Saturday, February 28, 2015

French Socialist Valls: clear-spoken, tough on Islamic terrorists, favors individual achievement over egalitarianism.

French Premier Valls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s Sohrab Ahmari, quoting France’s Manuel Valls, the nation’s remarkable, fresh-faced prime minister:
France has been struck very much at its heart by terrorism—jihadist terrorism and radical Islamism, because let us call things like they are.
Given this exceptional situation we wanted some exceptional answers. We want to act very fiercely and with a lot of determination and coherence, [but without] challenging the rule of law.
There are four to six million French citizens who are Muslims. How can Islam prove that it is compatible with our values? With equality of women? With the separation of church and state? Therefore you have to put a name on things. . . . If you only say Islam has nothing to do with that, people won’t believe you.
Valls notes that peaceful Muslims are radical Islam’s “first victims,” alongside Copts and Yazidis. “We need to name this Islamofascism, because Islamic State is a form of totalitarianism, in their territory, in their ideology.”

Valls, 52, was born in Barcelona to Spanish and Swiss parents, became a French citizen at 20, and identifies as “fully French, passionately French.” His wife is the renowned violinist Anne Gravoin, a French Jew.

In France in the 1970s, Valls says a new type of Jew-hatred emerged among French elites, one that expressed itself primarily as hostility to Zionism and Israel, with “all the components of anti-Semitism, the old ones,” including a “plot”-based view of imagined Jewish conspiracies.
Step by step, [the elites’ antisemitism] followed a migration and impacted young people in the poor neighborhoods. [By] 2013 or 2014, you have people in the streets of Paris chanting “Death to the Jews!” And in all the attacks in Paris or the attacks in Copenhagen, targeting the Jews is really at the heart of their motivation.
France’s social crisis is owed in part to the country’s economic failure. Growth is nonexistent. Unemployment remains above 10%. A quarter of French youth are unemployed. The most talented young French men and women are more likely to be working in Silicon Valley or London than in Paris. Foreign direct investment in France fell 94% over the past decade, thanks to the country’s high taxes, labyrinthine regulations and rigid labor-market rules.

With the old left incapable of addressing the economic problems that are largely its creation, Valls has emerged as a leader of the Socialists’ reform wing, emphasizing law and order, personal responsibility and free markets.  Valls again:
For 30 years France got used to massive unemployment, to too-high public spending and to not undertaking courageous reforms. France must prove to itself and to the world that it is capable of reforming itself. I very much believe in the role of the individual, the responsibility of each individual and individual accomplishment. I don’t believe in egalitarianism. You have to support, including at school, each individual according to his potential. We have unemployment benefits that somehow sponsor unemployment[, when we instead should] sponsor going back to work.
Valls’s government is cutting public spending by $56 billion and social taxes and fees on businesses by $45 billion over the next three years. It has introduced a law to privatize public assets, opened 37 regulated professions to greater competition and allowed shops to stay open 12 Sundays a year, up from 5. Valls took risks “because the French people were expecting it.” The government “never properly explained” why reforms were needed, but “the French people are much more in favor of reforms than the elite.”

The European Union, he says, is “an unbelievable project.” From a historical perspective, he explains, the cooperation of so many disparate countries after centuries marked by antagonism together is “outstanding.” Against current threats, “the only question for Europe is: how not to step out of history. And the terrorist attacks are a reminder of why Europe can’t be selfish and inward looking, [it must] face up to its responsibilities on the world stage.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do Democrats Really Think They Pick the GOP Nominee?

We’ve seen this movie before. Liberal Joe Klein has just identified Jeb Bush as his candidate to win the Republican nomination, writing in TIME:
Bush. . . is a political conservative with a moderate disposition. And after giving his speeches a close read, I find Bush’s disposition far more important than his position on any given issue. In fact, it’s a breath of fresh air. . . There is none of John McCain’s chesty bellicosity. . . He is worried about middle-class economic stagnation, about the inability of the working poor to rise–-his PAC is called Right to Rise.
We now know who Democrats want to beat for president in 2016, and it’s no surprise his last name is Bush. In 2000, the liberal media was lionizing John McCain--the man Klein slams by name now--as holding the “the same basic view of the government” as Democrat Bill Clinton.  Klein was part of the liberal press pack, calling McCain “one of the most honorable people I know,” while attacking George W. Bush for his “inability to defend his own positions.”

