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Archive for June, 2009

U.S. Invents Diabolical “Twitter” to Bring Down Iranian Regime

June 24, 2009 By: Scott Spiegel Category: War on Terror

President Obama said last week that he doesn’t want the U.S. to be seen as “meddling” in the recent Iranian presidential election.  In his view, vocally supporting the protesters is comparable to the CIA’s coup against Mossadeq in 1953.

That old bald eagle Zbigniew Brzezinski believes Obama has struck the “perfect tone”: Zbig thinks we should refrain from antagonizing the Iranian leadership and avoid a showdown.

Joe Klein’s thoughtful message for John McCain, who has been requesting that Obama take a tougher stance on Iran: “Be quiet.”  According to Klein, supporting the protesters is mere “self-indulgence.”

Joe Scarborough thinks it’s ridiculous that we know what’s best for women’s rights in Iran.  Peggy Noonan writes, “America so often gets Iran wrong…  So modesty and humility seem appropriate stances from which to observe and comment.”

What planet are these people from?  The would-be appeasers’ argument seems to be thus: We should not offer clear, unwavering, forceful encouragement to the Iranian protesters.  If we do, Iran’s leaders will accuse the U.S. of being behind the demonstrations—you know, the ones that no one in the West predicted, the ones that happened after the election results no one foresaw, the ones that few Western journalists are close enough to eyeball, let alone instigate.

My question for the ersatz pacifiers: So what?  Who believes the mullahs?  Nations of the free world don’t.  The protesters who spontaneously organized don’t.  The mullahs don’t—they were already making their misstatements long before our Equivocator-in-Chief changed his mind this week and raised an eyebrow over the carnage.

Memories of the 1979 Revolution, including citizens’ taking to the streets and rooftops to chant, are having a greater impact on present-day protesters’ behavior than anything any American has said.  Iran’s leaders are paying more attention to circumstances in the U.S. than are protesters—as in their specious comparison of Iran’s election to the 2004 Bush-Kerry contest.  (It was Ahmadinejad who co-opted Obama’s “Yes, We Can” slogan for his reelection campaign.)

So if the mullahs blame us no matter what we do, why is it mandatory that we shut up?  Are we afraid that if we support the protesters, the mullahs might despise us even more viciously and biliously than they do now?

The “Let’s stay out of this” argument also seems to be based on the premise that a first-world country’s expression of support for the protesters is condescending and makes the Iranians look backwards and childlike.

I’ll tell you what’s condescending: believing that Iranians aren’t smart enough to figure out that (1) 39 million votes cannot be counted in two hours, (2) Ahmadinejad did not crush Mousavi by the exact same percentage in every demographic group in all 30 provinces, (3) Mousavi-leaning urban centers did not have enough ballots sent to them on purpose, and (4) Iranian elections have been rigged to within an inch of their lives for the past 30 years.  All of that I think the Iranian citizenry is capable of figuring out on its own.  Thousands of Iranians were savvy enough to bring pens to the voting booth out of fear that the ones supplied by the government would be filled with disappearing ink.

The Iranian protest movement has been brewing underground for decades, mostly among college students and graduates, and women’s groups.  I don’t recall any accusations of our having meddled in Iranian universities’ gender studies curricula recently.

The “Mind your own business” line of reasoning is reminiscent of the old charge that we shouldn’t go to war against Iraq (in 2003) or Afghanistan (in 2001), because we’ll only stir up anti-American sentiment; or the notion that we shouldn’t help Israel, because jihadists’ real hatred of America stems from our support for that country.

In fact, we should vocally support the protesters in Iran, because that stance gives us credibility when we fight our own battles.  When fools like Ahmadinejad (and Obama) declare that we have no right to decide which countries get nukes and which don’t, we must be able to respond confidently, “Yes, actually, we do—it should be free nations that support individual rights and aren’t run by lunatic dictators, which includes the U.S., Britain, Israel, and our allies; and not Iran, North Korea, Syria, or any other place of our choosing.”  If we support movements for freedom where they occur, rather than ignoring them, then our stance gains consistency and credibility to reformists in hostile regimes who are potentially open to our ideas.  Those are the only people we should even dream of catering to.

