September 18, 2016 – PRESIDENT DETRITUS

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



The president has pronounced that Trump is not qualified. That’s like Hillary calling someone else deplorable. They both have first person knowledge of unqualified and deplorable. Let’s go through a grab bag of items on the failures left in this president’s wake. First is Claudia Rosett posting on China’s dis of the poseur.



Claudia Rosett posts on the China snub of the president.

President Obama took office in 2009 promising that his brand of engagement would yield global respect for the United States. We’ve since had more than seven years of leading from behind, standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the “international community,” snubbing of allies, appeasing of enemies and cutting America down to size. As Obama makes what will likely be his final official visit to China, how’s it going?

Well, China, as host of the current G-20 summit, rolled out the red carpet — or at least the red-carpeted airplane stairs — for the arriving leaders of such countries as Britain, Australia, Germany and Russia.

For President Obama, arriving yesterday on Air Force One, there was no such dignified reception. Instead, there was a shoving match with the press and a confrontation with National Security Adviser Susan Rice, in which a Chinese official shouted “This is our country. This is our airport.” For lack of any portable stairs rolled to the front door of the presidential plane, Obama was left to jog down the aircraft’s own stairs at the back.

Obama downplayed the insult, telling reporters “not to over-crank the significance.” …

… Which brings us back to the matter of respect, and which leaders get the red-carpet treatment in China these days, and which don’t. Xi and his colleagues see an American president who treats his own country’s Constitution, voters  and national interests with no respect. For Beijing, that amounts to an enfeebled America. That translates into an opportunity, a wide-open invitation from the White House, to drive home to the world a message that China is on the rise — receiving at its latest summit an American president who arrives with tribute in his pocket. For such an emissary, no red carpet is needed. Of course he can exit from the back of his plane.




Walter Russell Mead posts on obama’s foreign policy turkey on the other side of the globe.

.. Erdogan’s pivot to Russia is the latest indicator of the ruins of U.S. foreign policy. In President Obama’s original strategy of bringing peace to the Middle East and marginalizing terror by reaching out to democratic Islamists, Turkey’s Erdogan was supposed to play a major role. Indeed, Obama was widely reported to have spent more time on the phone with him than with any world leader.

Meanwhile, of course there was also the “reset” with Russia—with “more flexibility” for Moscow promised after Obama’s re-election.

Yet America’s relations with both Turkey and Russia are in shambles. Domestically, Putin and Erdogan have gone in a more authoritarian direction. In geopolitics, Moscow and Ankara have refused to go along with the White House’s plans. This is not all President Obama’s fault of course—he doesn’t and cannot control other world leaders. But it’s hard not to notice that Obama’s early maneuvering hasn’t had the results he promised. The opportunities first-term Obama saw in Turkey and Russia have either been squandered or were never even there in the first place. Even after Obama has left office, it will be difficult for the U.S. to repair the damage caused by the president’s early geopolitical misreadings.




Richard Epstein writes on the failed presidency.

The week after the Fourth of July is a good time to take stock of the presidency of Barack Obama. It is highly unlikely that he will change course in his six remaining months in office, so he will be judged by history on his current record. That record reveals an enormous gap between his grandiose promises and his pitiful performance over the past eight years. …

… It is sobering to examine how and why his presidential performance stacks up so poorly against his ideals. An important question for any president is what issues fall in the domain of government action, and which should be left to the private sector. Any sensible answer starts with two presumptions that are antithetical to Obama’s progressive frame of mind. First, the government should seek to avoid interfering in economic affairs to allow the forces of competition and innovation to increase the size of the social pie from which everyone can benefit. Second, the government should focus its exercise of national power on defending the nation and its allies from aggression. Obama inverts these key relationships—a fundamental mistake. He is all too willing to use coercion in domestic economic affairs against disfavored groups, and all too reluctant to use it against sworn enemies of the United States and its allies.

A mistake of this magnitude cannot be corrected by marginal adjustments in office. The sad truth is that the United States today is weaker economically, more divided socially, and more disrespected across the globe than it was before Obama took office. With few exceptions, he made the wrong choices in all the areas in which he declared the dawn of a new era. Consider: …

… Foreign affairs, for their part, have been an unmitigated disaster. Everywhere one looks—Russia, China, the Middle East—the situation is more dangerous than it was before President Obama took office. That is the inescapable consequence of a presidential reluctance to trust military affairs to generals, and to rule out of bounds, virtually categorically, the use of American ground troops to stem the violence in the Middle East. The relative stability that George W. Bush bequeathed to Obama in 2009 has been shattered in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and by the rising power of Iran. ISIS commits atrocities nearly daily, most recently in Baghdad and Bangladesh. …

… Nor has Obama done better on an issue close to his heart: race relations. Instead of firm moral leadership, the president has raised tensions. He announced, for example, that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” And even after his Department of Justice exonerated Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, it buried that story behind a searing denunciation of Ferguson, Missouri for the alleged racism of its ticketing practices. The “Ferguson effect” has made policing ever more difficult in African-American communities. No wonder crime rates are rising across the country, even in cities like Chicago that have strict, but largely ineffective, gun control laws, which the president relentlessly champions without any explanation of how they are likely to do any good.

Behind all of these social ills lies a president who lacks the skills of a leader. Sadly, his frayed political legacy has left us with a choice between two undesirable candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, neither of whom has the capacity and temperament to correct the many ills that President Obama has created at home and abroad over the past eight years.




Craig Pirrong, The Streetwise Professor, posts on racial divisions fostered by the president.

Obama’s greatest opportunity as president was to advance race relations in this country. They have obviously improved almost miraculously since the Civil Rights and Jim Crow eras, but in 2008 they could have definitely improved even further. Sadly, in the past seven plus years, they have regressed rather than progressed. Obama squandered an opportunity that he was uniquely placed to exploit.

Uniquely placed, but sadly not uniquely qualified, as events have made all too clear. For rather than pour oil on troubled waters, Obama has thrown it on the fire. He does it with such regularity that I must conclude that is hardwired, or a conscious choice: which is worse, I can’t say. The horrific events of the past days represent the zenith of this behavior–at least I hope so.

The crux of the problem is that Obama is an echo chamber for Black Lives Matter memes, and a defender of and advocate for the organization. BLM is a divisive, confrontational, and frankly racist organization that is exacerbating tensions, rather than doing anything to reduce them, or to correct the underlying problems. BLM marches routinely involve chants advocating the murder of police (“Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon”). Obama has hosted leaders of this group at the White House, and praised their effectiveness, saying that he was “confident that they are going to take America to new heights.” A sobering thought, that. …




More on this from David Harsanyi.

… When Obama calls for unity (you’ll recall this was a big part of his first campaign), he’s not talking about a nation that maximizes its freedom so that there is space for an array of cultural outlooks and ideas. He means a nation of diverse people who can all agree that progressivism is right for the nation.

This administration has made a habit of using the power of the state to coerce and compel others to accept its cultural attitudes. For him, unity means little dissent. In his last State of the Union, for example, Obama laid out a progressive agenda, then implored us to embrace “American ideals” as if they were the same. (He offered Trumpism as the only other choice. It’s not.)

Obviously, the nation is divided because Americans have deep-seated, legitimate, and meaningful disagreements about the future. One man can neither unify us nor break us apart on his own. But it’s been a long time since we’ve had a president as divisive as Barack Obama.



The administration’s war on for-profit schools claims another victim. Two years ago they ruined Corinthian Colleges and now it is ITT Technical facing collapse. Minding The Campus has the story. For the Corinthian saga see Pickings July 14, 2014. Yet more ruin in the wake of this knee jerk left wing ideological presidency. 

… While the government is indulgent towards wasteful state colleges, it has a very different, hostile attitude towards for-profit colleges. It will sometimes financially destroy them even without any proof of wrongdoing. The Washington Post editorial board gives the latest example of the Obama administration doing this, its destruction of ITT Technical Institutes:

Never mind that the higher education plans of tens of thousands of students will be disrupted. Or that 8,000 people will lose their jobs. Or that American taxpayers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in forgiven student loans. What is apparently of most importance to the Obama administration is its ideological opposition to for-profit colleges and universities. That’s a harsh conclusion, but it is otherwise hard to explain why the Education Department has unabashedly used administrative muscle to destroy another company in the beleaguered industry.

ITT Technical Institutes, one of the nation’s largest for-profit educational chains, on Tuesday abruptly announced that after 50 years in business it was shutting down more than 100 campuses in 38 states. The announcement, displacing an estimated 40,000 students, follows last month’s decision by the Education Department barring the school from enrolling new students using federal student aid and upping its surety requirements. The department said it was acting to protect students and taxpayers, noting the school had been threatened with a loss of accreditation and that it was facing a number of ongoing investigations by both state and federal authorities.

What is so troubling about the department’s aggressive move — which experts presciently called a death sentence — is that not a single allegation of wrongdoing has been proven against the school. Maybe the government is right about ITT’s weaknesses, but its unilateral action without any semblance of due process is simply wrong. “Inappropriate and unconstitutional,” said ITT officials.

Such unfairness sadly is a hallmark of the Obama administration policy toward higher education’s for-profit sector. …

September 13, 2016 – HILLARY FABULIST

Click on WORD or PDF for full content




Twenty years ago NY Times columnist William Safire tagged Hillary Clinton as a “congenital liar.” The weekend’s health event was just another example of the fact that the default position of HRC is always a lie. John Hinderaker posts on her LSAT tale where she claims to have been harassed taking the law school test by a bunch of (dare I say it) deplorables. It’s a little thing but illustrative of her continuing ongoing mendacity.

I am not a psychiatrist, and am not qualified to say what causes Hillary Clinton to lie constantly, with almost every breath she takes.


Gersh Kuntzman in the Daily News opines;

… Why not just admit the pneumonia? It’s not as if there’s a stigma to catching it. After all, Hillary Clinton’s full-time job right now is rushing from place to place on those tube-shaped petri dishes called airplanes, speaking for hours on end with little sleep, and then diving into crowds of often unwashed deplorables thrusting babies into her face.

If she didn’t catch some sort of bug, I’d say she’d need to be examined to ensure that she’s human.

So instead of being forced to admit her own frailty, Clinton concocted a lie: it’s just allergies, you know, which come from happy things like flowers. It’s not a disease that brings to mind decay, 19th century industrial slums and physical weakness.

