January 18, 2017 – LETHAL LEGACY

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The inauguration means it’s time to consider the outgoing president’s legacy. Since he’s made it plain he intends to hang around and harry and harass his successor, we hope to see many Trump tweets the on the former’s lethal legacy.

 

“Lethal legacy” is a good kill shot like “Lying Ted,” “Little Marco,” or “Crooked Hillary” and it has an additional admirable alliterative advantage. How was it lethal? Let us count the ways.

 

Lethal to the 50% of young black Americans who don’t have work. And in a similar vein, lethal to the job prospects of 15 million Americans who have dropped out of the workforce. Lethal to the countless thousands of businesses that did not get started. Lethal to millions who liked their doctors. Lethal to efforts to control illegal immigration. Lethal to many school voucher programs. Lethal to the private enterprises of for-profit education. Lethal to the U. S. credit rating. Lethal to coal mining and fossil fuel industries. Lethal to our constitutional tradition of separation of powers. And most wonderfully, lethal to the electoral prospects of a thousand Dem candidates.

 

And in foreign affairs, lethal to hundreds of thousand Syrian citizens. Lethal to Israel, our strongest and most democratic ally in the Mid-East and thus lethal to the Mid-East peace process. Lethal to the aspirations of millions in the Iranian ”Green revolution.” Lethal to prospects for Libya becoming a peaceful country. Etc., etc., etc. . . . . .

 

We’ll let some of our best friends flesh out the details of the legacy of this disastrous Dem demagogue. First up is Streetwise Professor, Craig Pirrong. It was almost a century ago a Dem administration sponsored and passed the 20th amendment. Craig Pirrong celebrates.

The 20th Amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1933, moved inauguration day from March 4 to January 20. And thank God for that, for imagine what Obama could do in those extra six weeks.

He’s already done enough, believe me. The most egregious was the failure to veto a UN resolution targeting Israeli settlements. Indeed, it has been plausibly pled that the administration was instrumental in pushing forward the resolution, though it has implausibly denied this.

There is a colorable case against the settlements. Be that as it may, Obama’s actions were low and destructive, …

… Moreover, it is clear that Obama was driven more by personal peevishness and dislike for Netanyahu, rather than higher motives. …

… Apparently not realizing that the 2016 election (not just for president, but for the House, the Senate, and state offices) was largely a repudiation of him and his presidency, Obama stated presumptuously that he would have been able to defeat Trump and win a third term.

Obama says he will take some time to “be quiet for a while” to “still myself” and “find my center.” Take your time! As much time as you like!

Looking at the bright side, Obama says he is going to dedicate himself to rebuilding the Democratic Party. Given that he’s the one that singlehandedly led it to the brink of catastrophe, this is great news. Sort of like having someone you don’t really like hire the Three Stooges to fix his plumbing.

The 20th Amendment was adopted because a lame duck Hoover administration was unable to respond decisively to the economic crisis that gripped the country in early-1933. The amendment was intended to prevent the government being hamstrung for months in a future crisis occurring during a transition to a new administration. But in retrospect, the real virtue of the 20th is not that it accelerates the ability of an incoming president to deal with crisis: it is that it limits the time that a departing president has to wreak havoc. This is especially important when the departing president is preternaturally vain and narcissistic (even by comparison with other politicians, who are only naturally vain and narcissistic), when he is unconstrained by accepted norms and traditions, and when there is no political cost to be paid for indulging his peeves and pursuing his vendettas. One shudders to think what Obama would have done with an extra six weeks to act with no means of holding him to account.

Cromwell’s parting words to the Rump Parliament are apposite here: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.” Fortunately, the 20th Amendment ensures that Obama will go sooner than he would have without it. And thank God for that.

 

 

Conrad Black with lots more.

Like most people, I had hoped for the customary settling down after the very tumultuous and nasty election. We have been denied that, not by the candidates, who have been dignified, but by the outgoing administration. I have written here and elsewhere before that this has been the most incompetent administration since James Buchanan brought on the Civil War, but I had not realized how the immunity to severe criticism afforded President Obama, because of his pigmentation, had been allowed to disguise how inept this administration has been, how authoritarian and sleazy, and how the president’s demiurgic (godlike) vanity has gone almost unnoticed as the toadies and bootlickers like Tom Friedman and David Remnick went into overdrive.

Only now, when, instead of simply expressing solidarity with his party’s narrowly or even questionably defeated nominee, as Dwight Eisenhower did with Richard Nixon in 1960 and Lyndon Johnson did with Hubert Humphrey in 1968 (and even Bill Clinton slightly managed with Al Gore in 2000), President Obama has disparaged Hillary Clinton. He said the election was “about my legacy,” and that he would have won had he been allowed constitutionally to seek a third term, and for good measure he has incited the inference that the election was determined by unspecified illegal computer-hacking by the Russian government.

The president is correct that the largest issue in the election was the Obama legacy: the 125 percent increase in federal debt while the national work force shrank by 10 percent, the shameful Iran nuclear and sanctions giveaway, the shambles of the “red line” and other flip-flops and miscues all over foreign policy, the haughty disparagement of large sections of the electorate (in which he was almost outdone by Mrs. Clinton), the immigration policy of proudly admitting to the U.S. whomever might be seized by the ambition to enter, and the slavish adherence to the most alarmist versions of the faddish climate apocalypse, whatever the cost in American jobs and the current-account deficit, and without waiting for evidence adequate to justify radical measures. The president has had a whim of iron, informed by bygone reflexively socialistic pieties, and while he has not been popular and the majority has thought throughout his administration that the fundamental direction of the country was mistaken, about half the people either like him as a public personality or are afraid, because he is not white, to admit that they don’t.

He may be, as he often seems, a charming man, but when he has gone and the issue of race is not much involved in assessing his performance, he will be seen to have failed as president, 

 

And Andrew Malcolm, a voice from our past, stirred himself from his retirement.

“You better stop stealing money from your mother’s purse, young man, or I will punish you late this year or perhaps sometime in 2018,” said no parent who was serious about punishment.

Yet that’s pretty much what President Obama did with his old-fashioned expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over alleged political hacking by Moscow interests going back 18 months.

​A very strange retro-response from a president​ who mocked Mitt Romney for suggesting in 2012 that Russia was America’s worst strategic threat. Obama said: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” …

Since Obama vowed to run a smooth presidential transition, what’s the real point of picking a tardy diplomatic scuffle with Putin? What’s the real point of setting Israel (and the annoying Netanyahu) adrift at the United Nations now?

Why issue all these offshore drilling bans and new federal regulations? Why commute more federal prison sentences than a dozen past presidents combined? Why keep releasing Guantanamo terrorists when so many return to their homicidal careers?

Might it be to plant political IEDs for his annoying successor, …

 

Michael Barone writes on government by “faculty lounge.”

… In my view, Obama owed his election and reelection to the feeling — widely shared by Americans, including many who didn’t vote for him — that it would be a good thing for Americans to elect a black president.

What they didn’t expect, but got, was a president who governed according to the playbook of campus liberals, imposing — or attempting to impose — policies that he believed would be good for people, whether they knew it or not.

This was governance that was both inattentive to detail and law and out of touch with how policies affect people’s lives. That is why so many of these policies seem headed for the ash heap of history. 

 

Victor Davis Hanson writes on the “legacy of deceit” and asks why it was necessary.  

… Why does the Obama administration contort reality and mask the consequences of its initiatives?

Two reasons come to mind. One, Obama advanced an agenda to the left of that shared by most past presidents. Obamacare, the Benghazi catastrophe, the Iran deal, his strange stance toward radical Islam, and the Bergdahl swap were unpopular measures that required politically-driven recalibrations to escape American scrutiny.

Second, Obama’s team believes that the goals of fairness and egalitarianism more than justify the means of dissimulation by more sophisticated elites. Thus Gruber (“the stupidity of the American voter”) and Rhodes (“They literally know nothing”) employ deception on our behalf. Central to this worldview is that the American people are naive and easily manipulated, and thus need to be brought up to speed by a paternal administration that knows what is best for its vulnerable and clueless citizenry.

Such condescension is also why the administration never believes it has done anything wrong by hiding the facts of these controversies. Its players believe that because they did it all for us, the ensuing distasteful means will be forgotten once we finally progress enough to appreciate their enlightened ends.

  

The deceit Victor Hanson writes about above is the largest part of the scandals of this administration. So writes Kevin Williamson

The lame-duck columns have been nearly unanimous on the point: Barack Obama is remarkable among recent presidents for having been utterly untouched by scandal, personal or political.

