Putin’s little fingers in the Ukraine, Cuban agents in Venezuela and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt all remind us how uniquely vulnerable democracy is totalitarianism. In the United States, cities aren’t burning and streets aren’t filling up with bloodied bodies, but the government of phone and pen also shows us that we are always one election away from losing our freedom.

When a political system becomes polarized between the forces of freedom and the forces of totalitarianism, then the forces of freedom have to win every single election. Meanwhile the totalitarians only have to win one election and then spend the rest of time reconstructing civic institutions, mobilizing thugs and making it structurally impossible for the other side to compete.

Even if the other side occasionally wins elections, the totalitarian process continues chugging along because the totalitarian side follows no rules while holding its opponents to above and beyond the letter of the law. The law constrains the ability of the law-abiding party to undo the work of the totalitarian party, but not the ability of the totalitarian party to pursue its agenda and undo the work of its opponents.

When one side is on a long march through the institutions while the other seeks consensus, the long marchers will win.

A democratic political system in which a leading political faction is totalitarian cannot endure.


http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/ LAWS ARE FOR LITTLE PEOPLE, NOT LIMO LIBERALS When the mayor announced his 62-point safe streets initiative, which includes lowering the speed limit to 25 mph, he said, “We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard.” As CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday, the mayor’s two-car caravan was […]


http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/ TOW BE OR NOT TOE BE                 What this silly little exchange brought home to me once again is how liberals are invested in the appearance of intelligence, something that I wrote about in Manufactured Intelligence. “Intelligence to a modern liberal isn’t depth, it’s appearance. It isn’t […]



Houston — “This is oil country, baby!”

It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon in Beaumont, Texas, an hour and change east of Houston, near the Gulf Coast, and about 40 people are gathered in a square surrounded by the old-timey buildings that make up the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum. I’m chatting with Kaye Goolsby, the grassroots chair for Senator Ted Cruz’s reelection campaign. The crowd here in oil country — “ohl,” like bowl — is twice what the organizers expected.

The senator is on his way, the topic is compelling, and the setting is almost too perfect: He’ll mount a podium in front of a tall model oil derrick, part of the museum’s exhibits on Texas petroliferous past, to pitch the soon-to-be-filed American Energy Renaissance Act.

At last week’s Heritage Action policy summit, Cruz gave a speech on the bill to a Capitol Hill audience of national journalists and (for lack of a better term) think-tanky types.

The two pitches for his new bill have bookended a messy week. Two days after talking up the legislation at the Heritage Foundation, he attracted a fresh outpouring of vitriol from many Beltway Republicans when he refused to allow a debt-ceiling hike without a politically messy cloture vote.

The night after the vote, he headed back to Texas, where his testy relationship with Senate Republicans has been the object of some humor.

Here’s the story he told the five hundred or so attendees at the Bexar County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner, the night before his Beaumont appearance, hosted in a corporate headquarters over plates of red meat and scalloped potatoes:

“I’m reminded of last fall,” Cruz starts, “when Heidi brought our two girls, Caroline and Catherine, to Washington. Caroline is 5 and Catherine’s 3. Catherine is the sweetest child; she is a ball of love. Caroline is a rascal. It’s how God made her from the moment she was born. I’ll tell you, I was driving the family down to Mount Vernon to see George Washington’s home, had a little bit of down time on Sunday afternoon. And we’re driving along, and Caroline asks her little sister, she says, ‘Catherine, what do you want to be when you grow up?’ Catherine says, ‘I want to work in the U.S. Senate. I want to work with Daddy.’ And Caroline says, ‘Oh, that’s boring! We’re going to be rock stars!’” There’s chuckling in the crowd.

“And then she tossed in the zinger,” Cruz continues. “She said, ‘Besides, Daddy’ll be dead by then!’”



Over the last several weeks, reading news of disorder and upheaval from Venezuela to the Levant to Ukraine to Iraq to Afghanistan, I have thought often of a poem written almost a century ago. Thomas Hardy composed “The Convergence of the Twain” in memory of the sinking of the Titanic. It was published in 1915, three years after the great ship made contact with the deadly iceberg, but reading it today one cannot help experiencing its timelessness, cannot help sharing in its tragic sense of fate.

