February 19, 2015

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The Examiner’s Tim Carney posts on a New Yorker article on Libya’s chaos.

President Obama attacked Libya in 2011 without congressional authority, and then shirked any responsibility to help stabilize the country after deposing its dictator.

By 2013, Libya had become a chaotic hellhole mired in a permanent war. Today it is a new beachhead and recruiting ground for the Islamic State.

Obama’s illegal, ill-considered, and immoral drive-by war in Libya ought to be a permanent stain on his presidency. The recent video of masked ISIS killers beheading 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya deserves to be the emblem of this president’s rash foreign policy.

“There is no overstating the chaos of post-Qaddafi Libya,” writes veteran war journalist Jon Lee Anderson in the New Yorker. “Two competing governments claim legitimacy. Armed militias roam the streets. The electricity is frequently out of service, and most business is at a standstill….”

Wars in Libya in the past year alone have taken about as many lives as 9/11 did. Those who can get out flee. Anderson reports that “nearly a third of the country’s population has fled across the border to Tunisia.”

The militants of the Islamic State are actually late arrivals to the “scumbag Woodstock” Libya has become, in the words a military contractor quoted by Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake. …

… At every stage, though, the administration behaved shamefully. Obama never tried to persuade Americans his war was just. He never sought the congressional action that would have made his war — sorry, his “kinetic military action” — legal. At one point, administration officials even floated the idea that they could frustrate the intent of the 1973 War Powers Resolution and its 60-day limit on unauthorized wars by momentarily stopping and then immediately restarting U.S. involvement. Obama never told the truth, perhaps for fear it would make his war more unpopular. And he never made the commitment to staying and rebuilding that could have made his war a success.

For some reason, Obama’s Libya war has received scant attention, both from his critics and from media commentators assessing his presidency. The people of Libya and surrounding countries, however, don’t have the luxury of ignoring the consequences.

 

 

The left media can no longer ignore the administration’s foreign policy failures and follies. Even The New Yorker can’t continue to look away. Tim Carney’s above article posted on a New Yorker piece. Here that is. It is organized around the story of Gen. Khalifa Haftar who left his 20 year home in Northern Virginia to lead one of the factions fighting in Libya. This is 7,000 words. Sorry about that, but at least this is the last posting for the week.

Early last year, General Khalifa Haftar left his home in northern Virginia—where he had spent most of the previous two decades, at least some of that time working with the Central Intelligence Agency—and returned to Tripoli to fight his latest war for control of Libya. Haftar, who is a mild-looking man in his early seventies, has fought with and against nearly every significant faction in the country’s conflicts, leading to a reputation for unrivalled military experience and for a highly flexible sense of personal allegiance. In the Green Mountains, the country’s traditional hideout for rebels and insurgents, he established a military headquarters, inside an old airbase surrounded by red-earth farmland and groves of hazelnut and olive trees. Haftar’s force, which he calls the Libyan National Army, has taken much of the eastern half of the country, in an offensive known as Operation Dignity. Most of the remainder, including the capital city of Tripoli, is held by Libya Dawn, a loose coalition of militias, many of them working in a tactical alliance with Islamist extremists. Much as General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has boasted of doing in Egypt, General Haftar proposes to destroy the Islamist forces and bring peace and stability—enforced by his own army. …

… There is no overstating the chaos of post-Qaddafi Libya. Two competing governments claim legitimacy. Armed militias roam the streets. The electricity is frequently out of service, and most business is at a standstill; revenues from oil, the country’s greatest asset, have dwindled by more than ninety per cent. Some three thousand people have been killed by fighting in the past year, and nearly a third of the country’s population has fled across the border to Tunisia. What has followed the downfall of a tyrant—a downfall encouraged by NATO air strikes—is the tyranny of a dangerous and pervasive instability. …

… Libyans gradually learned to navigate the violence. A young Tripoli businessman who asked to be called Mohamed told me of getting a call last July, telling him that two militias were fighting on the road to the airport. “The morning it started, my partner tried to drive to our office and got turned back,” he said. Mohamed headed to the office anyway; their employees’ payroll money was held in a safe there, and he wanted to retrieve it before it was destroyed or looted. “There were literally bullets flying right overhead,” he said. He managed to get the money and leave the city, negotiating the militia roadblocks using a credential that a highly placed friend had given him. “All along the airport road, there were no-go zones, with separate battles going on, and both sides ransacking people’s houses.”

With the fighting in Tripoli, two opposing armies took shape. The group aligned against Haftar, Libya Dawn, is an uneasy coalition; it includes former Al Qaeda jihadists who fought against Qaddafi in the nineties, Berber ethnic militias, members of Libya’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a network of conservative merchants from Misrata, whose fighters make up the largest block of Libya Dawn’s forces. Haftar’s army is composed mainly of Qaddafi-era soldiers and federalists seeking greater autonomy for the eastern region of Cyrenaica, mixed with tribal fighters from the west and the south. …

… The regional implications of Libya’s breakdown are vast. The southern desert offers unguarded crossings into Algeria, Niger, Chad, and Sudan, where armed bands—including human traffickers and jihadists from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb—roam freely in four-wheel-drive convoys. Huge numbers of migrants, mostly Africans but also some Middle Easterners, are being smuggled through Libya. At the Mediterranean coast, they are placed in overcrowded boats and pointed toward Italy, where the fortunate ones are picked up by the coast guard or by passing cargo ships. Last year, the number of migrants reaching Italy in this fashion rose to a hundred and seventy thousand; more than three thousand are believed to have drowned at sea. In early February, another three hundred died.

Libya has long been an isolated and constricted place, and the revolution has done little to change that. Since July, Tripoli’s only functioning airport has been Mitiga, a former U.S. airbase that Qaddafi took over in 1970. Then Haftar’s bombers struck Mitiga, and for a time there were no flights there, either.

Many of the young Libyans I met during the revolution are now in Tunisia, Egypt, Bulgaria, London—anywhere but Libya. The exiles who came back to build a new country have largely left. The people who have remained are those who can’t get out, and they mostly stay close to home. In any case, there’s little to do. Many shops are closed during the day, opening for a few hours after evening prayers; there are no women to be seen on the streets. There are sporadic bursts of gunfire and explosions, and it is impossible to tell whether someone is being shot or someone is cleaning a gun on a rooftop. Nobody asks; Libyans have become inured to war, and, in any case, decades of secret-police surveillance have conditioned them not to inquire into the causes of violence. …

… Benjamin Rhodes, the deputy national-security adviser and a close confidant of Obama’s, acknowledged that Libya’s situation was grim. “Getting the technocrats and the guys with the guns on the same page has been very difficult,” he said. “The first task is to get them in conversation where they can receive help from us. We’re doing this through a U.N. initiative, plus some quiet diplomacy behind the scenes.” He noted that there has also been occasional military action. Last June, Delta Force operatives abducted Ahmed Abu Khattala, an Ansar member who is suspected of leading the attack that killed Ambassador Stevens. Khattala is now awaiting trial in the U.S. “The trick is for us to help people get back to the point where the Libyans can achieve what their revolution was about in the first place,” Rhodes said. “But it’s probably not going to happen on Washington’s timeline.”

Rhodes was one of the aides who, along with Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power, helped persuade Obama to join the intervention. In spite of the chaos that followed, he stands by that decision. “We saved a lot of lives in Benghazi and the rest of the country,” he said. “If Qaddafi had gone into Benghazi, I think Libya would look more like Syria today.” He added, “What did we do wrong? Even the President would acknowledge that it’s been extremely difficult to fill the vacuum in Libya. We were keen for the Libyans to take the lead. Everyone knows the dangers of a completely U.S.-owned postwar environment. We might have used a heavier hand, but there’s no guarantee it would have made a difference.” …

 

 

First the New Yorker, and from Power Line we learn the Brookings Institution can’t avoid the trainwreck.

… The center-liberal Brookings Institution reported last week on the range of surveys of presidential experts (mostly liberals one can safely assume) who rank Obama as no more than middling. But Brookings decided to do their own survey of academic political scientists, and some of it is rather brutal for The One:

“First, President Obama ranks 18th overall, but beneath the surface of the aggregate figures lurks evidence of significant ambivalence. For example, those who view Obama as one of the worst American presidents outnumber those who view him as one of the best by nearly a 3-1 margin. Similarly, nearly twice as many respondents view Obama as over-rated than do those who consider him under-rated. One area where there is significant expert consensus about the president, however, concerns how polarizing he is viewed as being – only George W. Bush was viewed as more a more polarizing president.

Next, Obama does not perform well on more specific dimensions of presidential greatness, often viewed as average or worse. For example, he is the midpoint in terms of both personal integrity and military skill (e.g., 10th of 19 in both categories), but falls to 11th when it comes to diplomatic skill and 13th with respect to legislative skill. . .

What can we take away from this? First, it is easy to infer that scholars and the public alike expected greatness from Obama early on and awarded it to him prematurely. . .

Second, scholars seem to hold Barack Obama in high regard personally, but view his skills and performance as mediocre to poor. Few think of Obama as an excellent president, while many more rate his presidency quite low. . .

It could be worse for Obama. Barring unforeseen scandal, he’s unlikely to become significantly less popular. .”

That closer is a real vote of confidence. …

 

 

Andrew Malcolm with late night humor.

Meyers: A Tennessee lawmaker is pushing to make the Bible the official state book. It would replace Tennessee’s current state book, the menu at Cracker Barrel.

Conan: A Glasgow man was attacked in a movie theater by three rowdy women during “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The police handcuffed the women, so their plan worked perfectly.

Fallon: Congress is considering a law to allow commuters to bring their dogs and cats on Amtrak trains. It’s all part of its plan to make Amtrak smell BETTER.

