When Barney Frank announced the other day that he was shuffling off stage after three decades in the Congressional limelight, I was brought back to 1980, when some very thoughtful friends from Harvard told me to watch him. Paul H. Weaver had been an aide to Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, which was lustrous in those days, and rightly so.
Paul was one of the brightest young neo-cons of his generation. I always took him seriously. He thought that Congressman Frank was principled, stupendously intelligent and of good cheer — a wit. It seemed Frank was going to be another Daniel Patrick Moynihan, or at least an Allard Lowenstein, the former congressman and principled liberal activist who had recently been murdered.
Last weekend I was given a hint as to how an erroneous idea is born, and how it takes on a life of its own.
I was at Yale University as a guest of the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale. It's run by a group of extremely winning young Yale students who are all admirably conservative. Bill would approve. They all carried themselves like young ladies and young gentlemen. They were confident in their ideas and amused.
It's called the Taranto Principle, and it's now being employed by the Kultursmogists to blanket the country in a preposterosity: namely that the Tea Partyers and the Occupy Wall Street crowd have much in common. So go ahead, loyal Democrats, and take up the Occupiers' anger. Giving presidential voice to the Occupiers' complaints will be a sure winner for President Barack Obama in 2012.
Somehow, I think not. According to the Taranto Principle, first identified by distinguished Wall Street Journal writer James Taranto, the mainstream media concocts false truths that actually encourage liberal Democrats to extravagance; thus, Al Gore hyperventilates over Global Warming, Jean-Francois Kerry presents himself as a Vietnam War hero, and Barack Obama sits awash in red ink and promises more. Operating in accord with the principle, the liberal Democrats abandon themselves to a riot of fantasies far removed from the American consensus, and the result is catastrophe for them and much amusement for the rest of us.
I do not know what the learned political scientists of the Republic say about it, but it seems to me that the laws of the land are now so poorly written that almost no one knows what they mean. That is a government bureaucrat's delight!
The healthcare bill, disparagingly and often referred to as ObamaCare, is typical. No member of Congress could have read it before voting on it, and, even now, I doubt any congressperson has read it through. I know someone who did read it all, but he is an insomniac and does not count. Then there is Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York. She read it through, but only because she thought it an atrocity and wanted to protect Americans from it.
It is clear from the way President Barack Obama has been talking about the federal budget recently, and about taxation since he came to office, that all the money that Americans earn belongs to the federal government. The key words in this conversation are "tax expenditures." Obama has lost a lot in tax expenditures, and he wants more of those tax expenditures back. He can spend that money, he believes, more wisely than the citizenry — that is to say, you and me.
He has wiggled and wobbled on the nation's finances over the years. First, he spent money that he did not have. Then he threatened to raise taxes on the rich to pay for it. Then again he spent money that he did not have. Now, he is getting very serious about the budget, which means that the budget deficit is so large you do not even want to think about it. So he is back to taxing the rich again, which eventually means you and me.
When Vice President Joe Biden rolls into a room to talk politics, frankly I am ready to laugh. He is, for me, the gaffable Joe Biden. Remember when he told the perky Katie Couric that during the great stock market crash of 1929 President Franklin Roosevelt immediately "got on television" to reassure the American people. Biden apparently reassured Miss Couric; yet others in the audience who knew their history and recognized his blunder got a huge laugh at Joe's expense. The president in 1929 was, of course, Herbert Hoover, and there was no television.
Or what about the gaffable vice president declaring, "The number one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be as Barack says, a three-letter word, jobs, j-o-b-s, jobs"? Good old Joe!
Alas, we lost a most desirable candidate for the White House this week, one that is not charismatic, did not write (or have someone else write) his memoir, has displayed no jump shot in public and did not leave important documents on his desk while gallivanting around the country in campaign mode and heading for vacation on Martha's Vineyard. In the first instance, I am talking about Congressman Paul Ryan. In the second, I am talking about President you-know-who. Since the day he was inaugurated, he has been campaigning for his second term, all the while expressing ambivalence about wanting a second term. That is nonsense. He is living rent-free and has that big airplane to fly about the country in.
