).

Yet the U.S. administration stood with Chavez and Castro, calling Zelaya's lawful removal "a coup." Obama called the action a "terrible precedent," and said Zelaya remains president.

In doing this, the U.S. condemned democrats who stood up to save their democracy, a move that should have been hailed as a historic turning of the tide against the false democracies of the region.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I thought that the United States wasn't meddling in things anymore.

The Leftist president of Honduras just got forced out of office:
Soldiers seized the national palace and flew President Manuel Zelaya into exile Sunday, hours before a disputed constitutional referendum. Zelaya, a leftist ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said he was the victim of a coup.

Hours later, Congress voted to accept what it said was Zelaya's letter of resignation, but Zelaya said the letter wasn't his and vowed to remain in power.

The Supreme Court said it was supporting the military in what it called a defense of democracy, and the Honduran ambassador to the Organization of American States said the military was planning to swear in Congressional President Roberto Micheletti — who is next in line to the presidency — to replace Zelaya.
Despite the fact that President Obama hates meddling in the affairs of other nations, the United States's response is immediate condemnation:
President Obama said he was "deeply concerned" by Zelaya's expulsion and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the arrest should be condemned.

"I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter," Obama's statement read.

"The action taken against Honduran President Mel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement Sunday.

"We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue. Honduras must embrace the very principles of democracy we reaffirmed at the OAS meeting it hosted less than one month ago," said Clinton.
When the fiercely anti-American regime in Iran needs 48 hours of silence to blunt the force of street protests, President Obama is more than willing to stay quiet in order to avoid "meddling". But when the Left-wing ally of Castro and Chavez in Honduras needs immediate help to stay in power, Obama is more than willing to immediately "meddle" in Honduran affairs. Are you sensing a pattern here yet?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rick Lazio is making a comeback.

Rick Lazio, as you might recall, was the liberal New York congessman who ran against Hillary Clinton in her first senatorial campaign back in 2000. That was also the year the Senator John McCain was making his first insurgent presidential bid against George W. Bush. Lazio displayed his brilliant talent for politics by deciding to copy the losing McCain campaign style for most of the election. This strategy positioned Lazio as a champion of campaign finance reform running against the most notorious practicioner of campaign finance fraud of his day.

At the time, campaign finance reform must have seemed like a good idea to Lazio, but after the 2008 elections, we now know that campaign finance reform is a sure-fire recipe for testicle-crushing electoral defeats. Of course, Lazio could see the writing on the wall, so when his campaign finance reforms had him facing certain defeat in November, he decided boldy to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by accusing his opponent, then First Lady of the United States, of being directly responsible for the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. The collective belly laugh issuing from the New York public is still the third loudest in New York history, exceeded only by John McCain naming Sarah Palin to be his 2008 presidential running mate and by John McCain blaming the September 2008 financial collapse on Bill Ayers.

Yet, the world has changed. Rick Lazio is no longer the world's biggest loser after Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential election loss, and Rick Lazio is also a bold, far-sighted, responsible leader compared to the cartoon characters currently in charge of the New York state government. This makes it a perfect time for him to get back into politics in a big way:
Former Long Island congressman Rick Lazio is apparently running for governor of New York.

The Republican has made no public announcement, but has formed a campaign committee. His Web site uses language that points to a run. It says the 2010 governor's race is "critical" to New York's future and promises that "if elected," he'll get the state moving.

Lazio lost to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2000 Senate race.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Post #600: Massacre in Iran

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I used to think that California was the most insane state in the nation.

The nuthouse that is New York has me questioning that assumption:
After talks of a power-sharing arrangement broke down, Democrats locked themselves in the Senate chamber, Republicans tried to conduct business on their own and none of the "people's business" got done.

As incredible as it may seem, pictures obtained by CBS 2 HD are of the Democratic senators who locked themselves inside their chamber so they could be "first in" for Gov. David Paterson's special session. The pictures, shot through the window of a Senate door, seem to show that it was all about taking possession of the podium.
It's tempting to argue to New Yorkers that throwing the entire Senate out of office and electing a new one is the answer. Unfortunately, New Yorkers are too spineless for that. Even if they could throw these idiots out of office, they'd probably just elect the exact same people to the exact same senate seats all over again. It also goes without saying that New York's Democratic governor is fiddling while Rome burns:
Paterson said this week that he would call special legislative sessions every day, including on weekends and holidays, until the two sides could come to an agreement. Senators would have to attend such sessions, but they would not have to vote on any bills. Who would preside over the sessions remains unclear.