The larger question that will be raised by the “health scare” is the one that has dogged Clinton forever: Why does she create cover stories rather than reveal the truth? At many critical turns in her lengthy career, Clinton has chosen obfuscation rather than revelation. …



He was one of the first to say it. Scott Adams in the Dilbert Blog reviews some of his past posts on Hillary’s health. This was from last December.

… One of the skills a hypnotist has to master is reading people’s inner thoughts based on their body language. That’s a common skill for people in the business world too, but hypnotists go deeper than looking at crossed arms and furrowed brows. We learn to look for subtle changes in breathing patterns, tiny changes in muscle tone, variations in skin color (blushing or not), word choice, pupil dilation, and more. I assume law enforcement people look for similar tells when doing interrogations.

As regular readers know, I’m a trained hypnotist. And to me, Hillary Clinton looks as if she is hiding a major health issue. If you read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, you know that so-called “experts” can sometimes instantly make decisions before they know why. In my case, I am going to make an “expert” hypnotist prediction about Hillary Clinton without knowing exactly which clues I am picking up, or whether I am hallucinating them.

Prediction: I’ll put the odds at 75% that we learn of an important Clinton health issue before the general election. That estimate is based on my own track record of guessing things about people without the benefit of knowing why. I think Trump is picking up the same vibe. He has already questioned Clinton’s “stamina.” …



David Harsanyi writes on Ricky Ray Rector’s contribution to the Clinton future. An example of deplorable. 

… Enter Ricky Ray Rector.

In 1981, Rector shot a man for refusing to allow his friend into a nightclub. Later, he shot another friend of his — a police officer — who came to arrest him. Rector then performed a partial lobotomy by shooting himself in the head in a suicide attempt.

Whether you support the death penalty or not, there was a plausible contention that Rector was unable to put forward a proper defense because he couldn’t even comprehend the charges against him. For his last meal, Rector reportedly asked the guard to put aside his pecan pie because he was “saving it for later.”

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that putting mentally retarded people to death was “cruel and unusual.” But in 1993, the Clintons, with wilting poll numbers, saw an opportunity to show Bill was tough on crime and move beyond the Flowers’ fiasco.

In 1979, as governor Clinton commuted the sentence of a mentally ill murderer named James Surridge. He would go on to kill again. Now, during the 1992 primary race, faced with the prospects of losing his shot at the presidency, Clinton refused to even issue an order of executive clemency — not freedom — to stop the execution of another one.

That alone might have been understandable. This time, though, Clinton — I should say the Clintons — made a big show of traveling back to Little Rock in the midst of the campaign for the presidency so Bill could personally preside over the execution. It was covered by every major media outlet in the nation.

Rector was executed by lethal injection, …



Leaving Hillary’s lies, Sputnik News posts on proof Google is in the tank for HRC. This is long and will take some time to absorb, but it is written by a research psychologist, a Clinton supporter by the way, who is aghast at the lengths Google will go to support Hillary. The comparisons of three search engines, Bing, Yahoo, and Google will convince you to stop using Google as a search engine. For example if you enter “when is the election” Google will provide a picture of a healthy looking Hillary. No Trump, just her. Perhaps we should call them Lying Google.

… For the record, I am a moderate politically, and I support Hillary Clinton for president. I do not believe, however, that it would be right for her to win the presidency because of the invisible, large-scale manipulations of a private company. That would make democracy meaningless, and that is why I am trying to keep the public informed about my research findings.Biased search rankings can swing votes and alter opinions, and a new study shows that Google’s autocomplete can too. …

A scientific study I published last year showed that search rankings favoring one candidate can quickly convince undecided voters to vote for that candidate — as many as 80 percent of voters in some demographic groups. My latest research shows that a search engine could also shift votes and change opinions with another powerful tool: autocomplete.

Because of recent claims that Google has been deliberately tinkering with search suggestions to make Hillary Clinton look good, this is probably a good time both to examine those claims and to look at my new research. As you will see, there is some cause for concern here.

In June of this year, Sourcefed released a video claiming that Google’s search suggestions — often called “autocomplete” suggestions — were biased in favor of Mrs. Clinton. The video quickly went viral: the full 7-minute version has now been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, and an abridged 3-minute version has been viewed more than 25 million times on Facebook.

The video’s narrator, Matt Lieberman, showed screen print after screen print that appeared to demonstrate that searching for just about anything related to Mrs. Clinton generated positive suggestions only. This occurred even though Bing and Yahoo searches produced both positive and negative suggestions and even though Google Trends data showed that searches on Google that characterize Mrs. Clinton negatively are quite common — far more common in some cases than the search terms Google was suggesting. Lieberman also showed that autocomplete did offer negative suggestions for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

“The intention is clear,” said Lieberman. “Google is burying potential searches for terms that could have hurt Hillary Clinton in the primary elections over the past several months by manipulating recommendations on their site.” …

… Since then, my associates and I at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT) — a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in the San Diego area — have been systematically investigating Lieberman’s claims. What we have learned has generally supported those claims, but we have also learned something new — something quite disturbing — about the power of Google’s search suggestions to alter what people search for. …

… The impact of biased search rankings on opinions, which we call the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME), is one of the largest effects ever discovered in the behavioral sciences, and because it is invisible to users, it is especially dangerous as a source of influence. Because Google handles 90 percent of search in most countries and because many elections are very close, we estimate that SEME has been determining the outcomes of upwards of 25 percent of the national elections in the world for several years now, with increasing impact each year. This is occurring, we believe, whether or not Google’s executives are taking an active interest in elections; all by itself, Google’s search algorithm virtually always ends up favoring one candidate over another simply because of “organic” search patterns by users. When it does, votes shift; in large elections, millions of votes can be shifted. You can think of this as a kind of digital bandwagon effect.

The new effect I have described in this essay — a search suggestion effect — is very different from SEME but almost certainly increases SEME’s impact. If you can surreptitiously nudge people into generating search results that are inherently biased, the battle is half won. Simply by including or suppressing negatives in search suggestions, you can direct people’s searches one way or another just as surely as if they were dogs on a leash, and you can use this subtle form of influence not just to alter people’s views about candidates but about anything.

Google launched autocomplete, its search suggestion tool, in 2004 as an opt-in that helped users find information faster. Perhaps that’s all it was in the beginning, but just as Google itself has morphed from being a cool high-tech anomaly into what former Google executive James Whittaker has called a “an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus,” so has autocomplete morphed from being a cool and helpful search tool into what may be a tool of corporate manipulation. By 2008, not only was autocomplete no longer an opt-in feature, there was no way to opt out of it, and since that time, through strategic censorship, it may have become a tool for directing people’s searches and thereby influencing not only the choices they make but even the thoughts they think. …

… Without whistleblowers or warrants, no one can prove Google executives are using digital shenanigans to influence elections, but I don’t see how we can rule out that possibility. There is nothing illegal about manipulating people using search suggestions and search rankings — quite the contrary, in fact — and it makes good financial sense for a company to use every legal means at its disposal to support its preferred candidates.

Using the mathematical techniques Robertson and I described in our 2015 report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, I recently calculated that SEME alone can shift between 2.6 and 10.4 million votes in the upcoming US presidential race without anyone knowing this has occurred and without leaving a paper trail.

I arrived at those numbers before I knew about the power search suggestions have to alter searches. The new study suggests that autocomplete alone might be able to shift between 800,000 and 3.2 million votes — also without anyone knowing this is occurring.

Perhaps even more troubling, because Google tracks and monitors us so aggressively, Google officials know who among us is planning to vote and whom we are planning to vote for. They also know who among us are still undecided, and that is where the influence of biased search suggestions and biased search rankings could be applied with enormous effect.


Very good cartoons today.


August 17, 2016 – STUDENT DEBT

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



This blog has from its inception, pointed out the problems associated with the government sponsored explosion of student debt. In the last year Pickings has dealt with the problem here, here, and here. Just as the American left created a vast wasteland of wrecked lives with zero down payment home loans, it has continued its assault on the middle class with the siren song of an education financed by student loans. In the wake of the meddling do-goodism of left/liberals we find, yet again, millions of people with ruined credit.

In a blog post six years ago, Glenn Reynolds, Tennessee law prof, and Instapundit blogger coined Reynolds’ Law - “The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.”

This from someone who is on the inside of the education establishment. An establishment that shows the hallmarks of a vast criminal conspiracy preying on those who fall into its grasp. Now that student debt is a 1.3 trillion dollar problem even the Volvo and arugula crowd has come to see the picture as one of their house organs - Consumer Reports devoted most of an issue to student debt.

Almost every American knows an adult burdened by a student loan. Fewer know that growing alongside 42 million indebted students is a formidable private industry that has been enriched by those very loans.

A generation ago, the federal government opened its student loan bank to profit-making corporations. Private-equity companies and Wall Street banks seized on the flow of federal loan dollars, peddling loans students sometimes could not afford and then collecting fees from the government to hound students when they defaulted.

Step by step, one law after another has been enacted by Congress to make student debt the worst kind of debt for Americans—and the best kind for banks and debt collectors.

Today, just about everyone involved in the student loan industry makes money off of the students—the banks, private investors, even the federal government. …



Consumer Reports continues with the “Faces of Student Loan Debt.”

“I feel I kind of ruined my life by going to college; I can’t plan for an actual future.” 

Jackie Krowen, 32

In Debt: $152,000

LaneCommunity College, PortlandStateUniversity, University of Rochester

Student Loans: $128,000

Remaining Balance: $152,000

Monthly Payment: $1,200

Occupation: Nurse

When she was 19, Jackie Krowen took out her first student loan to attend a community college in Oregon. She borrowed more when she transferred to PortlandStateUniversity, and still more for nursing school at the University of Rochester in New York.

“You didn’t have to meet with anybody,” she says. “You just clicked some buttons on the computer and you had a huge check.” …




University of NorthTexas

Student Loans: $67,000

Remaining Balance: $73,000

Monthly Payment: $522

Occupation: Auto Shop Service Manager

McClurg’s father, a retired U.S. Navy officer, co-signed her loans. Then illness disrupted her education. She was hospitalized with pneumonia as a sophomore and later contracted a staph infection: “Unbeknownst to me,” she says, “I didn’t have a good immune system.” After missing more than a year of classes, she dropped out in 2010.

