31 January 2009

Welcome back, Chris Matthews

I've dealt with a conundrum about Chris Matthews.

On one hand, he's probably the most astute political analyst on television, and is wildly entertaining, even if his political views aren't my particular brand of vodka.

On the other, he spent the better part of 2008 slobbering over Barack Obama, often making "Hardball" difficult to watch.

I think it was more than a mere coincidence that during that same time period, Matthews seriously investigated a run at Arlen Specter's Pennsylvania Senate seat in 2010. I'm disappointed in Matthews for being so unabashedly partisan for much of the last year, and feel like his "analysis" last year was seriously tainted by his personal political ambitions.

Now that he has officially ruled out a run in 2010, we're hoping he's back.

Yesterday on Hardball, Matthews admitted to voting for newly minted RNC chair Michael Steele in Steele's unsuccessful Senate run in Maryland in 2006. Why? "I thought he'd be a good senator." Like many astute political observers, Matthews disapproved of the shot President Obama recently took across the bow of Rush Limbaugh. He slammed the Obamatrons who trekked to Washington and booed President Bush as Obama escorted him to his helicopter on inauguration day. And it was priceless to watch Matthews try to keep the smile off his face yesterday as the camera swung back to his studio after Rod Blagojevich held court in his Chicago neighborhood.

Of course, some of our readers might not watch "Hardball" because of Matthews' political predilections, instead choosing the entirely unbiased, nonpartisan all-star panel over at FOX News.


Our political system might be a bit less hyperpartisan if Democrats went to Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes for analysis once in a while, and Republicans went to Chris Matthews or Fareed Zakaria.

So if you're conservative, a tip: Step outside the box a bit and flip over to MSNBC when Matthews hits the screen. You might actually learn something.

More -- especially on the bailout -- later today.

29 January 2009

Bow down before the Maha Rushie

Many of you reading this might be new to this site.

I hope that in spite of this post, you'll come back.

Because I am sick of Rush Limbaugh.

First things first: I probably agree with Limbaugh 70% of the time. That gives you an idea of where I stand politically. At times, he is surprisingly insightful, much more so than the babbling Sean Hannity, who I genuinely believe is an idiot.

And when President Obama took a shot at Limbaugh last week, I thought it outrageous that any elected official -- no less, the president of the United States -- would take the time out of solving the country's problems to attack a talk-radio host. Among others, the bumbling Harry Reid has developed an incomprehensible obsession with Limbaugh.

Finally, Limbaugh's sometimes-insightfulness was on display this morning in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. It's recommended reading, as Limbaugh was tremendously civil with his ideas.

But what really set me off was Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) falling at the Maha Rushie's feet yesterday, begging for forgiveness from his fellow Republicans. What did he apologize for? Comments critical of Limbaugh.

And why did he do it? Calls from angry Dittoheads poured into his congressional office, infuriated that their congressman would dare criticize the infallible one.

This is pathetic.

On Tuesday, Gingrey said the following, in response to Limbaugh's critique of the congressional Republican leadership (McConnell, Boehner, et al.): "I mean, it's easy if you're Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh ... to stand back and throw bricks. You don't have to try to do what's best for your people and your party. You know you're just on these talk shows and you're living well, and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of thing."

You know what? On Tuesday, he was exactly right.

And on Wednesday, he exemplified so much of what is wrong with the Republican Party.

Get past the fact that many of you conservatives agree with Limbaugh on most issues.

Limbaugh almost single-handedly torpedoed the candidacy of John McCain in 2000, inexplicably backing the "compassionate conservatism" (see: incompetent, big-government, deficit-spending conservatism) peddled by George W. Bush. President McCain would have been a 180-degree opposite from Bush on a myriad of issues -- vetoing irresponsible spending bills (including the outrageous Medicare Part D), less focus on small-bore social issues, competence in the military arena, saving taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in pork-barrel projects, and actually outlining a plausible plan to solve our looming Social Security and energy crises (both of which, contrary to the thoughts of many on the far right, will require bipartisan support to pass).

Rush Limbaugh is the undisputed leader of the conservative movement. Many of our readers likely view him as an infallible pillar of conservatism whose opinions should go unchallenged.


