Thursday, October 30, 2008

Snaking the Drain (UPDATED AND BUMPED)

(Originally posted October 18th, 2008. Scroll down for update)

Not much time to post tonight. I suppose that's just as well. Given the topic -- Obama surrogates' strenuous efforts to assassinate the character of a certain plumber from Ohio, for the sin of asking a question about The One's tax plan-- I do not trust myself to stay civil. So, instead of going on at length about the sheer nauseating spectacle of these supposed champions of the Common Man digging through the dumpsters of this common man's life, in order to discredit his credentials to question their plan for distributing wealth from those who earn it to those who don't (for the Common Good, of course), I will merely link to some words by those who have gone on about it themselves.

Mark Steyn does it with his signature withering snark.

Iowahawk does it with righteous rage and a call to action.

Neo-Neocon and Ed Morrissey do it with passionate but thoughtful appeals to the implications for free speech and the right of dissent under a putative (and punitive) Obama Administration.

Socialist redistributionism of the kind that was revealed when Joe met O and the mask slipped, is the ultimate disincentive for industry and entrepreneurship. It punishes those who strive to advance their interests by their effort and ingenuity, and who dare to hope for the chance to maximize and deploy their energies (including capital) as they choose. It punishes them by siphoning off those energies without their know, so as to "spread the wealth."

Now, in its pure form, capitalism can be a brutal, anarchistic jungle in which innocents get stomped by the strong and unscrupulous. But capitalism in its pure form is rare, and is unlikely to exist in this nation (especially now!). It has been and must be tempered by mechanisms which check the most predatory of behaviors and protect those who would still like the opportunity to rise through the system and realize their dreams (antitrust and some labor laws, for example).

However, socialism has been pretty thoroughly vetted by history, and has been found wanting. Indeed, it has accumulated quite an impressive stack of examples of the ways in which it muffles prosperity, stifles creativity, tramples on liberty, and ultimately arrogates to itself the right to manage the lives of its hapless subjects...up to the point where -- in its most 'pure' forms -- it assumes the right to give and take life itself (for the benefit of all, of course).

If there is one thing which the tale of Joe The Plumber has shown us, it is the methodology by which those of a socialistic bent will spring into action to preserve their narrative of Fairness. "Thou Shalt Not Question" is the prime lesson we can take away from this, and if an Obama administration would constitute the skinny edge of such a wedge, then the Universe save us all if we should allow that hammer to fall.


UPDATE: Even more shameful than it had originally seemed. According to Hot Air's Ed Morissey, it was not simply the Obama-boosting media which went digging around in Joe the Plumber's septic tank, but an Ohio public official used the resources of her office to lend a shovel!

When last we heard from Helen Jones-Kelley, the director of Ohio’s Job and Family Services Division insisted that she has everyone who gets public attention checked to see if they owe family support. Now, with more details about the searches performed on Joe Wurzelbacher becoming public, Jones-Kelley acknowledges she didn’t quite tell the entire truth at first. Her department also ran checks on taxes and welfare payments to see if they could catch Joe the Plumber cheating the system

This is simply outrageous. The man asked a question, and the candidate's answer alerted many to the underlying redistributionist philosophy of that candidate, and thus created a backlash among those who would rather not have the Government telling them when their level of hard-earned success becomes "unfair," like someting out of "Harrison Bergeron." For the crime of asking that question, sympathetic government operatives have misused their power to facilitate a media hatchet job on this plain-spoken, hard-working citizen.

And the country appears to be teetering on the brink of placing that candidate at the helm of an undivided government, composed largely of people who would see no problem with this sort of behavior...for the Greater Good, of course.

Here's a thought experiment: Imagine if it had been a Rebublican-friendly government official who had dug into government computer records to impugn the reputation of an Obama-supporting citizen who asked Sarah Palin a question whose answer made her look bad.

Pretty hard to imagine, yes?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Smiting Sarah (For The Good Of Womyn Everywhere)

There was a wonderful moment in "Sex And The City" (yes, I watched "Sex and The City." And I loved it. Move on), when the ever-perky and optimistic Charlotte falls in with a group of lesbians, who mistakenly believe that she shares their orientation. She is enthralled by the strength and smarts and self-actualization of these women, and makes no effort to refute their belief about her. When she is finally "outed" as straight, she gives a lovely, touching, frankly stirring oration about how she may not share the sexual orientation of the group, but she does share something far more fundamental: a deep belief in the solidarity and shared strength of women who chart their own courses through life and nourish each others strengths and dreams. She makes an impassioned plea to be accepted into their group on the strength of these bedrock affinities...only to be heart-breakingly (as only Kristin Davis' big doe eyes can communicate) cut down by a hilariously coarse reduction of what it "really" takes to hang with the Sapphic Crowd...

It was this marvelous moment from the series (I still haven't seen the movie) which leapt to my mind when I read this article on Sarah Palin, by the former editor of Ms. Magazine (!). In it (h/t to Hot Air for the link), Elaine Lafferty commits the mortal sin of declaring Sarah Palin "smart."

Now by “smart,” I don't refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don't really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable (sic) pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a “quick study”; I'd heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her “confidence” is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is.

If you have a strong stomach for blistering vitriol, just have a look at the comments on the article.

Ms. Lafferty is no fan of Palin's stance on abortion, as she makes plain on several occasions in the article. However, she is just as dismayed by the condescending, exclusionary, and remarkably misogynistic criticism leveled at Governor Palin by those who hold themselves up as the defenders of Feminism:

Last month a prominent feminist blogger, echoing that sensibility, declared that the media was wrongly buying into the false idea that Palin was a feminist. Why? Well, just because she said she was a feminist, because she supported women's rights and opportunities, equal pay, Title IV—that was just “empty rhetoric,” they said. At least the blogger didn't go as far as NOW's Kim Gandy and declare that Palin was not a woman. Bottom line: you are not a feminist until we say you are. And there you have the formula for diminishing what was once a great and important mass social change movement to an exclusionary club that rejects women who sincerely want to join and, God forbid, grow to lead.
So much for a big tent.