McClurg moved to Utah and got a $9-an-hour job in an auto repair shop, and says she couldn’t afford to pay her loans for a few years. Then debt collectors “really came after me,” she says, threatening to sue her. Then they said they would go after her father as well because he had co-signed her loans.  “They would definitely take away his pension,” she says she was told. “They said they have every right.”  Finally, she says, “my 84-year-old grandfather gave me every dime he had” so that she could get her loans current.

McClurg says she now earns $32,000 per year, enough to pay $522 each month for the education she never finished.



The NY Times reports on New Jersey’s killer collectors of student loan debts.

Amid a haze of grief after her son’s unsolved murder last year, Marcia DeOliveira-Longinetti faced an endless list of tasks — helping the police gain access to Kevin’s phone and email; canceling his subscriptions, credit cards and bank accounts; and arranging his burial in New Jersey.

And then there were the college loans.

When Ms. DeOliveira-Longinetti called about his federal loans, an administrator offered condolences and assured her the balance would be written off.

But she got a far different response from a New Jersey state agency that had also lent her son money.

“Please accept our condolences on your loss,” a letter from that agency, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, said. “After careful consideration of the information you provided, the authority has determined that your request does not meet the threshold for loan forgiveness. Monthly bill statements will continue to be sent to you.” …



The Boston Globe has more. The pictures of the students reported on here were such large files they could not be included. Follow the link to get them.

IT’S ONE OF THE MOST enduring selling points for the value of higher education: The best route out of poverty is through the college quad. Spend four years in college, and all that book learning, mind opening, and network expanding will help even the lowest-income student jump up several rungs on the economic ladder. Nowhere is that message preached as often or with as much evident authority as in Massachusetts, the nation’s historic capital of private, nonprofit higher education, where the concentration of colleges in some areas is surpassed only by the number of Dunkin’ Donuts franchises.

But just how true is this truism about college lifting low-income students out of their circumstances, Horatio Alger style? In fact, like the actual story of author Horatio Alger, who was born into a well-established family and graduated from Harvard, there’s more myth than truth. That’s been especially so in recent years, as nonselective private colleges from around the region have increasingly filled their freshman classes with low-income students — often the first generation in their families to go to college — from Boston and other urban areas. Quite a few of these small schools are former junior colleges and women’s colleges with rich histories of opening doors to students traditionally shut out from higher education, an admirable pursuit that officials refer to as “access.” Many of the colleges are also in tough financial straits, struggling with rising costs, stunted endowments, and declining enrollments.

So whether they are actively recruiting these low-income students for reasons of open-the-door altruism or keep-the-lights-on capitalism — or, more likely, some combination of the two — there has been a huge, largely hidden byproduct of this dramatic increase in access: These students are often being loaded up with staggering debt that is completely out of whack with the earnings boost they’ll likely get from a degree at a nonselective or less selective college. Already, average student loan debt is higher in Boston than any other metro area in the country, 44 percent above the national average, according to Credit Karma. But  more troubling, many of these low-income students — and, at some colleges, most of them — are not graduating. That means these non-completers are leaving campus saddled with lots of debt but none of the salary gains that traditionally come with a bachelor’s degree. …





Click on WORD or PDF for full content




The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple provides a good example of lying leftist liberals in the media in his post on Katie Couric’s recent documentary on guns.

It looks as though Katie Couric stunned her interviewees. Knocked them out with a bombshell inquiry: “Let me ask you another question: If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” Now check out the blank stares.

Nearly 10 seconds of silence, as if no one has an answer to Couric’s rather straightforward question. The scene comes from “Under the Gun,” a film written, produced and directed by Stephanie Soechtig and narrated by Couric, the global anchor for Yahoo News; Couric also serves as executive producer. The session depicted in the video above features Couric and members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a group whose motto is “Defending Your Right to Defend Yourself.”

And to hear the VCDL tell the story, those awkward seconds are a fabrication, a byproduct of deceptive editing. To prove the point, VCDL President Philip Van Cleave has released an audiotape of the session, which is available on the site of the Washington Free Beacon as part of a story by Stephen Gutowski. In that recording, the question from Couric is a bit different from the one in the video. She says, “If there are no background checks, how do you prevent — I know how you all are going to answer this, but I’m going to ask it anyway. If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from walking into, say, a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun?”

On the audiotape, a reply comes immediately from one of the VCDL members: “Well, one — if you’re not in jail, you should still have your basic rights.” More chatter follows.

In an interview with the Erik Wemple Blog, Van Cleave said, “My teeth fell out of my head when I saw that.” The result of the editing, he says, is that folks who view the documentary are “going to say these people are idiots. It affects all the gun owners.” Other scenes in the documentary, says Van Cleave, “accurately” represent the input of his fellow gun owners. But not the exchange on background checks. “This was beyond the pale.” Van Cleave says he has audio of the entire interview with Couric — a backstop against bogus editing that he learned from his dealings with the media. “I do that as a matter of course when I’m doing things like that,” says Van Cleave. “It has saved me a few times.” …

… Moments ago, the film’s people released this statement from Soechtig:

“There are a wide range of views expressed in the film. My intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”

Here at the Erik Wemple Blog we stroke our gray beard and reflect: In the years we’ve covered and watched media organizations, we’ve scarcely seen a thinner, more weaselly excuse than the one in the block above. …



Mollie Hemingway has a good memory. She notes Couric defended Planned Parenthood with claims of doctored footage, then does the exact same thing. And by the way, independent reviews showed the PP film was not edited with intended malice. Which is what Katie did.

… This willful and malicious doctoring of evidence to support an agenda is so unconscionable that even CNN, The Washington PostThe New York Times, and other media outlets made note of it.

Couric should have disclaimed the documentary and publicly acknowledge her error. Instead, the film’s director Stephanie Soechtig indirectly admitted she spliced in false footage when she issued the following statement:

My intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.

This mealy mouthed mush was described as an apology at CNN while The Washington Post openly mocked the “apologize if” construction of the response. Erik Wemple of the Post added that he’d never seen a “thinner, more weaselly excuse” than the one proffered by Soechtig. For her part, Couric said “I support Stephanie’s statement and am very proud of the film.” …

… Indeed, when Katie Couric ran interference for Cecile Richards (Head of Planned Parenthood), doing a lengthy sit-down puffball interview and a tour of an abortion clinic where she didn’t once mention, uh, abortion, she twice decried the videos as “edited.” Couric is a long-time pro-abortion activist, not just using the mainstream media to advocate it, but having marched in support of the right to end unborn human lives. Last week on David Axelrod’s podcast, she said that her parents were major influences on her, specifically citing her mother’s volunteer work for Planned Parenthood and the fact that her mother invested in Trojan condoms when she learned about the AIDS crisis. Classy!

An accompanying write-up of the Cecile Richards interview falsely stated:

The videos, some of which were edited together in a way to depict Planned Parenthood employees talking about selling fetal tissue, which is illegal, rocked the organization.

The media have straight-up adopted Planned Parenthood’s false “deceptively edited” talking points and carried the water for Planned Parenthood’s campaign against the Center for Medical Progress. Here, one of their perky own in the mainstream media is caught red-handed actually deceptively editing in the service of gun control, and the most outrage The New York Times can muster is the headline, “Audio of Katie Couric interview shows editing slant in documentary, site claims.” What a joke our mainstream media are.



Tim Carney says you can blame Couric and her ilk for Donald Trump. 

Donald Trump tells us that journalists “are the most dishonest people” and are “sleaze.” This is silly.

But if my fellow journalists wonder why he gets away with his attacks and obfuscation towards the media, Katie Couric provides a good explanation.

Couric, who spent three decades as a supposedly straight-news reporter, this year narrated an anti-gun documentary. As a fig-leaf of balance, she included in the documentary an interview with Virginia Citizens Defense League. She used this as an occasion to “demolish” the gun nuts.

Reviewers got the message. The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “A group of blustery members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, however, suddenly remain painfully quiet when Couric asks them the hard questions.”

Indeed it’s painful to watch, or glorious to watch, depending on your perspective. The topic was background checks. Under current law, gun stores cannot sell a gun without conducting a background check on the buyer. If a gun owner sells his gun, however, he is not required to conduct background checks. Some gun-rights defenders oppose any mandatory background checks. No matter what, though, felons may not own guns.

“Let me ask you another question,” Couric says, as the gun-rights supporters look on, “if there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”

One gun-defender blinks, an uncomfortable grimace on his face, as he looks to a compatriot at the table. The camera cuts to another man, quietly staring down at the table. A third man, bearded, glares without saying a word before turning his eyes down. Eight seconds of awkward silence greet Couric’s question.


But of course, that’s not what happened. Couric’s victims produced the audio from the meeting and published it online last week. In real life, Couric prefaces the question with “I know how you all are going to answer this, but I’m going to ask it anyway.”


Once she finishes her question, one participant immediately lays out the argument that felons, when they complete their prison sentences, should have their gun rights restored. …

… After first standing behind the filmmaker’s transparently false defense, Couric has apologized for approving the misleading edit. But her week-late, second-try apology isn’t commensurate to the crime.

On Amazon and on iTunes Thursday, you could still download the lying video. The Hollywood Reporter review is still out there, uncorrected. The film was scheduled to screen in Danbury, Conn., Thursday night, June 2.

The lying anti-gun film needs to be pulled from distribution until the lying scene is removed. Only pressure from the center-left mainstream media will make that happen. Some journalists probably hope the Couric flap can be ignored, but that would be the worst thing for a free press.

A free country requires a free press in order to hold accountable those in power — that includes the press itself.


No cartoons today. There’s nothing funny about Lyin’ Katie Couric.

July 12, 2016 – PICKING ON PIKETTY

Click on WORD or PDF for full content




A few years ago we could not stop reading and hearing about the French economist Thomas Piketty. Why? Because his research claimed the middle class has made little progress over the last 100 years. The left jumped on that as proof of their Hobbesian view on contemporary American life and culture. 

They did the same with the Card & Krueger study that claimed raises in the minimum wage would not cost jobs. That’s been well debunked, but the canard is brought out every election. Krueger was responsible for the ‘cash for clunkers’ program that was part of the liberals war against the poor. Somehow it made sense to him our economy could advance by destroying wealth. So, we paid for the destruction of tens of thousands of cars. And the used cars, important to the poor, went up in price. That kind of failure has to be recognized.  What do we do with an academic who is usually wrong? Krueger became the head of the administration’s Council of Economic Advisors. 