There is squabbling in the White House. President Barack Obama's approval rating has dipped to unprecedented lows in the polls, and he has not a clue as to what to do about it. Within the president's team there are the pragmatists led by David Plouffe (pronounced plu' fey) and William M. Daley who favor small gestures. I mean really small gestures. They would opt for free trade agreements, possibly with Gabon, perhaps the Maldives. They also support improved patent protections for investors, assuming they can find investors, and something about Michele Obama's garden. At least I thought it was about her garden. At any rate, it was small. Maybe they were advocating growing cherry tomatoes.
We are engaged in a long war — actually two long wars. The first and most commonly accepted of our wars is the long war against Islamofascists. It is not a war against vast armies. Comparatively speaking, it is just a war against a handful of thugs, but they want to strike at our heart, wherever we are ill-prepared, and if they can they will cause incalculable destruction. This we discovered on September 11, 2001. We are on the hem of wiping al-Qaeda out, but there are other thugs waiting. We must be vigilant against them. It will be a long war.
The second long war is at home on budgetary matters. That both the left and the right are in a fury about an early battle in that war, the debt-ceiling battle, suggests just how long that war will be. We have little consensus on this war. Yet a war it is, and a very long war I fear it will be. It is a war to balance the budget, putting the economy on a sustainable course, ensuring growth and jobs. It is a war to get the country back to a federal budget that accounts for 20 percent of GDP rather than the 25 percent of GDP that President Obama has snatched from us while we were not looking.
Think of Anders Behring Breivik, the man who bombed a government building in Norway before proceeding to coldbloodedly massacre scores of defenseless young people on a secluded island several miles away, as an Adolf Hitler of one. The first Adolf Hitler was a Hitler to millions. He captured an entire nation and terrified the world for years.
One imagines that the two, if ever they could have a quiet talk together, would have much to agree on. Both were meticulous planners, though I dare say Breivik was Hitler's superior. He would not delay an invasion of Russia. Both harbored grudges against threats to their culture from the foreign-born and what Breivik called the "cultural Marxists." I can well imagine the Führer admiring Breivik's taste in uniforms, his Aryan features and his longing for his viking past. Both were mama's boys.
It seems Rep. Michele Bachmann is under increased scrutiny for her religious views, even as she climbs ever higher in the presidential polls. With tea party support, she is now No. 2 in the Republican polls even though she has been in the race for only a short time. The numero uno, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is himself the victim of gentler bigotry for his religious views. He is a Mormon. No, I did not say moron. I said Mormon.
What is Bachmann's transgression? She was, until recently, a member of a church that opposes homosexuality and gay marriage. It also takes issue with the Roman Catholic papacy. It is the Salem Lutheran Church of Stillwater, Minn. And by the way, it is no longer Bachmann's church. She now attends the evangelical church Eagle Brook, in another part of Stillwater, where she now lives. A close friend, JoAnne Hood, tells The New York Times that the Bachmanns "are absolutely not against the gays. They are just not for marriage" — presumably not for gay marriage. As for their position on the Catholic papacy, Hood is mum.
Do we need any other evidence that the Kultursmog exists and that it is international — at least in the English-speaking world — than the fact that the biggest news story in the United Kingdom today is also the biggest news story here. I have in mind the story that News of the World reporters in London listened in on private conversations and possibly bribed Scotland Yard. The Kultursmog is that set of ideas and tastes that are utterly polluted by left-wing values and carried by the liberal news media to pollute people's minds.
Every day, the money-losing New York Times and its subsidiaries throughout mainstream media hammer away at the story of a scandal in faraway England, and of course, they have located Rupert Murdoch at the very heart of the story. Over the weekend, he flew to London. He meets with top aides. The News of the World is killed off. Now a deal for BSkyB is being pulled. What comes next? Well, what comes next, reports Reuters, is that the American Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into Murdoch's company, News Corp., on this side of the Atlantic for criminal behavior. Or maybe they are not. No one would go on the record and say they are investigating. Oh, yes, and by the way, we have a constitution here with a First Amendment. The Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom, did not want to see the press harassed by innuendo.