Sarah Palin has legitimate policy differences with much of the Feminist establishment, to be sure. She is not a secular, Progressive, Pro-Choice foot-soldier of the Gloria Steinem mold. What she is, is an intelligent, accomplished, by all appearances happy and fulfilled woman who has risen by her merits (and, of course, by serendipitous positioning within electoral calculations...but in that world, who isn't ?!) to the very gate to the path up to the door-step of the highest position in the Land. You'd think that this would earn her at least the grudging respect of women everywhere who seek to expand their horizons of efficacy in the world. You'd think they would find in her a model of how strong, determined women of all ideological persuasions could play in the biggest of the big leagues.

Apparently, you'd be wrong.

Oh, well, I guess if you don't rage against the rapacious, phallocentric Patriarchy and its Gynophobic God, then you can't really be a feminist.

Monday, October 27, 2008

SOF Raid Into Syria: Multitasking in Mesopotamia

Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal reports that today's raid 5 miles into Syrian territory from Iraq was an unprecedented operation whose purpose was apparently the capture of a very high value target:

The US military incursion into Syria was aimed at the senior leader of al Qaeda's extensive network that funnels foreign fighters, weapons, and cash from Syria into Iraq, a senior intelligence official told The Long War Journal.

US special operations hunter-killer teams entered Syria in an attempt to capture Abu Ghadiya, a senior al Qaeda leader who has been in charge of the Syrian network since 2005. US intelligence analysts identified Ghadiya as the leader of the Syrian network, The Washington Post reported in July. Ghadiya was identified as a “major target” by the US military in February 2008.

When I first heard that Special Forces had actually infiltrated and dismounted from their gunships for this raid, my first thought was that we had received some extremely credible intel on the location of some very important AQI figure, possibly even AQI leader Abu Ayyub al Masri himself. There was simply no other explanation for not just launching a hellfire or five down a chimney. This post from the invaluable FormerSpook at "In From The Cold" echoed my suspicions.

Excellent as it would have been to capture or kill al Masri, this is just about as good. Capturing or eliminating someone like Ghadiya, while he was strolling free and unworried on Syrian soil would accomplish several ends at once.

First, it would deal a severe blow to the organizational and command structure of what remains of AQI. You can rightly make the "Hydra-head" argument here, but it would only go so far; the capacity for an embattled organization like AQI to continually replenish its senior-most commanders and facilitators is finite. The loss of organizational memory and continuity which such merciless attrition inflicts will have a cumulative effect on an organization's ability to integrate its activities and stay anywhere near inside the decision cycle of its enemies. Its activities will fragment, its operational security will degrade (yielding more actionable intelligence, and thus accelerating the cycle), and the degree to which it is able to attract recruits will erode in much the way that the oft-quoted character from The Sun Also Rises went broke..."gradually, and then suddenly."

Next, a raid into Syrian territory would send a message to Syrian president Assad that there are costs associated with continuing his policy of winking at the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq. Although that flow has slowed to a relative trickle over the last year or so (but don't say the Surge worked!), it is a particularly toxic trickle. The tacit (?) complicity of the Damascus regime in the continued flow of terroristic Jihadis into northwestern Iraq had greatly complicated the pacification and reconstruction of that region, and it is high time that it encountered consequences. For, despite the predictable plume of propaganda which rises from any such bold action, the fact is that such a highly politically dangerous operation --which would have had to be approved at a very high level-- would not have been undertaken unless there were rock-solid intel which supported the taking of such risk. Much like last September's Israeli strike on what is generally believed to have been an unfinished Syrian nuclear reactor site, this operation is a signal to Assad that others are, indeed, paying attention to his actions, and that there are limits to how far he can push without experiencing push-back. Given the renowned Syrian penchant for gamesmanship, such firm limits are absolutely essential.

On yet another geopolitical level, an action like today's raid puts a prominent punctuation mark on efforts to drive a wedge between Damascus and Tehran. There are definite carrots dangling before Assad's eyes (the potential return of the Golan Heights, via some sort of negotiated settlement with Israel, for example). But the sticks which would drop on his head if he should be less than comprehensive in his divorce from the Mullahcracy do bear emphasizing. One of the Iranian regime's most potent weapons (given how "tiny" a country it is...) is its ability to forward-deploy Hezbollah operatives into a variety of theaters. Since Hezbollah is very much a creature of Lebanon and Syria (though nurtured and funded from Tehran), a schism between Syria and Iran would drain much of the mojo from that organization in its capacity as unconventional forces of the Islamic Republic.

Finally, this action further emphasizes the fundamental continuity between the various theaters of operation within the Long War. Reading about the raid into Syria, I was reminded of nothing else so much as the various similar raids and strikes into Pakistani territory, in an effort to attack AQ Prime and its Taliban lapdogs. At the most fundamental level, the two areas of operation are as contiguous on a strategic level as they are distant on the tactical. This last is a reality which is, alas, all-too often obscured to score political points, amid much nonsense about where the "Real Enemy" resides. The Real Enemy resides wherever the ideology of Radical Islamism takes up arms to expand its purchase in the world. The task of our generation is to beat it back wherever it so asserts itself.

I fear the time may soon come when we will look back wistfully on the days when we lived in a Nation which would take bold risks such as these to protect our allies and ourselves. As of this writing, there is still just a bit of time to weigh the real risks, to decisively reject the pious pontifications of addle-headed amnesiacs, and to keep us on the offensive against the evil (there, I said it!) arrayed against us.

(UPDATED to airbrush several small but irksome spelling and minor structural errors from wee-hours blogging)

Friday, October 24, 2008

On Peanuts and ACORNS

When people ask me why on earth I would not vote for Obama, my usual toss-off answer is along the lines of "because one Carter Administration was quite enough, thankyouverymuch."

So, it was grimly satisfying to read today that others have been thinking along just these lines.

