April 21, 2015

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For years Pickings has been pointing out the public safety folks are getting out of control. David French in National Review writes on the gestapo tactics of the Wisconsin left.

‘They came with a battering ram.”

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking.

She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.

She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door.

“I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic.

“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”

She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee.

“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”

They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off.

The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.”

Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.


“It’s a matter of life or death.”

That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.

“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”

She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”

It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.

Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television.

In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”

As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings.

Don’t call your lawyer.

Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends. …


… For dozens of conservatives, the years since Scott Walker’s first election as governor of Wisconsin transformed the state — known for pro-football championships, good cheese, and a population with a reputation for being unfailingly polite — into a place where conservatives have faced early-morning raids, multi-year secretive criminal investigations, slanderous and selective leaks to sympathetic media, and intrusive electronic snooping.

Yes, Wisconsin, the cradle of the progressive movement and home of the “Wisconsin idea” — the marriage of state governments and state universities to govern through technocratic reform — was giving birth to a new progressive idea, the use of law enforcement as a political instrument, as a weapon to attempt to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives.

Most Americans have never heard of these raids, or of the lengthy criminal investigations of Wisconsin conservatives. For good reason. Bound by comprehensive secrecy orders, conservatives were left to suffer in silence as leaks ruined their reputations, as neighbors, looking through windows and dismayed at the massive police presence, the lights shining down on targets’ homes, wondered, no doubt, What on earth did that family do?

This was the on-the-ground reality of the so-called John Doe investigations, expansive and secret criminal proceedings that directly targeted Wisconsin residents because of their relationship to Scott Walker, their support for Act 10, and their advocacy of conservative reform.



Good column this week by Glenn Reynolds on why politicians should obey the law.

Some people are now encouraging President Obama to basically ignore the Supreme Court where its rulings might impede the implementation of Obamacare. And a recent Rasmussen poll showed that 26% of likely voters — a minority, but still a significant number — say the president should be able to disregard federal court rulings “if they are standing in the way of actions he feels are important for the country.”

Faced with a Supreme Court order to turn over the White House tapes, President Nixon complied and, shortly thereafter, resigned. But if Obama were to violate a high court decision, he wouldn’t be the first president to do so. President Andrew Jackson, after all, ignored the justices’ decision in favor of the Cherokee Nation in Worcester v. Georgia and sent the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears. His picture is on the $20 bill today, and although there’s now a move to replace him, it’s motivated more by a desire to have a woman on U.S. currency than by any disgust over Jackson’s lawlessness.

The only remedy for presidential lawlessness, short of a coup or a civil war, is impeachment, and only two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have ever been impeached. Neither was removed from office.

Of course, presidential lawlessness is a special case. Because the president controls not only the nation’s law enforcement apparatus but also its military, it’s pretty hard to call him to account. But what about the rest of us? If presidents can violate the law, why can’t we? …



Joel Kotkin says the drought and how it has been handled, shows that “California is so over.”

California’s drought and how it’s handled show just what kind of place the GoldenState is becoming: feudal, super-affluent and with an impoverished interior.

California has met the future, and it really doesn’t work. As the mounting panic surrounding the drought suggests, the GoldenState, once renowned for meeting human and geographic challenges, is losing its ability to cope with crises. As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the state’s middle- and working classes. 

The water situation reflects this breakdown in the starkest way. Everyone who follows California knew it was inevitable we would suffer a long-term drought. Most of the state—including the Bay Area as well as greater Los Angeles—is semi-arid, and could barely support more than a tiny fraction of its current population. California’s response to aridity has always been primarily an engineering one that followed the old Roman model of siphoning water from the high country to service cities and farms.  

But since the 1970s, California’s water system has become the prisoner of politics and posturing. The great aqueducts connecting the population centers with the great Sierra snowpack are all products of an earlier era—the Los Angeles aqueduct (1913), Hetch-Hetchy (1923), the Central Valley Project (1937), and the California Aqueduct (1974). The primary opposition to expansion has been the green left, which rejects water storage projects as irrelevant. 

Yet at the same time greens and their allies in academia and the mainstream press are those most likely to see the current drought as part of a climate change-induced reduction in snowpack. That many scientists disagree with this assessment is almost beside the point. Whether climate change will make things better or worse is certainly an important concern, but California was going to have problems meeting its water needs under any circumstances. …

April 20, 2015

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John Hinderaker posts on John Dickerson who CBS has picked to anchor Face the Nation.

Bob Schieffer is retiring as host of CBS’s Sunday morning political talk show, Face the Nation. CBS has announced that his replacement will be John Dickerson, who, among other things, is both the political director for CBS News and chief political correspondent for Slate magazine. Dickerson, a graduate of Sidwell Friends, is a perfect 21st century Democrat. This is how Dickerson described his upbringing:

“In McLean, Va., in the 1970s, the suburban clusters had names written in script at the entrance gates, but my house was the only one I knew that had a name of its own. When my parents gave parties, it was my job to open the door, look each new arrival in the eye and say: “Welcome to Merrywood.”

The house, a 36-room Georgian-style mansion built in 1920, was veined with ivy and surrounded with old boxwood bushes that looked like broccoli when you flew over on the descent into nearby NationalAirport. Jacqueline Kennedy grew up there and Jack Kennedy worked on “Profiles in Courage” on the third floor.

Gore Vidal, who lived in what would become my brother’s room, put the house at the center of his 1967 novel “Washington, D.C.” …
My mother, Nancy Dickerson, was a reporter for CBS and NBC and the first female star of television news; my father, Wyatt Dickerson, was a successful businessman. Their parties, from the ’60s to the ’80s, attracted cabinet officials, movie stars and presidents.”

Dickerson was a regular guest on Al Franken’s long-defunct Air America show. How far left is he? Ed Driscoll takes us down memory lane to this 2013 Slate piece: “Go for the Throat! Why if he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party.” …



More from Ed Driscoll. As Glenn Reynolds says; they’re not journalists, they’re partisans with bylines.

John Dickerson, replacing Bob Schieffer as the new host of Face the Nation, will continue the same level of objectivity that CBS has brought to viewers for half a century. In 1964, when CBS was one third of all television news, Walter Cronkite and Daniel Schorr repeatedly smeared Barry Goldwater as a crypto-Nazi. His successor, Dan Rather, blew himself up in spectacular fashion with RatherGate in 2004, as dissected by all those bloggers in their Pajamas, to coin a Website name. …

… Slate is what it is and some bloodthirsty Slate writer orgasmic over the prospect of Obama permanently pulverizing and destroying the GOP is as noteworthy as green on grass.

Oh, except after someone like Brit Hume connects the dots.

The author of this outrageous left-wing fever dream is John Dickerson, whom Slate describes as “Slate’s chief political correspondent”. What Slate leaves out of its little bio, though, is that Dickerson is also the political director at CBS News.

Dickerson is merely being Dickerson, and  there’s no doubt he speaks for legions upon legions of those in the media today. …



Turning our attention to Hillary Clinton, John Fund says she has serious problems.

In the run-up to Hillary Clinton’s presidential announcement, a lot of commentators dismissed criticism of her or suggested it would boomerang against Republicans. Her former consultant James Carville accused MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough of “scandalmongering.” On Sunday, Chuck Todd of NBC’s Meet the Press, speaking to radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, expressed his skepticism of Republican efforts against the Clintons: “I look at sort of an obsession on the right of beating Obama and beating Bill Clinton over the years . . . is there a point where you do this too much?”

But clearly many voters disagree. A new Bloomberg poll finds approval of Hillary at 48 percent in the wake of her e-mail scandal. The poll finds 53 percent of Americans believe “she purposely withheld or deleted some relevant e-mails from a private account and home server she used while in office.” Just 29 percent of respondents think she is being truthful.

“Voters do think she is a strong leader — a key metric — but unless she can change the honesty perception, running as a competent but dishonest candidate has serious potential problems,” concludes Quinnipiac’s assistant polling director Peter Brown. His firm’s new polls find majorities in the swing states of Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia don’t believe she is honest or trustworthy. …



Charles Krauthammer writes on the “Marie Antoinette tour.”

See Hillary ride in a van! Watch her meet everyday Americans! Witness her ordering a burrito bowl at Chipotle! Which she did wearing shades, as did her chief aide Huma Abedin, yielding security-camera pictures that made them look (to borrow from Karl Rove) like fugitives on the lam, wanted in seven states for a failed foreign policy.

There’s something surreal about Hillary Clinton’s Marie Antoinette tour, sampling cake and commoners. But what else can she do? After Barack Obama, she’s the best-known political figure in America. She has papal name recognition. Like Napoleon and Cher, she’s universally known by her first name. As former queen consort, senator and secretary of state, she has spent a quarter-century in the national spotlight — more than any modern candidate.

She doesn’t just get media coverage; she gets meta-coverage. The staging is so obvious that actual events disappear. The story is their symbolism — campaign as semiotics.

This quality of purposeful abstractness makes everything sound and seem contrived. It’s not really her fault. True, she’s got enough genuine inauthenticity to go around — decades of positioning, framing, parsing, dodging — but the perception is compounded by the obvious staginess of the gigantic political apparatus that surrounds her and directs her movements. …



Seth Mandel thinks Clinton is terrified of people and wonders if that will matter to voters. 

