March 22nd, 2014

If only Obama only had the right partners, his brilliance and wisdom would be known

Obama is nothing if not a self-confident man. There’s nothing that needs to be revised, nothing he would do differently, and nothing he should learn. Back in late January, this is how he evaluated the foreign policy situation:

Obama told me [David Remnick of The New Yorker] that what he needs isn’t any new grand strategy—“I don’t really even need George Kennan right now”—but, rather, the right strategic partners.

This brings us up against that old, old question: Obama, fool or knave? Is he purposely sabotaging our foreign policy, or is he just that naive and puffed up with narcissism? I vote the former, and have for quite some time, but I consider that the latter is a possibility.

In a sense, though, it doesn’t matter, because whether he can’t change his approach or won’t change his approach, it’s the effect of his policies that matter most rather than his intent. Richard Fernandez of Belmont Club comments on the real world consequences of Obama’s foreign policy:

Obama was chosen by unserious people to face very serious thugs like Vladimir Putin. People for whom everything to this point has been a cocktail party and games. And American allies — those who are on the front line — know it.

Stripped of its euphemisms America’s position in the Middle East, Europe and Asia has collapsed and the world is arming up nukes. And the troops in Afghanistan — aren’t they dependent on the route through Russia for logistics? Isn’t that the size of it? Does the situation have the attention of people in the New York Times yet?

Nope not yet.

The intellectual elite who endorsed Obama are a population who’ve never been hungry or felt paralyzing danger. They grew to manhood and old age in the bosom of a Pax Americana and were vain enough to throw away because they felt guilty for the security it provided. They don’t realize they’ve opened the door and the tigers are staring out at them. They’re still thinking in terms of “tests” with the ruffians of the world and instead of realizing that they are playing in a casino for real money.

The sad thing is that this was easily foreseen, and yet it didn’t seem to matter. Way back in April of 2008 Obama foreshadowed what was going to happen due to his attitude:

…[F]oreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain.

It’s ironic because this is supposedly the place where experience is most needed to be Commander-in-Chief. Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world. This I know. When Senator Clinton brags ‘I’ve met leaders from eighty countries’–I know what those trips are like! I’ve been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There’s a group of children who do native dance. You meet with the CIA station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of a plant that [with] the assistance of USAID has started something. And then – you go.”

“You do that in eighty countries – you don’t know those eighty countries. So when I speak about having lived in Indonesia for four years, having family that is impoverished in small villages in Africa – knowing the leaders is not important – what I know is the people. . . .”

“I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college – I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

It was ominous even then to contemplate having a president with that much arrogance and that much naivete. It’s disturbing to realize he was elected despite that, and re-elected despite many bad consequences in the real world already having resulted from such arrogance and naivete in a president.

This is what I wrote at the time:

If there’s a better example of the arrogance of youth, I can’t think of it offhand. The glorification of “self-confidence” as an improvement on knowledge and experience. The description of the trips to foreign countries as meaningless, including those tedious briefings (sort of like a visit to a boring relative—can’t we go out and play now?) The idea that hazy memories of a few years spent in a country—in this case, Indonesia—about forty years ago as a child of six to ten years old would have any relevance to understanding what’s going on in terms of power or politics or economics in that country or any other part of the world today.

Likewise the college trip to Pakistan. Give me a break.

If Obama really were in his teens or early twenties, these sorts of statements might be understandable. And his “foreign policy” experience of living for a while in these countries would at least have the advantage of being relatively recent.

But Obama is now forty-six years old, and will be forty-seven at the time of the election. Not such a child after all. And although youthful exuberance and innocence can be charming even in an adult, youthful arrogance and ignorance never is.

But the real problem is an electorate that didn’t see this all as a grave warning sign that electing Obama would be a very, very bad idea—and an MSM that not only failed to make it clear to them, but that actively promoted the opposite notion.

60 Responses to “If only Obama only had the right partners, his brilliance and wisdom would be known”

  1. G Joubert Says:

    And again, the categories are not mutually exclusive: he can be both. And I say he is.

    Nor is this is a one-man operation. Valerie Jarrett’s speed-dial list might be illuminative.

  2. Matthew Says:

    Obama has little experience and knowledge of America least yet the world.

    When I was in high school I notice something: Peoples view of themselves is often opposite of reality. I knew a really ugly guy who was quite narcissistic about his looks. Always looking in mirrors admiring his face which frankly looked like a horse.

    Obama thinks he’s wiser and smarter than everyone else when of course he’s not. Wisdom comes from experience and Obama does not have much experience. Of course with his ego it might not matter. He should have learned by now how incompetent he is.

  3. G Joubert Says:

    It’d be fun to see BHO’s SAT and LSAT scores. Knowing his narcissism as we now do, don’t you suppose we would’ve heard all about them if they were even halfway decent? Do you suppose he can solve a simple algebra problem?

  4. Eric Says:

    Neo: “The sad thing is that this was easily foreseen, and yet it didn’t seem to matter.”