Critics of supporting the protesters are right about one thing: one does not “impose” democracy on a nation.  Consequently, I think if protesters in Iran actually objected to American ideals more than theocratic values, we would have heard more people chanting “Death to America” than “Death to the Dictator” these past two weeks.  Protesters would presumably not have embraced Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube with the same gusto if they had felt that the country that invented these tools were hampering them with “cultural imperialism” or some other made-up crime.  (Undoubtedly there is a minority crackpot fringe arguing that YouTube’s relaxing of its restrictions on videos with graphic content is “inciting” the Basij to commit more acts of violence.)

Certainly it is helpful that this is a homegrown revolution, and yes, statements against the Iranian government carry more weight when they come from Iranian citizens who could be jailed or killed than from Americans safely speaking half a world away.

Here’s how we actually did encourage the protesters in Iran—by turning their next-door neighbor, Iraq, into a democracy.  Our transformation of Iraq has given Iranians hope that a government that protects liberty can work in an Islamic country in the Middle East.  So yes, we did influence the protesters—in a phenomenally helpful, productive, and material way, at great cost to ourselves.  Why shouldn’t we underline our message by supporting the protesters?

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Bush’s Criminal Behavior = Obama’s Human Resources

June 17, 2009 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Obama

Another one of those seemingly boring, legalistic White House scandals has popped up again—the kind that was legion during the Clinton era.  This one bears scrutiny because of the contrast between the media’s treatment of it and a similar but benign Bush controversy.

In 2006, George W. Bush asked eight U.S. attorneys to resign.  Bush had full discretion to fire the attorneys, who as members of the executive branch served at his pleasure.  He could have removed them for not wearing flag pins if he felt like it.  The mainstream media and Congressional Democrats screamed bloody murder.  Proving that Democrats are more likely to defend evil than Republicans are to defend good, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sheepishly resigned over his involvement.

In the past week, the Obama administration has discharged two Inspectors General: Gerald Walpin, IG for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which includes AmeriCorps; and Judith Gwynn, IG for the International Trade Commission; and made life miserable for a third, Neil Barofksy, IG for TARP.

Obama fired Walpin in retaliation for his critical report on Obama supporter and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson’s misuse of funds with nonprofit organization St. Hope Academy.  The agency received $850,000 from AmeriCorps to tutor students, redevelop buildings, and fund arts programs; instead, Johnson used the money to pad salaries, pay employees for personal favors, and bribe constituents to interfere in a local election.  Johnson was barred from receiving federal funds.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed that Johnson could receive federal funds if St. Hope paid back half the grant—which was never going to happen, because St. Hope had gone out of business, though Johnson still gets to receive federal funds.

The ITC fired Gwynn because of a report she issued that an agency employee had taken documents from her that she needed to do her job.

Obama, instead of giving Congress 30 days’ notice regarding Walpin as required, had a staffer contact Walpin at night on his cell phone and tell him he had one hour to resign or be fired.  When Walpin asked why, he was told it was “time to move on” and any connection with the St. Hope affair was a “coincidence.”

Walpin wrote an e-mail explaining that he could not make this decision with such short notice and that he believed his independent judgment was being threatened.  He refused to submit to Obama’s Chicago machine thug tactics.

Walpin quickly contacted Senator Charles Grassley, who wrote a letter to Obama asking why Walpin had been fired, adding: “There have been no negative findings against Mr. Walpin…  [H]e has identified millions of dollars in AmeriCorps funds either wasted outright or spent in violation of established guidelines.”

Obama’s response was to dash off a note to Congress stating that Walpin was to be fired in 30 days and immediately put on suspension, with this non-explanation: “It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General.  That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”  Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill insisted that Obama had not provided sufficient reason for the firing—perhaps she had lost “confidence” in him.

The White House then admitted it had lied about the reason for the firing.  In another letter to Congress five days later—this one containing the real reason Obama fired Walpin, honest!—Obama wrote that Walpin was, at one—one—AmeriCorps board meeting “confused, disoriented, and unable to answer questions.”  You might quibble that an executive who offers three different stories in the space of a week is unable to answer questions himself.