Thirty years later, we are still trying to extricate ourselves from the cluster-frack of that pusillanimous poltroon's presidency. Are we really about to refresh that page now?

The Trojan Donkey

Over at Hot Air, I encountered an article which eerily echoed some of my own recent thoughts on the candidacy of Barack Obama. The article is by Rich Lowry, at the National Review Online.

...And right there, I can feel any Liberal readers out there checking out and glazing over. "Oh geez; the National-Freakin'-Review?! No need to even consider the content of such an article; the source tells me all I need to know."

Interestingly, therein lies my point. The superficial appearance of a thing can prevent one from seeing into its substance. In the case of Obama's campaign, that appearance is one of a steady, moderate Uniter, an emissary to a New Era of post-partisan, aisle-crossing Change, with a side of enlightened Hope. Comparisons arise to the campaigns of Bill Clinton...but they are at best skin deep:

Obama’s campaign has some of the trappings of Bill Clinton’s winning 1992 and 1996 campaigns. Obama is like Clinton in 1992 in that he’s running against a deeply unpopular incumbent president (although George W. Bush isn’t on the ballot) and brandishing a middle-class tax cut. He’s like Clinton in 1996 in that he’s burying an older opponent in an avalanche of paid advertising, while branding himself a centrist.

Clinton had earned the right in 1992 to run as a “new kind of Democrat” by confronting liberal interest groups in the primaries. Obama simply showed up the day after he won the nomination and declared himself a centrist. Everything since has been couched in reassuring, moderate terms in brilliant salesmanship worthy of the best minds at the American Marketing Association.

For the most part, Obama has uttered the cant of centrism and reasonableness with admirable consistency. It is an image which a cooperative mainstream media has taken no pains to conceal its collusion in promulgating. But, from time to time, the mask has slipped (an exchange with a certain plumber comes to mind...). More fundamentally, his actual record (such as it is) has been that of a hard-core Progressive, voting with a leftward-lurching Democratic party between 96 and 97% of the time, landing him to the left of Ted Kennedy (!) . Even the New York Times has called into question the extent to which such a creature of the hard Left can realistically be expected to govern as anything even remotely resembling a "moderate."

Yet, this is the image which he has pushed in his campaign, and a slim majority of the American electorate appears to be falling for it, hook, line, and sinker.

I could sit here and go through Obama's specific positions, policies, and statements, picking them apart and laying out the pieces for all to examine...but that burden has already been borne by more capable hands than mine. Rather, I feel compelled to highlight the aspect of an Obama Presidency which scares me above all: the prospect of an undivided government with an activist bent.

If elected, Obama will return to Washington with expanded and emboldened liberal majorities in both the Senate and the House. Congress was the un-doing of his two Democratic forebears. Carter was stiff-necked with a Democratic Congress, and that made it nearly impossible for him to govern; Clinton accommodated his Democratic Congress in 1993-94, and it pulled him to the left to devastating effect in the 1994 congressional elections.

For a President Obama, moderation could no longer be merely a pose that represents the path of political least resistance; he’d have to fight for it every day with partisan colleagues who are older and tougher than he is.
If you take nothing else away from this post, I most strenuously urge you to reflect on this prospect: all three branches of this government (assuming that at least one Supreme Court Justice retires or expires, to be replaced --all-but uncontested-- by very Liberal-leaning jurists), operating in lock-step, with no serious checks on their ability to experiment with everything from the tax code to the business of National defense. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want either party to have that kind of power. It flies directly in the face of the intent of the Constitution's framers, who were justifiably quite wary of such unchecked hegemony.

Yet, this is the very thing which an Obama Presidency would offer, despite the high-sounding rhetoric of bringing people together and governing for the good of all. It sure sounds good, and the outward appearance of it is pleasing indeed. But history abounds with examples of some very sharp rocks lurking under such seemingly beatific waters.

Advocates for the kind of revolutionary social change which is the clarion-call of the Democratic party these days would do well to consider the lessons of previous attempts to re-create society at a run. The French Revolution's spasmodic response to tyranny led inexorably to the Terror of Robespierre and the Jacobins, and a straight shot to Napoleon. I have no histrionic illusions that such a fate awaits the US, should Obama win the White House, of course. However, neither do I underestimate the damage that even 2 - 4 years of unaccountable social engineering could wreak on our Republic. I've been riding around on this planet long enough to have concluded that the most we should ask of government is to do as little damage as possible, while society evolves at its own pace.

The promise/threat of a self-styled Transformational Figure like Obama is one that we would do well to examine very closely...particularly when it rolls up to the gates in the form of a boon too good to be true.

I've peeked inside of that gift, and it scares me mightily. Fortunately, there is an alternative.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Say it Ain't So, Joe

Before I get down to the topic of this post, I want to pause and mention this report from the AP that Barack Obama will be suspending his campaign for a couple of days to fly to Hawaii, where his 85 year-old grandmother is reported to be gravely ill. I'm not the praying kind, but, for what it may be worth, my thoughts and wishes travel with him, that his grandmother will rally. If she should not, then I hope that they will at least get to spend some very fine moments together before she slips off.

Dropping off the trail at such a crucial time in the campaign is verily a menschy thing to do, and Obama's humanity stock has jumped more than a few points for your humble commentator. I fully expect that the response from the McCain campaign will be classy and respectful (from some of his surrrogates, alas, not so much).

But while I respect the man and I respect the office, this does not mean that he is the man for the office.

Yesterday, Joe Biden reaffirmed one of the principal reasons why Obama is not that man. Quoth Joe:
"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."
This may be one of the first foreign policy pronouncements which Biden has actually not gotten breathtakingly wrong, as he has (I can only assume) inadvertently stumbled upon a profound yet simple truth of geopolitics (if not necessarily of humanity as a whole): perceived dominance is predictive of tests to that dominance.

A few years ago, in one of Stratfor's George Friedman's free Geopolitical essays (alas, I can't remember which one, and the archives don't go back that far without membership), it was said (and I paraphrase) that, in tough negotiations with a determined foe, it helps if that foe sees his opponent as strong, resolute, and a little bit nuts.

