Thursday, September 30, 2010
Why did he get that Nobel Peace Prize again? Oh yeah. Because he isn't George W. Bush.
But this administration reminds me of the famous takedown about Keynesian economics, that said everything that is true is not new, while everything that is new is not true. Aspects of foreign policy that have carried over from the Bush administration are among the successes of this one; innovations by this one have usually made bad enough situations arguably worse.
"It is a lawyers' adage: If you have the law on your side, argue the law; if you have the facts, argue the facts; if you have neither, pound the table. Forgive the Democrats for their current table-pounding."
Dionne is cheerleading again. While the election was bound to close with Democratic panic, the difference this time around comes down to two important themes: the "progressive" leadership and bloggers will be there, as will the public employee unions and other union leadership. But that is not enough to win. Not even close. Independents are abandoning the Democrats as being too ideologically left and anti-business, and with two years of proof on both counts, they simply do not have time or the capability to re-write history. They will probably salvage the Senate, and might limit House losses. But governorships and state houses and senates are blowing up, and reapportionment is coming. This loss has catastrophic consequences for Democrats. And no amount of community organizing or cheerleading is going to change that.
The general public hates academia because, well, they are hateable, and because academia looks down on those who are not in academia. But there is more to it on both sides and this article explores that relationship pretty well.
Through the Instapundit: We may not get back to "normal." This might be it. Not a pleasant thought.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
It's a valid argument.
Rep. Waxman backs FCC reclassification as legislative effort breaks down - The Hill's Hillicon Valley
Rep. Waxman is in the running for Most Arrogantly Anti-Business Politician in the US, and is universally recognized as the World's Ugliest Democrat.
Excellent. Getting political advice from Michael Dukakis is a lot like getting medical advice from Hugh Laurie; the difference is that "House" is still on the air, while Dukakis' last political gig saw him get blitzed by G.H.W. Bush.
Nice of the president to notice. Now, if he could find it in his heart to stop making business the bad guy, stop changing the rules of the game, stop piling on new regulations and governing boards and provide a little certainty to the economy, maybe business can start hiring some people and we can get the country back to work.
It must be wonderful to be so wonderful. People who are against the president in ANY regard are stupid, shortsighted, mistaken, or evil, and anyone who questions whether he actually knows what he is doing is probably a racist.
It reminds me of the old Damon Runyan line: "Shut up," he explained.
I have long advocated a "None of the Above" line in elections. If that line "wins" the vote, you throw out both candidates, bar them from trying again for the seat, and have another election. As often as necessary.
After a 2008 election where young people voted in droves for the "Party of Change and Hope n'Stuff," they are shifting significantly to the right on a myriad of subjects. Turns out hope and change, at some point have to be defined. And the definition basically means "you won't be finding jobs in your field, and your student loans are due."
Corollary: White women are the largest proportion of people in the Tea Party Movement. Surprised? Not a huge majority over white men, but significant and getting larger.
True enough. I haven't seen much of anything like this ever, but elite opinion appears to be that most citizens are idiots or tools.
Which would explain all the people who voted for Democrats last time around.
Why Christopher Lasch was right...
This is just desperately horrible. Someone turned a webcam on a young gay man, and broadcast it over the net. The young man committed suicide.
YouTube has an assortment of videos now connected to something called the It Gets Better Project. If you know someone young, gay, and having problems, send them there.
Morris is often wrong on specifics but he spots trends well, and this one hardly needs a detective. The only question for the fall, really, is "How bad will it be for the Democratic Party?" Anything on the order of 1994 will be devastating. Paradoxically, however, it might mean re-election of the president if Republicans read too much into the win.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Interesting. Nations states act in their own self interest, as self defined. Amazing. Hard to believe.
This is not good. From the country that brought men "moobs," we now have "manscara" or "guy-liner." Sad.
Can't we just go back to when guys wore hats, smoked a bit, drank more than a bit, didn't dance, and didn't talk much?
Venezuela goes to the polls, the opposition has a majority and picks up significantly less than half of the seats in the Assembly. What? Welcome to ChavezWorld, where fun loving dictator and cartoon socialist Hugo Chavez presides over 25% inflation, economic collapse, and political unrest and fear. But no worries! Next week, he will exhume Simon Bolivar (again!) and ask for intellectual assastance!
