Sunday, August 31, 2014

How to Speak Leftist


How to Speak Leftist

In which our host offers a helpful guide to right-wingers on the true meaning of popular leftist phrases. Behold, the Leftese Dictionary!
RT:  The Leftist to English Dictionary, Part One
I’m Andrew Klavan and this is the Revolting Truth.
Some of you may have noticed that our country is sharply divided along political lines.  To those of you who haven’t noticed:  our country is sharply divided along political lines.  Approximately thirty eight percent of Americans identify themselves as conservative, twenty three percent identify themselves as liberal, while the remaining thirty nine percent can’t identify themselves and are waiting for a policeman to take them home.
Those who identify as conservative generally believe in limited government, low taxes and close adherence to the constitution.  Those who identify as liberal generally believe that if they had a hammer, they’d hammer out justice all over the land, but since they don’t, they’ll just have another latte and feel good about themselves.
Can we bring these two sides closer together without using rope and a nail gun or would using rope and a nail gun actually be kind of a good time?
We here at the Revolting Truth believe that better communication is the road to better understanding which is the path to better relations which is the freeway to better homes and gardens which is the last stop before Tomorrowland.
And that’s why today we’d like to present the first installment of the Leftese Dictionary - a glossary of left wing terms and their meanings which will help right wingers understand what the people who don’t know what they’re talking about are talking about.
Let’s begin with a term Right Wingers hear a lot when chatting with Left Wingers:  “You are racist!”  The phrase “You are a racist!” or “That’s racist,” is leftese for “I have no logical arguments.”  As an example of how the term is used in conversation, let’s say you point out that under President Obama’s left wing policies, the percentage of African American families living in poverty has increased and black participation in the labor force has decreased while under right wing President Reagan black unemployment plummeted, and the income gap between blacks and whites narrowed. That’s when a left winger might respond by employing the phrase, “You are racist.”
Leftists have many different ways of saying “I have no logical argument,” for the same reason Eskimos have many different words for snow.  Another way a leftist may concede that his point of view is nonsense is by saying “I am offended.”  If, for instance, you point out that the poverty rate for women has increased under President Obama and that women’s earnings relative to men have declined, making this a dark economic time for women, a leftist might reply, “You said the word dark.  You are racist.  I am offended.”
One other way a leftist might have of saying, “I have no logical argument,” is “the science is settled.”  If you point out that there is exactly zero real evidence that human actions threaten to cause catastrophic climate change, a leftist will reply, “The science is settled.”  When you ask him what precise scientific facts he is talking about, he is likely to say, “I am offended.  You are racist.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of the Leftese Dictionary.  Remember “I am here to help you.”  Which is leftese for “Grab your wallet and run for your life.”
I’m Andrew Klavan with the Revolting Truth.

“Mr. President, About That Fellow On The Balcony In Mosul…”

“Mr. President, About That Fellow On The Balcony In Mosul…” 