Speaking to that last bit, anyone who has listened to Obama cannot walk away without the impression that he is, if nothing else, a consummately rational man. He is a studious, methodical thinker who exudes a confidence that the world is inherently comprehensible, and from that confidence flows a cool assurance that a deep and nuanced enough understanding will ineluctably lead to a system of solutions for any problems which arise. It is an admirable quality in a scholar and in a senator.

An Executive, however, cannot allow himself the luxury of rationalizing the actions and motivations of the irrational, or, more properly, of those who operate under the dictates of fundamentally different --and competing-- species of rationality. He must confront the logic of Radical Islam, which orders its thinking and planning according its utter certainty that it is Divinely commanded and destined to subdue all other belief systems, by the sword if necessary. He must confront the rationality of a resurgent Russia, which calculates the weaknesses and fracture lines among all who might stand in the way of avenging its pock-marked pride and wresting a role as a regional hegemon and global power. He must confront the machinations of a rising China, as it gyrates through its multi-millennial dance of weakening rival empires to cement the safety of its walled-off borders.

He must, however reluctantly, accept the reality that you don't bring a pen to a knife fight.

In what may qualify as the mother of all unforced errors, Biden has articulated the most compelling reason not to vote for Obama. Leaving aside (with great effort) the potentially disastrous effects of his statist, bureaucratic plans for an economy in crisis, and his highly problematic associations (and the ideology they reveal), the bottom line is the degree to which we may be confident in his credibility among world leaders in whose dominance-driven view of the world, negotiation equals submission. Biden has pretty much come out and said that Obama's approach to domestic and world affairs will invite probing thrusts from those leaders whose willingness to "test his mettle," must arise out of belief that it is a worthwhile bet that their fire will melt it. Whether or not he should rise to the occasion and meet the challenge with acumen and strength, surely it would be better for the victims of that challenge if it were never made at all. Essentially, Biden said "Just you wait; we're gonna get hit hard, and Obama's gonna do great!"

But he doesn't stop there. Biden goes on to say that we will have to support Obama "Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right." Think about that for a moment. In the midst of this "generated crisis" which he is so sure we are going to face, Biden is exorting us to be patient while Obama makes his play. We are to cleave to this certainty in the midst of a fast-moving, real-time disaster...just the sorts of things that tend to claim certainty among their first victims. Maybe Biden was referring to the need to be patient while Obama unfolds his meticulously crafted, eminently reasonable and nuanced response, whose final shape may not be evident in its initial stages. In some instances, this is just the right way to go, for the sake of faking out your opponents and hitting them when their guard is down. But it's a bit of a stretch to speculate that this is what Biden had in mind. It sounded more like he was remonstrating with us to be patient while Obama figured out how to respond.

And that simply will not do.

One need only reflect back to this past August (so long ago!) and Obama's risibly wrong-headed initial response to Russia's invasion of Georgia, to appreciate the prophetic quality of Biden's statements. Here was (another) one that McCain got right straight off the bat, while it took Obama (and, interestingly enough, Bush as well) some time to wend his way to approximately the same position. Had McCain been POTUS at the time, the position of the United States would have been crystal clear right from the get-go, and the policies arising from that position would have sprung into motion in a timely enough manner to argue persuasively to Russia that it had best re-think its game plan. Contrary to the catastrophic scenarios presented by so many in the "anti-war" crowd, meeting strength with strength actually decreases the chances of armed conflict. The moment when you believe the other guy will blink is the very best time to land a punch.

So, like McCain in his Al Smith Memorial Dinner address, I can't wish Obama luck...but I can wish him well. I wish him peace and closure in his family's crisis, and a long, prosperous career as a highly promising senator. But, should he find himself on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, I fear we may finally get to say the words; "Joe Biden was right."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Big Mac Rocks the Roast

The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner is one of my favorite annual political events. It is a chance to see the political heavy hitters lighten up and have a bit of fun at their own and their opponents' expense. It is a rare treat to watch people on whom we hang so many of our most passionate beliefs and fears and expectations clarify for us that it is possible to have a sense of humor about ourselves without diminishing the seriousness of the causes in which we can become so invested.

This year's dinner featured someone I have missed greatly. John McCain has always struck me as one of the few politicians who is able to be intentionally funny, whose wise-alecky, self-deprecating style had for years made him a favorite on "The Daily Show," the late-night talk shows, and even SNL. The seriousness with which he has approached his run for the Presidency, the carefulness with which he has had to package himself for National consumption, and the deadly earnestness of his opponent's supporters have all come together to drain much of the sparkle from someone I was really looking forward to watching spar with the White House press corps.

For one night at least, though (and hopefully for much time to come), the old Mac was back, masterfully mixing pointed barbs with what only the most jaded could fail to see as genuine regard and respect for his Democratic counterpart (who himself showed an ability to take the jokes and the compliments with more or less equal aplomb and grace).

Here's Part One of McCain's speech:

And here's part two:

Obama's speech ended on a rather more somber tone than McCain's (the tribute to Tim Russert was especially effective and moving). Still, he displayed better comic timing than I'd expected, and more or less matched McCain's skill at poking fun at himself (his references to his own celebrity status were at times straight-up hilarious). It was a side of the Democratic candidate which I very much enjoyed seeing.

Here's part one:

And here's part two:

In a time when politics can become so personal, when the joy of the contest can be swamped by an intensity which is as understandable as it can be unfortunate, it is events like these which remind us that even such powerful emotions occur within the context of that most extraordinary of historical oddities: the orderly and peaceful transfer of power. Democrat or Republican, it is vital that we never forget to be grateful for the democracy of our Republic.

The stakes of this election are no laughing matter...but what will any of it matter if we lose our ability to laugh?


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Present and Unaccountable

Barack Obama likes to go on about how "deregulation" under Republicans is at the root of the economic woes we now face. He holds this out like some kind of talisman, highlighting the Greed and Short-Sightedness of the GOP...a charge which, I fear McCain has not done nearly enough to debunk.

