October 1, 2014

Pickings from the Webvine



Pickings has often carried items about the Air France flight that disappeared five years ago over the South Atlantic while enroute to Paris from Rio de Janeiro. Vanity Fair has published a riveting account of the flight and it fills all of today’s edition.

On the last day of May in 2009, as night enveloped the airport in Rio de Janeiro, the 216 passengers waiting to board a flight to Paris could not have suspected that they would never see daylight again, or that many would sit strapped to their seats for another two years before being found dead in the darkness, 13,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. But that is what happened. Air France Flight 447 carried a crew of nine flight attendants and three pilots—their numbers augmented because of duty-time limitations on a 5,700-mile trip that was expected to last nearly 11 hours. These were highly trained people, flying an immaculate wide-bodied Airbus A330 for one of the premier airlines of the world, an iconic company of which all of France is proud. Even today—with the flight recorders recovered from the sea floor, French technical reports in hand, and exhaustive inquests under way in French courts—it remains almost unimaginable that the airplane crashed. A small glitch took Flight 447 down, a brief loss of airspeed indications—the merest blip of an information problem during steady straight-and-level flight. It seems absurd, but the pilots were overwhelmed.


To the question of why, the facile answer—that they happened to be three unusually incompetent men—has been widely dismissed. Other answers are more speculative, because the pilots can no longer explain themselves and had slid into a state of frantic incoherence before they died. But their incoherence tells us a lot. It seems to have been rooted in the very advances in piloting and aircraft design that have improved airline safety over the past 40 years. To put it briefly, automation has made it more and more unlikely that ordinary airline pilots will ever have to face a raw crisis in flight—but also more and more unlikely that they will be able to cope with such a crisis if one arises. Moreover, it is not clear that there is a way to resolve this paradox. That is why, to many observers, the loss of Air France 447 stands out as the most perplexing and significant airline accident of modern times. …


… In the late 1970s, a small team of researchers at a NASA facility in Mountain View, California, began a systematic assessment of airline-pilot performance. One of them was a young research psychologist and private pilot named John Lauber, who later served for 10 years as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board and went on to run the safety division at Airbus in France. As part of the NASA effort, Lauber spent several years riding in airline cockpits, observing the operations and taking notes. This was at a time when most crews still included a flight engineer, who sat behind the pilots and operated the airplane’s electrical and mechanical systems. What Lauber found was a culture dominated by authoritarian captains, many of them crusty old reactionaries who brooked no interference from their subordinates. In those cockpits, co-pilots were lucky if occasionally they were allowed to fly. Lauber told me about one occasion, when he entered a Boeing 727 cockpit at a gate before the captain arrived, and the flight engineer said, “I suppose you’ve been in a cockpit before.”

“Well, yes.”

“But you may not be aware that I’m the captain’s sexual adviser.”

“Well, no, I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, because whenever I speak up, he says, ‘If I want your fucking advice, I’ll ask for it.’ ” …


… It all depended on the captains. A few were natural team leaders—and their crews acquitted themselves well. Most, however, were Clipper Skippers, whose crews fell into disarray under pressure and made dangerous mistakes. Ruffell Smith published the results in January 1979, in a seminal paper, “NASA Technical Memorandum 78482.” The gist of it was that teamwork matters far more than individual piloting skill. This ran counter to long tradition in aviation but corresponded closely with the findings of another NASA group, which made a careful study of recent accidents and concluded that in almost all cases poor communication in the cockpit was to blame. …


… Automation is an integral part of the package. Autopilots have been around since nearly the start of aviation, and component systems have been automated since the 1960s, but in glass-cockpit designs, the automation is centralized and allows the systems to communicate with one another, to act as parts of an integrated whole, and even to decide which information should be presented to the pilots, and when. At the core are flight-management computers—with keypads mounted on central pedestals—which are largely pre-programmed on the ground according to optimizations decided upon by airline dispatchers, and which guide the airplane’s autopilots through the full complexity of each flight. By the mid-1980s, many such airplanes, both Airbuses and Boeings, had entered the global fleet, for the most part leaving their pilots to simply observe the functioning of the systems. …


… Wiener pointed out that the effect of automation is to reduce the cockpit workload when the workload is low and to increase it when the workload is high. Nadine Sarter, an industrial engineer at the University of Michigan, and one of the pre-eminent researchers in the field, made the same point to me in a different way: “Look, as automation level goes up, the help provided goes up, workload is lowered, and all the expected benefits are achieved. But then if the automation in some way fails, there is a significant price to pay. We need to think about whether there is a level where you get considerable benefits from the automation but if something goes wrong the pilot can still handle it.” …


… For commercial-jet designers, there are some immutable facts of life. It is crucial that your airplanes be flown safely and as cheaply as possible within the constraints of wind and weather. Once the questions of aircraft performance and reliability have been resolved, you are left to face the most difficult thing, which is the actions of pilots. There are more than 300,000 commercial-airline pilots in the world, of every culture. They work for hundreds of airlines in the privacy of cockpits, where their behavior is difficult to monitor. Some of the pilots are superb, but most are average, and a few are simply bad. To make matters worse, with the exception of the best, all of them think they are better than they are. Airbus has made extensive studies that show this to be true. The problem in the real world is that the pilots who crash your airplanes or simply burn too much fuel are difficult to spot in the crowd. A Boeing engineer gave me his perspective on this. He said, “Look, pilots are like other people. Some are heroic under pressure, and some duck and run. Either way, it’s hard to tell in advance. You almost need a war to find out.” But of course you can’t have a war to find out. Instead, what you do is try to insert your thinking into the cockpit.

First, you put the Clipper Skipper out to pasture, because he has the unilateral power to screw things up. You replace him with a teamwork concept—call it Crew Resource Management—that encourages checks and balances and requires pilots to take turns at flying. Now it takes two to screw things up. Next you automate the component systems so they require minimal human intervention, and you integrate them into a self-monitoring robotic whole. You throw in buckets of redundancy. You add flightmanagement computers into which flight paths can be programmed on the ground, and you link them to autopilots capable of handling the airplane from the takeoff through the rollout after landing. You design deeply considered minimalistic cockpits that encourage teamwork by their very nature, offer excellent ergonomics, and are built around displays that avoid showing extraneous information but provide alerts and status reports when the systems sense they are necessary. Finally, you add fly-by-wire control. At that point, after years of work and billions of dollars in development costs, you have arrived in the present time. As intended, the autonomy of pilots has been severely restricted, but the new airplanes deliver smoother, more accurate, and more efficient rides—and safer ones too.

It is natural that some pilots object. This appears to be primarily a cultural and generational matter. In China, for instance, the crews don’t care. In fact, they like their automation and rely on it willingly. By contrast, an Airbus man told me about an encounter between a British pilot and his superior at a Middle Eastern airline, in which the pilot complained that automation had taken the fun out of life, and the superior answered, to paraphrase, “Hey asshole, if you want to have fun, go sail a boat. You fly with automation or find some other job.” …

September 30, 2014

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Sunday night on 60 Minutes the president blamed everyone else for his failure to understand the risks in the growth of jihadist strength in Iraq and Syria. Many of our favorites have comments. Streetwise Prof is first.

… Other presidents have paid a price for attempting to dump blame onto the intel community. Such attempts  typically  result in a deluge of damaging leaks: the IC fights back, and fights back hard and dirty, usually.

I wonder if that typical script will play out this time. I suspect it will, because what’s already in the public domain makes Obama’s statement risible. One early example, from an ex-Pentagon official: “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting.”

I disagree with that assessment. The “either/or” is misplaced, most likely. I’m putting my money on “both”, i.e., “the president doesn’t read the intelligence and he’s bullshitting.” Because that’s what he does.



Scott Johnson of Power Line with more.

President Obama famously disparaged the Islamic State terrorist group as the terrorist JV to his apostle David Remnick in an interview for the New Yorker late last year (Remnick’s article is here). It sounded good at the time, but the words come back to haunt Obama. They mark him indelibly as the jv president.

Asked about it last night by Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes, Obama passed the buck to his intelligence functionaries. …



Ed Morrissey weighs in.

The Commander in Chief made an appearance on 60 Minutes last night to reassure everyone that he’s in charge during this fight against Islamist terror … at least now. When Steve Kroft asked Obama how ISIS went from the “jayvees” in January to a 40,000-man army sweeping across the Syrian-Iraqi desert in June, Obama explained that the buck stopped, oh, at the office of James Clapper. Using testimony from earlier this week from the DNI, Obama shifted the blame for the surprise this spring to American intelligence: …

… “Steve Kroft: What? How did they end up where they are in control of so much territory? Was that a complete surprise to you?

President Obama: Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria [emphasis mine].”

“They”? If that’s the case, why is Clapper still drawing a paycheck? After all, this is the same James Clapper that deliberately misled Congress about the NSA’s domestic data trawling, so it’s not as if he’s a universally credible figure anyway. Now we seemed to have missed the emergence of one of the biggest terror threats since the Taliban in Afghanistan took over after we helped push the Soviets out, and Clapper still has a job. If the buck-passing has any credence at all, Obama would have canned him in June. …



Jennifer Rubin says the critical mistake was unmentioned by President Who Me?

Notice that the component of the Iraq situation Obama left out was the most critical — the withdrawal of our troops and the loss of influence over Maliki. That was foretold by numerous lawmakers, military men and outside experts who explained sectarian violence would reappear — precisely as it did.