    I said this to one of my former (poli sci) professors in 2008, 2009:

    What’s called neo-conservatism is just the progressive (interventionalist) liberalism of Wilson, FDR, and Truman, renamed. The bashing of neo-conservatism by self-described Western liberals, therefore, has led to the frustrating, self-defeating spectacle of influential people speaking liberal platitudes but quixotically opposing our definitively liberal strategy in the War on Terror. The effect of these liberals’ tragic hypocrisy has been the degradation of the Western liberalizing influence on the illiberal regions of the world.

    By the same token, an equally damaging effect of the attacks by self-described liberals on our liberal strategy has been the degradation within Western societies of the domestic understanding and support we need to adequately sustain the war/peace-building strategy endorsed by Presidents Bush and Obama. Therefore, a critical task of President Obama is to fix the deep damage done to his and Bush’s foreign policy goals by Senator/Candidate Obama and other Bush critics.

    President Bush demanded more from the Western liberal world to confront the aggressive challengers to our liberal world order. Many did respond to America’s call to action, but a disappointing number refused and chose instead to vilify the so-called ‘leader of the free world’. Will the more charismatic President Obama, who speaks the same liberal language as Bush, succeed in rallying the Western world for the same liberal cause in the same places where Bush was rejected? My hope is Obama succeeds. But the citation accompanying Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is an indication that at least Western European liberals believe America under Obama will ask less of them than Bush, not more, and that’s a bad sign.

  5. AMartel Says:

    “Obama, fool or knave?”
    Both.

  6. expat Says:

    Here is an example of Obama’s incapability to learn from his predecessors:

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/03/surprise-pa-leader-abbas-says-no-to-obama-on-three-core-peace-issues/

    His reaction to Abbas: The situation is “challenging.” Gee, too challenging to be solved by a teleprompter speech? I would go with fool, knave, and ignorant blowhard.

  7. Francesca Says:

    Both – among other things.

  8. BurkeanMama Says:

    Well as so many have already pointed out, he is both. He is such a fool he truly believes all the world ills are America’s fault and a “soft” America will allow the rest of the world to be the nice guys he knows they are. He is such a fool he believes every anti-American lie he has ever been told; such a fool he has been turned into the ultimate knave, a traitor.

  9. FOAF Says:

    I am close to neo’s age and like neo voted Democrat for most of my life. But by the time Obama started running for President in earnest in 2007 it was overwhelmingly obvious to me that 1) he was the emptiest suit ever and 2) he was unmistakably the candidate of the left-wing, hate-America Michael Moore wing of the Democrats who have taken over the party. 1) makes him the fool and 2) makes him the knave.

  10. T Says:

    Obama’s conceit, and to the extent that it is shared by the Democrats and the left, reminds me of the kind of “awakening” that ones sees as adolescents suddenly become aware of the world around them. They think that their new awareness has given them all the answers to the great problems of life (“But Dad, you don’t understand. Things are different now”) and they have yet to understand that there are things that they don’t even know they don’t know.

    Mark Twain noted this nigh a century ago when he wrote: “When I was fourteen I thought my father was the dumbest man on the planet. When I reached twenty-one I was surprised by how much the man had learned in seven years.”

    Nihil sub sole novum.

  11. FOAF Says:

    T, you have it exactly right. Obama’s posture towards foreign policy reminds of nothing so much as when I was in college (too many years ago :^)) and all of us pampered, sheltered middle-class kids with zero real-world experience were smugly sure we had all the answers. It is very disturbing, the degree to which these illusions and delusions have been enabled and amplified by most of the media.

  12. kcom Says:

    For the first time in my life I’m truly worried about the cluelessness of the electorate. How is Obama even possible in a serious world? Because short-sighted but otherwise intelligent people, like Ann Althouse, allow themselves to be led around by the nose by Democratic propaganda that in an earlier era would have been laughed out of the room.

  13. Mike Says:

    I wonder whether we should nix the term MSM. Even that degraded term is wildly inaccurate and gives them more dignity than they merit. They are not “mainstream”. They are radical Left and Marxist. They are not “media” they are simply propaganda for the Left.

    Was TASS the MSM in communist Russia? Is Al Jazeera the MSM in Arabia?

    I think we should never refer to them as media ever again. Just call them Big Lie Propagandists and leave it.

  14. Eric Says:

    kcom: “Democratic propaganda that in an earlier era would have been laughed out of the room.”

    That’s why activists change norms.

    Patient zero is Operation Iraqi Freedom. What was at stake in Iraq for the US and a US-led liberal world order was greater than the 4 corners of Iraq.

    The premises of hegemonic American exceptionalism, international law enforcer and leader of the free world, and polar center of gravity defining the liberal world order were staked on the Iraq mission.

    When the Iraq mission was stigmatized by the Left’s activists, the premises of American leadership and the liberal world order built on those premises were also stigmatized.

    The Russians understood this relationship from the start.

    The Russians from the beginning tied the legitimacy and legality of the Iraq mission to the US-led Balkans intervention. In other words, the Russians understood that stigmatization of the Iraq mission meant the replacement of the US-centered international rule-set everywhere else so that future US interference in the Russian-claimed sphere of influence would be weakened, if not (yet) entirely prevented.