In the weeks ahead, I shall be in Europe to speak on American politics. What will I say to old Europe? Well, I shall give them my broad view of American politics and end with the present election cycle, in which I believe Barack Obama will be retired to private life, though he cannot really conceive of private life. He will continue his public life as he has for all his adult life. That is how Democrats live. He will be a community organizer to the world, as Bill Clinton has become, in the words of MSNBC, "president of the world."
WASHINGTON — So there are two. Two pulchritudinous ones, that is. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are very beautiful, and the feminists tell us, "So what?" Well, they never say "So what?" when an attractive male, usually a Democrat, comes onstage. They call him charismatic. Bachmann and Palin are sufficiently charismatic for me, and both have raised families, Bachmann five children of her own and 23 foster children before entering public life. That is the proper sequence of events — raise a family, enter public life.
They call it BCS, Bill Clinton syndrome, and it has broken out anew in New York and here in Washington, where it was first discovered. As elaborated upon in scholarly detail in the now famous "Starr Report: The Official Report of the Independent Counsel's Investigation of the President," BCS strikes powerful figures, usually male, who experience lewd compulsions of an overpowering nature, generally in the presence of technology — often the telephone, occasionally a smartphone or even a computer — and usually when they are alone or behind closed doors with a woman of inferior rank. The first victim of the syndrome was, of course, President Bill Clinton, but it has struck a growing number of powerful individuals, most recently Rep. Chris Lee, International Monetary Fund chieftain Dominique Strauss-Kahn and now Rep. Anthony Weiner (pronounced VY'-nehr — at least by him).
How did so flawed a man as Newt Gingrich get to the top of his party in the 1990s? For that matter, how did so flawed a man as Bill Clinton get to the top of our government in the 1990s? And — here I am giving you a hint to the answer for the above questions — how did so flawed a man as Dominique Strauss-Kahn get to the top of the International Monetary Fund and of French politics? All are about the same age. All have similar, shall we say, recreations. The answer is that they came from what is called the 1960s generation. Now they are gone. There will be temporary reprises — more court appearances for DSK, an occasional public appearance for Bill, some more catastrophic missteps on the campaign trail for Newt — but for all intents and purposes, they are history.
It seems to me that our government had vastly more intelligence on what was going on in Obama bin Laden's ghastly hideout before sending SEAL Team 6 in last week than they are telling us. President Barack Obama told CBS that the odds in favor of bin Laden being in the compound were "at best" 55 percent. My guess is that they were closer to 100 percent.
We know that from satellites overhead, our intelligence officers thought they had bin Laden spotted in the complex. A man that they concluded was bin Laden was seen pacing regularly inside the compound grounds. Called "The Pacer," he was tall, and they figured he might very well be the 6 foot 4 terror leader. So the order was sent to our SEAL team to go in.
I in my innocence was, in the aftermath of SEAL Team Six's disruption of Osama bin Laden's bucolic life in posh Abbottabad, reading editorial comment by the great newspapers of this republic. As always, the Wall Street Journal was superb, pausing to congratulate President Barack Obama for "ordering a special forces mission rather than settling for another attack with drones or stand-off weapons from afar."
The Washington Post was, likewise, informative and appreciative of the president's prudent decision to let SEAL Team Six do its thing, skirting the laws of a sovereign nation and acting unilaterally to put a bullet hole in Osama's head.
While inspecting the body politic, one encounters one clear sign that liberalism is dead. It is the condition of our political discourse. Polite commentators note that the dialogue is "rancorous." Some say toxic. Actually, it is worse than that. It is nonexistent.
From the right, from the sophisticated right, there is an attempt to engage the liberals. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan just did it by presenting a budget that cried out for intelligent response. President Barack Obama's response was to invite Ryan to sit in the front row for his "fiscal policy" speech at George Washington University. There Obama heaped scorn on an astonished Ryan and his work. He did not even mention Ryan's name. This is what Obama calls an "adult" debate?
Why is it that Donald Trump is a creditable candidate with a significant segment of Republican voters? In some polls, he runs ahead of all Republicans save Mitt Romney, and all I have heard him say is that he wants to see our president's birth certificate. Imagine if he would ask to see budget cuts from the president or revenue enhancements.
