As I write, Paris is under curfew for the first time since the German occupation, and the death toll from the multiple attacks stands at 158, the vast majority of them slaughtered during a concert at the Bataclan theatre, a delightful bit of 19th century Chinoiserie on the boulevard Voltaire. The last time I was there, if memory serves, was to see Julie Pietri. I’m so bloody sick of these savages shooting and bombing and killing and blowing up everything I like – whether it’s the town where my little girl’s favorite fondue restaurant is or my favorite hotel in Amman or the brave freespeecher who hosted me in Copenhagen …or a music hall where I liked to go to hear a little jazz and pop and get away from the cares of the world for a couple of hours. But look at the photographs from Paris: there’s nowhere to get away from it; the barbarians who yell “Allahu Akbar!” are there waiting for you …when you go to a soccer match, you go to a concert, you go for a drink on a Friday night. They’re there on the train… at the magazine office… in the Kosher supermarket… at the museum in Brussels… outside the barracks in Woolwich…
Twenty-four hours ago, I said on the radio apropos the latest campus “safe space” nonsense:
This is what we’re going to be talking about when the mullahs nuke us.
Almost. When the Allahu Akbar boys opened fire, Paris was talking about the climate-change conference due to start later this month, when the world’s leaders will fly in to “solve” a “problem” that doesn’t exist rather than to address the one that does. But don’t worry: we already have a hashtag (#PrayForParis) and doubtless there’ll be another candlelight vigil of weepy tilty-headed wankers. Because as long as we all advertise how sad and sorrowful we are, who needs to do anything?
With his usual killer comedy timing, the “leader of the free world” told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning, America” this very morning that he’d “contained” ISIS and that they’re not “gaining strength”. A few hours later, a cell whose members claim to have been recruited by ISIS slaughtered over 150 people in the heart of Paris and succeeded in getting two suicide bombers and a third bomb to within a few yards of the French president.
Visiting the Bataclan, M Hollande declared that “nous allons mener le combat, il sera impitoyable”: We are going to wage a war that will be pitiless.
Does he mean it? Or is he just killing time until Obama and Cameron and Merkel and Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull fly in and they can all get back to talking about sea levels in the Maldives in the 22nd century? By which time France and Germany and Belgium and Austria and the Netherlands will have been long washed away.
Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight’s events as “an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”.
But that’s not true, is it? He’s right that it’s an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity”. And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.
And then Europe decided to invite millions of Muslims to settle in their countries. Most of those people don’t want to participate actively in bringing about the death of diners and concertgoers and soccer fans, but at a certain level most of them either wish or are indifferent to the death of the societies in which they live – modern, pluralist, western societies and those “universal values” of which Barack Obama bleats. So, if you are either an active ISIS recruit or just a guy who’s been fired up by social media, you have a very large comfort zone in which to swim, and which the authorities find almost impossible to penetrate.
And all Chancellor Merkel and the EU want to do is make that large comfort zone even larger by letting millions more “Syrian” “refugees” walk into the Continent and settle wherever they want. As I wrote after the Copenhagen attacks in February:
I would like to ask Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt what’s their happy ending here? What’s their roadmap for fewer “acts of violence” in the years ahead? Or are they riding on a wing and a prayer that they can manage the situation and hold it down to what cynical British civil servants used to call during the Irish “Troubles” “an acceptable level of violence”? In Pakistan and Nigeria, the citizenry are expected to live with the reality that every so often Boko Haram will kick open the door of the schoolhouse and kidnap your daughters for sex-slavery or the Taliban will gun down your kids and behead their teacher in front of the class. And it’s all entirely “random”, as President Obama would say, so you just have to put up with it once in a while, and it’s tough if it’s your kid, but that’s just the way it is. If we’re being honest here, isn’t that all Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt are offering their citizens? Spasms of violence as a routine feature of life, but don’t worry, we’ll do our best to contain it – and you can help mitigate it by not going to “controversial” art events, or synagogues, or gay bars, or…
…or soccer matches, or concerts, or restaurants…
To repeat what I said a few days ago, I’m Islamed out. I’m tired of Islam 24/7, at Colorado colleges, Marseilles synagogues, Sydney coffee shops, day after day after day. The west cannot win this thing with a schizophrenic strategy of targeting things and people but not targeting the ideology, of intervening ineffectually overseas and not intervening at all when it comes to the remorseless Islamization and self-segregation of large segments of their own countries.