    From the standpoint of the post-Cold War rule-set, our Iraq mission was legitimate and legal, ie, normal. But turning the normal into the abnormal also turns the abnormal into the normal.

    Despite our revolutionary success in the war and post-war peace operations in Iraq, the Left’s activists successfully stigmatized the Iraq mission, along with the premises staked on the Iraq mission.

    Thus, the abnormal was made normal, and now we’re seeing the new normal capitalized upon by our competitors who helped engineer the new normal.

    This could have been prevented had the Right possessed Marxist-method activists capable of winning the norm-setting propaganda contest over Iraq. But as is, the Right ceded the all-important activist battle and allowed the Left’s activists to win that world-changing contest barely opposed.

  15. waitforit Says:

    Obama is a metaphysical bugger. He is absolutely assured his brainiological member is bigger than anyone else’s. He learned that from an infamous poet who left a stain on his pants. Good pants they were. Just like ours were.

  16. Tonawanda Says:

    The only calculation BO makes is whether what he does might politically weaken his ability to weaken America or harm Americans. He is a man without judgment, intelligence, or ability, beyond the ability to kick down the barn.

    And he is kicking down the barn.

    He doesn’t care, as long as it is destructive to America or Americans, and as long as he can get away with it.

  17. blert Says:

    neo…

    Barry sees himself as a Wonder-Child in the pattern of Moses who must drag the sinful nation through 40-years of suffering to atone for systemic oppression.

    (If you really think about it, then Barry — as Pharaoh Ramesses II– intends to drag Dynastic Egypt through the western desert to atone for its oppression of the fellaheen. (sic))

    (It all makes sense if you’re on the bong.)

    This is the same kind of emotive that makes the jeremiads of Jeremiah Wright right — whose anti-orthodox sect inverts all causation: down is up, and up is down.

    Our Big Man is on a Crusade against The Man — while being The Man.

    He knows that his way is forward when he takes the American economy backward.

    So, we have the ultimate reactionary-revolutionary… for whom less is more… more or less.

    With only 1,000 days left, Barry is somewhat in a panic, as America is still standing!

    Election night (2014) is only 226 days away, a new Congress only 285 days away.

    Even now, as he looks over his shoulder, his followers are sparse.

    He’s more lost than rogue or fool… and, he’s all of them.

  18. Liberty Wolf Says:

    Obama echoes the view of the world that many of my leftist friends have: that a strong USA is a dangerous country that creates foment, war and bloodshed. They seriously believe that a weak USA is the way to peace – in other words, that we are the problem. In my own journey from left to right, I’ve found that so many truisms that I believed before are actually false and that, the opposite is true. A STRONG USA helps to create world stability and peace, not the opposite. Obama is a child of the progressive and radical left, and it shows. Unfortunately, the rest of this country followed behind, even if most of us are not inclined to believe these things.

    I do agree with Richard Fernandez that most of us, including myself of course, grew up in a safe and powerful USA, and take it for granted. I think also, that having grown up viewing the protests against the Vietnam War, changed how we saw the USA. The left won that battle in the information sphere and many people saw us as totally wrong. Of course, I have revised my opinion over time and Neo you have helped me to do so with your own reflections and musings, and discoveries. Somewhere a long time ago, while I was a child and before I was born (I’m a late 50′s baby boomer) the stage was set through the media – even then. Obama is my age group and I can read his influences very well, particularly as they are coming from the left. And, again, we all grew up with a powerful country and in guilt for that strength, we are allowing it to be lost.

    I am really afraid as I see the chaos being unleashed around the world and the bad actors like Putin being encouraged to step forward and take power.

  19. Liberty Wolf Says:

    It is interesting… I chatted with someone in Israel on FB (an LGBT person no less) who said that “everyone” in Israel hates Obama and feels he is deliberately destroying the USA. They wonder why are we allowing this to happen? Why did we elect him?

    Good question, though again, it is not shocking to me. He is a consummate politician and the media has been in his corner. I guess we just have to hope the damage is not too extreme. (!!!)

  20. Charles Says:

    “The intellectual elite who endorsed Obama are a population who’ve never been hungry or felt paralyzing danger. They grew to manhood and old age in the bosom of a Pax Americana and were vain enough to throw away because they felt guilty for the security it provided.”

    Yes, this explains a lot about those who consider themselves our, and everyone else’s, intellectual superiors.

    Reminds me so much of many of my college professors – especially those who “championed the rights of workers” – they never held a factory job, they never had to worry about putting food on the table or having a roof over their head. They never had to worry about which bills to pay and which to hold off. Never. And yet they would carp on about the ills facing the “workers.”

    Obama is the same way – “the rising price of arugula” – he thinks he knows what the world needs; and yet, really doesn’t have a clue. He thinks if he “just talks” to someone that will solve the problems.

    The guy is not just a fool; he is delusional. But, then could it all just be an act and he really is set out to destroy the US? Either way, I agree that what I find most frightening is that the public voted for him TWICE!

  21. Don Carlos Says:

    We have to have the courage of our convictions; we must act on them. Each of us. Holding them is not enough.
    We let the Left do this to us. We are homeowners who let the termite bond lapse, and declined yearly termicidal sprays as unnecessary and harmful to the environment. Not we wail and carry on while the termite-destroyed house commences to collapse around us, taking our patrimony and heritage down with it.