The personal can be conceded: There is no serious allegation that President Obama suffered from the liberated appetites of a Bill Clinton, and the White House interns have by all accounts gone unmolested. But this is hardly remarkable: There were no such allegations about George W. Bush, either, or about George H. W. Bush, or about Ronald Reagan, or Jimmy Carter. Richard Nixon’s name is a byword for scandal, but not scandal of that sort. Nixon’s shocking personal perversion was his taste for cottage cheese with ketchup.

So, three cheers for Barack Obama’s manful efforts to live up to the standard of Gerald Ford. Well done.

The political issue is a different question entirely.

Not only was the Obama administration marked by scandal of the most serious sort — perverting the machinery of the state for political ends — it was on that front, which is the most important one, the most scandal-scarred administration in modern presidential history.

For your consideration: …

  

And from John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist.

… If Obama’s domestic legacy is evanescent, his enduring legacy will be in foreign policy. In 2008, Obama promised to “restore our moral standing” in the world, by which he meant that America would retreat from the international stage to “focus on nation-building here at home.”

In practice, that meant abandoning the Middle East and allowing ISIS to rise from the ashes of Iraq. Obama was elected on nothing so much as a desire among Americans to be done with that part of the world, and Obama had an idea how to do it: elevate Iran as a regional hegemon to replace America.

That’s why he pursued the Iran nuclear deal. The price he was willing to pay is that the regime in Tehran could have nuclear weapons within the next decade, if not sooner. The mullahs know this, and it has emboldened them. (Just this week, Iranian naval vessels made a simulated attack run at a U.S. destroyer, which opened fire in response.)

The story is much the same all over the world: American retreat is emboldening our adversaries. Russian aggression has grown to the point that Moscow launched an “active measures” campaign to disrupt our presidential election, even as it pursues revanchist aims in Eastern Europe and an irregular military conflict in Ukraine that has left more than 10,000 dead. Nearly a half-million have perished in Syria’s civil war, thanks in large part to Obama’s refusal to intervene. Iraq, left to its own devices when Obama pulled out American troops in 2011, has proven unable to defeat ISIS. An irredentist China is installing military bases on man-made islands in the South China Sea, forcing a strategic realignment along the Asia Pacific.

All of which to say, on the eve of Obama’s departure from office the world is more unstable, and a major conflict more likely, than at any time since the Cold War. This was not inevitable; it was the result of conscious choices by Obama and his inner circle. In assessing his likely place in American history, it calls to mind James Buchanan, perhaps our worst president ever. …

  

YES! We have many great cartoons today.

 

January 16, 2017 – CLIMATE

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While our attention was on the election and its aftermath, Scott Adams of the Dilbert Blog has posted some items on climate. His posts during the campaign season presented an iconoclastic view of the proceedings that proved to be obdurately prescient. His attention to the climate controversy is welcome. His first post on the subject was December 5th.

Before I start, let me say as clearly as possible that I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change. If science says something is true – according to most scientists, and consistent with the scientific method – I accept their verdict. 

I realize that science can change its mind, of course. Saying something is “true” in a scientific sense always leaves open the option of later reassessing that view if new evidence comes to light. Something can be “true” according to science while simultaneously being completely wrong. Science allows that odd situation to exist, at least temporarily, while we crawl toward truth.

So when I say I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change, I’m endorsing the scientific consensus for the same reason I endorsed Hillary Clinton for the first part of the election – as a strategy to protect myself. I endorse the scientific consensus on climate change to protect my career and reputation. To do otherwise would be dumb, at least in my situation. …

… You probably are not a scientist, and that means you can’t independently evaluate any of the climate science claims. You didn’t do the data collection or the experiments yourself. You could try to assess the credibility of the scientists using your common sense and experience, but let’s face it – you aren’t good at that. So what do you do?

You probably default to trusting whatever the majority of scientists tell you. And the majority says climate science is real and we need to do something about it. But how reliable are experts, even when they are mostly on the same side?

Ask the majority of polling experts who said Trump had only a 2% chance of becoming president. Ask the experts who said the government’s historical “food pyramid” was good science. Ask the experts who used to say marijuana was a gateway drug. Ask the experts who used to say sexual orientation is just a choice. Ask the experts who said alcoholism is a moral failure and not a matter of genetics. …

… As I said above, I accept the consensus of climate science experts when they say that climate science is real and accurate. But I do that to protect my reputation and my income. I have no way to evaluate the work of scientists.

If you ask me how scared I am of climate changes ruining the planet, I have to say it is near the bottom of my worries. If science is right, and the danger is real, we’ll find ways to scrub the atmosphere as needed. We always find ways to avoid slow-moving dangers. And if the risk of climate change isn’t real, I will say I knew it all along because climate science matches all of the criteria for a mass hallucination by experts.

  

 

His next post we link to was December 19th.

I often hear from people who are on one side or the other on the topic of climate change. And I think I spotted a new cognitive phenomenon that might not have a name.* I’ll call it cognitive blindness, defined as the inability to see the strong form of the other side of a debate. 

The setup for cognitive blindness looks like this:

1. An issue has the public divided into two sides.

2. You read an article that agrees with your side and provides solid evidence to support it. That article mentions the argument on the other side in summary form but dismisses it as unworthy of consideration.

3. You remember (falsely) having seen both sides of the argument. What you really saw was one side of the argument plus a misleading summary of the other side.

4. When someone sends you links to better arguments on the other side you skip them because you think you already know what they will say, and you assume it must be nonsense. For all practical purposes you are blind to the other argument. It isn’t that you disagree with the strong form of the argument on the other side so much as you don’t know it exists no matter how many times it is put right in front of you. …

… Given the wildly different assessments of climate change risks within the non-scientist community, perhaps we need some sort of insurance/betting market. That would allow the climate science alarmists to buy “insurance” from the climate science skeptics. That way if the climate goes bad at least the alarmists will have extra cash to build their underground homes. And that cash will come out of the pockets of the science-deniers. Sweet!

But if the deniers are right, and they want to be rewarded by the alarmists for their rightness, the insurance/betting market would make that possible.

It would also be fascinating to see where the public put the betting odds for climate science. Would people expose themselves to both sides of the debate before betting?

  

 

Then Scott Adams/Dilbert posted on the CO2/warming arguments. Chicken/egg or Egg/chicken?

… Remember how I taught you that Trump’s linguistic kill shots had a special quality that allowed them to strengthen over time thanks to confirmation bias? Every time Ted Cruz said something that didn’t pass the fact-checking you remembered his Lyin’ Ted nickname. And every time someone accused Clinton of crooked dealings you were reminded of her Crooked Hillary nickname. Climate change has the same dynamic. Every time it snows the non-scientists of the world look out the window and experience confirmation bias that global “warming” isn’t happening. Sure, it’s usually called climate “change” now, and most people know that. But to the under-informed that change in preferred wording just looks suspicious.

Climate scientists might be right that CO2 will cause catastrophic warming. And fear is a great persuader. But this particular fear is a bit abstract. It isn’t like a nuclear bomb that can kill us all instantly. Climate worries are in the unpredictable future and won’t affect everyone the same way. Persuasion-wise, the climate scientists only have facts and prediction models to make their case. And what are the weakest forms of persuasion known to humankind? – Facts and prediction models.

And how are climate scientists trying to solve this problem? Mostly by providing more facts and more prediction models. And by demonizing the critics. The net effect of all that is to systematically reduce their own credibility over time, even if they are right about everything.

I think you see the problem.

  

 

A less theoretical and more down to earth approach comes from James Delingpole in The Spectator, UK.

… he (Trump) was never the GOP establishment’s preferred candidate, which means he has the attitude, the independence and the leeway to be much more radical — and effective — than any of his rivals would have dared to be.

Nowhere will this become more evident than in the fields of energy and climate change. It’s true that there were other climate–sceptical presidential candidates, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio among them, but it’s unlikely that when push came to shove any Republican other than Trump would have had the will to take on the powerful and entrenched green establishment once in office.

Partly it’s down to temperament: Trump relishes confrontation and, unlike most conservative politicians, feels under no pressure to moderate his position on the environment lest he be perceived as nasty or uncaring. Partly it’s because as a property developer he has much personal experience of the way environmental red tape impedes business. Partly, as one admiring DC insider explained to me, it’s because he’s the first US president since Reagan who doesn’t identify with the ‘bicoastal urban elite’. …

… Take NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: both have been caught red-handed doctoring raw data to make 20th-century global warming look more dramatic, for reasons which probably have more to do with ideology than science. Trump simply won’t tolerate this. NASA will likely be returned to its day job of exploring space, while NOAA and its climate data will be put in the hands of a sceptical scientist: someone, perhaps, like John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, who has long infuriated warmists by noting that the satellite records show much less warming than the (-rather patchy) surface temperature records do.