February 18, 2015

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We left off yesterday with items about the importance of Scott Walker’s incomplete college experience. Pickerhead thinks the less time spent in classes conducted by America’s professoriate; the better. James Huffman, former law prof and law dean writes on the current problems of legal education. This is a microcosm of the failures of higher education today.

The theme of the recent Association of American Law Schools annual meeting was “legal education at the crossroads.” Legal education is at a crossroads, but you would hardly know it from the AALS convention program, from the American Bar Association’s recent revision of its accreditation standards, or from what law schools are actually doing in response to a six-year decline in applications.

To head off the crisis, legal educators should be talking about an entirely new business model. That the existing model has failed should be evident to any thoughtful observer. But because most law faculty view themselves as public servants and legal education as a public good, they reject the very idea that legal education can even be thought of in business terms. …

… Through the first half of the last century law schools relied on small faculties to teach large classes in facilities consisting of a few lecture halls, offices, and a library. Today large faculties teach small classes in elaborate facilities housing high tech classrooms, court rooms, cafes, lounges, suites of faculty, administrative and student organization offices, computer labs, libraries, and even workout rooms in a few schools. Faculty teach not only smaller, but fewer, classes, with frequent sabbaticals and research leaves. Little wonder tuition has risen in excess of inflation for four decades.

As someone who promoted all of the above as a law school dean and benefitted from it all as a law professor, it pains me to acknowledge that during my nearly four-decade career legal education, I abandoned frugality for profligacy. Some of the rise in cost resulted from program expansions in response to a plethora of new legal specialties and from steady pressure from the American Bar Association for more training in lawyering skills that requires a much lower student-faculty ratio.

But the core factor in the escalating cost of legal education is that the guild of law school professors long ago captured the combined regulatory apparatus of the American Bar Association (ABA) and the AALS. We law professors have constructed a legal education model that, first and foremost, serves faculty interests—higher salaries, more faculty protected by tenure, smaller and fewer classes, shorter semesters, generous sabbatical and leave policies, and supplemental grants for research and writing. We could not have done better for ourselves, except that the system is now collapsing. …

 

 

John Steele Gordon says Walker’s treatment by the mainstream media means they’re worried. 

It is a measure how much the Scott Walker boomlet is worrying the left that there is suddenly a plethora of attacks on him, each and every one, of course, tendentious.

Gail Collins of the New York Times wrote a column on Friday, entitled “Scott Walker Needs an Eraser,” denouncing Walker for cutting Wisconsin school funding in 2010, causing teacher layoffs. Despite the prodigious depth of her research, she failed to notice that he took office in 2011. Finally, on Sunday, the Times applied an eraser to Collins’s column and ran a correction. As Hot Air points out, the rest of the column doesn’t make much sense without the sentence that was deleted.

The Times itself ran an editorial on February 6 denouncing Walker for proposing a cut in the budget of the University of Wisconsin, implicitly arguing that a university with 180,000 students and 26 campuses could not possibly run a tighter ship. It claims he came to prominence in 2011 “with his attacks on collective bargaining rights and attempts to curtail the benefits of state workers,” as though it is impossible for state workers to have excessive benefits or too many collective bargaining rights.

It’s at it again this morning. Expect this to become a regular drum beat; the higher Walker gets in the polls the more the drum will be beaten. …

 

 

Since Ann Althouse lives in Wisconsin, teaches at U of W law school, and has blogged for more than ten years, she has many posts on Scott Walker. She is trying to refrain, but the silly Gail Collins got to her.

… At this point, it’s very hard to deal with every Walker topic that comes up as it comes up, especially since I don’t want to be an all-Walker-all-the-time blog. But after 4+ years of following Scott Walker, it feels as though I’m doing something wrong if there’s a significant Walker topic that non-Wisconsinites are blogging and I haven’t even acknowledged its existence.

So here I am at 4:48 in the morning, driven by a weird sense of obligation to pay attention to that foolish Gail Collins column The New York Times published on Friday the 13th: “Scott Walker Needs an Eraser.”

You’d think columnists who want to wield influence would be more careful about letting their murderous intentions glare. But Collins stupidly overreached, perhaps fed by the Wisconsin Walker-haters who’ve been chewing over a set of stock topics for years and now pass along the gooey pulp of their contempt.

Collins built her column on the story of a young teacher who won an award for excellence but then got fired due to budget cuts. Walker’s name is associated with budget austerity, so Walker must be to blame for her job loss. This was a gross error, the teacher having lost her job the year before Walker became governor. It took 2 days for the Times to edit out the mistaken assertion (which left the column not making much sense). Walker’s reforms were aimed at saving money at the school-district level and making it possible to keep excellent new teachers. …

 

 

Time to declare war on the mainstream media says John Steele Gordon.

… Why is it up to Boehner to bend instead of the Democrats doing so? The answer is simple. As Jonah Goldberg tweeted, “So when GOP holds up things in Dem-run Senate, GOP is to blame. When Dems hold things up in GOP-run Senate, GOP is to blame. I see a trend.” Even Chris Wallace—the fairest and best of the Sunday morning talk show hosts—thinks that when push comes to shove on Capitol Hill, it is the Republicans who must yield, even when they hold majorities in both houses as they do now. Why? Because that is the way the mainstream media will always play the story.

What should Boehner do? I think he, and every Republican, should do what George H.W. Bush did to Dan Rather as the 1988 presidential race was heating up: eat the mainstream media alive. They are the enemies of the Republican Party and should be treated as such. Stop trying to curry favor because you won’t get it. Bush laid a trap for Rather, insisting on the interview being live so it couldn’t end up on the cutting room floor. It totally flustered Rather, greatly energized Bush’s campaign, put the kibosh on his too-much-a-nice-guy image, and helped mightily to propel him to the White House. Make mainstream media bias the issue. Throw loaded questions and those premised on liberal assumptions back in their faces. Accuse them of bias when they are biased. Don’t be Mr. Nice Guy. …

February 17, 2015

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Taking some time out from contemplating our present predicaments, Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of last month’s 50 year anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill.

Fifty years ago this Saturday, (January 24, 1965) former British prime minister Winston Churchill died at age 90.

Churchill is remembered for his multiple nonstop careers as a statesman, cabinet minister, politician, journalist, Nobel laureate historian, and combat veteran. He began his career serving the British military as a Victorian-era mounted lancer and ended it as custodian of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

But he is most renowned for an astounding five-year-tenure as Britain’s wartime prime minister from May 10, 1940, to June 26, 1945, when he was voted out of office not long after the surrender of Nazi Germany.

Churchill took over the day Hitler invaded Western Europe. Within six weeks, an isolated Great Britain was left alone facing the Third Reich. What is now the European Union was then either under Nazi occupation, allied with Germany, or ostensibly neutral while favoring Hitler.

The United States was not just neutral. It had no intention of entering another European war — at least not until after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor a year and half later.

From August 1939 to June 1941, the Soviet Union was an accomplice of the Third Reich. Russian leader Joseph Stalin was supplying Hitler with critical resources to help finish off Great Britain, the last obstacle in Germany’s path of European domination.

Some of the British elite wished to cut a peace deal with Hitler to save their empire and keep Britain from being bombed or invaded. They understandably argued that Britain could hardly hold out when Poland, Denmark, Norway the Netherlands, Belgium, and France all had not. Yet Churchill voiced defiance and vowed to keep on fighting. …

 

 

Back to the present predicament – the one where we have a rogue president. A president, incidentally, who on day one removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the oval office. City Journal with a good post on “faithful execution” of laws.

… Lots of debate will ensue over the extent to which the administration’s non-deportation policy finds support in the maze of statutes comprising American immigration laws. But stepping back from the minutiae, one is struck by the gulf between the legal arguments proffered by the administration and the substance of its policy. The OLC (Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department) memo asserts that the president’s policy of systematic nonenforcement, far from thwarting Congress, actually “is consistent with the removal priorities established by Congress,” in light of the scarcity of funds that Congress appropriates for deportations. Yet in his remarks announcing the policy, President Obama stressed that his action was necessary precisely because Congress had not passed legislation “fixing this broken immigration system.” Similarly, the OLC memo tries to downplay the impact of the administration’s action, asserting that it is not “an absolute, inflexible policy of not enforcing the immigration laws in certain categories of cases” but instead a general framework that “provides for case-by-case determinations” based on each “individual alien’s circumstances,” leaving “ample room for the exercise of individualized discretion by responsible officials.” Yet the documents make no serious attempt to explain how or why individuals meeting the policy’s broad standards would ever be singled out for harsher treatment—and Obama, to the contrary, announced to all illegal immigrants satisfying these conditions that “you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.”

Most important, where OLC concludes that the president’s policy does not, “under the guise of exercising enforcement discretion, attempt to effectively rewrite the laws to match [his] policy preferences,” the president speaks to the contrary. “I just took an action to change the law,” he told an audience days after the OLC issued its analysis.

It is this unbridgeable gap between the president’s actions and the Justice Department’s rationalizations that reveals Obama’s failure to satisfy his constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Though a certain degree of statutory under-enforcement is tolerable (and often laudable) under our constitutional framework, the president is not “faithful” when his approach is fundamentally dishonest. “[T]he constitutional charge to the President to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” wrote Attorney General William Wirt to President James Monroe in 1823, requires the president to see that each of his officers “performs his duty faithfully—that is, honestly: not with perfect correctness of judgment, but honestly.” The emphasis on the words “faithfully” and “honestly” in that quotation comes from Wirt himself. The current president and attorney general would do well to emphasize faithfulness and honesty, too.