If, as a child, you expressed fear of a certain kind of insect, or a dog or a cat perhaps, you were probably told by an adult to buck up because “it’s more afraid of you than you are of it.” If so, you might find it endearing to learn that the same could probably be said about Hillary Clinton. It’s true that she seeks to punish dissent, embraces Nixonian power lust and rule breaking, and is even willing to support amending the Constitution to trash free-speech protections if it means keeping a negative movie about her out of theaters. But as we’re learning this week, as creepy and destructive as her view of government is, she’s almost certainly more afraid of you than you are of her.

IJ Review has a fun side-by-side comparison of what happened when the entertainment-news site TMZ attempted to question Marco Rubio in an airport, and what happened when TMZ tried to corner Hillary Clinton in an airport. Rubio walked over to the cameraman smiling, and chatted for a bit about his campaign, music, and even gracefully handled a question about his wife being an ex-cheerleader. He never looked uncomfortable, or bothered by the questions.

The video of Clinton consists entirely of her walking away in silence, hearing but ignoring the cameraman.

You may think that if there’s any fear at play in that video, it’s fear of the media or of accountability. And that’s surely true. But Hillary’s campaign rollout is revealing that it’s a more generalized fear than that: the woman who wants to be the next president is terrified of people. …



According to Jonah Goldberg, Clinton is the candidate of yesterday. For proof he points out she was the only candidate who supported the war in Iraq.

… Personally, I don’t think support for the war should be disqualifying. And I have no doubt that most anti-war Democrats will nonetheless work through their cognitive dissonance and vote for Clinton. They hardly put up much protest when anti-war Obama selected Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Kerry, all of whom voted for the war, as his top foreign-policy gurus.

Perhaps this generational wave of post-Iraq Republican politicians says something interesting about the GOP? Likewise, perhaps Clinton’s support for the war — until she apologized in her 2014 memoir — says something about her? Reasonable (and unreasonable) people will differ on all that.

But Clinton’s support for the war underscores a broader vulnerability. Unlike her probable opponents, she’s truly a creature of yesterday’s battles. From the fight over “Hillarycare,” to the endless scandals of her husband’s administration, to the ugly brawls over the Iraq War, Hillary Clinton has been a partisan fixture of Washington at its most exhausting and ugly moments. A Midwestern road trip in a van dubbed “Scooby,” even one punctuated by burrito breaks, won’t make people forget that, nor will defensive outbursts from her supporters stop her critics from pointing it out.


And the NY Times reports Clinton was asked about her emails two years ago.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was directly asked by congressional investigators in a December 2012 letter whether she had used a private email account while serving as secretary of state, according to letters obtained by The New York Times.

But Mrs. Clinton did not reply to the letter. And when the State Department answered in March 2013, nearly two months after she left office, it ignored the question and provided no response.

The query was posed to Mrs. Clinton in a Dec. 13, 2012, letter from Representative Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Mr. Issa was leading an investigation into how the Obama administration handled its officials’ use of personal email.

“Have you or any senior agency official ever used a personal email account to conduct official business?” Mr. Issa wrote to Mrs. Clinton. “If so, please identify the account used.” …


The Cartoonists have a lot of fun with the Clinton logo. Go to the WORD or PDF versions to see those.



April 19, 2015

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We are early because the debate contained herein amongst our friends, about global warming and the reasons for it, is hard to take all at once, so this will give everyone a chance to go back to it a few times before the next Pickings is posted Sunday night or Monday morning.  


Ron Bailey of Reason Magazine, the house organ of the libertarian movement, posts on his growing belief that there is some human cause to the increase in temperatures.

In 2005, I changed my mind about climate change: I concluded that the balance of the scientific evidence showed that man-made global warming could likely pose a significant problem for humanity by the end of this century. My new assessment did not please a number of my friends, some of whom made their disappointment clear.

At the 2007 annual gala dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a D.C.-based free-market think tank, the master of ceremonies was former National Review editor John O’Sullivan. To entertain the crowd, O’Sullivan put together a counterfeit tale in which I ostensibly had given a lecture on environmental trends pointing out that most were positive. After my talk, O’Sullivan told the audience, a young woman supposedly approached me to express her displeasure with regard to my change of mind on climate change.

Continuing his fable, O’Sullivan recounted to the hundreds of diners that I had tried to explain why my views had shifted. Eventually realizing that the young woman was having none of it, I then purportedly asked her if it wasn’t enough that we two actually agreed on most environmental policy issues. The young woman paused for a moment, said O’Sullivan, and then retorted, “I suppose that Pontius Pilate made some good decisions, too.” Being compared, even in jest, to the Roman governor who consented to the crucifixion of Jesus is, to say the least, somewhat disconcerting.

Welcome to the most politicized science of our time. …



Jonathan Adler, law prof at Case Western, posts in Volokh Conspiracy about his arrival at the same beliefs.

When it comes to climate change, there is an amazing confluence of policy preferences and scientific assessments.  Those who generally favor aggressive regulatory interventions to address environmental concerns are convinced global warming is a serious (if not catastrophic) environmental concern, while those who generally oppose governmental interventions in the marketplace are skeptical of mainstream climate science.  Each side of the policy debate has adopted a view of the science that confirms — or at least conforms with — its policy preferences.

It would be nice if reality lined up just so, but that’s not the world in which we live. As I wrote in 2008:

“Given my strong libertarian leanings, it would certainly be ideologically convenient if the evidence for a human contribution to climate change were less strong. Alas, I believe the preponderance of evidence strongly supports the claim that anthropogenic emissions are having an effect on the global climate, and that effect will increase as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. While I reject most apocalyptic scenarios as unfounded or unduly speculative, I am convinced that the human contribution to climate change will cause or exacerbate significant problems in at least some parts of the world. For instance, even a relatively modest warming over the coming decades is very likely to have a meaningful effect on the timing and distribution of precipitation and evaporation rates, which will, in turn, have a substantial impact on freshwater supplies. That we do not know with any precision the when, where, and how much does not change the fact that we are quite certain that such changes will occur.”

Over at Reason, Ronald Bailey points out that the cumulative evidence in support of the basic proposition that human emissions of greenhouse gases are contributing to a gradual warming of the atmosphere is substantial — even if it is inconvenient for a libertarian to admit.



Next Ron Bailey linked to a couple of critics of his post.

Last week, I wrote an article asking, “What Evidence Would Persuade You That Man-Made Climate Change Is Real?” Let’s just say that it provoked some readers a bit. Now some participants in the climate change science controversy are explaining how I misinterpret or misunderstand what is going on. For the convenience of Reason readers I link to a couple below. …

… Folks, as I have said, my best judgment is that the preponderance of the evidence – not beyond a reasonable doubt – suggests that man-made global warming could become a significant problem later in this century. Given my ideological commitments I would much prefer (and do hope) to be wrong. As noted, I intend to monitor the predictions made by those who think warming will be rapid and dangerous. If they fail, believe me, I will happily report those failures. …



The first answer came from Roy Spencer who is a climatologist and principal research scientist at U of Alabama at Huntsville.

I just found out that Ron Bailey at Reason.com published an article a few days ago entitled, “What Evidence Would Persuade You That Man-Made Climate Change Is Real?

I’ve spent some time with Ron, and he is a very sharp guy. That’s why I’m a little disappointed that he would publish this mixture of straw man arguments and uncritical thinking. He is the only deep thinker I know of who switched from being a skeptic about the causes of global warming to a believer…an epiphany which occurred in 2005, according to the article. (Hmmm…I wonder if he was fooled by all those major hurricanes that hit the U.S. that year? It’s now almost 10 years later, and we haven’t had one since.)

The first problem I have is with his premise: that skeptics believe humans have no role in climate change. I don’t know of any serious skeptics who hold such a view. Now, maybe he is addressing people who deny any human involvement in global warming. His article is vague, and maybe he can clarify his intent for us.

The second problem I have is with Ron’s list of a variety of evidences of global-average warming, which (again) no skeptic worth their salt disputes. The science dispute is over how much of the warming is manmade versus natural. Like too many others, Ron conflates climate change with human-caused climate change, which are not the same thing. …




Next up is Christopher Monckton who sometimes appeers to write as Lord Monckton. He goes into serious detail. He’s the main reason it’s hard to read this all at once.  

“What Evidence,” asks Ronald Bailey’s headline (www.reason.com, April 3, 2015), “Would Convince You That Man-Made Climate Change Is Real?”

The answer: a rational, scientific case rooted in established theory and data would convince me that manmade climate change is a problem. That it is real is not in doubt, for every creature that breathes out emits CO2 and thus affects the climate.

The true scientific question, then, is not the fatuous question whether “Man-Made Climate Change Is Real” but how much global warming our sins of emission may cause, and whether that warming might be more a bad thing than a good thing.

However, Mr Bailey advances no rational case. What, then, are the elements of a rational, scientific case that our influence on the climate will prove dangerous unless the West completes its current self-shutdown?

Here is the mountain the tax-gobbling classes who tend to favor profitable alarmism must climb before they can make out a rational, scientific case for doing anything about our greenhouse-gas emissions. …


Now here’s where Monckton can light you up.

… Whether mitigation measures should be attempted in any event is an economic question, answered by investment appraisal. The UK’s $8333-per-auto subsidy for electric cars will serve as an example. The two initial conditions for the appraisal are the fraction of global CO2 emissions a mitigation measure is intended to abate, and the cost of the measure.