So I say again: What’s the happy ending here? Because if M Hollande isn’t prepared to end mass Muslim immigration to France and Europe, then his “pitiless war” isn’t serious. And, if they’re still willing to tolerate Mutti Merkel’s mad plan to reverse Germany’s demographic death spiral through fast-track Islamization, then Europeans aren’t serious. In the end, the decadence of Merkel, Hollande, Cameron and the rest of the fin de civilisation western leadership will cost you your world and everything you love.
So screw the candlelight vigil.
From July 8, 2015:
Amid Monday’s resignation of University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe, students formed a human blockade to keep out reporters.
Students protesting on the Columbia, Missouri, campus embraced efforts to establish a “safe space,” free of the media attempting to exercise its First Amendment right to cover a public event.
In addition to the “safe space” sign to warn reporters from doing their jobs, students also linked arms to form a human blockade against the press:
The move by students to keep out members of the press came as a shock to many, but left many others confused.
…I’m sick today, but I don’t think that’s why this has me confused https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
11:53 AM – 9 Nov 2015
A good way to (1) deter media from quoting one idiot to mischaracterize group; (2) completely undermining that goal. https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
12:05 PM – 9 Nov 2015
Should make for interesting discussions at the esteemed Missouri j-school. https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
12:04 PM – 9 Nov 2015
If you were wondering where Occupy went, we found it. https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
11:58 AM – 9 Nov 2015
“Safe space.” https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
12:16 PM – 9 Nov 2015
This is insane. https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
12:19 PM – 9 Nov 2015
This is a big, big problem. Hey @newseum, what do you have to say about this? #Missouri #FreeSpeech https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
11:58 AM – 9 Nov 2015
12:06 PM – 9 Nov 2015
“But please, press, next time we need a message to gain traction, come back!” https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
11:51 AM – 9 Nov 2015
What utter crap. https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
11:50 AM – 9 Nov 2015
At the home of one of finest journalism schools in the world, folks. What are we doing wrong? https://twitter.com/hochman/status/663760271781924864…
12:09 PM – 9 Nov 2015
It’s disappointing to see this response from college students, especially ones at a school with a highly regarded journalism program.
America has always prized the freedom of the press to report the news in the fairest way possible, and when students prevent that from occurring, they threaten the democratic process.
In the wake of a supposed racial controversy, the President of the University of Missouri has resigned.
The entire controversy began when a student, Jonathan Butler, began a hunger strike over alleged racial incidents. This weekend, Missouri football players decided to kind of sorta join the strike a bit. This morning, cowed faculty meekly walked out. Now the President has resigned.
The Daily Caller lays out Butler’s beef:
In a letter to school officials posted on his Facebook page, Butler indicated that he began his hunger strike because someone in a pickup truck allegedly shouted a racist insult at a black student government member, because state law prevents Planned Parenthood from performing on-campus abortions and because someone drew a swastika with human feces in a dormitory bathroom.
Some observers have suggested that the bathroom swastika may be a hoax. Why, law professor blogger Ann Althouse has asked, for example, would any dedicated racial supremacist create a swastika out of human feces?
Butler admits in the letter that none of the incidents he cites are Wolfe’s fault. Nevertheless, Butler has concluded, “as a collection of incidents at the university, they are his responsibility to address.”
This summer, prior to Butler’s decision to go on a hunger strike because of racism allegations, the graduate student’s substantially different agenda focused on a change in University of Missouri policy which ended subsidized health insurance for graduate students. To Butler’s chagrin, school officials also stopped offering certain grad student tuition waivers and tore down some graduate student housing.
At RedState, Leon Wolf takes the protesting football players to pieces in a blistering list of why they are complete posers. You should read all four points, but the conclusion is perfect.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a courageous strike against racism. It’s a lazy strike against practicing for a bad football team. The fact that the media isn’t reporting it this way is evidence of the media’s own laziness.
Nevertheless, under the pressure, the President has stepped down.
The Legion of Black Collegians and others (including football players) associated with the boycott at Missouri stemming from racial tension on Saturday published a list of demands they want met before things return to somewhat normalcy.
Here’s the list in its entirety:
1. We demand that University of Missouri System President, Tim Wolfe, writes a hand-written apology to Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demonstrators and holds a press conference in the Mizzou Student Center reading the letter. In the letter and at the press conference, Tim Wolfe must acknowledge his white privilege, recognize that systems of oppression exits, and provide a verbal commitment to fulfilling Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demands. We want Tim Wolfe to admits his gross negligence, allowing his driver to hit one of the demonstrators, consenting to the physical violence of bystanders, and lastly refusing to intervene when Columbia Police Department used excessive force with demonstrators.