by Hugh Hewitt

So overnight the crisis on Mount Sinjar is, well, over.  The president’s vacation may now continue uninterrupted by videos on CNN of kids being tossed into helicopters that land briefly, are overwhelmed by  a mob, and fly away with a cohort of sobbing women and children.  The world’s media has been dismissed by U.S. officials speaking on background to the New York Times. No more fall of Saigon analogies please!
The Times’ references to “the secret team of Marines and Special Operations forces [that] were already on Mount Sinjar, in the middle of a 24-hour trip to talk to the displaced people and pesh merge fighters” and to planning for a “corridor of escape…which would have been guarded primarily by pesh merga fighters and backed by some American troops” hinted at the reality that American ground troops are already operating against IS from Kurdistan and within western Iraq just as American planes have been striking at the new caliph’s front line fighters.  The key to understanding what is going on here is that the president and his team cannot admit that the ground troops are there, even as they are loathe to provide the details of airstrikes or release the footage of IS fighters getting blown up.
The president’s personal rhetorical reality –the jayvee team putting on Kobe’s jersey“stupid stuff,”the “core of al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan is on a path to defeat”– must be preserved by his inner circle and by himself from the reality of ISIS orISIL or IS or “the new caliphate” or whatever.  We are simply to pay no attention to the man in the mosque in Mosul –who is most definitely not behind any curtain– summoning everyone to the jihad. Most of the Yezidis are off the mountain we are told, so the story must be over and the president can go back to golfing indifferent to complaints that presidents should not golf during genocides.
Not everyone is buying into the world according to Martha’s Vineyard. “The speed with which the Obama administration announced that the siege had been broken may cause some consternation overseas,” the Times adds, “given the increasingly dire descriptions from aid agencies about the crisis on Mount Sinjar.”
Here’s the reality.  Islamist radicalism is on the rise across the globe, and it is particularly centered now in Mosul, not Afghanistan.  That radicalism has engulfed the opposition to Syria’s butcher and forced its way across western Iraq to to the border of Kurdistan even as Assad with Iranian and Hezbollah help kills hundreds of its loyalists in Syria.  Whatever the condition of the Islamists in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan –and by all accounts the Taliban are just waiting out President Obama before retaking large swaths of the country– the wave of violent jihad is rising not falling.  America is facing greater and greater danger and the president simply will not admit to this.  If he does, he will be admitting what history will surely show:  His grand strategy was no strategy at all.  His eight years were an abject failure on the most important issue which is protection of America.
My audience of listeners and readers get very, very tied of hearing me recommend Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 as the necessary book for anyone who wishes to have an informed opinion of the war against the Islamist terror and the jihad.  But it was true when I first began saying it a decade ago when the book first appeared and it remains true today.  Let me restate it again: If you haven’t read this book and know the modern history of radical Sunni jihadism, you have no idea what you are talking about on the subject of what to do about the war we are in.  You are, as Charles Krauthammer said about the president on my show last week, “strategically clueless.”
The free world –”The West”– faces four terrible problems: a near-nuclear Iran, this spreading Sunni jihadism, an old KGBer with visions of retro-Soviet glory in the person of Vladimir Putin, and a surging PRC.  A serious president would spend most of his time trying to rally the world of very different interests into a united four-sided front against these four threats, and he or she would constantly be balancing priorities based on the threat matrix of the morning.  That’s what George W Bush and Dick Cheney did every day after 9/11, and it is what President Obama refuses to do at all at least in public.  President Obama is trying to make it through to his Carter Center career phase with as little engagement with the realities of the world add possible so he can spend the next 30 to 40 years blaming either Bush or whomever turns out to be POTUS 45 for either breaking the world or breaking Obama’s fixes to it.
The Yezidis and the Kurds, like the gassed Syrian children and the people of Crimea, are inconvenient reminders that everything Obama campaigned on through 2012 was a lie, and that Romney was in fact right about the state of the world and of America’s defenses.  Read the The National Defense Panel’s review of the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, titled “Ensuring A Strong defense For The Future” and the extent of the president’s fecklessness about the nation’s military will be impossible to absorb.