But one question: Why did the Premiere Radio Networks pay Limbaugh a salary of $33 million in 2007?

Was it because they believed Limbaugh would help advance the conservative movement or the Republican Party?

Was it because they believed Limbaugh so tremendously insightful?

Was it because Limbaugh is so highly educated?

It's because he's an entertainer.

He's an unabashed defender of "family values," yet he's on his third marriage.

Conservatives view him as the intellectual icon of their movement, but he's been to exactly two semesters of college.

He's never worked in a White House. He's never worked on a political campaign. He's never held elected office. He's never worked in a congressional office. He's never served in the military.

Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer.

He was paid $33 million in 2007 because he entertains 20 million listeners a week.

The thing that perhaps bothers me most about Limbaugh is that this supposed intellectual icon has been the catalyst for stifling any sort of dissent within the Republican Party. He's spent a career crucifying John McCain (who, interestingly, has amassed a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 82). He gave McCain's buddy from South Carolina the nickname "Lindsay Grahamnesty." He's called the likes of McCain, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel, et al. "RINOs" -- Republicans in name only -- in spite of their overall voting records.

According to Limbaugh, if you disagree with him -- no matter what the reason -- you're not sufficiently conservative, and you must be brought back into line.

This is exactly the approach that conservatives criticized the Democrats for vis-a-vis the Joe Lieberman/Ned Lamont debacle in 2006.

Limbaugh has spent his career pushing a scorched-earth approach to governance. (This of course despite the fact that he has never been elected to any office, at any level, at any point in his life.) However, in a two-party democratic republic where Republicans are often in the minority, sometimes reaching across the aisle to involve Democrats is necessary to solve problems.

Why does Limbaugh take this attitude?

Because it's entertaining to his listeners.

If Rush Limbaugh was given the choice between continuing to collect a $33 million annual paycheck for doing nothing, and sitting behind the microphone "advancing the conservative agenda" for free, you're kidding yourself if you think he wouldn't take the money and run.

Being an unabashed ideologue is fine if one's goal is to make money by telling people what they want to hear. But, as noted by Bruce Bartlett over at Politico this morning, it can be harmful to our political system and to the advancement of real solutions to our nations problems -- especially when this ideologue's disciples brow-beat an elected official into apologizing for levying critical comments to a talk-radio host.

Let's not confuse entertainment with substance.

He's paid so highly for the same reason that Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, et al. are -- because he entertains people.

It's time for Limbaugh's disciples to begin thinking for themselves.

26 January 2009

The Changemaker vs. El Rushbo

When you're the leader of the free world, is it wise to pick a fight with a talk-radio host?

I'd like to hear Joe Klein or Arianna Huffington explain this one away.

In purportedly sowing the seeds for his transcendent brand of bipartisanship (*guffaw*) among Beltway types, The One said on Friday, "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done."

As Robert Stacy McCain from "The Other McCain" pointed out, can you imagine the media's reaction if President Bush would have said the same thing about Keith Olbermann?

I don't listen to Limbaugh. In the past, I have noted on this site that the conservative movement will be in a perpetual state of intellectual discord as long as Limbaugh is its preeminent voice. (And with an average listenership of 20 million, El Rushbo isn't going away.) In a democratic republic that requires the approval of two houses of Congress as well as the president's signature, compromise is often necessary. How can there be a "conservative" position, for instance, on something like climate change?

But the fact that the president of the United States chose to call out a talk-radio host is beyond laughable. 

A year from now, I believe we will be able to look back on Obama's shot at Limbaugh as a sentinel event in turning the scattered Republican minority into a unified opposition against the Changemaker's left-wing agenda. The 41-seat (plus Joe Lieberman) Republican minority in the Senate could make things incredibly difficult for Team Hope. 

Attacking Rush Limbaugh doesn't quite demonstrate the transformative spirit of hope, change and bipartisanship that I was promised.

Obama has now apparently succumbed to the Limbaugh/Bush derangement syndrome that has caused the Democratic Party -- despite a decade of impotence and corruption within the GOP -- to languish as merely the lesser of two evils in the minds of most voters.

And he's the president.