Candidate for Senate in New Hampshire Scott Brown released a statement bashing Obama’s buck-passing: “I’m disappointed that President Obama refused to accept responsibility for underestimating ISIS. Instead, he blamed James Clapper, his director of intelligence. Yet, it was President Obama who described ISIS as a ‘Jayvee team’ earlier this year. At some point, the man in charge has to answer for what happens on his own watch.”

Many administration officials and lawmakers such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had for years argued that our hands-off policy in Syria would create a radicalizing dynamic that would result in a terrorist sanctuary in the Middle East. This prediction was accurate and was informed not by some super-secret analysis McCain saw about the Islamic State, but by understanding regional dynamics and history. It’s ironic that Obama, who won the presidency by deploring the Bush administration for following intelligence advice on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, now hides behind the intelligence community.

Lots of people knew exactly what was brewing in Syria and Iraq. The Daily Beast reported that the collapse of Iraq to Islamic State forces was no surprise to those who were paying attention: …



Remember Harry Truman who took responsibility by saying, “The buck stops here.”?  Seth Mandel says the president is the anti-Truman.

There are three ways to read Barack Obama’s epic buck-passing from Sunday night’s interview on 60 Minutes. There is the literal reading: Obama, in trying to fend off blame for his administration’s failure regarding ISIS, said “Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” referring to the intel community.

Then there is the classic Obama-is-disappointed-in-America-yet-again framing, which is not flattering to Obama but better than the truth. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post went this route. Here’s the Times: “President Obama acknowledged in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the United States had underestimated the rise of the Islamic State militant group.” And the Post: “The United States underestimated the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, President Obama said during an interview.”

If you’ve followed the events of the past year, you’ll notice that neither of those spin cycles is true and so there must be a third option. There is: the truth, which is that Barack Obama underestimated ISIS despite the intel community trying desperately to explain it to him since day one. And thus, tired of getting thrown under the bus, the intel community has pointed out to Eli Lake at the Daily Beast that what the president said is completely divorced from reality: …



John Fund says one of the awful legacies of Holder is the elevation of Al Sharpton.

As Eric Holder prepares to leave as attorney general, there is a fierce debate over his six-year tenure. Many conservative senators who voted to confirm him in 2009 now regret it. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, now zings Holder’s “lack of respect for Congress, the American taxpayer, and the laws on the books.” Even some of his supporters agree he’s been confrontational and polarizing. Juan Williams of Fox News rails against anti-Holder “scandalmongers” but then admits “the Justice Department has devolved into the heart of Washington darkness, the absolute pit of modern political polarization in my lifetime.” 

One reason for that polarization is that, thanks to direct support from Holder and President Obama himself, the Reverend Al Sharpton has now become the nation’s leading African-American civil-rights leader. Last month, Politico proclaimed Sharpton “the national black leader Obama leans on most.”

“There’s a trust factor with The Rev from the Oval Office on down,” a White House official told Politico. The White House had early on concluded it didn’t have much use for Jesse Jackson, a former top Obama adviser told Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “We needed to have someone to deal with in the African-American community, and Sharpton was the next best thing, so, yeah, we sort of helped build him up.” Egad, the equivalent of unleashing Typhoid Mary in a kitchen.

Today, Sharpton is at the center of presidential announcements and frequently texts or e-mails with Holder and top Justice officials. He vacationed this year at the Martha’s Vineyard condo of uber-presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, just up the road from where Obama himself was staying. Last month, he attended the funeral of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., with the White House’s blessing. “Michael Brown’s blood is crying for justice,” Sharpton told attendees. “Those police that are wrong need to be dealt with.”  …



Kevin Williamson notes that abortion on demand is part of the left’s war on the poor.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, having decided for some inexplicable reason to do a long interview with a fashion magazine (maybe it is her celebrated collection of lace collars), reaffirmed the most important things we know about her: her partisanship, her elevation of politics over law, and her desire to see as many poor children killed as is feasibly possible.

Speaking about such modest restrictions on abortion as have been enacted over the past several years, Justice Ginsburg lamented that “the impact of all these restrictions is on poor women.” Then she added: “It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.”

This is not her first time weighing in on the question of what by any intellectually honest standard must be described as eugenics. In an earlier interview, she described the Roe v. Wade decision as being intended to control population growth, “particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” She was correct in her assessment of Roe; the co-counsel in that case, Ron Weddington, would later advise President Bill Clinton: “You can start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor segment of our country,” by making abortifacients cheap and universally available. “It’s what we all know is true, but we only whisper it.” …

September 29, 2014

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Roger Simon posts on Eric Holder.

Of all the malfeasances of William Jefferson Clinton the one that would have most justified a removal from office was not the Monica hijinks, even with the attendant lying under oath and absurd parsings of the word “is,” but the pardoning of Marc Rich — the billionaire international commodities trader and mammoth contributor to, er, Clinton.  Luckily for Bill, this action occurred on the last day of his presidency, making anything like impeachment moot,  even though it was an example of political corruption that would have made Boss Tweed envious. For those who don’t recall the details, here’s Wikipedia: …

… Until, on January 20, 2001, literally in the final minutes of his presidency, Rich was granted a pardon by Clinton, a pardon pushed through a reluctant judge on the determined “recommendation” of then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder.

Yes, that’s  the same Eric Holder who lectures us about race and calls Americans “cowards.”  In reality, he was a political bagman, a low rent consigliere whose  unquestioning obedience to power was evidently appreciated by Barack Obama and rewarded with the full position of attorney general. …



Sharyl Atkisson has Holder thoughts too.

… Holder declined my repeated interview requests over the years. In a recent interview with ABC News, Holder said, “It is the honor of my professional life to serve the American people as attorney general. I hope I’ve done a good job. I’ve certainly tried to do as good a job as I can.”

Holder has served a little more than five years and seven months in office as the nation’s first black attorney general. He is also the first attorney general to be held in criminal contempt of Congress.

As the country’s lead law enforcement official but also a political appointee with great latitude to steer policy, no attorneys general escape controversy. Holder’s activist stance often proved polarizing. From the start, he made clear that he intended for civil rights protection—specifically combating the unequal treatment of black Americans—to be a top priority during his tenure.

The shooting of an unarmed, 18-year-old black suspect by a white policeman in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9 provided Holder a prime opportunity to make his mark. His intervention drew both praise and criticism.

Holder took the unusual step of taking over a police investigation before there was any evidence of that the local police had mishandled, or would mishandle it. It was a step that the Los Angeles Times called “unusually aggressive” writing, on Aug. 20, that “Holder appears locked in an odd and unsteady competition with Missouri officials over which of them, if either, will prosecute Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson first.” …



 We’ll close the Holder section with Nick Gillespie in Time magazine.

… he was a thoroughly typical attorney general, a cabinet position that has long been held by individuals whose first loyalty is to the president that appointed them rather than to the Constitution they swear to defend.

From A. Mitchell Palmer (who rounded up and deported real and imagined Communists) to John Mitchell (convicted on perjury charges related to Watergate) to Janet Reno (who ordered the disastrous assault on the Branch Davidians and spent years threatening to censor cable TV), the position has long been a holding tank for low-performing miscreants. …

… Arguably more disturbing was Holder’s central role in signing off on the secret monitoring of Fox News’ James Rosen and other journalists and his staunch defense of National Security Agency surveillance programs (even when federal oversight boards decreed them unconstitutional and ineffective). It took a 13-hour filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to get Holder to acknowledge in plain language that there were in fact limits to the president’s secret kill list (the existence of which is itself deeply disturbing). …



Kevin Williamson says free markets keep the environment cleaner.  It’s governments that are the worst polluters.

… The fullest and most comprehensive attempts to impose socialism on a society happened in the twentieth century in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and like-minded enterprises. “Communism” is what socialists call socialism that they do not want to talk about, but in the interest of fairness I should emphasize that I do not believe that the USSR is what Ms. Sawant et al. have in mind when they talk about socialism. But the USSR wasn’t what the Russian revolutionaries had in mind, either, and it probably is not really what Lenin or even Stalin desired. Almost nobody sets out to impoverish, oppress, starve, and murder millions of people, but that is what happened, and that it happened is not a mere coincidence deriving from defects within Russian culture or Mao’s management style. It probably is not the case that the Russians failed socialism, but that socialism failed the Russians.

Under a system that imposed heavy government regimentation upon the economy, direct government ownership of the “commanding heights” of the economy (and the commanded heights, too), a socialist vision of property, etc., the environmental results were nothing short of catastrophic. Setting aside the direct human costs of socialist environmental policy in the twentieth century — the famines, the deformations, the horrific birth defects — socialism was a disaster from the purely environmental point of view, too.

Consider the Aral Sea disaster, in which one of the world’s largest lakes was converted into a toxic desert, with the husks of ships still floating upon the sand dunes — not by accident, but as a matter of government policy, implemented not by the famous monster Stalin, but by Nikita Khrushchev, by comparison a reformer. Like our contemporary socialists, the Soviets of the Khrushchev era hoped to fundamentally transform the economy with a series of careful “investments” and infrastructure projects, in this case by turning a great deal of marginal land into a cotton-producing powerhouse that would substantially raise exports. Water headed for the Aral Sea was diverted in the service of this government infrastructure investment, and the seabed became a desert. …



WSJ Editorial on the government campaign to put for-profit colleges out of business.

The Department of Education this summer drove the for-profit Corinthian Colleges out of business. Now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is trying to wipe out the company’s shareholders and creditors by suing the for-profit for predatory lending. There ought to be a law against predatory regulating.