 

 

We entered the 21st Century looking for better and better ways to store energy. Jeff Jacoby wrote a Valentine to the best way to store energy – a barrel of oil.

… Here on Planet Earth, the booming use of petroleum, coal, and natural gas has fueled an almost inconceivable amount of good. All human technologies generate costs as well as benefits, but the gains from the use of fossil fuels have been extraordinary. The energy derived from fossil fuels, economist Robert Bradley Jr. wrote last spring in Forbes, has “liberated mankind from wretched poverty; fueled millions of high-productivity jobs in nearly every business sector; been a feedstock for medicines that have saved countless lives; and led to the development of fertilizers that have greatly increased crop yields to feed the hungry.” Far from wrecking the planet, the harnessing of carbon-based energy makes it safer and more livable.

The rise of fossil fuels has led to dramatic gains in human progress — whether that progress is measured in terms of life expectancy, income, education, health, sanitation, transportation, or leisure. Nearly everything that is comfortable and convenient about modern civilization depends on the ready availability of energy, and nearly 90 percent of our energy comes from oil, gas, and coal. Pro-divestment activists know better than to push people to give up electricity, air travel, computers, or central heating — all of which would vanish without the fossil fuel industry. Instead they demonize the industry, reasoning that it will be easier to turn Big Oil into a pariah than to convince the public to abandon its cars and smartphones. …

 

 

Megan McArdle posts on Scott Walker’s college career. 

The Washington Post has a lengthy article on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s college career and his decision to drop out of MarquetteUniversity during his senior year. I read it carefully, and I think that this piece raises a pretty important question about Walker’s presidential campaign.

Namely: Who cares?

We’re talking about events that happened almost 30 years ago. None of them are illegal, or even, frankly, very interesting. (He got a D-minus in French!) So why are we talking about this? …

… The fact that we seem so fixated on events decades past is its own dire signal — of the way that America’s Mandarin class is starting to think about college education not merely as the basic credential required for many of the best-paying jobs, but also the basic credential required for being a worthy, capable person. This is not merely untrue, but also a giant middle finger raised to the majority of upstanding American citizens who also didn’t graduate from college. …

 

 

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has more on the subject we will explore often in the next year few years. Reynolds thinks the election of Walker “might bring reality back to an Ivy League-suffocated government.” It would be a refreshing change because only people who have sat in years of classes from this country’s professoriate could be as dumb as what we have running the government today.

A lot of people don’t know much about him yet, and he may not even be running, but if Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is elected president in 2016, he’ll immediately accomplish something that no other candidate being talked about can: He’ll lay to rest the absurd belief that you’re a nobody if you don’t have a college degree. And he might even cut into the surprisingly recent takeover of our institutions by an educated mandarin class, something that just might save the country.

Though Walker attended Marquette University, he left before graduating, which has caused some finger-wagging from the usual journalistic suspects. After all, they seem to believe, everyone they know has a college degree, so it must be essential to getting ahead. As the successful governor of an important state, you’d think that Walker’s subsequent career would make his college degree irrelevant, but you’d be wrong.

And that’s why a President Walker would accomplish something worthwhile the moment he took office. Over the past few years in America, a college degree has become something valued more as a class signifier than as a source of useful knowledge. When Democratic spokesman Howard Dean (who himself was born into wealth) suggested that Walker’s lack of a degree made him unsuitable for the White House, what he really meant was that Walker is “not our kind, dear” — lacking the credential that many elite Americans today regard as essential to respectable status.

Of course, some of our greatest presidents, from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to Harry S. Truman, never graduated from college. But the college degree as class-signifier is, as I note in my book, The New School, a rather recent phenomenon. …

 

February 16, 2015

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The mendacity capacity of the president and his minions comes through in the latest from Caroline Glick. She deals with the preposterous claim by Prez Trainwreck that the murders of four in the Paris deli was some sort of random violence directed towards “a bunch of folks.” Caroline has some strong words.

US President Barack Obama is mainstreaming anti-Semitism in America.

This week, apropos of seemingly nothing, in an interview with Mathew Yglesias from the Vox.com website, Obama was asked about terrorism. In his answer the president said the terrorism threat is overrated. And that was far from the most disturbing statement he made.

Moving from the general to the specific, Obama referred to the jihadists who committed last month’s massacres in Paris as “a bunch of violent vicious zealots,” who “randomly shot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

In other words, Ahmedy Coulibaly, the terrorist at Hyper Cacher, the kosher supermarket he targeted, was just some zealot. The Jews he murdered while they were shopping for Shabbat were just “a bunch of folks in a deli,” presumably shot down while ordering their turkey and cheese sandwiches.

No matter that Coulibaly called a French TV station from the kosher supermarket and said he was an al-Qaida terrorist and that he chose the kosher supermarket because he wanted to kill Jews. …

 

… As subsequent statements from administration spokespeople made clear, Obama’s statement was not a gaffe. When questioned about his remarks, both White House spokesman Josh Earnest and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki doubled down on Obama’s denial of the anti-Semitic nature of the massacre at Hyper Cacher. Earnest said that the Jews who were murdered were people who just “randomly happened to be” at the supermarket.

Psaki said that the victims didn’t share a common background or nationality, pretending away the bothersome fact that they were all Jews.

Just as bad as their denials of the anti-Jewish nature of the attack on Hyper Cacher, were Psaki’s and Earnest’s belated revisions of their remarks. After coming under a storm of criticism from American Jews and from the conservative media, both Psaki and Earnest turned to their Twitter accounts to walk back their remarks and admit that indeed, the massacre at Hyper Cacher was an anti-Semitic assault.

Their walk back was no better than their initial denial of the anti-Jewish nature of the Islamist attack, because it amplified the very anti-Semitism they previously denied promoted attack.

As many Obama supporters no doubt interpreted their behavior, first Obama and his flaks stood strong in their conviction that Jews are not specifically targeted. Then after they were excoriated for their statements by Jews and conservatives, they changed their tune.

The subtext is clear. The same Jews who are targeted no more than anyone else, are so powerful and all controlling that they forced the poor Obama administration to bow to their will and parrot their false and self-serving narrative of victimization. …

 

…Today, the most outstanding example of Obama’s exploitation of anti-Semitic tropes to diminish US support for Israel is his campaign to delegitimize Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ahead of his scheduled speech before the joint houses of Congress on March 3.

 

As we belatedly learned from a small correction at the bottom of a New York Times article on January 30, contrary to the White House’s claim, Netanyahu did not blindside Obama when he accepted Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to address the Congress. He informed the White House of his intention to accept Boehner’s offer before he accepted it.

Netanyahu did not breach White House protocol.

He did not behave rudely or disrespectfully toward Obama.

The only one that behaved disrespectfully and rudely was Obama in his shabby and slanderous treatment of Netanyahu. It was Obama who peddled the lie that Netanyahu was using the speech not to legitimately present Israel’s concerns regarding the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran, but to selfishly advance his political fortunes on the back of America’s national security interests and the independence of its foreign policy.

It was Obama and Vice President Joe Biden who spearheaded efforts to coerce Democratic lawmakers to boycott Netanyahu’s speech by announcing that they would refuse to meet with the leader of the US’s closest ally in the Middle East during his stay in Washington. …

 

 

Victor Davis Hanson posts on President Snark.

Snark is a popular word used for a particular sort of off-putting sarcasm. Snarkiness can manifest itself as adolescent cheap shots, snide condescension, or simple ad hominem patronizing — a sort of “I know you are, but what am I?” schoolyard name-calling. Its incessant use is typically connected with a peevishness born out of juvenile insecurity, and sometimes fed by an embarrassing envy. All politicians are snarky at times; but few obsessively so, given the wages of monotony and insecurity that the snark earns.

President Obama is well known both for ad hominem dismissals of his supposed enemies — everyone from Fox News to the Tea Party to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity — and for his evocations of nefarious straw men who, he claims, if left unchecked, would uninsure the poor, pollute the environment, hurt the illegal immigrant, and wage perpetual war abroad. But Obama’s snarky putdowns and condescending afterthoughts are a particularly disturbing subset of these rhetorical devices, used by him in the grand world of diplomacy as well as in often petty domestic contexts.

Vladimir Putin is the dangerous autocrat of a nuclear-armed superstate. He has trampled on the rights of his own people while trying to bully the former Soviet republics back into a czarist Orthodox version of the Soviet Empire. So Putin is many disturbing things, but for Obama he is reduced to some archetypal high-schooler to be snarked at: “My sense is that’s part of his shtick back home politically as wanting to look like the tough guy.” Putin, in Obama’s putdown, has “got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid at the back of the classroom.” Gratuitously reducing Putin’s aggression to the work of an adolescent rival show-off may be dangerous when combined with the past six years of Obama’s mostly seeming indifferent to that aggression. Snarking loudly while carrying a tiny stick is particularly unwise. …

… Obama is supposedly friends with basketball legend Michael Jordan. But the latter made a terrible mistake when he chided the golf-obsessive Obama as in fact a “hack” and a “sh***y” golfer. Obama quickly fired back that Jordan “was not well informed.” He then went after Jordan himself as the less than successful basketball-team owner: “He might want to spend more time thinking about the Bobcats — or the Hornets.” Snark is now exemplified by the president of the United States stooping to engage in a kindergarten tit-for-tat over relative golf skills with an ex-NBA player: “But there is no doubt that Michael is a better golfer than I am. Of course if I was playing twice a day for the last 15 years, then that might not be the case.” Note the “He might want” and “If I was playing twice a day . . .” …

 

 

Seth Mandel thinks it is time we discuss the president’s ignorance. 