Hardy’s theme is the vanity and fragility of progress, of technological achievement, of wealth and human power when compared with the immensity and amorality of nature. When I read the poem today however I am drawn to its final stanzas, where Hardy writes of the limits of human foresight, of sudden and unexpected changes in fortune, of the horrible things that can result from the collision of disparate elements. What seems disconnected, separate, foreign, distant, estranged can suddenly cohere in terrible and revelatory events: a Titanic, a Pearl Harbor, a 9/11, a Boston Marathon bombing. I worry that one of those events approaches us now.

Hardy’s poem begins with the image of the Titanic “in a solitude of the sea / Deep from human vanity.” It is a ruin. Frigid waters flow through the “steel chambers” of the engine room, “late the pyres / Of her salamandrine fires.” Beasts of the sea — “grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent” — crawl “Over the mirrors meant / To glass the opulent.” The ornamentation of the cruise liner is dimmed, “bleared and black and blind.” Where human beings once walked, “Dim moon-eyed” fish swim instead. Hardy anthropomorphizes them, has the fish ask, “What does this vaingloriousness down here?” What caused the wreckage?


Never mind the Fed’s taper, it’s the U.S. geopolitical taper that is stirring world anxiety. From Ukraine to Syria to the Pacific, a hands-off foreign policy invites more trouble.

Since former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke uttered the word “taper” in June 2013, emerging-market stocks and currencies have taken a beating. It is not clear why talk of (thus far) modest reductions in the Fed’s large-scale asset-purchase program should have had such big repercussions outside the United States. The best economic explanation is that capital has been flowing out of emerging markets in anticipation of future rises in U.S. interest rates, of which the taper is a harbinger. While plausible, that cannot be the whole story.

For it is not only U.S. monetary policy that is being tapered. Even more significant is the “geopolitical taper.” By this I mean the fundamental shift we are witnessing in the national-security strategy of the U.S.—and like the Fed’s tapering, this one also means big repercussions for the world. To see the geopolitical taper at work, consider President Obama’s comment Wednesday on the horrific killings of protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The president said: “There will be consequences if people step over the line.”

No one took that warning seriously—Ukrainian government snipers kept on killing people in Independence Square regardless. The world remembers the red line that Mr. Obama once drew over the use of chemical weapons in Syria . . . and then ignored once the line had been crossed. The compromise deal reached on Friday in Ukraine calling for early elections and a coalition government may or may not spell the end of the crisis. In any case, the negotiations were conducted without concern for Mr. Obama.

Debt-Ceiling Surrender: Republicans Use Senate Rules to Play a Con Game on the Folks Back Home. By Andrew C. McCarthy See note please



‘It’s a sad day in the history of the Senate,” Mitch McConnell bitterly announced. The minority leader wanted Americans to know, or at least to believe, that Republicans were outraged by what he called the Democratic majority’s “power grab” — detonation of the so-called nuclear option, exploding the minority’s ability to block presidential nominees.

In truth, the GOP had not done much of anything to oppose Obama picks. Eric Holder, to take just one example, was confirmed by a whopping 75–21 margin — with 19 Republican yeas — despite the Mark Rich scandal, the FALN terrorist pardons, and a history of misleading Congress. The GOP similarly rolled over for one after another of the radical lefties now serving as ministers of Obama’s imperial presidency on the bench and throughout the bureaucracy.

Indeed, in positing their case to preserve the filibuster, Republicans argued that they had approved fully 99 percent of the president’s judicial nominees. How telling that they should see this as a point in their favor. The filibuster was crucial, they inveighed, because it acts as a brake against radical transformation by a slim but zealous majority. Its 60-vote supermajority hurdle enables the minority to force the majority to act responsibly, to push only nominees and policies that enjoy consensus public support. And here, the GOP said, is the clincher: 99 percent of the time, Obama could rest assured that Republicans would not use it.