Walpin replied that the board kept cutting him off before he could respond.  Walpin’s only recourse would have been to speak over his inquisitors—the result of which no doubt would have been the board declaring him “hostile, belligerent, and unable to withstand criticism.”

Obama’s staff called Walpin’s firing an act of “political courage” because—get this—some people might think it had been politically motivated, but really, it wasn’t!  Obama should get Rod Blagojevich to recite Rudyard Kipling poetry in defense of his bravery.

Here’s the kicker: the law Obama broke, the Inspector General Reform Act, is one he cosponsored last year.  The point of the law was to strengthen the independence of inspectors general and protect them against political firings.  The language of the bill—Obama’s bill, just to remind you—states, “The requirement to notify the Congress in advance of the reasons for the removal should serve to ensure that Inspectors General are not removed for political reasons.”

Bush’s firing of his attorneys, while politically motivated, was within his right; Obama’s firing was illegal (according to the law Obama cosponsored).  So naturally, mainstream newspapers broke the Bush story the second they got a whiff of it and didn’t remove it from their front pages until months later.

Their response to the Walpin firing has been decidedly more tepid.

Five days after the firing, the Washington Post published a blog entry on the controversy.  On the sixth day, it covered the story in print for the first time.

The New York Times ignored the incident for six days.  When it got around to printing a story, it opened with the very balanced headline “White House Defends Inspector General’s Firing” and a picture of diligent AmeriCorps workers assembling chicken coops at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

The only “risk” for potential U.S. attorneys after the Bush “scandal” was that they might not get jobs with an administration that had a different political philosophy.

The risk for potential IGs after Obama’s actions is that they will be removed for investigating organizations with ties to the White House, and thus be unable to serve as watchdogs.  According to Walpin, the effect of this incident “is going to be immense in chilling the responsibility and actions of inspectors general to do their independent investigations.”

But to the mainstream media, this isn’t news—it’s just personnel review.

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The Democrats’ Confidence Game

June 10, 2009 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Obama

In a survey conducted in early June, Rasmussen found that Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats on six out of eleven top issues.

It’s no surprise that Republicans lead on national security: after 9/11, when Bush implemented policies to fight terrorism, Republicans’ trust ratings skyrocketed, because Americans saw the problem at hand and liked the way Republicans were dealing with it.  Years later, Obama and other Democratic presidential candidates boasted how much more effective they would be on national security—a fraud they were able to perpetrate because Bush had kept us safe since 9/11 and the threat of attack seemed remote.  Even if Americans actually came to believe that the way to defeat terrorists is to love them, Obama soon co-opted Bush’s entire war policy, thus validating Republicans’ arguments for the past eight years.

So we know national security isn’t Democrats’ strong suit.  Perhaps to distract from their unpopular war agenda, Obama and the newly engorged Democratic Congressional majorities started talking about “a new era of transparency.”  After 384 Obama appointees turned out to be tax cheats, liars, campaign underwriters, and lobbyists, Republicans now lead on government ethics, the second-most important issue to voters.

When ethics didn’t prove to be Democrats’ trump card, Obama started traveling around the country handing out stimulus goodies and talking about projects and jobs funded by the Recovery Act.  Then ABC’s Jake Tapper started uncovering all of Obama’s lies about the nonexistent effects of stimulus spending, and economists deconstructed the lunacy of his “saved or created” jobs argument.  Now a plurality of Americans wants the unspent portion of the stimulus recalled.

In a desperate gambit, Obama took over GM and strong-armed Chrysler’s secured creditors into lousy bankruptcy terms.  The Fed spent $1.2 trillion to lower mortgage rates, which increased, and pledged so much spending that long-term interest rates are spiking.

So now—surprise!—the public trusts Republicans more on the economy, the top-rated issue.  As Rasmussen reports, “Voters not affiliated with either party now trust the GOP more to handle economic issues by a two-to-one margin.”  So the economy doesn’t seem to be Democrats’ ace in the hole, either.