    It is not yet too late for certain; it may be, but doing nothing makes it certain.

    Let us also not over-blame the media, because the (print) media has not just recently become rotten. It was ever thus: “Remember the Maine” and Yellow Journalism are but two examples, both more than 100 years ago.

  22. waitforit Says:

    Every now and then the head (since we are all interconnected), when too bored, demands that what it suffers everyone else must too. It is a request for suicide. It is revenge. It is only the elite asking for purpose.

  23. T Says:

    FOAF (@6″57 above),

    ” . . . intelligent people, like Ann Althouse, allow themselves to be led around by the nose . . . .”

    The false premise is that it was ever any other way. The Maine was “known” to have been torpedoed in Havana harbor thus inciting the Spanish-American war. Galileo was “known” to be incorrect in his promulgation of the Copernican solar system. Fred Smith was told on his paper at Yale that the topic was supposed to be a business plan that had the potential for working (it was the business plan that he used to establish FedEx). Even the point of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein was that the monster was not inherently evil or bad but thought to be so by the townsfolk with their firebrands and pitchforks.

    We make assumptions based upon the limited information available to us and our own fundamental belief system and from those assumptions we decide. We are emotional beings first, intellectual creatures second.

  24. J.J. Says:

    blert, “Our Big Man is on a Crusade against The Man — while being The Man.”

    Just so!
    Hannity was gnashing his teeth over the fact that, while the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, Obama is appearing on TV with some dopy comedian, doing a stint on Ellen Degenerate’s show, and using up TV time to school the nation on picking his NCAA basketball brackets. He was wondering why the MSM and other serious people on the left aren’t tearing their hair out also. His guest patiently explained to Hannity that Obama’s stints in pop culture make him look cool to all his supporters, his fans, his voters. The MSM and serious democrats (if there are any) don’t want to alienate his fans. So, they just go with it and things spin ever more out of control.

    Obama is a fool because he, like so many democrats, isn’t ignorant, but because he knows so much that just isn’t so. (Thanks to R.R.)
    He is a knave because so much of what he thinks he knows is actually detrimental to freedom and free markets. The combination of the two traits is proving to be a very destructive to what is known as the American Dream.

  25. T Says:

    My mistake, the quote @11:02 is from Kcom @ 6:59

  26. T Says:

    An interesting sidebar to this topic.

    Obama would credit the lack of success of his everybody-play-nice utopian vision (disrupted, of course by the malevolence of Western culture) to a lack of the right partners. Yet, look at this teaser quote for Roger Kimball’s latest article over at pjmedia. The quote is from the California professor who aggressively stole and destroyed the sign of a pro-life protester:

    “I’m stronger so I was able to take the [pro-life] poster.”

    So the left not only uses but even acknowledges and brags about using those outdated 19th century methods scorned and derided by the Obama-Kerry credentialed set.

    Wait for it . . . . . . Nihil sub sole novum

    The Kimball article:

    http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2014/03/22/meaning-of-mireille-miller-young/

    One final observation. I read this morning one of the best descriptions of arguing with a liberal (which we have discussed at some length on various threads here). I think it applies directly to Obama’s administrative behavior and especially his lack of foreign policy. Forgotten the site and the commenter, but it is priceless and I thought I’d share its wisdom:

    Arguing with a liberal is like playing chess with a pigeon. It doesn’t matter how good I am at chess. The pigeon knocks down the pieces, shits on the board and prances around like he’s won.

    I thought that this pretty much sums it up.

  27. Eric Says:

    T,

    The reality is the ‘pigeon’ did win and you did lose – because the game isn’t actually chess.

  28. Ymarsakar Says:

    Neither. Evil isn’t about being foolishness, nor is it about being a knave.

    A knave is merely an intel agent or advertiser or lawyer. That, in itself, isn’t that threatening to a civilization. Within limits.

    Evil is something else, which people haven’t investigated as much as they might have.

  29. renminbi Says:

    Putin claimed that negotiating with Obama was like playing chess with a pigeon. Applies to other leftists too.

  30. Hangtown Bob Says:

    “But the real problem is an electorate that didn’t see this all as a grave warning sign that electing Obama would be a very, very bad idea—and an MSM that not only failed to make it clear to them, but that actively promoted the opposite notion.”

    But……But…….YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND……….He was BLAAACK!!!!!!!

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    Hussein was going to lower the sea levels!

    He was going to speak and a Light Will Shine Down Upon you and you will believe!

  32. T Says:

    Eric @1:32,

    “The reality is the ‘pigeon’ did win and you did lose – because the game isn’t actually chess.:

    Actually, I do not disagree with this. Chess is NOT the game as you point out. You and I have had, and continue, the discussion about confronting Leftists: You continue to encourage using their own tactics against them; I continue to harp on paying attention to the underlying false premise. These are not mutually exclusive suggestions and , IMO, work well and effectively together. I think, however, that the pigeon aphorism puts the ideas in more intelligible terms.