Paterson has lashed out at senators for the ongoing soap opera. It's been two weeks since the state Senate accomplished anything and the governor said enough is enough.

But his mandate seemed to make little impact considering Tuesday's madness.
Ultimately, this is happening because the people of New York want it to happen. So, unless a mass wave of sanity breaks out in New York, I think it's fair to say that New York is totally screwed.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The media's reporting on Iran and the dog that didn't bark.

Let's suppose, purely for the sake of argument, that the Andrew Sullivans of the world are correct in believing that one wrong word from President Obama is enough to defeat the Iranian street protests. Suppose that the Iranian people are so xenophobic that the slightest impression of American "meddling" in their affairs is enough to relegitimize its government and unify government and people on a hard anti-American line.

Then, gee, I guess we Americans are kindof lucky that Iran doesn't have this psychopathic Saddam guy across their western border anymore. If the last thing the protestors want is President Obama pretending to be their friend and ally, then the one thing that they will never want in a million years is the dictator who cost Iran one million casualties during the last Iranian revolution to intervene again in this one.

Of course, the idea that removing Saddam from power would make democratic revolutions at all possible in the rest of the Middle East seems to have been the neocon plan all along.

The Soviet Union, Bush, Batman, Obama, Iran

Republicans think the president needs to do more:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the president's opponent in the 2008 election, said Obama should "be stronger than he has been" with Iran and suggested European heads of state were showing more leadership than Obama on the issue.

"I think we ought to have America lead. When you look at the statements by President Sarkozy, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Brown have been much stronger. We should lead. And I also think he should point out that this is not just an Iranian issue. This is an American issue -- what we're all about," McCain said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

He said he's not in favor of "sending arms" or "fomenting violence," but that the United States needs to "be on the right side of history." Protesters view last week's election as rigged.
Democrats think the president needs to do less:
There is an inherent risk, though, in aligning too publicly with the protesters in Iran. The White House and some Democrats argue that speaking out too vociferously against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the ruling clerics will only give ammunition to the regime and allow them to cast the opposition as a U.S.-backed uprising.

"I think the president is handling a rapidly evolving, very complex situation about as well as you can expect," said Evan Bayh, D-Ind., member of the Senate intelligence committee. "He has put us clearly on the side of the reformers, clearly on the side of fair and free elections, clearly condemned the violence. But he's done it in a smart way.

"This regime is rapidly losing legitimacy with its own people. ...We should not let them change the narrative to one of being meddling Americans," Bayh told "FOX News Sunday."
President Ahmedinejhad's brilliant diplomacy with the United States has won his regime a gift of perhaps incalculable value: the disabling of official United States criticism of his repression of the electoral protests. President Obama seems more concerned about protecting his party's re-election in 2010 from charges of "Who lost Iran?" than actually supporting his country's interests in the Middle East. Why is this?

Abstractly speaking, Obama and the Democrats are arguing that American criticism of Iran will ipso facto religitimize the Iranian regime. Or in other words, opposing evil only makes evil stronger. As you might recall, the origin of the idea that opposing evil only makes evil stronger is the Cold War propaganda of the Soviet Union. To the great delight of the Soviet leaders, a large fraction of the American public not only agreed with this idea but internalized it despite the fact that adhering to this belief is obviously self-defeating.

Consider, for example, the recent Bush Administration's defense of its anti-terror policies, which consisted of steadfastly refusing to give any defense of its anti-terror policies. In recent weeks, both former Vice President Cheney and Bush himself have been williing to defend these decisions, but officially, the Bush White house left it to the conservative media to bother to do this. The problem, ultimately, was that the Bush White House had been "captured" by Republican moderates who believed that defending the Bush anti-terror regime would only weaken the Bush anti-terror regime more rapidly than doing nothing at all.

Or consider last year's blockbuster film "Batman: The Dark Knight". At the start the film, Batman's crusade against crime is revealed to have been so successful that Gotham City law enforcement is on the verge of declaring "checkmate" in its war with organized crime. The organized crime bosses become desperate and decide to put all of their resources in the hands of a psycopathic madman named the Joker, who uses this windfall of criminal power to wage war against civilization itself. By the end of the film, Gotham City is practically under martial law, national guard troops have been called in to maintain order, and Batman is pushing his conscience beyond its limits in attempting to restrain the Joker. The message of the film is simple and clear: attempting to defeat organized crime is only going to make organized crime more dangerous than ever before.