Leading Republicans were not alone in bemoaning the evisceration of minority rights. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board ripped Majority Leader Harry Reid’s legion of “young liberals in a hurry” who have “grown up in the Saul Alinsky tradition.” Without the 60-vote hurdle, the editors warned, President Obama would have “a freer hand to pursue his agenda.”

As it happens, the Reid “power grab” only ends the filibuster for presidential nominees, not other varieties of legislative action to advance Obama’s aggressive statism and fiscal recklessness. So surely Republicans, with the Journal cheering them on, will make muscular use of that 60-vote hammer where they still have it, right?

Not exactly. Witness the Journal’s hatchet job against Senator Ted Cruz for forcing a vote on the debt-ceiling hike.


In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton warned his countrymen of the disaster that awaits them if President Barack Obama does not change the course of US Middle East policy.

Bolton warned that Obama’s three-pronged policy, based on three negotiation tracks with Iran, Syria, and the Palestinians and Israel, will almost certainly fail in its entirety.

In his words, “Iran will emerge more powerful, verging on deliverable nuclear weapons, while still financing and arming terrorists worldwide. [Syrian President Bashar] Assad seems likely to survive, which is bad enough by itself, but it will be compounded by the affirmation it affords Iranian and Russian strength. Israel will trust Wash – ington even less than now, and ironically, Palestinians will be even more anti-American, because Obama will not be able to deliver to them the Israeli concessions he predicted.”

Bolton concluded mournfully, “[T]he increasing danger is that only another 9/11, another disaster, will produce the necessary awakening. There is tragedy ahead for our country if we continue on this course.”

Writing for Strafor the same day, strategic analyst George Friedman explained why Bolton’s warning will be ignored by the public.



On Thursday evening, Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan conducted a fawning interview with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the chances for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This was followed by a panel discussion, led by Dayan, with radical leftist commentator Amnon Abramovich and chief Israeli negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Naturally, everyone discussed the question of whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would “do an about-face” on his life-long beliefs, for the sake of peace.

Kerry was evasive, saying that this was up to the parties in the negotiations.

Abramovich was openly disdainful and pessimistic. Livni kept repeating that she was working closely with Netanyahu to make sure that certain clauses would be included in Kerry’s “framework” proposal.

But basically, the message from all was that, whatever happens, Netanyahu will be responsible. It was as predictable as it was nauseating. PA President Mahmoud Abbas must have enjoyed watching it on TV in his hotel in Paris, where he had just completed two rounds of one-on-one “in-depth” discussions with Kerry about the “core issues.”

Too bad Kerry was with Abbas in France on Wednesday, and not in Jerusalem, where he could have been treated to an eye-opening presentation at a special session of the Knesset, organized by Coalition Vice Chairman MK Robert Ilatov

AMB (RET) YORAM ETTINGER :Americans: Israel is the MVP


At a time when the White House is pressuring Israel to make dramatic concessions, the Jewish State enjoys an all-time high popularity among Americans, and therefore among their representatives in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.

According to a February 18, 2014 Gallup Poll, Israel is the MVP (most favorite player) in the Middle East – 72% very/mostly favorable – leading all other Middle East countries by a dramatic margin: Egypt – 45%, Saudi Arabia – 35%, etc.

Israel’s popularity is at the highest since 1991, when Gallup first polled Americans on foreign countries, compared to 2009 (63%), 2010 (67%), 2011 (68%), 2012 (71%) and 2013 (66%).

Israel is more popular than most Western democracies, while the Palestinian Authority is ranked among the least favorable (19% favorability), along with North Korea (11%), Iran (12%), Syria (13%) and Iraq (16%). Thus, when President Obama delivered the 2014 State of the Union Address, he was greeted with indifference when stating: “American diplomacy [aims] to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians.” However, the president triggered resounding applause when continuing: “…and lasting peace and security for the state of Israel – a Jewish state that has known that America will always be at their side.”