  33. expat Says:

    Hangtown Bob,
    When anyone brings up reparations in the future, we should all answer that they got Obama and we are paying more than enough. The blacks supported him because of his pigment and the whites because of his Ivy credentials. Those of us who looked for qualifications, experience, and character got screwed.

  34. Kustie The Klown Says:

    Here’s a sad truth:

    If Putin decided he wanted to move into Eastern Europe, and then Germany, then France and then the U.K., right now he could have them all and we would do nothing to stop him.

    Same with China, in Asia.

  35. T Says:

    “If Putin decided he wanted to move into Eastern Europe . . . .”

    The reality, which Obama still must confront, is that nature abhors a vacuum — even w/ regard to leadership. When there is no apparent leader, someone will step in to fill the gap as Putin has done.

    Obama’s foreign policy is to reduce the U.S. to one of many. What he fails to realize (and Neo and I discussed this in a much earlier thread) is that this goal ultimately diminishes his own political and personal stature (thus, Putin).

    In a parliamentary system, such as Great Britain, where the Queen mostly plays the role of a hood ornament to the govt, it’s the prime minister who becomes preeminently important (the leadership vacuum filled by another office). Obama’s goal based upon his actions of the past five years is to consolidate domestic power but to relinquish international power. History tells us that, one way or another, this will not stand long.

    Finally, Obama’s lack of foreign policy is also an answer to those who would ask why it falls to the U.S. to be the world’s policeman? The answer: If not us, then who? A Putin? A Kim Jong Un? IMO it is incumbent upon us to do so if only to act as a placeholder to avoid something like the current scenario.

  36. neo-neocon Says:

    Ymarsakar:

    Evil is not literally the same as “knave.” But in the “fool or knave?” question, “knave” means not a fool, but aware. It can encompass evil.

  37. blert Says:

    Instead of leading leading by the nose…

    I foresee Barry leading by the noose.

    How else to explain his truncation of our external defenses…

    While militarizing the county mounty?

    This has advanced to such a degree that even The Economist sees it.

    The USN is down to two active carriers.

    Most of the fleet is held in port.

    I sense that the Pentagon’s budget is being shifted around to extract the US Army from Afghanistan as I write.

    The ISAF is winding down like crazy. The Canadians are out. The bulk of NATO is gone. The NGOs are hitting the road.

    The US Army is down under 35,000… with no active missions underway — excluding the occasional commando sortie.

    Mooch is out and about extracting hiring pledges from the construction industry for all of the veterans soon to be discharged from the nation’s defense.

    “Barry, you magnificent b#$%@! We’ve read your books!”

  38. Eric Says:

    T: “You continue to encourage using their own tactics against them; I continue to harp on paying attention to the underlying false premise. These are not mutually exclusive suggestions and , IMO, work well and effectively together. I think, however, that the pigeon aphorism puts the ideas in more intelligible terms.”

    The only reason activism is thought to be the Left’s “own tactics” is that the Right counter-intuitively declines to use a method with a proven competitive history that’s free and openly available for anyone. Activism is a set of tools that can be adapted to any cause. It’s not ideological in and of itself. The Left, as competitors, can’t be faulted for the Right’s persistent self-imposed incompetence.

    Activism can be used to compete against the Left, but it’s more than that. Alinsky’s rules for radicals are just one set of tools in the workshop. As you’ve noted, activism is used to manufacture the general will of We the People, eg, the swift normative change regarding gay marriage.

    You’re right that the normative contest over the premises is crucial. It’s more important than the discussion that follows the premises. Setting the frame of the problem informs the solution.

    A common complaint by people of the Right is the GOP is constantly caught within the Dems/Left’s terms. That’s not an accident; that’s a product of the Left’s activism.

    The key is recognizing that’s not the GOP’s fault. The Dems didn’t set the normative trap, insofar the Dems are distinct from the Left, and it’s not up to the GOP to break out of the normative trap, insofar the GOP is distinct from the Right.

    The Left’s activists set the normative trap. Only the Right’s activists can break out of the normative trap by resetting norms. But the Right needs activists to do that, and until the Right chooses to compete as Marxist-method activists in earnest, the Left will continue to do what competitors are supposed to do when running the ball against an open field.

    Again, the responsibility to compete in the Marxist-method activist game – the only social-political game there is – falls to the people of the Right, not the GOP.

    The pigeon metaphor is misleading because it implies the Left’s activists should be condescended toward, even dismissed, as unserious, incompetent, tantrum-throwing, silly, stupid, spoiled, etc, overgrown children.

    The opposite is true: activists are very serious people and know exactly what they’re doing. They’re skilled, smart, aware, deliberate, and calculating. They’re dedicated and committed to achieving their ends by any means necessary. They know the only social-political game there is for what it is, and what’s at stake.

    While the Right mocks the Left’s activists for not playing the Right’s preferred children’s game by its childish rules, the Left continues to systematically win the only *grown-up* social-political game there is and seize the power they need to codify their preferred norms and stigmatize alternative value sets.

    While the people of the Right carefully keep their fingernails neatly manicured, hair neatly styled, and white-collared shirts dry and clean, while sniffing at the boorishness of the uncouth Left, the Left’s activists are doing the dirty work necessary to earn the America they desire, reconstructed on their terms.