But bunk it is, of the worst kind.

Ed over at Hot Air linked to a Peter Wallison editorial in the WSJ which speaks to this bit of preposterous prevarication by The One. On this matter of "deregulation," it is worthwhile to quote the editorial at length:

If Sen. Obama had been asked for an example of "Republican deregulation," he would probably have cited the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (GLBA), which has become a popular target for Democrats searching for something to pin on the GOP. This is puzzling. The bill's key sponsors were indeed Republicans, but the bill was supported by the Clinton administration and signed by President Clinton. The GLBA's "repeal" of a portion of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 is said to have somehow contributed to the current financial meltdown. Nonsense.

Adopted early in the New Deal, the Glass-Steagall Act separated investment and commercial banking. It prohibited commercial banks from underwriting or dealing in securities, and from affiliating with firms that engaged principally in that business. The GLBA repealed only the second of these provisions, allowing banks and securities firms to be affiliated under the same holding company. Thus J.P. Morgan Chase was able to acquire Bear Stearns, and Bank of America could acquire Merrill Lynch. Nevertheless, banks themselves were and still are prohibited from underwriting or dealing in securities.

Allowing banks and securities firms to affiliate under the same holding company has had no effect on the current financial crisis. None of the investment banks that have gotten into trouble -- Bear, Lehman, Merrill, Goldman or Morgan Stanley -- were affiliated with commercial banks. And none of the banks that have major securities affiliates -- Citibank, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan Chase, to name a few -- are among the banks that have thus far encountered serious financial problems. Indeed, the ability of these banks to diversify into nonbanking activities has been a source of their strength.

Got that? The one bit of actual deregulation which Democrats are able to cite in connection with this mess not only was introduced and approved during a Democratic presidency, but ultimately fails the evidence test for any actual relationship with those institutions which have failed. The "deregulation" dog simply won't hunt, however plausible it may sound, since Republicans generally are in favor of reducing the stultifying effects of excessive regulation on the dynamism and efficiency of free markets. But while we're on the subject of the potential for sensible regulation to have staved off the Economic Crisis, see if you can guess who said this, and when:

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs--and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. [Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight]'s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO's report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.
Give up?

Then of course, there's this bit from the New York Times, from 2003. These last four paragraphs are particularly perky on the palate:
Significant details must still be worked out before Congress can approve a bill. Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

''I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,'' Mr. Watt said.
The problem here wasn't too much or too little regulation, but the wrong sort of regulation...the kind that mandated that loans be provided to those who could not afford them (under the ever-effective cover fire of possibly being branded with charges of racism), and that those loans be backed/bought up by the GSEs, FM&FM. This created powerful incentives to treat those risky loans like safe investments and to securitize them and spread them throughout the world economy like herpes in a rural co-ed dorm in Winter. That's the sort of thing that makes it impossible for a free-market system to accurately assign value and operate as it should. It artificially inflated the value of the housing market by flooding it with demand, while betting outrageously on the perpetual meteoric growth of that market, and studiously ignoring the fact that it was built on pure hot air.

Essentially, the GOP and some Democrats were trying to impose sensible regulation on regulators who were lacking in sense, so that they could then de-regulate the ensuing market and let it find its level based on the true value of what was being bought and sold. We are in an emergency largely because they failed to make their case with sufficient force.

Which brings us back to Barack Obama. The above-cited legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. McCain could very well have knocked the blocks out from under the noxious financial follies which have landed us in this quagmire. According to Wallison, however, it met with terminal resistance from some telling sectors:
In the summer of 2005, a bill emerged from the Senate Banking Committee that considerably tightened regulations on Fannie and Freddie, including controls over their capital and their ability to hold portfolios of mortgages or mortgage-backed securities. All the Republicans voted for the bill in committee; all the Democrats voted against it. To get the bill to a vote in the Senate, a few Democratic votes were necessary to limit debate. This was a time for the leadership Sen. Obama says he can offer, but neither he nor any other Democrat stepped forward.

Instead, by his own account, Mr. Obama wrote a letter to the Treasury Secretary, allegedly putting himself on record that subprime loans were dangerous and had to be dealt with. This is revealing; if true, it indicates Sen. Obama knew there was a problem with subprime lending -- but was unwilling to confront his own party by pressing for legislation to control it. As a demonstration of character and leadership capacity, it bears a strong resemblance to something else in Sen. Obama's past: voting present.

Indeed. Unlike John McCain, who has a long track record of irritating the hell out of his own party by taking the lead on issues which go against its orthodoxies, Obama has consistently squandered opportunities to demonstrate a similar degree of moxie. His lock-step adherence to the most liberal and doctrinaire policies of the Democratic Party have shown him to be far more of a joiner than an pioneer, and we are all now paying the price for his and his Democratic cronies' lack of vision.

(Note: portions of this post are lifted shamelessly from an email exchange with friends last week. Lazy? Sure. But why re-invent the wheel when I'm on a roll)

Taliban Trash Talk

Bill Roggio over at the Long War Journal writes about how senior Taliban spokesvermin have seized on the statements of certain Western officials to score some free talking points:

Over the last week, several senior Western officials have said the International Security Assistance Forces could not win the war militarily and that negotiations with the Taliban were necessary to secure the peace. Brigadier Richard Blanchette, a British general who serves as the spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, advocated negotiations with the Taliban and said no military solution was possible in Afghanistan.

Kai Eide, the United Nation's Special Representative in Afghanistan, echoed Blanchette's statements. "I've always said to those that talk about the military surge ... what we need most of all is a political surge, more political energy," Eide said on Oct. 6. "We all know that we cannot win it militarily. It has to be won through political means. That means political engagement."

Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, the outgoing commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said winning the war was “neither feasible nor supportable” and the West should work to reduce the level of violence in the country.