Don’t have time between rounds of golf to read Wright or the report?  OK, then, how about just this exchange from a week ago with between Breaking Defense’s James Kitfield and Lt. General Michael Flynn, the outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency:
JK: When you were asked recently at the Aspen Security Forum whether the United States is safer from the terrorist threat today than before 9/11, you answered no.
Flynn: I know that’s a scary thought, but in 2004, there were 21 total Islamic terrorist groups spread out in 18 countries. Today, there are 41 Islamic terrorist groups spread out in 24 countries. A lot of these groups have the intention to attack Western interests, to include Western embassies and in some cases Western countries. Some have both the intention and some capability to attack the United States homeland.
For instance, we’re doing all we can to understand the outflow of foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq, many of them with Western passports, because another threat I’ve warned about is Islamic terrorists in Syria acquiring chemical or biological weapons. We know they are trying to get their hands on chemical weapons and use what they already have to create a chemical weapons capability.
Remember anthrax was used in 2001 [killing five people] and pretty much paralyzed Capitol Hill. If that anthrax had been dispersed more efficiently, it could have killed a quarter million people.
JK: You also said recently that terrorist leaders like Osama bin Laden represent the leadership of al-Qaeda, but that “core al-Qaeda” is its ideology of perpetual jihad.
Flynn: Yes, and unfortunately the core ideology and belief system is spreading, not shrinking. Look at the unbelievably violent videos [of beheadings, executions and the destruction of religious places] coming out of Iraq just in recent days. I’ve physically interrogated some of these guys, and I’ve had the opportunity to hear them talking about their organizations and beliefs. These are people who have a very deeply-rooted belief system that is just difficult for Americans to comprehend. Just think about the mindset of a suicide bomber.
I added the emphasis above. The person who seems to have the most difficulty comprehending this terrible bottom line is President Obama, and thus the mixed messages on the Yezidis and the man on the balcony in Mosul –the captain of the jayvee squad.
President Obama isn’t the only willfully blind man in D.C.  Harry Reid is the most irresponsible senator in the body’s post-Civil War history as far as I can tell, and the GOP has its own band of ostriches who are believers that we can withdraw from the battle and wait out the fire’s eventual extinguishment.
My fear is that every bad actor in the world has taken this president’s measure and understand that the next two-and-a-half years are the best hope for expansion and breakout in the next forty or fifty or more.  The clueless president, the golfing Commander-in-Chief, presents a rare opportunity that everyone in Moscow and Mosul, Beijing and Teheran understand even if the network newsrooms don’t.  Which is why General Flynn sounded so grim.  The serious people know, and the serious people aren’t in Martha’s Vineyard or with the negotiators in Geneva or advising in Kiev.
Pray that the awake and serious people outside of the U.S. do everything they can to rush arms to the Kurdish pesh merge, that Egypt’s al-Sisi and Israel’s Netanyahu keep the Hamas branch of radical Islam contained, and that the allies drag John Kerry from the rooms in Geneva before he gives the mullahs a nuke or two in a show of good faith in his own endlessly intoning voice and incoherent barrage of words. There is Harper in Canada, and Abbott in Australia –Abbott had his own very unique reminder shown off to the world yesterday– and a few hundred million Muslims who hate the disfigurement of their faith this way.
But the person most responsible for responsibly dealing with the world as it is not as Martha’s Vineyard would wish it to be, well, he doesn’t want to deal with this mess, or at least acknowledge it.  That would bring him too close to acknowledging that W was right and the Nobel Committee so wrong as to be hilarious if it wasn’t so terrible a judgment.  Withdrawn and closeted with his shrinking band of loyalists and surrounded by a complacent White House press corps –recall that the day before the massacre of the Yezidis began there was an uneventful presser with POTUS yawning his way through questions that included how he would use executive orders to help this or that special interest group– President Obama golfs on towards retirement and a lecture series on how his approach was right and W’s wrong.  No matter what the man in Mosul says.

