The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

97 Percent

On May 16th, Barack Obama tweeted:" "Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous."

Hmmm. Really? 97 percent? It turns out that the president is about as accurate with that statement as he was when he told the American people that " ... if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." More on the assertion that "97 percent of scientists agree ..." in a moment, but first a word of caution.

The Obama administration intends to issue draconian EPA regulations (the president cannot convince the Democrat majority senate to back actual legislation) that will cripple many power plants that use coal. Since 40 percent of our electric generating capacity is coal-based, that means significant added cost to consumers and businesses. But no matter, who can argue with 97 percent?

And anyway, the Obama economy is booming, so a small disruption in energy generation certainly won't hurt. Oh, wait, the economy isn't booming? Quarterly GDP growth (just revised downward) is almost non-existent? One in six men between 25 and 55 is out of work? Who knew? But who cares, anyway? Let's increase energy costs. We can afford to lose a few more jobs, can't we?

Anyhow ... let's take a look at that 97 percent number. Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer present a well researched article that concludes:
... the assertion that 97% of scientists believe that climate change is a man-made, urgent problem is a fiction. The so-called consensus comes from a handful of surveys and abstract-counting exercises that have been contradicted by more reliable research.
They then go on to examine the the articles and studies that lead to the 97 percent number and debunk each (read the whole thing). Some of the sources selectively survey the literature, others survey exceedingly small numbers of scientists, still others don't consider the opinions of many physicists, meteorologists, and others who better understand non-anthropogenic causes for climate variation. For example, from Bast and Spencer:
The "97 percent" figure in the Zimmerman/Doran (2009) survey represents the views of only 79 respondents who listed climate science as an area of expertise and said they published more than half of their recent peer-reviewed papers on climate change. Seventy-nine scientists—of the 3,146 who responded to the survey—does not a consensus make.
As I've noted in many other posts, climate change is a left-wing pseudo-religion, and one of its tenets is the 97 percent number. No amount of factual information will sway the true believers. Problems occur when left-wing ideologues set government policy based on belief, rather than facts.

Bast and Spencer conclude with the following comments:
Rigorous international surveys conducted by German scientists Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch —most recently published in Environmental Science & Policy in 2010—have found that most climate scientists disagree with the consensus on key issues such as the reliability of climate data and computer models. They do not believe that climate processes such as cloud formation and precipitation are sufficiently understood to predict future climate change.

Surveys of meteorologists repeatedly find a majority oppose the alleged consensus. Only 39.5% of 1,854 American Meteorological Society members who responded to a survey in 2012 said man-made global warming is dangerous.

Finally, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—which claims to speak for more than 2,500 scientists—is probably the most frequently cited source for the consensus. Its latest report claims that "human interference with the climate system is occurring, and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems." Yet relatively few have either written on or reviewed research having to do with the key question: How much of the temperature increase and other climate changes observed in the 20th century was caused by man-made greenhouse-gas emissions? The IPCC lists only 41 authors and editors of the relevant chapter of the Fifth Assessment Report addressing "anthropogenic and natural radiative forcing."

Of the various petitions on global warming circulated for signatures by scientists, the one by the Petition Project, a group of physicists and physical chemists based in La Jolla, Calif., has by far the most signatures—more than 31,000 (more than 9,000 with a Ph.D.). It was most recently published in 2009, and most signers were added or reaffirmed since 2007. The petition states that "there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of . . . carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."

We could go on, but the larger point is plain. There is no basis for the claim that 97% of scientists believe that man-made climate change is a dangerous problem.
No matter. Climate change is religious doctrine and the Obama administration will issue an environmental fatwa, regardless of the facts or the consequences.


The Telegraph (U.K.) reports:
Prince Charles has called for an end to capitalism as we know it in order to save the planet from global warming.

In a speech to business leaders in London, the Prince said that a “fundamental transformation of global capitalism” was necessary in order to halt “dangerously accelerating climate change” that would “bring us to our own destruction”.

He called for companies to focus on “approaches that achieve lasting and meaningful returns” by protecting the environment, improving their employment practices and helping the vulnerable to develop a new "inclusive capitalism".
Those of us who are climate change heretics have argued for some time that the subtext of the climate change religion includes a strong anti-capitalist strain.

I suspect that Prince Charles has a kindred spirit in Barack Obama. To his credit, Prince Charles has at least been honest and has taken a strong anti-capitalist position that he must now defend. Barack Obama? Not so much.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Small Teeth

The Obama administration seems paralyzed by the VA scandal. Unlike the many other scandals that have plagued his presidency, this one cannot be overcome with lies, stonewalling, and public relations. It will not be buried by the media (as virtually every other Obama scandal has been) and it won't go away. The president's lack of decisive action is no longer viewed as careful deliberation, but rather as fecklessness.

Peggy Noonan decribes the situation accurately when she writes:
The president's inattention to management—his laxity, his failure to understand that government isn't magic, that it must be forced into working, clubbed each day into achieving adequacy, and watched like a hawk—is undercutting what he stands for, the progressive project that says the federal government is the primary answer to the nation's ills.