Until now, green propagandists have been able to point to their tame scientists at NASA, NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Science and Technology and so on, and say: ‘Look. All the experts agree…’ With this option off the table the repercussions will be enormous. I’d go so far as to say it’s the beginning of the end of the Green Blob.

Yes, I appreciate some of your squeamishness about Trump, and if you’re on the greenie liberal left or part of the smug elite whose nose was put out so badly by Brexit, then you’ve good reason to be terrified. Not otherwise, though. He’s going to be great.

  

 

What might a presidency unencumbered by Beltway orthodoxy look like? We reach deep in our files from an article in the October 5, 1999 WSJ by Ken Adelman who told how the uninhibited Reagan acted at the beginning of his administration.

… The first epiphany came early in his administration, when we gathered in a formal National Security Council meeting in the Cabinet Room. Secretary of State Alexander Haig opened by lamenting that the Law of the Sea Treaty was something we didn’t like but had to accept, since it had emerged over the previous decade through a 150-nation negotiation. Mr. Haig then proceeded to recite 13 or so options for modifying the treaty–some with several suboptions.

Such detail, to put it mildly, was not the president’s strong suit. He looked increasingly puzzled and finally interrupted. “Uh, Al,” he asked quietly, “isn’t this what the whole thing was all about?”

“Huh?” The secretary of state couldn’t fathom what the president meant. None of us could. So Mr. Haig asked him.

Well, Mr. Reagan shrugged, wasn’t not going along with something that is “really stupid” just because 150 nations had done so what the whole thing was all about–our running, our winning, our governing? A stunned Mr. Haig folded up his briefing book and promised to find out how to stop the treaty altogether.

That set the tone for the first Reagan administration. …

  

 

Dems continue to beclown themselves over climate. The latest was a rising star in the party, Kamala Harris, who looked the fool when questioning designated CIA chief. Here’s PJ Media;

This is why the Democrats can’t have nice things like the White House, Congress, most state houses or state legislatures. California’s new senator grilled CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo about climate change (as well as gay marriage), illustrating just how out of sync with reality Democrats’ priorities are when it comes to national security.

 

More from Ed Morrissey at HotAir.

Confirmation hearings often reveal more about the panelists than they do about the nominee, and that’s certainly the case in the exchange that took place between Mike Pompeo and newly installed Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). Donald Trump nominated Pompeo for director of the CIA, a role for which his years as chair of the House Intelligence Committee have prepared him, including an understanding of the role intelligence services play. Harris seems to have a strange set of priorities for intelligence operations, and her obsession with climate change leaves Pompeo almost laughing in bemusement. …

… Bear in mind that this followed Harris questioning Pompeo on LGBT policy, and you get a sense of the silliness on display:

HARRIS: CIA Director Brennan, who spent a 25-year career at the CIA as an analyst, senior manager, and station chief in the field, has said that when, quote, “CIA analysts look for deeper causes of rising instability in the world,” one of the causes those CIA analysts see as the — is the impact of climate change. Do you have any reason to doubt the assessment of these CIA analysts?

POMPEO: Senator Harris, I haven’t had a chance to read those materials with respect to climate change. I do know the agency’s role there. Its role is to collect foreign intelligence, to understand threats to the world. That would certainly include threats from poor governance, regional instability, threats from all sources, and deliver that information to policymakers. And to the extent that changes in climatic activity are part of that, we’ll deliver that information to you all and the president.

That was Pompeo’s attempt to acknowledge her concern at climate change while politely reminding her that it’s not the CIA’s primary focus, or even secondary focus. (If it has been in the past, perhaps that’s why we missed the real nature of the “Arab Spring,” the rise of ISIS, and Russia’s determination to team up with Iran to keep Bashar al-Assad in power.) Harris didn’t take the hint, however, which forced Pompeo to become a little more blunt: …

 

 

January 15, 2017 – FOREIGN POLICY

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We take this occasion to examine some of the issues facing Donald Trump when he turns away from domestic concerns. Using Henry Kissinger’s ideas about foreign policy, historian Niall Ferguson applies some structure to how we might view the world and our position in it. 

… Let us begin with the geopolitical landscape that Trump inherits from his predecessor. In his most recent book World Order (2014), Kissinger argues that the world is in a parlous condition verging on international anarchy. This is not only because of shifts in the material balance of power from West to East, but also because the legitimacy of the postwar world order is being challenged. Four competing visions of world order—the European-Westphalian, the Islamic, the Chinese, and the American—are each in varying stages of metamorphosis, if not decay. Consequently, real legitimacy inheres broadly in none of these visions. The emergent properties of the new world disorder are the formation of “regional blocs” with incompatible worldviews.1 These, he fears, are likely to rub up against one another in a way that escalates: “A struggle between regions could be even more destructive than the struggle between nations has been.”2

Contrary to those who claim the world has transcended any prospect of major systemic war, Kissinger argues that the contemporary global context is highly flammable. There is a profound tension between economic globalization and the political persistence of the nation-state, which the 2008 financial crisis laid bare. Second, we are acquiescing in the proliferation of nuclear weapons far beyond the Cold War “club.” We also have the new realm of cyberwarfare, a novel version of Hobbes’s “state of nature.” 3 Here and in his recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, as well as in private conversations with his biographer,4 Kissinger has outlined four scenarios he regards as the most likely catalysts for a large-scale conflict: …

… Donald Trump therefore enters the Oval Office with an underestimated advantage. Obama’s foreign policy has been a failure, most obviously in the Middle East, where the smoldering ruin that is Syria—not to mention Iraq and Libya—attests to the fundamental naivety of his approach, dating all the way back to the 2009 Cairo speech. The President came to believe he had an ingenious strategy to establish geopolitical balance between Sunni and Shi’a. But by treating America’s Arab friends with open disdain, while cutting a nuclear deal with Iran that has left Tehran free to wage proxy wars across the region, Obama has achieved not peace but a fractal geometry of conflict and a frightening, possibly nuclear, arms race. At the same time, he has allowed Russia to become a major player in the Middle East for the first time since Kissinger squeezed the Soviets out of Egypt in the 1972-79 period. The death toll in the Syrian war now approaches half a million; who knows how much higher it will rise between now and Inauguration Day?

Meanwhile, global terrorism has surged under Obama. …

… The “Obama Doctrine” has failed in Europe, too, where English voters opted to leave the EU in defiance of the President’s threats, and where the German leadership he recently praised has delivered, first, an unnecessarily protracted financial crisis in the European periphery and, second, a disastrous influx to the core of migrants, some but not all of them refugees from a region that Europe had intervened in just enough to exacerbate its instability. The President has also failed in eastern Europe, where not only has Ukraine been invaded and Crimea annexed, but also Hungary and now Poland have opted to deviate sharply from the President’s liberal “arc of history.” Finally, his foreign policy has failed in Asia, where little remains of the much-vaunted pivot. “If you look at how we’ve operated in the South China Sea,” the President boasted in an interview published in March, “we have been able to mobilize most of Asia to isolate China in ways that have surprised China, frankly, and have very much served our interest in strengthening our alliances.”11 The new President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, apparently did not receive this memorandum. In October he went to Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to announce his “separation from the United States.”

All of this means that merely by changing Obama’s foreign policy President Trump is likely to achieve at least some success. The question is, how exactly should he go about this change? …

… who should serve as Donald Trump’s strategic role model? Although his name did not come up in Kissinger’s interview with Goldberg, there is an obvious answer, clearly articulated in the former Secretary of State’s classic work of synthesis, Diplomacy. That answer is Theodore Roosevelt, the antithesis of Woodrow Wilson, Kissinger’s bête noire.

“Roosevelt,” wrote Kissinger, “started from the premise that the United States was a power like any other, not a singular incarnation of virtue. If its interests collided with those of other countries, America had the obligation to draw on its strength to prevail.”13 Roosevelt did not build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, but he did formulate the “Corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted the right of the United States to exercise “however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of . . . wrong-doing or impotence . . . an international police power” in Latin America and the Caribbean. That principle became the basis for interventions in Haiti, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba—and for the acquisition of the territory on which the Panama Canal was constructed: one of the great infrastructure projects of the early 1900s.

Moreover, Roosevelt was dismissive of liberal designs such as multilateral disarmament and collective security, enthusiasms not only of Woodrow Wilson but of the three-times-defeated Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan: …

… He called for legislation to exclude and deport anarchists—legislation duly passed by Congress and signed into law in March 1903. Today, for anarchism read radical Islam.

