Saturday, February 23, 2008

Karl's Weekend Reading

Putin's Political Prisoners, by WSJ's Bret Stephens is validation for us at The former KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin is putting enemies of his Proletarian Dictatorship in prison. He has created an environment where FSB agents are praised for arresting spies with no evidence of any crimes.

In her acclaimed history of the Gulag, Anne Applebaum observes that under Stalin one could easily get arrested "for nothing," whereas under his successors arrests usually happened "for something -- if not for a genuine criminal act, then for . . . literary, religious, or political opposition to the Soviet system." Of the many things that make present trends in Russia so worrying, surely one is that the line between "something" and "nothing" is becoming increasingly blurred.

A great quote from James Taranto's Best of the Web post from Wednesday about the leading Democratic candidate:

Obama seems to be serving as an inkblot to his followers, who use politics to act out their own personal psychodramas. Is this what we need in a president?

Rush Limbaugh read this entire Aspen Times article by Gary Hubbell, "In election 2008, don't forget Angry White Man". A fun read, but who's angry?

Each candidate is carefully pandering to a smorgasbord of special-interest groups, ranging from gay, lesbian and transgender people to children of illegal immigrants to working mothers to evangelical Christians.

There is one group no one has recognized, and it is the group that will decide the election: the Angry White Man. The Angry White Man comes from all economic backgrounds, from dirt-poor to filthy rich. He represents all geographic areas in America, from urban sophisticate to rural redneck, deep South to mountain West, left Coast to Eastern Seaboard.

The pile-on Obama continues with Karl Rove's WSJ article, "Obama's New Vulnerability":

Unlike Bill Clinton in 1992, Mr. Obama is completely unwilling to confront the left wing of the Democratic Party, no matter how outrageous its demands, no matter how out of touch it might be with the American people. And Tuesday night, in a key moment in this race, he dropped the pretense that his was a centrist agenda. His agenda is the agenda of the Democratic left.

Michelle Malkin at NRO shares her reaction to Michelle Obama's comment this week that she is finally proud of her country:

I believe it was Michael Kinsley who quipped that a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. In this case, it’s what happens when an elite Democratic politician’s wife says what a significant portion of the party’s base really believes to be the truth: America is more a source of shame than pride.

Michelle Obama has achieved enormous professional success, political influence, and personal acclaim in America. Ivy League-educated, she’s been lauded by Essence magazine as one of the 25 World’s Most Inspiring Women; by Vanity Fair as one of the ten World’s Best-Dressed Women; and named one of “The Harvard 100” most influential alumni. She has had an amazingly blessed life. But you wouldn’t know it from her campaign rhetoric and her griping about her and her husband’s student loans.

For years, we’ve heard liberals get offended at any challenge to their patriotism. And so they are again aggrieved and rising to explain away Mrs. Obama’s remarks.

Melanie Kirkpatrick at the WSJ interviews General Bell, the commander of US forces in South Korea:

Gen. Bell describes the North Korean military as deployed in a "threatening posture" with "about 70% of their force within 90 miles of the demilitarized zone." Their equipment is old -- the Russians and the Chinese have stopped supplying them -- and training is poor. The army's capabilities have deteriorated in recent years, he says -- a factor, some argue, in Kim Jong Il's reluctance to give up his nuclear program. The North Korean dictator knows his army's potential to hammer the South with conventional arms isn't as good as it used to be.

Even so, Gen. Bell says, the North Koreans "certainly have the capability of bringing aerial fires, rocket and conventional cannon artillery to bear against Seoul . . . They don't need to bring any guns forward. So, they can certainly, at a moment's notice, engage targets in Seoul, should they choose to." He adds: "There would be casualties. But I will tell you, our purpose is to quickly eliminate that threat." Some of the missiles, many believe, would be carrying chemical weapons.