Typical gasoline-powered auto engines are approximately 27% efficient. Typical fossil-fueled generating stations are 50% efficient, transmission to end user is 67% efficient, battery charging is 90% efficient and the auto’s electric motor is 90% efficient, so that the fuel efficiency of an electric car is also 27%. However, the electric car requires 30% more power per mile traveled to move the mass of its batteries.

CO2 emissions from domestic transport account for 24% of UK CO2 emissions, and cars, vans, and taxis represent 90% of road transport (DfT, 2013). Assuming 80% of fuel use is by these autos, they account for 19.2% of UK CO2 emissions. Conversion to electric power, 61% of which is generated by fossil fuels in the UK, would abate 39% of 19.2% (i.e. 7.5%) of UK CO2 emissions.

However, the battery-weight penalty would be 30% of 19.2% of 61%: i.e. 3.5% of UK CO2 emissions. The net saving from converting all UK cars, vans, and taxis to electricity, therefore, would be 4% of UK CO2 emissions, which are 1.72% of global CO2 emissions, abating 0.07% of global CO2 emissions of 2 μatm yr–1, or 0.00138 μatm. From eqn. (2), assuming 400 μatm concentration at year end on business as usual, forcing abated by the subsidy for converting all UK cars to electricity would be 5.35 ln[400/(400-0.00138)], or 0.00002 W m–2, which, multiplied by the Planck parameter λ0, gives 0.000006 K warming abated by the subsidy.

The cost to the UK taxpayer of subsidizing the 30,000 electric cars, vans, and taxis bought in 2012 was a flat-rate subsidy of $8333 (£5000) for each vehicle and a further subsidy of about $350 (£210) per year in vehicle excise tax remitted, a total of $260.5 million. On that basis, the cost of subsidizing all 2,250,000 new autos sold each year (SMMT, 2013), would be $19.54 bn. …

Monckton is a show-off.




Last today is Robert Tracinski who writes often for The Federalist. He closes with this; 

… Given the abysmal record of climate forecasting, we should tell the warmists to go back and make a new set of predictions, then come back to us in 20 or 30 years and tell us how these predictions panned out. Then we’ll talk.

Ah, but we’re not going to be allowed to wait. And that’s one of the things that is deeply unscientific about the global warming hysteria. The climate is a subject which, by its nature, requires detailed study of events that take many decades to unfold. It is a field in which the only way to gain knowledge is through extreme patience: gather painstaking, accurate data over a period of centuries, chug away at making predictions, figure out 20 years later that they failed, try to discover why they failed, then start over with a new set of predictions and wait another 20 years. It’s the kind of field where a conscientious professional plugs away so maybe in some future century those who follow after him will finally be able to figure it all out.

Yet this is the field that has suddenly been imbued with the Fierce Urgency of Now. We have to know now what the climate will do over the next 100 years, we have to decide now, we have to act now. So every rule of good science gets trampled down in the stampede. Which also explains the partisan gap on this issue, because we all know which side of the political debate stands to benefit from the stampede. And it’s not the right.

So yes, I know exactly what it would take to convince me that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is really happening. And no, the warmists haven’t even come close.

April 16, 2015

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We’ve had items about our ancestors’ sleep patterns before. Before It’s News has a post.  

Ok, maybe your grandparents probably slept like you. And your great, great-grandparents. But once you go back before the 1800s, sleep starts to look a lot different. Your ancestors slept in a way that modern sleepers would find bizarre – they slept twice. And so can you.

The History

The existence of our sleeping twice per night was first uncovered by Roger Ekirch, professor of History at Virginia Tech.

His research found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight hour chunk. We used to sleep in two shorter periods, over a longer range of night. This range was about 12 hours long, and began with a sleep of three to four hours, wakefulness of two to three hours, then sleep again until morning.

References are scattered throughout literature, court documents, personal papers, and the ephemera of the past. What is surprising is not that people slept in two sessions, but that the concept was so incredibly common. Two-piece sleeping was the standard, accepted way to sleep.

“It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,” Ekirch says.

An English doctor wrote, for example, that the ideal time for study and contemplation was between “first sleep” and “second sleep.” Chaucer tells of a character in the Canterbury Tales that goes to bed following her “firste sleep.” …



I Stacker posts on how doctors can’t insult patients face-to-face without their knowledge. Further proof Pickerhead will read anything.

Medical lingo can be confusing—but maybe ignorance is bliss. In his new book, The Secret Language of Doctors, Toronto-based ER physician Brian Goldman decodes the slang that doctors and nurses use to talk about their jobs, patients, and each other—and some of it is far from flattering.

Of course, not all slang is derogatory. In some cases, it’s a way to pack a lot of information into a single phrase, or to warn colleagues about a potentially difficult patient. A surgeon might say “High Five,” when entering the OR to let other staff know they’ll be operating on someone with HIV. Sometimes slang helps hospital staff sound more professional during awkward situations; a nurse might refer to “Code Brown” during a miserable shift with a man who is having constant diarrhea in bed.

In other situations, the book reveals, slang is therapeutic, a form of comic relief that builds camaraderie between overworked doctors and nurses, and which helps them get through long, emotionally heavy days. “The inability to laugh on rounds in an environment like our ICU, where there’s very little to laugh about, is going to be tragic and injurious to safety and to the quality of care,” one respirologist told Goldman. “You need to have those moments where you take a little break and reset.” In any case, check out a selection of lingo below, all pulled from Goldman’s book, so that the next time you’re in the hospital you know what your doctor really thinks of you.

The Bunker: This is a room in the hospital where medical students, residents and their attending physicians meet behind closed doors to rest and talk about their days. There, one might laugh about the patient in the “monkey jacket,” or hospital gown, who had a case of “chandelier syndrome,” practically leaping up toward the ceiling in surprise when she felt the cold stethoscope. A surgeon might cringe while recalling a “peek-and-shriek,” an operation in which she opened a patient’s belly to find something unexpected, like cancer, and quickly stitched up again. …



Newsweek on the value of dirt. More proof here, too. 

There was a glorious and liberating moment for parents about 10 years ago when we were told the job had got too clean. All that mollycoddling was doing more harm than good: we should let them take risks, play in the dirt, go in the sun bare-skinned and pick their noses. The last was a particular joy – ever tried to keep a toddler’s finger out of their nose? It fits perfectly, which tells you something.

The science was convincingly simple. The bacteria collected in the nose-pickings were essential, when they found their way to the mouth, to help small humans cultivate antibodies, resist diseases and avoid allergies. So bogeys and mud were in – all that anti-bacterial wiping and antibiotic guzzling was over. Another 20th-century folly. The clincher came when it turned out that nut allergy had soared once we stopped small children eating nuts.

Science writer Alanna Collen’s fascinating study of the intertwined lives of microbes and humans, 10% Human, is a manual for the new, healthy way of being dirty. …



Now for some serious fun. We have three items on the caddie who was on the bag for Jordan Spieth the new Master’s Champion. The first is by Brian Costa in the Wall Street Journal.

The man who celebrated with Jordan Spieth on the 18th green at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday made his first trip here only three years ago. Michael Greller wasn’t even a professional caddie at the time. He was a sixth-grade math teacher who won a lottery for Masters tickets and spent the day following Rory McIlroy. “I had a few beers and enjoyed the walk,” he said.

Greller’s path from standing outside the ropes to carrying the bag of the Masters champion is far more improbable than Spieth’s impressive victory. And it reveals both the randomness of the caddying business and the way Spieth has approached the game.

When Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997—at 21, the same age as Spieth—the man carrying his bag was Mike “Fluff” Cowan. With more than two decades of experience caddying on the PGA Tour, Cowan offered the kind of in-depth course knowledge that Woods, for all his prodigious talent, lacked.

But in hiring Greller, 37, at the start of Spieth’s career and sticking with him as he ascended to this point, Spieth prioritized personal chemistry. That he went so far as to hire someone who had caddied only occasionally for amateurs ranked as one of the bigger upsets in pro caddying. …



Seattle Post-Intelligencer claims Michael Greller is a home town boy. 

Jordan Spieth had quite a weekend. The 21-year-old Dallas native led wire-to-wire at the Masters to become the second-youngest golfer to win golf’s biggest tournament, tying Tiger Woods’ course record of 18-under in the process.

His caddie had quite a weekend, too.

Michael Greller, 37, is from GigHarbor, and was there on the green in Augusta, Georgia, as Spieth’s final putt fell. He embraced Spieth, 16 years his junior, after the young man’s bogey putt clinched a four-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose. …

… In the last 30 days, Spieth has competed in four tournaments, winning two and finishing second in two. If Greller is on a typical caddie salary, according to Golf Digest, he has likely made about $375,000 in the past month. …



Last and always least, NY Times.

The caddie Jim Mackay took the golf bag and moved it out of the path of the foot traffic in the scoring area. He picked up the pin from the 18th hole at Augusta National Golf Club and placed it against the bag.

Mackay’s golfer, the three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson, had cobbled together a 14-under-par 274, which would have tied or bettered the winning number in the four Masters after his last title run here, in 2010. But on Sunday, the score left Mickelson tied for second with Justin Rose, four strokes behind the winner, Jordan Spieth.

Over dinner the previous night with Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller, Mackay discovered their paths had first crossed here in 2012, two years before Spieth had shared second place in his Masters debut. The story Greller told was so sweet, Mackay was happy to help Greller in any way he could. And after acing the big test, Greller needed a hand with the extraneous stuff, like where to drop the bag so it was not in the way and when to double back to the 18th green for the green jacket presentation.

