Saturday, June 20, 2009

Crisis in Iran

As is usually the case the best coverage of today's events in Iran can be found at Hot Air. Some of the videos require a Facebook account, others require a strong stomach, but just about everything that can be learned about what happened today, including President Obama's decision to go for an ice cream in the midst of it all, can be learned by clicking on the link.

Republicans are calling for Mr. Obama to speak out more forcefully against the Iranian brutality, but forceful words are meaningless unless we're prepared to back them up with forceful action. Otherwise we just look weak and impotent, and clearly Mr. Obama is not prepared to use force in any way against the Iranian government. Before we encourage Mr. Obama to come back from the ice cream parlor and denounce the Iranian thuggery we should think long and hard about what measures we're willing to take should words escalate to action.

On the other hand, as many are pointing out, President Reagan did not stand before the Berlin Wall and simply say "Mr. Gorbachev, this wall is not our problem," but then, keep in mind that no one will ever mistake Barack Obama for Ronald Reagan.

Anyway, word has it that he ordered a cup of vanilla.


Socialism and Secession

If Obama succeeds in his desire to impose Euro-socialism on the U.S., or if he takes us much further down that road, there will be an enormous backlash that will fundamentally change this nation. At least that's the prognostication of Paul Starobin in the Wall Street Journal. Starobin concludes his startling essay with this thought:

[T]he precedent for any breakup of today's America is not necessarily the one set by the musket-bearing colonists' demanded departure from the British crown in the late 18th century or by the crisis-ridden dissolution of the U.S.S.R. at the end of the 20th century. Every empire, every too-big thing, fragments or shrinks according to its own unique character and to the age of history to which it belongs.

The most hopeful prospect for the USA, should the decentralization impulse prove irresistible, is for Americans to draw on their natural inventiveness and democratic tradition by patenting a formula for getting the job done in a gradual and cooperative way. In so doing, geopolitical history, and perhaps even a path for others, might be made, for the problem of bigness vexes political leviathans everywhere.

In India, with its 1.2 billion people, there is an active discussion of whether things might work better if the nation-state was chopped up into 10 or so large city-states with broad writs of autonomy from New Delhi. Devolution may likewise be the future for the European continent-think Catalonia-and for the British Isles. Scotland, a leading source of Enlightenment ideas for America's founding fathers, now has its own flourishing independence movement. Even China, held together by an aging autocracy, may not be able to resist the drift towards the smaller.

So why not America as the global leader of a devolution? America's return to its origins-to its type-could turn out to be an act of creative political destruction, with "we the people" the better for it.

This article wasn't published in some fringe pamphlet, mind you, but in the Wall Street Journal. George Joyce at The American Thinker remarks:

A failed presidency for Barack Obama could turn into liberalism's worst nightmare. Barely six months into his term, the 44th president has succeeded in generating the most widespread and serious discussion of secession since the Civil War. Despite what Newsweek's Evan Thomas may claim, Obama is not the "God" who will bring us together but the autocratic sponsor of an overbearing, oppressive leviathan from which a growing number of Americans are seeking refuge.

That refuge, according to author Paul Starobin, will come in the form of several regional republics that reflect the diverse character of Americans no longer bound in any meaningful way by our unrecognizable Federal government.

I recommend reading Joyce's article first. It contains a succinct summary of Starobin's essay and isn't as long.

I don't know if secession or fragmentation is in our future, but I do think that the left's tendency to pit groups against each other, to play identity politics, to take what people have worked and sacrificed to earn and give it to others who have done nothing to earn it, is going to generate increasingly greater social frictions that will at some point become explosive.

Surely this isn't what candidate Obama had in mind when he promised us change, but it's where his leftist agenda is taking us.


The Anti-Reagan

After cataloguing President Obama's proclivity for obsequiousness to foreign despots and others who don't wish us well, Pat Buchanan diagnoses the difference between this president and one of his more illustrious predecessors:

Obama is the anti-Reagan. Where Reagan ever spoke of the greatness and glory of America, her history and heroes, her capacity to make the world all over again, Obama is like a dismal parson, forever reminding us - and everyone within earshot - of our own and our fathers' sins.

Obama is not only demoralizing Middle America, he is driving away the God-and-country patriots who are sick of hearing this rot from professors and journalists, and prefer not to hear it from their president. He is ceding moral high ground to regimes and nations that do not deserve it.

If Obama believes he can build himself up by tearing America down, he is mistaken. Cynical foreigners will view it with snickering contempt, patriotic Americans with disgust. What kind of leader is it who talks down his own country on foreign soil? America's performance in the Cold War was hardly flawless. But does anyone deny that we were on the right side, that the Soviet Empire and Mao's China and communist Vietnam and Castro's Cuba were on the side of tyranny - and that the neutrals were by and large irrelevant or worse in that great cause?

A nation is an extended family. While families fight and quarrel, often bitterly, you do not take the family quarrel outside the family. You don't hang the family's dirty linen on the communal clothesline. Obama, however - like some Hollywood actress seeking sympathy and public approbation with her tell-all biography detailing how she was abused by her father - trolls for popularity with America's adversaries by reciting for the benefit of the world all the sins his country has allegedly committed. When did this become the duty of the president of the United States?

Buchanan is exactly right. President Obama has behaved something like a man who goes to the local Kiwanis club or tavern and spends the evening derogating his wife and children to all within earshot. Such a man is of dubious character and is certainly unpleasant company, and probably deserves neither the family he has nor the position he enjoys as their head.


A Trio of Rarities

Those who've been with us for a while know that I enjoy birding as a pastime and that occasionally I post photos of birds that I've come across in my travels. Here are some beauties seen this spring near my home in Pennsylvania. It's unusual to find any of these in PA, so it was nice to see them all in the same month within a few miles of each other in the south central part of the state.


Black-necked stilt


These long-legged waders are both more common along the Atlantic coast and out west, but were found this spring in the Susquehanna river in Lancaster county, PA.

Another rarity seen this spring not far from where the stilt and avocet were found is the Mississippi kite, a bird of prey found more commonly in the midwest. It likes to soar high and catch insects on the wing which is a rather unusual behavior for a raptor.

Mississippi kite