The mistake Progressives made was in thinking the president is a progressive. The mistake conservatives make is thinking he is a socialist. What he is is a redistributionist politician in the European, Social Democratic mold, and if civil liberties take a hit, it is because he has larger fish to fry. And the sharper tacks in the jar have caught on.
The ironies are staggering.
Monday, September 27, 2010
If there is a hard left group out there that is NOT funded to a significant degree by George Soros, I would be thrilled to find it. I attach a fairly comprehensive list of his beneficiaries.
Soros and his foundations have had a hand in funding such noteworthy leftist organizations as the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy; the Tides Foundation; the Tides Center; the National Organization for Women; Feminist Majority; the American Civil Liberties Union; People for the American Way; Alliance for Justice; NARAL Pro-Choice America; America Coming Together; the Center for American Progress; Campaign for America's Future; Amnesty International; the Sentencing Project; the Center for Community Change; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Human Rights Watch; the Prison Moratorium Project; the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; the National Lawyers Guild; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the Coalition for an International Criminal Court; The American Prospect; MoveOn.org; Planned Parenthood; the Nation Institute; the Brennan Center for Justice; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the National Security Archive Fund; the Pacifica Foundation; Physicians for Human Rights; the Proteus Fund; the Public Citizen Foundation; the Urban Institute; the American Friends Service Committee; Catholics for a Free Choice; Human Rights First; the Independent Media Institute; MADRE; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; the Immigrant Legal Resource Center; the National Immigration Law Center; the National Immigration Forum; the National Council of La Raza; the American Immigration Law Foundation; the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee; and the Peace and Security Funders Group.
Possibly the beginning of the beginning of the end for Hugo Chavez. One can hope.
No, the president is not a superhero. Neither has he proven to be much of a leader, which is the major problem. People follow leaders, and if times are tough, they stay the course (recognize a theme?). FDR convinced people that times would be better, and even when the Depression hung on, the people did not despair. The president got legislation passed and thought that was enough. It isn't.
The poll shows only 38% of voters are willing at this point to re-elect the president. The article also suggests, correctly, that at a similar point in 1994, President Clinton was in similar straits. Certainly, President Obama has the opportunity to reverse things, and toppling an incumbent president is always hard, but he shows little sign of transitioning to the center politically like Clinton did. But it is still a long two years.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Maybe it is time for a re-evaluation of his presidency, but it definitely needs to be objective and focused in three areas: Foreign policy, domestic programs, and governance.
In terms of foreign policy, he clearly presided over a mixed bag. While there were accomplishments in the Middle East and elsewhere, Carter's basic naiveté regarding the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea (as well as Panama, Cuba and Nicaragua) contributed to a significant expansion of Soviet influence throughout the world. He negotiated a SALT Treaty with Moscow that the Senate blankly refused to consider, thinking it a very bad deal indeed for the US. Much of Africa either went directly under Communist control, or governments were assailed by burgeoning Communist insurrections. In Central America, Cuba was the continuing wild card, but Nicaragua moved from a US ally to a Cuban satellite regime, and several other Central and South American countries found themselves pushed hard by homegrown, Havana and Moscow supplied insurrections. And the UN firmly moved from an organization normally sympathetic to US causes to one usually antagonistic toward them. Sadat/Begin notwithstanding, the world was definitely a more precarious place when he left office than when he arrived.
In terms of domestic policy, deregulation had a significant effect on the economy, and Carter did nominate Paul Volcker to the Fed. We got a Department of Education (which didn't help much), and a raft of new regulations in other areas (which didn't help at all). His backpatting reference to his legislative batting average is entertaining. He had a Democratic Congress and a quiescent Republican opposition. He should have gotten things passed, and he did. He also had horrendous relations with Congressional leadership, who found him dogmatic, naive, judgmental and petty. By the end of his term, the Democratic leadership in Congress hated him, and the loathing was mutual.