Last week the CFPB sued the Santa Ana-based for-profit for inducing “prospective students to incur the loan obligations necessary to enroll by promising career training and graduate employment opportunities.” Corinthian’s crime, in other words, was creating a private-alternative to the government-loan monopoly. …

… All of this resembles a hyena pack dismembering a wildebeest carcass, which seems to be the point. The Obama Administration wants to show other for-profit operators what could happen if they resist its new regulations. The real tragedy is that the destruction of Corinthian will make it harder for graduates to get a job.



Conservative HQ posts on the campaign to silence Rush Limbaugh.

You may have heard about the so-called “grassroots movement” to force local advertisers to stop advertising on the Rush Limbaugh program, allegedly because of consumer opposition to Rush’s conservative views.

It turns out that this so-called Stop Rush campaign isn’t a grassroots campaign at all, but a carefully crafted conspiracy of a small group of radical leftwing activists to bully advertisers into dropping Rush’s program and muffle one of the most effective conservative voices in America in the lead-up to the 2014 midterms and silence him permanently before the 2016 presidential election.
There is now stunning proof that only a small group of radical Leftists connected with Media Matters are involved in the “Stop Rush” campaign – NOT masses of Americans. Radical leftwing advocacy group Media Matters’ disgusting attempts to silence our viewpoints are nothing new – but now the dirty tactics of Media Matters have been revealed, and they are more deceptive than you can imagine.
We don’t use the term “conspiracy” lightly, and we here at CHQ generally lean toward skepticism when friends bring us tales of unseen forces manipulating major events. But in this case the evidence (links below) proves that only a few radicals at leftwing advocacy organization Media Matters are running and participating in this effort to intimidate both local radio stations that carry Rush, and local “Mom-and-Pop” businesses that advertise on his show.
They have used technology to create tweets from people who don’t exist, to use abuse accounts on Facebook, and to intimidate small businesses who advertise on conservative shows. Media Matters is vicious, and dangerous to your freedom as few other domestic threats have been. …

September 28, 2014

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Charles Krauthammer with an overview of our Middle East strategy. 

Late, hesitant and reluctant as he is, President Obama has begun effecting a workable strategy against the Islamic State. True, he’s been driven there by public opinion. Does anyone imagine that without the broadcast beheadings we’d be doing anything more than pinprick strikes within Iraq? If Obama can remain steady through future fluctuations in public opinion, his strategy might succeed.

But success will not be what he’s articulating publicly. The strategy will not destroy the Islamic State. It’s more containment-plus: Expel the Islamic State from Iraq, contain it in Syria. Because you can’t win from the air. In Iraq, we have potential ground allies. In Syria, we don’t.

The order of battle in Iraq is straightforward. The Kurds will fight, but not far beyond their own territory. A vigorous air campaign could help them recover territory lost to the Islamic State and perhaps a bit beyond. But they won’t be anyone’s expeditionary force.

From the Shiites in Iraq we should expect little. U.S. advisers embedded with a few highly trained Iraqi special forces could make some progress. But we cannot count on the corrupt and demoralized regular Shiite-dominated military.

Our key potential allies are the Sunni tribes. We will have to induce them to change allegiances a second time, joining us again, as they did during the 2007-2008 surge, against the jihadists.

Having abandoned them in 2011, we won’t find this easy. …




Peter Wehner wonders just how effective the bombing campaign will be. 

For those who believe that the air strikes we’re conducting against Syria will achieve President Obama’s goal of defeating ISIS, consider this story in yesterday’s New York Times, which begins this way:

After six weeks of American airstrikes, the Iraqi government’s forces have scarcely budged the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines.

This news comes as we learned over the weekend that ISIS attacked an Iraqi army base, killing upwards of 300-500 Iraqi soldiers. “If the survivors’ accounts are correct,” the Washington Post reports, “it would make Sunday the most disastrous day for the Iraqi army since several divisions collapsed in the wake of the Islamic State’s capture of the northern city of Mosul amid its cross-country sweep in June.”

So while in Iraq we’ve been pounding ISIS from the air for a month and a half, we haven’t begun to fundamentally alter the facts on the ground. …



IBD Editors point out the president has gone to war with the weapons systems he has scrapped.

The president launches attacks on the Islamic State with two weapons systems that were targeted for elimination by the administration years before their usefulness ended or any replacements were ready.

With the decision to launch air and missile strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, in addition to ongoing strikes in Iraq in what is said to be the start of a long and sustained campaign to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist group, President Obama has stumbled upon a revelation:

The military whose budgets he’s slashed and weapons systems he opposed is suddenly quite useful.

As the Washington Post reported, the first strikes Monday night included a volley of 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles from two warships, the guided missile destroyer Arleigh Burke and the guided missile cruiser Philippine Sea. They are part of the George H.W. Bush carrier battle group led by the aircraft carrier of the same name.

The problem, as we reported back in March, is that the Tomahawk was slated by Obama to be phased out of the Navy’s inventory, with no timely replacement ready. Under his budget proposals, the Navy, which as recently as last year had plans to buy 980 more Tomahawks, the primary cruise missile used throughout the fleet, would see purchases drop from 196 last year to just 100 in 2015. The number will then drop to zero in 2016.

Doing the math, we see that Obama has already consumed in one night of strikes 47% of next year’s planned purchases. …



We’ll have more in other days, but Paul Mirengoff of Power Line gets first dibs on Eric The Red.

There have been worse members of presidential cabinets than Eric Holder. John B. Floyd and Howell Cobb, both of James Buchanan’s cabinet, who apparently aided the South in the days before secession come to mind.

In my 40 plus years of observing presidencies, though, Holder has a strong claim on first place. His warped attempts to use the national law enforcement apparatus to remake America along leftist lines would have made his tenure an abomination even if it hadn’t been further stained by racism. But racially stained Holder’s tenure was, as Christian Adams reminds us:

[A]fter six years of Holder hugging Al Sharpton, stoking racial division in places like Florida and Ferguson, after suing police and fire departments to impose racial hiring requirements, after refusing to enforce election laws that protect white victims or require voter rolls to be cleaned, after launching harassing litigation against peaceful pro-life protesters, after incident after incident of dishonesty and contempt before Congress — after all this, it was clear to anyone with any intellectual honesty that this man had a vision of the law at odds with the nation’s traditions. …



Debra Saunders remarks on the missing peace protests.

… Partisans on both sides of the aisle like to think that if they were in charge, the world would be a safer place. For eight years, Democrats indulged in the seductive conceit that if they were in charge, the world couldn’t be worse than it was with the bumbling Bush as commander in chief. As Secretary of State John Kerry scoffed as a senator in 2004, Bush ran “the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of this country.”

As the Democratic nominee in 2008, Obama promised a “tough, smart and principled national security strategy.” His five goals: “ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

So what’s the world like now with the edgy, cerebral and principled Obama in the Oval Office?

Obama did pull U.S. troops out of Iraq, only to create a dangerous power vacuum. Hence the need for military force in Iraq and Syria. No ground war? Please. America has adviser boots on the ground in Iraq. In Syria, U.S. forces targeted not only the Islamic State but also the al-Qaida-linked Khorasan Group. Emboldened by Obama’s plan to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by 2016, the Taliban aren’t going anywhere. Fracking has made America more energy-independent. And the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president has authorized U.S. airstrikes in seven countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria. …



WSJ OpEd on the rash of unvaccinated children.

… Who is choosing not to vaccinate? The answer is surprising. The area with the most cases of whooping cough in California is Los AngelesCounty, and no group within that county has lower immunization rates than residents living between Malibu and Marina Del Rey, home to some of the wealthiest and most exclusive suburbs in the country. At the Kabbalah Children’s Academy in Beverly Hills, 57% of children are unvaccinated. At the WaldorfEarlyChildhoodCenter in Santa Monica, it’s 68%, according to the Hollywood Reporter’s analysis of public-health data.

These are the kind of immunization rates that can be found in Chad or South Sudan. But parents in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica see vaccines as unnatural—something that conflicts with their healthy lifestyle. And they have no problem finding fringe pediatricians willing to cater to their irrational beliefs.

These parents are almost uniformly highly educated, but they are making an uneducated choice. It’s also a dangerous choice: Children not vaccinated against whooping cough are 24 times more likely to catch the disease. Furthermore, about 500,000 people in the U.S. can’t be vaccinated, either because they are receiving chemotherapy for cancer or immune-suppressive therapies for chronic diseases, or because they are too young. They depend on those around them to be vaccinated. Otherwise, they are often the first to suffer. And because no vaccine is 100% effective, everyone, even those who are vaccinated, is at some risk.

Parents might consider what has happened in other countries when large numbers of parents chose not to vaccinate their children. Japan, for example, which had virtually eliminated whooping cough by 1974, suffered an anti-vaccine activist movement that caused vaccine rates to fall to 10% in 1976 from 80% in 1974. In 1979, more than 13,000 cases of whooping cough and 41 deaths occurred as a result.

Another problem: We simply don’t fear these diseases anymore. My parents’ generation—children of the 1920s and 1930s—needed no convincing to vaccinate their children. They saw that whooping cough could kill as many as 8,000 babies a year. You didn’t have to convince my generation—children of the 1950s and 1960s—to vaccinate our children. We had many of these diseases, like measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox. But young parents today don’t see the effects of vaccine-preventable diseases and they didn’t grow up with them. For them, vaccination has become an act of faith. …



Jim Geraghty reminds us why we don’t have David Brooks in these pages anymore.

On  Tuesday David Brooks, the lonely right-of-center columnist on the New York Times editorial page, offered us a fascinating portrait of how the world looks from 620 Eighth Avenue in Manhattan — or at least how the circles inhabited by a right-of-center columnist for the New York Times look.