In a sleight of hand, Obama then renewed his push for climate change legislation and health care reform—gargantuan spending boondoggles that would somehow miraculously save our economy, too!  Then Democrats rolled out their plans, and businesses that would actually be affected by the legislation ran screaming.

In Rasmussen’s report, Democrats get their “highest” rating for health care (47%)—but this was measured before we heard actual health care proposals from Democrats, before the AMA and the Chamber of Commerce condemned Democrats’ government-sponsored plan.  Democrats’ lead on the issue has shrunk 8 points just since last month.

The other issues where Democrats do “well” are Social Security (43%), education (44%), and abortion (41%)—all issues no one is making major legislative proposals about right now.

Democrats’ confidence ratings are like a shell game: whichever issues the nation is dealing with are correctly seen by Americans as more capably handled by Republicans, but Democrats are assumed to be wonderful—just wonderful!—on all the other concerns we don’t happen to be tackling at the moment.  As soon as Democrats get their hands on something and we see what they actually want to do to us, trust in their ability plummets, and they move on to another, more pressing priority.

The further the nation is from the reality of an issue, the more likely Democrats are to be trusted; the closer it gets to that reality, the more likely Republicans are to be trusted.

“Ending the war in Iraq” sounds reasonable—until you read the fine print and realize Democrats don’t care whether we win first.  “Renewing relations with the Muslim world” sounds kindhearted—until the president makes nominal demands to Muslim leaders and they start blowing things up again.

“Introducing ethical standards” sounds noble—until Obama nominates actual human beings to fill posts and we get a whiff of their backgrounds.  “Being the first post-racial president” sounds refreshing—until Obama nominates for the Supreme Court a former Puerto Rican separatist who thinks “inherent physiological differences” force judges to decide the way they do.

“Stimulating the economy” sounds invigorating—until it is translated into a 1,588-page doorstop that no one has time to read.  “Moving quickly to prevent an economic crisis” sounds prescient—until you find out that four months later only 5% of stimulus money has been spent and the administration is lying about funded projects.

“Cutting taxes on 95% of Americans” sounds generous—until you realize the things Obama wants can’t be paid for without raising taxes on current or future generations.  “Saved or created 150,000 jobs” sounds impressive—until the administration admits this figure is based on theory and not facts.

“Saving the planet” sounds conscientious—until you find out that it involves so many devious machinations and new ways to burden Americans that the Senate had to hire a speed-reader to recite the bill.  “Health care reform” sounds bighearted—until you hear that it will cost $1 trillion and that Democrats want a 25% national sales tax to pay for it.

You can usually tell when public figures accused of crimes are guilty—their supporters invariably take several steps back and make broad, abstract statements: “She’s an excellent teacher whom no one has ever spoken ill of!”  (But did she commit statutory rape with a student or not?)  “He has always worked to promote racial justice in his borough!”  (But did he accept kickbacks for minority contracts or not?)  “He has a lovely wife starring in ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’”  (But—oh, never mind.)

Similarly, for strategic reasons Democrats like to keep things intangible, “big-picture,” “forward-looking,” “high-minded”—not concrete, detailed, present-looking, practical.

Every time one of their shells is revealed to contain nothing underneath, Democrats lose the public’s trust on that issue, but the trust always seems to pop up again elsewhere.  Instead of playing Whac-a-Mole with Democrats’ confidence ratings, Republicans should reveal their entire game as the swindle it is.

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Red Franco Sarto High Heels Trounce Hawaiian Print Rubber Slippas

June 03, 2009 By: Scott Spiegel Category: War on Terror

Around the time President Obama was delivering his speech “A New Beginning with Muslims” in Cairo, Governor Sarah Palin was making introductory remarks for main speaker Michael Reagan to an audience in Anchorage.  Though Obama’s oration was approximately 17 times longer than Palin’s and focused on Middle East foreign policy, Palin’s informal comments embodied more understanding of the nature of Islamic extremism and the forces that motivate it than Obama’s entire homily.