In a speech he gave in St. Louis in May 1916, Roosevelt summed up his views on immigration in language that resonates today, a century later. “If the American has the right stuff in him, I care not a snap of my fingers whether he is Jew or Gentile, Catholic or Protestant,” he declared. “But unless the immigrant becomes in good faith an American and nothing else, then he is out of place in this country, and the sooner he leaves the better.” The target of Roosevelt’s rhetoric was the wartime habit of accentuating the identities and supposedly divided loyalties of “Irish-Americans” and “German-Americans.” The context was different, but the issue is as relevant today, when Islamists assert that American Muslims owe a higher loyalty to their religion, if not to the caliphate.23 “Our duty,” Roosevelt said,

… is to the United States. This duty should constrain us . . . to treat the other nations primarily according to the way such treatment serves American interests. . . . The attempt to keep . . . a half citizenship, with a divided loyalty, split between devotion to the land in which they were born and which their children are to dwell, and the land from which their fathers came . . . is certain to breed a spirit of bitterness and prejudice and dislike between great bodies of our citizens.24 …

If it is this spirit that animates the Trump Administration, then its new order will not be so new, nor altogether so bad as many fear.

  

 

Bret Stephens asks important questions about the “two state solution.”

… Would a Palestinian state serve the cause of Mideast peace? This used to be conventional wisdom, on the theory that a Palestinian state would lead to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, easing the military burdens on the former and encouraging the latter to address their internal discontents.

Today the proposition is ridiculous. No deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah is going to lift the sights of those now fighting in Syria, Iraq or Yemen. Nor will a deal reconcile Tehran and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza to the existence of a Jewish state. As for the rest of the neighborhood, Israel has diplomatic relations with Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, and has reached pragmatic accommodations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

What about the interests of Palestinians? Aren’t they entitled to a state?

Maybe. But are they more entitled to one than the Assamese, Basques, Baloch, Corsicans, Druze, Flemish, Kashmiris, Kurds, Moros, Native Hawaiians, Northern Cypriots, Rohingya, Tibetans, Uyghurs or West Papuans—all of whom have distinct national identities, legitimate historical grievances and plausible claims to statehood?

If so, what gives Palestinians the preferential claim? Have they waited longer than the Kurds? No: Kurdish national claims stretch for centuries, not decades. Have they experienced greater violations to their culture than Tibetans? No: Beijing has conducted a systematic policy of repression for 67 years, whereas Palestinians are nothing if not vocal in mosques, universities and the media. Have they been persecuted more harshly than the Rohingya? Not even close.

Set the comparisons aside. Would a Palestinian state be good for Palestinian people?

That’s a more subjective judgment. But a telling figure came in a June 2015 poll conducted by the PalestinianCenter for Public Opinion, which found that a majority of Arab residents in East Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state. …

January 11, 2017 – GONNA BE FUN

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Watching Kellyanne Conway duke it out with Chris Cuomo on CNN last Friday morning, it became clear the start of the Trump presidency will be fun. If they don’t stumble too much, the fun could last a long time. Watching people who’s ideas we detest going batty is worth the price of admission.

Here’s an article in Media-ite on the Conway/Cuomo rumble.   And you can watch it here.

In a meaty interview that raged on for the better part of twenty minutes this morning, CNN New Day anchor Chris Cuomo sparred with Kellyanne Conway of the Trump campaign on a wide variety of controversies, foremost of which has been the President-elect’s willingness to seemingly discredit our own intelligence community. …

… At one point, when the New Day anchor alleged that Trump was “sheltering Russia,” Conway defiantly shot back, “Don’t you say that again.”

The best part of the hit (in my estimation, anyway) comes when Cuomo repeatedly tried to bait Conway into simply including Russia among those foreign entities that should not hack or interfere with the United States. She refused to name the country on its own, saying instead we reject interference, “by anyone. By anyone. By anyone, Chris, by anyone. By anyone.”

At the conclusion of the interview, Alisyn Camerota quipped, “That was a calorie burner.” Watch above via CNN.

And the morning after Meryl Streep lectured the deplorables, Conway laid into the actress. Story from The Daily Mail.

Incoming White House advisor Kellyanne Conway has joined President-elect Donald Trump‘s counterattack on Meryl Streep by arguing that if the actress was such an advocate for the disabled, she should have stood up for the special needs man subjected to Torture in video posted on Facebook.

Streep caused a sensation on the airwaves an online when she delivered a blistering speech against Trump while accepting an award at the Golden Globes Sunday night, where she slammed Trump for mocking New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski in 2015 at a campaign rally. …

… Conway was having none of it in appearance Monday morning on ‘Fox and Friends,’ and joined President-elect Trump in hitting back at Streep.

‘I’m glad Meryl Streep has such a passion for the disabled because I didn’t hear her weigh in or I didn’t even hear her use her platform last night … to give the shoutout to the mentally challenged boy who last week was tortured live on Facebook for half an hour, by four young African-American adults who were screaming racial and anti-Trump expletives and forcing him to put his head in toilet water,’ she said.

‘So I’d like to hear from her today, if she wants to come and continue her platform on behalf of the disabled,’ Conway continued. …

 

It’s nice to see our folks pushing back and refusing to accept the premises of the left. And it is interesting to see how Trump has set the public face of his administration. Steve Bannon has disappeared as completely as the 15 million people who have given up and left the labor force. It has been left to Conway to be the fighting public face for the time being. In November 2015 we passed along a Bloomberg/Business Week profile of Bannon that is worth looking at again. Here’s the link.

 

A Salena Zito profile on Conway is here. Zito, by the way, is the pundit who, in a September profile of Trump said; “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally”.

Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway’s life has come full circle.

The little girl from Atco, N.J., raised in a collaborative effort by her mother, a grandmother and two aunts, all living under the same roof, now has her mother living in her home, helping her and her husband with their four children.

“Funny how that happened,” she says of her mother moving in after she became Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign manager in August. “It is the way I was raised and, honestly, it really has been amazing.” …

… Conway, the first female campaign manager to win a presidential election, will become “counselor to the president” on Jan. 20, the day Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.

Unsurprisingly, she is beaming.

“You want to hear about destiny? I was born Jan. 20, 1967. I will turn 50 years old on Inauguration Day, the day he is sworn in as president,” she says, deadpanning, “Honestly, I think my family is very relieved that they don’t have to think of a party idea.”

It’s a long way from her working-class upbringing in New Jersey’s “Blueberry Capital of the World.”

Yet she remains deeply connected to the blue-collar roots of an Italian family of four women who brought her up on limited financial means and a sense of boundless opportunity.

The Blueberry Princess

 

Conway’s unconventional childhood household “doted on me with everything that is important — love, attention, prayerfulness, patriotism, the value of being more of a giver rather than a taker,” she says.

That last trait sometimes made her a self-denying person early in her career: “Now it makes me have a much more grateful heart in a generous way.”

Her father left when she was around 2 years old; there was no alimony or child support so, at age 26 and with only a high school education, her mother “had to figure it out.”

“So we were middle class, maybe? Somedays I wonder. But it was a wonderful childhood, filled with family and cousins, great story-tellers and a lot of food because, in an Italian family, food is love.” …

… During our hours-long interview, Conway receives many, many texts. It seems likely that a lot of people are trying to contact her, given her position in the transition organization and her frequent appearances on TV news programs.

But actually, the texts are from one person, her daughter Claudia, who really, really wants to get in touch.

Finally, Conway pauses the interview and makes a call to answer her daughter’s question about choir practice at St. Mary’s, then proceeds to send several texts at lightning speed.

“That is the 12-year-old, the headstrong one,” she explains. “You know, when you are a pollster and you get 75 percent agreement on anything, you are thrilled. But when you are a mother, you need 100 percent agreement.”

Claudia, it appears, is the family holdout about moving to Washington. …

 

 

Not afraid to fight back himself, Trump called Schumer the Dems “head clown”. Matthew Continetti wrote on the theme.

Democrats have been in power for so long that they’ve forgotten how to oppose. Their party has been on a roll since 2005 when the botched Social Security reform, the slow bleed of the Iraq war, and Hurricane Katrina sent the Bush administration into a tailspin. The Democrats won the Congress the following year and the White House two years after that. And while they lost the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, Democrats still had the advantage of retaining the White House, a president seemingly immune from criticism, the courts, the bureaucracy, and large portions of the media. The correlation of forces in Washington has weighed heavily in favor of the Democrats for a decade.

No longer. …

… Yes, the first duty of the opposition is to oppose. And I don’t expect the Democrats to roll over for Trump. But I am surprised by their hysterics, and by their race to see who can be the most obnoxious to the new president. They seem to have been caught off guard, to say the least, by their situation. Take for example their willingness to stand on a podium beside a sign that reads, “Make America Sick Again.” By embracing this message, such as it is, the Democrats associated not Trump but themselves with illness. Who on earth thought that was a good idea?

It takes time to adjust. The Democrats may be counting on inertia and the media to slow the Republicans down and force them into a defensive crouch. Worked in the past. But here’s the thing about Trump: He doesn’t play defense.