2. We demand the immediate removal of Tim Wolfe as UM system president. After his removal, a new amendment to thd UM system policies must be established to have all future UM system president and Chancellor positions be selected by a collective of students, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds.
3. We demand that the University of Missouri meets the Legion of Black Collegians’ demands that were presented in the 1969 for the betterment of the black community.
4. We demand that the University of Missouri creates and enforces comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units, mandatory for all students, faculty, staff and administration. This curriculum must be vetted, maintained, and overseen by a board comprised of students, staff and faculty of color.
5. We demand that by the academic year 2017-18, the University of Missouri increases the percentage of black faculty and staff members campus-wide by 10 percent.
6. We demand that the University of Missouri composes a strategic 10-year plan on May, 1 2016 that will increase retention rates for marginalized students, sustain diversity curriculum and training, and promote a more safe and inclusive campus.
7. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding and resources for the University of Missouri Counseling Center for the purpose of hiring additional mental health professionals, particularly those of color, boosting mental health outreach and programming across campus, increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility of the counseling center, and reducing lengthy wait times for prospective clients.
8. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding, resources and personnel for the social justice centers on campus for the purpose of hiring additional professionals, particularly those of color, boosting outreach and programming across campus and increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility.
The US media have had a fit of the vapors over Rudy Giuliani’s suggestion that Barack Obama does not love America. As the Instapundit says, their reaction suggests that Giuliani hit a nerve.
For my own part, I am way beyond that. By the way, I’m growing rather weary of the cheap comparisons of Obama with Neville Chamberlain. The British Prime Minister got the biggest issue of the day wrong. But no one ever doubted that he loved his country. That’s why, after his eviction from Downing Street, Churchill kept him on in his ministry as Lord President of the Council, and indeed made Chamberlain part of the five-man war cabinet and had him chair it during his frequent absences. When he died of cancer in October 1940, Churchill wept over his coffin.
So please don’t insult Neville Chamberlain by comparing him to Obama. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, because conspiracies are generally a comforting illusion: the real problem with Obama is that the citizens of the global superpower twice elected him to office. Yet one way to look at the current “leader of the free world” is this: If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?
For example, he has spent most of this week hosting an international conference on something called “violent extremism”. Whatever may be said of Munich, Chamberlain never hosted a three-day summit on “rearmament” in general whose entire purpose was to deny that “rearmament” and “Germany” were in any way connected. Yet that is exactly the message the United States government has just offered to the world – in between such eccentric side spectacles as Marie Harf, star of the hilarious new comedy Geopolitically Blonde, explaining her jobs-for-jihadis program, and the new hombre in charge of the planet’s mightiest military machine having his woman felt up on camera by Joe Biden. Now there’s a message to send to the misogynists of Burqastan about what happens when you let the missuses out of their body bags.
Here’s John Kerry in The Wall Street Journal:
The rise of violent extremism represents the pre-eminent challenge of the young 21st century…
A safer and more prosperous future requires us to recognize that violent extremism can’t be justified by resorting to religion…
Violent extremism has claimed lives in every corner of the globe, and Muslim lives most of all…
This summit at the White House and State Department will expand the global conversation and, more important, adopt an action agenda that identifies, shares and utilizes best practices in preventing and countering violent extremism…
Put simply, we are building a global partnership against violent extremism.
Success requires showing the world the power of peaceful communities instead of extremist violence.
Wait a minute, “extremist violence”? How come the spell-check didn’t catch that? Don’t worry. The very next sentence is back on track:
Success requires offering a vision that is positive and proactive: a world with more concrete alternatives to the nihilistic worldview of violent extremists…
We have to devote ourselves not just to combating violent extremism, but to preventing it…
We’ve combated violent extremism before…
The 20th century was defined by the struggle to overcome depression, slavery, fascism and totalitarianism. Now it’s our turn. The rise of violent extremism challenges every one of us…
By now you may be saying, “Oh, ‘violent extremism’, I get it. You mean…” Whoa, don’t go there, girlfriend. “This is not true Islam,” insists President Obama.
Roger Kimball observes:
“ISIL is not ‘Islamic.'” Really? Was the Ayatollah Khomeini “Islamic?” How about Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan: is he “Islamic”? A few years ago, Erdogan told the world that the phrase “moderate Islam” is “ugly” because “Islam is Islam.” Democracy, he said, is just an express stop on the train whose destination is Islam…
The Saudis, the biggest and richest Sunni nation? They torture bloggers for “insulting Islam,” stone adulteresses, maim thieves, and treat women like chattel. Do they represent Islam?