Writing in Commentary, Tim Kane lays out some of the foolishness in Piketty’s book. His article is titled “Piketty’s Crumbs.” In the article he shows us some pictures from 1910. 

Three years ago, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2013) made its author the most famous economist in the world. The book caused a sensation by highlighting rising income and wealth inequality in the United States and Europe, especially in its jarring claim that inequality is just as bad today as it was a hundred years ago. Piketty writes: “The poorer half of the population are as poor today as they were in the past, with barely 5 percent of total wealth in 2010, just as in 1910. Basically, all the middle class managed to get its hands on was a few crumbs.” …

… How much money would you demand to give up modern public goods such as highways or emergency fire and ambulance services? How much is air conditioning worth to you? What about penicillin? Entertainment of any kind that is not live? The ability to travel to Australia from Minneapolis in a day’s time for the price of five men’s suits? Recorded music, movies, and cable television? How much would you have to be paid to surrender the Internet for a month? No Facebook. No Netflix. No email. No Google searches. No Google Maps.

These are Piketty’s crumbs. Here are some others.

It is doubtful that anyone in my old Ohio neighborhood on the west side of Columbus was a one percenter. My mother worked as a “lunch lady” at the local elementary school and later as a secretary for Xerox. My father worked at a grocery store before enlisting in the military. They never complained, but, as my mother says, “We ate a lot of Hamburger Helper.”

I remember hot summer days before many people with middle incomes could afford an air conditioner. I remember how dramatically it changed our quality of life, too. AC is ubiquitous and cheap today, but is it a crumb?
My mother slept in on one Christmas in, I think, 1978, on orders from my father. She awoke to find that he had bought and installed our first dishwashing machine. As an economist, I try to think about how to measure the value of that washing machine, but I am at a loss. Surely, it was worth more than it cost. There’s a notion of consumer surplus in welfare analysis, but that fails to capture the extra-economic utility people actually experience.

I remember getting one of the nation’s first cable television systems—30 channels instead of three, including CNN (which debuted in 1980) and HBO and ESPN. A movie “costs” $15 to see at the theater, yet we have millions of hours of broadcasting piped over cable every month at no marginal cost. …

… The most compelling photo from the first decade of the 20th century comes from a street in Manhattan. A dead horse, clearly malnourished, had collapsed and was awaiting collection. This was a common occurrence in cities everywhere, as horse-drawn commerce and transportation remained predominant. Indeed, there are a half dozen other carriages—not automobiles—in the background. What compels are the eight boys at play in the sewer a few feet from the dead horse. Two older boys are standing and staring at the photographer, while the younger boys are barefoot and seated along the gutter, splashing. Nearby wooden buildings are in shambles, windows wide, shutters hanging askew. The streets and sidewalks are bricked and worn down.

The germ theory of disease was barely a half-century-old when this photo was taken. Antibiotics would be discovered decades later, and widely used only when these boys were adults, assuming they survived the Great War and the plague of 1918. …

… I asked my mother what it would take for her to give up air conditioning for a year. She lives in Florida, and she didn’t have to think long to name her price. “Nine million dollars.”
What does all this mean? It means the inequality debate is a slippery slope almost by design, cleverly limited to ensure that free-market advocates will never have the high ground except the one afforded by sheer common sense. The way to win the argument is simply to ask about those crumbs of progress that progressives ignore. Ask if critics of capitalism actually believe progress can happen (child labor laws, voting rights, electrification, hot showers) and can continue.

Second, it means that economic theory is falling short, because it cannot successfully measure progress over the long term. What economists call consumer surplus—the difference between what you are willing to pay for something and its actual price—is a fraction of the value we experience, but Piketty doesn’t even count consumer surplus. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, progressive economists know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. Scholars who research income trends should no longer ignore positive externalities which are tiny year to year but extraordinarily large decade to decade. The political stakes are too high, and inequality debate too central, for us to pretend the foundations of microeconomics are firm. If Nordhaus is right, intangible gains are many multiples greater than median incomes.

For voters, this means we should pause in our rush to “fix” capitalism. Yes, modern economies in Europe, Asia, and the Americas are imperfect, but recognize that they have enriched everyone in intangible yet vital ways. Does this mean, as the sharp-witted economist Brad DeLong charges, that I am saying we shouldn’t care about inequality? Maybe a better way to frame it is that the inequality you’ve been told about is almost certainly an illusion. If poorly measured inequality is the price of progress—mothers and babies alive, blood transfusions, civil rights, ice cubes in summertime, and, yes, Facebook—it is a very small price indeed.




From NewsAlert we learn about some of Piketty’s factual errors.

Leftist economist Thomas Piketty , is yet another of a long line of economists , who know nothing about history. Economist Robert Murphy busts Piketty for his wrong take on American economic history. Here’s Thomas Piketty from his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century pages pages 506-507: …




More from Forbes.

Given the excitement that Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has stirred up within the political left, the French economist probably should have titled it Fifty Shades of Inequality.

In Capital, Piketty presents a painstakingly researched case for doing what progressives ranging from Paul Krugman to Barack Obama want to do anyway, which is to raise taxes and expand the power and reach of government. Unfortunately for liberals, Piketty gets almost everything wrong, starting with the numbers. …

… If America’s welfare population (along with their lifestyles) were put in a time machine and sent back to the France of 1870, they would be viewed by the ordinary people of that time as a strange new aristocracy.

Our welfare recipients would be envied for their (comparatively) ample and varied food, (comparatively) large dwelling units, (comparatively) huge selection of clothing, amazing creature comforts (e.g., electric lights, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, washing machines, etc.), ability to travel at 80 miles an hour, capability to communicate with each other at the speed of light, and access to dazzling entertainment via flat panels on their walls.

However, what the ordinary French citizens of 1870 would probably be most envious of regarding our welfare population is their immunity to common infectious diseases, as well as their ability to easily cure the ones that they did get. And, of course, the ordinary people of 1870 France would envy our welfare recipients for the fact that they enjoyed their incredible lifestyle without having to work.

We can stop this line of discussion here. The point is that Piketty’s painstakingly researched numbers are worthless, because they ignore the existence of the modern welfare state. Our various welfare programs redistribute a huge percentage of national income, and, therefore, for the purposes of Piketty’s comparisons across time, they redistribute the beneficial ownership of capital.

Now, let’s move on to the (many) other things that Piketty gets wrong. …

… Piketty claims that his tax system would not impact economic growth or entrepreneurial innovation. However a comparison between France and the U.S. renders this assertion laughable. For reference, France, already has a wealth tax, as well as a much higher marginal income tax rate than the U.S. (75% vs. about 43%).

Of the 100 most valuable corporations in the world, 44 are based in the U.S., and 5 are based in France. This means that the U.S., which has less than 5 times the population of France and less than 6 times the GDP, has created almost 9 times as many “Top 100” companies.

The comparison is even more lopsided in terms of the total market capitalizations of the two countries’ “Top 100” companies, with a ratio of more than 13:1 in favor of the U.S.

These comparisons are just the warm-up. The real shock comes when you look at when each country’s “Top 100” companies were started.

The last time that France created a “Top 100” company was 100 years ago: Total Petroleum, in 1924. And, Total was founded at the initiative of the French government. The most recent private French venture in today’s global “Top 100” is L’Oreal, which was founded in 1909.

In contrast, one U.S. “Top 100” company (Facebook) was founded only 10 years ago. Another, Google, which was started in 1998 by two guys in a dorm room at StanfordUniversity, has a market cap approaching that of all 5 of France’s “Top 100” companies added together.

In the 90 years since Total was founded, the U.S. created 17 of its 44 “Top 100” companies, including 1 in the 2000s, 2 in the 1990s, 4 in the 1980s, and 4 in the 1970s.

The progressives want us to believe that high taxes don’t impact growth and innovation. Sure, Professor Piketty. Right. Uh-huh. …

… In believing in their own omniscience, progressive intellectuals fall into the trap described so brilliantly by George Gilder in his book, Knowledge and Power. They seek to intervene in systems that they do not, and inherently cannot, understand.

In the final analysis, progressivism is simply the time-release form of communism. This is fine with progressives like Piketty, because they truly believe that the only thing wrong with soviet communism was that it was run by Stalin, rather than by them. Give them another chance (starting with an 80% marginal income tax rate and a global wealth tax), and this time they will get it right.

July 4, 2016 – BREXIT (sort of)

Click on WORD or PDF for full content




In the future will Brits celebrate the Fourth of July on June 23rd?


Paul Meringoff of Power Line posts that the Brexit result is another example of White House cluelessness.

President Obama and his foreign policy team are perpetually surprised by the world. The rise of ISIS, the fall of Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood leader who succeeded him, the chaos in Libya, Putin’s aggression, Netanyahu’s reelection — all of these key developments (and others) wrong-footed the president and his advisers. You might almost think they don’t understand the world at all.

Brexit is the latest manifestation of Team Obama’s cluelessness. Once again, the president has been caught by surprise. Surely, that is why, as Walter Russell Mead recounts, Obama, though strongly favoring the “remain” cause, did nothing to advance it until at the last minute he “parachuted in, made a speech, and expected his charisma and wisdom to work miracles.”

Many believe that Obama’s speech, in which he tried to brow-beat the British into remaining in the EU, was counterproductive. In any event, it failed to carry the day. …

… Mead concludes:

[R]arely has a presidency seen so many things go so badly for the U.S. in foreign policy. Obama’s track record is not looking good: at the end of his watch, the Middle East, Europe, and East Asia are all in worse shape than when he entered office, relations with Russia and China are both worse, there are more refugees, more terrorists and more dangerous terrorist organizations.

Obama’s fiercest critics say that much of Obama’s foreign policy wreckage is the intended result of his policy. They are right, I think, to some degree.

But Obama didn’t want Brexit. Nor is it reasonable to suppose that he wanted a failed state in Libya, an ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq, and a Ukraine compromised by Russian aggression.

Obama’s foreign policy failures cannot be understood without reference to his incompetence and inability to understand the world as it is.



And this. Two weeks ago the president was spanked by 51 State Department career foreign service officers who dissent from his passivity in the Middle East. Of course, the media made little mention so we have a piece from Austin Bay in The Observer.