Jeff Jacoby writes on the gurus who got it wrong last year.

2016! Was there ever such a year for making donkeys out of seers? A whole column could be filled with nothing but the names of sages and savants, supposedly adept in the ways of politics, who confidently assured everyone that Donald J. Trump couldn’t possibly win the Republican presidential nomination, let alone be elected president of the United States.

“If Trump is nominated, then everything we think we know about presidential nominations is wrong,” wrote Larry Sabato, whose highly regarded website at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics is called Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Peering into his crystal ball on Nov. 7, he saw Hillary Clinton poised to harvest 322 votes in the Electoral College, handily defeating Trump in the next day’s election.

Countless experts made similar predictions. “GOP insiders: Trump can’t win,” read a Politico headline last summer.

 

Turns out the GOP folks have been doing some homework on how to bring the bureaucrats to heel. Story from WaPo.

House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service.

The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to propose amending an appropriations bill to single out a government employee or cut a specific program.

The use of the rule would not be simple; a majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment. At the same time, opponents and supporters agree that the work of 2.1 million civil servants, designed to be insulated from politics, is now vulnerable to the whims of elected officials.

The revival of the Holman Rule was the brainchild of Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), who is intent on increasing the powers of individual members of Congress to reassign workers as policy demands. …

… Democrats and federal employee unions say the provision, which one called the “Armageddon Rule,” could prove alarming to the federal workforce because it comes in combination with President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of the Washington bureaucracy, his call for a freeze on government hiring and his nomination of Cabinet secretaries who in some cases seem to be at odds with the mission of the agencies they would lead.

“This is part of a very chilling theme that federal workers are seeing right now,” said Maureen Gilman, legislative director for the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal employees. …

TaxProf writes on what that rule could have meant to the loathsome Lois Lerner.

… The rule would let lawmakers target civil servants who abuse their posts but still have union protections. The rule could, for instance, have been used on former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner, locus of the IRS’ intimidation scandal.

While Lerner faced minimal consequences for her wide-ranging role in the scandal — she refused to reveal much of anything to congressional investigators — The Weekly Standard pointed out that she received $129,000 in bonuses and a yearly pension that could top $100,000.

 

Fun everywhere as The Free Beacon reports on the breakdown of Castro’s death jeep.

… While the media will most likely gloss over Castro’s atrocities in Cuba and reflect on his life in a positive light, it is important that people around the world know the truth and learn about the real hero of 2016: Castro’s death jeep.

“Hundreds of thousands of people lined the route, with some traveling long distances and many hours for a glimpse of the modest convoy and the small, flag-draped wooden box containing Mr. Castro’s ashes, which sat in a glass case on a trailer hitched to a military jeep,” The New York Times reported.

On the eighth day of Cuba bidding their goodbyes to Castro, the military jeep that was carrying Castro’s ashes broke down. As a result, Cuban soldiers had no choice but to push the jeep down the road near Moncada Fort in Santiago, Cuba as mourners lined the streets on both sides to take pictures of the jeep as it passed. …

January 9, 2017 – DRONES

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Just one item today; it is from Commentary and tells the almost 50 year history of drones. Last night’s 60 Minutes had a segment on autonomous drones. See it here.

“The agent is back,” the analyst said as he popped his head into Shabtai Brill’s office. “He has pictures.” The year was 1968. Brill, a major in the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate—known by its Hebrew acronym, Aman—set aside the report he was reading and got up.

Brill was used to seeing classified intelligence, but this day was special. The “agent” was one of the first Israeli spies to infiltrate Egypt successfully since the end of the Six-Day War a year earlier. He had photos that supposedly would help reveal Egyptian war plans, including possible preparations behind the ceasefire line.

A small crowd surrounded the agent in the department’s main nerve center. Colonel Avraham Arnan, Brill’s direct superior, was focusing on one photograph. “What do you think it is?” he asked the group of analysts. “It looks like a military bridge.”

It was. Egypt had moved the bridge to less than a mile from the Suez Canal, the strategic waterway that connected the world of commerce but separated Egypt from the territory it had lost to Israel during the Six-Day War. The bridge could be used by tanks and armored personnel carriers to cross the canal and invade Israel—far too close for comfort.

Before sending the agent to Egypt, Israel had pursued other avenues to gather intelligence on what Egypt was doing just over the canal. One officer designed a special platform to mount on tanks so that intelligence officers could stand on them and peer over the 30-foot-high sand barriers the Egyptians had erected on their side of the Suez. The platforms seemed effective until the day an Egyptian sniper took a shot at one of them. …

… In the meantime, while Israel’s Scouts were moving from one successful operation to the next, Israel’s greatest ally, the United States, was having difficulty getting its own drones off the ground. Billions of dollars were being poured into projects that closed down one after another. Nothing seemed to work.

A few years earlier, the Pentagon had funded the development of Aquila, a drone built by Lockheed Martin that required a few dozen people for takeoff but kept crashing. In 1987, after burning through over $1 billion, the Pentagon decided to shut the program down.

Boeing was also working on a drone—the Condor—that came with a 200-foot wingspan, as large as the reconnaissance aircraft it was being developed to replace. That program was also shut down after a $300 million investment. Only one Condor was built; today it hangs in a museum in California.

In December 1983, the U.S. finally decided to ask Israel for help. …

… Delivery of the Pioneers started in 1986. In 1991, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait. The U.S. went to war to free the Gulf state. During one operation, a Pioneer drone flew over a group of Iraqi soldiers, who saw the aircraft and, not knowing what it was, took off their white undershirts and waved them in the air—the first time in history a military unit surrendered to a robot. …

… The Gaza Strip is ground zero for Israel’s drone revolution. There, on a daily basis, the lawnmower hum of drones can be heard in the narrow alleyways. Gazans have given the drones the nickname “Zanana,” Arabic for “buzz” or “nagging wife.” In Gaza, drones collect intelligence and help the IDF build its “target bank” in the event of a conflict.

Weighing a mere 13 pounds, the Skylark has an operational endurance of three hours at altitudes as high as 3,000 feet.

During Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, in November 2012, the IDF attacked nearly 1,000 underground rocket launchers and 200 tunnels that had been located and identified with intelligence gathered by drones. The first salvo of that operation was ordered in a drone-assisted attack. Ahmed Jabari, Hamas’s military commander, was driving in GazaCity when a missile struck his Kia sedan. Jabari, who had been at the top of Israel’s most-wanted list and had escaped four previous assassination attempts, was finally taken out by a drone.

Before Israel bombs Gaza in retaliation for rocket attacks, UAVs are there to survey the target; as helicopters and fighter jets move in to bomb a car carrying a Katyusha rocket cell, UAVs are there to ensure that children don’t move into the kill zone; when IDF ground troops surround a compound where Hamas terrorists are hiding, UAVs are there to provide real-time air support and guide the soldiers safely inside. And when needed, the drones can reportedly also attack.

At the smaller end of the IDF drone scale are drones not flown out of air-force bases but pulled from soldiers’ backpacks and literally thrown like a quarterback throws a football. One such drone, the Skylark, was delivered to IDF ground units in 2010. Weighing a mere 13 pounds, the Skylark has an operational endurance of three hours at altitudes as high as 3,000 feet. …

 

And yes, drones have cartoons too.

January 3, 2017 – COMFORT THE AFFLICTED

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“The newspaper … comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.” That phrase from Finley Peter Dunne, a Chicago newspaperman who knew better, was in a sentence he wrote to make fun of the hypocrisy of newspapers. Since the media take themselves so seriously, they have ignored the irony and repeat it often to wrap their efforts in virtue and importance. Other Dunneisms; “politics ain’t beanbag” and “all politics is local.”

Shortly, we will have an administration the media will want to afflict, and they thus will be performing a public service because they will be highlighting missteps of the Trump administration. This will be a welcome change from what we have experienced over the last eight years from people like David Remnick of the New Yorker, Fareed Zakaria of WaPo, etc., whose interviews of the president have resembled tongue baths. Truly they have spent this time “comforting the comfortable.” But, in the near future we can expect to start hearing about homeless people again. They’ve been ignored for eight years but a comeback is in sight.  

The media will be the least of Trump’s problems. Wait until the federal bureaucrats get into action. They will be on President Trump’s agenda like white on rice. During the last eight years the Bureau of Labor Statistics statistically disappeared 15 million people. They have increased the number of people “not in the labor force” to 95 million from 80 million. This created favorable unemployment rates for the current administration. Pickerhead predicts the reappearance of the disappeared. The gnomes at BLS will be subtle and slow, but by 2018, and certainly by 2020, the people who were an inconvenience for eight years will be recognized. Fooling with statistics is how you get a paragraph like this from Aaron MacLean of the Free Beacon.

