The reluctant hegemon

An important piece by Charles Krauthammer:
Decline Is a Choice

Insightful comment on the above:
Paul Rahe: Obama’s agenda

Western Civilization, by-and-large this means Judeo-Christian tradition and mores, is beating itself into moral equivalency with all other socio-political-philosophic systems – real or imagined. We’ve already lost Europe. Thus, when American exceptionalism is finally not simply abandoned, but abhorred by its leaders, it is the philosophical abandonment of exceptionalism for Homo Sapiens. It is We the Living and Animal Farm.

Two related items noted without further comment or emphasis:

1- From the Announcement by the Norwegian Nobel Committee; The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009:

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

2- Barack Obama adviser says Sharia Law is misunderstood

Miss [Dahlia] Mogahed, [President Barack Obama’s adviser on Muslim affairs] appointed to the President’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships, said the Western view of Sharia was “oversimplified” and the majority of women around the world associate it with “gender justice”.

The White House adviser made the remarks on a London-based TV discussion programme hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party.

The group believes in the non-violent destruction of Western democracy and the creation of an Islamic state under Sharia Law across the world.

Miss Mogahed appeared alongside Hizb ut Tahrir’s national women’s officer, Nazreen Nawaz.

You are responsible

My first exposure to Demure Thoughts came today, thanks to Day by Day.

It’s worth the visit just for this,

…the practice of trying to separate a man from his actions is what has gotten this country into the s**t hole it is [in] today.

…A man is defined by his actions or lack there of. [sic] There is no separating the act from the person who commits it. That is like saying the act is a living breathing thinking entity that has the ability to stand on its own. It is f**king stupid. It is also the foundation of everything liberal in this f**king country.

…but RTWT, it starts with a comment or two on Bill Clinton: TDFU: Sunday Stupidity

The idea of “hate the sin, not the sinner” had value when most people could still feel shame. We don’t generally have that ability anymore. Without that, the act is easily separated from the actor. Intrinsic values become external, disconnected, free of moral weight. Whether you should feel shame comes down to what the meaning of “is” is.

If you think what you do has nothing to do with who you are, you are probably a result of government school self-esteem training. Teaching the act as the focus is teaching getting away with it as the justification.

We’re sorry.

War crimes

“Comedian” John Stewart recently deemed Harry Truman a war criminal because of the atomic bombs Truman ordered dropped on Japan. In context of the discussion Mr. Stewart had little choice, since he contends George Bush and Dick Cheney, et. al. should be prosecuted for war crimes for waterboarding.

I highly recommend this response to Mr. Stewart’s ignorant moral preening.

Please watch it, it is well worth 17 minutes of your time. You will benefit from the recounting of the actual history. You will gain insight into the moral qualifications of those who reflexively blame America first, and who revise history to support their contempt.

Comparisons – Obama unplugged

Barack Obama considers the liberation of Iraq equivalent to the rape of Georgia.

“We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies,” Obama told a crowd of supporters in Virginia. “They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.”

In that last bit, he can only be referring to his signature issue, the Surrender Battle of Iraq.

This is more Obama “without a teleprompter” tripe. Not only is the Russian invasion of Georgia not comparable to the UN sanctioned deposing of a Stalinist mass-murderer (an operation, moreover, where the US was accompanied by dozens of unified allies*) who had plotted to assassinate a US President; it is not comparable to Kosovo, whatever Vladimir Putin may say. Christopher Hitchens explodes that bit of Russian posturing here.

This is relevant because, if Obama’s right about setting an example for the Russians, he would pretty much have to buy into Putin’s Kosovo payback argument since that is the example Putin choose as a partial rationalization for invading Georgia.

But, Barack’s not content to be furbishing his foreign policy credentials by excusing Russian aggression because of the actions of a multi-national coalition under completely different conditions, nor is he finished when he implies that Mikheil Saakashvili’s Georgia is equivalent to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He’s apparently ignorant of the fact that our ally Georgia had to pull troops out of Iraq in response to the Russian invasion.

No, ignorance and insult are not enough, Obama also has to demonstrate that he’s clueless about China. He is convinced Chinese infrastructure is “vastly superior” to our own.

“Everybody’s watching what’s going on in Beijing right now with the Olympics , Think about the amount of money that China has spent on infrastructure. Their ports, their train systems, their airports are vastly the superior to us now, which means if you are a corporation deciding where to do business, you’re starting to think, ‘Beijing looks like a pretty good option.'”