I think it's clear that President Obama has been drinking the communist kool-aid in this respect. The only question know is how much more damage that will do to American interests around the world.

An interesting Obama conspiracy theory

Here's an interesting correlation of events. On June 4, President Obama gives a speech in Cairo, Egypt and admits that the United States was involved in Iran's 1953 coup. The Iranian elections are then held on June 12 and the election results prompt mass anti-government protests that might be turning into a proto-revolution. Obama's public stance towards the protests is milquetoast at best, yet Obama wins strong liberal support for his refusal to "meddle" in the Iranian election process (see Andrew Sullivan's post on June 13 for an example).

So the conspiracy theory is obvious at this point. Did Obama intentionally attempt to "disarm" his government's ability to support to the post-election protests by admitting to American "meddling" in Iranian politics in his pre-election speech?

By the way, Obama doctrine 1.0 is now officially toast since Obama has offered tepid support for the Iranian protestors.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Osama bin Laden's dream come true.

Bin Laden's punch line writes itself. "Kill Americans. Become an American. Kinda cool":
A White House spokesman says the Obama administration hasn't decided whether or not to release Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama has made clear "we're not going to make any decision about transfer or release that threatens the security of this country."

Asked if that meant he was ruling out releasing any detainees in the United States, Gibbs said: "I'm not ruling it in or ruling it out."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Thoughts about the film "Valkyrie"

Last year's film "Valkyrie" stars Tom Cruise as a Nazi colonel who endeavors to topple Hitler's government with Hitler's own reserve army units. It finally came out on DVD and I decided to give it a try. Here are some thoughts about it.
  • Wikipedia considers this to be a historical thriller. If so, it is probably the least thrilling historical thriller ever made. The film has no sense at all about what is capable of thrilling the audience.

    For example, at one point, Cruise's Colonel von Stauffenberg must present the orders for plan Valkyrie to Hitler for his signature. The movie makes a big deal about this by showing von Stauffenberg driving up to the Berghof and getting out of his car and getting his papers ready and waiting to talk to Hitler. Pulse pounding music is blaring the entire time, as if Hitler was going to take one look at this secret plan and then flip out and kill von Stauffenberg himself. Of course we know that that doesn't happen! So when it doesn't happen -- Hitler doesn't even bother to look at the details before signing off on them -- it just underscores the fact that this entire five-minute sequence was utterly pointless.

    On the other hand, the film has real opportunities for suspense with its portrayal of the many clandestine meetings between von Stauffenberg and the anti-Hitler cabal within Hitler's goverment. In a better film, these conspirators would be scurrying around the alleyways of Berlin like rats, constantly looking out the windows, or chain-smoking. In this film, all of the clandestine meetings that we see involve absolute nonchalance on the part of the conspirators. None of the people in this film seem to have the slightest concern that large political associations could possibly be of the slightest concern to Nazi Germany. Von Stauffenberg even openly blurts out that, yes, he is a traitor, while seated in his office in the middle of the Reich War Ministry!

  • The other major flaw of the film is that the main characters are just one-dimensional charicatures of the originals. Terrance Stamp plays "politician guy in suit". Eddie Izzard plays "slimy guy who hangs out in nightclubs". Kenneth Branaugh plays "blockhead Prussian general". The only actor who makes the slightest attempt to avoid becoming a walking cliché is Thomas Kretschmann in his portrayal of Major Otto Ernst Remer, a principle guard officer who is duped by the Valkyrie plan. The stolid army officer who quotes the greek classics is still kindof a cliché, but at least Kretschmann bothers to try here.

  • I also didn't like the jokey, faux-Spielberg moments. A notable example occurs early on in the film when Von Stauffenberg finally convinces his commanding officer in Tunisia to stop being a right-wing fascist bastard and care about his troops for once. So, of course, our newly minted, caring, compassionate, liberal Wehrmacht general is immediately gunned down by an Allied air raid. The political point is unmistakably characteristic of twenty-first century American liberalism: all wars, even World War II, are fought by right-wing maniacs for no other reason than the pleasure of blowing people to smithereens. This is political correctness at its movie-blighting worst, but thankfully the film is content to drop the matter once the action moves out of Tunisia.

Monday, June 08, 2009

China seems to care more about the dollar than we do.