In one speech, Obama managed to apologize for:

•    The Cold War, “in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations”—as opposed to the aspirations they fruitfully pursued under a leader such as Saddam Hussein

•    Western “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims”—as opposed to the rights they have under a leader like former colony Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad

•    Not having enough “mutual respect”—as opposed to the fawning respect Islamists shower on women, Jews, Christians, gays, and Westerners

•    Not letting women wear hajibs—as opposed to Islamists’ insistence that gays always be allowed to wear nooses

•    Not saying “openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors”—as opposed to the constant warmongering that glides so effortlessly off Obama’s tongue

•    Believing in “any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another”—rather than viewing those who uphold liberty the same as those who stone women for being gang raped

•    Having nuclear weapons and putting other countries at great risk—like when the Soviets whupped our butts in the Cold War and turned the rest of the world Communist

•    Defining our relationships with terrorist-sponsoring regimes by our “differences”—we say tomato, they say tomahto; we say Israel has a right to exist, they say dropkick Israel into the sea

•    Having the gall to use our military—Obama quotes Thomas Jefferson: “The less we use our power the greater it will be”; note to Obama: not using it at all does not mean we are therefore infinitely powerful

In the meantime, Palin said, “Those of us so proud to be Americans acknowledge that no, we’re not a perfect nation, but never, never do we have to apologize for being proud of our country.  When [Reagan] fought socialism and any sort of tyranny that he knew would ruin us, he stood strong on his knowing that the framework for positive change was freedom.  America is the greatest nation on earth, because our foundation is freedom.”  Sometimes simpler is better—ya know?

Obama scolded us for:

•    Viewing Islamic countries as hostile to American ideals—he added that the dancing in the streets after 9/11 was actually their version of Cinqo de Mayo; “Once de Septiembre,” I think we’d call it here

•    Citing verses in the Koran that incite violence against nonbelievers—as opposed to the ones that talk about Bambi and blue jays

•    Seeing Iraq as a “patron” rather than a “partner”—because Iraq was on the brink of ousting Hussein and establishing parliamentary elections just as we sent our foot soldiers into Baghdad and got in the way!

•    Believing that some forms of government are superior to others—though admittedly, I haven’t noticed too many ethnocracies or kleptocracies flourishing lately

•    Believing we should have a say in “which nations hold nuclear weapons”—because Nicolas Sarkozy could turn out to be as crazy as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; who knows?

Meanwhile Palin snapped, “Screw political correctness.  Be loud and strong.  [Don't] shy away from the tough issues.  Reagan’s ideas were the right ideas, and all we have to do is look back at his national security record to know that.  Remember how refreshing it was with his outrageous directness that Americans loved and praised and deserved?  His vision for the Cold War?  We win, they lose.  Why, today, do we feel we have to pussyfoot around our troublesome foes, the terrorists who still seek to kill Americans and destroy our allies?  Terrorists are still dead set against us and are set on destroying Israel.  It is war over there so it will not be war over here, and it had better still be our mission that we win, they lose!  Some in the press want to put anybody who dares speak up back in their place.  Those are the folks that want to tell me, want to tell you, to siddown and shuddup.  We will not do so.”  Drill, baby, drill!

Over on camel terrain, Obama lectured us with a straight face that America and Islam share principles of “tolerance and the dignity of all human beings”; that “throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality”; and that “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance”; all of which is kinder than what Al-Jazeera regularly has to say about the religion in their nightly broadcast.

Up in moose country, Palin mused, “What we’re being fed today, it seems, is a steady diet of select, misrepresented news.  Why is it, considering how fast the world is spinning, and world-changing events that go on all over the globe, that it’s the same, big three, supposedly competing networks that have the same news content every night, and virtually the same exact viewpoint being spewed night after night after night?”  Go Aces!

Given the choice between (1) off-the-cuff remarks in an Anchorage auditorium by a hockey mom and former VP candidate who understands that rejection of liberty precludes our enemies’ being on the same moral plane as us; that courage in recognizing and labeling evil is needed to fight it; and that tossing around flowery language won’t reform an opposition who refuses to change; and (2) a scrupulously photographed, eloquently written (by someone else) bag of what could generously be called bromides, clichés, and chestnuts if they weren’t so blatantly wrongheaded—I know which I’d choose.

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