Earth to Obama, China’s infrastructure is not only not superior, but it’s built on the blood of millions in a country where 120 million children suffer from malnutrition, where Christians are enslaved in factory conditions that would have appalled Charles Dickens, where air-pollution that’s far worse than anything in Coketown is a feature of daily life and where organs are harvested from executed prisoners without their permission.

The death penalty, by the way, is something China carries out more often than the rest of the world combined. One crime that attracts many death sentences is tax evasion. Maybe Obama is confusing the moral equivalency of China and Russia. Or maybe moral infrastructure isn’t important to him as long as the airports are painted and the trains run on time when there’s no snow.

Here’s a visual analogy for China’s superior infrastructure as set up for the Olympics. Can you say facade?

H/T The QandO Blog, where you will find a couple of other pictures worth viewing.

It does put me in mind of the substance behind Obama’s facade.

Do you remember in February that more than half-a-million people were stranded for a week in the Guangzhou Train Station? That thousands of Chinese houses collapsed from snow? Obama apparently doesn’t.

H/T Supernaut where you’ll find more pics of this event.

That picture of stranded Chinese being herded by police nicely combines the totalitarian aspects of China with a peek at actual infrastructure robustness.

At a hospital in the Buyi and Miao autonomous prefecture of Qiannan in the remote south of Guizhou, snow and sleet have cut electricity and tap water since Jan. 15. A hospital had to save power by canceling surgery to light up the emergency ward.

…The price of charcoal had climbed from eight yuan to 14 yuan a kilo…

In the central Hunan Province, one of the worst hit areas, seven people have died and snow is affecting the lives of 25.22 million people in 14 cities and 112 counties across the province.

…Heavy snow has also blanketed Diqing, a Tibetan autonomous prefecture in the southwestern Yunnan Province, starting from Jan.19. As of Sunday morning, Shangri-La had reported 35 centimeters of snow.

That’s about 13 inches. It was a 50-year occurrence natural disaster that included areas unaccustomed to heavy snow. A reasonable question then, vastly inferior infrastructure-wise: How would we cope?

Well, we have an answer: the Blizzard of ’93, the “Storm of the Century” affecting 26 states and most of eastern Canada.

Cities that usually receive little snowfall, such as Chattanooga, Tennessee, received anywhere from 2 to 4 feet (1.2 m) of snow, causing some municipalities to adopt at least an emergency winter-weather plan for the future where one may not have existed before. Birmingham, Alabama, which normally receives 1-inch (25 mm) in a year, received 17 inches (430 mm) shattering the records for most snow in a single storm, a single month, and even a single season.

8 inches fell on Atlanta. 18 to 24 inches fell at the Georgia-Alabama border.

Yet, tens of thousands of North American houses didn’t fall down, hospitals weren’t rationing backup power for a month and nobody thought to mention the rising price of charcoal. That was 15 years ago, and I suspect US infrastructure has improved since. China’s seems still somewhat brittle behind the whitewash. More at NRO.

From an infrastructure standpoint let’s also consider Chinese censorship of information, particularly the Internet, and the fact they’re building a coal-fired generator every week: An infrastructure initiative anyone who believes in man-made global warming should condemn in China at least as vigorously as they do here.

The coal, by the way, is supplied by 5 million miners who are 117 times more likely to die in a mining accident than are American miners. The working conditions are

…not much better than those at the dawn of the industrial age in the 19th century.

The miners’ days are filled with degradations. They share soiled sheets and hard beds in dormitory rooms. They work without union representation for bosses they never meet. Yet theirs is also a culture of dependency. Though they rarely make more than $150 a month, they do better than peasants who work the surface of the land. If mining kills or injures a family member, the healthy need extra income to pay medical bills and support dependents.

The Daily Mail notes “Four out of every five mining-related deaths in the world are in China; ten Chinese miners die every day.”

They’re paid about $150 a month. Health care for those seriously injured is practically non-existent. Both of which circumstances Obama’s Maoist and Weather Underground terrorist friend, Bill Ayers (According to Obama a “respectable fixture of the mainstream in Chicago.”), should be required to defend on principle.

Barack Obama might want to consider where business is less likely to be disrupted by weather or state interference, and where it depends a bit less on human and environmental exploitation, before he starts urging any outsourcing to China.