[New York City] has never been better. . . . When I think about the 15 or 20 largest American cities, the same thought applies. Compared with all past periods, American cities and suburbs are sweeter and more interesting places.

Begin with the fact that Brooks bases his assessment of the state of the country on the condition of “15 or 20 largest American cities” (and perhaps suburbs). That leaves a lot of Americans not enjoying “sweeter and more interesting” places. …

… Brooks gets closer in his diagnosis of the absence of a “responsible leadership class,” but he never quite connects that to his previous gripe about Americans’ distrusting, protesting, ignoring, and working around the existing leadership class. Nor does Brooks indicate that he has any awareness of his own role as a cheerleader for many individuals within that leadership class, such as President Obama:

“I remember distinctly an image of — we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant,” Brooks says, “and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.”

A New York Times columnist evaluating an aspiring president based upon a perfectly creased pant leg is the ideal symbol of a “leadership class” evaluating each other based on irresponsibly shallow criteria. …

September 25, 2014

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Roger Simon posts on this president going to war.

“You may not be interested in war,”  Comrade Trotsky supposedly said (but probably didn’t), “but war is interested in you.”  And right he was, as Barack Hussein Obama, the American president least interested in war in most of our lifetimes, possibly ever, has found himself plunged half-heartedly in the middle of it,  going to war, bombing Islamic State territories within Syria, a country he at first warned would itself be bombed for its use of chemical weapons.

Now he’s bombing on that Syrian regime’s side and also acting in behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a nation we are supposedly trying to prevent from obtaining nuclear weapons, but there you have it.  The brutalities of ISIS, ISIL, the Islamic State, call it what you will, trumped all.

Quelle ironie, mon vieux.

No doubt Obama would have rather been marching with “climate” demonstrators in New York, but that’s the way things turned out.  Trotsky’s curse prevailed. …



Bret Stephens says, “Every president gets things wrong. What sets Obama apart is his ideological rigidity and fathomless ignorance.” 

Serious people feel an obligation to listen whenever Barack Obama speaks. They furrow their brow and hold their chin and parse every word. They assume that most everything a president says is significant, which is true. They assume that what’s significant must also be well-informed. Not necessarily.

I’ve been thinking about this as it becomes clear that, even at an elementary level, Mr. Obama often doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It isn’t so much his analysis of global events that’s wrong, though it is. The deeper problem is the foundation of knowledge on which that analysis is built.

Here, for instance, is Mr. Obama answering a question posed in August by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who wanted the president’s thoughts on the new global disorder.

“You can’t generalize across the globe,” the president replied. “Because there are a bunch of places where good news keeps on coming. Asia continues to grow . . . and not only is it growing but you’re starting to see democracies in places like Indonesia solidifying.”

“The trend lines in Latin America are good,” he added. “Overall, there’s still cause for optimism.”

Here, now, is reality: In Japan, the economy is contracting. China’s real-estate market is a bubble waiting to burst. Indonesia’s democracy may be solidifying, but so is Islamism and the persecution of religious minorities. Democracy has been overthrown in Thailand. The march toward freedom in Burma—supposedly one of Mr. Obama’s (and Hillary Clinton‘s ) signature diplomatic victories—has stalled. India may do better than before under its new prime minister, Narendra Modi, but gone are the days when serious people think of India as a future superpower. The government of Pakistan is, as ever, on the verge of collapse. …



Andrew Malcolm on the new tax inversion rules.

Lurching on to the new week’s next news diversion, the Obama administration announced new regulations Monday to punish U.S. businesses that employ Americans, make profits and seek to protect the gains for shareholders, as is their fiduciary responsibility.

The over-hyped administration moves came against so-called business inversions, a perfectly legal pro forma shift of corporate headquarters to a foreign country with corporate taxes lower than the United States’ confiscatory 35% rate. The goal was to crimp the economic appeal of such moves.

Although Russia and North Korea would not be recommended, the money-saving headquarters shift could actually go to any other country in the world because the United States’ corporate tax rate is the highest of any on the planet.

The new regulations, which take effect immediately and may be followed by others that are retroactive, have all the earmarks of a classic Barack Obama initiative: They’re late. They mean much less than they appear (think sanctions on Russia and Iran). They pit a faceless group of alleged wrongdoers against the middle class being defended by guess-who in the White House.

The entire problem is the fault of Congress, which happens to be out of session now. It suddenly requires urgent unilateral executive action by guess-who in the White House, who hasn’t done anything significant either about corporate tax reform during any of his 2,072 days in office. …



The following pull quote is from an address by Kevin Williamson to a meeting of the Heritage Foundation. It contains an erudite thought about the difficulty of controlling human behavior. It would be nice if there was a cogent essay around it, but there really was not. However, it provides food for thought.

… Aristotle believed that man is a “political animal,” while some market-oriented thinkers are criticized for reducing man to a profit-seeking animal, homo economicus. Kenneth Burke understood man as the language-using animal. It is perhaps better simply to begin with an understanding of man as animal. Even under the most exalted conceptions of man — as creature made in the image of God, as possessor of free will — man is nonetheless subject to the same animal pressures as is a kangaroo or a honeybee. Our bodies are the product of evolution, and so are our behaviors, including — especially — our social behaviors. Although it is dangerously easy to make too much of any specific body of work in fields such as psychiatric genetics and evolutionary psychology, they do point to a fact that is critical for understanding our public-policy discourse at something more than a white-hats/black-hats level: Culture is not outside of biology. Culture does not stand apart from biology, interacting with our evolved natures like an exasperated master trying to train an unruly pet. Perhaps Glenn Loury’s famous observation should be amended: Conservatives should not believe that human nature has no history — only that it has a very, very long one, one in which changes are not measured in lifetimes or generations but in eons. Human nature may be open to renegotiation, but not on any timeline that a politician or a philosopher could work with. For the purposes of politics, human nature is effectively immutable.

While the biologists are giving us good reason to be extremely modest in our expectations for the project of attempting to manage man, the mathematicians have done what seems to me irreparable damage to the belief that complex human systems can be managed, flown by remote control from Congress or the White House, a belief that is increasingly difficult to distinguish from a superstition. The scientific study of complex adaptive systems such as markets has taken Ludwig von Mises’s philosophical critique of central planning and developed a formidable body of knowledge that suggests a much more general and sweeping understanding of Mises’s underlying principle. Even a relatively simple economic activity — say, the cultivation and sale of wheat — is far too complex to be comprehended, anticipated, or managed by any bureaucracy, agency, or committee, no matter how intelligent and well-meaning its agents, no matter how well-equipped and incentivized they may be.

F. A. Hayek warned us against the “pretense of knowledge.” But the fact is that our public-policy debate is broadly organized around that very pretense, which is practically an article of faith.

Reality is remorselessly wearing away at the planners’ pretense. In 2008, the best and brightest in Washington, who believe themselves to be among the most intelligent and powerful men and women in the world, stood by helplessly as their ambitions were done in by the very houses in which we live, like cells turning against the body as cancer. Washington’s response was to apply to health care the same effective management it had brought to housing policy, executing its program with approximately the ineptitude that one might have expected. …



David Harsanyi reacts to Lois Lerner’s interview in Politico.

Lois Lerner. Hero. Servant. Brownie-baking puppy lover. Sister of the Blessed State.

This is about all a person reading Politico’s new exclusive “interview” with the former head of the I.R.S. division that oversees tax-exempt groups, might take away. “I didn’t do anything wrong” claims Lerner, who, like any innocent person, is flanked by a major law firm’s partner, two personal attorneys and her husband – a lawyer. “I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country.” And in around 3,700 obsequious words, Politico seems to agree. …

… Remember: A U.S. District Court judge had to force the IRS to tell the court what happened to Lerner’s hard drive. It was only then that the IRS told investigators that Lerner’s hard drive – with most of her emails – had crashed in 2011. With no way to retrieve them. Then, only after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and groups like Judicial Watch used FIOA were pushing to find Lerner’s emails – which we’re to believe are completely innocuous – a deputy associate chief counsel of the IRS, said (in an affidavit) that Lerner’s Blackberry had been “wiped clean” and thrown our as “scrap for disposal in June 2012.” This, after everyone knew what had happened.

Lerner scoffed at the notion that she would crash her own computer to hide emails: “How would I know two years ahead of time that it would be important for me to destroy emails, and if I did know that, why wouldn’t I have destroyed the other ones they keep releasing?”

Perhaps, and this is just a guess, being a lawyer you understood that illegal – or possibly just unprofessional and hyper-political – contents were in those emails. Why didn’t you destroy them all? Maybe you couldn’t destroy everything. Maybe you’re lazy about cover-ups. Maybe you missed some. Maybe you’re incompetent. Surely, Congress and media suspicious reporters could come up an array of questions that might illuminate the situation. The only conceivable reason, after all, that Lerner won’t talk to Congress or the media is because she is faced with the unenviable choice of lying or fessing up to something. Not that you’d know any of that reading Politico’s puff piece.

What I did learn, though, was that Lerner gets revolting emails from some random people. So please reserve your empathy for her, dog-lover and public servant, rather than groups that were denied the right to participate in the political process because of her actions.



Michael Barone with another example of IRS abuse of the public.

For those of you who thought the Internal Revenue Service was only interested in squelching the free speech rights of organizations supporting conservatives, here’s something even more disturbing.

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, Georgetown law professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz reports that on Jan. 20, 2012, the IRS revised its BOLO (“Be On the Lookout”) list to include “political action type organizations involved in . . . educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” He notes that the targeted organizations included Linchpins of Liberty in Tennessee, the Spirit of Freedom Institute in Wyoming and the Constitutional Organization of Liberty in Pennsylvania.