“Michael’s a wonderful, wonderful person,” Mackay said of Greller, who was teaching sixth grade math outside Seattle in 2012 when he won the Masters online ticket lottery, which enabled him to buy two tickets to the Tuesday practice rounds.

He arrived with his brother, and they made their way to the 16th green, where Mickelson and Mackay, whose nickname is Bones, happened to be standing. From outside the ropes, Greller posed so that Mickelson and Mackay were in the background, and his brother snapped a photograph.

“I need to find that picture,” Greller said, adding: “Obviously I was a huge Phil and Bones fan. I still am.” …

April 15, 2015

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Craig Pirrong, the Streetwise Professor, posts on reactions to the Iran agreement.

… Outside of Obama’s amen corner, virtually everyone in the foreign policy establishment is aghast. Eminences grise Henry Kissinger and George Schultz wrote a long and devastating oped in the WSJ that eviscerated virtually every aspect of the deal. The administration’s response? State Department interim spokesidiot Marie Harf (whom I would say is right out of a dumb blonde joke, except that would be insulting to the subjects of dumb blonde jokes) said that the Kissinger-Schultz piece was “sort of” full “a lot big words and big thoughts.” Wow. What a telling riposte to the two most experienced diplomats of the post-WWII US.  The only more inane response would have been “Is NOT!”

And then there’s Obama himself, dishing out his usual sneering disdain at critics. For instance, he said that those who opposed the deal were taking “a foolish approach” and needed to “bone up on foreign policy.”

Maybe what he meant to say is that they need to be boneheads on foreign policy, and therefore more like him. This is a guy who has lurched from one foreign policy misjudgment (or disaster) to another. The examples are endless. Calling ISIS the JV is one. The recent FUBAR with the Chinese International Development Bank is another. But my favorite, because it illustrates Obama’s unique (and toxic) mixture of warped judgment and narcissistic belief in his own Olympian discernment, was his response to Romney’s statement that Russia is the US’s greatest geopolitical threat: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Hahahahaha. Touche! What a zinger! Silly Romney, living in the past, not like the progressive, hip, future-focused Obama.

Well, the problem with that is that Putin is living in the past too, and is itching to refight the Cold War. But our Barry knows better. …



That’s the opinion of one of our regulars. How about an editor of the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl?

The weakest point in President Obama’s defense of his deal with Iran is his claim that “it is a good deal even if Iran doesn’t change at all.”

Let’s consider that scenario. An Iran that does not change will reap hundreds of billions of dollars in fresh revenue from the lifting of sanctions, and it will surely use much of that to fund its ongoing military adventures in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. It will supply more weapons to Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups, and invest more in its long-range missiles, cyberweapons and other military technologies not covered by the agreement. It will continue developing advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment and after a decade will begin installing them. …

… Today it’s difficult to find an expert who believes Iran will soon evolve into a more benign power, notwithstanding the 2013 election of the moderate Hassan Rouhani as president. Present and former senior administration officials I consulted said they expected the Iranian regime would remain the same in the next few years, or maybe get worse. One predicted Khamenei — if he doesn’t kill the accord outright — would set out to prove that it won’t change the state’s “revolutionary” agenda.

That widely shared analysis may well be too gloomy. But it probably explains why Obama keeps insisting in media interviews that he’s not banking on an Iranian transformation. In reality, he is. It’s the apotheosis of his worldview, the sine qua non of the nuclear deal — and the riskiest bet of his presidency.



Next, Streetwise Professor posts on the obama doctrine.

… The roots of this doctrine have also been quite obvious. There are two main ones.

The first is his very progressive view that the United States has been a malign force in the world. This is best encapsulated in his Cairo speech, with its criticism of American arrogance. It is also demonstrated in word and deed, in his insistence that American presence in foreign places creates disorder rather than reduces it, and his concerted effort to withdraw from the world and to defer to others (to “lead from behind”, if you will).

In his younger days, he was a supporter of the nuclear freeze movement, which was animated at the very least by morally relativistic beliefs, but that moral relativism was usually merely a fig leaf to disguise deep-seated anti-Americanism (and anti-Westernism). He is a product of romanticism about the Third World that flourished in the 70s and 80s, and he came by it honestly, from both parents, inveterate leftists both.

It shows.

Indeed, Obama’s views on these matters are quite aligned with Ayatollah Khamanei’s, as set out in this fawning (but revealing) piece in Foreign Affairs. Khamenei’s constant invocation of American arrogance is an eerie echo of Obama’s: or is it the other way around? Either way, it is easy to understand Obama’s benign attitude towards the most strident rhetoric coming out of the Iranian regime, e.g., the motto of “Death to America.” (One of Obama’s spokesman said that this rhetoric should be ignored, even when uttered by the Supreme Leader, because it is just “background noise” intended for domestic consumption.) He views it as an understandable, if somewhat overwrought, expression of a legitimate critique of the United States.

This helps explain his willingness to treat with Iran, and to make concession after concession. …



Salon has someone else on the left who thinks Hillary will be a disaster. Says she’s already running a losing campaign.

… On Friday, Clinton’s campaign began the quick, quiet buildup to her Sunday announcement by placing a new epilogue to her last memoir in the Huffington Post. It’s mostly about how being a grandmother gives her new energy and insight. At the end of the piece she says it also inspires her to work hard so every child has as good a chance in life as her new granddaughter has. Her recent speeches, even those her leakers tout as campaign previews, say little more than that.

Barring a Jeremiah Wright-level crisis, a presidential candidate gets just two or three chances to make her case to a big audience. Her announcement is often her best shot. That Hillary passed on hers is unsettling. If she thinks she doesn’t have to make her case real soon she’s wrong. If she thinks she can get by on the sort of mush Democratic consultants push on clients she’s finished. On Thursday the Q poll released three surveys. In two states, she now trails Rand Paul. In all three a plurality or majority said she is ‘not honest or trustworthy.’ You can bet the leak about her $2.5 billion campaign will push those negatives up a notch.

Clinton seems as disconnected from the public mood now as she did in 2008.  I think it’s a crisis. If she doesn’t right the ship it will be a disaster. In politics it’s always later than you think. Advisors who told her voters would forget the email scandals probably say this too will pass. If so, she should fire them.

Leaders as progressive as Howard Dean and Barney Frank urge Democrats to circle the wagons and spare the party the bloodshed of a real contest, but this party needs to get its blood moving. Clinton needs a real challenge and a real debate, not just a sparring partner; not some palooka to dance her around the ring for a couple of rounds, but a real fighter. She needs the debate. We all do.  But who will bring it?

Underdogs always need to get an early start, so it’s surprising that Clinton beat all of her prospective primary opponents into the race. Some seem to be auditioning for the second spot on her ticket. Others may not make the race. If no champion emerges, progressives must mount their own debate and relearn some of the skills they applied so successfully back in the days before everybody had a PAC.

The Democrats’ third problem is policy. They don’t really have clear policies to deal with our biggest problems.  It’s why Hillary won’t have the answers those Iowa families seek and why so few Democrats do. It’s why we need a real debate. It is Clinton’s misfortune to find herself master of a dying system. …

April 14, 2015

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Tonight is the start of the second season for AMC’s Revolutionary War spy drama – Turn. The Wall Street Journal gave it a good send off.

As the second season begins of AMC’s lush and often tense Revolutionary War drama “Turn: Washington‘s Spies,” it’s the autumn of 1777. The young Long Island farmer turned secret rebel Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) is looking for a way to collect information on British military strength in occupied New York City and transmit it via his friend on George Washington’s staff, Ben Tallmadge (Seth Numrich), to the general. Ranged against Abe and other members of the little anti-British spy network called the Culper Ring is the might of the king’s army in America, bolstered by loyalist colonials.

The patriots’ chief adversaries include the cultured and debonair British espionage mastermind Maj. John Andre (JJ Feild), who is based in occupied Philadelphia. There is also a sadistic killing machine, the disgraced British officer John Graves Simcoe (Samuel Roukin), who has been recalled to duty by a reluctant Andre to train a guerrilla-type force to eradicate colonial spies and other enemies of the crown.

With those basics in mind, newcomers to the series—which returns Monday with a two-hour premiere—can just let the pleasures of this handsome and well acted period piece wash over them. It doesn’t hurt at all, for instance, that “Turn” is filmed in Virginia and that this week, for instance, it makes use of authentically appointed rooms and buildings in and around Colonial Williamsburg and at the College of William and Mary. Even the accents—mostly British or versions thereof, with a smattering of Irish, Scottish and others appropriate for the time and place—promote the sense that we are peeking behind the curtain of life as it really happened, not watching another gimcrack re-creationof the bandaged head, flute and limp sort. …



Kevin Williamson writes on another aspect of the left’s “rape project.” This is a further reason for the Rolling Stone UVA fraud.

… the major obstacles to the progressive project are the rule of law, our constitutional order, and competing centers of power outside the state, all of which are on the progressive enemies list: corporations, churches, private schools, tradition-minded social organizations, etc. It takes a certain highly cultivated view of the world to see the Boy Scouts as the enemy.