Frankly, I would like to see President Barack Obama's birth certificate, too. But on the other hand, I have in hand a copy of a notice of our president's birth printed Aug. 13, 1961, from The Honolulu Advertiser. That has to count for something, no? According to the notice, he was born Aug. 4, 1961, but there are a lot of other things about him I would like to know. For instance, I would like to see those aforementioned budget cuts and the revenue enhancements.
Last week was the culmination of a process begun years ago. A bill was introduced to Congress that could end American dependence on foreign oil. What is called the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act — more simply put, the NAT GAS Act — was introduced to Congress on April 6. It has bipartisan support. It ought to pass and pass promptly. It could be called the Boone Pickens bill.
The process began with the Pickens Plan for global energy security in 2008. Authored by legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens, who put some $80 million of his own money into promoting it, it called for the development of all sources of energy, even wind and solar. Boone recognized that as long as America is dependent on foreign oil, America has a national security problem. We import 70 percent of our oil, an amount that can only go up unless something is done. The oil comes from unfriendly countries in the worst scenarios, unstable countries in slightly better scenarios. Canada is the best scenario but cannot provide all the oil we need.
I see that President Barack Obama has filed as a candidate for re-election in 2012. I previously suggested that he get to work early on his presidential library and forgo the race, but he is insistent. Well, I tried.
Though some in the media are covering for him, his announcement is the earliest of any modern president's. It continues a trend that began in 1972. That was when then-Sen. George McGovern captured the Democratic presidential nomination, though he lost in the autumn of that year in a squeaker. Richard Nixon stole the election, 47,169,911 to 29,170,383. Tricky Dick got 60.7 percent of the vote, the largest in history except for Lyndon Johnson's 61.1 percent. Watergate changed history.
Monday night, I attended a public policy discussion sponsored, not surprisingly, by The American Spectator; I say not surprisingly because I have been attending these meetings for roughly 30 years and always come away with fresh ideas. They are meant to ventilate ideas, and now that a presidential election is drawing near, we are inviting presidential candidates as our special guests to float their ideas by our assembled luminaries. At any rate, Monday night, while President Barack Obama was addressing the nation on the causes and consequences of his involvement in Libya, I listened to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty cross that very same terrain. The dinner was off the record, but I do not believe that I betray any confidences when I say Pawlenty's discourse was very different from that of our president.
He is proud and confident of America's role in the world, unlike our president. The former governor began speaking of American national security. At times, we must project force on behalf of American national interests, and Pawlenty was proud of our military's professionalism, competence and readiness. He continued, speaking about "American exceptionalism." He sees America as blessed, a shining city on a hill. We have obligations in the world. Pawlenty says we need to get rid of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, but Obama will not get rid of him.
Well, it is official. The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has asked the Norwegian Nobel Committee to take back President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize owing to Obama's missile strikes in Libya. The head of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, also has weighed in, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is really in a snit. This is the best news Col. Moammar Gadhafi has had in weeks.
President Obama, who ordered airstrikes against Libya and then took his wife and the girls on a sightseeing and official junket to South America, probably took little note of the Bolivian's and Russians' actions, but it does show how difficult it is to get "world opinion" behind the use of force, even against a fla fla dictator such as Gadhafi. There is more unease in the "world community." Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, at first was for enforcing a "no-fly zone" over Libya. Now he is not so sure. The next thing you know, he will be on Gadhafi's side. World opinion can be volatile.
There are finally some rustlings on the hustings; you will pardon my attempt at poetry. Republican presidential hopefuls are moving about in Iowa and New Hampshire; does that clarify my admittedly amateur attempt at rhyme? I simply could not resist.
It was rather quiet out on the hustings a few weeks ago, and frankly, for me, it was a little gloomy. I have been saying for months that President Barack Obama is dead in the water. He will lose in 2012. He has no experience as a chief executive, and every day in every way, he is proving it. He is the most left-wing president in our history, and he is sedulously engaged in proving that left-wing politics are ill-suited for America or for any country that wants to prosper. Our president was a perfect inspirational speaker when there was something to be inspired about — for instance, the prospect of his presidency — but Americans have experienced it. He will lose in 2012 if the Republicans put up a plausible candidate. But even an implausible candidate has a chance, which, I suppose, is why Newt Gingrich is running.