  39. Eric Says:

    FYI, this is my response to the Dems assertion that Bush’s response to the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict should be blamed for the Ukraine crisis. Feel free to tweak to your tastes.

    I agree the Ukraine crisis is complicated, but Russia’s actions do appear similar to the Nazi Anschluss, which was also more complicated than its popular history.

    Along with the historical cue, the calls for more robust action are understandable in light of the Russia-Georgia conflict in 2008. Given the murky and mixed fault between Georgia and Russia, President Bush and our European allies responded with the correct, proportionate mix of diplomatic agreement, military show of force, military aid, and sanctions in 2008.

    However, the 2008 episode was a clear warning that warranted heightened vigilance and greater care toward Russia by President Bush’s successor. President Obama ignored the warning, though, and has signaled US weakness to Russia during his presidency, especially with the mishandling of the Syria problem.

    This time, Russia’s culpability is clear. Russia didn’t annex anything in 2008; they just annexed Crimea.

    The proportionate leadership response by Obama to Russia’s escalation from its 2008 Georgia action would be a commensurate escalation from Bush’s 2008 response. Instead, Obama’s response so far to Russia’s escalation has been weaker than Bush’s 2008 response, which sends a permissive, encouraging signal to Putin.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    A lot of people felt offended that they were labeled as unAmerican after OIF.

    The term that should have been used was treason.

    Dealing with Democrats and supporting Democrat propaganda, no matter what it is, is treason. Far beyond unAmerican activities.

    That’s what people didn’t get because nobody told them. They were tip toeing around the concept, using weak words like unAmerican, whatever that meant.

  41. T Says:

    Eric,

    You wrote “The pigeon metaphor is misleading because it implies the Left’s activists should be condescended toward, even dismissed, as unserious . . . .”

    For the record it was not my intent to imply that. My point in using the pigeon metaphor is, like your point, one can’t play chess with the pigeon because the pigeon doesn’t play that game. As you know, my argument in this discussion has long been to not argue with leftists on the basis of facts because such facts are not important to an adversary who dismisses or simply ignores them (ergo the pigeon). And when one is dealing with an adversary that knowingly contradicts itself without reticence, then facts, the meat of the argument to a conservative/rightist, are simply useless and unnecessary details to the left.

    I do like and agree with your distinction between the GOP and the people of the right. That is a distinction that needs to be made more often both here and in the national conservative dialogue. Furthermore, your idea of changing the normative contest (i.e., the national dialogue) also pertains to the Buckley theory of voting for the most electable conservative. As the normative contest moves, in time, further to the right, the more conservative politicians become the more electable politicians. It is, essentially, a long-term Gramscian counterattack which can only occur if/as the right becomes more vocal.

  42. Tonawanda Says:

    Having read the very interesting and thoughtful thread, something strikes me.

    Russia and China have amazing opportunities to expand their territory and influence. That might be irrelevant.

    I believe BO is not merely an utter incompetent. I believe he loves the humiliation and defeat of America and the West. He is a true Leftist, a nihilist, all he is capable of doing, so easy to do, and so satisfying.

    But more than everything all the countries can determine, is the intersection of learning and barbarism.

    It is very close to being here and now.

    It will be the relatively easy destruction of global sustenance.

    And no one can stop it.

  43. Eric Says:

    T: “my argument in this discussion has long been to not argue with leftists on the basis of facts because such facts are not important to an adversary who dismisses or simply ignores them (ergo the pigeon).”

    I disagree in part.

    You’re right that a rigorous factual basis is not necessary for the Left’s core constituencies. However, as you point out, the factual basis does matter to the Right, and they are your core constituency. Though people of the Right are moved emotively, too.

    So, while the extra requirement is a competitive handicap, a rigorous factual basis probably remains necessary for Right activists. (Or maybe not – at this point, the cultural power struggle may be moving enough; that calibration will be a command decision in the field.) If a rigorous factual basis is necessary, they’ll just have to work harder to compensate for the extra weight versus an unencumbered, agile enemy who will exploit an vulnerability they don’t share.

    That’s not fair, but asymmetrical competition isn’t.

    Anyway, activism isn’t rigid. It should be adapted to an ergonomic fit, not cargo-cult copied from the Left.

    Beyond suiting conservative idiosyncrasies, establishing a rigorous factual basis for the “meat of the argument” is important for governing toward the greater common good. That part just isn’t sufficient to win the activist contest, and winning the activist contest is the priority.

    Elected office alone is insufficient. If the Right falls short of winning the activist contest and establishing a dominant first, always, and non-stop social movement, then the norms and key nodes now controlled by the Left will remain set the wrong way. (Refer to what that configuration did to Bush’s presidency.) Under those conditions, even should right-minded pols win elected offices, if that’s all the Right has won, they will be constrained in the structural and cultural reforms they can reify.

    In the long game, the Left can well afford for Dems to be temporarily unseated from elected office as long as the Left retains their normative social strongholds. To redirect America’s course and save our national soul, the Left’s normative social strongholds need to be taken by Right activists.

