Questions from Oceania

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

Who will Lend?

We are going to spend over $3.5 trillion next year, run up an annual debt of $1.7 trillion, and are on schedule to add another $9 trillion to reach an aggregate debt of $20 trillion in eight years. The Obama administration and the Congress spend days on end fighting over how to spread and spend the borrowed money. But still, no one ties the additional expenditures to additional revenues. Can the President say, “We will borrow $.6 trillion from the Chinese, $.4 from the Japanese, $.2 trillion from the Europeans, and $.5 from American bond holders” in order finance this year’s budget”? Will someone simply give us a blueprint of where and how the $1.7 trillion is to be raised — x amount of loans for each new y federal agency?

Waterboarding or No Brains?

I’ve raised this example twice now. But, really, how is waterboarding a known detained terrorist like Khalid Sheik Mohammed (who confessed to cutting off Daniel Pearl’s head [with two knives after the first went dull], and to planning the 9/11 mass murder) at Guantanamo considered a war crime, while blowing up with a Predator drone suspected terrorists (and all those, including women and children, in their general vicinity) not?

The latter victims were not given habeas corpus, and Miranda rights, and there is a greater doubt about their guilt from 10,000 feet than is the case with the much studied psychopath KSM in Guantanamo. Most suspects would prefer to be water-boarded than vaporized? Ditto the Somali pirates, whose heads were blown off during their apparent attempts at negotiating extortion, again a bit more drastic than waterboarding. Would a future President Sanford or Giuliani be right to bring charges against those in the Obama administration who green lighted assassinations of suspected terrorists — something akin to the Phoenix program in Vietnam?

All About Abortion and Affirmative Action

Given the fact that Barack Obama voted against both Justices Alito and Roberts, (and wanted to filibuster Alito) would he object should Republicansen masse simply say no to his new liberal Supreme Court judicial nominee? As I recall Obama’s comments, he simply confessed two things: one, the two nominees were qualified; two, their politics made them too unsympathetic to his own political agenda, so they should be rejected.

Remember Obama’s assessment of Alito that had nothing to do with the law and everything to do with politics (“He’s a smart guy, there’s no indication that he is not a man of good character. But, when you look at his record, what is clear is that when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution, he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless.”), and Roberts (“In those 5 percent of hard cases, the constitutional text will not be directly on point. The language of the statute will not be perfectly clear. Legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision. In those circumstances, your decisions about whether affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions or whether the commerce clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce, whether a person who is disabled has the right to be accommodated so they can work alongside those who are nondisabled — in those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge’s heart.”)

War, No War, Sorta War?

What exactly is the current status of the war on terror? (1) Obama has so demonized the Bush administration (despite 8 years of successful homeland security and freedom from 9/11-like attack), and so rejected its very protocols, that he even has changed the very nomenclature of the fight: terrorism is now “man-caused disasters,” enemy combatants at Guantanamo are “detainees,” “Overseas Contingency Operations” mean the “war on terror”; OR (2) Nothing has changed: renditions, wiretaps, email intercepts, Predator attacks, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue and Guantanamo is still open; he’s simply Bush III, pacifying his leftwing base with apologies abroad and euphemism at home; OR (3) He has no idea of what he’s doing, and sort of makes it up as he goes, screaming “Bush did it” now, and then ordering “Follow what Bush did”. He simply assumes that whatever he does and whoever dies in the ongoing conflict, the media most certainly is not going to scream, as it did the last eight years, “murder” and “shredding the Constitution.” The days of movies, plays, and novels slurring the President are over.

Brave New World of Federal Recipients, Federal Workers, and Non-taxpayers

Given that the 1964 LBJ landslide quickly led to Nixon, the 1976 New Carterism led to Reagan, and the 1992 Clintonism was followed by GWB, Obama must know that his gargantuan spending and borrowing and regulation will lead to mega-taxes which will lead eventually, as is always the case, to stagflagation: low growth, high unemployment, high inflation, and high interest. He must know that near-trillion dollar experiments like cap-and-trade and socialized health care will not create new productive potential, only tens of thousands of new regulators that will hamper economic growth, and he must know that on social issues his base will drive him on for gay marriage, an end to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, abortion on demand, more, not less, affirmative action, veritable open borders, and abroad UN/EU transnationalism — and that eventually all that will provoke a furious backlash?

He knows that, and that is why in the first 100 Days, he hoped to so scare us into ”Bush did it” and “Great Depression” that the panic allowed him to rush through $1.7 trillion deficits, federal take-overs of finance and manufacturing, national health care programs, cap-and-trade, and new federal bureaucracies — and the result will be a vast new constituency of those who work for the ever larger government, of those who receive vast new entitlements, and those who are excused from income taxes (for a while) — coupled with the popular rhetoric that “they” who made out like bandits, who did not pay their fair share, who go to Vegas and party at the Super Bowl, who are unpatriotic in avoiding taxes must make long overdue atonement for their past greed.

So we are in a race — a race to get the dependent constituents permanently in place and institutionalized before the proverbial (fill in the blanks) hits the fans. If he succeeds, we will end up like a Greece, France, or Belgium — weekly strikes by government workers and unions, rampant cynicism as everyone seeks to land the federal job for base salary and taxes and benefits, and then moonlights to get untaxed cash and barter for necessary goods and services, all coupled with a culture of blame at various foreign and domestic “thems” who make us so unhappy.

Final thought: without the Old US who will be blamed? Who will keep the global sea-lanes open?Who will buy the world’s exports? Who will deal with Milosevic, Saddam, the Taliban, and the other global nuts and psychopaths? Who will attract the world’s more daring and desperate?

So we end with a whimper, after all?

©2009 Victor Davis Hanson

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