Thank you, sir, may I have another?

Ten United States Navy sailors are abducted by Iran and then released. The Obama Administration claims the Iranians were helping our boats in distress. That doesn’t explain why our sailors were forced to surrender on their knees, blindfolded and given sparse accommodation; why no actual distress call was received by the Navy; or how two boats with dual engines simultaneously lost power. Did someone put sugar in the gas?

Nonetheless, our gratitude is heartfelt:

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation ‎in swiftly resolving this matter,” in a statement Wednesday…

[A]dding later, “That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong…”

If not a testament to the right of passage in international waters.

The Secretary might have mentioned that the swiftest way to resolve this matter would have been not to seize our military personnel in the first place and not to even think about it again or we’ll keep our $150 billion, but that would have been politically incorrect undiplomatic.

There is nothing to indicate the capture was a hostile act on the part of Iran, a senior Obama administration official said.

That statement is an admission by our government that our sailors were in Iranian waters, even though the US Navy is still investigating. That’s the only explanation for the abduction not having been a hostile act.

First they came for Indiana pizzarias

Easter Sunday, and this past week’s events, prompt me to worry specifically about the future of freedom of conscience in the United States and, generally, about erosion of 1st Amendment rights. Contrast the MSM treatment of Iran’s Mullahs of Mass Destruction with that of obscure private citizens in the United States.

Our Secretary of State is engaged in granting the right to produce atomic bombs to a farrow of fanatics in Iran. Iran’s leaders claim their State religion requires destruction of Jews and Christians – in fact, any they identify as apostates. Our leaders tell us Iran’s screams of “Death to Jews!” are merely internal politics, while we observe Iranian inspired mass murders proving the opposite.

Here in the land of the free, the Media have mostly been approving of letting Iran have nuclear weapons. “Nothing to see here,” they say, “the real outrage is Indiana’s anti-gay law.” This law, similar in all essentials to laws in 19 other states, and to one at the federal level signed by President Clinton, is intended to protect the free exercise of religion. This is intolerable to a vocal cadre of Social Justice Warriors intent on enforcing thought control. That is, establishing their relativist, secular religion.

The furor eventually ensnared a Mom and Pop business (Memories Pizza) in Indiana when a TV reporter perpetrated a bit of “gotcha” journalism. Threats of violence forced the pizza parlor to shut down after the owner indicated (when specifically asked) she would decline to cater a gay wedding. “Glad to serve gays,” she said, “but we wouldn’t do a wedding.”

She’s in hiding at the moment.

The good news is a GoFundMe campaign supporting Memories Pizza is approaching a million dollars. The bad news is that it was necessary.

It is noteworthy that the “Liberal” outrage on this has been applied exclusively to Christians. I would really like to see some intrepid reporter asking Muslim photographers, bakers and pizza makers in Dearborn the same question. Muslim businesses in Dearborn, though, would be considered “hard targets” compared to Christian businesses in rural Indiana.

If gays need to worry about religious persecution, Christianity is not first on the list of dangers. I have not heard that any Christian sect is debating whether the proper way to kill gays is to throw them off tall buildings vs. collapsing a wall on them. This is a consequential theological debate for some Imams. Baking a cake doesn’t enter into it.

The intent of this broad assault on religious conscience goes far beyond whether bakers can be forced to provide cakes with 2 grooms, or photographers frog-marched into the local Satanist temple to take pictures of 2 brides in front of the Sigil of Baphomet. As usual, the real object is aggrandizing the State. How else can “Liberals” make you act as if you agree with them?

That is, calling it Fascist is fair and accurate, however much that seems like hyperbole. Classical liberals did not flinch from naming it, nor should we.

Leo Strauss (1899-1973, the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Chicago) offered this note on the difficulty classical liberal democracies face in his book Spinoza’s Critique of Religion:

Liberalism stands or falls by the distinction between state and society, or by the recognition of a private sphere, protected by the law but impervious to the law, with the understanding that, above all, religion as particular religion belongs to the private sphere. Just as certainly as the liberal state will not “discriminate” against its Jewish citizens, so it is constitutionally unable or even unwilling to prevent “discrimination” against Jews by individuals or groups. To recognize a private sphere in the sense indicated means to permit private “discrimination,” to protect it and thus in fact to foster it. The liberal state cannot provide a solution to the Jewish problem, for such a solution would require a legal prohibition against every kind of “discrimination,” i.e., the abolition of the private sphere, the denial of the difference between state and society, and the destruction of the liberal state.