It is a bloodbath over at National Public Radio. First the pinhead Ron Schiller resigns after initially being defended by NPR and then, by the end of the day Tuesday, being given the Shuffalo to Buffalo. Then Vivian Schiller, no relation to Ron Schiller, resigns the next day as chief executive officer and president of NPR. Ron Schiller was caught on tape saying NPR did not need its subsidy from the federal government to survive, but I guess the board of directors of NPR is taking no chances. Off with both of the Schillers' heads.
Actually, NPR and its affiliates are among the most overstaffed and extravagant operations in media. In the 1990s, when I did "The Editors" — a television show from Montreal that appeared on public television stations (because of my presence, one had to be an insomniac to catch the show in Washington on WETA, a lamentable situation insisted on by Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the president of WETA and a Public Broadcasting Service board member) — the Montreal production company did the show for a pittance of what public television paid. I believe a Washington production would have outspent us by a 10-1 ratio. NPR is no different. Ron Schiller, who was NPR's fundraising chief, said it would survive the cuts, and doubtless it could. I say cut its subsidy. It has been in more scandals of late than Charlie Sheen. Off with all their heads.
A frotteur is someone — usually male — who takes aberrant pleasure in rubbing his fully clothed groin area against someone else — usually female — generally in a public place, say, a subway, perhaps a funeral parlor. The frotteur is a pretty weird duck. The word is obviously French in derivation, and it unsurprisingly has an arty origin. Frottage is "the technique or process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "to form the basis of a work of art."
Frankly, I did not think of Chris Matthews as an episodic apologist until I watched his MSNBC documentary this week, "President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon." The episodic apologists are a familiar fixture of the Clinton administration, much as the court historians are a fixture of the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Whereas the court historians always could be relied upon to spin history FDR's heroic way, the episodic apologists always end up slobbering all over the Clintons — albeit with a twist.
The court historians were always pretty straightforward. They adored FDR from the beginning to the end. The episodic apologists' lives are endlessly more complicated and melodramatic, as the Clintons are more complicated and melodramatic. There seems to be a script prepared for them. The apologists begin with high hopes and admiration for Bill and Bruno. Then Bill and Bruno fail them. The Clintons lie before grand juries or filch White House property while exiting for Chappaqua, or they are caught in Troopergate, in Travelgate, in Filegate or renting the Lincoln Bedroom. Of a sudden, the apologists suffer blighted hopes. First they become indignant. Then they feel used and abused. Some cry in public. Finally, hope springs anew.
Now the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has joined the chorus. The other day, he said, "My answer is clearly yes, it is a failure." The "it" was multiculturalism, and he was on French national television. In pronouncing multiculturalism defunct, the French president joins German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia's former prime minister John Howard, Spain's former premier Jose Maria Aznar and, most recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron in heaving a failed policy into history's dustbin. The question is, What will replace it? Or actually another question, How did multiculturalism ever become a policy of these European countries, anyway?
The other night while watching the Super Bowl, I became increasingly aware that the Angry Left might have a point about the Giant Corporations. Not that the game was not exciting. It was. Those quarterbacks can really heave the ball. Suddenly it is in their hands, and suddenly it is in a receiver's outreached arms, having passed through a forest of opposing players' arms. Both teams were composed of players who apparently were made of rubber. They hurled themselves at one another and occasionally at the hard turf and simply bounced. Occasionally they did not. Sometimes they were injured, occasionally rather badly. But for the most part, they seemed amazingly resilient. It was a hell of a battle, and doubtless the better team won, but I cheered for both teams. They were great.
Had I only to watch the game, I would have been happy, though even happier had I lowered the volume of the inane commentary. Possibly the networks have an agreement to hire garrulous, loud, excessively male commenters who have very little to say but say it repetitiously. Unfortunately, it hardly adds to the excitement of the game. Rather, it adds to the confusion of the programming, and there was a great deal of confusion Sunday night. For whole stretches, I sat there stupefied by the confusion, most of it provided by the ads and by the garrulous commentators. Not much can be done about the ads, which seem to get more stupid and incoherent every year, but something can be done about these excessively virile loudmouths.