“There may have been many more,” he adds.

The thinking at the IRS apparently is that we can’t have people educating others on inconvenient issues like the First Amendment’s freedom of political expression, the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms or Article II’s requirement that the president faithfully execute the laws. Pretty dangerous stuff!

This should, of course, generate intense interest in the mainstream media. Let’s see if it does.



The left media is pretending to find differences between this new bombing campaign and Bush’s. James Taranto catches their corrections and deletions.

Twitchy.com reports that Josh Lederman, a White House correspondent for the Associated Press, tweeted this bit of puffery last night: “Involvement of 5 Arab nations in Syria airstrikes a major foreign policy win for Obama. Also helps him distinguish from Bush’s Iraq War.” Lederman later deleted the tweet.

The New York Times went a step further, today publishing this fabulous correction:

An article on Sept. 11 about President Obama’s speech to the nation describing his plans for a military campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, gave an incorrect comparison between efforts by the president to seek allies’ support for his plans and President George W. Bush’s efforts on such backing for the Iraq war. The approach Mr. Obama is taking is similar to the one Mr. Bush took; it is not the case that, “Unlike Mr. Bush in the Iraq war, Mr. Obama has sought to surround the United States with partners.”

The story, written by Mark Landler, now says only that “the president drew a distinction between the military action he was ordering and the two wars begun by his predecessor,” and it doesn’t quite spell out what the distinction was except to describe the current action as “selective airstrikes.”

How could it take the Times 12 days to formulate this correction? Presumably it’s not that the original story has been overtaken by events; you don’t run a correction unless the story was mistaken at the time. There must have been a lot of deliberation among the editors over just how to handle this.

The final correction is quite remarkable. The Times now asserts, as a simple matter of fact, that “the approach Mr. Obama is taking is similar to the one Mr. Bush took.” A corollary is that the distinction the story originally drew is simply wrong as a matter of fact. …

September 24, 2014

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John Fund spent some time talking with climate change goobers during their march in NY City.

The United Nations Climate Summit will begin in New York this Tuesday, but environmental activists didn’t wait. All day Sunday, they filled the streets of Manhattan for a march that featured Al Gore, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, and various Hollywood actors.

But they certainly didn’t act like a movement that was winning. There was a tone of fatalism in the comments of many with whom I spoke; they despair that the kind of radical change they advocate probably won’t result from the normal democratic process. It’s no surprise then that the rhetoric of climate-change activists has become increasingly hysterical. Naomi Klein, author of a new book on the “crisis,” This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, said, “I have seen the future, and it looks like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.” In her new book she demands that North America and Europe pay reparations to poorer countries to compensate for the climate change they cause. She calls her plan a “Marshall Plan for the Earth” and acknowledges that it would cost “hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars.” But she has an easy solution on how to pay for it: “Need more money? Print some!” What’s a little hyperinflation compared to “saving the planet”?

Nor is Klein alone in her hysteria. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is releasing a new film in which he warns that the world is threatened by a “carbon monster” that is treated like a kind of Godzilla that must be killed off by ending the use of carbon-based fuels.

One reason the rhetoric has become so overheated is that the climate-change activists increasingly lack a scientific basis for their most exaggerated claims. …



And Charles Cooke portrays one of the totalitarian left – Robert Kennedy.

Blissfully unaware of how hot the irony burned, Robert Kennedy Jr. yesterday took to a public protest to rail avidly in favor of censorship. The United States government, Kennedy lamented in an interview with Climate Depot, is not permitted by law to “punish” or to imprison those who disagree with him — and this, he proposed, is a problem of existential proportions. Were he to have his way, Kennedy admitted, he would cheer the prosecution of a host of “treasonous” figures — among them a number of unspecified “politicians”; those bêtes noires of the global Left, Kansas’s own Koch Brothers; “the oil industry and the Republican echo chamber”; and, for good measure, anybody else whose estimation of the threat posed by fossil fuels has provoked them into “selling out the public trust.” Those who contend that global warming “does not exist,” Kennedy claimed, are guilty of “a criminal offense — and they ought to be serving time for it.”

Thus did a scion of one of America’s great political dynasties put himself on the same lowly moral, legal, and intellectual plane as the titillation website Gawker.

It is dull and dispiriting that it should need so often to be repeated, but, for the sake of tedious clarity, repeat it I shall: Freedom of speech is a wholly fruitless guarantee unless it is held steadfastly to protect even those utterances that most pugnaciously contravene the zeitgeist and most grievously offend the well-connected. Inherent to the safeguard, further, is the supposition that the state may not distinguish between speakers or make legal judgments as to whose words are valuable are whose should be frowned upon. Despite a concerted and increasingly unsustainable attempt to suggest otherwise, the question of climate change remains an open and rambunctious one, and the debate that surrounds the topic remains protected in practice by the First Amendment and in civil society by the dual forces of taste and liberality. Robert Kennedy, by agitating for the suppression of heterodoxy, is casting himself as an enemy of all three.

Kennedy’s insidious aspirations are the inevitable consequence of his conviction that he is in possession of the truth and that all who have the temerity to question him are, in consequence, wreckers. At the best of times, and on the least shaky of epistemological ground, this is a dangerous instinct. In this area in particular, it is downright frightening. …



A couple of days ago Pickings covered the historical ignorance of the outfit in the white house. Today, Peggy Noonan writes on their lack of judgment. Pickerhead often points out the old saw about two levels of pay – getting paid for what you do or paid for what you know – actually has a third higher level; getting paid for what you know not to do. This is an area where the president fails. Noonan points out the great example of drawing the “red line” in Syria. 

At this dramatic time, with a world on fire, we look at the president and ponder again who he is. Mr. Obama himself mocked how people see him, according to a remarkable piece this week by Peter Baker in the New York Times. “Oh, it’s a shame when you have a wan, diffident, professorial president,” he reportedly said, sarcastically, in a meeting with journalists before his big Syria speech. Zbigniew Brzezinski told Mr. Baker the president’s critics think he’s a “a softy. He’s not a softy.”

Actually, no one thinks he’s a softy. A man who personally picks drone targets, who seems sometimes to enjoy antagonizing congressional Republicans, whose speeches not infrequently carry a certain undercurrent of political malice, cannot precisely be understood as soft.

But we focus on Mr. Obama’s personality and psychology—he’s weak or arrogant or ambivalent, or all three—and while this is interesting, it’s too fancy. We are overthinking the president.

His essential problem is that he has very poor judgment.

And we don’t say this because he’s so famously bright—academically credentialed, smooth, facile with words, quick with concepts. (That’s the sort of intelligence the press and popular historians most prize and celebrate, because it’s exactly the sort they possess.) But brightness is not the same as judgment, which has to do with discernment, instinct, the ability to see the big picture, wisdom that is earned or natural.

Mr. Obama can see the trees, name their genus and species, judge their age and describe their color. He absorbs data. But he consistently misses the shape, size and density of the forest. His recitations of data are really a faux sophistication that suggests command of the subject but misses the heart of the matter. …



Amity Shlaes reviews Ken Burns’ latest effort to make us love government.

… When it comes to the 1930s, such twisting of the record becomes outright distortion. By his own stated goal, that of putting people to work, Roosevelt failed. Joblessness remained above 10 percent for most of the decade. The stock market did not come back. By some measures, real output passed 1929 levels monetarily in the mid 1930s only to fall back into a steep depression within the Depression. As George Will comments, “the best of the New Deal programs was Franklin Roosevelt’s smile.” The recovery might have come sooner had the smile been the only New Deal policy.

So great is Burns’s emphasis on the Roosevelt dynasty that William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover come away as mere seat warmers in the White House. Especially puzzling is the neglect of TR’s progressive heirs, Taft and Wilson, who, after all, set the stage for FDR. This omission can be explained only by Burns’s desire to cement the reign of the Roosevelts. On the surface, the series’ penchant for grandees might seem benign, like the breathless coverage of Princess Kate’s third trimester in People magazine. In this country, elevating presidential families is a common habit of television producers; the Kennedys as dynasty have enjoyed their share of airtime. Still, Burns does go further than the others, ennobling the Roosevelts as if they were true monarchs, gods almost, as in Martha Gellhorn’s abovementioned line. Burns equates progressive policy with the family that promulgates it. And when Burns enthrones the Roosevelts, he also enthrones their unkingly doctrine, progressivism.

To be sure: One documentary series, even one by Ken Burns, can reach only so many. But Burns is not alone. The new Advanced Placement history curriculum, which will touch a large portion of thinking high-schoolers, buttresses the myths of the 1920s as failure and the New Deal as rescue. Against such a lovable monolith, bound to influence our culture through multiple election cycles, conservatives and centrists offer — what?

The Roosevelts brings to light a failing in conservative investors and non-progressive educators: They don’t deliver enough serious history of their own. …



More in this vein from Scott Johnson.

When writer Mark Gauvreau Judge was repeatedly invited to review Ken Burns’s 10-part, 18-and-a-half hour documentary on the history of jazz in 2000, his response was always the same: “I don’t need to see it to write a review. It’s Ken Burns, hippie granola-head and king of the documentary-melodrama, which means we’re in for yet another race-obsessed orgy of political correctness.” (In retrospect, Judge concedes, he was only “half-right.”)