Put another way: Progressives have had great success shouting “Racist!” to end debate; they hope to add shouting “Rapist.” But this will be difficult to do if rape remains — as it should remain — primarily a matter for the criminal-justice system rather than a nebulous social concern that can be shaped with distortion and exaggeration or, in the case of Rolling Stone, with outright fiction.

This is, to reiterate, not the result of conspiracy with malice aforethought, but of something much worse: a culture of totalitarianism.

Consider the global-warming argument. That argument has a scientific piece, an economic piece, and a political piece. (And other pieces, too.) The Left has for some time tried to discredit arguments about the economic and political aspects of global warming as rejection of science, of “denialism,” a term coined expressly for its association with Holocaust denial. That has not worked, partly because people understand that the political questions and the scientific questions are different questions, but also because the scientific case has been so exaggerated and overstated, generally by non-scientists, that people have come to regard it with some skepticism. What the Left would very much like to do at this point is to silence dissent, for example by pressuring media outlets to suppress criticism (“There aren’t ‘two sides’ to the science, nor to the policy response,” the same conflation of the scientific and the political) or by simply locking up those who disagree in prison, the response favored by Robert Kennedy Jr., writers at Gawker, and certain highly regarded philosophy professors, to mention nothing of Harry Reid, who was quite recently the Senate majority leader. (Mrs. Gandhi was not the first or the last to get that big idea.) This would require doing violence to the constitutional order — beginning with repealing the First Amendment, which Senator Reid attempted — which would be, in ordinary times, a difficult thing to do. But if you believe that the world is ending — and you can convince others that the world is ending, too — then there is nothing that one could not justify doing to prevent that.

But there isn’t a global-warming emergency, at least not one that is going to be fixed by throwing AEI scholars in jail. …



Manhattan Contrarian posts on the looming disaster of federal student loans.

While our federal government continues to chase many mortgage lenders for so-called “predatory lending” practices, perhaps we should check in on the situation of far and away the biggest predatory lender of all, the federal government itself.  Its most odious practices are in the area of student loans.  I find the term “predatory” a stretch when applied to a mortgage loan for a house, given that in the worst case the borrower got to live in the house, and even if he gets foreclosed and has a deficiency balance he can normally discharge that in bankruptcy.  Not a pleasant process, but sometimes life can be tough.  Compare that to federal student loans, where the government lends inexperienced 18 – 24 year-olds open-ended amounts, often for dubious and overpriced trade schools, and then flatly forbids discharge in bankruptcy.   Many borrowers’ finances are ruined for life, and they don’t even have marketable job skills to show for it.  Now that’s predatory! …



The student loan debacle is just one of the areas students are being failed by the modern university system. Victor Davis Hanson has more.

Modern American universities used to assume four goals.

First, their general education core taught students how to reason inductively and imparted an aesthetic sense through acquiring knowledge of Michelangelo, the Battle of Gettysburg, “Medea” and “King Lear,” Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and astronomy and Euclidean geometry.

Second, campuses encouraged edgy speech and raucous expression — and exposure to all sorts of weird ideas and mostly unpopular thoughts. College talk was never envisioned as boring, politically correct megaphones echoing orthodox pieties.

Third, four years of college trained students for productive careers. Implicit was the university’s assurance that its degree was a wise career investment.

Finally, universities were not monopolistic price gougers. They sought affordability to allow access to a broad middle class that had neither federal subsidies nor lots of money.

The American undergraduate university is now failing on all four counts.

A bachelor’s degree is no longer proof that any graduate can read critically or write effectively. National college-entrance-test scores have generally declined the last few years, and grading standards have as well. …

April 13, 2015

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It can make your hair hurt, but getting the story straight on the West’s understanding about Iraq’s WMD’s is going to be a point historians will find important. Peter Berkowitz of Real Clear Politics reviews Judith Miller’s new book. Miller was in Pickings a few days ago introducing her book.

… That is where Miller almost ends her book.

In the epilogue, however, she discloses that she now believes she gave incorrect testimony in United States v. Libby and that she did so because prosecutor Fitzgerald—who declined to respond to written questions about the case—withheld crucial information from her.

Of the nine journalists who testified at Libby’s trial about conversations with him—including Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, Times reporter David Sanger, and syndicated columnist Robert Novak—Miller was the only one to say that Libby voluntarily revealed Plame’s CIA employment. She writes that her testimony “was also crucial to Fitzgerald’s assertion that the vice president had been involved, since Libby had told the grand jury that Cheney had approved his suggestion that he discuss the intelligence estimate [the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate] about Iraq and WMD with me.”

Before she appeared before the grand jury in the autumn of 2005, Miller writes, Fitzgerald led her by pointed queries to believe that a four-word question contained between parentheses in her notebook—“(wife works in Bureau?)”—was the smoking gun that proved that Libby, in a June 23, 2003 conversation, had told her about Plame’s CIA employment. She so testified to the grand jury in 2005 and at trial in 2007.

Three years later, while reading Plame’s book, “Fair Game,” Miller was astonished to learn that “while working overseas for the CIA, Plame’s cover were jobs at the State Department.” This threw “a new light” on Miller’s notebook jotting, because the State Department has “bureaus,” while the CIA is organized into “divisions.”

Miller saw that she must have begun her conversation with Libby wondering whether Wilson’s wife worked at the State Department. Moreover, had a seasoned Washington insider like Libby sought to reveal Plame’s CIA job, Miller realized, he would not have referred to the place she worked as a “bureau,” but rather as a “division.” These revelations, according to Miller, shattered her confidence in her recollection and led her to believe that Fitzgerald misled her into providing false testimony.

The prosecution had the classified file of Plame’s service and Fitzgerald knew, or should have known, of Plame’s State Department cover. But despite his obligation to provide exculpatory evidence to witnesses as well as to the defendant, he withheld this information not only from Judy Miller, but also from Scooter Libby’s lawyers even though they had requested Plame’s employment records.

It would have been easy for Miller to take her knowledge of her mistaken testimony to her grave. Who would have known? Who would have cared?

Nevertheless, as she had done with the prewar intelligence failures, Miller investigated.  In addition to finding injustice to Libby she also revealed that Fitzgerald’s three-and-half year pursuit of him damaged American national security.

In a 2013 interview, former Vice President Cheney told Miller that but for Fitzgerald’s sidelining of Libby, the Iraq War might have turned out differently. In 2003, Libby was the principal figure in the White House arguing for the counterinsurgency strategy that President Bush only embraced in late 2006 after many wrong turns and much carnage, and which Gen. David Petraeus successfully implemented in 2007. It is painful to contemplate how many lives—American and Iraqi—might have been spared had Libby, the foremost champion within the White House in 2003 of stabilizing Iraq through counterinsurgency operations, not been hindered by, and eventually forced to resign because of, Fitzgerald’s overwrought federal investigation and prosecution.

Serendipity, a biased press, and a fanatical prosecutor combined to yoke together the fates of Scooter Libby and Judith Miller. Elite left-wing opinion demanded that the Bush administration pay for its supposed lies about Iraqi WMD. The left wanted to take down Bush or Cheney and when they couldn’t destroy either, they settled for Libby.

At the same time, the left had no interest in toppling their beloved New York Times, but relished the newspaper’s guilt offering of Miller. That the only lies of consequence were those they promulgated about Libby and Miller does not yet seem to have registered in, much less troubled, the left-liberal conscience.

Miller’s sobering book, which demonstrates her devotion to getting the story right, makes a major contribution to correcting the record.



For another back-story that exposes the lies of the left, The Daily Caller shows the link between the obama administration and the fraudulent Rolling Stone article about UVA.

A top-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has emerged as a potentially key figure in Rolling Stone’s false article, “A Rape on Campus.”

Catherine Lhamon, who heads the Department’s civil rights wing, was identified in a letter sent last month by University of Virginia Dean of Students Allen Groves to Steve Coll and Sheila Coronel, the two Columbia Journalism School deans who conducted a review of the Nov. 19 article, written by disgraced reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

Groves’ letter was included as a footnote to the Columbia deans’ report, which was released on Sunday and cataloged the failures and lies that led to the article’s publication.

In the letter, Groves wrote that he has suffered “personal and professional” damage as a result of Erdely’s reporting and comments Lhamon made about him which were included in the article.

As the Rolling Stone article fell apart, Lhamon’s involvement has gone virtually unmentioned. But a deeper look reveals her ties to Emily Renda, a University of Virginia employee and activist who put Erdely in touch with Jackie, the student whose claim that she was brutally gang-raped by seven members of a fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, served as the linchpin for the 9,000-word Rolling Stone article. President Obama nominated Lhamon to become the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in July 2013. The Senate approved her unanimously the following month.

She has served as the Education Department’s designee to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault which Obama created on Jan. 22, 2014. Renda served on the same task force.

Besides that link, both spoke at a February 2014 University of Virginia event entitled “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.” …



The above is not the first time Emily Renda’s fingerprints were found in the Rolling Stone disaster. The blog 28 Sherman posted on her involvement last December.

Even after my Erdely-Renda post from Thursday, the Rolling Stone article continues to unravel elsewhere. The Washington Post managed to do the yeoman’s work on the problems to the story. Chuck Ross at the Daily Caller has interviewed Jackie’s friend Randall, adding to the catfish elements to the story. Emily Renda’s still skating free from scrutiny except here. A really weird coincidence is found between Renda’s words and Jackie’s story in the Rolling Stone. This plays into who came up with Sabrina Erdely’s story details. The media should be asking Emily Renda deeper questions than the softballs NPR threw her way.