The valor and dedication of British troops in theater is generally above reproach. My issue is not with them. But something is clearly awry with the general officers across the Pond. The very notion that active-duty Brigadier Generals during a war could toss off statements like these, with major policy implications, not to mention the potential effects on troop morale, is stunning. What did they think would happen when they opened their tea-holes in this manner?

This is what:

The Taliban said the al Qaeda-linked group is "on the verge of victory" while the West is engaged in "a series of artificial gestures and a hue and cry about talks."

The Taliban issued three prior statements on the reports of negotiations between the Taliban and Western and Afghan officials. The statements derided the negotiations and said the Taliban would only settle for a complete withdrawal of foreign forces. One of the statements was issued by Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The first statement, issued by the Taliban on Sept. 28, rejected any idea of a peace agreement. "The Shura Council of the Islamic Emriate of Afghanistan considers such baseless rumors as part of the failed efforts by our enemies to create distrust and doubts among Afghans, other nations, and the mujahideed," the statement read. "No official member of the Taliban--now or in the past--has ever negotiated with the US or the puppet Afghan government... A handful of former Taliban officials who are under house arrest or who have surrendered do not represent the Islamic Emirate."

The second statement, signed by Mullah Omar on Sept. 30, made it clear the Taliban believed it was close to victory. Omar offered the West harsh terms for peace. "If you demonstrate an intention of withdrawing your forces, we once again will demonstrate our principles by giving you the right of safe passage, in order to show that we never harm anyone maliciously," Omar said.

The third statement was made by Taliban military commander Mullah Baradar on Oct. 3. "We reject an offer for negotiation by the Afghan's puppet and slave President Hamid Karzai," Baradar said. "[Karzai] only says and does what he is told by America."

So, these are the sorts of people with whom we should be engaging in "tough and principled diplomacy?"

Now, to be perfectly fair, the Brigadier General (BG Mark Carleton-Smith) went on to speak in terms which were very much in keeping with counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine. It is indeed not possible to defeat an insurgency through typical brute-force attrition tactics (though we can quite severely degrade their logistics and command structure through relentless surgical strikes, which is what we have been doing for some time now in Afghanistan and, increasingly, across the border in Pakistan). "Clear-Hold-Build" depends on a sensitive understanding of the societal dynamics of an insurgency's AO, such that a combination of diplomacy, social and infrastructure development, and straight-up bribery can turn segments of the population against the predator/parasites in their midst. Part of this is turning some of our enemies into allies against their more intransigent co-insurgents, which the BG quite rightly points out.

Still, as I wrote in the comments section of the LWJ post, the BG's statements to the effect that no military defeat of the Taliban is possible do invite mischaracterization, even if --in their full context, and given an understanding of COIN doctrine-- they are technically correct. They do not signal resolve and strength to those who we would call upon to risk all in support of a counterinsurgency strategy against the hard core Taliban and AQ who would raze their clans if they should so much as take tea with us.

At the very least, individuals in such influential positions should pick their words with far greater care.

It should also be pointed out, though, that the British general officer class has not exactly had a stellar record when it comes to distinguishing situations which call for negotiation from those which are better suited to more kinetic sorts of problem-solving.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Smears" From a Bizarro World Election

Disclaimer: I generally find Sean Hannity to be a shrill, irritating chihuahua of a commentator. The fact that I'm linking to his site's forum in no way implies that I can stand the fellow, nor that I find his approach to political discourse to be in any way constructive or palatable.

That said, this post on his forum was so devastatingly, hilariously, heart-breakingly apt that I simply could not resist sharing it. Here's a sample:

McCain Defends Association with Abortion Clinic Bomber

Associated Press Writer
September 16th, 2008 8:38 EST

Link: ap/stories

Phoenix (AP) – Back in the 1990’s John McCain probably didn't think much of sharing a seat on a board in Arizona with now infamous 1980’s abortion clinic bomber, Mike Hancoff, but with the White House on the table, he probably wishes he didn't have that association hanging over his head today.

"I strongly denounce acts of violence like those Mr. Handcoff committed, but he has done great work in the community since those days.", McCain said when questioned by reporters about this recent development at a rally in Selma Alabama.

The Obama campaign was quick to respond to the story.

"John McCain needs to explain his ties to this domestic terrorist, the American people demand an answer.", Barack Obama stated at a campaign stop in the 57th state in the Union, Puerto Rico, on Monday.

"We can't have domestic terrorists potentially making their way into cabinet level positions in a McCain White House.", Obama added.

McCain and Hancoff shared positions on a board for Focus on the Family in Arizona that dealt with the subject of abortion, the law and the church. Hancoff was a well-known community organizer in the Phoenix area during the 70’s before becoming very involved in the evangelical community and becoming an anti-abortion activist.

It's a scorcher, and worth reading in its entirety, even if (as I suggest) you skip the snide, hyper-partisan commentary which (inevitably) follows it.

I am saddened (though hardly surprised) that the efforts of the McCain campaign to bring Obama's highly troublesome association with this miscreant to the fore are being portrayed as "smears" by The One's disciples and by his loyal legions of media advocates. If the above post were not satire, then you can bet what's left of your stock portfolio that I would be very vigorously demanding some accounting from McCain...and I would set the bar very high for what would constitute a satisfactory response ("He's just a guy from my neighborhood" would not even come close).

Associations such as these speak to the degree to which a candidate finds the extreme views of others to be tolerable and, in turn, to what extent lesser versions of such extremism might find a ready ear in that candidate's administration. They are relevant because we need to know where a person draws the line, and to compare that point with our own limits of the tolerable. Obama's extremely unconvincing attempts to distance himself from Ayers' past not only reveal the threat which he himself sees in a close examination of his affiliations with the free-on-a-technicality terrorist, but also skates right past the larger question of how deeply the present radical views of that terrorist are shared by the candidate. These questions have not been satisfactorily answered. Simply dismissing them as "smears" is the sort of denial tactic employed by blinkered ideologues. This disturbs me. It should never be too late to take in and process new information about someone we would entrust with such power.