But Obama has ambitions way beyond the Turks and Saudis. If the Islamic State isn’t “true Islam”, is the Taliban, our “partners for peace” in Aghanistan? Is “true Islam” the Iranian mullahs, our “partners for peace” in the Persian Gulf and beyond? How about the Houthi? They’re our Iranian partners for peace’s partners for peace in Yemen, and they were awfully sporting to let our diplomats flee without beheading them.
“Violent extremism” may have nothing to do with Islam, yet Obama’s summit on “violent extremism” was oddly preoccupied with Islam, to the extent of according it a special deference:
A Muslim prayer was recited at the start of the second day of the White House summit on “Countering Violent Extremism,” but no other religious text was presented during the portion of the event that was open to the press.
Imam Sheikh Sa’ad Musse Roble, president of the World Peace Organization in Minneapolis, Minn., recited a “verse from the Quran” following remarks by Obama administration officials and Democratic members of Congress.
But hey, what’s so odd about that? “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding,” says the President. You might think that Islam has been entirely irrelevant to “the fabric of our country” for its first two centuries, and you might further think that Islam, being self-segregating, tends not to weave itself into anybody’s fabric but instead tends to unravel it – as it’s doing in, say, Copenhagen, where 500 mourners turned up for the funeral of an ISIS-supporting Jew-hating anti-free-speech murderer.
But President Obama knows better than you. So he organized a summit dedicated to creating and promoting a self-invented phantom enemy. Conveniently enough, the main problem with “violent extremists” is that its principal victims are Muslims. No, no, I don’t mean the thousands of Muslims being slaughtered, beheaded, burned alive, raped, sold into sex slavery, etc, etc, in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, and so on. The Muslims most at risk are right here in America. Just ask Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson:
We in the administration and the government should give voice to the plight of Muslims living in this country and the discrimination that they face. And so I personally have committed to speak out about the situation that very often people in the Muslim community in this country face. The fact that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and the Islamic faith is one about peace and brotherhood.
I opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security on the basic Thatcherite principle that if you create a government bureaucracy in order to deal with a problem you’ll never be rid of the problem. But I underestimated the creativity of our rulers: The DHS was set up because 19 Muslims flew planes into skyscrapers and killed thousands of people. Thirteen years later, the head of the DHS thinks his department’s priority should be to “give voice to the plight of Muslims” who have the misfortune to live in America.
How about “the plight of Muslims” who live in Muslim countries? As I wrote in 2006 in the very prologue of the highly prescient America Alone:
In the 2005 rankings of Freedom House’s survey of personal liberty and democracy around the world, five of the eight countries with the lowest “freedom” score were Muslim. Of the 46 Muslim majority nations in the world, only three were free. Of the 16 nations in which Muslims form between 20 and 50 per cent of the population, only another three were ranked as free: Benin, Serbia and Montenegro, and Suriname. It will be interesting to follow France’s fortunes as a fourth member of that group.
The “plight” of Muslim communities in America and the west is that they enjoy freedoms they could never dream of back in Somalia or Syria or anywhere else – but that they value those freedoms less than they value the pre-eminence of Islam. Canadian reader Sam Williamson wrote to me with what I thought was an interesting insight into the millions of “moderate Muslims”:
Suppose the moderate shoe was in the other foot:
You are a moderate Christian and there is a radical bunch at the far end of the spectrum of the faith that causing violence, even in your new country. Your faith is growing worldwide in numbers. You see other faiths abandoning their beliefs, and even making laws about where they may practice. But your religion is more welcomed. They say it strengthens the country. It’s in their constitution. Other countries are asking you to come.
So you can’t help but see your faith gaining influence. In some places no shopping on the Holy Day laws are being re-introduced. In some public schools they are allowing Mass to be said in the cafeteria during the day. Offensive comments about our Church, Saviour, and Saints are being condemned. And items from other religions are being hidden or removed so we don’t have to see them. Many people, including their wise teachers, professors, and prominent people in the papers and television are helping getting rid of many customs that we do not support as Catholics. Why even the other day a leader in government told the Prime Minister that it was wrong not to allow us to say the rosary during the Citizenship Ceremony.
Sure, we will condemn that bombing and those extremists if asked. They don’t represent my beliefs. But looking at the future I’m thinking my family, my children and grandchildren are going to do better in this country when it’s all Christians, and those wrong beliefs have left, and the atheists driven out, even if it is accomplished with some fear and violence. After all, ours is the one true religion and our people will once again be great.