With slight variation necessitated by the differing subject matter, I think Judge’s critique applies almost perfectly to Burns’s current offering, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, written by Burns’s long-time collaborator (and Roosevelt biographer) Geoffrey Ward. And Judge would have been all right, not half-right. …

… Interviewing Burns for a feature occasioned by the documentary, the Wall Street Journal asked what president from our history we would elect today. Burns responded with this mindless takedown of the American people: “I think we could perpetually elect the Warren G. Hardings of the world, not asking the essential questions about honesty and whatever, because they looked the part—they’re out of central casting. And our greatest presidents, thankfully, are not out of central casting. They’re actually themselves.” Burns’s disparagement of the American people certainly applies to our election of the current occupant of the Oval Office, but you can bet that is not what he has in mind with his pseudosophistication that achieves vapid left-wing stupidity.

September 23. 2014

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Charles Krauthammer tries to divine the jihadi logic of the Islamic State.

What was the Islamic State thinking? We know it is sophisticated in its use of modern media. But what was the logic of propagating to the world videos of its beheadings of two Americans (and subsequently a Briton) — sure to inflame public opinion?

There are two possible explanations. One is that these terrorists are more depraved and less savvy than we think. They so glory in blood that they could not resist making an international spectacle of their savagery — after all, they proudly broadcast their massacre of Shiite prisoners — and did not quite fathom how such a brazen, contemptuous slaughter of Americans would radically alter public opinion and risk bringing down upon them the furies of the U.S. Air Force.

The second theory is that they were fully aware of the inevitable consequence of their broadcast beheadings — and they intended the outcome. It was an easily sprung trap to provoke America into entering the Mesopotamian war.


Because they’re sure we will lose. Not immediately and not militarily. They know we always win the battles but they are convinced that, as war drags on, we lose heart and go home.

They count on Barack Obama quitting the Iraq/Syria campaign just as he quit Iraq and Libya in 2011 and is in the process of leaving Afghanistan now. …



Mark Steyn posts on the state’s business licensing. And after four years, a judge in Florida slaps down the states jackboot thugs. 

I often joke with my hairdresser Amanda about the number of state permits she requires for the privilege of cutting my hair. As I point out on page 49 of After America (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc):

In the Fifties, one in twenty members of the workforce needed government permission in order to do his job. Today, it’s one in three.

That’s tyrannous – which is bad enough, albeit not unique to America: The entire developed world has massively expanded the hyper-regulatory state. But only in America does the Department of Paperwork command lethal force:

“On August 19, 2010, two inspectors from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) visited the Strictly Skillz Barbershop in Orlando and found everything in order: All of the barbers working there were properly licensed, and all of the work stations complied with state regulations. Two days later, even though no violations had been discovered and even though the DBPR is authorized to conduct such inspections only once every two years, the inspectors called again, this time accompanied by “between eight and ten officers, including narcotics agents,” who “rushed into” the barbershop “like [a] SWAT team.” Some of them wore masks and bulletproof vests and had their guns drawn. Meanwhile, police cars blocked off the parking lot.

The officers ordered all the customers to leave, announcing that the shop was “closed down indefinitely.” They handcuffed the owner, Brian Berry, and two barbers who rented chairs from him, then proceeded to search the work stations and a storage room. They demanded the barbers’ driver’s licenses and checked for outstanding warrants. One of the inspectors, Amanda Fields, asked for the same paperwork she had seen two days earlier, going through the motions of verifying (again) that the barbers were not cutting hair without a license (a second-degree misdemeanor). Finding no regulatory violations or contraband, the officers released Berry and the others after about an hour.’

What sort of lunatic handcuffs a barber in order to check his license is valid? The gauleiter in question is Inspector Amanda Fields of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation – and, in a sane world, she’d be the one in handcuffs. But, as far as I can tell, she still has her job. Judge Rosenbaum’s opinion for the US 11th Circuit is unusually vivid: …



MacKubin Thomas Owens writes on current thinking about Grant and Lee and the Civil War.

… Almost from the moment the conflict ended, the Lost Cause came to dominate interpretations of the war, in the North as well as in the South. The works of Douglas Southall Freeman, the Virginian and biographer of Robert E. Lee, represent the epitome of the Lost Cause school, but even writers like Bruce Catton, who interpreted the war primarily from a Northern perspective, accepted many of the Lost Cause assumptions.

There are two parts to the Lost Cause interpretation. The first is political and holds that the cause of the war was not slavery but the oppressive power of the central government, which wished to tyrannize over the southern states. The South wished only to exercise its constitutional right to secede, but was thwarted by a power-hungry Lincoln.

The second part is military: The noblest soldier of the war was Robert E. Lee. For three years, he and his army fought in Virginia, the most important theater of the war; he was  more skilful than his adversaries, but went down to defeat because of the North’s superior resources.

The first part of the Lost Cause argument is demonstrably false. Slavery was both the proximate and the deep cause of the war. There was no constitutional right to dissolve the Union.

Southerners could have invoked the natural right of revolution, but they didn’t because of the implications of such a declaration for a slave-holding society; they were, therefore, hardly the heirs of the Revolutionary generation.

But there is a great deal of truth to the second part. The South did fight at a material disadvantage. In Lenin’s words, “quantity has a quality all its own.” And Lee was a remarkably skilful soldier who overcame immense odds on battlefield after battlefield.

For the last two decades, historians have been freeing themselves from the shackles of the Lost Cause school. This has led to a revision of the reputations of both Lee and Grant.

For example, an increasing number of historians have come to reject the Lost Cause argument that Virginia was the decisive theater of the war. The key to Union victory, they hold, was the West. Here Union armies used the Tennessee River as the main line of operations to penetrate deep into the Confederate heartland early in the war. By the end of 1862, they controlled most of the Mississippi River except the stretch between Vicksburg and Port Hudson. These fell in the summer of 1863. Union armies in the West then penetrated the Appalachian barrier at Chattanooga, opening the way to Atlanta, the fall of which ultimately doomed the Confederacy.

They inflicted defeat after defeat on the main Confederate army in the West, the Army of Tennessee (not to be confused with the Union Army of the Tennessee) and captured vast tracts of territory that were essential to the survival of the Confederacy 

In throwing off the shackles of the Lost Cause school, many historians, including prominent southerners, have gone to the other extreme and attacked Lee, something that was unthinkable only two decades ago. For instance, Thomas Connelly and Alan Nolan contend that Lee hurt the southern cause because of a single-minded offensive orientation that led to casualties the Confederacy could not afford.

According to his detractors, Lee had no grand strategy and, for parochial reasons, focused narrowly on defending his home state of Virginia. In his search for a Napoleonic battle of annihilation, he paid too high a cost in casualties. Lee’s predilection for the offensive not only hastened the defeat of the South but also was a major contributing cause of that defeat. In the words of Connelly, the Confederacy would “have fared better had it not possessed” a leader as aggressive as Robert E. Lee. Indeed, some of these historians have gone so far as to argue that Lee’s reputation as a gifted soldier was “manufactured history,” a postwar invention by such Lost Cause writers as Jubal Early, who distorted the record by vastly inflating Lee’s abilities and wartime stature.

On the other hand, Grant’s reputation has been enhanced. …



And here’s the important stuff. From Latin Times we learn that a glass of wine is better than going to the gym.

Whoever said no news is good news was wrong. Turns out drinking red wine is better for you than going to the gym! How’s that for good news? Jason Dyck and other science researchers in the University of Alberta in Canada found that red wine, nuts and grapes have a complex called resveratrol which improves heart, muscle and bone functions; the same way they’re improved when one goes to the gym. Resveratrol proved to be an effective antioxidant when tested on rodents which is why scientists are planning on testing it with diabetics. If results are positive for the benefits of the complex, patient’s heart health could be improved just as much as it does when they work out vigorously.

While scientists and wine lovers are rejoicing over this news, doctors are still unlikely to recommend their patients to start drinking any type of alcohol as it can have harmful effects on your body. …

September 22, 2014

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Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in this world is history that you don’t know”. In this administration filled with obama sycophants nobody knows anything. We learned this early when they cancelled the missiles that were to be installed in Poland and made the announcement on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland. The president choosing the ISIS bombing targets is just the latest example. Doesn’t anybody there have any knowledge of history? Don’t they know LBJ did the same thing and degraded the effectiveness of the bombing campaign in North Viet Nam? Craig Pirrong posts on warfare conducted by president bystander.

LBJ micromanaged the bombing campaign. Often hunching over maps, he chose individual targets, mainly at a lunch every Tuesday with his national security team. He famously said that the military couldn’t bomb an outhouse without his permission.

It is almost universally recognized that LBJ’s micromanagement was an unmitigated disaster. The North Vietnamese interpreted the relatively diffident bombing campaign as an indicator of LBJ’s lack of commitment and resolve: they weren’t deterred, but were encouraged. The campaign inflicted little military damage on the North, and the NVA used the respite to bolster their air defenses.

In brief, the LBJ “Rolling Thunder” campaign, and his meddlesome control over it, is widely held up as an example of how not to wage a military campaign, and especially an air campaign.

Fast forward exactly 50 years, from 1964 to 2014. Then read this, and weep:

The U.S. military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential signoff for strikes in Syrian territory, officials said.

The requirements for strikes in Syria against the extremist group Islamic State will be far more stringent than those targeting it in Iraq, at least at first. U.S. officials say it is an attempt to limit the threat the U.S. could be dragged more deeply into the Syrian civil war.

. . . .

Through tight control over airstrikes in Syria and limits on U.S. action in Iraq, Mr. Obama is closely managing the new war in the Middle East in a way he hasn’t done with previous conflicts, such as the troop surge in Afghanistan announced in 2009 or the last years of the Iraq war before the 2011 U.S. pullout.