Jackie’s story to her friends differs from Erdely’s reporting. Jackie has accused Erdely of lying, people have accused Jackie of lying, and it is a tornado of lies. This is where Renda fits in. Emily Renda’s testimony to the Senate was in June. Here is a passage about a vicious rape on campus.

“One of the student survivors I worked with, Jenna*, was gang-raped by five fraternity men early in her freshman year. Despite the severity of the assault and injuries she sustained, Jenna still experienced a feeling of personal responsibility. Looking for affirmation, she sought out peers and told her story. Sadly, each and every one of the friends she reached out to responded with varying denials of her experience; these responses worsened her feelings of self-blame – that she must be confused because that fraternity “is full of great guys”; that she must have made them think she was “down for that”; questioning how no one else at the party could have heard what was going on if she was telling the truth; or discouraging her from seeking help because “you don’t want to be one of those girls who has a reputation” for reporting “that kind of thing.” These statements haunted Jenna. She told me that they made her feel crazy, and made her question whether her own understanding of the rape was legitimate.”

Sounds familiar? …



And the blog The Other McCain posts on the “coven of liars” that promoted the story.

The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross reports that Lhamon and Emilly Renda are part of the same federal apparatus:

“[Lhamon] has served as the Education Department’s designee to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault which Obama created on Jan. 22, 2014. Renda served on the same task force.
Besides that link, both spoke at a February 2014 University of Virginia event entitled “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.”
Lhamon has been invited to the White House nearly 60 times, according to visitor’s logs. Renda has been invited six times. Both were invited to the same White House meeting on three occasions. One, held on Feb. 21, 2014, was conducted by Lynn Rosenthal, then the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Twenty-one people, mostly activists, were invited to that meeting. Lhamon and Renda were invited to two other larger gatherings — one on April 29 and the other on Sept. 19.
It is unclear if both attended the three meetings. Renda did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Renda and Lhamon also testified at a June 26, 2014, Senate hearing on campus sexual assault. It was at that hearing that Renda cited Jackie’s story that she was brutally gang-raped by five fraternity members — a statement that was inconsistent with Jackie’s claim to Erdely that she was raped by seven men. According to the Columbia report, Renda first told Erdely about Jackie’s allegation on July 8, nearly two weeks after her Senate testimony.
During her testimony, Lhamon claimed that “The best available research suggests that 20% of college women, and roughly 6% of college men, are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.” That “one-in-five” claim about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus has been heavily disputed.”

Now, read the second page of Chuck Ross’s report:

“In his letter, Groves wrote that he filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking correspondence between Lhamon and Erdely. Likewise, The Daily Caller filed a FOIA request but expanded the inquiry to include emails Lhamon and her assistant sent to Renda.
In his letter to Coll and Coronel, Groves wrote that he was “one of the professionals vilified by name” in Erdely’s article.
He claimed that Erdely completely mischaracterized remarks he made at a Sept. 2014 meeting with university trustees about sexual assault and that Lhamon disparaged him with comments she made to Erdely. . . .
Despite the context provided by Groves, the Department of Education is not backing off of Lhamon’s comments to Erdely.
“We stand by the statement Catherine made during her interview with Rolling Stone,” Dorie Turner Nolt, the agency’s press secretary, told The DC.”

This is serious. Here you have Erdely misrepresenting a UVA dean’s words and a federal official disparaging the dean on the basis of that misrepresentation, and the Department of Education declares that it will “stand by” this smear? More than that, however, Lhamon and Renda appear to have a very close connection through the White House task force, and both were sources for Erdely’s now-discredited article. …

April 12, 2015

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It’s been awhile since we have spent time on the Clinton campaign. Now that she is about to announce it is time to correct that. The left is getting worried. New York Magazine has a long piece that asks if Hillary is any good at running for president. 

A lot can happen between now and then, but barring something truly unprecedented and totally unforeseen — a meteorite, a Benghazi revelation, a health scare, or a Martin O’Malley groundswell — on July 28, 2016, Hillary Clinton will step onto a stage in Philadelphia. There, surrounded by red-white-and-blue bunting and balloons — as well as Bill, Chelsea, baby granddaughter Charlotte, and tens of thousands of screaming Democrats — she will officially become her party’s presidential nominee. It will be a long-awaited and historic moment, the first time a woman (and the second time a Clinton) has topped a major party’s presidential ticket. And already some Republicans are licking their chops, while some Democrats are experiencing pangs of buyer’s remorse.

For much of the Obama presidency, there has been a general sense of calm among Democrats about their chances to retain the White House. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State was distinguished, if not especially consequential. Her favorability ratings hovered around all-time highs. It wasn’t just that her nomination seemed a foregone conclusion; given the dysfunction of the Republican Party and the demographic changes in the American electorate, the race seemed hers to lose. It was hard to find a Democratic operative not in fairly high spirits.

Then, over the past few weeks, the country watched as Clinton dealt with the fallout from the revelation that she used a personal email server while heading up the State Department. Her fiercest critics have charged that she employed the private email system to skirt government transparency laws and, in the process, endangered national security. Her supporters worry that, even if Clinton’s private email was legal and innocent, it was a self-inflicted error that has needlessly handed her enemies yet another cudgel to wield against her. But the glee and regret among Republicans and Democrats have been most pronounced over the disastrous press conference Clinton held at the United Nations to try to put the matter to rest, which served to remind them of something many had forgotten: what an abominable candidate she can be. …


… Pat Buchanan, the venerable Republican operative who advised Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, likes to assess politicians as “political athletes.” Putting aside ideologies, policy preferences, even personalities, how do they perform on the political playing field? “It’s charisma, charm, savvy,” he says. “Being a political athlete is having an extra dimension — it’s not learned; you’re born with it.” In Buchanan’s long career, the greatest political athletes he’s encountered have been John F. Kennedy, Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. “They’re naturals: Roy Hobbs or Mickey Mantle,” he says. Hillary, in Buchanan’s view, is the furthest thing from a natural: “She’s like Pete Rose, who has to grind out every hit.”

The grind can be obvious watching Clinton on the campaign trail. In her two successful Senate races and her unsuccessful presidential run in 2008, she often struggled to exhibit the basic qualities required of politicians. “Let’s remember who she’s beaten in her career: Rick Lazio and John Spencer,” says a Democratic consultant who has worked for and against Hillary. “The only time she’s run against anyone decent, she’s lost.” …


… Campaigns are punctuated by moments of high stagecraft — debates, convention speeches — that require oratorical talents that Clinton does not possess in abundance. “She doesn’t make mistakes in the debates, but that’s different than being good,” says a Democratic operative. “She doesn’t win a lot of people over.” The former Obama aide Bill Burton, who thought Clinton did well in her 2008 debates, nonetheless sums up her performances another way: “Maya Angelou said people won’t remember what you say or do but they’ll remember how you made them feel. If anything, she was a little too driven by data and less driven by how she was going to come off.” In fact, one of the greatest sources of agita among Democrats these days is that, deprived of a competitive primary, Clinton will face her well-seasoned Republican opponent without having debated in more than eight years.

But various academic studies have shown that even the debates that we consider most game-changing — Kennedy’s besting of a sweaty, five-o’clock-shadowed Nixon in 1960; Michael Dukakis’s botching of a question involving the hypothetical rape and murder of his wife; George H.W. Bush’s impatiently glancing at his watch in 1992 — had little or no impact on voter preferences. …


… Clinton’s worst gaffe of late came last year, in response to a question from Diane Sawyer about her sky-high speaking fees. Recognizing her vulnerability, she overcompensated, claiming that she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House. According to one Republican operative who’s conducted focus groups on Clinton in Ohio and Colorado, “when you play that Diane Sawyer interview for lower-income women, women who really have struggled to put food on the table for their kids, they got physically upset at her about that remark.” Clinton only compounded the error when, in subsequent interviews, she tried to defend it as literally true. “She’s not very adept at cleaning that stuff up,” says the Republican operative. “Her tendency is to double down, rather than say that was a ridiculous comment.” Or, as Luntz says, “She doesn’t know when or how to say, ‘Hey, I f**ked up.’ ” ..


… The biggest difficulty in analyzing Clinton’s candidacy right now is, of course, that we don’t know whom she will be running against. In her wildest dreams, it will be Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, two senators skilled at rallying the Republican base but distrusted (or, in Cruz’s case, loathed) by the party Establishment. But let’s assume that David Karol is correct, and that the GOP nominee will be a familiar name popular among the party’s core donors. Let’s also assume that though his campaign will be extraordinarily well funded (groups backed by Charles and David Koch have pledged to spend almost $1 billion leading up to 2016), Clinton’s fund-raising will be equal to the task, and the finance race will roughly balance out.

Perhaps, then, Clinton will be positioning herself against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. Unless Walker dramatically shifts strategy, he will be running a campaign focused less on broadening the GOP tent than on increasing the turnout of his base. This, in turn, would give Clinton ammunition to increase minority turnout for her. A Walker candidacy would clarify certain themes for Clinton — her vision for the role of government is considerably more expansionist than his, and it polls better. A recent Washington Post poll proposing a Clinton/Walker election had her leading 55 percent to 38 percent. But Walker complicates Clinton’s life in one major way. He’d be, as he calls himself, “a face for the future.” Time for a Change, in spades.