He is allowing the federal government to become what any large institution will become unless you stop it: a slobocracy.

The president and his staff don't seem to know that by the time things start bubbling up from the agencies and reach the Oval Office the scandal has already happened, even if it's not in the press yet, and the answer isn't to prepare proactive spin but to clean up the mess, end the scandal, fire people—a lot of people—establish accountability, change bad practices, and make the agency work again.

The administration's sharpest attention goes to public relations, not reality. This time even their spin has failed. They didn't fully apprehend the moment or the media landscape. Media people, cable and mainstream, are very, very interested in showing their respect for and engagement with veterans. They made a mistake with the veterans of Vietnam; they'll never make it again. They like being helpful to heroes, and it does them good to be associated with regular men and women who've served. Vets, their friends and families comprise a significant share of the audience. The VA scandal not only allows journalists to stand up for vets, it allows them to demonstrate, at just the right moment—in the waning years of the administration, with the president's numbers low and his standing wobbly—a certain detachment from Mr. Obama's fortunes. They're independent.
It's the last paragraph in Noonan's comments that is the most insightful. After almost six years of actively protecting a presidency that has repeatedly demonstrated its incompetence, mendaciousness, and divisiveness, the main stream media can now begin to criticize, using the VA as a backdrop.

Of course, criticism is still muted, and media investigations to date have been lackluster, but there are few kind words. Obama's trained hamsters have grown small teeth. We'll see whether they sharpen them.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Real Question

In the aftermath of his interview on NBC, the media has resurrected the debate about whether Edward Snowden is a patriotic whistle blower or a traitor. Snowden released megabytes of classified NSA documents, indicating that the government agency has broad-based powers to spy on email, your smartphone, domestic phone calls, and the like. Those of us who have followed the NSA for decades have not been surprised by these revelations, but their scope and depth at the domestic level have been troubling.

For those who fear terrorist attacks in the United States, these capabilities provide the Feds with requisite information to interdict and/or destroy terrorist cells. For privacy advocates, this is a gross violation of the constitution. Both views are correct.

The real question is whether the federal government can be trusted to use the information it gathers for the sole purpose of protecting the homeland.

It is worthwhile to have a healthy skepticism of the actions and motives of every presidential administration—to some extent, all try to centralize power, protect their position, and use political intrigue to outflank their opposition.

But no administration in my lifetime has done these things more openly, arrogantly, and (some whould say) effectively as the Obama administration. And therein lies the problem.

The Obama administration has presided over the single most serious abuse of government power in the past 60 years—the IRS scandal. Aided by their trained hamsters in the media, the administration has effectively stonewalled the truth. But the facts are clear—a major and powerful government agency was weaponized against the opponents of the administration. If this gross abuse of power can happen within the IRS, why on earth should we believe that it could not happen within the NSA? Why should we believe that a clandestine supporter of the administration within the NSA, spurred on by a "friend" close to this administration, might leak private and damaging information about a opponent of the president?

The NSA operates in the way it does because American citizens trust that the government will not use its powers to attack them. For anyone who is paying even a smidgen (to coin a phrase) of attention to the many scandals that swirl around this White House, the Obama Administration has eroded that trust. If they can weaponize the IRS, they can weaponize the NSA. Even worse, they have established a precident that might be followed and extended by future administrations.

Snowden is no hero, but in an indirect way, his actions may have precluded what could have become still another gross abuse of power by this and future administrations.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Consistently Bad

To much fanfare by most of the trained hamsters in the media, Barack Obama announced that he would have all troops out of Afghanistan by 2016. His speech gave the clear implication, not challenged by the media, that he had dramatically reduced troop levels that were put in place by George W. Bush.

In fact, the former president made many mistakes in Iraq, believing incorrectly, that we could nation-build in a country that is far from ready for democratic governance.  But Bush had the wisdom to keep troop levels in Afghanistan low, correctly recognizing that there was no chance of saving the Afghans from themselves.

It was Barack Obama who escalated troop levels from 30,000 to a peak on 111,000—a mistake in my view. Three quarters of all combat deaths in Afghanistan occurred on Obama's watch.The Islamist Taliban remains strong and will likely reclaim control of portions of the country once we exit. Given that, why not exit now, rather than 2016?  The results will be exactly the same, but lives and taxpayer dollars will be saved. Opponents of the president suggest that the 2016 presidential elections might have something to do with it, but who knows?

The Washington Post editorial board comments:
YOU CAN’T fault President Obama for inconsistency. After winning election in 2008, he reduced the U.S. military presence in Iraq to zero. After helping to topple Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, he made sure no U.S. forces would remain. He has steadfastly stayed aloof, except rhetorically, from the conflict in Syria. And on Tuesday he promised to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

The Afghan decision would be understandable had Mr. Obama’s previous choices proved out. But what’s remarkable is that the results also have been consistent — consistently bad. Iraq has slid into something close to civil war, with al-Qaeda retaking territory that U.S. Marines once died to liberate. In Syria, al-Qaeda has carved out safe zones that senior U.S. officials warn will be used as staging grounds for attacks against Europe and the United States. Libya is falling apart, with Islamists, secularists, military and other factions battling for control.