Of course after McCain won the Republican nomination in 2008, he was no longer the Democrats’ darling.  Klein, for example, at the time wrote, “McCain's lies have ranged from the annoying to the sleazy.”

In the 2000 election, Democrats wanted McCain over George Bush.  But Bush instead won the primary and the general, in the process beating their man, Al Gore. Now Democrats want Jeb Bush over the rest of the GOP field, so that in 2016 a different Clinton can beat a different Bush.

It would be crazy for Republicans to allow liberals such as Klein, a proven lair himself, to pick the GOP nominee.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It’s market up (yawn), wages down (ugh). Workers want change.

As the stock market approaches a seemingly unattainable peak--the NASDAQ’s all-time high of 5,048 reached during the insane bubble of early 2000--conservative Ben Domenech, in Commentary, seeks to get to the bottom of the simultaneous wage stagnation problem America currently faces:
nonwage compensation as a share of total compensation effectively doubled from 1969 to 2011. In fact, . . . it actually tracks closely with productivity measures over the past 65 years. . . James Sherk, of the Heritage Foundation [found that adding in] noncash benefits [means that], “While hourly cash wages measured by the payroll survey have fallen 7% since 1973, total compensation. . . has risen 30%.”
Domenech’s explanation for why non-wage benefits don’t really help employees:
Legislators and regulators have imposed mandates requiring . . . non-cash benefits [that] have significantly raised the cost of . . . full-time employee[s, while] the growth of regulations at all levels (local, state, federal) forces businesses to spend dollars that might [have otherwise gone] into employee pockets. . . For decades, Americans have experienced the rising [hidden] cost of goods primarily in highly regulated, government-incentivized areas of the economy—health care in particular.
Domenech cites polls showing little voter interest in the government redistribution schemes Democrats offer. Workers would rather have higher wages:
after six-plus years of being promised the Life of Julia—in which government will be there for you, cradle to grave, even if your pay stub disappoints—voters appear to care more about their own bottom line than the promised security of free stuff[. People,] given the chance to choose, [want] a job where they can earn more money for themselves and their families to spend or save or waste as they wish.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

“Narcissistic” is spelled “S-E-L-F-I-E-S-T-I-C-K”

We recently talked about Obama’s narcissism. Now comes the BuzzFeed video.

How can conservatives turn away? The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens can’t, leaping on the video to write:
the BuzzFeed clip is . . . showing just how totally relatable and adorably authentic and marvelously self-aware is this president of ours. “Can I live?” the president says when caught shooting imaginary hoops in his study by a young visitor. “You do you,” the visitor gamely replies before walking off.
Yes, you do you, Barry: It’s what your political career has always been about, from your myth-memoir Dreams From My Father to your well-nurtured cult of personality to the coterie of flatterers with whom you have surrounded yourself in office to the supine and occasionally complicit news media that have seen you through six years of crisis, failure and scandal.
“You do you” is the ultimate self-referential slogan for the ultimate self-referential presidency.

Monday, February 16, 2015

In China’s Year of the Sheep, Slaughtered Lambs a Laughing Matter

China's Xi (r) with Purgemaster Wang Qishan.  Necktie jokes are off-limits.
Rachel Lu, in Foreign Policy, writes about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on party and government graft and corruption. Personally, if I lived in a dictatorship where the top man had nearly unlimited power to decide who was or was not corrupt, I’d be utterly terrified. We are talking Soviet-style purge here, a reign of terror.

Xi’s campaign, Lu tells us, has claimed
ex-security czar and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, previously thought to be untouchable because of [his] position and connections.   .   . Even organizations shrouded in secrecy, like the People’s Liberation Army and the intelligence service, seem to be fair game after army leader Xu Caihou and spymaster Ma Jian became disgraced by graft charges. Nowadays hardly a week goes by without news of another high-ranking cadre being questioned by the party’s disciplinary commission by Xi’s close ally, Wang Qishan.
But Lu catches a modern-day twist to the purge: Xi’s party is so eager to cast the anti-corruption campaign as a monumental achievement that the annual Chinese New Year Gala, “the country’s most watched, most talked-about, and most analyzed television program,” will include jokes about the anti-corruption campaign’s victims.