LBJ redux, to the last jot and tittle. Repeating the exact same errors. It will not end up any better. Probably worse, given that the situation in Syria is worse (as bad as it was in SVN in 1964). Talk about forgetting the past and being condemned to repeat it.



Max Boot on the same subject. 

Shades of LBJ. The comparison may be unfair, but it is also inevitable when one reads that “the U.S. military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential signoff for strikes in Syrian territory.”

This is reminiscent of the way that Lyndon Johnson controlled air strikes on North Vietnam from the Oval Office in what has come to be seen as classic example of how trying to carefully ratchet up the use of force to “send a message” to adversaries doesn’t work in the real world. At least Johnson had good reason to limit air strikes in North Vietnam–he was worried about drawing China into the war as had occurred during the Korean War. In the case of Syria, it’s hard to see a similar imperative to limit air strikes on ISIS. If Obama is worried that the Assad regime will take advantage of U.S. attacks on ISIS, the obvious solution would be to bomb Assad’s forces too–in short, more air attacks, not fewer. But that clearly is not what the president contemplates; he seems to envision a few pinprick air strikes in Syria and a few more in Iraq.

How this is supposed to succeed in his ambitious goal of first degrading and then destroying ISIS is hard to see. …



Another historical analogy is pointed out by Jonathan Tobin. During the Civil War, Lincoln kept looking for a general who would fight. In the Middle East mess, our generals keep looking for a president who will fight. 

One of the key narratives of the American Civil War was President Abraham Lincoln’s long search for a general who could fight and win battles and put a war-winning strategy into action. But when historians look back on the country’s current conflicts in the Middle East, that formula may be reversed. Instead of lacking generals who wish to engage the enemy and defeat them, what the nation may need more is a president who is as committed to victory as his soldiers. That’s the conclusion many observers are drawn to after listening to the testimony of General Martin Dempsey yesterday when he told a Senate committee that he may yet recommend the use of U.S. ground forces against ISIS even though that is something that President Obama has explicitly rejected.

The president repeated his vow that American troops would not fight the terrorists on the ground today when he spoke to an audience of soldiers at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. While trying, not always successfully, to sound appropriately belligerent, the president made it abundantly clear that that his vow to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the terror group is conditional on finding local proxies to fight the war he has been dragged into by circumstance and the shifting tides of public opinion. The purpose of the speech and, indeed, a rare all-out lobbying push in Congress by a normally diffident White House, was to convince the country of the need to fund American participation in the conflict. But the contrast between the recommendations he has reportedly been getting from his military advisors and his adamant refusal to even leave the door open to U.S. action on the ground makes it hard to believe that he is really serious about winning this war. …



Jennifer Rubin with more on the clash with the generals.

President Obama is infamous for his high regard for himself and low opinion of just about everyone else. He infamously declared in 2008, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” It turns out he didn’t know much about the Middle East, Russia or jihadism.

It should come as no surprise then that he is at war with everyone who knows  less than he does, according to him. He is sparring with his military commanders who are forced to defend an unworkable strategy against the Islamic State that rests upon an imaginary Sunni ground force and U.S. air power alone, a formula that failed spectacularly in the failing state of Libya (including the deaths of four Americans). The Post reports:

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who served under Obama until last year, became the latest high-profile skeptic on Thursday, telling the House Intelligence Committee that a blanket prohibition on ground combat was tying the military’s hands. “Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility,” he said. “We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.” …



We’ll close with analysis from Richard Epstein.

… The Obama personal hesitation stems, unfortunately, from reasons unrelated to the military and political issues. Part of his problem is that he cannot bring himself to acknowledge that he was wrong to oppose the Iraqi surge in 2006, and wrong to pull out American troops from Iraq as President. A strong president learns from his past mistakes, but Obama does not.

One reason for his dogged persistence lies in his flawed world view, which deep down, regards the United States (and Israel) as akin to colonial powers, whose actions should always be examined under a presumption of distrust. His ingrained uneasiness with the values of western civilization makes it impossible for him to think and act as the leader of a western nation. Instead, he much prefers to regard himself as a nonpartisan critic and a bystander to world affairs. He has no firm conviction in the rightness of his cause, and hence no confidence in his ability to get others to act as perils mount.

What makes the situation even worse is that Obama receives support from commentators and public intellectuals who think that his reluctance to commit military force should be commended as part of some grand plan to restore American hegemony by gentler means. Just that kind of thinking was evident in a recent column by Thomas Friedman, “Leading From Within,” which refuses to come to grips with the short-term peril that ISIS presents. Friedman accepts the conventional analysis that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake and ignores the current short-term military crisis in order to piece together some long-term strategic plans to make things better. One of his suggestions is that the United States remove its self-imposed limitations on the export of oil products. Of course, that proposal is correct. But it is an insufficient response to the perilous military situation today in the Middle East. It is also correct even in times of peace because free trade policies always work to the long-term advantage of our nation and the world. In good times, as well as bad, a global increase in the supply of oil will enhance prosperity at home and abroad.

The dubious arguments against fracking technology have ever weaker foundations as the technology continues to become both safer and more energy efficient. There is little environmental risk at home (especially compared to coal), and there is much to gain from boosting overall levels of economic activity, which can never be done by piling huge subsidies into Friedman’s preferred clean energies that still don’t work very well. Indeed, if freeing up oil exports had been done years ago, it would have long ago reduced world dependence on both Russian natural gas and Middle Eastern oil, which could have reduced the risk of aggressive action long before it occurred. …

September 21, 2014

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Robert Rector posts on the failure of the war on poverty. We’ve spent $22 trillion and 14% of the nation is still living in poverty. 

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its annual report on poverty. This report is noteworthy because this year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty. Liberals claim that the War on Poverty has failed because we didn’t spend enough money. Their answer is just to spend more. But the facts show otherwise.

Since its beginning, U.S. taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s War on Poverty (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusting for inflation, that’s three times more than was spent on all military wars since the American Revolution.

The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. These programs provide cash, food, housing and medical care to low-income Americans. Federal and state spending on these programs last year was $943 billion. (These figures do not include Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance.)

Over 100 million people, about one third of the U.S. population, received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the U.S.

But today the Census will almost certainly proclaim that around 14 percent of Americans are still poor. The present poverty rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 1967 a few years after the War on Poverty started. Census data actually shows that poverty has gotten worse over the last 40 years. …



And from the Sleuth Journal we learn that small business ownership is at an all time low.

According to the Federal Reserve, the percentage of American families that own a small business is at the lowest level that has ever been recorded.  In a report that was just released entitled “Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2010 to 2013: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances“, the Federal Reserve revealed that small business ownership in America “fell substantially” between 2010 and 2013.  Even in the midst of this so-called “economic recovery”, small business ownership in America has now fallen to an all-time low.  If the economy truly was healthy, this would not be happening.  And it isn’t as if Americans are flooding the labor market either.  As I detailed yesterday, the labor force participation rate in this country is at a 36 year low.  That would not be happening if the economy was actually healthy either.  The truth is that the middle class in America is dying, and this new report from the Federal Reserve is more evidence of this very harsh reality.

In order to build wealth, middle class Americans either need to have their own businesses or they need good jobs.  Sadly, the percentage of Americans that own a business continues to decline steadily.  In the report that I mentioned above, the Federal Reserve says that the proportion of U.S. families that have an ownership interest in a small business fell from 13.3 percent in 2010 to a brand new all-time low of 11.7 percent in 2013.

This is one of the factors that is increasing the gap between the extremely wealthy and the rest of us in this country.  And of course another of the major factors is the steady decline in good paying jobs. …



The same progressive policies that make life dangerous for small business, are the policies that make cities like New York uninhabitable for the middle class. Kevin Williamson has the story.

A New report being released today by the Census Bureau finds that Manhattan has the highest level of income inequality in the United States. That is not entirely surprising, though it would also not have been surprising if it had been San Francisco or another progressive fiefdom. For all the rhetoric about wicked 1 percenters and inequality, progressivism is a luxury good, and progressive-dominated enclaves are generally pretty okay places to live if you have a fair amount of money, but sort of stink if you’re in the middle or at the lower end of the earnings curve.

Because most Americans experience New York City as tourists or in television shows and movies, it is easy to forget that the hometown of Wall Street and a very large population of obnoxious celebrities is a poor city: New York City is not only poorer than the New York State average, its median household income is, in absolute dollar terms, lower than that of such dramatically less expensive areas as Austin, Texas, or Cleveland County, Okla., where the typical household income is a few thousand dollars a year more than in New York City but the typical house costs less than a third of what the typical New York City home costs — and 17 percent of what the average Manhattan home costs. (And it’s a house, not a two-room coop.) …

… What is particularly salient about the progressive governance of places such as New York City and San Francisco is not the income inequality coincident with it — which has many causes, only some of which are directly related to public policy — but the myriad ways in which misgovernment makes these cities such hostile places to live for people of relatively modest means.

As indicated above, the income figures by themselves hardly tell the story. The median household income in the city of New York is a few hundred dollars a year more than the median household income in the state of Texas, but in practical terms the average New York City household is much worse off. …



Salon tells us about Alibaba.

The Chinese company Alibaba is going public at 9:30 AM ET on Friday. It is poised to be the largest IPO in history, expected to raise $21 billion. According to Fortune, the offering price will be in the range of $60 to $68 per share.

Unless you’ve spent the last several months eagerly waiting for this IPO, or have spent any time in China, it is possible you may not be familiar with Alibaba, or the implications of it going public.

Alibaba is China’s largest e-commerce company. (A primer on the company can be found here.) According to CNBC, it is used in 80 percent of all Chinese online commerce. The 15-year-old company is a combination of Amazon and eBay, along with some of the functions of Google, but it also has other components, including a PayPal-like system called Alipay. According to Pando Daily, it has also recently backed an Uber competitor.