Dissenting State Department officials are demanding President Barack Obama wage war on the Assad dictatorship—which is a short step away from demanding regime change.

Late on June 16 The Wall Street Journal reported that the “near collapse” of the current ceasefire had spurred 51 “mid-to high-level State Department officers involved with advising on Syria policy” to sign a “dissent channel cable” calling on the Obama Administration to target Syria’s Assad regime with repeated “military strikes.”

At the moment, the article remains behind The Journal’s paywall, so I’ll include several extended quotes. Journal reporters who personally reviewed the cable described the document as “a scalding internal critique of a longstanding U.S. policy against taking sides in the Syrian war, a policy that has survived even though the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been repeatedly accused of violating cease-fire agreements and Russian-backed forces have attacked U.S.-trained rebels.”

The dissenters argue “Failure to stem Assad’s flagrant abuses will only bolster the ideological appeal of groups such as Daesh, even as they endure tactical setbacks on the battlefield.” …

… Obama’s Syrian chemical weapons red-line fiasco is a major factor in this mess. Obama had warned the Assad regime that using chemical weapons on civilians was a red-line—implying he would respond to chemical weapons employment with a punitive military attack. On August 21, 2013 a nerve gas attack by Assad regime forces killed approximately 1,500 Syrian civilians. In the aftermath Obama’s “red line” promise was exposed as a bombastic falsehood that sure sounded macho on CNN and MSNBC.

Obama “talked back” his warning. Red line? Here’s the White House transcript, so judge for yourself.

Oh heck, here it is, from August 20, 2012—a year and a day before the nerve gas attack

President Obama:

“…the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.

We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has made a judgment. Gates says Obama’s failure to respond was a “serious mistake” that damaged U.S. global credibility.

Did it ever. State Department pros agree. …


… During the George W. Bush Administration, when dissent was the highest form of patriotism, State’s Dissent Channel policy dissenters would instantly become 24-7 cable news channel heroes—you know, lionized public servants speaking truth to CheneyBusHitler power? The intense, relentless media attention would have translated a heavy intellectual blow into a heavy political blow. Restrained media treatment of State’s Syria dissent cable, however, softens the political impact of  its truly devastating intellectual and expert condemnation.

The Times report does note the Syrian civil war has killed 400,000 people. I think that tragic figure is highly credible.

For the Obama Administration, the 400,000 death toll is a moral challenge historians will not miss even if au courant media do. As I note in the Creators Syndicate column linked above (at “If we had a Republican president I’m rather certain we’d be hearing demands that the U.S. has a ‘responsibility to protect’ vulnerable civilians. The abbreviation for this policy is R2P. During the Bush Administration the Obama Administration’s current U.N. Ambassador, Samantha Power, was a vocal advocate of R2P. Now? Not so much. History will note the 400,000 Syrian dead died on her president’s watch.” …



David Harsanyi writes on the “radical Islam” kerfuffle.

After a meeting with the National Security Council to discuss the Orlando massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, Barack Obama was angry. He’s more impassioned than we’ve ever seen him. He was speaking from the heart. He’s lashing out! Because you know what really grinds his gears? Republicans.

“That’s the key, they say,” Obama said, eviscerating the GOP. “We can’t defeat them unless we call them radical Islamists. What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?”

A lot, actually.

As a matter of realpolitik, perhaps it makes sense to avoid the phrase “radical Islam.” We don’t want to offend the Mullahs, theocratic sheiks, oligarchic princes, Arab strongmen, and future junta leaders of the Middle East. We need to work with these people, after all. What should bother you, though, is that Obama constantly tries to chill speech by insinuating that anyone who does associate violence with radical Islam—which includes millions of adherents—is a bigot. This is a president who also intimates that anyone who is critical of everyday Islam’s widespread illiberalism—for example, all nations where homosexuality is punishable by death are Muslim—is also a bigot. …







Click on WORD or PDF for full content



One of the most damaging legacies of this distressing president will come from his assault on the police. Given an opportunity to address the disintegration of the country’s inner city life, he has instead exacerbated this disastrous dysfunction. And the trashing of police started from get go. Here he is opining on the Cambridge arrest controversy of Henry Lewis Gates in 2009; “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home, and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”  Heather Mac Donald reviews the record. 

There is no precedent for Barack Obama’s relentless attacks on the nation’s police officers and criminal-justice system. Simply put, the man twice elected to the country’s highest office routinely and repeatedly charges that cops and the courts are awash in systematic racial bias. “Too many young men of color,” the president told the Congressional Black Caucus in September 2014, “feel targeted by law enforcement, guilty of walking while black, or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness. We know that, statistically, in everything from enforcing drug policy to applying the death penalty to pulling people over, there are significant racial disparities.”

Addressing the nation in November 2014 at a moment of extreme racial tension, after a Missouri grand jury declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown, the president seized the opportunity to accuse the police of discrimination: “The law too often feels like it’s being applied in a discriminatory fashion….Communities of color aren’t just making these problems up….These are real issues. And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down.” …

… It is bad enough for a president to undercut the legitimacy of the police and the criminal-justice system. But the most galling aspect of President Obama’s crusade against law enforcement is that it rests on falsehood. …

… In March 2015, the Justice Department issued a 100-page report demolishing the Black Lives Matter narrative about the shooting of Michael Brown. That narrative held that Brown had been shot in cold blood by a racist police officer. After an exhaustive review of forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts, however, Justice concluded that Brown had assaulted Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and had tried to grab his gun—exactly as Wilson had maintained from the beginning. Wilson reasonably believed that he was facing a lethal threat, the Justice report found. Physical evidence demonstrated that Brown had not been shot in the back.

President Obama could have provided an enormous service to the nation had he embraced the Justice Department findings. Instead, he asserted that the Brown-Wilson encounter was still shrouded in mystery. “We may never know what happened,” Obama said during a town hall at South Carolina’s BenedictCollege on March 6, 2015. This claim is irresponsible and false. …

… When officers fail to receive political support, they will shy away from challenged forms of policing. At the present moment, pedestrian and car stops, as well as so-called Broken Windows policing (the enforcement of low-level public-order offenses), are most under attack and declining precipitously. This decline in enforcement is an understandable and predictable reaction to the vitriol that has been directed against the cops over the last year. Officers across the country tell disturbing stories of being pelted by rocks and water bottles when they try to make an arrest or conduct an investigation in urban areas.

The data are clear: At the same time police are pulling back from discretionary enforcement, violent crime is going up in major cities across the country, as FBI Director James Comey confirmed in an October address at the University of Chicago law school. According to FBI data, in the first six months of 2015, murder rose 45 percent in Baltimore, 58 percent in St. Louis, 50 percent in Oklahoma City, 50 percent in Tulsa, 27 percent in Dallas, 44 percent in Houston, 108 percent in Milwaukee, 51 percent in Louisville, 29 percent in New Orleans, and 12.3 percent in New York City, compared with the first six months of 2014. The Washington Post has found a nearly 17 percent increase in homicides in the 50 largest cities during all of 2015, compared with 2014—the greatest increase in lethal violence in a quarter century. Dozens of children, from Baltimore to Cincinnati to Cleveland, were struck by drive-by shootings in 2015. The bloodbath is continuing in 2016: 120 Chicagoans were shot in the first 10 days of the New Year, 19 of them fatally. …

… The victims of 2015’s violent-crime spike were overwhelmingly black and will continue to be so if policing remains under attack. Blacks gained the most from the crime drop over the last two decades, enjoying a newfound freedom to raise their children in relative safety. But as a result of Obama’s delegitimation of policing, urban-dwelling Americans are seeing their communities fall back into criminal squalor and their lives shrink again to the four walls of their homes. Their fundamental civil rights are at risk. Someone needs to speak for them even if their self-appointed leaders will not.




Kyle Smith has more on the administration’s disrespect for law-abiding citizens. 

It’s only May, but I think I’ve found the euphemism of the year: According to Team Obama, criminals should now be declared “justice-involved individuals.”

The neo-Orwellianism comes to us from the bizarre flurry of last-minute diktats, regulations and bone-chilling threats collectively known to fanboys as Obama’s Gorgeous Goodbye.

In another of those smiley-faced, but deeply sinister, “Dear Colleague” letters sent to universities and colleges this week, Obama’s Education Secretary John King discouraged colleges from asking applicants whether they were convicted criminals.

An accompanying pamphlet was called “Beyond the Box: Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice-Involved Individuals.”

So rapists, burglars, armed robbers and drug dealers aren’t criminals anymore. These folks are simply “involved” with “justice,” according to Obamanoids. …



From Front Page Magazine we learn how liberal policies have destroyed black families.

… The calamitous breakdown of the black family is a comparatively recent phenomenon, coinciding precisely with the rise of the welfare state. Throughout the epoch of slavery and into the early decades of the twentieth century, most black children grew up in two-parent households. Post-Civil War studies revealed that most black couples in their forties had been together for at least twenty years. In southern urban areas around 1880, nearly three-fourths of black households were husband- or father-present; in southern rural settings, the figure approached 86%. As of 1940, the illegitimacy rate among blacks nationwide was approximately 15%—scarcely one-fifth of the current figure. As late as 1950, black women were more likely to be married than white women, and only 9% of black families with children were headed by a single parent.

During the nine decades between the Emancipation Proclamation and the 1950s, the black family remained a strong, stable institution. Its cataclysmic destruction was subsequently set in motion by such policies as the anti-marriage incentives that were built into the welfare system. As GeorgeMasonUniversity professor Walter E. Williams puts it: “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.” Hoover Institution Fellow Thomas Sowell concurs: “The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”



Kevin Williamson turns our attention to the president’s economic legacy.

… What can we actually say about Obama administration policies? One is that the so-called stimulus underperformed on one front and failed on another. It may have provided some meaningful stimulus (economists debate the question still) at a cost — there always is a cost — that will remain unknown for the foreseeable future. What it did not do — we have the president’s own word on this — is dramatically improve public infrastructure. Indeed, every time the Democrats call for a dramatic new campaign of infrastructure investment, it is an implicit indictment of the failure of previous campaigns. The stimulus mainly operated as a covert bailout for badly governed Democratic cities and states. Recovery and reinvestment? Weak, at best.