In the wake of the controversy over President Obama’s offensive labeling of anti-Semitic violence as “random,” it became clear that regardless of whether he chose his words carefully, he certainly chose his audience carefully. He was not challenged by his interviewer at Vox for his undeniably false characterization of the Paris attacks. And now, having given an interview to BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith, he has continued exposing his own ignorance in the hope that he would continue not to be called on it by his interviewers. He was in luck yet again.

BuzzFeed has posted the transcript of the interview, and when the subject turns to Russia, Obama said this:

“You know, I don’t want to psychoanalyze Mr. Putin. I will say that he has a foot very much in the Soviet past. That’s how he came of age. He ran the KGB. Those were his formative experiences. So I think he looks at problems through this Cold War lens, and, as a consequence, I think he’s missed some opportunities for Russia to diversify its economy, to strengthen its relationship with its neighbors, to represent something different than the old Soviet-style aggression. You know, I continue to hold out the prospect of Russia taking a diplomatic offering from what they’ve done in Ukraine. I think, to their credit, they’ve been able to compartmentalize and continue to work with us on issues like Iran’s nuclear program.”

As people pointed out immediately, Obama is wrong about Putin and the KGB. Ben Judah, a journalist who recently wrote a book on Putin’s Russia, responded: “The interesting and informative thing about Obama’s view on Putin is how uninsightful and uniformed it is.” …

 

… it’s a comprehensive historical ignorance. And on matters of great significance–the major world religions, the Middle East, Russia. And the president’s unwillingness to grasp the past certainly gives reason for concern with Iran as well–a country whose government has used the façade of negotiations to its own anti-American ends for long enough to see the pattern.

They’re not just minor gaffes or verbal blunders. They serve as a window into the mind of a president who acts as if a history of the world before yesterday could fit on a postcard. We talk a lot about the defects of the president’s ideology, but not about his ignorance. The two are related, but the latter is lately the one causing a disproportionate amount of damage. …

 

 

John Hinderaker of Power Line posts on the disasters hidden in the unconstitutional amnesty executive order. It’s lies all the way down.  

As the implications of President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty orders come into focus, more adverse consequences are being identified on almost a daily basis. Here are two that have recently come to light.

First, illegals who are given Social Security cards under Obama’s amnesty will be eligible for billions of dollars in cash payments from the federal government. That’s right: we will reward them for coming here illegally, and encourage others to do the same: …

 

… Then there is the matter of citizenship and voting rights. From the Democrats’ perspective, the key benefit of opening the immigration floodgates and legalizing millions of illegal aliens is that these actions will create a large pool of Democratic voters. That is contemplated by Obama’s executive orders, too. Senator Jeff Sessions says:

“We’ve learned that illegal immigrants will be given billions in free cash tax credits. We’ve learned that illegal immigrants will be given trillions in lifetime federal entitlement benefits through Social Security and Medicare. We’ve learned that illegal immigrants will be given driver’s licenses, creating new avenues for voter fraud. We’ve learned that the President’s edict will allow companies to replace American workers with illegal workers instead.

Our laws have been dismantled, stripped bare.

Now today House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has unearthed a new scandal. In his executive decree, the President has opened up the possibility that hundreds of thousands of individuals illegally in the United States will be “paroled” and given U.S. citizenship. Such a policy extends birthright citizenship to the foreign-born who unlawfully set their feet upon American soil.

It is an offense to the very idea of citizenship as something sacred, precious, and treasured.” …

 

What are we to make of a country so dumb that it returned this vast criminal enterprise to office for four more years?

February 15, 2015

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Mark Steyn updates us on the news.

I’m coming out of a week-and-a-half of sub-par health, and playing catch-up on the last few days’ news. Much of it is just new trees in the same old forest: the remorseless retreat of American power in the world – ie, “Yemen Rebels Seize U.S. Embassy Vehicles As Diplomats Flee“.

But some of it is almost too cute. In Paris, the street artist Combo has been beaten up by four “young people” who objected to his “Co-Exist” poster:

‘Combo declined to discuss the identity of his assailants. “It would only add fuel to the fire,” he told the French newspaper…

During a residency in Bayreuth, he grew his beard and started wearing the traditional Muslim dress—not because he was increasingly attracted to a more fundamentalist version of Islam, but, again, to disrupt established codes. To his friends asking him whether he was “going to jihad” in Lebanon, he answered, “I’m going to ji-art.”

“First I thought I was French, but I quickly understood that I was Arab, then beur (French slang for second and third generation North African), now I’m told I’m Muslim,” Combo continued, talking of the French des-integration.

Reclaiming the djellaba, the artist’s inclusive messages have cropped up all over Paris. One asked “did you know that Muslims finish their prayers with ‘Amen,’ like Jews and Christians?” Another read “In France, 50,000 Muslim soldiers protect our country.” ‘

But they beat the crap out of him anyway. They don’t know much about “ji-art”, but they know what they don’t like.

 

 

John Fund writes on the economic miracle that is Texas.

While the recent 50 percent drop in oil prices has taken some of the bluster out of Texas’s bragging, the state’s stats are still beyond impressive. Last month, it created 45,700 new jobs. Most of them were in parts of the diversified economy that aren’t related to energy. Texas continues to see solid job growth in trade and professional services as well as in the hospitality industry.

Indeed, between 2007 and 2014 — the period covering the recession and the slow recovery that followed — Texas created 1.4 million net new jobs. During the same period, the rest of the nation wound up losing 400,000 jobs. The falling nationwide unemployment rate is largely the function of people’s exiting the work force entirely.

Small wonder that in December, Canada’s Fraser Institute ranked Texas first of all the states in its level of economic freedom, as measured by the size of government, taxation, regulation, and the rule of law. Texas Public Policy Foundation Director of Policy Chuck DeVore says the study’s findings show that “Texas’s having America’s highest level of economic freedom is a strong confirmation that prosperity and freedom go hand-in-hand.”

Devore notes that critics of Texas often cite the fact that the jobs Texas creates often are entry-level — about 6 percent of the state’s hourly wage earners earned minimum wage in 2013. But that figure has been consistently dropping and obscures the fact that Texas is much more affordable than many states for those on the bottom of the income ladder.

“California has the third-highest cost of living, while Texas has the second-lowest,” says DeVore, a former California GOP state legislator who relocated to the LoneStarState. “A low-wage worker sees his money go a third further in Texas.”

One could even say that the high-tax, high-cost model of California and other states is a form of class warfare against their poorest residents.

 

 

Joel Kotkin adds fuel to the Texas fire. 

In the last decade, Texas emerged as America’s new land of opportunity — if you will, America’s America. Since the start of the recession, the LoneStarState has been responsible for the majority of employment growth in the country. Between November  2007 and November 2014, the United States gained  a net 2.1 million jobs, with 1.2 million alone in Texas.

Yet with the recent steep drop in oil prices, the Texas economy faces extreme headwinds that could even spark something of a downturn. A repeat of the 1980s oil bust isn’t likely, says Comerica Bank economist Robert Dye, but he expects much slower growth, particularly for formerly red-hot Houston, an easing of home prices and, likely, a slowdown of in-migration.

Some blue state commentators might view Texas’ prospective decline as good news. Some, like Paul Krugman, have spent years arguing that the state’s success has little to do with its much-touted business-friendly climate of light regulation and low taxes, but rather, simply mass in-migration by people seeking cheaper housing. Schadenfreude is palpable in the writings of progressive journalists like the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hiltzik, who recently crowed that falling energy prices may finally “snuff out” the detested “Texas miracle.”

Such attitudes are short-sighted. It is unlikely that the American economy can sustain a healthy rate of growth without the kind of production-based strength that has powered Texas, as well as Ohio, North Dakota and Louisiana. …

 

 

Kevin Williamson posts what small business can do to fight the costs of obamacare.  

… Sometimes, you have to go full robot.

That’s basically what’s happening with San Francisco’s beloved Borderlands Books, a pilgrimage site of old-school nerdery specializing in science-fiction and fantasy literature. San Francisco is raising its minimum wage from $11.05/hour to $15/hour, and the owners of Borderlands, who already were barely able to make the shop a going concern, announced that they would have to close. The minimum-wage hike meant that the store was going to go from making a princely $3,000 a year to losing $25,000 a year. Of course, you’ll still be able to get your sci-fi and fantasy novels – from Amazon, or from another similar operation without the labor costs involved with running a conventional bookstore. Which is great if you’re Jeff Bezos, but kind of stinks if you’re the sort of sad character (ahem) who likes to lurk around in bookstores. I’m perfectly happy to see every Staples clerk replaced by something sold to Staples CEO Ronald Sargent by Jawas offering a deep corporate discount. But, damn it all, I like bookstores. (And if San Francisco continues raising its minimum wage, the robots are ready.)

In San Francisco, the people who were bemoaning the impending closure of Borderlands admitted sheepishly that they’d voted for the minimum-wage hike. “It’s not something that I thought would affect certain specific small businesses,” one customer said. “I feel sad.”

Yeah, Adam Smith feels sad, too, you dope.

Thick though they may be, you know what those economically illiterate San Francisco book-lovers aren’t? President of the United States of America. But President Obama does precisely the same thing: With Obamacare, he created powerful economic incentives for companies such as Staples to keep part-timers under 25 hours – and to hire part-timers rather than full-time employees – and now he complains when companies respond to those incentives. Naturally, he cites executive pay: “I haven’t looked at Staples stock lately or what the compensation of the CEO is,” he says, but affirms that he is confident that they can afford to run their business the way he wants them to run it.