Consider the destruction nearly complete.

Update 3:55PM – added ‘classical’ to describe the Strauss quote. Trying to prevent any confusion, he wasn’t talking about “Liberals,” aka “Progressives.” He meant Locke, not Alinski.
Hat tip Powerline for the Strauss quote.

Just Words

Our President has subjected us to a wearing parade of oversights, sleights, and pettiness – at once vacuous and calculating – a tendency that seems to lay close beneath his intellectual patina. I say calculating rather than accidental because it has become impossible to imagine these blunders are not deliberate. This is insensitivity masquerading as cluelessness.

Large policy errors can be understood within the overarching sweep of an ambition to “remake this country,” but when the tiny things at the edges, the easy to avoid slips and smallness, continuously suggest that the clothes have no emperor, it is disquieting.

Some examples:

  • The DVD package, for the wrong region, he gave to Prime Minister Brown after returning a bust of Winston Churchill which had been in the Oval Office on loan from the UK.
  • The picture of the soles of the President’s shoes while he’s speaking to the Israeli Prime Minister.
  • Flipping the bird to Hillary. It’s the childish “I’m clever” grin and the crowd reaction that makes the case the gesture was no accident.
  • Calling the Poles and the Czechs in the middle of the night to tell them he was scrapping anti-missile deployment the next morning.

Sometimes he even acknowledges mistakes. President Obama actually apologized for jokes about Nancy Reagan “speaking with the dead” and comparing his terrible bowling skills with the Special Olympics. He “clarified” remarks about his grandmother being a “typical white person,” and tried to recast a comment about his opponents bitterly “clinging to their guns and religion.”

Most of these cannot be written off as accidental cluelessness. The most recent one surely resulted from a plan. You might argue the planning itself was uninformed by reality or responsibility, but it was premeditated: Our President’s first remarks on the shootings at Fort Hood.

All of TV breaks to cover his words, and he speaks for 2 minutes before mentioning the murders of American soldiers on a US Army post in what, at that time, had to be considered a possible terrorist conspiracy (and it was a terrorist attack, even if not an al-Qaeda conspiracy). Before even a nod of reassurance to Americans, who were only watching because of that attack, and before acknowledging the sacrifice of those American soldiers, President Obama thanks the conference organizers and Department of Interior staff. He gives a “shout out” to some Tribal Nations Conference delegate as a winner of a Congressional Medal of Honor (false, the President confused a military award with the Medal of Freedom, a civilian award). (Applause) Then he thanks the attendees and assures them, “[I]t’s not the end of a process, but the beginning of a process” (Applause) “…every single member of my team understands this is a top priority for us.”

At this point the President mentions himself in a clumsy segue from the cozy repartee; “…[B]eyond that, I had planned to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead, …but as some of you might have heard, there’s been a tragic shooting at the Fort Hood Army base [sic] …my immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and the fallen” Well, yeah, “immediate”ly after the implied apology for failing to deliver his “broader” wisdom on the “top priority” conference items. And all of you “might have heard” about it 2 minutes earlier if our Commander in Chief had had the sense to make that tragedy his immediate priority.

This is one more demonstration of tone-deafness on the part of the man himself, and it is an indictment of his advisers, by whose character and skill he invited us to judge him. None of them apparently thought the sole focus should be on murdered American soldiers.

Skipping the folksy, campaign style preamble is what a CinC would have done. A CinC would not have been seen to regard the death of American soldiers as a contretemps.

When our President did get to the shooting the words were right, but delivered in the trademark boring, affectless tones and cadence so in contrast to the soaring rhetoric on things he cares about.

Apparently, being a Community Organizer teaches one the square root of zero about leadership. The leadership qualities required at ACORN seem to be quite different from those required to lead America’s Armed Forces. Or the free world.

It’s what he’s tone-deaf about that’s worrisome.

Neda Agha Soltan

WARNING, very graphic and disturbing.

Her name was Neda Agha Soltan.

There are credible reports (including a video) that Neda was watching a demonstration from some distance. She was a target of opportunity for a Basij thug, old enemies of America.