For those of us with any shred of knowledge of the Obama's political past, this is far from surprising. He ran as a moderate, but in reality, is anything but. This is a man who has shown an unwillingness throughout his political career to step out of lockstep with his party on anything of substance, and who only is interested in compromise so long as the opposition moves his way. 

The fact that he would call out a talk-radio host demonstrates a personal animus that is unbecoming of the high office he holds.

23 January 2009

Obama and Club Gitmo

Yesterday, President Obama signed a number of executive orders, the most notable one being a mandate to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by this time next year.

Let's first be clear: The Gitmo issue is incredibly complex. It is not as simple as Sean Hannity would like you to think, nor is it as cut-and-dried as the haughty, sponge-kneed likes of Kofi Annan and Paul Krugman believe.

Sen. McCain promised to likewise close Gitmo if he had been elected, so in all reality, most astute political observers knew Gitmo's days were numbered.

I do believe, however, that the speed with which Obama decided to sign this executive order is troubling, and evinces, at least to me, his priorities. I think highly of Obama's national security team -- defense secretary Bob Gates and national security adviser Gen. Jim Jones -- and trust that each man has the president's ear. But the fact that moving to close Gitmo was effectively Obama' first move as commander-in-chief doesn't say much to me about how serious he is about national security. I hope I'm wrong.

Let me say that I see where Obama and the Democrats are coming from vis-a-vis Guantanamo and waterboarding (the subject of another of the president's executive orders).

I believe that due process rights are not simply unique to American citizens. Once a person is tried in any sort of American court -- state, federal or military tribunal -- the Constitution cannot simply be tossed out the window. As an originalist, and a student of the Federalist Papers and the American Revolution, I do not believe the Framers intended the provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights to be exclusive to citizens of their fledgling republic. Likewise, the United States is not merely a party to the Geneva Convention (the provisions of which, in my opinion, do not apply to a terrorist picked up in a Baghdad market with dynamite strapped to his chest) -- it also, under President Reagan, ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture. While the Geneva Convention focuses on the individual detainees and countries' treatment thereof, the Convention Against Torture has a very clear focus on the actions of the individual countries. I have read it, and based on my reading, it does not differentiate between prisoners. The obvious thrust is to hold individual parties to the treaty to a certain standard of conduct in all their dealings with prisoners.

Finally, as Sen. McCain noted more than once during the campaign, in the wake of World War II, the United States government prosecuted Japanese interrogators for their use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique. Sixty years on, it does not do much for America's moral standing in the world to engage in the same type of behavior it condemned, no matter what the reason.

But while Obama is able to effectively ban waterboarding, he cannot un-ring the bell that opened Guantanamo in the first place.

During the campaign, he liked to speak of his supposed vocal opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2002 and 2003. Instead of studying a realistic exit strategy-- perhaps like the one proposed by his vice-president -- he offered full-throated support for a swift and immediate withdrawal of virtually all U.S. forces -- this despite the fact that the bipartisan Iraq Study Group concluded long since that beyond a shadow of a doubt, such a move would throw Iraq into a full-on civil war.

He likewise campaigned hard against Guantanamo Bay, promising to close the detention facility. However, the very real question has surfaced as to what he plans to do with the hundreds of prisoners -- including Khalid Shiekh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 -- that Gitmo houses. Obama knows full well that these prisoners' home countries -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, et al. -- have already refused to repatriate them. What will he do? Would he really entertain housing them on the U.S. mainland? If so, how does that differ from the procedures at Gitmo? Will he re-release them into the mountains of Afghanistan? Will he mandate to their countries of origin that they must be repatriated, or else? If so, what does that do for America's standing in the world, which Obama promised to mend? Will he try them in U.S. courts?

As cerebral and open-minded as Obama's supporters claim him to be, such actions in the national security arena evince an alarming shallowness and a lack of understanding. He simply can't un-ring the bell, close his eyes and make the Guantanamo problem go away. These prisoners are in the United States' control, for better or for worse. And many of them -- in particular, Khalid Shiek Mohammed -- are fueled by a visceral hatred for the United States and bent on wreaking destruction on us again.