If you were a “moderate Muslim”, what would you make of an extraordinary week in which the global superpower has piled up a mountain of preposterous, mutually contradictory official lies all designed to flatter you: Islam has been part of the fabric of America since the 18th century, and yet the plight of Muslims in this country and the discrimination they face has never been worse. We are at war with the mysterious shadowy Empire of Violentia-Extremistan, which is nothing to do with Islam, yet necessitates the saying of Muslim prayers – and Muslim prayers only – at official US government events.
On The Hugh Hewitt Show yesterday, I pointed out that the French Government estimates that some nine thousand “Frenchmen” have volunteered to fight for ISIS. That is approximately half the total western deployment in Afghanistan of around 18,000 troops from some four dozen countries. It is larger than any French military deployment in the last half-century. That 500-strong congregation of mourners for the Copenhagen killer may not be the largest funeral turnout in Denmark’s history, but it’s similarly impressive.
And yet none of that could be discussed in Washington, at a summit arising directly out of the Charlie Hebdo slaughter.
I have quoted before my old friend Theodore Dalrymple on the purposes of lies in totalitarian societies:
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.
We are at war with a depraved enemy, but we cannot be allowed to assert our moral superiority even to head-choppers, rapists, slavers and immolators. Thus the priority of Barack (“Hey, how ’bout those Crusades?”) Obama has been to undermine our sense of probity, and make us not merely equivalent to but worse than our enemies. That was the purpose of this last week of Official Lies.
It is a condition of my admission to this great land that I am not allowed to foment the overthrow of the United States government. Oh, I signed it airily enough, but you’d be surprised, as the years go by, how often the urge to foment starts to rise in one’s gullet. Fortunately, at least as far as constitutional government goes, the president of the United States is doing a grand job of overthrowing it all by himself.
On Thursday, he passed a new law at a press conference. George III never did that. But, having ordered America’s insurance companies to comply with Obamacare, the president announced that he is now ordering them not to comply with Obamacare. The legislative branch (as it’s still quaintly known) passed a law purporting to grandfather your existing health plan. The regulatory bureaucracy then interpreted the law so as to un-grandfather your health plan. So His Most Excellent Majesty has commanded that your health plan be de-un-grandfathered. That seems likely to work. The insurance industry had three years to prepare for the introduction of Obamacare. Now the King has given them six weeks to de-introduce Obamacare.
“I wonder if he has the legal authority to do this,” mused former Vermont governor Howard Dean. But he’s obviously some kind of right-wing wacko. Later that day, anxious to help him out, Congress offered to “pass” a “law” allowing people to keep their health plans. The same president who had unilaterally commanded that people be allowed to keep their health plans indignantly threatened to veto any such law to that effect: It only counts if he does it — geddit? As his court eunuchs at the Associated Press obligingly put it: “Obama Will Allow Old Plans.” It’s Barry’s world; we just live in it.
The reason for the benign Sovereign’s exercise of the Royal Prerogative is that millions of his subjects – or “folks,” as he prefers to call us, no fewer than 27 times during his press conference – have had their lives upended by Obamacare. Your traditional hard-core statist, surveying the mountain of human wreckage he has wrought, usually says, “Well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” But Obama is the first to order that his omelet be unscrambled and the eggs put back in their original shells. Is this even doable? No. That’s the point. When it doesn’t work, he’ll be able to give another press conference blaming the insurance companies, or the state commissioners, or George W. Bush . . .
The most telling line, the one that encapsulates the gulf between the boundless fantasies of the faculty-lounge utopian and the messiness of reality, was this: “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Gee, thanks for sharing, genius. Maybe you should have thought of that before you governmentalized one-sixth of the economy. By “we,” the president means “I.” Out here in the ruder provinces of his decrepit realm, we “folks” are well aware of how complicated insurance is. What isn’t complicated in the Sultanate of Sclerosis? But, as with so many other things, Obama always gives the vague impression that routine features of humdrum human existence are entirely alien to him. Marie Antoinette, informed that the peasantry could no longer afford bread, is alleged to have responded, “Let them eat cake.” There is no evidence these words ever passed her lips, but certainly no one ever accused her of saying, “If you like your cake, you can keep your cake,” and then having to walk it back with “What we’re also discovering is that cake is complicated to buy.” That contribution to the annals of monarchical unworldliness had to await the reign of Queen Barry Antoinette, whose powdered wig seems to have slipped over his eyes.