The Affordable Care Act is a failure. Again, we have the Democrats’ own word on this, as they labor feverishly to keep its least-popular features (such as the taxes that pay for it!) from taking effect. In fact, Obama’s would-be successor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeks to partly dismantle Obamacare, repealing the so-called Cadillac tax that vexes her public-sector supporters, whose health-care plans are a great deal better than yours. The woefully misnamed Affordable Care Act hasn’t been a dramatic job-killer, but there is evidence (from the Congressional Budget Office and other sources) that it creates some headwinds against employment, undercutting the equivalent of 2 million full-time jobs. It hasn’t solved the problem of health-care inflation, and probably has made it worse, at a very high cost in terms of actual outlays and economic distortion. …



More details on the sorry economic legacy from Dan Mitchell.

Let’s take a look at President Obama’s economic legacy.

The Washington Examiner opines on President Obama’s remarkable claim that he saved the world economy.

President Obama…wants to be remembered for…[being]…the savior of the American and global economies. “There are things I’m proud of,” he said, citing Obamacare, then added, “Saving the world economy from a Great Depression, that was pretty good.”

Not so fast. Looking at the economy’s anemic numbers the editors are less than impressed.

Obama will end eight years in office without presiding over a thriving economy of the sort America enjoyed in the past. It also suggests that even the mediocre growth of recent years depended on high oil prices, which have collapsed by more than half. This is the bitter fruit of creationist economics, the erroneous belief that government activity can somehow conjure new wealth and value.

The Wall Street Journal is similarly dour about Obama’s economic legacy. …



Not content to bring our country close to ruin, the president went to Great Britain and interfered in the Brexit vote. Janet Daley of the UK Telegraph asks “why should we take advice from a president who has surrendered the world to chaos?”

The withdrawal of the US from world leadership – from being what Mr Obama’s people refer to disparagingly as “the world’s policeman” – has been one of the most dramatic developments on the international stage of the past eight years. 

Into the vacuum left by that withdrawal has stepped (or strode) Vladimir Putin, who can’t believe his luck. At just the moment when Russian national pride desperately needed a renaissance after the mortifying collapse of the Soviet Union and the infuriating rise of all those Lilliputian upstarts in the old Eastern Bloc, along comes a US president who announces in no uncertain terms that America wants to pull out of the global power game. Make no mistake, this began long before the funk over removing Assad in Syria – which Mr Obama has outrageously blamed on David Cameron’s failure to win a parliamentary vote – or the “leading from behind” fiasco in Libya, which Mr Obama also blames on Mr Cameron for having the audacity to think that the US might have been prepared to lead from the front. No, the Obama isolationist doctrine was there from the start: deliberate and consciously chosen.

It began in his first term as president when he visited Eastern Europe and gave a series of speeches to make the point: the countries that had once required America’s protection from a Soviet superpower were now emerging democracies and fledgling free-market success stories. They could take care of themselves militarily in future. The interceptor missiles that had been scheduled to arrive in Poland, courtesy of the US, would not be delivered. Although they had never been intended as any sort of threat against Moscow, Obama still allowed this move to be seen as part of his “reset” of relations with post-Soviet Russia. …

April 30, 2016

Click on WORD or PDF for full content




An HBO hit job on Clarence Thomas? Of course! We have here yet another biased outrage from the deep thinking bien pensants in Hollywood as they signal what they presume is their virtue. Noted liberal Stuart Taylor, who covered the hearings provides some facts.

… As a reporter who covered the at times stomach-churning hearings, I wondered how “Confirmation” would handle a story that ultimately boiled down, as the saying goes, to one of he said-she said—he denied all and stunned the senators by accusing them of staging a “high-tech lynching.” She said he pestered her for dates and subjected her to disgusting, sexually charged conversation.

Despite a surface appearance of fairness, “Confirmation” makes clear how it wants the hearings to be remembered: Ms. Hill told the whole truth and Mr. Thomas was thus a desperate, if compelling, liar. Her supporters were noble; his Republican backers were scheming character assassins.

This is consistent with how the media conveyed the story at the time and, especially, in the years hence. Yet immediately after millions of people witnessed the hours of televised testimony, polls showed that Americans by a margin of more than 2 to 1 found Judge Thomas more believable than Ms. Hill. Viewers of “Confirmation” were deprived of several aspects of the story that might have made them, too, skeptical of Ms. Hill. The most-salient of many examples:

The movie ignores Ms. Hill’s failure to mention either in her initial written statement to the Judiciary Committee or in her FBI interview some of the most shocking charges about Mr. Thomas’s behavior that she added in testimony three weeks later. Worse, when asked about these omissions, Ms. Hill claimed that the FBI agents had told her that she need not “discuss things that were too embarrassing.” Both agents flatly contradicted this.

“Confirmation” also doesn’t mention …



Columnist Star Parker, herself a black woman, has more in a column titled The Liberal War on Black Men. 

… Instead of the entertainment industry choosing to make a film about Thomas’s remarkable life and achievements, HBO has now delivered to us “Confirmation,” which dumps into the living rooms of Americans all the garbage of those hearings, breathing new life into the liberal campaign to undermine and destroy the credibility of a brilliant, conservative jurist who happens to be black.


It might be conceivable that HBO would choose to produce a feature to memorialize those hearings if any of Hill’s allegations against Thomas were even partially substantiated. But none were. So, where is the news here? Where is the history here? Particularly, given the enormous personal cost that Thomas was forced to pay by giving public airing of Hill’s unsubstantiated crude allegations, why would HBO choose to drag him, and the American public, through this again? What does this say about the “entertainment” business and about HBO? …

… And, maybe most importantly, the feature ignores the fact that in the numerous senior management positions that Thomas held in his career, no one who worked for Thomas ever stepped forth to give credibility to Hill.

Clarence Thomas should be a role model for young black men. But advancing human liberty and dignity is not the priority for liberals. Their priority is advancing their left wing agenda and using blacks as a tool to do it.

Ongoing liberal attacks on conservative values, and perpetuation of stereotypes of black men as sexual predators, that the HBO production plays into in order to undermine Clarence Thomas, worsens the crisis among young black men that liberals pretend to care about. Programs, such as President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program, launched to address the crisis among black men, will go nowhere as long as this continues.

Recently, there was consternation in some black circles about underrepresentation of black talent in the Oscar nominations. Perhaps blacks should be more concerned about the ongoing war on black men and entertainment industry exploitation and perpetuation of destructive black stereotypes.



Victor Davis Hanson exposes the “air-brushing” Stalinists in the administration.

Last week, French president Francois Hollande met President Obama in Washington to discuss joint strategies for stopping the sort of radical Islamic terrorists who have killed dozens of innocents in Brussels, Paris, and San Bernardino in recent months. Hollande at one point explicitly referred to the violence as “Islamist terrorism.”

The White House initially deleted that phrase from the audio translation of the official video of the Hollande-Obama meeting, only to restore it when questioned. Did the Obama administration assume that if the public could not hear the translation of the French president saying “Islamist terrorism,” then perhaps Hollande did not really say it — and therefore perhaps Islamist terrorism does not really exist?

The Obama administration must be aware that in the 1930s, the Soviet Union wiped clean all photos, recordings, and films of Leon Trotsky on orders from Josef Stalin. Trotsky was deemed politically incorrect, and therefore his thoughts and photos simply vanished.

The Library of Congress, under pressure from DartmouthCollege students, recently banned not just the term “illegal alien” in subject headings for literature about immigration, but “alien” as well. Will changing the vocabulary mean that from now on, foreign nationals who choose to enter and reside in the United States without being naturalized will not be in violation of the law and will no longer be considered citizens of their homeland?

Did the Library of Congress ever read the work of the Greek historian Thucydides, who warned some 2,500 years ago that in times of social upheaval, partisans would make words “change their ordinary meaning and . . . take that which was now given them.” …



Egads! John Kerry went to Hiroshima. David Harsanyi comments.

When John Kerry toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum this week before meeting foreign ministers at the G-7 Summit, Reuters reports that he had witnessed “haunting displays [of] photographs of badly burned victims, the tattered and stained clothes they wore and statues depicting them with flesh melting from their limbs.”

“It is a stunning display. It is a gut-wrenching display,” explained Kerry. “It is a reminder of the depth of the obligation every one of us in public life carries … to create and pursue a world free from nuclear weapons.”

Iran exempted, of course.

But, really, is this the lesson of Hiroshima? That those in public life have an obligation to do away with nuclear weapons? A lot of people might argue that existence of those weapons have saved lives from broader world conflicts and conventional warfare. That includes ending the Second World War sooner.

Yesterday, The Washington Post dutifully reported that, “In Hiroshima, Kerry won’t apologize for atomic bombs dropped on Japan.” Technically, he didn’t. What we witnessed was one of the administration’s inverted non-apology apologies.

Barack Obama will also travel to Japan next month for the G-7. There’s a lot of speculation he will visit Hiroshima and offer some sort of apology. (If we’re to believe WikiLeaks, U.S. officials have been toying with the idea of having Obama say sorry for Hiroshima for a while now. And it comports well with his history.)

It would not be a great leap for Obama. …







Click on WORD or PDF for full content



Our last issue on the prez missed a great post from Craig Pirrong at Streetwise Professor. Pickings has a weakness for items that treat Dilettante with the contempt he has earned. And then more on the Brussels/Cuba juxtaposition kept appearing in the mailbox.

The latest terrorist atrocity, this time in Brussels, proves yet again that Europe is infested with dens of vipers, which it is largely powerless to control. Perhaps this should be expected in a country like Belgium, which cannot execute raids between the hours of 10 PM and 5 AM, and must ring the doorbell when they do.

Obama’s reaction to these appalling events was appalling in its own way. The most peevish president was obviously immensely annoyed that ugly reality intruded on his Cuban victory lap/holiday. He grudgingly spared a grand total of 51 seconds to address the subject during a scheduled speech in Havana. He then proceeded to take in a baseball game, during which he did the wave with his new besty Raul Castro.

Obama’s remarks, such as they were, displayed his impatience with and indifference to the issue of terrorism. It consisted of the standard bromides, including the old standby of a promise to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

Um. The perpetrators were suicide bombers. They blew themselves up. They are quite clearly well beyond the reach of human justice.

When pressed on the issue today in Argentina, Obama responded with his by now familiar petulance and irritation at the topic.  He has a lot on his plate, he said, by way of rationalizing not giving the matter more attention. Further, in a reprise of another well-worn theme, Obama stated that terrorism is not an existential threat to the US.