Let’s apply some English-major math to that question. Ronald Sargent made just under $11 million a year at last report. Staples has about 83,000 employees. That means that if it cut its CEO’s pay to $0.00/annum, Staples would be able to fund about $2.61/week in additional wages or health-care benefits for each of its employees, or schedule them for an additional 22 minutes of work at the federal minimum wage. Which is to say, CEO pay represents a trivial sum — but the expenses imposed by Obamacare are not trivial. …

 

 

Michael Barone writes about the front page treatment given by the Washington Post to Scott Walker’s college years. Barone also notes the Post had no curiosity about obama’s college career.

Conservative and other commentators are having fun ridiculing the Washington Post for running a story about how Scott Walker dropped out of Marquette University (“questions linger”!) and so never graduated from college — something that has been widely known for many years and which Walker has never sought to conceal. The Post story did add some modestly interesting details, about how Walker was not endorsed by the student paper when he ran for student office, how he was habitually late and unprepared for French class — which, as Bloomberg View’s Megan McArdle points out, tell us something about Walker at age 20 or far less than what we can easily learn about his career in public life today. (Confession: I was not a faithful attender of French classes in college, which I currently regret.)

Democrats like Howard Dean are suggesting that Walker’s non-graduate status raises questions as to whether he’s fit for the presidency. …

… In any case, I guess it’s useful for voters to have access to information about how presidential candidates were educated and what they did at school in their younger years. Which leads to a question for the Washington Post, which has told us a bit about how Scott Walker behaved at college before he dropped out: Why weren’t you — why aren’t you — curious about how Obama behaved in college?

February 12, 2015

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Mark Steyn starts today’s look at the poor excuse for leadership in DC.

On Tuesday the Islamic State released a 22-minute video showing Flight Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh of the Royal Jordanian Air Force being doused in petrol and burned to death. It is an horrific way to die, and Flt Lt al-Kasasbeh showed uncommon bravery, standing stiff and dignified as the flames consumed him. And then he toppled, and the ISIS cameras rolled on, until what was left was charred and shapeless and unrecognizable as human.

King Abdullah’s response to this barbaric act was to execute two ISIS prisoners the following morning, including the evil woman who was part of the cell that blew up the lobby of my favorite hotel in Amman, the Grand Hyatt.

President Obama’s response was to go to the National Prayer Breakfast and condescendingly advise us – as if it’s some dazzlingly original observation rather than the lamest faculty-lounge relativist bromide – to “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition,people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ”.

Gee, thanks. If you’re watching on ISIS premium cable, I’m sure that’s a great consolation when they’re reaching for the scimitar and readying you for your close-up. …

… civilization is a fragile and unnatural state of affairs. Droning on about the Crusades and Jim Crow, Obama offers the foreign policy of Oscar Wilde’s cynic: He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. …

 

 

Roger Simon posts on obama’s biggest lie. 

Unlike Nixon and Clinton, who lied in self-defense, Obama lies proactively, which is decidedly more dangerous.  He will say practically anything to achieve his goals without regard to the truth.  The repeated assertion about keeping your doctor and your health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is just one famous example.  But only a few days ago on Fareed Zakaria’s show the president made a statement that dwarfed his claims about Obamacare.  When asked if we were in a war with radical Islam, the president replied:

….”I reject a notion that somehow that creates a religious war because the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject that interpretation of Islam. They don’t even recognize it as being Islam, and I think that for us to be successful in fighting this scourge, it’s very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 percent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we’re looking for — order, peace, prosperity.”

99.9 percent?!  I will bypass for the moment Obama’s rather self-serving definition of Islam and focus on that outrageous number, which is absurd on the face of it and not remotely supported by any of the numerous polls on the subject. …

 

 

Jonathan Tobin on the prez’s anti-Semitism blind spot. 

There has been a great deal of justified criticism about President Obama’s unwillingness to respond to terrorist outrages with the sort of moral leadership that can rally the West to fight back. His comments at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast in which he sought to create a false moral equivalency between ISIS’s horrific burning alive of a captured Jordanian pilot and the Christian West’s past sins during the Inquisition and even the Crusades have been rightly blasted for his tone-deaf approach to terrorism. The president seems so mired in his deep ambivalence about the West’s role in world history that he is unable to play his part as leader of the free world in what is, like it or not, a life-and-death struggle against truly evil forces. It is also revealed in his administration’s refusal to call Islamist terrorism by that name. But just as troubling is his unwillingness to address one of the primary characteristics of this brand of terror: anti-Semitism. In an interview with Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, he described the terror attack on a Paris kosher market as a “random” event rather than an act of murder motivated by Jew hatred. Though it won’t get the same attention as his outrageous speech last week, it gives us just as much insight into the president’s foreign-policy mindset.

It should be recalled that in the immediate aftermath of the shootings at the Hyper Cacher market by killers associated with those who perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo massacre days earlier, President Obama also refused to call it an act of anti-Semitism. That was, in its own way, as shocking as the president’s decision to not send any high-ranking U.S. official to the Paris unity march that took place to protest the murders or to go himself as did many other Western leaders. …

 

 

Peter Wehner says someone ought to get off his “high horse.” 

Part of the problem with President Obama’s recent National Prayer Breakfast speech, as Michael Rubin has pointed out, is that it provides a simplistic and incomplete understanding of the Crusades. (You might also read this First Things review, “Inventing the Crusades,” by Thomas F. Madden.)

But the president’s remarks also demonstrate a simplistic and incomplete understanding of Christianity. By that I mean when Mr. Obama, in warning Christians not to get on their “high horse” when talking about the problems in Islam, said, “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

True enough–but it’s also true that slavery and segregation were overthrown by those who justified their actions in the name of Christ. And if the president insists on making comparisons between Christianity and Islam, then it needs to be said that while Christianity has struggled with religious intolerance in its past, it has almost everywhere made its inner peace with religious tolerance and pluralism. On the other hand, true religious freedom has been quite rare in Muslim-majority communities throughout history. …

 

 

Jennifer Rubin says we’re left with a president who will not defend western civilization.

The confluence of events is striking. The president is capitulating in slow motion to the demands of Iran at the P5+1 talks. With regard to the Islamic State, which just this week burned alive a Jordanian pilot (a Muslim, remember), the president has empty words. Yemen, which was held up as a great success story, is now being taken over by Iranian-supported rebels with nary a peep from the president. Iran is effectively absorbing Iraq’s army. Iran continues to back terrorist groups throughout the region, including Hezbollah, which is increasingly more aggressive in attacking Israel.

All that is happening while President Obama throws a fit when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gets an invite to speak to Congress. And he lectures the country that Christianity is rotten, too — don’t you remember the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition?

His remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast may be the most memorable of his presidency for they so completely express his moral vacuity and personal arrogance: “Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” Never miss an opportunity to indict the West, to ignore the current threat to Western civilization or to smear Americans who rightly see themselves as the defenders of decency and humanity against the barbarism of Islamic fundamentalists. The egregious comments and the thinking behind them was denounced not only by right-wing critics but also by thinking liberals, a variety of Christian leaders and centrists such as Joe Scarborough. …

… This is not trivial matter. It is the central dilemma of time: How do we defend Western civilization when the leader of the free world won’t, and doesn’t even like it all that much?

 

 

Liz Peek at Fiscal Times says the Crusade remarks will bolster ISIS propaganda campaigns.” 

President Obama has given ISIS a propaganda clip of incalculable value, and they don’t even have to edit it. As he stood at the Prayer Breakfast last week and likened the barbarity of current-day Islamic extremists to atrocities committed during the Crusades and the Inquisition, Obama seemingly validated the terrorists’ centuries-old calls for vengeance.

Moreover, his references to slavery and Jim Crow channeled Islamic recruiters who warn of coming Islamophobia in the U.S. by calling out black-white tensions. Given that our battle with ISIS is in large part a war for hearts and minds, Mr. Obama’s comments are symptomatic of profound ignorance, at best and were extremely reckless.  

The al-Qaeda hijackers brought down the World Trade Towers on September 11 because unbeknownst to most in the West, the date is an important one in Islamic history. It was in 1683 “that the conquering armies of Islam were met, held, and thrown back at the gates of Vienna,” as Christopher Hitchens wrote. This was, he explained, a “hinge” event, in that “the Ottoman Empire never recovered from the defeat. From then on it was more likely that Christian or western powers would dominate the Muslim world than the other way around.”

Hitchens notes, “In the Islamic world, and especially among the extremists, it is remembered as a humiliation in itself and a prelude to later ones,” and thus the perfect date to inflict on the West an equally humiliating injury.

History matters to Islamic terrorists; avenging past defeats suffered by Muslims is central to their cause. …

 

 

David Harsanyi posts on Axelrod’s revelations about presidential lying.

… In “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics,” David Axelrod claims that he knew Obama supported gay marriage back when he first ran for president in 2008. “I’m just not very good at bullshitting,” a far-too-modest Barack Obama supposedly told his advisor after a campaign stop. “There’s no doubt that his sympathies were on the side of allowing gay couples to marry,” Axelrod says. “He also recognized that the country wasn’t there yet—that we needed to bring the country along.”

Bullshit, according to unreliable sources across the interwebs, means “nonsense” or a rebuke of something misleading, disingenuous or false. The Urban Dictionary definition of “bullshitting” is “When someone has no f****ng clue what they are talking about, yet insists on trying to get others to believe him/her.” So, contra the president’s self-criticism, he excels at it. …

 

 

It is a terrible thing to end the week with lots of items on President Trainwreck. We’ll make up for that a little with late night humor from Andrew Malcolm.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the Alfalfa Dinner: I can work with the president. We’re honest with each other. I told him once that I thought he was aloof and condescending. He said, ‘I am not condescending. I am just too busy thinking about far more important things than you would understand.’

Gates: Washington is the only place where you can see someone walking down Lovers Lane, holding his own hand.