Do I think that Obama is a terrorist? (sigh) of course not. Do I think that he is intent on tearing down the Capitalist Empire of America? Nope. Do I think that he is a politician whose ideological compass is fair game for evaluation as he interviews for the Big Job? Oh yeah. I couldn't give a dingo's kidneys about his incessant ululations about Hope-'n-Change. I have zero investment in his (or McCain's, for that matter) rhetoric about Leading Us Into A Brave New World. He is making a case for occupying a position of considerable administrative clout in the operation of this Republic, and I'm damn well not going to skim over any portion of his resume. And you shouldn't, either.

In the end, all emotional investment in a candidate is (at best) ancillary to the primary responsibility we have as voters. A candidate's ability to inspire is an important piece of data, but it is by far not the most important one. I'll take a sober and competent but boring Executive over a feckless but Inspiring Leader any day of the week. Brett Joshpe over at makes a very good point (which will doubtless feel like heresy to Obama supporters...and that's very much the point):

However, the prospect of an Obama presidency is not just scary, it is sad. Obama talks of hope, but it begs the question: Are we so morally depleted as a society that we need government to inspire us and give us hope? Has anyone gone into the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Post Office lately? That is government; it is long lines and instant coffee. And there is nothing wrong with that. As James Madison recognized, government is is also not to be trusted. It certainly should not inspire. American ideals should inspire. Parents should inspire. The kid down the street who is serving in Iraq should inspire. Not government.

So, bring on Ayers, and ACORN, and Rezko, and the Keating Five, and "Troopergate," and anything else you've got. This is a Very Big Decision we will need to make in the days to come. We can't afford to yadda-yadda over any of this stuff, however yummy a candidate may make us feel inside.

After all, even Jimmy Carter probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

10/7 Debate

Again, I fail to see either candidate running away with a breakaway victory in this debate. Maybe this just reflects my tendency to put in the sweat equity to understand each side's positions, such that I can see both of their strengths and weaknesses (one of the key ingredients of truly critical thinking is the ability to think inside of more than one frame of reference, and to weigh the content and implications of each. It is something for which I strive, with variable degrees of success). Having evaluated both candidates' positions, I come down on the side of McCain's approach in general terms (though we differ on some particulars), so I found him more convincing. But I could not look at this and see any watershed moments of communication and vision which offered much in the way of traction for a definitive bounce. In the end, both candidates presented their messages articulately and managed to look presidential in their own ways.

Obama came across as cool and caring and thoughtful. McCain exuded a seasoned resoluteness. Both sides landed jabs, but no real haymakers. I'm almost relieved at this, actually. While I see Obama's record as raising serious questions about his integrity, judgment, and ability to hold a consistent position on important matters, I've always felt that red-meat attacks in Presidential debates tend to cheapen the proceedings, and have always made me uncomfortable. The purpose of these things is for candidates to compare their respective visions of where they want to take the country during their administrations, not to engage in public mud-wrestling...even if the mud comprises relevant matters of public record. That's what political ads, stump speeches, and Vice Presidential candidates are for.

I think that this debate served to introduce some of the main themes which will form the skeleton of each candidate's narrative going into the home stretch, and which will likely be amplified in the last debate. McCain's Big New Plan for buying up mortgages makes me itchy, though I see the sense in setting a floor of tangible value for these products, so that the housing market can touch bottom and begin to bob up. However, it sounds risky and more than a touch socialistic for my tastes. Still, these are unprecedented times, and may call for such extraordinary measures. I don't know yet, and await more detailed analysis before forming an opinion on the matter.

All in all, I don't see either candidate as having done any real damage nor added any qualitative value to his campaign. I suppose that will do for now. But I can hear the roaring up ahead as the river approaches the gorge.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Totten on the GWOT

And isn't that just a fun title? Say it a few times.

No time to blog long-and-thinky-like tonight. The Li'l 'Cyte turned three (!!) yesterday, and today was dominated by a wonderful little shindig at the local firehouse (images of the wee hobbit in the cab of an enormous fire engine, firmly and resolutely gripping the wheel, while scanning the gauges. Makes a body plotz).

I found this article by Michael Totten, which is just about the most cogent summary of the scope and nature of the Long War as I've found. Really a must-read. The fact that it also highlights the shallowness of the Obama campaign's comprehension (or at least articulation) of that conflict will be as bitter a pill to some as it was savory gravy to me.

Here's a taste:

If Afghanistan were miraculously transformed into the Switzerland of Central Asia, every last one of the Middle East’s rogues gallery of terrorist groups would still exist. The ideology that spawned them would endure. Their grievances, such as they are, would not be salved. The political culture that produced them, and continues to produce more just like them, would hardly be scathed. Al Qaedism is the most radical wing of an extreme movement which was born in the Middle East and exists now in many parts of the world. Afghanistan is not the root or the source.

And it just gets better from there. Totten is a well-traveled and incisive thinker, and his words should carry weight with anyone who seeks a comprehensive understanding of these matters. This article is a gem, mined from a very rich deposit. Worth your time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Palin By Comparison

I haven't blogged about Sarah Palin for a little while. Truthfully, I didn't know exactly what to say. After she flat-out wowed me with her acceptance speech at the RNC, I went back and watched some vids of her debates and other appearances back from her Alaska politics days. I was still impressed; she was firm, crisp, knowledgeable, personable, and eminently appealing without leaning too heavily on her charm at the expense of her considerable competence. That impression persisted during the stump speeches I watched in the days following her Big Debut.

I followed the mad scramble across media-land to tar her with an ever-escalating series of smears, the oh-so-sophisticated denigration of her background and intellect by elitists posing as populists, the disgusting dissection of her family life. I tracked the evolution of assorted slanders about how her religious views would dictate her public policies. I watched rumors and innuendos slither into the noosphere and morph into tediously-repeated talking points, then ossify into Well-Known Facts. The smell of desperation was thick in the air; clearly, she was seen as a Big Threat.

Then came Charlie Gibson...and Katie Couric.