It becomes more difficult to remain merely “very concerned,” because as President Obama said, “the world is watching.” And it is not just Iran being watched.

“Martyr” is a word casually tossed around by Iran’s Supreme Leader. May he live to regret having created a true martyr. This woman deserves to be remembered. And avenged.

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i is afraid. There is a rumor that a memorial service planned for today was canceled by Iranian authorities.

If the Iranian Tyranny is overthrown this young woman’s death will have played a major role.

Update 10:17AM Some reports have her last name as Soltani.

Helping Iran

Dr. Michael Ledeen at Foundation for the Defense of Democracies: How Should We Help Iran? Read the whole thing. Here are abbreviated points:

1. The single most important thing is to get accurate information to the Iranian people about what is going on inside Iran.

2. We should be able to get some working satellite phones into the country, so that people can call out with up-to-date information, which we could then turn around and broadcast back to the Iranians.

3. Internet continues to work, despite regime filtering. A lot of Iranians are beating the censors by using a website that was set up to beat the Chinese filters…
…Help those people.

4. Build a strike fund for Iranian workers. And get them food for their kids. Jimmy Hoffa, you listening?

5. Call, courage and clarity from our leaders. Above all, from Obama and Hillary. Constant denunciation of the oppression and slaughter of innocent people in Iran, constant appeals to the “universal values” for which we all stand.

Mr. President, are you listening? Please?

The fierce complacency of amoral pragmatism

Recommended reading on Our President’s reaction to the protests in Iran.

Mark Steyn: Iran neutrality no option for Obama

For the Obama administration, this presents a particular challenge – because the president’s preferred rhetorical tic is to stake out the two sides and present himself as a dispassionate, disinterested soul of moderation: “There are those who would argue…” on the one hand, whereas “there are those who insist…” on the other, whereas he is beyond such petty dogmatic positions.

Charles Krauthammer: Obama Clueless on Iran

All hangs in the balance. The Khamenei regime is deciding whether to do a Tiananmen. And what side is the Obama administration taking? None. Except for the desire that this “vigorous debate” (press secretary Robert Gibbs’ disgraceful euphemism) over election “irregularities” not stand in the way of U.S.-Iranian engagement on nuclear weapons.

Obama’s coolth depends on appearing to float above controversy, and that legend is more important to him than any other consideration whatsoever.

Grass Mud Horses in Iran

The Grass Mud Horse is a Chinese dissident construct representing those who resist authoritarian censorship, particularly censorship of the Internet. The horses are visiting Iran. You can help them.

Twitter is a major communication resource for Iranian protesters. Twitter has delayed a major software patch to their service so as not to interrupt this communication. Because Twitter is an aid to the protests and in getting information out of Iran, the Iranian intelligence services are attempting to use it to entrap dissidents. You can do a little thing that might help. From Wired:

Help cover the [Iranian] bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become ‘Iranians’ it becomes much harder to find them.

Also, change your location if you filled it in. Pass this on – via email, not Twitter – to other twits you know.

An amusing bit here about the cyber battle in Iran. The Iranian Revolutionary Photoshop Guards still can’t get it right.

Obambi’s open hand slapped

Hungary 1956. Prague 1968. Tiananmen Square 1989. The only thing missing in Tehran are the Communist tanks.

Our President broke 3 days of silence on the Iranian election fraud today. Maybe it was pictures of people being murdered by the Quds Force and their ilk that bestirred him.

Barack Obama is “deeply troubled” by violence in Iran. He urged the Iranian theocracy to “respect free speech and the democratic process.” He promised to continue pursuing “tough dialogue” with Iran.

Where’s Jimmy Carter when you need him?

Some good coverage here and here.

Signs of the long, slow apocalypse

1- Why is the DOJ changing the rules for Federal Firearm Licenses?

…The Department of Justice is amending the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) to delegate to the Director of ATF the authority to serve as the deciding official regarding the denial, suspension, or revocation of federal firearms licenses, or the imposition of a civil fine. The Director will have the flexibility to delegate to another ATF official the authority to decide a revocation or denial matter, or may exercise that authority himself. Such flexibility will allow ATF to more efficiently decide denial, suspension, and revocation hearings and also whether to impose a civil fine, because the Director can redelegate to Headquarters officials, field officials, or some combination thereof, authority to take action as the final agency decision maker. This will give the agency the ability to ensure consistency in decision making and to address any case backlogs that may occur.