A campaign against Jeb Bush would present different opportunities and different challenges. A Bush surname would certainly help neutralize Clinton fatigue, and he might have more trouble getting his base to turn out. …


… It’s almost impossible to overstate just how much Clinton hates the press. She doesn’t trust it, avoids it at all costs, assumes the worst intentions, and generally wishes it would just go away. Her contempt for the people who cover her was on full display in her press conference last month — as was their contempt for her. It’s a poisonous relationship with multiple levels of dysfunction on both sides. Unfortunately for Clinton, she’s the one who bears the brunt of the fallout. …



And Karl Rove turns a critical eye on Hillary’s efforts.

… Mrs. Clinton’s main problem in 2008 was lack of a compelling message—and she lacks one now. She has recently tried channeling her inner Elizabeth Warren by talking about income inequality, but her comments had a check-the-box quality. 

She is someone searching for a rationale to run, rather than seeking how best to present it to the public. Mr. Podesta is smart enough to realize this, but slogans and soft lighting can’t substitute for real convictions and an authentic sense of purpose. 

Mrs. Clinton’s run for the White House seems more about personal political ambition than the country’s well being. Aides, consultants and even spouses can’t change that. …



National Review calls it Hillary’s Truman Show.

In the catalogue of stock political events, a campaign launch may be as easy as it gets. Sure, first impressions are important. But you find a setting that is historically or personally significant, you hang a few American flags, you gather a crowd of cheering supporters, you talk about America’s great promise, you march out to an upbeat tune. The bar is low. It’s hard to screw up a campaign launch.

But Hillary Clinton might be about to do it. According to the Guardian, Clinton plans to announce her presidential campaign at noon on Sunday, en route to Iowa, “on Twitter . . . followed by a video and email announcement.” Getting to Iowa is suddenly so urgent that she has to make her announcement from a plane 30,000 feet over St. Louis? Hardly.

In 2008, Clinton announced via video, too — a 90-second clip in which she declared, “I’m not just starting a campaign. I’m starting a conversation — with you, with America.” Because nothing says “dialogue” like a pre-recorded video with only one person in the room.

Eight years later, the Clinton team is doing the same thing. Why? Because for someone who has spent her life in public, Hillary Clinton is very bad in public. And her team knows it. …



After contemplating HRC as president, we need some comic relief and Andrew Malcolm is just in time with late night humor.

SNL: Despite Hillary Clinton’s claims that she used her personal email while Secretary of State to avoid carrying more than one device, a new report shows that she emailed with her iPad in addition to her BlackBerry. Even more alarming, her email signature was, “sent from my Benghazi cover-up device.”

SNL: ABC is denying reports that Barbara Walters wants to replace Rosie O’Donnell with Monica Lewinsky on “The View.” Said an ABC spokesman, “We have not had contractual relations with that woman.”



Great News! Bacon can prolong your life

Bacon may have the ability to prolong your life, according to a recent study by researchers from ETH Zurich. Well, kind of.

The pork product is apparently full of niacin – also known as Vitamin B3 – which has been linked to a longer life span. Researchers tested the theory by feeding a selection of roundworms a good dose of niacin and their life lasted one-tenth longer.

You can also find the vitamin in paprika, sun-dried tomatoes, peanuts, and marmite (which is apparently yeast extract). But who cares? You can find niacin in bacon, which is all that really matters. So eat up! It’s good for you.

April 9, 2015

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Victor Davis Hanson, whose day job is California farmer, writes on the “Engineered Drought” in his state.

California governor Jerry Brown had little choice but to issue a belated, state-wide mandate to reduce water usage by 25 percent. How such restrictions will affect Californians remains to be seen, given the GoldenState’s wide diversity in geography, climate, water supply, and demography.

We do know two things. First, Brown and other Democratic leaders will never concede that their own opposition in the 1970s (when California had about half its present population) to the completion of state and federal water projects, along with their more recent allowance of massive water diversions for fish and river enhancement, left no margin for error in a state now home to 40 million people. Second, the mandated restrictions will bring home another truth as lawns die, pools empty, and boutique gardens shrivel in the coastal corridor from La Jolla to Berkeley: the very idea of a 20-million-person corridor along the narrow, scenic Pacific Ocean and adjoining foothills is just as unnatural as “big” agriculture’s Westside farming. The weather, climate, lifestyle, views, and culture of coastal living may all be spectacular, but the arid Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-area megalopolises must rely on massive water transfers from the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, or out-of-state sources to support their unnatural ecosystems. …



Megan McArdle posts on the subject.

… California has to do something — many of its reservoirs are half-empty, and the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides much of California’s water, is far below normal levels. But that doesn’t mean it should do this particular thing. California’s proposal is far too heavy on top-down regulatory management, and far too light on pricing.

I’ve seen a lot of apocalyptic writing about California only having a year of water left (not true),  and I’ve heard some idle talk about whether California can continue to grow. But California’s problem is not that it doesn’t have enough water to support its population. Rather, the problem is that its population uses more water than it has to. And the reason people do this is that water in California is seriously underpriced, as Marginal Revolution’s Alex Tabarrok notes. While the new emergency rules do include provisions for local utilities to raise rates, that would still leave water in the state ludicrously mispriced. According to Tabarrok, the average household in San Diego pays less than 80 cents a day for the 150 gallons of water it uses. This is less than my two-person household pays for considerably less water usage, in an area where rainfall is so plentiful that the neighborhood next door to me has a recurrent flooding problem. …



Mr. Hanson has more on the general drift in California.

The proverbial thin veneer of civilization has never been thinner in California, as if nature has conspired to create even greater chaos than what man here has already wrought. What follows below was a fairly typical seven-day period in the land of the highest sales, fuel, and income taxes that have led to the nearly worst freeways, schools, and general infrastructure in the nation.

I recently came home from an out-of-state trip. Something was wrong: I noticed off in the distance a strange geyser at the top of the hill. Vandals had apparently earlier taken sledgehammers to the pump’s four-inch plastic fittings — all to scavenge two brass valves (recycle value of about $20).

The fools did not know the pump was even on. When they smashed open the plastic pipes the spurting water apparently drenched them, and so they left their self-created mess. (No, criminals here do not know how to turn off a pump.) The ensuing deluge of several hours had ripped a three-foot-deep gully for about 20 yards.

I’ve lost count of how many pumps have been vandalized over the last decade. Some people play golf after work and weekends, but out here the pastime is to drive out to the countryside to wreck things for a few dollars of copper and bronze. It reminds me of the Ottomans in Greece, who pried off the lead seals over the iron clamps that had held together the marble blocks of ancient Greek temples and walls. The Turks, who could make little but scavenge a lot, got their few ounces of lead for bullets. In the exchange, the exposed iron marble clamps rusted and fell apart, ruining the antiquities that had theretofore survived 2,000 years of natural wear and tear. One civilization builds and invests, quite a different one destroys and consumes. …

… Does anyone realize that the entire California experiment — having 75% of the people live in a Mediterranean climate where 25% of the state’s rain and snow fall — is unnatural and depends on each generation’s ingenuity and industriousness to ensure water, an educated populace, safe freeways, and basic safety and security for the citizenry?

The enervated middle class of California struggles under high taxes, high housing costs, high-cost energy, terrible schools, and high crime. Increasingly it is considering leaving paradise. In our pyramidal state, there is a vast underclass (22% of the state lives below the poverty line, schools are rated 46th in the nation, and one out of three hospital admittances over 35 suffers from diabetes, etc., a disease for whose prevention California rates near last in expenditures). The base of the pyramid is growing, and now represents one in six of all American welfare recipients. …

… What nature’s deadly four-year drought is teaching California is that even the liberal aristocracy eventually has a rendezvous with what they created.

All the capital, income, and influence in the state cannot guarantee exemption from their own self-induced chaos. Climbing atop the smokestacks of the sinking Titanic is of little use after you have deprecated the idea of more lifeboats.



John Fund deals with Harry Reid’s lack of regret for his lies about Romney.

It was just over 60 years ago that the tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy were repudiated when he was censured by the Senate in December 1954. Ever since then, McCarthyism — the reckless hurling of accusations at adversaries so as to destroy their reputations — has been considered one of the lowest forms of political behavior and one liberals love to crusade against.

But McCarthyism isn’t limited to one party or ideology. And if liberals have any sense of self-awareness they will recognize the tactic has returned and is growing in their back yard.

Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, was asked by CNN’s Dana Bash this week if he regretted his 2012 accusation on the Senate floor that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney “hasn’t paid taxes for ten years.” Reid presented no evidence at the time and claimed he didn’t need any: “I don’t think the burden should be on me. The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes.”

Reid’s response in the interview was fascinating. When asked by Bash if his tactic was McCarthyite he visibly shrugged on camera, smiled, and said “Well, they can call it whatever they want. Romney didn’t win, did he?” White House spokesman Josh Earnest refused to criticize Reid for his comment because it “was three years old,” when in reality Reid’s televised reveling in it was only three days old. …



More on the Left’s lies from Naomi Schaefer Riley.

The verdict’s in on Rolling Stone. According to no less an authority than the Columbia Journalism Review, the magazine’s last year story of a University of Virginia gang rape was a “journalistic failure [that] encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.”

But as with many other stories that don’t fit into the right narrative, the media will continue to draw the wrong lessons.

As an AP article noted, “Despite its flaws, the article heightened scrutiny of campus sexual assaults amid a campaign by President Barack Obama.”