It would have been much more encouraging -- and productive, no doubt -- to see the president form a blue-ribbon commission to study the various legal and political ramifications -- both national and international in scope -- of Guantanamo. Members could have included the likes of McCain, Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar, Iraq Study Group veterans Lee Hamilton and James Baker, and a cross-section of other moderates from both parties. Obama could have even tapped Jones, his national security adviser, to chair the committee.

What Obama and most others in this debate don't understand is that there is no simple answer to this question. One of the fallacies of the Bush years -- as noted by Woodward -- was that the war on terror is some sort of simplistic endeavor. Questions of success or failure, as Bush's team came to realize, cannot be evaluated on body counts. Likewise, Obama seems not to have grasped that simply closing down Gitmo -- with no plan to deal with the terrorists housed there -- is simply a hollow "moral" victory. If the Bush years taught us anything, it's that the 21st century is not that easy.

Instead of moving forward thoughtfully and in good faith, Obama engaged in the same kind of rash decision-making that he so criticized Bush for during the campaign. Has he thought about the consequences of closing Gitmo, or what he'll do next?

This supposedly nuanced leader has dealt with an incredibly complex issue -- and one with enormous ramifications on our national security -- like a fifth grader.

I genuinely worry that Obama doesn't understand that his first priority as president of the United States is not "human rights," socialized medicine, wealth redistribution, education, or even "hope" and "change."

It's national security. Period. End of discussion.

20 January 2009

The Bush Era: 2001-2009

Today, George W. Bush exited the White House for the final time. Although I have been deeply disappointed with many of his missteps -- both at home and abroad -- and count myself among his many disapprovers -- he was a genuinely good man who I believe did the best he could. 

But when you're the leader of the free world, sometimes -- and perhaps in Bush's case, often -- that simply isn't good enough.

Two days ago, I picked up Bob Woodward's most recent offering, "The War Within." Sad to say, this is actually the first Woodward book I've actually sat down to read (although I am an avid reader of any of his reporting and, although I'm sure it doesn't count, I watched the cinematic version of "All the President's Men"). Published in August, the book is much less a searing critique of individual actors within the Bush administration as it is an illustration of the decision-making apparatus that took us through the darkest days of the Iraq War.  

The Iraq War is undoubtedly the landmark issue of the Bush presidency. Thus, I will hold off on any major evaluations of the Bush years until I'm finished with Woodward's book. I'm only a third of the way through, but it's highly recommended reading.

Barack Obama was sworn in today as the 44th president of the United States. I watched a few minutes of coverage on CNN this morning, and watched people my age on the Mall jumping around and gleefully screaming, "Yes we can!" I love politics and I love the game. But I simply can't connect with such delusional clinging to a political figure or to an idea. Last night, Wolf Blitzer literally choked back the smiles as he spoke of how exciting the next day would undoubtedly be. I accuse him of nothing, but I doubt Blitzer said the same thing on January 19, 2001. 

I watched Obama's historic acceptance speech on election night and quietly turned off the TV. I don't plan on tuning in tonight when I return home. I've offered my congratulations to Obama and pledged my support and well wishes. He's my president, too, and perhaps the Republican Party would be better off if there were more people like me. 

I'm not excited in the least for the dawn of the Barack Obama Era, but I would prefer not to return to the Bush years, either. The Republican Party is in tatters and we appear to be headed into one of the most ambitious periods of government expansion since the Great Depression.

I believe we have George W. Bush to thank for both.

14 January 2009

From the Dept. of Hopenchange

There is a merchant in Toronto who is, in fact, peddling Barack Obama commemorative toilet paper for the low price of $8.95 a roll.


Apparently, however, the ink used to design the Changemaker's likeness is mildly toxic, and consumers are advised against using it during their forays to the porcelain god.

Why am I the only one who finds this hysterical?

Hat tip to Jammie Wearing Fool and Matt Drudge.

13 January 2009

Barack Obama counted to infinity. Twice!

It's time for this crap to stop.

Anywhere I walk -- downtown St. Louis, through the undergraduate campus at St. Louis University, the "alternative lifestyle" hubs of the Central West End and the Loop, even flipping through television commercials -- I'm hit over the head with tributes to our esteemed president-elect. 