But it is in governance where Carter falls precipitously to the ground. The president must lead, and in that sense, it hardly matters whether programs get through Congress. What matters is the confidence on the part of the people and the Congress and the military and the press that someone is standing by the wheel, and is in charge. As event after event spun out of control, Carter spent his time minutely examining problems and forgetting big picture perceptions.
In all, if not a failed presidency, certainly one that was significantly flawed and definitively cut short. Successful presidents do not have primary opponents, and Kennedy had a chance to beat him. And successful presidents tend not to get pounded in re-election bids; Carter's election night was done just after the polls in California closed.
I would suggest that there is more to the Carter story than a simple "Jimmy Went to Washington and Couldn't Hack It" meme, but "successful" is not the word I would use to describe his WHite House tenure.
Pay attention. This is not going to be the last time people in the US get targeted for exercising the First Amendment in a way that extremist Muslims do not like. We will either need to get used to it, or start fighting back against it. Choose one or the other. I choose fighting back.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Out of everything we have managed to do right in the last ten years, one of the most important and signal achievements abroad has been the emergence of Afghan women as a moral, political and intellectual force, both at home and in the larger world. We helped them to escape the chains of the Taliban; it is incumbent upon us to make sure they do not return to their previous condition.
Economics is called the dismal science because it so often brings bad news. Like now.
Leave it to John Kerry. Confronted with voters who are angry at Washington, furious at historic spending levels, and incandescent at the condescension of politicians toward the public, Kerry blames clueless voters for the upcoming Democratic election deluge.
I like Reich. He is an honest liberal economist, but he is also wrong here. Two problems. The top 5% of income earners pay over 53% of income taxes. Taxpayers in the top 50% pay over 94% of all income taxes. So it isn't really unfair to suggest that they might deserve a cut, too. But there is also this: what is the US median income? Answer: about $50,000, give or take. We could even expand it to $75,000 and still leave an interesting question of why Democrats want to keep the tax cuts up to $250,000. Well, consider that upper income professionals from doctors to university professors to lawyers fall in that range, and you hit significant Democratic constituencies. In short, they want to keep those tax cuts because that is where their campaign contributions come from.
Piling on from the UK. The president can't even catch a break from the foreign media.
Figure that a major league quality fastball runs from 92 to 95 mpg. An extraordinary fastball clocks in at 97 or 98. A remarkable arm hits 100. Chapman blazed 5 mph faster than that. At 60'6" distance from the plate to the pitching rubber, I have no idea how you would begin to pick that up, much less hit it. And if the kid has ANY movement on it AT ALL, batters are trudging up, listening to the wind shriek past, and returning to the dugout.
Heads will roll, and they deserve to.
This is praise with loud damns. If Fineman has to spin this administration as one where things sucked but might have sucked more without them, the Dems have not only lost this fall, but have probably lost in 2012 as well.
One might term Clift the voice of left-center Washington, but if you do and you read this, you find disillusionment and near despair. There is a big difference between ramming through legislation and governing, one the president and his administration seem entirely unable to comprehend.
Dunno. I've come back to the original article a couple of times. D'Souza stitches together a whole lot of disparate elements of the president's writing and history to make a fairly coherent storyline based on an anti-colonialism worldview. On the other hand, the same basic themes can be read in pretty much any undergrad who goes through an Ivy League school and accepts the "prevailing wisdom." Add in the Alinsky mindset via ACORN and organizing in Chicago, and you arrive at essentially the same place. It doesn't have to be this complicated. Unless, of course, you are trying to sell books or something.
I say it's spinach, and I say to hell with it. My brother is more succinct. His mantra is: "Vegetables are not food. Vegetables are what food eats."
So why try passing it at all?
Well, politics. Duh. Defense bills tend to be popular and politicians generally lose no votes by supporting them. In fact, they usually benefit, since defense bills tend to be larded up with pork of all kinds. Given that basic popularity - surprise! - legislation is often attached to them that is only tangentially (if that) relevant to the main purpose of the bill.
Such was the case here. DADT deserves specific, open debate, preferably after the completion of the military review of the policy. If there is no reason to continue it (and, frankly, I can see none), then the policy deserves an up and down vote, independent of other considerations, putting everyone on the record of approving or opposing it. Which is part of the reason it was attached to the defense apporpriation. Politicians love wiggle room.