  44. KLSmith Says:

    Whistling past the graveyard.

  45. T Says:

    Eric,

    Don’t misunderstand, I’m not suggesting that facts don’t matter; they do. As I have written in a previous thread, it’s important to have the facts out there because that is what will present the contradiction of the left to changers such as Neo, Geoffrey Britain and their ilk. There must be some reason to question and then abandon a pre-existing belief system. I’m suggesting that such facts are useless when trying to argue with a committed leftist who will disregard them anyway.

    “To redirect America’s course and save our national soul, the Left’s normative social strongholds need to be taken by Right activists.”

    IOW a Gramscian (or better revolutionary) march through the institutions which begins by those on the right ceasing to fear leftist name calling (racist, misogynist, bitter clinger, survivalist, Uncle Tom, etc.). When one acts within those limitations posed by the left one is playing on their field and with their rules of engagement.

    Yet this is no small or short term war. With leftists burrowed into govt positions, the judiciary, academe, and their allies in the MSM, the unions and the enviro-fascists I see no short-term fix. Still, the unions are slowly dying, and the internet has, in no small way broken the monopoly of the MSM. It has empowered the right with a public voice and a presence.

    I am most heartened, however, by the fact that some change seems to be in the making, especially with regard to the Second Amendment. More and more states are becoming “shall carry” states and are enacting stand-your-ground and castle laws. Even Illinois, the only remaining state prohibiting concealed carry, has been forced to end its prohibition.

    I do think the game is afoot even if not yet fully engaged.

  46. KLSmith Says:

    Parlor games.

  47. Matt_SE Says:

    Lots of commentary here on Obama himself. I understand it’s entertaining, but it is a waste of time. As I’ve said many times before, Obama’s just a symptom. If he hadn’t been elected, it would’ve been some other communist (see: de Blasio or that commie chick in Seattle).

    It’s the electorate. It’s always been the electorate. They are the problem because as neo says, they are unserious.

    This naturally turns one’s attention to whether we’ve passed some point of no return. Are people today really worse than the generations that came before? I have my doubts.
    Remember, FDR was elected to four terms. Democrats held the majority in the House for decades.
    The people of the United States were responsible for this. The same people we compare ourselves to and find to be better than the current generation.
    And yet, the situation eventually reversed itself. Which is just a way of saying that the people reversed it.

    I doubt the people were ever much better or worse than at present. Rather, the people today are victims of their own success. Things were too good for too long, and that lulled the people into complacency.

    How is that reversed? Well, how has it always been reversed? By the folly of the people’s choices coming back to haunt them. By reality reasserting itself and teaching the old lessons to the new generation.

    This seems to be happening right now, if Obama’s poll numbers are any indication. The best thing our side can do is to illuminate the discussion and not allow the other side to lie its way out of responsibility.

  48. SteveH Says:

    I forget who said the quote that sums this up….”The trouble in the world is the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt”.

  49. Ymarsakar Says:

    Matt is correct that Hussein is merely a symptom of the larger disease. The core problem has always been the Leftist alliance, people and cultures may change but the Left does not.

    Even if the cold and fevers are treated with medicine, that does not stop the HIV virus from dominating the self defense and industry zones of the body. The people are merely cells taken over, made into cannonfodder and slaves: slaves that think they are free.

    The original cause was something foreign, that made itself American and domestic.

  50. Ymarsakar Says:

    Don’t need no stinkin job in this economy.

    Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.-You know who

    He’ll never allow it.

  51. T Says:

    Matt_SE,

    You may be interested in Charles Cooke’s piece today via RealClearPolitics:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/373949/obamas-midterm-misconception-charles-c-w-cooke

  52. T Says:

    Eric,

    In case you have not seen this [emphasis mine]:

    Take the High Road with Liberals?

    When liberals are up to their usual scumbaggery ought one take the high road with them, patiently making one’s case in gentlemanly fashion and rebutting theirs, assuming there is one, all the while ignoring their insults and slanders? In The Liberal Slandering of Paul Ryan Peter Wehner takes seriously and replies earnestly to the mouthings of the race-baiter Paul Krugman and others. But slanderous scum like Krugman are beneath serious reply and it is arguable that replying in measured tones only gives them a credibility they don’t deserve.

    Once you grasp that it is a war, and that liberals will say anything no matter how absurd, then you will appreciate that mockery and derision are much more effective means of opposing them. But you must also provide solid arguments for the fence-sitters. In Six Arguments Only a Liberal Believe, John Hawkins supplies just the right admixture of mockery and derision to his substantive point-making.

    I’m all for civility, but civility is for the civil only. [Posted by Bill Vallicella on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 06:47 PM]

    Has Vallicella been reading our discussions or what?

    The link:

    http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/

  53. Don Carlos Says:

    Current Reuters headline: “Obama seeks allied, China support as Ukraine exits Crimea” for a stupid story that I see no point in reading.
    Baraq the Magnificent! Baraq the Seeker!

  54. Ymarsakar Says:

    Someone doesn’t have to read the truth to independently verify it out of their own path.

  55. Eric Says:

    T,

    Yep. Proper activism is different tools with different calibrations for different purposes, different settings, and different audiences. At times, simultaneously.