This is Obama’s typical false choice/straw man rhetoric in action. …

More from Pirrong’s post with a focus on the Cuba visit.

… Further, Obama said that Cuba had things to teach the US about human rights (!), specifically citing universal health care. Where to begin? Identifying health care as a human right is typically progressive, but leave that aside for the moment. Cuba’s “universal health care” is a sick joke. The elite gets far better treatment than the vast majority of Cubans, who universally get crappy medical treatment: they are equal in the primitiveness of the treatment they get.

The low point in the visit was a photo op in front of the Cuban Interior Ministry, complete with a huge portrait of mass murdering, racist Che looming in the background. Given the meticulous planning that goes into presidential visits, this had to be deliberate: leftist trolling at its worst.

The boycott of Cuba is an anachronism. It is justifiable to jettison it, and to restore relations with Cuba. But that does not require doing what Obama did: validating, and arguably celebrating, a vicious, oppressive regime, while insulting and apologizing for the country that did him the honor of electing him president twice.




More on the president from Charles Krauthammer.

… Obama came into office believing that we had vastly exaggerated the threat of terrorism and allowed it to pervert both our values and our foreign policy. He declared a unilateral end to the global war on terror and has downplayed the threat ever since. He frequently reminds aides, reports Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, that more Americans die annually of bathtub accidents.

It’s now been seven years. The real world has stubbornly refused to accommodate Obama’s pacific dreams. The Islamic State has grown from JV team to worldwide threat, operating from Libya to Afghanistan, Sinai to Belgium. It is well into the infiltration phase of its European campaign, with 500 trained and hardened cadres in place among the estimated 5,000 jihadists returned from the Middle East. The increasing tempo and sophistication of its operations suggest that it may be poised for a continent-wide guerrilla campaign.

In the face of this, Obama remains inert, unmoved, displaying a neglect and insouciance that borders on denial. His nonreaction to the Belgian massacre — his 34-minute speech in Havana devoted 51 seconds to Brussels — left the world as stunned as it was after the Paris massacre, when Obama did nothing. Worse, at his now notorious November news conference in Turkey, his only show of passion regarding Paris was to berate Islamophobes.

David Axelrod called Obama’s response “tone-deaf.” But that misses the point. This is more than a mere mistake of presentation. Remember his reaction to the beheading of the American journalist James Foley? Obama made a statement expressing his sympathies — and then jumped onto his golf cart for a round of 18. …



Mike Gonzalez, in The Federalist, writes on the good, bad, ugly, and truly evil of the Cuba trip. 

The Good

Even strong critics of President Obama’s visit, like me, readily admit it was good for him to say—in a speech televised to the Cuban people, with dictator Raul Castro in attendance—that all people, even the wretched souls who live under communism, have rights. …

The Bad

President Obama’s visit has legitimized Castro’s illegitimate rule, and will help him perpetuate his family’s future grip on power. This is of much more importance than Obama’s words, and something for which the neither the president nor his foreign policy Svengali, deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, have an answer.

Even if Obama’s speech galvanizes some brave Cubans to demand their rights, the Castro Pretorian guard will crush them with impunity. …

The Ugly

This section could take thousands of words. There’s so much from which to pick, from Obama’s incessant caveats in his speech (“Let me tell you what I believe. I can’t force you to agree…”) to his egregious comparison of the American Revolution to the Cuban one. But by far the ugliest was his gratuitous appearance with Raul at a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Cuba’s national team.

Here was the president, along with his entire family (even granny!) enjoying himself next to the man who has aided and abetted anti-Americanism worldwide, who represses his people, who continues to give sanctuary to U.S. fugitives, even cop killers, and who harbors terrorists—all on the day that our ally, Belgium, suffered a devastating terrorist attack and the whole alliance looked in vain for leadership from the leader of the free world.

We learned later through the British news agency Reuters that Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Colombian terrorist group FARC (designated as a terrorist group by Obama’s own State Department), was also at the game, along with 40 other terrorists. …

The Pure Evil

This one is easy. When Castro told an American newsman there were no political prisoners in Cuba, he was taking malevolence to a new pitch of darkness. The ever-helpful Rhodes explained what Castro meant at a press conference in Havana Monday evening: “It’s their belief that they are not political prisoners, that they are in prison for various crimes and offenses against Cuban law.”

Thanks, Ben. You must be very proud.



Matthew Continetti says we actually have a Secretary General In Chief. 

… Rarely has Obama’s attitude toward terrorism been brought into such stark relief. Why does he respond so perfunctorily, so coolly, so stoically to the mayhem? Not because he lacks sympathy. Because he believes his job is to restrain America from overreaction, from hubris, from our worst instincts of imperialism and oppression.

Yes, the thinking goes, ISIS and al Qaeda are threats to be fought, contained, defeated. But the greater threat, in Obama’s view, is that Americans may become scared, afraid, disrupted, divided. We might invade Iraq again, or cut off immigration and trade, or discriminate against the Muslim minority. That is the real danger against which this president stands. Terrorism will burn itself out. The problem of American maximalism remains.

This is not the sort of thing you expect to hear from an American president. It’s what you expect from a secretary general of the United Nations, from the president of the European Commission, from the foreign ministry of France circa 2002. It’s the worldview of the international NGO, of the multilateral bureaucrat: Terrorism? We can manage. But the U.S. hyper-power? We’ve got to put a lid on this problem, stat.

Liberal internationalists have agonized over the wanton use of our power for years. The treaties and institutions they support are brakes on American unilateralism. They bind America’s freedom of action. “It was the Gulliver effect,” wrote Charles Krauthammer in “Democratic Realism.” “Call a committee meeting of countries with hostile or contrary interests—i.e., the U.N. Security Council—and you have guaranteed yourself another 12 years of inaction.”

What makes Obama unique is not that he subscribes to the multilateral worldview but that he applies it to the American people themselves. He seeks not only to constrain the American military but also the American citizenry, to tamp down our anger and worry and frustration, replace our false consciousness with consciousness-raising, check the emotional and hawkish impulses of a media-addled people. He’s the Ban Ki-moon of the Potomac. …




Glenn Reynolds columns on Bill Clinton’s accidental remark about “the awful legacy of the last eight years.” 

Monday night in Spokane, Wash., former President Bill Clinton praised his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, by contrasting her to what he called “the awful legacy of the last eight years” under President Obama.

Although a Clinton spokesperson has since walked back Bill’s apparent gaffe, that couldn’t have gone over well at the White House — or, at any rate, at the mansion in Cuba where President Obama was staying just then — but Clinton was right. Barack Obama has left an awful legacy, and the next president, whoever it is, will have a lot to deal with. Fortunately, the next president — whether it’s Hillary, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, or even Bernie Sanders — will probably be a better president.

For one example of Obama’s “awful legacy,” we need look no further than the terror attacks this week in Brussels. These attacks, which killed dozens and injured close to 200, were perpetrated by the Islamic State, the group that Obama once disparagingly called a “jayvee team.”

Well, for a jayvee team, they’ve done a lot of damage, in the Middle East and beyond, and it’s in large part because of Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq, which fulfilled a political promise, but which had the effect of squandering a decade of blood and treasure, and costing many thousands of lives.

As late as 2010, things were going sufficiently well in Iraq that the Obama Administration was bragging about what a huge success they had going there. But in his 2008 campaign, Obama had promised to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq, and so it was essential that he do so before 2012, or his antiwar supporters would complain. So Obama pulled out. And that was a mistake. …



“Beware of false knowledge,” said George Bernard Shaw, “It is more dangerous than ignorance.” A good illustration is prez’s remark there is little difference between communism and capitalism. InfoWars has the story. 

President Obama has stoked controversy after he suggested to an audience of Argentinian youth that there was no great difference between communism and capitalism and that they should just “choose from what works”.

Obama responded to a question about nonprofit community organizations and the necessity of attracting funding from both the public and private sectors.

“So often in the past there has been a division between left and right, between capitalists and communists or socialists, and especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate,” Obama said.

“Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works. You don’t have to worry about whether it really fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory. You should just decide what works,” he added. …



Thomas Sowell points out what is insidious about fascism.

It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.” He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.

What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.

Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.

Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.

Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be blamed on the “greed” of the insurance companies. …



We’ll close where we started with Craig Pirrong who posts on the “do what works” nostrum.

… The criticism here should be directed at his vapidity and superficiality and question begging. By what criteria are the things that “work” to be determined? How do liberty, individual autonomy, and reliance on coercion and repression come into play when evaluating what works?

Further, real world decisions always involve trade-offs. Works-Doesn’t Work is binary: trade offs aren’t.

Obama also apparently believes that it is possible to design policies without a theoretical framework. Hayek was closer to the truth when he said without theory the facts are silent. Theories are about causal mechanisms, and policies are all about manipulating cause to achieve particular effects. You can’t make a reasonable evaluation ex ante of what policies will “work” (based on your objective function) without some theoretical framework. Further, those who don’t think deeply about cause and effect when designing policies inevitably unleash unintended consequences that are usually more baleful than beneficial. …


Click on WORD or PDF for full content



We haven’t visited with President Dilettante for a few weeks. We’ll start with Kate Banlon’s post on how he screwed up Egypt policy. Featured here is an interview with Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense, who claims the president went against the advice of the “entire national security team” during the Egyptian coup that ousted Hosni Mubarak. Once this administration is out of power we can expect more of this in a coming ”year of the long knives” as we will learn much more about this administration’s foreign policy mistakes.  

In a preview clip of a Fox News special called “Rising Threats — Shrinking Military,” former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Bret Baier that the president went against the advice of the “entire national security team” during the Egyptian coup that ousted the country’s president, Hosni Mubarak, in 2013.

According to Gates, Obama called for Mubarak’s immediate removal despite his national security team urging him to be cautious.

“Literally, the entire national security team recommended unanimously handling Mubarak differently than we did,” Gates said. “And the president took the advice of three junior backbenchers in terms of how to treat Mubarak. …



Along this line, we have a USA Today article about a Bill Clinton speech knocking obama’s “awful legacy.”

Former President Bill Clinton, stumping on behalf of his wife in Washington state on Monday, urged people to vote for Hillary Clinton “if you believe we’ve finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us.”

It was not initially clear if it was an unintended gaffe or something he meant to say, but it didn’t take long for Republicans to seize on it and post the clip to YouTube. Here’s the full quote: …



How does he always manage to get it wrong? Matthew Continetti has an answer.