Saturday, August 30, 2014



Oh goody—dueling studies about the Keystone pipeline!  Wonk heaven.
First comes a study that says failing to build the Keystone pipeline will result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions for the simple reason that if Canadian oil isn’t transported by pipeline, it will be shipped by rail (and by tanker if shipped overseas to other eager customers), which will produce higher greenhouse gas emissions than a pipeline.
But another new study concludes just the opposite—that the Keystone pipeline will result in a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions above what the State Department’s assessment found.  Guess which study is getting more media attention?  What’s that?—You don’t need to guess.  Of course.
So what about this second study?  It comes from the Stockholm Environment Institute, and right away you wonder what interest a bunch of Swedes would have in a North American infrastructure project.  Or maybe they’re just suffering a green version of the Stockholm Syndrome?  Yes that’s it: turns out the Stockholm Environment Institute has a U.S. chapter based in America’s Stockholm—Seattle.
Recall that the State Department’s assessment that Keystone would have no effect on global greenhouse gas emissions was based on the sensible premise that the Canadian oil is going to come out of the ground and find its way to the market.  You’d think this would be obvious to everyone, but environmentalists persist in the charming fantasy that if only they block Keystone, Canadian oil will stay in the ground.  (I hear some of these folks still believe in Santa Claus too.)
Keystone Alternatives copyThe Stockholm study is only 18 pages long, and is almost laughable.  Strike “almost.”  It finds Keystone would increase greenhouse emissions in several possible ways, one of which being the assumption that cancelling the pipeline will result in Canadian oil staying in the ground.  Yeah—and Sweden might turn militaristic and intervene in Ukraine, too.  But another way it might result in higher greenhouse has emissions is by contributing to lower oil prices, which will increase demand and consumption of oil.
Now hold on just a moment. One of the arguments we always hear from environmental opponents of expanded Alaskan production or new energy infrastructure like Keystone is that it would have little or no effect on oil prices.  But this study’s findings depend on the, um. . . denialof this central environmentalist tenet.  Wow—Keystone turns out to be a magic pipeline after all: it will destroy the planet, lower oil prices all by itself, and make environmentalists even more incoherent at the same time.  Still, it is nice to see at least a few environmentalists discover the law of supply and demand might apply to oil after all.  They’re now ready to proceed from economic kindergarten to the first grade.
If you want to appreciate the full moonbattery of this study, take in the flow chart below (click to embiggen) which shows one train of causation holding that rejecting Keystone will cause other world leaders to reject new hydrocarbon infrastructure, thereby leading to higher energy prices and diminished consumption, and ergo, lower emissions.
Stockholm Flo Chart copy
This is not econometric modeling; this is the political modeling of wishful thinking.  Too bad wishful thinking isn’t an energy source.  If it was, we could just use the good wishes of environmentalists to run our power plants.
Keystone Poll copy

Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution and Slavery

“Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution and Slavery” By Clark S. Judge