Lu adds:
The irony — that political satire had to be commissioned by the party – has not been lost on the social media chattering class. One advertising copywriter wrote on microblogging platform Weibo, “Pushing the envelope? That’s arranged by the party.” One Internet user commented, “They are following orders from party officials when they make fun of party officials.”
Laugh, or else.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Pennsylvania and Iran: Am I right?

BO: "I'm going to Tehran!"  HRC: "You do that. I'm going to Philly!"
Am I right on Pennsylvania?

Emily Schultheis in the liberal National Journal has written an article, “Hillary Clinton's Play for Pennsylvania” that’s subtitled in part, “Obama lost ground in the traditionally-Democratic state in 2012. But . . . Democrats are confident they will extend their [Keystone state] winning streak.” As with Democrats moving their 2016 presidential nomination convention to Philadelphia, the article itself seems evidence the party has confirmed our recent identification of Pennsylvania’s 2016 “swing state” status.  

Am I right on Obama and Iran?

Seth Mandel, in the conservative Commentary, quotes Barack Obama telling BuzzFeed:
I continue to hold out the prospect of Russia taking a diplomatic offering from what they’ve done in Ukraine. I think, to their credit, they’ve been able to compartmentalize and continue to work with us on issues like Iran’s nuclear program.
Mendel doesn’t directly comment on this odd passage, which tells us once again that Obama is fixated on Iran, and views Russia’s role in the Ukraine from the strange angle of how negotiations there affect “Iran’s nuclear program.”

Mendel does, however, point out that in the BuzzFeed interview, Obama misidentifies Russia’s Vladimir Putin as former head of the Soviet-era KGB (Putin ran the post-Soviet FSB). Mendel adds:
Obama tends to make mistakes that stem from a worldview often at odds with reality. Russia is a good example. Does it matter that Obama doesn’t know the basics of Vladimir Putin’s biography. . . ? Yes, it does, because Obama’s habit of misreading Putin has been at the center of his administration’s failed Russia policy. And it matters with regard not only to Russia but to his broader foreign policy because Obama has a habit of not listening to anyone not named Jarrett. [emphasis added]
Thank you, Seth Mendel. Validation of our speculation that Valerie Jarrett, born in Iran, is a driving force behind Obama’s Iran obsession.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rubio v. Jeb Bush: Early Strength for Marco

We have been following the battle between Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush to be the Florida-based Hispanic GOP candidate. Rubio has just scored a coup by hiring Jim Merrill, who directed Mitt Romney’s New Hampshire efforts in 2008 and 2012, to run Rubio’s campaign in the Northeast U.S. including New Hampshire, still home to the first-in-the-nation primary.

And in Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation caucus less than a year from now, Rubio is 13 points ahead of Bush in a poll of likely GOP caucus goers when asked if they consider either candidate “about right” (see chart below)--as opposed to “too moderate” (Bush 37%) or “too conservative.”  That’s good news for Rubio, but not for Bush.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Obama on Iran: our "no clothes" emperor.

Quotation without comment.

From Walter Russell Mead, in the American Interest:
The Obama administration will not be able to address rising skepticism about its Iran policy unless and until it can show why it makes sense to think that a stronger Iran will choose alignment with the United States when its own political interests would benefit from a more anti-American posture. . .If the administration has a serious case for how its Iran policy will leave the United States with a stronger and more useful regional alliance network than it now has, that case has not been made. . .
The bits and pieces of the strategy that we know about don’t make sense, and the President and his team don’t seem to understand how weak and vapid the case they make to the public really is. . . the President’s very checkered record as a global strategist makes [any] kind of confidence hard to sustain.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Iran--be very worried (continued).

Anti-Americans in Iran
narcissism is a child like state in with they believe the objective world exists as an extension of the self. . . they seem to think the world revolves around them.

--John Dunbar, Nashua NH Psychology Major, from TED

Barack Obama is an emotional child, a narcissistic leader who “knows” his dominant place in the world and is remarkably impervious to any evidence to the contrary. Shaped by growing up in non-black Hawaii attending part-white Punahou School, he found his identity among “people of color” who realized the world beyond our shores was already theirs, and that soon enough minorities would, along with consciousness-raised females, come to control the Democratic Party and eventually America. The nation just awaited the right leader of color, one familiar with the ways of the white man, one who could exploit his superior knowledge and insight to conquer “the Man’s” world on behalf of not only America’s, but also the world’s, victims.