Russia announces the withdrawal of its forces from Syria. The decision is a surprise—President Obama is shocked. This is a feeling he experiences often.

He was astonished when Vladimir Putin intervened in the Syrian conflict in 2015. He was startled when ISIS conquered a fair portion of Mesopotamia in 2014. He was jarred when Putin invaded Crimea, and launched a proxy war in eastern Ukraine that same year. Rogue states pursue policies contrary to what Obama the Wise sees as their self-interest, and the presidential response never varies. He is stunned. He is saddened. He is sanguine.

Bewilderment happens when reality dispels illusions. I used to think President Obama’s illusions were simply the product of his ideology, of his faith in the universality of human reason, in the idea of historical progress, of his ambivalence toward American power. But after reading Jeffrey Goldberg’s epic, absorbing, revealing interview with the president in The Atlantic, I have come to a different conclusion. It’s not just ideology that drives Obama’s cluelessness. It’s narcissism. …

… His international background, son of a Kenyan and a Kansan, who spent time in Indonesia and Pakistan, is why Obama declared himself a “citizen of the world” in his 2008 Berlin speech. And his personal familiarity with Islam inspired him to deliver the Cairo speech in 2009, when as Goldberg puts it, “he spoke about Muslims in his own family, and his childhood years in Indonesia, and confessed America’s sins even as he criticized those in the Muslim world who demonized the U.S.”

Seven years later, the Greater Middle East that Obama sought to reshape by his mere appearance and oratory is a dumpster fire. State collapse, sectarian war, slavery, crucifixion, beheadings, chemical warfare, genocide characterize the region. The foreign leader who has most consistently outwitted him, Vladimir Putin, enjoys free rein in Eastern Europe and Syria. And the region of the world to which Obama hoped to “pivot”—here too for partly biographical reasons—is engulfed in a deepening territorial dispute between China and the nations it bullies.

Confidence is one thing. But Obama is more than confident. He’s narcissistic. He looks at the world and sees nothing but his reflection: rational, cool, unmoved, and always right. When reality surprises him, it’s not because he’s in error. It’s because Putin or Assad or the mullahs have failed to live up to the standards he’s set for them. Forget about them being true to themselves. They’re not being true to Barack Obama. And Barack Obama, lest we forget, is all that matters.



More like that from Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post as she reviews all his disasters.

… As an intelligent man, as the consequences of these four policy lines began smacking him in the face, Obama could have been expected to change course. George W. Bush for instance changed his foreign policy stance from one of sparing internationalism before September 11 to democratic interventionism in its aftermath. And when his democratic interventionism failed in Iraq, he abandoned it in favor of a more traditional realist approach.

Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were also quick to change their policies when they were faced with evidence they had failed. Ronald Reagan changed his policy for bringing down the Soviet Union from one of confrontation to one based on cooperation when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power.

In other words, unlike his recent predecessors Obama has never shifted gears. He has never found fault with his judgment. He has never revisited a decision.

It is easy to chalk this up to arrogance. Obama is certainly one of the most arrogant leaders the US has ever had – if not the most arrogant president in US history. But given his intelligence, it is hard to escape the impression that Obama’s epic arrogance, which makes it impossible for him to admit failure, is just as much of a style preference as a character trait. That is, arrogance, like coolness and “Spockian” rationalism, is an attitude that he has adopted on purpose.

What that purpose may be is indicated by the consistent strands of his foreign policy. Obama’s belief in America’s moral turpitude, his eagerness to trample US credibility, reject traditional US policy goals; his refusal to see the dangers inherent in his radical policies or acknowledge their failures let alone accept responsibility for their failures, and his trampling of US allies while appeasing its enemies all point to Obama’s true doctrine.




Disasters cling to him everywhere. Babalu Blog reports on 200 Cuban dissidents rounded up the day before his visit.

Cuba’s apartheid Castro dictatorship continues to enjoy the empowerment and impunity that Obama’s Hope and Change Cuba policy has so generously bestowed upon them. Lacking any concern or fear of reprisals from the White House, Cuban State Security hunted down and arrested more than 200 peaceful dissidents on the day before Obama’s arrival to the island.

In a normal world with a normal American president, vile and heinous actions such as these would bring serious consequences to Cuba’s repressive regime. But this is neither a normal world nor do we have a normal president. Obama will continue with his “fun” trip to apartheid Cuba, comply with the demands of his dictatorial hosts, and the best anyone can hope for is a vague reference to human rights conveyed in a few mumbled and incoherent words that no doubt will also be delivered with a qualifier that the U.S. has a human rights problem as well. …



Then we learn from the Weekly Standard he thinks he has the world’s largest carbon footprint. Someone will have to tell President Narcissist it is the American presidency that has the large footprint. He just happens to be the current occupant.

President Obama once “ruefully” admitted to staff that he personally is the planet’s largest source of carbon emissions, according to an anecdote published in The Atlantic.

The brief aside was mentioned by author Jeffrey Goldberg in a passage about the burden of Obama’s worldwide travel arrangements. …



Not to be outdone in imperial trappings, Free Beacon reports one Joe Biden night in Mexico City for him and his staff ran up hotel bills of $538,528.

Vice President Joe Biden’s hotel tab for his recent one-night stay in Mexico City cost taxpayers more than $500,000.

Biden, who attended an annual economic summit with Mexican leaders, stayed at the luxury Intercontinental Presidente Hotel. Biden led a delegation attending the summit that included Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The trip called for 260 hotel rooms and meeting spaces, according to a State Department contract. The total hotel tab was $538,528.65. …



Turning our attention to the president’s Mid-East debacles, Glenn Reynolds, law prof, has a powerful prescient perceptive post on the failures of President Che’s Iraq bugout. Prescient because it proceeded by one day ISIS attacks in Belgium. Follow the link to be treated to Joe Biden claiming Iraq to be one of the great successes of this administration and a whole series of Democrats claiming Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Without much fanfare, Obama has dramatically reversed his Iraq policy — sending thousands of troops back in the country after he declared the war over, engaging in ground combat despite initially promising that his strategy “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Well, they’re on foreign soil, and they’re fighting.

It would have been easier — and would have cost far fewer lives — if we had just stayed. But Obama had to have a campaign issue.

And I suppose I should repeat my Iraq War history lesson: Things were going so well as late as 2010 that the Obama Administration was bragging about Iraq as one of its big foreign policy successes. …



When the Tea Party showed up lots of people were critical and dismissive. People like obama cheerleader David Brooks. Glenn Reynolds, in his USA Today column says Brooks is getting the Trump he deserves.

.. In San Francisco, too, tea party protesters met pro-Obama activists and picked up their trash. “John,” author of The City Square blog wrote: “As Obama supporters moved along in the line to get into the fundraiser, they left behind an impressive amount of trash … Tea Partiers shouted ‘pick up your garbage’ and ‘this is San Francisco, what about recycling?’ There was no response. They chanted ‘Obama leaves a mess.’ Still no response. Eventually, a tea partier (wearing the black cowboy hat) crosses over and starts to pick up the trash on his own. Other tea partiers join him. Another manages to find a trash bag. Soon the trash is being collected.”

Yet the tea party movement was smeared as racistdenounced as fascist, harassed with impunity by the IRS and generally treated with contempt by the political establishment — and by pundits like Brooks, who declared “I’m not a fan of this movement.” After handing the GOP big legislative victories in 2010 and 2014, it was largely betrayed by the Republicans in Congress, who broke their promises to shrink government and block Obama’s initiatives.

So now we have Trump instead, who tells people to punch counterprotesters instead of picking up their trash.

When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly. Brooks closes his Trump column with Psalm 73, but a more appropriate verse is Hosea 8:7 ”For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Trump’s ascendance is a symptom of a colossal failure among America’s political leaders, of which Brooks’ mean-spirited insularity is only a tiny part. …



Charles Krauthammer compares and contrasts Belgium and Cuba in a NewsBusters post.

Fox News contributor, frequent Special Report panelist, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer was given his own segment on Tuesday night’s Fox News Channel (FNC) show in light of the Islamic terror attacks in Brussels and he used his airtime to berate President Obama for his “ideological holiday trip” to communist Cuba “while the world burns.”

Further, he chalked the President’s Cuba trip in light of the Brussels attacks to the latest illustration of the disconnect between “the real world” and Obama’s “fantasy world he inhabits where Cuba is of some geopolitical significance.”

Host Bret Baier brought Krauthammer on just after the 6:14 p.m. Eastern mark and he first mentioned that the President devoted only “51 seconds of his speech today in Havana” to the horrifying events hours later across the Atlantic. 

During that speech, Krauthammer opined that “the whole story of his presidency and its foreign policy was seen in the split-screen” with “video footage of the attack in Belgium” that marked “the real world” on one end with “Obama in the fantasy world he inhabits where Cuba is of some geopolitical significance” at the other. …



Rich Lowry writes on the president’s Che moment. 

President Barack Obama inadvertently found the perfect photo-op for his Cuba visit at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana.

A news photo at Revolution Square caught Obama standing together with American and Cuban officials, with an enormous mural of the iconic revolutionary Che Guevara looming over his shoulder on the adjacent Ministry of the Interior building.

Che is, of course, ubiquitous on dorm-room walls and T-shirts in the United States, and a hero of the Cuban revolution. He also was a coldblooded killer who set up the Cuban gulag and presided over summary executions of political prisoners (trials were, per Che, “an archaic bourgeois detail”). No doubt, he would have been astonished at the Yanqui president coming to Revolution Square to pay his respects — and exceedingly pleased.

President Obama’s trip is self-consciously historic. As the president’s introducer at an event at the U.S. Embassy put it, Obama often said, “Yes, we can,” and now we can say, “Yes, we did.”

But did what? The trip ensures that the first visit to Cuba by an American president in almost 90 years will be part of Obama’s legacy, and seeks to make his opening to Cuba, announced in December 2014, irreversible. If that means extending credibility and a financial lifeline to a Castro regime that has no intention of reforming, so be it.

The regime made it clear that it wouldn’t bother with maintaining a pretense of relaxing its grip with the arrest of protesters at a march of the dissident group Ladies in White while President Obama was en route to the country. A reporter with a government news outlet told The New York Times that he and colleagues had been warned not even to discuss Obama’s visit with friends. …