… For years, Americans were told that after the financial panic in 2008, the president’s policies had put us on a steady course to a strong economy. But in much of the country, people looked around them and thought, That just doesn’t seem right. Especially in those parts of the country hit the hardest by the transition from the Industrial Era to the Information Age, people asked a number of questions. If the economy is doing so great, why are my adult children not moving out? If the unemployment rate is declining, why are so many prime-age males not working? And doesn’t it matter that the quality of jobs for non-college graduates is so obviously worse than it was a generation ago? Why, instead of working, are so many people dependent on public benefits and falling prey to addiction? …

   

That quote from “Requiem for a Narrative” jumped out of order in this post which has the goal of trying to explain how people who read the NY Times, in particular, and the mainstream media in general, become so ignorant. So, back to the main point as we get an inside look at narrative setting at the NY Times recently provided by Michael Cieply at Deadline.com who has been a movie critic for both the LA Times and the NY Times.

… For starters, it’s important to accept that the New York Times has always — or at least for many decades — been a far more editor-driven, and self-conscious, publication than many of those with which it competes. Historically, the Los Angeles Times, where I worked twice, for instance, was a reporter-driven, bottom-up newspaper. Most editors wanted to know, every day, before the first morning meeting: “What are you hearing? What have you got?”

It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.

Reality usually had a way of intervening. But I knew one senior reporter who would play solitaire on his computer in the mornings, waiting for his editors to come through with marching orders. Once, in the Los Angeles bureau, I listened to a visiting National staff reporter tell a contact, more or less: “My editor needs someone to say such-and-such, could you say that?”

The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.” …

 

 

Here’s more on “the narrative” and how it works. Go to your search engine and ask for “Trump transition in disarray.” Bing provided 2,800,000 results which look like the following items. This was the narrative shortly after the election which finally collapsed since it was not supported by facts. 

Firings and Discord Put Trump Transition Team in a State …
www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/us/politics/trump-transition.html
Nov 15, 2016 · WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition was in disarray on Tuesday, marked by firings, infighting and revelations that American …


Trump transition team in disarray after top adviser …
www.theguardian.com › US News › Trump administration

Video embedded · Donald Trump’s transition to the White House appeared to be in disarray on Tuesday after the abrupt departure of a top national security adviser and …


Trump transition plunges into disarray with staff shake-up …
https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2016/11/15/trump…
WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump’s transition operation plunged into disarray Tuesday with the abrupt resignation of Mike Rogers, who had handled …

And so on . . . .

 

 

Scott Alexander provided another recent example of how the NY Times distorts the news. In an article on educational vouchers the Times says;

… Only a third of economists on the Chicago panel agreed that students would be better off if they all had access to vouchers to use at any private (or public) school of their choice. …

But, Mr. Alexander points out;

… 36% of economists agree that vouchers would improve education, compared to 19% who disagree. The rest are unsure or didn’t answer the question. The picture looks about the same when weighted by the economists’ confidence.

A more accurate way to summarize this graph is “About twice as many economists believe a voucher system would improve education as believe that it wouldn’t.”

By leaving it at “only a third of economists support vouchers”, the article implies that there is an economic consensus against the policy. Heck, it more than implies it – its title is “Free Market For Education: Economists Generally Don’t Buy It”. But its own source suggests that, of economists who have an opinion, a large majority are pro-voucher. …

 

 

Getting ready for the offensive against Trump, the media is stocking its shelves with Dem operatives with bylines. The Daily Caller reports; 

WikiLeaks’ publication of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta revealed the close ties between prominent journalists and the Clinton campaign. Many of those same journalists will now be covering the Trump White House. …

… Last month, the New York Times announced it would be hiring Politico reporter Glenn Thrush to cover the Trump White House. Emails released by WikiLeaks showed Thrush sending stories to Clinton staffers for approval before publication. (RELATED: New York Times Hires Reporter Who Sent Stories To Clinton Staffers For Approval)

“Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to [you],” he wrote in an April 30, 2015 email to Podesta, including five paragraphs from a piece titled “Hillary’s big money dilemma.”

“Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this,” Thrush added. “Tell me if I fucked up anything.”

“No problems here,” Podesta replied.

On April 17, 2015, Thrush sent an email to Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri with the subject line: “pls read asap — the [Jennifer Palmieri] bits — don’t share.”

Palmieri forwarded Thrush’s email to other Clinton campaign staffers, writing: “He did me courtesy of sending what he is going to say about me. Seems fine.” …

 

And Katie Couric is back at NBC. Her distortions were so blatant she got her own Pickings post last July; Lyin’ Katie Couric.

 

And to sum up this post, a delicious discourse on ”fake news” by Matthew Continetti was in last month’s Commentary.

… Why the obsession with fake news? Readers with long memories will note that the mainstream media did not use this term to describe the work of Janet Cooke, Stephen Glass, and Jayson Blair, or the reporters who vilified and maligned the Duke Lacrosse Team, or the disgusting fabrications Rolling Stone told about fraternity life at the University of Virginia, or the myths parroted on CNN that Michael Brown shouted “hands up, don’t shoot” before he was killed in Ferguson. Nor was fake news a problem in 2012 when a man named Floyd Corkins said he shot an employee of the conservative Family Research Council in the arm because the Southern Poverty Legal Center had accused it of being a hate group. …

January 1, 2017 – DAVE BARRY

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Today we have the annual treat – Dave Barry’s End of the Year Review.

In the future, Americans — assuming there are any left — will look back at 2016 and remark: “What the HELL?”

They will have a point. Over the past few decades, we here at the Year in Review have reviewed some pretty disturbing years. For example, there was 2000, when the outcome of a presidential election was decided by a tiny group of deeply confused Florida residents who had apparently attempted to vote by chewing on their ballots.

Then there was 2003, when a person named “Paris Hilton” suddenly became a major international superstar, despite possessing a level of discernible talent so low as to make the Kardashians look like the Jackson 5. …

… Yes, we’ve seen some weird years. But we’ve never seen one as weird as 2016. This was the Al Yankovic of years. …

… Why do we say this? Let’s begin with the gruesome train wreck that was the presidential election. The campaign began with roughly 14,000 candidates running. …

… And we voters did our part, passing judgment on the candidates, thinning the herd, rejecting them one by one. Sometimes we had to reject them more than once; John Kasich didn’t get the message until his own staff felled him with tranquilizer darts. …

JANUARY …

… In health news, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, responding to the spread of the little-understood Zika virus, cautions Americans not to have unprotected sex with foreign mosquitoes. Meanwhile the Flint, Michigan, water crisis worsens when samples taken from the city’s main water supply are found to contain traces of a Chipotle burrito.

North Korea successfully tests a hydrogen bomb, although this achievement is tarnished somewhat by the fact that the explosion causes the death, by startling, of the isolated nation’s lone remaining chicken. …

And so on …

  

And a few cartoons too.

 

December 30, 2016 – THE UNITER AND THE UN

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Always a uniter, the president has united Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham; two men who can’t stand each other. And he has united many Democrats with Republicans. And some in the liberal media are joining with right-wing scribes in almost universal condemnation of his attack on Israel. Even Debbie Wasserface is in high dungeon. For an example of liberal media scorn for the president, here’s Josh Kraushaar of National Journal;  

At his year-end press con­fer­ence, Pres­id­ent Obama said he wanted to play a lead­ing role in re­build­ing the Demo­crat­ic Party. But in a sign of how Obama’s pro­gress­ive ideo­logy blinds him to polit­ic­al real­ity, his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fi­nal act be­fore the new year put his party in an even deep­er hole.