Conan: An NFL player was arrested in Florida on gun charges. The news was shocking to anyone who knows nothing about the NFL or Florida.

February 11, 2015

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Streetwise Professor posts on how President Trainwreck wants to spread disaster to the internet.

… If the substance isn’t bad enough, the process is even worse. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was originally leaning towards a less intrusive approach to net neutrality that would avoid dropping the Title II bomb. But Obama orchestrated a campaign behind the scenes to pressure an ostensibly independent agency to go all medieval (or at least all New Deal) on the Internet. Obama added to the backstage pressure with a very public call for intrusive regulation that put Wheeler and the other two Democrats on the Commission in an impossible position. (Another illustration of the consequences of Presidential elections: it’s not just the commander that matters, but the anonymous foot soldiers and the camp followers too.)

Yes, part of Obama’s insistence reflected his beliefs: after all, he is a big government control freak. And yes, part reflects the fact that some of his biggest supporters and donors are rabid NN supporters-primarily because they will benefit if they don’t have to pay the full cost that they impose.

But what convinced Obama to make this a priority was his personal vanity and his determination to engage in political warfare by pursuing initiatives that he can implement unilaterally without Congressional involvement. Read this and weep:

“While Obama administration officials were warming to the idea of calling for tougher rules, it took the November elections to sway Mr. Obama into action.

After Republicans gained their Senate majority, Mr. Obama took a number of actions to go around Congress, including a unilateral move to ease immigration rules. Senior aides also began looking for issues that would help define the president’s legacy. Net neutrality seemed like a good fit.

Soon, Mr. Zients paid his visit to the FCC to let Mr. Wheeler know the president would make a statement on high-speed Internet regulation. Messrs. Zients and Wheeler didn’t discuss the details, according to Mr. Wheeler.

Mr. Obama made them clear in a 1,062-word statement and two-minute video. He told the FCC to regulate mobile and fixed broadband providers more strictly and enact strong rules to prevent those providers from altering download speeds for specific websites or services.

In the video, Mr. Obama said his stance was confirmation of a long-standing commitment to net neutrality. The statement boxed in Mr. Wheeler by giving the FCC’s two other Democratic commissioners cover to vote against anything falling short of Mr. Obama’s position.

That essentially killed the compromise proposed by Mr. Wheeler, leaving him no choice but to follow the path outlined by the president.”

Read this again: “Senior aides also began looking for issues that would help define the president’s legacy. Net neutrality seemed like a good fit.” So to achieve a legacy, the Narcissist in Chief decides to interfere with the most successful, innovative industry of the past half-century, and perhaps ever.

What, screwing up the health care industry isn’t enough of a legacy? …

 

 

Kevin Williamson writes on the budget process.

President Obama has submitted a budget proposal to Congress. There are many possible responses that Congress might offer in return. The correct one is this: “Thank you for your input, Mr. President. But we’ll take it from here.”

We have three branches of government for a reason, and the Constitution invests each branch with certain powers and responsibilities, establishing divisions within government that have shown themselves, for more than a couple of centuries now, to be extraordinarily prudent. The president is not a prime minister, nor is he the republican model of government’s ersatz king. He is the chief administrative officer in the federal government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He is given special responsibilities in the matter of foreign relations, notably in the negotiation of treaties and the making of war, though in both cases his authority is limited by that of the legislative branch, which can reject a proposed treaty and has the power to declare (or decline to declare) war.

He does not have any special constitutional role when it comes to budgets. The Constitution invests the House with the power to initiate revenue bills and the Senate the power to propose or concur with amendments to such bills. The president has a relatively large role in external affairs; in internal affairs, particularly matters of taxing and spending, Congress should — should — play the dominant role. Which is not to say that the president shouldn’t propose a budget plan, if he thinks he has some good ideas. (This one doesn’t, though he may think that he does.) But Congress is under no special obligation to act on them, or to give them any special consideration.

One of the problems with our currently lopsided mode of government — in which the president is the central player in government across the board — is that we have come to think of the president as the national actor and Congress as the national reactor. …

 

 

John Fund and Hans Von Spakovsky on Eric Holder’s politicization of Justice.

Departing attorney general Eric Holder’s claim this week in a press conference that there has “been no politicization” of the Justice Department under him makes it appear as if he is living in a Potemkin-like state of denial in the main Justice building. Holder went so far as to claim that he had been forced to clean up the department he took over from the Bush administration. “You want to look at a Justice Department that’s been politicized, you look at the one I inherited,” he claimed.

When we were researching our recent book on Holder’s six-year tenure at Justice, we talked to numerous career employees who were shocked at how much further Holder had gone than any previous administration in politicizing Justice. One longtime lawyer in the Civil Rights Division told us that Holder had

racialized and radicalized the Division to the point of corruption. They embedded politically leftist extremists in the career ranks who have an agenda that does not comport with equal protection or the rule of law; who believe that the ends justify the means; and who behave unprofessionally and unethically. Their policy is to intimidate and threaten employees who do not agree with their politics, and even moderate Democrats have left the Department because they were treated as enemies by administration officials and their lackeys.

Holder said that the “notion” that DOJ has been politicized is “totally inconsistent with the facts.” But the facts show that the politicization started almost immediately, such as when political appointees at Justice ordered the dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case at the beginning of 2009 because they did not want to enforce the Voting Rights Act against black defendants, ending the race-neutral enforcement of the law. …

 

 

And Debra Saunders posts on Holder’s ” sorry sense of justice.”

… Holder’s big hurdle to win confirmation as President Barack Obama’s head enforcer in 2009 was rooted in his actions as deputy attorney general to President Bill Clinton. Holder infamously gave Clinton cover to issue his 177 out-the-door presidential pardons Jan. 20, 2001. Holder even gave a “neutral, toward leaning positive” recommendation to a pardon for Marc Rich, who fled the country after the feds indicted him in 1983 for evading $48 million in income taxes and illegally buying oil from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Ex-wife Denise Rich was a prominent Democratic donor. The pardon wiped clean charges for which the fugitive evaded trial.

As attorney general, Holder has had a chance to atone for his bad pardon recommendations by pushing commutations for low-level federal inmates who don’t have cozy connections with Democratic heavyweights. But he has been slow to use the pardon attorney’s office to champion relief for low-level drug offenders — many of them minorities — sentenced to decades behind bars thanks to the excesses of federal prosecutors. Holder can be brutal when black communities charge racial profiling by beat cops, who don’t work for Washington, but not on overzealous federal law enforcement under his own jurisdiction.

In his first term, Obama issued one commutation. Finally, in December 2013, Obama commuted the sentences of eight crack offenders serving draconian federal mandatory minimum terms. That was great. But then in April, Holder announced a clemency initiative for nonviolent low-level drug offenders who had served at least 10 years and stayed out of trouble. There have been 11 commutations since then — which makes the new initiative a cover for the administration’s paucity on pardons and commutations.

That’s par for the course for Holder. …

February 10, 2015

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Remember when the Dems were going to own the world forever. Michael Barone says the man who wrote the book on the Dem majority is having second thoughts.

John Judis, co-author of the book The Emerging Democratic Majority, now says in an article in National Journal that the majority has disappeared. His title: “The Emerging Republican Advantage.”

The original book, published in the Republican year of 2002, forecast accurately the groups that would make up the Democratic majority coalition that emerged in the 2006 and 2008 elections: blacks, Hispanics, gentry liberals, single women, young voters.

But as Judis writes now, that coalition has come apart. That’s partly because of diminished support from Millennials and Hispanics, but mostly because of additional white working-class defections and erosion among suburbanites unhappy with higher government spending and taxes.

In fact, he now says that the majority he predicted endured for only two elections. President Obama was re-elected with a reduced 51 percent of the vote, but Republicans won the House in 2010, 2012 and 2014, and the Senate in 2014. Democratic strength in governors’ mansions and state legislatures is at its lowest level since the 1920s. …  

 

 

Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics has more.

… Judis’ lengthy essay is a big deal, and well worth reading. He argues that Republicans have managed to bring together middle- and working-class whites, as well as middle-class Hispanics, who don’t see the obvious advantages to the Democratic platform that poor and upper-class voters do. This has allowed Republicans to win expanded majorities in the House and Senate and to compete effectively for the presidency. In short, Judis now sees an emerging Republican advantage.

This is a debate I’ve been involved in since my earliest days at RealClearPolitics. My own book, “The Lost Majority,” started as a rebuttal to Judis and Teixeira’s book, but became more of a companion to it (more on this later). While I don’t see a meaningful Republican advantage emerging long-term, Judis’ views and mine seem to be otherwise more or less in accord. In the end, political coalitions in a large, diverse republic such as our own are, and always have been, inherently unstable. Issues that bind groups together in one election disappear, while new issue cleavages threaten to break groups off. Coalitions are ultimately like water balloons: When you press down on one side, another side pops up. The Democratic coalition of the late aughts proves to be no exception. …

 

 

More on the strength of the parties comes from Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard.

… Another interesting observation from Trende and Byler’s data is that, contrary to proponents of the “Emerging Democratic Majority” thesis, which holds that a coalition of the “ascendant” will drive ever-larger Democratic margins, there has been a trend toward the GOP over the last 30 years. Beyond the ebbs and flows of the cycles, the GOP has been steadily improving its national standing. Its low points in each political cycle are not as low as they used to be, and its high points are higher.

Consider the most recent low, in 2008. Per Trende and Byler, the GOP was still in a slightly stronger position in 2008 than it was after its 1992 rout. And it was substantially improved relative to 1978, 1976, 1964, 1962, and 1960. In fact, the GOP’s net standing in 2008 was similar to 1966, which is remembered as a comeback year for the Republican party.