Still, as historian Michael Beschloss pronounced the day after his election, he’s “probably the smartest guy ever to become president.” Naturally, Obama shares this assessment. As he assured us five years ago, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.” Well, apart from his signature health-care policy. That’s a mystery to him. “I was not informed directly that the website would not be working,” he told us. The buck stops with something called “the executive branch,” which is apparently nothing to do with him. As evidence that he was entirely out of the loop, he offered this:
Had I been I informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, “Boy, this is going to be great.” You know, I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, “This is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity,” a week before the website opens, if I thought that it wasn’t going to work.
Ooooo-kay. So, if I follow correctly, the smartest president ever is not smart enough to ensure that his website works; he’s not smart enough to inquire of others as to whether his website works; he’s not smart enough to check that his website works before he goes out and tells people what a great website experience they’re in for. But he is smart enough to know that he’s not stupid enough to go around bragging about how well it works if he’d already been informed that it doesn’t work. So he’s smart enough to know that if he’d known what he didn’t know he’d know enough not to let it be known that he knew nothing. The country’s in the very best of hands.
Michael Beschloss is right: This is what it means to be smart in a neo-monarchical America. Obama spake, and it shall be so. And, if it turns out not to be so, why pick on him? He talks a good Royal Proclamation; why get hung up on details?
Until October 1, Obama had never done anything – not run a gas station, or a doughnut stand – other than let himself be wafted onward and upward to the next do-nothing gig. Even in his first term, he didn’t really do: Starting with the 2009 trillion-dollar stimulus, he ran a money-no-object government that was all money and no objects; he spent and spent, and left no trace. Some things he massively expanded (food stamps, Social Security disability) and other things he massively diminished (effective foreign policy), but all were, so to speak, preexisting conditions. Obamacare is the first thing Obama has actually done, and, if you’re the person it’s being done to, it’s not pretty.
The president promised to “fundamentally transform” America. Certainly, other men have succeeded in transforming settled, free societies: Pierre Trudeau did in Canada four decades ago, and so, in post-war Britain, did the less charismatic Clement Attlee. And, if you subscribe to their particular philosophy, their transformations were effected very efficiently. But Obama is an incompetent, so “fundamentally transformed” is a euphemism for “wrecked beyond repair.” As a socialist, he makes a good socialite.
But on he staggers, with a wave of his scepter, delaying this, staying that, exempting the other, according to his regal whim and internal polling. The omniscient beneficent Sovereign will now graciously “allow” us “folks” to keep all those junk plans from bad-apple insurers. Yet even the wisest King cannot reign forever, and what will happen decades down the road were someone less benign – perhaps even (shudder) a Republican – to ascend the throne and wield these mighty powers?
Hey, relax: If you like your constitution, you can keep your constitution. Period. And your existing amendments. Well, most of them – except for the junk ones…
Since I found myself conscripted into the battle for free speechin Canada and elsewhere, I’ve often had cause to comment on one of the most dismal features of the scene: The “bold, transgressive” contrarians of the arts world and the “speak truth to power” heroes of the media (two industries whose practitioners congratulate themselves on their bravery and courage far more than, say, soldiers or firemen do) mysteriously decide that when it comes to certain subjects discretion is the better part of valor. In The Spectator, London leftie Nick Cohen takes up the theme after another edgy art exhibition is quietly canceled:
The exhibition was to open at London’s Unit 24 gallery, near Tate Modern, last Saturday. Unit 24, which boasts on its website that it is ‘fiercely independent’, pulled out with only days to go. In emails to the organisers, Unit 24 offered various justifications for wrecking a show that had taken months to arrange. ‘Enemies of the exhibition’ had made threats, and it was worried about a ‘potential terrorist attack’…
There was no secret about its decision. But not one of the arts correspondents for the broadsheets or BBC covered the threat to an international exhibition featuring the work of dozens of artists. I have argued many times that censorship is at its most effective when no one admits it exists. The first step to freeing yourself from oppressive power is to find the courage to admit that you are afraid. The more people confess to being afraid, the less reason there is to fear and the easier it is to isolate repressive forces.
But the radical poses of western intellectuals make a frank discussion of fear impossible. For how can they say they are brave dissidents one minute, and confess they are scared of theocratic thugs the next?
The appeasement crowd never changes do they? They are never afraid to mock religion, or ideology, or any number of groups, they are never afraid of using their free expression, unless Islamists threaten them, then they cannot give away their liberty to speak fast enough.