By de­clin­ing to veto a res­ol­u­tion con­demning Is­rael at the United Na­tions, Obama un­der­scored how out-of-step his views are from the rest of the coun­try—and on this is­sue, even with his own party. Al­low­ing the anti-Is­rael res­ol­u­tion to pass was widely con­demned, by both the in­com­ing Re­pub­lic­an ad­min­is­tra­tion and the most in­flu­en­tial Demo­crat in Con­gress, in­com­ing Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Chuck Schu­mer. Jew­ish groups across the ideo­lo­gic­al spec­trum cri­ti­cized the de­cision in harsh terms, while even dovish Demo­crats such as Ohio’s Sher­rod Brown dis­tanced them­selves from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tion. Former DNC chair­wo­man Debbie Wasser­man Schultz, who sup­por­ted Obama’s con­tro­ver­sial Ir­an nuc­le­ar deal, called the U.N. res­ol­u­tion an “ir­re­spons­ible ac­tion [that] moves us fur­ther away from peace and hastens the like­li­hood that we lose the trust of our al­lies around the world.” She called the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ab­sten­tion “reck­less.” …

… At a time when Demo­crats are try­ing to win back voters that aban­doned them in this year’s pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, they can’t af­ford to ali­en­ate a bed­rock con­stitu­ency of their party. But that’s ex­actly what Obama’s last-minute slam of Is­rael threatens to do. It’s no co­in­cid­ence that Obama waited un­til after the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion to take a fi­nal slap at Is­rael, know­ing full well that it would have dam­aged Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­id­en­tial cam­paign. …

… Just look at the 2018 Sen­ate map to get a sense of how polit­ic­ally reck­less Obama’s de­cision could be for his party. Sher­rod Brown is one of the top Demo­crat­ic tar­gets in two years, and he is fa­cing a Jew­ish Re­pub­lic­an with close ties to the pro-Is­rael com­munity (Josh Man­del). Brown, des­pite be­ing a crit­ic of Is­raeli set­tle­ments, was one of the first Sen­ate Demo­crats to urge Obama to veto the “one-sided” res­ol­u­tion be­fore it passed. Rep­res­ent­ing a state that Trump car­ried by 8 points, Brown is ex­pec­ted to face a com­pet­it­ive reelec­tion and will need to run up his mar­gins around Clev­e­land, home base of the state’s Jew­ish com­munity. …

… Spend­ing his fi­nal weeks in of­fice at­tack­ing Is­rael is a fit­ting coda to the Obama’s second-term strategy of push­ing the Demo­crat­ic Party as far to the left as pos­sible. In­deed, it takes a lot of chutzpah for Obama to say he wants to help re­build the Demo­crat­ic Party when he’s busy burn­ing it down. His Is­rael policy will serve as a com­pel­ling case study of how the Demo­crat­ic Party in­furi­ated a cru­cial part of its base without get­ting any­thing in re­turn but ideo­lo­gic­al self-sat­is­fac­tion.

 

 

Steny Hoyer, House Democratic Whip, is fed up. Ed Morrissey with the story.

In about two hours, John Kerry will deliver a speech at the State Department to outline the Obama administration’s plan for a peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Needless to say, the Israelis aren’t happy about it, Republicans are furious about it — and even some Democrats want Kerry and the White House to shut up. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, lashed out at Kerry and the Obama administration for reversing decades of American policy on peace negotiations: …

 

 

And Alan Dershowitz, previously enamored with the administration’s willingness to govern against the will of the people, like with obamacare, continues with his abuse of the president.

… The bad news is that no future president, including President-elect Trump, can undo this pernicious agreement, since a veto not cast can never be retroactively cast. And a resolution once enacted cannot be rescinded unless there is a majority vote against it, with no veto by any of its permanent members, which include Russia and China, who would be sure to veto any attempt to undo this resolution. Obama’s failure to veto this resolution was thus a deliberate ploy to tie the hands of his successors, the consequence of which will be to make it far more difficult for his successors to encourage the Palestinians to accept Israel’s offer to negotiate with no preconditions. …

… Before the enactment of this resolution, I was not in favor of Trump immediately moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. I advocated that such a move should take place in stages, over time, and with consultation among America’s Muslim allies in the region. But now that the UN has made it a continuing international crime for there to be any Israeli presence in disputed areas of Jerusalem, including areas whose Jewish provenance is beyond dispute, there is a need for immediate action by Trump, upon taking office, to untie his hands and to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor. Congress will surely approve such a move, since the overwhelming majority of its members disapproved of the American decision not to veto the resolution, and since, in 1995, Congress enacted a statute, signed by President Clinton, declaring that the “United States maintains it embassy in the functioning capital of every country except in the case of our democratic friend and strategic ally, the State of Israel” and urged “the United States [to] conduct official meetings and other business in the city of Jerusalem in de facto recognition of its status as the capital of Israel.”

Obama’s ill-advised, lame duck, and undemocratic effort to tie his successor’s hands must not be allowed to destroy the prospects for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

 

Paul Mirengoff with more.

Critics of President Obama’s decision not to block (and, perhaps, to advance) the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel say that it was solely an attempt to harm Israel — an effort motivated by vindictiveness and/or raw ideological dislike of Israel. Those who disagree with this assessment should be able to point to a positive objective Obama reasonably could think his decision might advance.

In theory, I can think of two possibilities. First, he might have thought that passage of the resolution would advance the “peace process.” Second, he might have thought that passage would at least lead to the curtailment of new building in East Jerusalem and the “West Bank,” which might eventually increase the likelihood of a peace agreement. There isn’t even the theoretical possibility that the U.N. resolution will cause Israel to tear down existing settlements absent a peace agreement, and I don’t believe that even Obama has called on Israel to do this.

It’s clear, however, that the passage of the U.N. resolution won’t advance either objective. If anything, it may retard them. Obama could have no rational basis for thinking otherwise. Thus, we must conclude that he was, in fact, motivated by vindictiveness, raw ideological dislike of Israel, or both. …

… Obama, the petulant ideologue, …

 

 

Turning our attention back to the UN, Slate’s Jonathan Katz has a history lesson on the tracking of infectious disease in the 19th century as those results provide background for methods used to find the causes of the cholera epidemic in Haiti; Which was started by UN peace keeping forces; facts hidden by the UN, the U. S. Center for Disease Control, and the current administration. This is a good example of the danger posed by the UN. Time to ask them to move their headquarters to some other country. And time to get them off the U.S. gravy train. In WashingtonLand, $8 billion is not a lot of money, but it is $8 billion less we have to borrow every year. Ten years from now we probably will have saved over $100 billion in total. As Everett Dirksen would say, pretty soon we are talking about a lot of money.

Last Friday, a friend doing research at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta sent me a photo of a (map on) display at the CDC’s in-house museum. She thought I’d be interested because it had to do with the cholera epidemic in Haiti, which I lived through at its beginning and have been reporting on ever since. …

… Now let’s go to the second map, the inset at the bottom right—the little beige street grid:This is the most famous map in the history of public health and one of the most important in the history of science. It was drawn in 1854 by John Snow, a Victorian anesthesiologist and polymath who, faced with one of the many catastrophic cholera outbreaks that plagued London in the 19th century, decided to figure out what caused it, scientifically. (At the time, most people thought cholera—a bacterial disease—was a product of either bad odors, moral and physical weakness, or the wrath of God.)

To do so, Snow went to Golden Square in the working-class Soho neighborhood and took a census of how many people had died in each house from cholera. Then he put them on the street map: one bar for each death. He found a pattern: The bars (deaths) were all clustered in one area, and as you got closer to the center of that area, the bars got longer. Most of the longest bars were next to a water pump on Broad Street, marked here: …

… In fact, despite making the direct analogy between Snow’s map and the Haiti map, the CDC display does not indicate a source of the epidemic at all.

Why not? A spokeswoman for the CDC says in an email that the Haiti map was devised “to optimize response activities on the ground.” Mapping the origin of the epidemic, she says, “was not germane to the purpose.”

That’s one answer. Another is that the CDC knows as well as anyone else that the source—that unidentified spot beside the red triangle, the Broad Street pump of Haiti—was a U.N. peacekeeping base. This one:… 

The U.N. soldiers at that base had just arrived from their home country, Nepal, where a cholera outbreak was underway. Thanks to negligent sanitation practices, such as the open dump pits above, there was a multiplicity of ways that their choleraic feces could have gotten from the base into the river, including latrine pipes leaking over a drainage canal that emptied into the river.

However it happened, from that very spot, that cholera strain—the same strain found in Nepal, which had never been seen before in Haiti, ever—spread throughout the country. By January 2011, the date given for the map, it had been well-established—mainly through my reporting and the work of French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux—that this was the case. 

Since the first days of the epidemic, the U.N. has tried to cover up what it did. …

… The CDC, a U.S. government agency, discouraged journalists from asking about the epidemic’s origin, telling them that pinpointing the source, Dr. Snow–style, was “not productive,” “not central,” and would likely never happen. Its epidemiologists did provide a key detail early on, when they identified the strain in Haiti as having a recent South Asian origin—meaning it could have come from Nepal and not from South America, Africa, or anywhere else cholera was circulating at the time. But after that, the CDC refused to take environmental samples from around the base or test the soldiers during the small window when doing either would have been worthwhile. All of this detailed in a damning new book by Ralph R. Frerichs called Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti. …

… The U.N. itself has never accepted any responsibility for the outbreak. The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti at the time, Edmond Mulet, has been continuously promoted, even as he dissembles publicly about the facts of the case. He is now Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff. …

… In fact, the epidemic continues in Haiti. Neither the U.N. nor its donors are anywhere close to raising the $2.27 billion it says is required to build the clean water and sanitation infrastructure needed to end it. Meanwhile, a lawsuit against the U.N. itself, in which Ban and Mulet are named defendants, is wending through U.S. federal court. The U.S. Justice Department has appeared at each session to argue on behalf of the U.N., against the Haitian victims. …

December 27, 2016 – UN KAPUTT

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What he has done for the Democrat party, the president might have done for the United Nations. He has now given us the reason and opportunity to kick that festering sore out of the country.  Roger Simon thinks the Prez’s vendetta is a good kick off for the Trump administration to start defunding the cesspool that is the UN. And the headquarters? Perhaps Donald Trump has some ideas for what could be done with the building.