    I agree with Matt_SE that “Are people today really worse than the generations that came before? I have my doubts.”

    The more that things change, the more they stay the same, right? Well, activism is basically the art and science of manipulating the things about us collectively that stay the same. Activism is sociology weaponized.

    Where I disagree with Matt_SE is the passive implication in his conclusion of “reality reasserting itself and teaching the old lessons to the new generation” – as though a distinct savior entity named “reality” will come around to shoulder the heavy-lifting of social change.

    Nobody named “reality” is coming to save us.

    While what Matt_SE says may be correct in a descriptive sense, in a prescriptive sense, social change will only be created by Americans together making the choice to act and then doing the actual uncertain, risky, ugly, dirty, perhaps self-sacrificial, failure-and-fix heavy-lifting to manufacture the social changes.

    Matt_SE seems to imply there is a reliable cycle of societal death and rebirth that we can count on.

    No, there isn’t.

    If there was, we’d still have the Roman Empire, or we wouldn’t, because we’d still have the centuries, millenniums-spanning civilizations that came before the Greeks and Romans flashed in history.

    Societal death is, most likely, inevitable. Societal rebirth is conditioned upon whether the society has the activists necessary to create the rebirth.

    The founders were activists who achieved their ends by any means necessary. Whatever natural laws there may be enshrined in our founding documents don’t actually exist until and unless they’re reified by activists. The founders’ America will disappear like a whiff of steam, and forgotten like a dream, if absent the activists who understand what Jefferson meant.

    Maybe Vallicella is reading Neo’s blog. At the same time, what we’re saying ought to be obvious to the point of self-evident.

    Marxism, both the original ideology and the latter ideology-stripped method, is Darwinian. Really, if the Right is unable to adapt Marxist-method activism in order to compete for social dominance, then evolutionarily speaking, it doesn’t deserve to be the norm. And right now, people of the Right have difficulty even conceiving adapting Marxist-method activism.

    I can’t even know for certain at this point how strong the Left really is because they’re not being tested by significant activist competition. I only know that (albeit) in a local setting my side defeated Left activists who supposedly had a multi-generational iron grip on a supposedly, hopelessly leftist community, and the only fundamental change I made from previous advocacy efforts was a dedicated application of Marxist-method activism.

  56. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Actually, except for the thousands, maybe millions, who will die as a result of the man’s stupidity the whole thing is rather funny. Millions of silly people vote for an obviously stupid and unbalanced individual because they think he is cool, he proceeds to make an ass of himself and the media uses it as proof of his genius. Wasn’t this the theme of the movie Idiotocracy?
    Anyway the kicker is going to be when the Iranians sail nukes into Boston, NYC, LA and our ocean shore refineries.

    The surviving media will blame Bush.

  57. T Says:

    Eric,

    One illustration I had with regard to the truly ephemeral nature of Obama’s 21st century diplomacy was as follows: I was watching some stock footage of Putin signing the charter annexing the Crimean Peninsula to Russia. I thought Obama should have someone draft a charter annexing Russia to the United States and the ceremoniously sign it.

    What’s the difference? It points out that the charter is meaningless. Charter or not, what chance would the U.S. ever have to annex Russia?

    It reverts back to the aphorism that possession is 9/10s of the law. Whether Putin has the authority (or doesn’t have the authority) to annex Crimea, whether he annexes or not depends not upon some signed piece of paper, but whether anyone of standing (i.e., more activist/stronger than Putin) permits him to do so or not. The charter, in Obama’s own words are “just words.” It’s the fact that Putin is willing to do something about it within a group that stands by idly. Putin is the activist in a group of passivists.

    Another observation is that for a community organizer, Obama sure talks a good game but as a supposed activist he can’t seem to organize his way out of a paper bag.

    Empty suit, but then again, we already knew that.

  58. T Says:

    And furthermore (spotted on Instapundit):

    KURT SCHLICHTER: Ukraine Illustrates Hard Truths Liberals Won’t Face. “Now we are in the almost unimaginable position of looking back at Jimmy Carter as an example of comparatively sure, savvy leadership. The Russians invaded Afghanistan and Carter armed the rebels. The Russians invaded Crimea and Barack Obama went on Ellen to hear the hostess gush about how much America loves Obamacare.”

    —Glenn Reynolds 3/24/14 11:59

    The link to Kurt Schlichter:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2014/03/24/ukraine-illustrates-hard-truths-liberals-wont-face-n1812563

  59. Eric Says:

    T,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incident_at_Pristina_airport + the Russian MO, writ small or large, in just about every Red-Blue flashpoint since WW2.

    I assume Obama knows the history, but he also knew the history of the Iraq enforcement, yet his proposed alternative as a state senator was that Saddam would just fade away if we let him be.

    Under previous Neo posts, I’ve called Obama an avatar or company rep.

    In 2012, Romney > Obama. But Obama the avatar of the Left’s first, non-stop, and always movement > Romney.

    Obama is the actual President doing things, so he must be a center of focus. However, when people of the Right fixate on Obama as the creative source of the problem, they’re being misdirected. He’s a creation, not the creator.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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