We argued early that Obama stood on the shoulders of America in order to reach the (non-white) world. Later, we said that “supporting Israel represents the last beachhead of the ‘dead white man’ foreign policy.” And we recognized that Iran-born Valerie Jarrett, the White House’s closest confidante to Michelle and Barack Obama, is a central figure pulling Obama toward Tehran.

These conclusions add important context to former State Department official Michael Doran’s remarkable essay titled “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” which appears in the latest issue of Mosaic, a journal subtitled, “Advancing Jewish Thought.” Please read the essay in its entirety, if you are concerned about Iran's intentions.

Doran sticks closely to fact-based analysis, and his findings are all the more powerful for his having done so. But unfortunately, Doran will not burrow beneath Obama’s twisted Iran strategy. Doran doesn’t tell us that Obama came to the White House determined to govern as the nation’s first minority president, determined to execute a policy that linked the U.S. with the world’s non-white majority, determined to ignore Europe in favor of non-white Asia and Africa, the non-Christian Middle East, and progressive Latin America. Obama wants to align his chunk of America with the world’s true people of color, not with traditional Western allies such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

The most powerful anti-Western force in today’s world is Muslim extremism, not China’s proto-capitalism. And Iran, militantly anti-American and anti-Israel, arming Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, Shiite Iraq, conquering Yemen, present in Lebanon and Libya, soon to have the bomb and ICBMs, THAT’s the nation most likely to shift the balance of power against the West.

Iran fascinates Obama.  He sees a rapprochement between Islamic Iran and a multi-cultural U.S. changing the world, and in the process plowing under Israel's influence, damaging today's last outpost of white colonialism in the non-Western world.

Obama does not expect Iran to wipe out Israel any more than he expects Israel to wipe out Iran. As with moving the U.S. internally toward more equal parity between whites and people of color, his foreign policy seeks to rebalance the white and non-white worlds in favor of the latter.

We should be frightened. Iran isn’t interested in “balance of power.” Narcissist Obama vastly over-rates his personal influence over Iran, and over world events in general.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Swinging Pennsylvania. Who knew?

Should Republicans carry all 2012 Romney states plus Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, they will win the 2016 presidential election (see map here; hit to enlarge). Only 3 states (Virginia plus Florida and Ohio) Barack Obama won were closer to going red than Pennsylvania, a state Mitt lost by 5.4%.

Pennsylvania has 18 congressional districts, 13 Republican, 5 Democratic. Both houses of the state legislature are Republican. And why not? The bulk of the state is Appalachia (see map above), dominated by the lower income white population that is leaving the Democratic Party, their cousins having already delivered West Virginia to the GOP.

Remember Obama’s famous statement:
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and . . .the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. . . And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them. . .
I hadn’t noticed the Keystone state’s movement toward “swing” status, but others had. Quinnipiac’s “swing state” poll, released today, covers only Pennsylvania along with Florida and Ohio, pointing out that “Since 1960, no candidate has won the presidency without winning at least two of those three states.” In the poll’s early readings, Hillary Clinton garners 44% in Florida against Florida’s own Jeb Bush at 43%; 47% in Ohio against Bush’s 36%, and 50% in Pennsylvania against New Jersey’s Chris Christie at 39%.

In May 2013, Amy Walter of the Cook Report wrote that the only blue states trending red since 1998 are Iowa, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, with Pennsylvania the biggest prize. Walter noted
In 2012, Obama carried the Philadelphia area by 63%, while Romney won the rest of the state by 55%. If Romney had gotten just 45% of the vote in Philadelphia--and still carried the rest of the state by 55%--he would have won the state.
Walter also found that
The Romney campaign spent $8.9M on broadcast TV in Nevada during the general election to get 46% of the vote. In Pennsylvania, the Romney campaign spent a paltry $2.4M and got 47%. . . Now, imagine that the [Nevada] money [were] invested in Pennsylvania [instead].
In 2016, Republicans will do more than imagine.