Seven days before he's to be sworn in, mind you.

I've seen in no less than three places a children's book entitled "Barack Obama: Child of Promise, Man of Hope" or some nonsense to that effect. The Walgreen's near St. Louis University is selling Barack Obama commemorative hats, shirts, pins and, yes, collectable plates. The SLU bookstore itself is hawking no less than half a dozen biographies of the Changemaker. I recently saw a TV commercial peddling Barack Obama commemorative coins for the new, low price of $29.95. 

Get 'em while they're hot!

Days before the election, I saw myriad students walking around the halls of SLU Law, sporting shirts with the Hopemonger's face splashed across the front. Emblazoned thereon were catchy themes such as "Change" and "Hope."

Additionally, there are apparently better than 850,000 Facebook users who plan to tune into the inauguration of the man who once made the claim that he would make the oceans recede.

This is insane.

The man has served less than one term in the United States Senate.

He has never crafted a single bill of any significance, at any level, including his "persona non grata" tenure in the Illinois legislature.

Although a tremendous political presence and dynamic public speaker, he has shown himself to be everything but a leader when it comes to his record as a legislator.

At Bipartisan Rules, we're not concerned with rhetoric or so-called political movements. We're concerned with record and results. We endorsed Sen. McCain for the presidency not because of his campaign message, but because of his voting record, legislative craftsmanship, leadership and admirable track record of independence.

I'd ask Obama's supporters one question: What accomplishment can you cite to justify your incessant fawning?

I have the utmost admiration for Sen. McCain and was deeply disappointed when he lost. I believe that, if elected, he would have cemented himself among America's ten greatest presidents. He has an instinct for the hard challenge that is increasingly rare among Beltway types (something Obama has never demonstrated, at any level) and would have run a legitimately bipartisan administration, the likes of which our country might not ever see. 

As David Brooks noted in a pre-election column expressing dismay with his media colleagues' treatment of Obama, McCain is an intensely serious man prone to very serious things. However, as also noted by Brooks, such is impossible to convey in the midst of a presidential campaign.

The number of people in the tank for Obama is startling. It's beyond mindless.

Children's books? Commemorative plates?

The man has yet to take office.

His most notable accomplishment -- as impliedly noted by Sen. Clinton during the heat of the Democratic primary -- is being an electrifying speaker.

His record is fluff; his house of cards is made of rhetoric alone. He has unbelievably rallied a large swath of formerly disaffected voters into a pathetic platitude-spewing army. 

The frenzy that is Obamania is laughable, were it not so sad.

06 January 2009

Seat the man!

In a prior post, I referred to the Honorable Rod Blagojevich as "a contemptible piece of trash," or words to that effect. 

When the Illinois governor brashly appointed former state attorney general Roland Burris to Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat, I almost fell out of my chair.

Around here, we are no big fans of the esteemed governor, and look forward to a long, arduous, knock-down-drag-out impeachment process that airs all of the Illinois Democratic Party's dirty laundry.

That said -- and by now, it may well have already hit the fan -- Roland Burris must be seated.

The only argument that Senate Democrats can make for refusing to seat Burris is two-fold: First, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White must refuse to certify the appointment. Secondly, Senate rules must stipulate that such is a basis for refusing to seat a duly appointed member.

Because as contemptible a human being as Blagojevich might be, and as grotesque as Burris and Rep. Bobby Ryan's race-baiting was on December 30, Blagojevich remains the sitting governor of Illinois. Although under investigation and accused of criminal activity, he has not been impeached, nor has he been deemed unfit to govern by any court, state or federal. In fact, such an argument propounded by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan failed miserably. According to Madigan's tortured logic, Blagojevich was akin to a person who is medically incapacitated.

The bottom line is that Blagojevich is well within his constitutionally granted powers to appoint a replacement for Obama. Not only do the citizens of Illinois deserve a second senator working on their behalf in Washington, but Blagojevich's current situation does nothing to legally handcuff him from naming a replacement.

I understand the oppositional rhetoric coming from Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and other leading Democrats. This appointment is clearly tainted by the allegations that Blagojevich attempted to sell the vacant seat to the highest bidder. However, neither man has put forth an argument that Blagojevich is acting outside the bounds of his authority as Illinois' chief executive.