As for the DREAM act, that was Harry Reid in full pander mode. For a solid year, Democrats held an absolute majority. They literally could have passed anything, and in some instances, did, without any Republican votes at all. If they had wanted to pass immigration reform (read "amnesty") they could have. And they chose not to, because, other than with the specific, affected demographic group, the issue is not a political winner nationwide. But by bringing DREAM up for a vote, even in the form it arrived, Democrats hoped to ignite some sense of urgency in one of their key voting constituencies. It may even work. But it was breathtakingly cynical, even for Washington.
In the end, both sides got fodder for their political ads this fall. And the rest of us got another dose of realpolitik.
Friday, September 24, 2010
The title says it all. Bubba is coming to the rescue. Not the president. And Frank could lose this one, being intimately tied to all manner of political disasters.
Yeah, couldn't possibly be because their policies suck and people hate them the more they hear about them. Couldn't be that. Instead, the problem is those pesky corporations, saying nasty things about all of those hard working, selfless Donkeys.
Um. Sure. Blame your beatdown on whatever you want, but the facts are clear.
If you are losing the guy who made your iconic "Hope" poster, who do you have left in your corner?
In voicing her concerns, she voiced them for many...if not most of us. And the answers she got were deeply unsatisfying.
This is an ugly case on lots of levels, and if it is found ultimately that there was an institutional refusal to proceed in civil rights cases against black defendants, the blame goes up to the top.
After all of these years, I am still shocked and dismayed that Ayres got a teaching position, tenure, and the respect (at least in part) of the university community, considering his actions and the things he advocated as a founding member of the Weathermen/Weather Underground. Ayres was a domestic terrorist, and while I agree that people have the ability to change and repent their actions, nothing in this man's career or writing suggests he regrets much of anything, other than that he "didn't do enough."
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Russia has always been the obnoxious uncle who scratches, farts, picks his nose and cannot be brought out in mixed company. Nothing changes in Russia except the name of the boss. From Tsar to General Secretary to President, the song remains the same.
There's a shock. Another shock arrives when you consider how many of the rich donate to the Dems as well. It's documented. You can look it up.
Abstract of a larger paper as to why the individual mandate will fall on appeal.
I am not a lawyer, for lots of reasons. But I can read the Constitution as well as the next person, and I cannot see how the individual mandate can stand and we can still pretend to have a federalist sort of government.If the mandate stands, there is virtually no impediment to government regulation of ANYTHING at all, and not even the Warren Court would have traveled so far. Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy to strike. Maybe even Breyer with reservations.
Beinart is the ultimate stopped clock. He is right every so often, and when he is, he convinces himself that the phenomenon happens far more often than twice a day. The GOP is not going to nominate Sarah Palin, whether she runs or not. At this point, Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie or even Mitt Romney would have to be seen as more electable. And since 1964, when there really wasn't anyone else, Republicans have nominated plausible candidates; in contrast, Democrats have found themselves drawn to the party edges, with McGovern in 72, Mondale in 84, Dukakis in 88, and Kerry in 04. None were remotely centrist. The GOP doesn't make that mistake. It makes others.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This will be interesting. Woodward tends to get a lot of access, and what he uncovers tends not to be flattering.
The president is given a great deal of credit for his smarts. So why is he forever making simple mistakes like this one? As noted: USA, declared independence 1776. Mexico, declared independence 1810.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Fouad Ajami with a rather profound - and startling - insight. In a survey by Elaph, "the most respected electronic daily in the Arab world," 58% of respondents thought the Ground Zero mosque was a bad idea. Moreover, by a 63 to 37% spread, respondents "accepted the good faith and pluralism" of the United States.
If you read one article this week, make it this one.
Agreed. Probably not much will happen, and what does will pretty much require fairly broad support across parties.
The last thing we need right now are more environmental regulations. Congress refused to pass cap and trade because of economic concerns. Those concerns do not change just because the source of the regulations is EPA rather than Congress. Expect a two year delay that will become indefinite.