Meanwhile, the party’s highs are getting higher. Across all subpresidential offices, the GOP today holds a greater share of power than at any time since 1928. And no other cycle in the postwar era comes close to 2014 in terms of Republican subpresidential strength—not in Congress and certainly not in the state capitals. Below the White House, the GOP’s current standing rivals historical blowouts like 1928, 1894, and 1860.

Remember all this next time you read an article about how the Democrats are on the rise. The reality is that the transfer of power in 2008 was entirely predictable, given the economic downturn and the fact that the GOP had already controlled the White House for eight years. Meanwhile, Barack Obama’s high-water mark—a seven-point victory over John McCain—was less than the high points for Eisenhower, Kennedy/Johnson, Nixon/Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. Moreover, Obama’s presidential victory has led to a GOP resurgence in lower offices on a scale that only octogenarians have ever seen before. …

 

 

Christopher Booker of the Telegraph, UK writes on the global warming fraud. 

Although it has been emerging for seven years or more, one of the most extraordinary scandals of our time has never hit the headlines. Yet another little example of it lately caught my eye when, in the wake of those excited claims that 2014 was “the hottest year on record”, I saw the headline on a climate blog: “Massive tampering with temperatures in South America”. The evidence on Notalotofpeopleknowthat, uncovered by Paul Homewood, was indeed striking.

Puzzled by those “2014 hottest ever” claims, which were led by the most quoted of all the five official global temperature records – Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) – Homewood examined a place in the world where Giss was showing temperatures to have risen faster than almost anywhere else: a large chunk of South America stretching from Brazil to Paraguay.

Noting that weather stations there were thin on the ground, he decided to focus on three rural stations covering a huge area of Paraguay. Giss showed it as having recorded, between 1950 and 2014, a particularly steep temperature rise of more than 1.5C: twice the accepted global increase for the whole of the 20th century.

But when Homewood was then able to check Giss’s figures against the original data from which they were derived, he found that they had been altered. Far from the new graph showing any rise, it showed temperatures in fact having declined over those 65 years by a full degree. When he did the same for the other two stations, he found the same. In each case, the original data showed not a rise but a decline.

Homewood had in fact uncovered yet another example of the thousands of pieces of evidence coming to light in recent years that show that something very odd has been going on with the temperature data relied on by the world’s scientists. And in particular by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has driven the greatest and most costly scare in history: the belief that the world is in the grip of an unprecedented warming. …

 

 

Chris Booker has more.

… Two weeks ago, under the headline “How we are being tricked by flawed data on global warming”, I wrote about Paul Homewood, who, on his Notalotofpeopleknowthat blog, had checked the published temperature graphs for three weather stations in Paraguay against the temperatures that had originally been recorded. In each instance, the actual trend of 60 years of data had been dramatically reversed, so that a cooling trend was changed to one that showed a marked warming.

This was only the latest of many examples of a practice long recognised by expert observers around the world – one that raises an ever larger question mark over the entire official surface-temperature record.

Following my last article, Homewood checked a swathe of other South American weather stations around the original three. In each case he found the same suspicious one-way “adjustments”. First these were made by the US government’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN). They were then amplified by two of the main official surface records, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) and the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), which use the warming trends to estimate temperatures across the vast regions of the Earth where no measurements are taken. Yet these are the very records on which scientists and politicians rely for their belief in “global warming”.

Homewood has now turned his attention to the weather stations across much of the Arctic, between Canada (51 degrees W) and the heart of Siberia (87 degrees E). Again, in nearly every case, the same one-way adjustments have been made, to show warming up to 1 degree C or more higher than was indicated by the data that was actually recorded. …

February 8, 2015

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Larry Arnn gives a send off to Martin Gilbert, historian. 

In summer 1940, as war raged, the British government sent several hundred children, including 3-year-old Martin Gilbert, to safety in Canada. The children berthed aboard the Duchess of Bedford in a 50-ship convoy, and after the destroyer escort turned back, the convoy was attacked by the Germans and five ships sank.

The Duchess sailed on safely, past the icebergs of Labrador, “marvelous for children to behold [and] among my first memories,” Gilbert wrote. Soon after, another boat with 77 children evacuees was sunk by the Germans, drowning them all, and the scheme was abandoned.

In summer 1944, Winston Churchill —who from the start had disliked the idea of sending British children overseas, calling it a “scuttle”—arranged for many of the young evacuees, including Gilbert, to return aboard an American troopship from New York.

Churchill specifically asked the Admiralty to make sure, amid other responsibilities in the aftermath of the Normandy landings, that there be enough life jackets for the extra children.

So began the life of Sir Martin Gilbert, who died at age 78 on Tuesday in London. He is best known as Churchill’s official biographer. He served as adviser to Prime Minister John Major and was soon after awarded knighthood in 1995. …

 

 

Weekly Standard has more on Gilbert.

The passing of Sir Martin Gilbert at the age of 78 marked a sad milestone. He achieved popular acclaim as the official biographer of Winston Churchill, the man whose in-depth eight-volume biography served as the gold standard reference work about the greatest statesman of the twentieth century. He also was a prolific writer of Jewish history, an observer of world events, and an author of many atlases. He was an excellent researcher, with a keen eye to detail, who skillfully distilled complex issues into flowing narrative with popular appeal.

Gilbert took on the role of official historian of Churchill in 1968 after Churchill’s son Randolph died. Randolph began the official biography of his father, leading a team of researchers, which included Gilbert beginning in 1962. Randolph and his team wrote two volumes of the biography, and they were disjointed and not very well written. I once asked Gilbert why Randolph’s volumes were so lacking, and he said that Randolph had great ideas but wasn’t disciplined in his execution. Gilbert was, to say the least, more disciplined, and he executed Randolph’s plan very well. …

 

 

As does the Washington Post

Martin Gilbert, who documented the life of Winston Churchill, the events of World War II and the Holocaust, the founding of the state of Israel and the course of the 20th century in more than 80 volumes that made him known as a preeminent historian of his era, died Feb. 3 in London. He was 78. …

… The grandson of Eastern European Jews, Mr. Gilbert grew up in England during the momentous events that he would later document, meticulously and tirelessly, as one of the most prolific scholars of modern history. “He writes books,” a reviewer once observed, “the way the rest of us write shopping lists.”

“He had a unique way,” said Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt, “of absorbing a plethora of details, personalities, facts, figures and weaving them into a coherent whole and making them utterly accessible both to the historian who would learn tremendous detail from his work and to the layperson who . . . would be captivated by his style.”

 

 

For a jarring juxtaposition, we move to Matthew Continetti’s post on the problems experienced by Martin Scorsese as he tried to create a Bill Clinton biopic. Written in the style of a Hollywood script we are left to wonder how the same culture created Martin Gilbert and President Pig.

…“I’ve worked with Keitel, De Niro, Pesci, Liza Minelli, with Jerry Lewis—Jerry Lewis—Sharon Stone, Brad Pitt, Willem Defoe and Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz and Nick Cage and DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey—some of the surliest, most Method-obsessed, prickly bat-s—t crazy sons of bitches on the planet. And they have nothing on these people. Nothing. A producer credit for Chelsea, yeah. Maybe I’ll name the frigging granddaughter key grip. That will make grandma glow.”

Scorsese arrives at his destination: A brownstone in the middle of the block. He walks up the front steps and unlocks the door.

The camera pushes in as he speaks so that his face and the phone fill the frame by the end of the monologue.

“Here’s the thing, you know, the thing is, they are terrified about losing. Absolutely terrified. Her book went nowhere, she can’t fill a room unless she’s talking to Goldman Sachs, they are yesterday’s news and they are so obsessed with projecting an aura of inevitability they won’t allow any message to go out that they haven’t already pre-approved and, you know, groped. That’s why they killed the television shows, went after the authors, why they won’t let me make the movie I want to make.”

A pause. We hear him opening the door.

“And you know why they’re terrified? They know this is it. This is the final go-around. End of line.”

He listens for a moment, and then laughs.

“Yeah. Exactly. The Last Waltz.”

Scorsese leaves the frame. We hear the door close.

And we fade to black.

 

 

Ed Morrissey posts on yet more history nonsense from President Trainwreck. The Democrat party has a lot to answer for between Pig and Trainwreck.

The Washington Post reports on the blowback, with critics arguing that the President of the United States has more important tasks than finger-wagging about events from 600 or more years ago … like developing a national strategy to fight the threats in this century:

“Obama’s remarks spoke to his unsparing, sometimes controversial, view of the United States — where triumphalism is often overshadowed by a harsh assessment of where Americans must try harder to live up to their own self-image. Only by admitting these shortcomings, he has argued, can we fix problems and move beyond them.

“There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency, that can pervert and distort our faith,” he said at the breakfast.

But many critics believe that the president needs to focus more on enemies of the United States.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called Obama’s comments about Christianity “an unfortunate attempt at a wrongheaded moral comparison.”

What we need more is a “moral framework from the administration and a clear strategy for defeating ISIS,” he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.”

Also at the Post, Aaron Blake notices that Obama refuses to link Islam to present terrorism in the same way he linked Christianity to the Crusades and slavery, and that even Democrats are beginning to tire of it: …

 

 

The head of the Gallup organization has just discovered the unemployment figures are lies. This has been plain to see for years.

Here’s something that many Americans — including some of the smartest and most educated among us — don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment. …

… There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie. …

February 5, 2015

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Seth Mandel posts on Scott Walker’s refusal to allow the Dem/Media coalition to set the terms of the debate.

