July 27, 2015

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The president’s “dangerous rhetoric” gets a look from Victor Davis Hanson.

President Obama has a habit of asserting strategic nonsense with such certainty that it is at times embarrassing and frightening. Nowhere is that more evident than in his rhetoric about the Middle East.

Not long ago, Obama reassured the world that, despite evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, “Chlorine itself is not listed as a chemical weapon.” What could he have meant by that? Obama apparently was referring to the focus on Sarin gas by the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the UN watchdog agency that was supposed to monitor Obama’s Syria red line warnings against further gas attacks. To reassure the public that the United States would not consider chlorine gas a violation of its own red line about chemical weapons use in Syria—and, therefore, to assure the public that his administration would not intervene militarily in Syria—Obama said:  “Chlorine itself, historically, has not been listed as a chemical weapon.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Chlorine was the father of poison gas, the first chemical agent used in World War I—and it was used to lethal effect by the Germans at the battle of Ypres in April 1915. Subsequently, it was mixed and upgraded with phosgene gas to make an even deadlier brew and employed frequently throughout the war—most infamously at the Battle of the Somme.

The president was clearly bothered that he had boxed himself into a rhetorical corner and might have had to order air strikes against the defiant Assad regime—lest he appear wavering in carrying out his earlier threats. One way out of that dilemma would be to deny that chorine constituted a serious weapon used to kill soldiers and civilians. Another would simply be to claim that he had never issued such a red line to Bashar al-Assad at all. That refuge is exactly what Obama fell back upon at press conference on September 4, 2013: “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.” …

… Yanking all Americans out of Iraq in 2011 was solely a short-term political decision designed as a 2012 reelection talking point. The American departure had nothing to do with a disinterested assessment of the long-term security of the still shaky Iraqi consensual government. When Senator Obama damned the invasion of Iraq in 2003; when he claimed in 2004 that he had no policy differences with the Bush administration on Iraq; when he declared in 2007 that the surge would fail; when he said in 2008 as a presidential candidate that he wanted all U.S. troops brought home; when he opined as President in 2011 that the country was stable and self-reliant; when he assured the world in 2014 that it was not threatened by ISIS; and when in 2015 he sent troops back into an imploding Iraq—all of these decisions hinged on perceived public opinion, not empirical assessments of the state of Iraq itself. The near destruction of Iraq and the rise of ISIS were the logical dividends of a decade of politicized ambiguity. …



Heather Mac Donald on microaggression and macro crazy.

Early this year, the University of California’s president, Janet Napolitano, asked all deans and department chairs in the university’s ten campuses to undergo training in overcoming their “implicit biases” toward women and minorities. The department heads also needed training, according to the UC president, in how to avoid committing microaggressions, those acts of alleged racism that are invisible to the naked eye. A more insulting and mindless exercise would be hard to imagine. But Napolitano’s seminar possesses a larger significance: it demolishes any remaining hope that college administrators possess a firmer grip on reality than the narcissistic students over whom they preside.

The “Fostering Inclusive Excellence: Strategies and Tools for Department Chairs and Deans” seminar presumes that University of California faculty are so bigoted that they will refuse to hire the most qualified candidate for a professorship if that candidate happens to be female or an “underrepresented minority”—i.e., black or Hispanic. …

… The ultimate question raised by the seminar is: Are there any adults left on campus, at least in administrative offices? And the answer is: no. An adult administrator would realize that he is presiding over the most tolerant, well-meaning, and opportunity-filled community in human history. He would understand that the claim that females and minorities are the victims of discrimination on campuses is sheer fiction. He would know that teaching students to go around ferreting out imaginary slights does them a disservice.

Maybe that administrator is so cowardly that, while he knows these things, he is not willing to assert them in the face of student agitation for more victim infrastructure. Such cowardice is deeply unfortunate. But at least it holds out the possibility for some return to sanity at a later date. The most disturbing aspect of “Fostering Inclusive Excellence” is that it was initiated by the president’s office without outside provocation. Had Napolitano not come up with these antibias trainings, no one would have noticed their absence. Instead, she has sua sponte promulgated an initiative deeply ignorant about how seriously most professors—at least in the sciences—take their responsibilities to build up a faculty of accomplishment and research prowess. We have come to expect such ignorance from coddled, self-engrossed students. Now it turns out that those students may be the least of the university’s problems.



The Federalist says Uber gives freedom to women.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is waging a war against Uber, working overtime to pass legislation that would dramatically limit the ability of ride-sharing companies to operate in New York City. He justifies this crackdown as a way to “keep people safe,” but it in reality, de Blasio’s anti-free market Uber policy would do the exact opposite.

Uber is the best thing to happen to women since the invention of birth control. It allows us to leave when we want without relying on a man to get us home. To understand how empowering this notion is, de Blasio might consider walking in our red stilettos one Saturday night.

Of course, not every woman needs an app to escape a bad date, but Uber provides a safety net for those that do. With Uber, women don’t need a permission slip to leave the dinner table. We don’t need to stay for “one more drink,” and we certainly don’t need to deal with the anxiety of hailing for a cab that might never come. No. With Uber, we just click a button, and our car arrives. …



More defense of Uber from John Stossel.

Hillary Clinton gave a speech warning that the new “sharing economy” of businesses such as the rideshare company Uber is “raising hard questions about workplace protections.”

Democrats hate what labor unions hate, and a taxi drivers’ union hates Uber, too. Its NYC website proclaims, “Uber has the money. But we are the PEOPLE!”

The taxi cartels, which provide inferior service and are micromanaged by government, don’t like getting competition from efficient companies like Uber.

Clinton didn’t mention Uber by name, but we don’t have to wonder which company she meant. The New York Times reports that Clinton contacted Uber and told them her speech would threaten to “crack down” on companies that don’t treat independent contractors as full employees. Apparently, Democrats think something’s wrong if people are independent contractors.

But no driver is forced to work for Uber. People volunteer. They like the flexibility. They like getting more use out of their cars. It’s win-win-win. Drivers earn money, customers save money while gaining convenience and Uber makes money. Why does Clinton insist on interfering with that?

Clinton’s “social democrat” pal, New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, wants to crack down on Uber by limiting how many drivers they may hire. Uber cleverly responded with an app — a “de Blasio option” — that shows people how much longer they’d have to wait if de Blasio gets his way. …


The cartoonists are on to Planned Parenthood.

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