I have gone after Mr. Carter from time to time. I pointedly supported Ronald Reagan in 1980, but still believe that Carter gets a bum rap in certain quarters. While he had a number of high profile missteps, he also accomplished a very great deal, including the Panama Canal Treaties, peace between Israel and Egypt, and significant deregulation of interstate business domestically. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the Carter presidency. He insists that the biggest reason he has a reputation as "failed" is because he was not re-elected. He might have a point.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Would have been a far sight more effective if the government had simply used a significantly smaller portion of the money to give the unemployed $50,000 for the year and counted it good. They would have used it to pay bills and buy groceries, etc, putting it back into the marketplace and stimulating the economy at hugely less cost.
It might be easier to define it by what it is not. Tolerance does not consist of cheering for the opposition. It is not being joyful at the prospect of differing points of view. It is not agreement. It does not consist of buying into even the tiniest iota of someone else's point of view.
It is putting up with people you might generally consider to be the blankest sort of slackjawed morons because they have every right to say what they think, unimpeded by your outrage, real or feigned. This is the price you pay for being tolerated by people who may very well consider you to be wrong, idiotic and degenerate, at best.
In a sense, toleration is the essence of civilization. It is being civilized, and understanding that freedom of speech and democracy is hard work. It is truly very heavy lifting sometimes, and it is tempting to believe the worst of those with whom we disagree.
We have no right to demand that people respect our opinions or accept us and our beliefs; what we all must insist upon, however, is our unimpeded right to have them.
Researchers report first case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in an active college football player
Brown has seemingly been around forever, from his days as Governor Moonbeam (thank you, Mike Royko!) to his latest incarnation as reborn fiscal conservative. What he is, mostly, is a politician capable of adapting to changing circumstances with alarming ease.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
This was really the entire point of the Tea Party movement. No one went in expecting to create a separate political party or to topple the powers that be. The intention was a great deal more level headed. What they wanted to do was stop the leftward march of Congress in both parties. This has happened. The Progressive agenda is dead now, and the strong likelihood of rollback on Obamacare and the Recovery Act looms dead ahead.
This one is hysterical. The anchor is fired after being suspended for telling the truth on the air. No good deed goes unpunished.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Predictably, I have a problem with her decision, because I find her opinion a drastic overreach of judicial authority. On the other hand, I have no problem AT ALL with the result. DADT was never more than a stop gap between complete intolerance of homosexuality within the Armed Services up to its implementation, and open acceptance of gays and lesbians within the ranks. It was, in its time, drastic, though still incremental, change.
I served in the USAF between 1983 and 1987, and during that time homosexuals would be discharged when discovered. In spite of that, I knowingly served with gays and lesbians; many of them. I have absolutely no doubt about that, and neither did anyone else, even if no one came out and said what everyone knew to be irrefutable fact. And nothing, precisely, NOTHING, happened either way.
We all did our jobs. When we were not on duty, we went our separate ways. On duty, I have no knowledge of anyone being creeped on in showers or propositioned in bathrooms; if there were propositions, whatever the polarity of the participants, things were kept private between consenting adults. In short, the military survived just fine and so did we.
So why do I have a problem with this judge making this ruling at this time?
Because military justice and military behavior are not, strictly speaking, covered under the Constitution. The military is a special case, carefully circumscribed and subject to its own rules and regulations.
Service members do not face civil justice for crimes they commit in the military; they face military justice because the standards of behavior and deportment are a very great deal more strict and rigid. They have to be. In the military, what you are allowed to say, how you are allowed to behave, and what you are allowed to do are regulated and deviation is proscribed. The reason is obvious. In wartime, in battle, and under pressure, everyone from the highest ranking general to the lowest buck private has to know how the people around them will behave, and that behavior, in mixed services, always involves how people relate to each other.
For these and many other reasons, fraternization has always been frowned upon as being deleterious to good order. But while fraternization between males and females can be avoided in the most stressful situations simply by segregating one from the other (females are not allowed to serve on the front lines, for instance), how can anyone stop single sex fraternization if one cannot tell the difference between gays and straights? The short answer is that you can't. The longer answer is that you can, but you have to be persistent. DADT basically suggests that the military won't go looking for homosexuals if service members don't make an issue of their sexuality.