Additionally, I am concerned about the precedent that refusing to seat a duly appointed senator might set. It seems to me that Reid and Schumer's argument is based on a highly discretionary standard. 

What if Ted Stevens had in fact won re-election, and Sarah Palin had nominated herself to the embattled pork giant's seat? Is such also grounds for refusing to seat a duly appointed nominee?

What if a particular nominee (Robert "Sheets" Byrd, cough, cough) has an overtly racist background, or some other nasty character flaw? Is such likewise grounds for refusing to seat a duly appointed or elected nominee?

I am concerned at where Reid's discretionary standard -- we will refuse to seat a nominee because we believe him to be unfit (and you must trust us) -- will take the Senate in the future. I would have no problem with Reid excluding Burris from the Senate Democratic caucus, but refusing to seat him is another matter entirely.

04 January 2009

The irrepressible conflict

Israel declared its independence in 1948. 

It has been attacked by virtually all of its neighbors. It has been repeatedly attacked from within by Palestinian citizens. In 1996, President Clinton was convinced that the agreement signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat would forge a sustained peace between the two sides. Despite Israel's myriad concessions -- including ceding a portion of its territory to Arafat's PLO for the creation of a Palestinian state, Arafat inexplicably walked away. President Bush has likewise supported a two-state solution, but has seen his desires for a sustained peace thwarted as well.

In 2005, the state of Israel ceded the Gaza Strip over to the Palestinians. The hope, of course, was that such a move would mollify the Palestinians and end the terrorist attacks by terrorist groups such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah (the latter of which, of course, is effectively a subsidiary of and largely financed by the Iranian and Syrian governments). 

Several weeks ago, however -- completely unprovoked -- Hamas inexplicably began launching rocket attacks targeting Israeli citizens. What's notable is that Hamas deliberately fires these rockets from the most densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas' security compounds are literally in the middle of cities. The Israeli army, by contrast, has a strict policy of mitigating and, if possible, avoiding civilian casualties. 

As noted by Alan Dershowitz in a forceful yet thoughtful column in the Christian Science Monitor last week, such attacks on Israeli citizens have virtually nothing to do with the actions of Israeli the sovereign state. Rather, they have everything to do with a poisonous ideology preached by the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadenijad that openly seeks the destruction of the Jewish state. Why else would rocket attacks have increased after Israeli left the Gaza Strip several years ago?

As a notable aside, during the last four years, Islamic Jihad and Hamas have fired more than 2,000 rockets at the Israeli city of Sderot.

Here is the reality: There is no moral equivalence between terrorist organizations who deliberately target civilians and a sovereign nation-state that is legitimately protecting its borders. Further, there is no moral equivalence when that sovereign nation-state takes great pains (I'd say unnecessarily so) to avoid civilian casualties vis-a-vis its response to being attacked. The cracked-out likes of Jimmy Carter, Cynthia McKinney and Kofi Annan might think otherwise, but their heads are in the clouds. To Carter and Annan's cronies at the U.N., the attacks against Israeli civilians are entirely legitimate, while the Israeli responses are war crimes.

Why is it that virtually every American president -- from Reagan to Clinton to the Bushes and yes, even to that great bastion of successful diplomacy James Earl Carter, Jr. -- has walked away from some sort of brokered cease-fire shaking his head?

There are moderate Palestinians who desire peace, to be sure. But Palestinian militants are the ones who have stood in the way of peace for decades. And anyone who believes otherwise -- from Jacques Chirac to Jimmy Carter to the editors of The Nation -- has left reality far behind. Until the Palestinian extremists have been extinguished, the Holy Land will never see lasting peace. 

By the way, what would a foreign-policy post be without The Commish taking a shot across the bow of the U.S.S. Hope? The Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- not Iran's nuclear ambitions, nor the tenuous relationship the United States has forged with Pakistan -- will be the ultimate test of the president-elect's mettle, and of the implied worldview that the world's most savage individuals can be placated by mere chatting.

You're up, Mr. Obama. Godspeed.