Emphasis mine. The answer is it will make it easier to handle a flood of FFL revocations: ATF shutting down FFL on increase

2- Why is the White House taking direct control of the census? To make it easier to gerrymander Democrat districts as it’s done in Chicago.

3- Why is Fannie Mae to Loosen Rules for Home-Loan Refinancing? Because it worked so well the last time.

4- Why is such a big deal being made over stopping “torture” and “rendition?” Because it was a campaign promise. How is it being done? By redefining words in the style of Bill Clinton. It depends what the meaning of “rendition” is.

5- Why is 84% of the work force being excluded from stimulus spending? Because they don’t belong to a union.

6- How much of the “stimulus” bill is merely spending lacking any special urgency? 78% and rising.

7- Why are we doing this when we know FDR’s stimulus policies prolonged the Great Depression and that when Japan tried it over and over for 20 years, accumulating debt equal to 180% of their GDP, it FAILED? Because it gets the Democrat social policy enacted without debate.

8- Why are all charges against the guy responsible for bombing a US warshiop being dropped? Because that’s the way Obama wants it.

9- Why is Iran demanding an apology for US “crimes” against Iran? Because Obama already apologized twice for US actions. Once, in his inaugural address and again in his first TV interview on Al-Arabiya.

Update: 3:45PM

10- Obama’s NSC Will Get New Power. Maybe this is even a good idea, but the howls from the left if the WaPo had written; “increasing its authority to set strategy across a wide spectrum of international and domestic issues” about the Bush administration’s NSC, would have been deafening.

11- Why is Obama [putting] brake[s] on Afghan surge? Because it’s a campaign promise that had no plan, but unlike “rendition,” it’s hard to redefine “boots on the ground.”

And another possible answer for 2. So he can let ACORN conduct the census.

Update: 4:20PM

I have said I want Obama to fail on the rejection of his statist ideas. Instead, in a fortnight, he may be failing of his own hubris as reinforced by partisan fools like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Victor Davis Hanson points out grave danger, RTWT

…Again, anyone who cares about the U.S., at home and overseas, must be worried, very worried, about the disastrous last two weeks. Even the fawning media — that is responsible in some way for the crisis, given that they chose to be Pravda-like in encouraging the messianic style that got a haughty Obama in his present mess — will soon start bailing in efforts to restore their last fides. If a Dick Morris figure does not come to the rescue soon, Obama’s soaring rhetoric of hope and change will become the stuff of Leno/Letterman and general laughter. Bush was unfairly demonized, but no one abroad thought he was predictably soft and would be so-so about protecting U.S. interests, or that his words and his deeds would be so often in direct antithesis.

And no one thought, even after the Bush Medicaid entitlement, that Bush would bankrupt our great-grandchildren in order to fund, as one example, ACORN.

Update: 7:45 PM

#11 *Now* He’s Asking Questions???

Back in the spring and summer of 2007. Barack Obama was all for charging into Afghanistan on a white horse because Iraq was NOT (we repeat, NOT) the central front in the war on terror.

Contrary to the divisive and mean-spirited rhetoric of his know-nothing opponent, Democrats like Mr. Obama were not soft on national security. Au contraire, mes cheres! “They couldn’t wait to take the fight to al Qaeda! It was just a question of choosing their battles – fighting smarter, not harder:

“We cannot win a war against the terrorists if we’re on the wrong battlefield.” Pointing to al Qaeda’s resurgence along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Obama called for troops to be redeployed from Iraq. He promised that when he becomes president, “Nobody will work harder to go after those terrorists who will do the American people harm. But that requires a commander in chief who understands our troops need to be on the right battlefield, not the wrong battlefield.”

During the campaign, Obama was full of contradictory rhetoric. The troop Surge, he opined in an entry later purged from his website, was a failed strategy:

Of course if you think more troops didn’t do a thing to improve the situation in Iraq, what could make more sense than to suggest the same failed strategy in Afghanistan? This is called “thinking outside of the box”.

After months of refusing to admit the Surge did make Iraq more secure, what better way to get badly needed troops for your newest “failed strategy” than to do an about face and claim the Surge (which you just spent months claiming had nothing to do with improved security) has paved the way for accelerated troop withdrawals?