Despite its flaws? You mean despite the fact that as far as anyone can tell, the story was made up out of whole cloth?

Even once the police investigated the claims of the alleged victim, The New York Times reported: “Some saw a more complex picture, saying that the uproar over the story and the steps that the university had taken since in an effort to change its culture had, in the end, raised awareness and probably done the school, and the nation, some good.”

How has the university benefited from the fact that a fraternity has been falsely accused of a horrific crime? And how has the nation benefited from the false but now widespread belief that violent rape, even gang rape, is raging on US campuses? …



The writer who first called bullshit on the Rolling Stone rape story has posted a reaction to the Columbia Journalism School’s review of the disaster. In his blog Shots In The Dark, Richard Bradley has gone long. We include it here since this is the last post for a few days so there’ll be time to go back to it. Bradley’s first post dated November 24, 2014 started the ball rolling for a more critical look at the story. You can find it in Pickings December 4, 2014.

… I want to go through a few specific things that I jotted down as I read the CJS report, and then I’d like to conclude with where I think it does fail in one very important way.

1) In Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s public statement, she makes no apology to the fraternity she defamed. I imagine she feared, or was told, that doing so might have legal implications. I doubt that that would be the case; whether that was her intention or not, she obviously harmed the fraternity. There can be no doubt about that. So it is particularly galling that instead of apologizing to people on whom she inflicted tangible harm, she apologizes to ” any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article.” What about people whom she falsely accused of rape?

Rubin Erdely owes Phi Psi and its members—probably all fraternity members, frankly—an apology. That she refuses to acknowledge her obligation says something about her character.

It also suggests that, despite everything, she still believes, whether Jackie’s story is true or not—it obviously isn’t—some larger truth about rape culture and the predilections of fraternity members. Seen in this light, her refusal to apologize actually strengthens the fraternity’s lawsuit; it reinforces the idea that Sabrina Rubin Erdely really, really doesn’t like fraternities—and was determined to portray their members as rapists.

2) The Columbia report notes that Rolling Stone refused to waive its attorney client privilege and give Coll access to their lawyers. The tautological reason Rolling Stone gave: That to do so would be waiving attorney-client privilege. (Get it? They wouldn’t waive attorney-client privilege because that would mean waiving attorney-client privilege.)

The magazine’s lack of transparency casts doubt on virtually all of what Rolling Stone has to say in its own defense.

Here’s why: With a story this sensitive, good libel lawyers—and I assume Rolling Stone has very good lawyers—are, or should be, very much in the mix. On sensitive stories, they become something akin to editors with a law degree. You simply could not publish such an accusatory article without having it very heavily lawyered; there is, or ought to be, a lot of discussion between the editor-in-chief and the magazine’s libel lawyer(s). That Rolling Stone won’t disclose their lawyers’ advice suggests that the magazine did not take it, or did the least amount possible to satisfy legal concerns. After all, if the lawyers argued that the magazine had done excellent work and was on safe ground publishing the story, disclosing that information would likely have discouraged any potential lawsuits—like the one Phi Psi is now pursuing against the magazine.

In other words: It’s highly likely that Rolling Stone had a prepublication warning that this story had significant problems—and published the story anyway. Because they knew it was a sexy story, and they were willing to take the risk. …

April 8, 2015

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John Hinderaker of Power Line calls our attention to a piece by Daniel Pipes on the administration’s serial foreign policy failures.

Daniel Pipes reviews the wreckage of Barack Obama’s foreign policies:

“Count the mistakes: Helping overthrow Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, leading to anarchy and civil war. Pressuring Husni Mubarak of Egypt to resign, then backing the Muslim Brotherhood, leading now-president Sisi to turn toward Moscow. Alienating Washington’s most stalwart ally in the region, the Government of Israel. Dismissing ISIS as “junior varsity” just before it seized major cities. Hailing Yemen as a counterterrorism success just before its government was overthrown. Alarming the Saudi authorities to the point that they put together a military alliance against Iran. Coddling Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, encouraging his dictatorial tendencies. Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan prematurely, dooming the vast American investment in those two countries.

And, most of all: Making dangerously flawed deals with the nuclear-ambitious mullahs of Iran.”

As always, the question is: is Obama failing, or succeeding? As Glenn Reynolds keeps pointing out, that depends on what he is trying to achieve. Pipes continues:

“Is this a random series of errors by an incompetent leadership or does some grand, if misconceived, idea stand behind the pattern? To an extent, it’s ineptitude, as when Obama bowed to the Saudi king, threatened Syria’s government over chemical weapons before changing his mind, and now sends the U.S. military to aid Tehran in Iraq and fight it in Yemen.

But there also is a grand idea and it calls for explanation. As a man of the left, Obama sees the United States historically having exerted a malign influence on the outside world. Greedy corporations, an overly-powerful military-industrial complex, a yahoo nationalism, engrained racism, and cultural imperialism combined to render America, on balance, a force for evil.

Being a student of community organizer Saul Alinsky, Obama did not overtly proclaim this view but passed himself off as a patriot, …”



Caroline Glick, writing in the Jerusalem Post says the Middle East in now on the “diplomatic path to war.”

… No one trusts Obama to follow through on his declared commitment to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

No one trusts Washington when Obama claims that he is committed to the security of Israel and the US’s Sunni allies in the region.

And so we are now facing the unfolding disaster that Obama has wrought. The disaster is that deal or no deal, the US has just given the Iranians a green light to behave as if they have already built their nuclear umbrella. And they are in fact behaving in this manner.

They may not have a functional arsenal, but they act as though they do, and rightly so, because the US and its partners have just removed all significant obstacles from their path to nuclear capabilities. The Iranians know it. Their proxies know it. Their enemies know it.

As a consequence, all the regional implications of a nuclear armed Iran are already being played out. The surrounding Arab states led by Saudi Arabia are pursuing nuclear weapons. The path to a Middle East where every major and some minor actors have nuclear arsenals is before us.

Iran is working to expand its regional presence as if it were a nuclear state already. It is brazenly using its Yemeni Houthi proxy to gain maritime control over the Bab al-Mandab, which together with Iran’s control over the Straits of Hormuz completes its maritime control over shipping throughout the Middle East.

Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Eritrea, and their global trading partners will be faced with the fact that their primary maritime shipping route to Asia is controlled by Iran.

With its regional aggression now enjoying the indirect support of its nuclear negotiating partners led by the US, Iran has little to fear from the pan-Arab attempt to dislodge the Houthis from Aden and the Bab al-Mandab. If the Arabs succeed, Iran can regroup and launch a new offensive knowing it will face no repercussions for its aggression and imperialist endeavors. …



Roger Simon asks, “Munich, anyone?”

When Barack Obama told us on dozens of occasions that we could keep our previous health plan and doctor under the Affordable Care Act, he was doing it for one of two reasons.  Either he was ignorant of his own legislation (unlikely) or he was deliberately lying to get it passed. He knew best what was good for us and if he had to prevaricate, so be it.

The so-called  framework agreement on Iranian nuclear activities is almost exactly the same.  Obama again believes it is best for us, but if we are to believe Amir Taheri (and I do), this “agreement” (that the Iranians are calling merely a press release) is understood completely differently by both parties.  We have been told another series of lies in order to get something passed — or in this case not to oppose it. 

Only there is one huge difference. Obamacare is reversible.  Nuclear armageddon is not. …



And Jonah Goldberg says the Iran deal is no deal at all. 

The first thing one needs to know about the nuclear deal with Iran is that it is not, in fact, a deal. You might be confused about this point, given that so many news outlets refers to a “deal” that doesn’t exist.

In fairness, many do so simply for expediency’s sake. The various parties to the talks did come away with an agreement, but it was an agreement to haggle more about what a deal might look like. We don’t have a good word for such things, so people use “deal” as a placeholder.

But in any other realm of life, if you left a negotiation where things stand in Lausanne, Switzerland, you wouldn’t think you had a deal. The known disagreements are profound and the room for further disagreements vast.

When you have a deal with a car salesman, money changes hands and papers are signed. But if you left a car dealership with this kind of understanding, you might never get a car at all, or you might expect that the salesman will ultimately sell you a new Porsche while the dealer is equally confident you’ll come down to the lot next weekend to pick your used Zamboni. …



Kevin Williamson says 1970′s scandals seem almost tame in comparison to today’s.

… Richard Nixon was a snake who understood himself as such but had sufficient vestigial conscience to be ashamed of his snakery. When Tricky Dick wanted to spread a nasty rumor about a political rival, he insisted on a few degrees of separation between the deed and himself; when Harry Reid wants to spread lies about someone, he does so from the Senate floor and then laughs about it. In Nixon’s time, the political misuse of the IRS was considered a serious crime; today, it happens quite in the open without consequence. When Nixon insisted that his attorney general violate his official responsibilities for political reasons, Elliott Richardson understood what duty required, and resigned; Eric Holder, by way of comparison — suffice it to say that he understands his duty somewhat differently. …

… If the other side is evil, then anything is permissible. Of course Harry Reid doesn’t feel guilty about lying about Mitt Romney: “He didn’t get elected, did he?” Of course so-called progressives are willing to lock up nonconformist bakers or merrily cheer on those who promise to set their businesses on fire. Of course the Obama administration will try to sign us up for a phony nuclear deal with Tehran that undermines our national security — and that of our allies — in the service of its own political interests. …