Whether any or all of this was necessary is debatable, and it probably should be debated. At the time the policy was put into place, society was still coming to grips with the emergence of gays and lesbians into the mainstream. In that atmosphere, DADT was a significant improvement over the policies previously in place, which basically came down to giving suspected homosexuals a bad conduct discharge. And while DADT appears restrictive and, in some respects, unjust today, we need to remember that issues considered unthinkable a scant ten years ago today are being debated openly, and that is all to the good.
Frankly, the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is already coming. I do not expect it to survive another election cycle, and it will come as a result of changing societal norms and the evolving perceptions of what works and does not work within the military itself. I find that to be a good thing. And it is even better if the agreement is broadly reached and concluded, rather than narrowly decided by one judge writing in Riverside, California.
Monday, September 13, 2010
If we choose to measure Islam by the relatively evolved standards of Western Civilization, we find Islam very much lacking in basic respect for individual freedom and political autonomy. And even if we choose not to look at Islam from our own, admittedly biased perspective, we still objectively find that people who live in the West have more freedom, more wealth, and more opportunities to do what we want when we want to do it. Also, if one happens to be female, living under the Western democratic tradition means that a woman may own property, may not be considered the property of either her family or her husband, and may follow her dreams of education, work, or personal advancement wherever they take her.
But we are not supposed to look at these things objectively, lest we be thought xenophobic or ethnocentric. Personally, however, I find nothing wrong, at all, with the idea of looking objectively at systems of government or societal organization and considering where I would choose to live, given the choice. And, given the choice, it would not be in a country dominated by Islam.
In the West, we have a long history of government dominated by religion. The Protestant Reformation was merely the first hammerblow to that domination by the Catholic Church throughout Western Europe, and echoes of that struggle remain. The Spanish Inquisition, the repression of the Huguenots, the burning of apostates and rival claimants to the religious mainstream all grew from a simple, brutal fact: The Church had more power over the lives of its adherents than did the governments of the countries in which they lived. Princes and potentates knew that and had to take it into account.
But through long centuries of the Enlightenment and reformation, we managed to grow out of our medieval period. We have adopted, in ways large and small, bulwarks against religion in our secular laws and democratic governments. In the United States, we have a separation between church and state, and we take it with deadly and resolute seriousness. We guard against the hand of religion in our laws, and we fight back at the first sign of religious influence in our government or laws.
Islam, by contrast, has had nothing on the order of a reformation, and its adherents insist that laws and government be in accordance with Sharia law, i.e., the word of Allah and His Prophet Mohammed. To greater and lesser degrees, countries with large Muslim populations have instituted Sharia, though there continues to be questions of interpretation, depending on one's sect; Sunnis view Sharia somewhat differently than Shia, who have a different view than the Sufis, and doctrinaire differences proliferate. But it is also true that among Islamist Muslims, generally followers of Wahhabist beliefs, Sharia comes down to subjection of individuals and states to the will of Allah, as interpreted by them. Given all of this, what we see in countries dominated by Islam is a willingness on the part of the general population and, most particularly, the fanatics, to subsume both individuals and the state to religion.
It is also true that the governments affected by this mindset have a somewhat different opinion, one quite probably shared by kings and princes of our own Western past. What they desire and try to accomplish is the channeling of Islam to support their own ambitions and governments, and some have been quite repressive in the pursuit of power over religion. Hosni Mubarek in Egypt outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, seeing it as a threat to his rule. King Hussein of Jordan periodically had skirmishes with zealots, and Saddam Hussein subsumed religion to his own cult of personality. But for every example of state subsuming religion, there are other, more current, examples of Islamist fanatics manipulating governments for the sake of religion. We see it in Indonesia, Afghanistan, and Iran; we see attempts being made in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia; and we see rather more long term plans moving forward throughout Western Europe.
It is important to be religiously tolerant. It is a Western virtue I am loath to abandon, but does that mean we must continue to be tolerant of those who are, in return, intolerant? Why is it that we in the West refuse to hold others to the same standards we hold ourselves to? If religious freedom and freedom FROM religion are ideals we hold and aspire to, I see nothing wrong with holding our friends, allies, and potential friends or allies to equally high standards.