Who the blazes was that stammering, syntactically challenged, meandering mess? Clearly, the interviews were hostile, loaded with gotcha questions and a cloying current of condescension. But that was no excuse for what I was seeing; this was someone who was vying for National Office, and the inability to fend off a couple of partisan hack "journalists" boded ill indeed for her preparedness to tackle a far more treacherous and consequential arena. It made me very, very nervous.

After seeing her folksy, well-informed, gracious, assertive and at times even eloquent performance last night, I can only conclude that what we were seeing was a candidate in the awkward process of climbing a very steep learning curve, a transition from the excellent but very locally-focused Alaskan Governor to someone whose purview would extend far beyond the borders of her home state, to encompass this Nation and its affairs in the wider world. Also, frankly, I think she was badly mishandled, as her briefers labored to metamorphose her into some kind of policy wonk by cramming her head full of talking points and memorized details. Perhaps this was necessary; she needed to be able to reply to a wide range of questions, and to think inside of far wider spaces than she was accustomed to traversing, and if she was unable to make that transition, then the campaign was going to have to make a very difficult (and probably election-costing) which it would be far better to make before she was actually in the position to fail the American people while in office. Probably so. But the process of shifting into National-caliber functioning was an excruciating one to watch, as it drained the refreshing spontaneity of the woman, damaged her self-assurance, and short-circuited that which had been so very appealing about her.

However, what emerged from that process last night was truly a sight to behold. She was every bit of the Sarah Palin who took the stage in St. Paul, five weeks ago. When it came to foreign policy, I was very pleasantly surprised by the breadth of her knowledge and, more importantly, understanding of the relevant issues (when she correctly drew the distinction between the Surge of troops and the counterinsurgency strategy which they were brought in to support, I wanted to reach into the screen and hug her!). Her command of the energy debate was comprehensive and greatly reassuring; if she kept coming back to it, this only means that she was playing to her strengths and representing the arena in which she would be expected to take a leadership role in a McCain-Palin Administration. She clearly showed herself to be up to that job. I think she struck just the right tone of populism, but with a clear respect for the free-market in her discussion of the economic crisis. I'm sure there will be complaints that she did not drill down to specifics enough on the subject, but this was not the forum for the presentation of point-by-point policies (especially as the House had still not voted on the rescue plan). And yet, general as they were, her responses on economics conveyed the distinct sense of untapped depths at the ready for subsequent interviews and discussions.

Biden turned in a competent and authoritative performance (though rife with whoppers, including a Great Big One on the question of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a stunner on the role of the Vice President within the Executive and Legislative branches), and was characteristically likable and commanding (though some grimacing grins and at least one heavy sigh rather undermined his wise elder statesman routine). But, as Palin rightly and disarmingly pointed out, he was spending inordinate amounts of time running against George Bush, which kind of put the lie to his claims to be oriented toward the future.

I think what is most interesting about this debate, and last Friday's first Presidential go-round was the degree to which they have acted as a kind of Rorschach of partisanship. Devoted followers of each wing confidently declare that their respective candidates produced resounding victories, and that the other side beclowned itself, has no business running for office, would be a disaster of Biblical proportions for the nation, yadda-yadda. For the life of me, I can't seem to see either side to have scored a decisive victory in either of these debates. One may argue nuances of presentation and content, and arrive at conclusions about who won on points, but that's hardly the same thing as the knockout punch which each side claims to have scored on the other. I would even go so far as to say that the extent to which one is convinced that one's candidate pounded his or her opponent can serve as kind of Kool Aid meter

If anything, I think the big winner last night was Sarah Palin...but not over Joe Biden. The Sarah Palin who walked away with the win last night was the one who had pulled the unenviable duty of competing with herself, with the bumbling, incompetent and insecure version of herself who seemed to have abducted and replaced the sharp and energetic woman we met at the RNC, and who Alaskans have known for quite a bit longer. That Bizarro-Palin was a sore drag on the McCain campaign, and I am exceedingly glad to see her go. It remains to be seen if the new/old Sarah will be able to re-ignite the dynamism which she had originally brought to the ticket. I hope so. If today's interview is any indication, the Sarah who took the stage last night is the one to whom we will be treated in the weeks to come, and McCain's campaign will be the richer for her.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pied Piper for President

This simply makes my flesh crawl and my blood pressure spike. Before I say another word, do have a look:

You know what I say when my three year-old son sees the candidates on the TV and asks who they are? I say, "Those are the two nice men who want to be President," and I tell him their names.

That's it.

He has no idea what "President" means; it's just a place-holder, pending further data. He can't process that information. He has neither the cognitive ability nor the world knowledge to evaluate the differences between the two men. All I would gain from foisting my preferences onto him would be the base, masturbatory pleasure of implanting impressions into his consciousness so that he could parrot them before myself and others. I would be using him as an extension of my own nauseatingly narcissistic self.

There is absolutely nothing on this planet that sends me into a berserker rage the way that harm to children --including their exploitation for adults' gratification-- will do, every time. The blissed-out, bovine looks on those parents' faces as they watch their children led in a song of praise for their Dear Leader is about as chilling a thing as I've seen in this election cycle. It is positively revolting and infuriating. Try to imagine a video of another group of kids, singing songs of praise for George Bush, and how the Left would react to that (after they were treated for the burst blood vessels in their brains, that is).

I don't care what your political proclivities are: leave the fracking kids out of it!!

This is a disgrace, and if Obama is aware of this, then as a parent and a human possessing a shred of humility and honor he should come out and decry the naked indoctrination being perpetrated in his name. If it can be shown that he is conscious of this horrorshow, and does nothing, then we must assume a tacit endorsement of it...and a truly unsettling glimpse into his personal movie.

Ed over at Hot Air helpfully offers some other examples of this sort of thing, which will give you pause, unless you are so drunk on the Kool Aid that...well, you are unlikely to be reading this blog or any like it. (UPDATE: Here's a link to that first vid, which had since been removed)

Shame on these parents. It is not so long a slide from this know.