Not only will this IPO make founder Jack Ma an exceedingly wealthy man; it also introduces the brand to the American public, establishes a level of credibility and sets an interesting precedent for future tech IPOs, some of which are waiting in the wings.

Past tech-related IPOs have been fair or underwhelming — as was the case in April of this year with China’s Twitter-like social media site Weibo. American social media companies Facebook and Twitter were also categorized as having “troubled” or “failed” IPOs. (Although in the case of Twitter that description is more controversial.) So what does this mean for Alibaba?

There are some reasons to be optimistic, yet also a few lingering concerns, which will all come to a head at the opening bell. Salon spoke to Professor Anthea Yan Zhang, a professor of Strategic Management at RiceUniversity’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business to gain some insight on the upcoming IPO. …



WaPo posts on Biden’s hat trick of stupidity.

Vice President Biden’s Wednesday kicked off with an acknowledgment that he had used a “poor choice of words.” By day’s end, he had put foot in his mouth again. Twice.

Biden opened the door to the possibility the United States could commit ground troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq, a strategy the Obama administration has painstakingly avoided raising. That came shortly after he walked back his use of the word “Shylocks” and his use of the anachronistic term “Orient” to describe Asia.

Even for the gregarious and outspoken vice president, whose candor has all too often gotten him into hot water, the trio of eyebrow-raising remarks in about a 24-hour span was something to behold. Two of the “he said what?” moments came in Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state where anyone thinking about running for president, a possibility Biden has not ruled out, needs to make a good impression. …

September 18, 2014

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Roger Cohen of the NY Times wrote a column on the “great unraveling” presided over by this president. 

It was the time of unraveling. Long afterward, in the ruins, people asked: How could it happen?

It was a time of beheadings. With a left-handed sawing motion, against a desert backdrop, in bright sunlight, a Muslim with a British accent cut off the heads of two American journalists and a British aid worker. …

… It was a time of aggression. The leader of the largest nation on earth pronounced his country encircled, even humiliated. He annexed part of a neighboring country, the first such act in Europe since 1945, and stirred up a war on further land he coveted. His surrogates shot down a civilian passenger plane. The victims, many of them Europeans, were left to rot in the sun for days. …

… It was a time of breakup. The most successful union in history, forged on an island in the North Sea in 1707, headed toward possible dissolution — not because it had failed (refugees from across the seas still clamored to get into it), nor even because of new hatreds between its peoples.  …

… It was a time of weakness. The most powerful nation on earth was tired of far-flung wars, its will and treasury depleted by absence of victory. An ungrateful world could damn well police itself. The nation had bridges to build and education systems to fix. Civil wars between Arabs could fester. Enemies might even kill other enemies, a low-cost gain. Middle Eastern borders could fade; they were artificial colonial lines on a map. Shiite could battle Sunni, and Sunni Shiite, there was no stopping them. Like Europe’s decades-long religious wars, these wars had to run their course. The nation’s leader mockingly derided his own “wan, diffident, professorial” approach to the world, implying he was none of these things, even if he gave that appearance. He set objectives for which he had no plan. He made commitments he did not keep. In the way of the world these things were noticed. Enemies probed. …

… It was a time of hatred. Anti-Semitic slogans were heard in the land that invented industrialized mass murder for Europe’s Jews. Frightened European Jews removed mezuzahs from their homes. …



Ed Driscoll says the above shows the Gray Lady suffers from a malaise. And points out a lot of this is partly her fault.

Elizabeth Scalia, aka “The Anchoress,” describes Roger Cohen’s piece in the New York Times titled “The Great Unraveling” as “an exquisitely-written dose of reality.” Regarding America in the age of Obama, Cohen describes it in Dickensian terms; “It was a time of weakness”: …

… Elizabeth responds, “It is, finally, perhaps a time of dawning realization that the centers are not holding; old orders are in extremis; new orders are in capricious adolescence”: …

… Fair enough, but consider the source — over the past 12 years, the New York Times, when not going on benders on the evils of golf courses and air conditioning, and publishing outright fabulism, has, more recently, published pieces calling for the end of the US Constitution, and mocking the “fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity” of its presidential candidates — only, upon further review, to discover that these extreme worldviews are Catholicism, Lutheranism and Mormonism, bedrock religions of America’s history.  Its leading journalists have publicly called the citizens of the American midwest “The dance of the low-sloping foreheads” and filed William S. Burroughs-style stories of openly experimenting with drugs. And of course, in 2008, it went all-in to champion a man who was clearly not ready to be president, to the point of actively burying potentially damaging stories about him and refusing to run op-eds from his opponent. …




Roger Simon posts on the president’s biggest lie.

There’s a lot of competition for Barack Obama’s biggest lie. The man who could assure the American public with a straight face over thirty times that they could keep their doctor under his health plan, when he knew that to be completely false, is one hellluva fibber.

But execrable as that serial prevarication may have been, it doesn’t hold a proverbial candle to his most recent whopper — that the Islamic State is not Islamic — not to mention its corollary, or perhaps subsidiary lie, that real religions do not indulge in murder.  Islam has been doing that pretty much straight through for fourteen centuries, both outwardly toward Christians and Jews, and inwardly in its unresolved pathological conflict between its Sunni and Shiite strains that continues, as the world well knows, to this day and undoubtedly into the foreseeable future, spewing an uncountable number of corpses as it goes.

The Islamic State is not only Islamic, it is the very paradigm of Islam, Islam distilled to its essence as practiced by Mohammed, massacring local tribes, raping and enslaving their women, and making war against everyone in his way until he had subdued as much of Arabia as possible.  Who knows how many beheadings were involved, but can we assume the total significantly outstrips the Islamic State’s, at least for now ?  Islam is far from the only violent religion — almost all have had their moments — but it is unquestionably the most unremittingly so.  If Islam is said to have been hijacked, it is not by the thugs of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al Qaeda, al Nusra, Ansar al Islam, Ansar al Sharia, al Shabaab, Boko Haram, Jemaah Islamiyah, Hamas, Hezbollah and on and on.  They are the true practitioners of the faith, following in the footsteps of Mohammed and obeying the prescriptions of the Koran and the Hadith to make the whole world Islamic or else. They don’t need to communicate with each other.  They just do their thing, because the playbook has been written for them and they have studied it well.  It is they who have been temporarily hijacked by a few whirling pacifistic Sufis or other moderate outliers …



And a NY Post OpEd lists the five lies upon which the presidency was shaped.

If past presidents are remembered for their signature achievements, Obama will be remembered for his signature lie: “If you like your health care plan, blah, blah, blah.” The reader knows the rest. Although the most consequential of Obama’s lies — it got him re-elected — it’s far from his only prevarication.

I’ve counted 75 significant lies since his campaign for president began, but that doesn’t begin to tally the casual fibs and hyperbole he spouts seemingly every day. Here are five that illustrate just how much Obama’s presidency is built on falsehoods. …



Andrew Malcolm says polls indicate the public does not believe obama will prevail against ISIS.

Sowing distrust and discord among Americans has served Barack Obama well politically during his 68 months in office. But now as the former community organizer faces ISIS and the worst foreign policy crisis of his ineffective presidential tenure, that distrust and division has circled around to bite its master.

After his nationally-televised address Wednesday and a tepid Friday fundraiser talk justifying his belated actions, a new poll reveals that a large majority of Americans says it lacks confidence he can accomplish his stated goals of beating the brutal new terror group that released a video of its beheading of a British citizen over the weekend.

Its not that Americans doubt the effectiveness of the American military.

Nor do they question the need to militarily confront the Islamic extremists that have seized large portions of Syria and Iraq, killing thousands and threatening to export their terror attacks to the U.S. and Europe. Indeed, previous polls showed a substantial majority calling for the Democrat to attack ISIS even as he blithely admitted he had no strategy.

The new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal/Annenberg Poll finds 62% of Americans support Obama taking action against ISIS.

But fully 68% of his countrymen say they have “very little” or “just some” confidence that Obama will achieve his newly-discovered strategic goals of degrading and defeating ISIS through bombing and an international coalition. …



Sherman Frederick tells the president to get to work.

… Sometimes you get a president who exceeds expectations, and sometimes you don’t.

President Barack Obama is a “don’t.”

He got elected. Twice. That’s a skill. But he hasn’t successfully parlayed that skill into effective leadership. His communication skills fail to rise to the level of the average manager at Taco Bell.

Recent events, sadly and clearly, underline this.

In the middle of a televised build-up of brutal terrorist activity in Syria and Iraq, our president stubbornly went on his scheduled vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, where he golfed during the day and danced the night away at parties thrown by lobbyists.

Meanwhile, thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Christians were tortured, raped and slain by ISIS thugs before being pushed into mass graves.

Only when ISIS videotaped the beheading of an American journalist did the president emerge from vacation. He quickly acknowledged the act, saying it was all he could do not to weep in public. Then, only 10 minutes later, he is in a golf cart on the links, yucking it up with an NBA celebrity.

I’ll let shrinks analyze what kind of person can go from sniffling back a tear to a horselaugh. The cause for concern is this president’s ineffective basic communication skills.

He’s such a megalomaniac that he thinks he’s gifted enough to manage from afar fast-breaking world events — Ukraine, Syria, Gaza, etc. Responding to criticism for this, his people explain this very special president doesn’t have to come to work every day and sit at his desk at the White House, because he’s so adept at modern forms of communication — email, texts, video conferencing, etc. …