Capitalist China is beating up on us poor, socialist Americans again:
Senior Chinese leaders have privately voiced fear over the soaring US budget deficit and are increasingly looking to diversify from the dollar, a Republican congressman said.

"We heard across the board -- in private -- substantial, continuing and rising concern," Representative Mark Kirk said after a trip to China that included talks with government officials and central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan.

"It's clear that China would like to diversify from its dollar investments," the lawmaker said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank.

Kirk's assessment differed with that of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who said last week on a separate visit that Chinese leaders had expressed "justifiable confidence" on the future of the recession-hit US economy.
On the plus side, economists believe that the United States should eventually evolve into a free-market economy if it continues to develop its trade with China.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Obama's house of cards is starting to look a little shaky.

On North Korea: the Obama administration is scrambling to take some elementary measures to interdict North Korean shipping to slow down their nuclear program.

I thought that the pacific, comforting diplomacy of our obviously non-belligerant President Obama was going to magically convince the North Koreans to give up nuclear warfare. Now that Obama is resorting to Bush-like power politics to pressure North Korea, I guess that was just one more big lie.

On the economy:The White House is facing more pressure from critics that the stimulus package isn't working to reduce unemployment.

The White House is responding that things are less bad than they otherwise would have been without the stimulus plan, even though the economic forecast that they used to sell the stimulus plan shows that things are now worse than they otherwise would have been without the stimulus plan.

On Europe: Right wing parties running against state-sponsored stimulus spending have scored a victory in the European parliamentary elections.

I'm sure that this was one phone call that Obama wasn't ready to take at 3 am.

Fallout from Obama's Cairo University speech

It has only been a couple of days since President Obama gave a speech at Cairo University in Egypt, and already the speech seems to be a dead letter. For example, King Abdullah wants the United States to impose peace on the Israelis and Palestinians:
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has urged U.S. President Barack Obama to impose a solution on the festering Arab-Israeli conflict if necessary, a Saudi newspaper said on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia and other Arab states want Obama to get tough with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has balked at Palestinian statehood and defied U.S. calls to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements.

King Abdullah told Obama during his visit to Riyadh last week that Arab patience was wearing thin and that a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be the "magic key" to all issues in the region, al-Hayat said, quoting what it called informed sources.
This can't be a pleasant request for the Obama administration to receive. In Obama's speech, he promised the world that the United States doesn't impose its values by force; to do so would be totally foolish and counter-productive. Three days later, the King of Saudi Arabia is asking the United States to start imposing its values on some other country. It's as if the whole speech had gone in one ear and out the other.

Of course, King Abdullah isn't stupid. Obviously, he has figured out what many other people around the world are starting to figure out: that what President Obama says in public is mostly just feel-good, glad-handing, cah-cah. What King Abdullah really pays attention to is the reality of power, and right now the reality of power is that the Obama administration has both the anti-Israel sentiment and the powerful public support necessary for imposing conditions on Israel.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Lucas Syndrome

Film critic James Bowman provides an excellent definition of Lucas Syndrome, aka Lucasitis, in a take-down of the new "Star Trek":
It’s another manifestation of the way in which, in the era of the cartoon movie, both film-makers and audience both suppose that nothing needs to accounted for as if it were an event in the real world. Fantasy means never having to worry about motivation or consequence. Yet motivation and consequence are so much a part of what audiences throughout history have worried about, and in particular have gone to the movies to have presented to them in carefully worked-out fashion, that you’ve got to wonder what has changed in our culture to make these things matters of such unimportance as they are today. Partly it must be simply because we have grown so accustomed to fantasy that we have forgotten there can be any other kind of movie. But also, it’s a mere matter of the kind of self-indulgence that fantasy was invented to appeal to.

Only consider. The young Kirk is a hell-raising bad boy who first appears as a young teenager (played by Jimmy Bennett) in a vintage car stolen from his step-father, which he proceeds to drive off a cliff. Neither then nor subsequently does he appear to have any good habits of diligence or application nor does he ever crack a book. Yet he becomes in record time at the Starfleet Academy Spock’s intellectual equal and, without effort but with his natural insubordination and impertinence intact, is transformed in a twinkling into a Starfleet captain and a hero to young and old alike. You’ve got to suspect that not worrying too much about how their hero got to this position of honor and eminence is obviously a necessity to the kind of people who are being invited to identify themselves with him.