We live in a world of unintended consequences and Barack Obama, in his overwhelming zeal to exact last-minute personal vengeance on Bibi Netanyahu in particular and Israel in general with Friday’s Security Council vote, opened the door to the defunding and serious diminution of the United Nations itself.

Donald Trump — who is seeking to spend a ton of taxpayer money on rebuilding our military and infrastructure — is undoubtedly looking for places to save. Nowhere would be better to start than that moribund center of international corruption and megaphone for tin-pot dictators, the United Nations. …

 

… why is Samantha Power, our current UN ambassador and putatively an expert in genocide, spending her time criticizing largely peaceful Israeli settlements while, just a few hundred miles away, soldiers of Iran’s Republican Guard are gunning down women and children in the streets of Aleppo in true genocidal fashion? Hypocritical?  Oh, well, that’s Iran — Obama’s protected class.

Enough already!

Donald, you’re on. You were able to negotiate with Carrier, Boeing, and Lockheed, so these clowns shouldn’t be all that difficult. Although, in this case, it would be useful to negotiate the entire institution out of existence, or at least impoverish it to the degree it will have to decamp from Manhattan and leave that pricey TurtleBay real estate for better purposes. (I understand there’s a lot of empty space in Yemen.)  And — just think — it would get rid of all those double-parking, cheapskate diplomats cluttering New York streets! They don’t even pay their parking tickets.

I wouldn’t doubt you would have all your deplorables solidly behind you in this negotiation/defunding and a lot more of the country as well, once they get full knowledge of exactly how much we’re actually paying for this insanity. As with most things, they haven’t been told by our media, who have no interest in informing the public on anything that might disrupt their narrative.

If ever some tweets were called for, this is it.  Go to it, Donald.  Scare the pants off them now. You made a good start when you tweeted, “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

 

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line linked to an essay by Anne Bayefsky.

The vicious condemnation of Israel at the UN Security Council on December 23, 2016 is a watershed moment in U.S.-UN relations – albeit not as President Obama hoped. Following the vote of fourteen in favor and one American abstention, Palestinian representative Riyadh Mansour and American Ambassador Samantha Power exchanged a telling handshake. Evidently, President Obama believes that he has put one over on Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the incoming Trump administration. But here’s another possibility: treachery at the UN will not be cost free. …

… At its core, this UN move is a head-on assault on American democracy. President Obama knew full well he did not have Congressional support for the Iran deal, so he went straight to the Security Council first. Likewise, he knew that there would have been overwhelming Congressional opposition to this resolution, so he carefully planned his stealth attack.

He waited until Congress was not in session. Members of his administration made periodic suggestions that nothing had been decided. There were occasional head fakes that he was “leaning” against it. He produced smiling photo-ops from a Hawaiian golf course with no obvious major foreign policy moves minutes away. Holiday time-outs were in full-swing across the country. And then he pounced, giving Israel virtually no notice of his intent not to veto.

Profound betrayal of a true democratic friend of the United States is the only possible description. …

… The Security Council and President Obama leave a trail of devastation across the planet, with evil empowered and good forsaken. But their record does not have to be our future. Today’s vote reminds us of what it takes for evil to triumph.

Doing nothing is not an option for our new President and our incoming Congress. The time has come to undertake an urgent and full review of America’s relationship to the United Nations, and to suspend financial support until that review can identify how best to use American dollars in the interests of peace, security and human dignity. The perfidy of Barack Obama will not be the last word.

 

And WSJ Editors weigh in. 

The decision by the United States to abstain from a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel over its settlements on the West Bank is one of the most significant, defining moments of the Obama Presidency.

It defines this President’s extraordinary ability to transform matters of public policy into personal pique at adversaries. …

… Mr. Obama’s animus toward Prime Minister Netanyahu is well known. Apparently Mr. Obama took it as an affront that the President-elect would express an opinion about this week’s U.N. resolution.

It is important, though, to see this U.S. abstention as more significant than merely Mr. Obama’s petulance. What it reveals clearly is the Obama Administration’s animus against the state of Israel itself. No longer needing Jewish votes, Mr. Obama was free, finally, to punish the Jewish state in a way no previous President has done.

No effort to rescind the resolution, which calls the settlements a violation of “international law,” will succeed because of Russia’s and China’s vetoes.

Instead, the resolution will live on as Barack Obama’s cat’s paw, offering support in every European capital, international institution and U.S. university campus to bully Israel with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. …

December 26, 2016 – PRESIDENT BETRAYER

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Now we see the president’s true colors. We wrote March 3rd on the Passive/Aggressive Prez

“It’s been more than a week since the refusal of the president to attend Scalia’s (funeral) service and it still rankles. It was a perfect chance for a passive aggressive personality; without lifting a finger, he was able to flip the bird to millions of Americans.” 

Tom Cotton, Senator from Arkansas, summed up the president’s most recent betrayal of Israel;

“President Obama is personally responsible for this anti-Israel resolution. His diplomats secretly coordinated the vote, yet he doesn’t even have the courage of his own convictions to vote for it. This cowardly, disgraceful action cements President Obama’s richly deserved legacy as the most anti-Israel president in American history. …”

” President Obama vetoed a similar, but less anti-Israel resolution in 2011—back when he still needed pro-Israel voters for his reelection. …”

 

Jonathan Tobin in Commentary posts;

… This lame duck stab in the back of America’s only democratic ally in the Middle East should only further encourage President-elect Donald Trump to make good on his promise to move the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and let the world know that the new administration not only repudiates his predecessor’s betrayal but that the alliance is as strong as ever.

That will have to wait until January 20th and Obama’s exit from the White House. In the meantime, this is a moment for Democratic friends of Israel to apologize for eight years of excusing and rationalizing Obama’s growing hostility to the Jewish state. Though some will disingenuously argue that the president is trying to save Israel from itself, today’s vote must be seen for what it is. Freed of political constraints, the president finally showed his true colors by throwing Israel to the wolves at a United Nations where anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias is integral to the culture of the world body. …

  

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posts on the Washington Post Editors calling the UN abstention a “dangerous parting shot.” Morrissey goes into important, but mostly forgotten, background when the administration funded efforts to defeat Netanyahu in last year’s Israeli elections.    

 

“… The stunt at TurtleBay is all the more self-serving, because Obama and John Kerry torpedoed any chance of working with Netanyahu. Obama has spent a lot of time and effort decrying alleged Russian influence in our election, but almost two years ago, the State Department under Obama and Kerry actively attempted to do the same thing in Israel to force Netanyahu out of office. …”

 

“… The media coverage of this UN vote has almost entirely missed this particular point. They have noted Netanyahu’s defense of settlements and supposed intransigence on the peace process without ever noting that his US partner tried to push him out of office — the same partner who’s currently in high dudgeon over hostile governments attempting to do the same thing here. The purpose of this interference was to get an Israeli prime minister who would adopt Obama’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than one who represents the Israelis.

Instead, Netanyahu won a surprise victory, and Obama ended up with egg on his face. It’s difficult to see this stunt at the UN as anything more than a final, impotent, petulant tantrum. This was Obama’s final opportunity to humiliate Netanyahu regardless of the danger it might present to Israelis. It’s one last shameful act in a series from this administration, and it can’t hit the exits fast enough.

 

American Interest notes how even the Dems are turning on the president. 

… Obama is truly the great uniter. First he united the Arabs and Israelis in a repudiation of his Middle East policies, now he’s united Republicans and Democrats in a repudiation of his policies at home. Almost everywhere you look, the gap between Obama’s stirring rhetoric and his underwhelming accomplishments is immense. One of the biggest failures was his inability to make the Democrats competitive in every state.

This stems from many things, but one is his apparent indifference to state government. He seems to think of the Federal government as the only level of government that really matters. It is especially telling that he has been missing in action while his home state of Illinois drifted into a state of advanced decay due to a worsening pension problem. Ditto his home city of Chicago, where racial polarization and financial decline have proceeded while the Obama White House was largely uninvolved. Great U.S. Presidents, and even good ones, are usually rooted in local politics. They are citizens of real places, and they carry the concerns and the insights of those places into office. Obama was a member of the New York Times tribe, people for whom an absence of local loyalties is a sign of enlightenment. …

  

Cartoons are good today.