The weekly column from Clark Judge:
“Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution and Slavery”
By Clark S. Judge: managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.; chairman, Pacific Research Institute
It was William Faulkner who wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” How we understand the origins of our institutions and the men and women who shaped them shapes what we value about them now. It informs what we keep and what we change and what we build that’s new.
Last month, on 4th of July weekend, I found myself thinking about Thomas Jefferson and slavery. You know the derision directed at the author of the Declaration of Independence on this topic — and, in some quarters, at the legitimacy of the entire American project in light of his and the other Founders’ failure to abolish slavery at the country’s start.
I have a different view.
Yes, we have all read Mr. Jefferson’s impassioned denunciations of slavery and listened to charges that, despite those fine words, he made scarcely a move to end it. I could answer that words are action, particularly Thomas Jefferson’s words. For it mattered that the Declaration of Independence was written as it was, that the nation was established with an unequivocal statement of principles, a statement that was incompatible with slavery and that for the next 87 years lay as a weight —in the end a crushing weight — over the presence of human bondage in this country.
But the fact is that Jefferson also took a major political action to end slavery, and, as fully as his words, that action ultimately decided the matter.
The story starts shortly after independence. Jefferson and his Virginia allies embraced a four-point project for the democratization of their state. As Henry Adams reports in his history of the U.S. during Jefferson’s presidency, close ties to Britain had been the strongest of the props of Virginia “society”:
[A]fter this had been cut away by the Revolutionary War, primogeniture, the [state sponsorship of the Episcopal] Church, exemption of land from seizure for debt, and negro slavery remained to support the oligarchy of planters. The momentum given by the Declaration of Independence enabled Jefferson and [Constitutional Convention delegate and Jefferson teacher and mentor] George Wythe to sweep primogeniture from the statute book. After an interval of several years, Madison carried the law which severed Church from State. There the movement ended. All the great Virginians would gladly have gone on, but the current began to flow against them. They suggested a bill for emancipation, but could find no one to father it in the legislature, and they shrank from the storm it would excite.
Jefferson, however, did not stop there. My authority for his next attack on the peculiar institution is Abraham Lincoln. On October 10, 1854, Lincoln delivered his famous Peoria speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act or, as he put it, the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. As Lincoln explained:
When we established our independence… [Virginia] owned the North-Western Territory – the country out of which the principal part of Ohio, all Indiana, all Illinois, all Michigan and all Wisconsin, have since been formed…. The question of ceding these territories to the general government was set on foot. Mr. Jefferson… conceived the idea of taking that occasion, to prevent slavery from ever going into the north-western territory. He prevailed upon the Virginia legislature to adopt his views, and to cede the territory, making the prohibition of slavery therein, a condition of the deed. Congress accepted the cession, with the condition….
So the law for which Jefferson could not win passage when it applied to the settled part of Virginia he succeeded in getting applied to the largely unsettled part. But why did he bother? Discussing Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, Joseph Ellis, in his 1998 best-selling study of the man, American Sphinx, writes of:
… the special almost mystical place the West had in [Jefferson's] thinking… For Jefferson more than any other major figure in the revolutionary generation the West was America’s future. Securing a huge swatch of it for posterity meant prolonging for several generations the systemic release of national energy that accompanied the explosive movement of settlements across the unsettled spaces.
What I am saying is that as early as the 1780s Jefferson foresaw that explosive movement into unsettled spaces. Using the grant of Virginia’s northwestern territories to the national government, he contrived to ensure that states that emerged from those lands would be free and their populations would oppose perpetuation of slavery.
Clearly, the (using Henry Adam’s term) Great Virginians viewed slavery as a horrible conundrum. They had, after all, put their lives fortunes and sacred honor on the line for government by consent of the governed and the equal dignity of all people, principles they recognized as incompatible with the organization of their own plantation economy. But they knew that a frontal assault on slavery would rip apart their society and the country, most likely ending the American experiment scarcely after it began. What to do?
Their answer (not just Jefferson’s) was to encourage slavery’s gradual suffocation. Let measures such as the constitutionally sanctioned 1807 banning of slave importation and the energy of free farming render the slave economy unsustainable and obsolete.
Some have pointed out to me that Jefferson later argued for the diffusion of slavery through the trans-Mississippi territories. That was at the time of the Missouri Compromise, 1820. The Missouri crisis and the accompanying Congressional intervention forced him to face that his generation’s formula of keeping slavery primarily a state issue until it withered away was not working. His panicked and despairing writing on the compromise (the federal government’s first move in a different direction) shows that he saw no alternative to this approach but war between the states. He anticipated that that war would prove horrific and the death of the nation. Horrific it was. But the nation survived, thanks in no small part to all the multitudes that had come to inhabit those Northwest Territories.
For it is impossible to imagine Lincoln emerging or the Union winning the Civil War had these states and their populations been neutral to, or supported, slavery? As it was, migration from the South into their southern halves made Indiana and Illinois close calls for union, even with slavery banned in them.
The Constitution and the Northwest Ordinance (which Congress passed even as the Constitutional Convention was in session) together comprised a brave and brilliant solution to an almost unsolvable puzzle. They set in train political and demographic developments that ultimately allowed for the impossible combination of abolition and the Republic’s survival.
In sum, Jefferson put the demographic and political weight of his states-to-be on the side of freedom. He hoped that by doing thus slavery would melt peacefully away, which did not happen. But when conflict came, the Midwest’s by-then-enormous population – not to mention the leadership of such Midwesterners as Lincoln and Grant – determined the outcome.
The free states of the Midwest cast Jefferson’s final vote against slavery and for the unalienable right of all to liberty.
Question: If you had been at the Constitutional Convention, would you have voted to end slavery in the United States then and there, or at least immediately to have ended the slave trade, not waited to 1807? Before you answer, consider: those attending the convention understood with crystalline clarity that the American Revolution had been won because the colonies had stuck together and that breaking apart would pose a mortal danger to all. While the delegations of Virginia and possibly North Carolina were ready to end the slave trade as a first step to doing away with slavery itself, the South Carolinians and Georgians announced that their states would go their own way if the convention took any move in that direction. South of Georgia lay what we now call Florida, but what was then Spain. Spain and Britain divided the new country’s western and northern borderlands. The British navy (the world’s largest and most capable) could control the seas to the east whenever they chose. Now, all things considered, how do you vote… and why?
A version of this essay was previously posted here:

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Madness of 2008

The Madness of 2008 A nation became unhinged by trivialities like “hope and change.” It has now awakened. 
America is suddenly angry at the laxity, incompetence, and polarizing politics of the Obama administration, the bad optics of the president putting about in his bright golf clothes while the world burns. Certainly, no recent president has failed on so many fronts — honesty, transparency, truthfulness, the economy, foreign policy, the duties of the commander-in-chief, executive responsibilities, and spiritual leadership.
For those who are “shocked” at the present meltdown, of a magnitude not seen since the annus horribilis of 1979, in their defense: Obama certainly did not campaign on a new health-care plan that would force Americans to give up the doctors they liked and their existing coverage, while raising premiums and deductibles, while giving exemptions for insiders and cronies, and while raising the deficit.
Nor did we hear on the campaign trail that Obama would push gay marriage, open borders, near-permanent zero interest rates, six consecutive $1 trillion deficits, and record food-stamp and Social Security disability payouts. He criticized Bush for relatively minor executive orders, suggesting that he would never rule by fiat — as he since has done in matters of Obamacare, immigration law, and environmental regulations. Remember the promise of ending the revolving door and stopping aides from cashing in — and then follow the post-administration careers of Obama’s closest advisers.
Obama promised to halve the deficit — not run up more red ink than almost all prior presidents combined. Indeed, he once as a senator voted against raising the debt limit and blasted Bush for borrowing from China. He once sermonized to us that the presidency is serious stuff, that it entails inordinate personal sacrifice and even a virtual absence of downtime and vacation — and then he became just the sort of president he was critiquing. But those deceptions were simply politics as usual, and it was logical for the hard leftist Barack Obama to try to appear to be a moderate, given that no Northern liberal had won the presidency in the half-century since John F. Kennedy.
The antidote to the great madness of 2008 would have been, instead of focusing on what Obama claimed or hedged, simply to recall what he had done before he ran for president and to notice what he did during the campaign. Had America done that, there would never have been a President Obama to surprise us now.
The racial animosity characterized by Obama’s editorializing about Skip Gates, Trayvon Martin, and, now, the Ferguson, Mo., hysteria, or his call to Latinos to “punish our enemies,” or the tenure of Eric Holder is simply a continuation of 2008’s “typical white person,” the clingers speech, Michelle Obama’s America as “just downright mean,” “They raise the bar,” and “For the first time . . . I’m really proud of my country” commentaries, and of Obama’s earlier boast that he never missed services at the Trinity Church of the hate-mongering and anti-Semitic Reverend Jeremiah Wright. If Obama had not proved to be a racial divider, we should have been surprised — given what we learned of his past in 2008. After all, it’s from Jeremiah Wright that Barack Obama got the title for his campaign brief, “The Audacity of Hope.”
We are now shocked at the current spate of alphabetic scandals — IRS, AP, NSA, VA. But why are we surprised, given that Obama never told the truth about his relationships with the old terrorist Bill Ayers and former PLO ad hoc spokesman Rashid Khalidi, or about the creepy land deal with the crook Tony Rezko? If the Obama White House demonized the Tea Party as tea-baggers, or compared the Republican House opposition to terrorists and arsonists, why should we be astonished, given how he was elected to the U.S. Senate? Quite mysteriously, his primary opponent, Blair Hull, and his general-election opponent, Jack Ryan, both of whom were favored to win, had their confidential divorce records leaked. Their campaigns subsequently imploded.   
Obama has played fast and loose with ethical rules, from promoting crony capitalists to attending near-constant fundraisers among the pay-to-play 0.0001 percent. Again, why should we be surprised, given that he was the first presidential candidate who refused in a general election to accept federal campaign financing, with its accompanying rules curbing mega-fundraising? Obama was the largest recipient of Goldman Sachs donations in the company’s history, and raised more cash in 2008 and 2012 than any other presidential candidate in history.
We are terrified of the chaos that is spreading across the world: Egypt, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Putin’s Russia, and the Chinese–Japanese tensions. But was there any evidence in 2008 that rookie senator Obama had any foreign-policy experience or even knowledge of the world beyond Chicago, other than as a boy in Indonesia or a teen on a jaunt with buddies to Pakistan? We knew in 2008 that his opportunistic trashing of Guantánamo, renditions, tribunals, drones, and preventive detention was permitted only by the fact that the Bush–Cheney protocols he was criticizing had prevented another 9/11-like attack — and thus gave him the leeway of easy second-guessing. If we are now worried about Obama’s equivocation, there was plenty of evidence, as Hillary Clinton pointed out in 2008, that Obama as a state legislator had voted “Present” as a matter of habit.
