Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No Win Situations

Juan Williams asked Newt Gingrich in Monday night's debate whether his comment that poor children should be given maintenance jobs in their schools to teach them a work ethic wasn't insensitive to black people. Coming from a man who was justifiably shocked when NPR fired him some months ago for acknowledging his personal unease when Muslims board the same plane he's traveling on, this seemed like a strange question:
Gingrich's response speaks for itself. If Williams thinks it's offensive to suggest that one of the dysfunctions that afflicts communities mired in generational poverty is that they've lost the skills needed to succeed in the workforce then he's delusional.

Meanwhile, Joy Ann Reid a guest on an MSNBC show the other day thought it was offensive for Mitt Romney to give a distressed woman money to pay her electric bill, ostensibly because the recipient of Romney's kindness was black.
In case you haven't the time to watch the video here's the transcript of what Ms. Reid said:
As an African-American woman, it galls me. I don’t even like to watch it. I felt like it plays into every sort of patronizing stereotype of black people. Oh, here’s this little lady, let me give her 50 bucks. I mean, this is the guy who offered a bet of $10,000 on stage, you know, to another candidate, but, you know, here, let me lay off 50 bucks on this woman. And I think it plays into that conservative meme that you don’t need actual programs that the government puts in place to help people in need, we’ll just give them charity. The church will take care of them, I’ll give them 50 bucks.
Apparently we must conclude that at least some black people think it just as patronizing for a white man to give a needy black woman a little help as it is racially insensitive to encourage poor blacks to learn work skills. If Romney had ignored the woman people like Reid would probably have accused him of being hard-hearted, especially toward blacks, but when he helps the woman he's accused him of being condescending.

Of course, it doesn't seem to occur to Ms. Reid that if it's patronizing for a white person to help poor people then all those government programs she admires, programs in which billions of dollars are transferred from white wage earners to black poor people, are surely patronizing to blacks. Perhaps she thinks it's okay if the money is taken from the white man in taxes by the government and then given to the poor, but not okay if it's freely given to the poor in an act of personal compassion.

What exactly is the logic, if any, behind the thinking of either Williams or Reid? Or is logic not even relevant to those who are desperately trying to reinforce the belief that anything whites do or say about blacks is suspicious, whether it appears that way or not?

It's ironic that in trying to show that Gingrich and Romney have ignoble motives lurking in their hearts these commentators actually give the impression that they themselves are petty, cynical, and irrational. Wouldn't it be better if we stopped probing and dissecting people's hearts and simply judge them on the basis of the truth of what they say and the virtue of what they do?

If War Comes

A former agent of the CIA who once infiltrated Iran's Revolutionary Guard talks about some of Iran's plans and capabilities should the U.S. attack. Here are several of his main points:
In a recent meeting of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, it was decided that the possibility of an attack by Israel or America in 2012 is real and that the country’s forces need to prepare several contingencies for war. It also was concluded that in case of war, the regime could be victorious, though the cost would be high, but it would emerge as the one and only champion of the Islamic cause in the world.

The radicals ruling Iran have long believed that obtaining the nuclear bomb will make them untouchable and will facilitate the expansion of the Islamic movement in the region and the world in bringing the West to its knees. They also have concluded that because of the troubles in the world’s economy and financial troubles in America, even a limited confrontation with America would benefit the Islamic regime.

Just as Hezbollah outfought Israel in the 2006 war, Iran can claim victory against the U.S. in such a conflict, which could include attacking Israel from several fronts. But the real prize for the criminal mullahs would be that it would help the regime bring down the monarchy in Bahrain, create instability in Saudi Arabia and, most important, help the Islamists in Egypt undermine military rule. All this would occur by inciting uprisings for a war of Islam against infidels and Zionists.

The guards in their preparations have mapped out several options. One would be to disrupt the oil flow from the Persian Gulf. They know that about 40 percent of the world’s oil and the majority of oil exports of eight countries in the Persian Gulf pass through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that could be blocked by the regime’s forces.

The guards’ navy of speedboats armed with cruise missiles, Iran’s submarines and, most important, the guards’ missiles of various kinds could be launched from deep within Iran and still target the narrow strait.

The guards also have mapped out an extensive list of U.S. bases in the Middle East to attack with their missiles, disrupting the movement of U.S. forces and the operation of the Air Force, which the guards believe will be the main thrust of any attack by America.

For that purpose, several U.S. bases have been identified that could be attacked either by short-range rockets with a range of up to 140 miles or with ballistic missiles with a range of more than 1,250 miles. The two air bases in Kuwait, Ali Al Salem and Ahmed Al Jaber, are less than 85 miles from Iran. In Kuwait, the U.S. camps of Buehring, Spearhead, Patriot and Arifjan, with distances of 65 to 80 miles, are all within reach of the guards’ various missiles.

The guards also are targeting four U.S. air bases in Afghanistan as the main launching pads for any attacks on Iran. The Bagram Air Base, home to most of the U.S. Air Force presence in Afghanistan, is just 450 miles from the Iranian borders and within range of all of Iran’s ballistic missiles. Other air bases in Afghanistan that would be attacked by the guards in case of war are in Kandahar, Shindand and Herat.

The super U.S. base, Al Adid in Qatar, which is home to a variety of U.S. bombers and fighters, is within 175 miles of Iran and a prime target for the guards, though because of favorable relations of the Islamic regime with the government in Qatar, the guards are not sure America can use that air base for its attack and therefore will be much more likely to use its other superbase at Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates, also within range of various Iranian missiles. Other U.S. targets of the guards are the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain and Thumrait Air Base in Oman.
There's more at the link. Perhaps the American military can neutralize these threats, but if not, an attack on Iran will not be as painless as was the initial assault on Iraq. Iran has more formidable capabilities than did Saddam Hussein and the United States must be prepared for losses. Even so, if the world allows Iran to gain a nuclear weapon it must be prepared for even greater, perhaps catastrophic, losses.