… The lesson, as I interpret it, is that the press and the Democrats speak the same language. That’s not surprising; the mainstream press, especially during national elections, functions as a messaging office for the Democrats. Because of this, they just assume that in order to be a serious presidential candidate you have to be like them, like the Democrats.

Walker doesn’t agree. And he’s been extraordinarily successful of late by not agreeing.

Part of the media’s terrible coverage of national politics is the reliance on the personal: it matters to them who is saying it more than what is said. Romney got tagged as uncaring because he’s rich. But the classic conservative policies don’t reek of plutocracy when coming from the new crop of Republican stars, many of whom came from modest beginnings or are the children of immigrants, or both. Walker doesn’t even have a college degree, which itself is incomprehensible to modern Democrats, who are elitist and credentialist and genuinely don’t know what life is like in much of the country.

And neither does the media. Which is how someone like Walker could be so successful and still blindside the national press, who would struggle to find Wisconsin on a map. And it’s why Walker is a threat to other high-profile Republicans who have accepted the Democratic/media framing of the issues in order to make a national pitch. Only one of them can be right.

 

 

Jonah Goldberg says Walker is the “vanilla candidate.”

Vanilla is the most popular ice-cream flavor in America, not because it is the best (that would be coffee) but because it is the least objectionable. Put another way, vanilla is the most acceptable to the most people; it’s not many people’s favorite, but nobody hates it.

And that’s why Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is the vanilla candidate.

A new Des Moines Register poll hasWalker in first place — narrowly — among likely Republican caucus-goers. With Mitt Romney included in the poll, Walker was the respondents’ first choice with 15 percentage points. Kentucky senator Rand Paul was second with 14 percentage points and Romney third with 13. With Romney out, Walker rose to 16 percentage points and Paul to 15. First place in a tightly packed field is better than any of the alternatives, but it’s not that big a deal this far out.

The big deal is the vanilla factor (which sounds like a terribly boring spy novel). According to the Register story that accompanied the poll, 51 percent of caucus-goers want an “anti-establishment candidate without a lot of ties to Washington or Wall Street who would change the way things are done and challenge conventional thinking.” Meanwhile, 43 percent prefer a more establishment figure “with executive experience who understands business and how to execute ideas.”

Walker is in the golden spot. He can, like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day listening to Andie MacDowell explain the perfect man, reply “that’s me” to almost everything Republicans say they want. Executive experience? Challenge conventional thinking? Anti-establishment fighter? “Me, me, me.”

Respondents looking for an establishment candidate said Romney was their first choice. Those preferring an outsider said Paul was their first choice. But both groups said their second choice was a big scoop of Walker. …

 

 

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provides background of Scott Walker’s upbringing as a pastor’s son.

… Llew Walker had only some 90 people in weekly worship, but he made ambitious plans for his flock, enlarging the building with a renovation and installing the first indoor baptismal tank.

“Rev. Walker has in fact been a shepherd,” reads a history of the church written in 1976 toward the end of his tenure. “…We try to say ‘thank you’ but words are inadequate.”

Since then, the church building has changed little. With the hymn “Amazing Grace” rising from the organ on a recent Sunday, it was easy to imagine what the simple services would have been like in the Walkers’ time here.

“‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved,” the congregation sang.

Scott Walker learned the words of faith here, language that he commands with ease today.

“First off, I want to thank God,” Walker said in his November re-election speech. “I want to thank God for his abundant grace and mercy. Win or lose, it is more than sufficient for each and every one of us.”

Today, Scott Walker’s church, Meadowbrook in Wauwatosa, is large, evangelical and nondenominational.

The American Baptist faith of his youth is traditional but not sharply conservative, treating the Bible as the inspired word of God but also ordaining women and serving communion to other Christian visitors.

The son learned from his pastor father how to be at ease around people and keep them at ease around him. To parishioner Betty Balsley, Llew Walker and his family were as unpretentious and “common as an old shoe.” …

 

 

Turning our attention to Netanyahu’s visit, Jonathan Tobin says it is the administration that has politicized the Iran debate.

… Up until Obama entered the White House, opposition to Iran and support for sanctions was a matter of bipartisan consensus. Though his rhetoric about stopping Iran has always been good, the president has opposed virtually every sanctions bill that has been proposed, including some that he now brags about having brought Iran to the table. An overwhelming majority of both Houses of Congress comprising members of both parties have supported increased sanctions on Iran for the past two years. The only consistent opponent has been the president. It is he who has sought to make sanctions a partisan issue by leaning on Democrats to oppose the measure out of loyalty to him. He has also stooped to exploit the resentment many Democrats feel toward Speaker Boehner as a reason to back his stand on Iran. Though Dermer may have erred by not consulting with the White House about Boehner’s invitation, the decision to turn this into a major kerfuffle is purely a product of administration politics, not an understandable desire on the part of the Israelis to aid those backing sanctions.

Let’s also note the hypocrisy of many of his critics. The same people crying foul about Dermer and Netanyahu didn’t protest when British Prime Minister David Cameron lobbied members of the Senate on behalf of Obama’s stand on Iran. Some of those veteran American diplomats who are piling on are also guilty of having very short memories. One of the key witnesses against Dermer in the Times article is former State Department official Daniel Kurtzer who said it was unheard of for a diplomat to go behind the back of a country’s government and work with its domestic opponents. But Kurtzer and the rest of the peace processers who worked for a number of administrations over the last 25 years have been guilty of doing just that whenever a Likud prime minister was in power. Both Presidents Clinton and Obama have worked tirelessly to undermine and defeat Netanyahu throughout his three terms in office in ways that Dermer and his boss would never dream of trying to do to Obama.

Say what you will about the mess that Dermer and Netanyahu find themselves in and for which they bear some responsibility. But the prime minister’s scheduled speech has become a diplomatic cause célèbre due to the partisan political games being played by the White House, not the Israelis. It is Obama that is undermining the U.S.-Israel alliance by seeking to appease Iran, not the efforts of Dermer to rally Americans behind a stand that is in the best interests of both countries.

 

 

Peter Wehner calls him the anti-Israel president. 

I wanted to add to Jonathan’s post on President Obama and Israel, but perhaps sharpen some points just a bit.

The Obama administration is unusually petty and sophomoric. The attacks leveled against Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, are part of a troubling pattern in which officials in the Israeli government–including and especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu–are vilified.

No world leader has been treated by President Obama and his administration with the contempt they have shown Prime Minister Netanyahu–from this snub in 2010 to being called a “coward” and “chickens*** prime minister” by senior administration officials.

But the problem goes much deeper than a personality clash. President Obama is, quite simply, anti-Israel. In every conceivable situation and circumstance, the president and his aides give the benefit of the doubt not to Israel but to its enemies. This despite the fact that Israel is among America’s longest and best allies, democratic, lawful, takes exquisite steps to prevent civilian deaths in nations committed to destroying it, and has made extraordinary sacrifices for peace. No matter; the pressure that’s applied is always applied most against Israel–even when, as in last year’s conflict with Hamas, Israel was the victim of lethal attacks.

This is morally shameful. In a world filled with despotic leaders and sadistic and ruthless regimes–North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, and on and on–which nation alone does Mr. Obama become “enraged” at? Which is the object of his disdain? Which provokes his white-hot anger?

Answer: Israel. Has it struck you, as it has struck me, that with every other nation, including the most repressive and anti-American on earth, Mr. Obama is careful never to give offense, to always extend the olive branch, and to treat their leaders with unusual deference and respect? Except for the Jewish State of Israel. It always seems to be in the Obama crosshair. …

 

 

It’s not just the GOP.  Grown-up Dems are busy rebuking the administration’s foreign follies. Jackson Diehl of WaPo has the story. Mr Diehl is Deputy Editorial Page Editor of the Post

For more than two years, a breach has been opening between President Obama and the foreign policy establishment of the Democratic Party. Last week, as Russia pressed a new offensive in Ukraine and the Senate debated sanctions on Iran, it cracked open a little wider.

First came the introduction in the Senate, and lopsided passage by the Banking Committee, of a bill that would place new sanctions on Iran if no agreement limits its nuclear program by June. Though fiercely opposed by Obama, the measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, had won the express support of 13 other Democratic senators by the end of the week. A letter signed by Menendez plus nine of them pledged to delay a final floor vote until March 24, the deadline set by the administration for finalizing the framework of a ­bargain.

While that postponement avoided an immediate confrontation with Obama, the larger message of the senators was clear: They are “deeply skeptical,” said the letter, that Obama will obtain adequate concessions from Tehran — despite what has been an increasingly single-minded diplomatic push.

At week’s end came another de facto vote of no confidence: a report by eight foreign policy luminaries, due to be formally released Monday, saying the president should “immediately change” his policy of refusing to supply Ukraine with weapons to defend its besieged eastern provinces. “Washington,” it said bluntly, has “not devoted sufficient attention to the threat posed by Russia and its implications for Western security. This must change.”

This rebuke was signed by Michèle Flournoy, the deputy defense secretary in Obama’s first term; Ivo Daalder, his first-term NATO ambassador; and Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state who is president of the deep-blue Brookings Institution. …

 

 

Andrew Malcolm ends our week with late night humor.

SNL: President Obama has threatened that Israeli Prime Ministers Netanyahu will pay ‘a price’ for agreeing to speak to a joint session of Congress on Iran next month. Which brings the number of countries threatening Israel up to an even all of them.

Fallon: A new helicopter service called Gotham Air now offers cheap trips from Manhattan to JFK or Newark airports for just $99. ‘Cause if there’s two words I trust together in the same sentence, it’s “cheap” and “helicopter.”

Conan: Last week Chris Christie and Mitt Romney met for dinner. Afterwards, Romney said, “It’s the first time I couldn’t afford to pick up the check.” …