Polarization? Partisanship? The National Journal warned us in 2008 that Obama was the most partisan of the 100 U.S. senators. Did we assume that he would revert to something that he never had been?
Critics are angry that Obama seems disengaged, or that as a man of the people he is inordinately obsessed with golf, a sport that the Left used to despise as a fixation of the rich in their lime-green pants and bright pink polo shirts. But again, can we point to any landmark legislation that Obama accomplished as a state legislator or U.S. senator? Was not Obama golfing during the 2008  campaign?
Then there is the matter of the presidential untruths. The problem is not just that Barack Obama says things that are untrue but that he lies about what Barack Obama has said. He brags that he set red lines, but then he says it was the U.N. had set red lines. He boasts of pulling out every U.S. soldier from Iraq but then alleges that President Bush, the Iraqis, or Maliki did that. He claims that ISIS are Jayvees but then claims they are serious. But his prevarication too is habitual and was known in 2008 when it was discovered that he had simply misled the nation about his relationships with Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. He had no desire, in the transparent manner of John Kerry, Al Gore, John McCain, or George W. Bush, to release his medical records or college transcripts. If Americans find their president ill-informed, there was no record that he was informed in 2008. His gaffes were far more frequent than those of Sarah Palin, who knew there were 50 states.
Historians will look back at 2008 as a time when the country became more or less collectively unhinged. There was an accompanying perfect storm of sorts: He was the first serious African-American candidate, whom condescending liberals like Harry Reid and Joe Biden heralded for being clean, light-skinned, and without a black patois; he was running in an orphaned election without an incumbent vice president or president on the other side’s ticket, a situation not seen since 1952; we had an unpopular lame-duck president and the Iraq war; the sudden financial meltdown in September 2008 caused a then-behind Obama to immediately surge ahead; the McCain campaign was lackluster; and the media became an advocate of the Obama effort.
Pundits vied for superlatives. On little evidence, Christopher Buckley assured us that Obama possessed “a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect.” For some, proof of Obama’s godhead became almost physical — a “perfectly creased pant” for David Brooks, a tingling leg for Chris Matthews. For Evan Thomas he was a “sort of God”; for one blue-chip historian he was the smartest man with the highest IQ ever running for the presidency. And on and on, as huge crowds acted as if they were watching Paul McCartney on tour in 1966. After the election, there was real apprehension that the country might not make it for the two and a half months until an elected Obama could take power.
Given that there was no evidence from Obama’s legislative career to justify such superlatives, we can only assume that our intellectual elites got caught up in the faux Greek columns, the Obama tutorials for fainting crowds about proper first aid, the teleprompted emphatics of “Let me be perfectly clear” and “Make no mistake about it,” the Latinate motto “Vero possumus” on the faux presidential seal on his campaign podiums, the boast that Obama & Co. were “the ones we’ve been waiting for,” the messianic promise to cool the planet and lower the seas, the Lincoln self-comparisons, and the other embarrassing childish banalities.
Obama, it is true, ran a brilliant campaign in 2008, hinting to the Other that as a non-white he shared both their racial bona fides and their frustrations, hinting to white elites that his own unique heritage would end racial hostilities and thus allow them to square the circle of living largely separate elite lives and not having to feel guilty about it. He dropped his g ’s and went into Southern cadences among African Americans, and then back again into wonkish academese to mainstream whites. It was well known that in impromptu talks he stuttered and stumbled with uh’s in deer-in-the-headlights fashion, and used the pronouns I, me, my, and mine ad nauseam, but such unease was ignored given his teleprompted eloquence and the considerable elite investment in his symbolism.
In sum, in 2008 Obama gave America more than enough evidence to doubt that he was ready for the presidency, but when a nation becomes unhinged by trivialities like “hope and change,” there is not much one can do — until the patient wakes up from his trance and in embarrassment asks, “What exactly was all that nuttiness in 2008 about?”
We will be fathoming that strange madness of 2008 for decades to come.
 NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of  The Savior Generals.