*This list varies over time, but at least all of the following have supported the Iraq mission in theater:
Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji,
Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

"Let’s Roll!" An existential challenge.

Would it be reasonable to expect students at Virginia Tech to have rushed the psychotic murderer Cho Seung-Hui?

This question has generated numerous reactions typified by, “You’re dishonoring the memory of those who were killed by deigning to ask it.” Some have said that, “not having military training is not their fault.” This is true. Whether it is actually relevant is another question. I don’t think it’s the training they didn’t have. I think it’s the training they did have.

It is clear that far fewer people would have died in Virginia Tech classrooms had the reaction of some students been similar to Todd Beamer‘s and others on Flight 93. Not dying quietly has become the predisposition of every American airline passenger. The question about VT students’ reaction to similar shock is therefore worth asking. Is asking it an insult to the dead at Virginia Tech? I don’t think so.

There are reports that some students actually took effective defensive measures; they locked their classroom doors. The majority, however, seem to have been unprepared for the idea that evil might intersect their campus experience. To point this out is not to dishonor them, it is not their fault.

Unlike Virginia Tech professor Liviu Librescu, who died defending his students, the students themselves had mostly never seriously contemplated the problem of evil. They had been encouraged to suspend their own judgment (being non-judgmental is an absolute virtue), and to consider all cultural mores to be equivalent (multi-culturalism is an ultimate goal). They had probably never considered that this mantra excuses ritual incest and cannibalism, or that it equates video taping beheadings committed by religious “zealots” with civil objections to partial birth abortion. America goes to some trouble to ensure its public school graduates cannot think intelligently about ethics.

A survivor of both the holocaust and communism, Professor Librescu was less troubled by these faux-uncertainties. He knew that evil is omnipresent, and that failure to confront it has poor outcomes: Israeli professor killed in US attack. Librescu lived with a different world view than did most of the students who were murdered. This is a sad comment on how the rest of us have failed those students.

It wasn’t the students’ fault they did not respond appropriately to an existential threat. Most were applying what they’ve been taught. These teachings are exemplified by the pride Virginia Tech’s administrators took having a “gun free” campus, and by the indoctrinal moral relativism to which any public high school graduate is necessarily exposed. The ability to concretize “rushing this gunman and pummeling him comatose,” was frustrated by a subconscious question something like this: “The United States of America is responsible for a long series of atrocities – unprecedented in world history. The sane of the world hate us for it. Therefore, how can we be sure Cho Seung-Hui is not right to shoot us?”

This is the message of MoveOn, the Daily Kos, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and the majority of teachers to whom these students’ education had been entrusted. It was, not coincidentally, the posthumous message of Cho Seung-Hui.

Most VT students weren’t ready to defend their own lives because they could not believe their lives were at risk. This evil could not be happening, and if it was, many of them couldn’t avoid the subconscious possibility that they deserved it.

Please read Mark Steyn on this same topic: Let’s be realistic about reality. An excerpt;

I’ve had some mail in recent days from people who claimed I’d insulted the dead of Virginia Tech. Obviously, I regret I didn’t show the exquisite taste and sensitivity of Sen. Obama and compare getting shot in the head to an Imus one-liner. Does he mean it? I doubt whether even he knows. When something savage and unexpected happens, it’s easiest to retreat to our tropes and bugbears or, in the senator’s case, a speech on the previous week’s “big news.” Perhaps I’m guilty of the same. But then Yale University, one of the most prestigious institutes of learning on the planet, announces that it’s no longer safe to expose twentysomething men and women to ”Henry V” unless you cry God for Harry, England and St. George while brandishing a bright pink and purple plastic sword from the local kindergarten. Except, of course, that the local kindergarten long since banned plastic swords under its own “zero tolerance” policy.

I think we have a problem in our culture not with “realistic weapons” but with being realistic about reality. After all, we already “fear guns,” at least in the hands of NRA members. Otherwise, why would we ban them from so many areas of life? Virginia Tech, remember, was a “gun-free zone,” formally and proudly designated as such by the college administration. Yet the killer kept his guns and ammo on the campus. It was a “gun-free zone” except for those belonging to the guy who wanted to kill everybody. Had the Second Amendment not been in effect repealed by VT, someone might have been able to do as two students did five years ago at the Appalachian Law School: When a would-be mass murderer showed up, they rushed for their vehicles, grabbed their guns and pinned him down until the cops arrived.