Let's start with the ISIS beheading of James Foley.
If this sort of horror no longer shocks you, it should. It would be one thing for a terrorist group to execute a civilian from the enemy's side. It wouldn't be civilized, but you could understand where that sort of impulse came from. But to force the man to make a statement, and to then cut off his head, and to videotape the event and broadcast it to the world this isn't the behavior of a normal adversary. It's not like facing the German army in 1918. The Soviet army of 1980 would not have behaved in such a manner. The closest analogue might be the Japanese army of 1943, from which we have reports of camp officers arranging for the communally observed vivisection of POWs, just to satisfy anatomic curiosities. But even that isn't quite on point, because the Imperial Japanese Army did not think to publicize such atrocities. At the very least, they had the sense to keep such things to themselves.
All of which suggests that when you look at jihadists in general, and ISIS in particular, we really do face a new kind of adversary. These aren't communists or fascists. They're psychopaths. Literally. It is as though we face thousands upon thousands of Jeffrey Dahmers and John Wayne Gacys, but all devoted to the same rough set of beliefs and rituals.
It is understandable that Americans would try to turn away from this fact. It is, quite frankly, horrifying. But it exists all the same. Daniel PearlNicholas BergPaul Johnson.Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong. The Syrian soldier whose head was brandished by the Australian child jihadist. The British soldier who had his head cut off in the street in Woolwich.  This is a thing that happens. The men who do this are real.
Which brings us to President Obama.
Last Wednesday the president made a statement about James Foley, the American citizen who had just been ritually slaughtered. Obama said that he would be "relentless" in pursuing the men responsible. Which is good and fitting. Then he went to play golf.
In a rare fit of conscience, the media exploded, castigating Obama for being either (at best) crass or (at worst) disengaged. Even the New York Times was ashamed of his behavior.
I would offer a slightly nuanced view of the president's golf game. It isn't the idea of Obama recreating that's worrisome. Imagine if, instead of playing golf, the president had made his statement and then taken a long, solitary run. Or gone to the batting cage and swung the lumber for an hour. Or done something physical to work out his frustration and find some mental space.
Heck, imagine if he had picked up his bag and trudged the links by himself, using the physical activity to somberly work things through. Would people have given him grief? I doubt it. Most people understand how the physical and mental are linked, and very few folks would begrudge him some physical activity in the shadow of such terrible news.
No, the problem isn't that the president surveyed the beheading of one of his citizens and then played golf. It's that he looked like this on the course. And this. And this
The problem isn't that the president played golf. It's that he was yukking it up on the course, fist-bumping his buddies, having a bro-tastic afternoon. Immediately after confronting the kind of evil which murdered James Foley.
Which suggests in turn that President Obama lacks either the ability or the willingness to truly grapple with the nature of the threat we face.