We hope Afghanistan can avoid that fate. But the last time the United States cut and ran from there, after the Soviet Union withdrew, the result was the Taliban takeover, al-Qaeda’s safe havens and, eventually, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, after which everyone said, well, we won’t make that mistake again.
The Washington Post has been a consistent defender of this president, but now even they are beginning recoil from the president's abysmal results. Consistent defense of "consistently bad" policy is even too much for WaPo.


Richard Fernandez discusses the significant logistics challenges facing the US military as they attempt to execute Barack Obama's "strategy" for withdrawal. Unimpressed with Obama's approach, Fernandez writes:
A president who flies to Afghanistan on Memorial Day for what is essentially a photo-op; who is unable to meet the Afghan president and then announces a plan to leave 10,000 men in country — to do God knows what — ‘if the Afghans agree’ is thinking more like Axelrod than the Napoleon he affects to be. For Obama it’s politics, talking points and optics all the time. Times, distances, relative forces — all the mental baggage of strategy — seem absent from his mind. There is nothing American troops can achieve between 2015 and 2016 except to cover the incumbent president’s political behind.

Obama is approaching the problem of withdrawal with the same vapid incompetence that seems to infuse everything he does. The press should call him on the specifics of his withdrawal. But given that Jay Carney will give the answer, what’s the use?

Monday, May 26, 2014

All is Lost

Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post has infuriated the many climate change true believers by doing something that is unprecedented in a mainstream publication. She has attempted to make fun of the subject. The horror!

Because "climate change" (previously known as "global warming" until global warming stopped happening) has become a pseudo-religion among many on the Left, there are things you simply can't do:
  • Question the very weak science that allows true believers to do the equivalent of shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater,
  • Suggest that global warming predictive models are questionable and probably invalid,
  • Observe that 100-year forward projections are laughably inaccurate,
  • Comment that the dire predictions of climate doom assume no technological change over the time period in question (that's zero technological change over a century of more)
  • Posit that if even if significant warming or ice melt is occurring its cause is not anthropogenic but rather, natural and cyclical,
  • Ridicule the hysterical projections and warnings that true believers publish whenever interest wanes.
Ms. Petri (surely, now branded as a heretic) used ridicule, and the warmists were not amused. Here's a small snippet of Alexandra Petri's piece in the WaPo:
What happened to the sheet ice?
Something horrible and irreversible.
Can you be a little more specific?
According to NASA, the melt of the Antarctic sheet ice “appears unstoppable.” UNSTOPPABLE!
What is our first concern?
Sea levels over the next century may rise even more than we have predicted, which could displace millions of people from coastal areas.
What is our second concern?
I fear we may unleash some sort of Lovecraftian, eldritch horror from beneath the ice or around the poles.
Such as?
We might awaken the Elder Gods, or at the very least unleash a horde of shoggoths. (Is horde the correct term? Cats come in clowters, owls come in parliaments, crows socialize in murders — what do shoggoths group in?)
But it was a NASA scientist, and what have NASA scientists done for us in the decades since the moon landing?
Look, NASA scientists are the world’s leading experts in watching things shrink more than they expected over time. They have spent decades staring at their own budget.
Should we panic?
Yes! YES! EVERYONE PANIC! Everyone panic, but stay cool, to keep the melting from speeding up. Panic slowly and calmly.
How long do we have?
At a minimum, two hundred years.
My goodness ... only 200 years!!!!

Here I sit in my house in South Florida—elevation 4.1 feet above sea level and only about 5 miles from the Atlantic ocean. It's time to panic! I'm going to buy a row boat tomorrow or maybe next week, or maybe next month or maybe ... nah, ALL IS LOST! I'll just curl up in a ball and wait for the flood.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Operation Choke Point

I would be among the first to argue that websites (or even physical storefronts) that offer get-rich-quick schemes or high interest payday loans preying on poor people, or escort services, or porn sites, or on-line gambling offer no redeeming social value. But all of these businesses are legal, and although they all have a certain sleeze factor, our body of laws allows them to operate.

But the current reigning political class has decided that legal or not, these businesses should be choked into bankruptcy. How? Enter the Justice Department's Operation Choke Point. Todd Zwicki explains:
The Justice Department's "Operation Choke Point” initiative has been shrouded in secrecy, but now it is starting to come to light. I first heard about the program in January ... and since then it has been difficult to discover details about it. It is so named because through strangling the providers of financial services to the targeted industries, the government can “choke off” the oxygen (money) needed for these industries to survive. Without an ability to process payments, the businesses – especially online vendors — cannot survive.

The general outline is the DOJ and bank regulators are putting the screws to banks and other third-party payment processors to refuse banking services to companies and industries that are deemed to pose a “reputation risk” to the bank. Most controversially, the list of dubious industries is populated by enterprises that are entirely, or at least generally, legal. Tom Blumer’s extremely informative post summarizing what is known to date about Operation Choke Point reproduces the list, which includes things such as ammunition sales, escort services, get-quick-rich schemes, on-line gambling, “racist materials” and payday loans. Quite obviously, some of these things are not like the other; moreover, just because there are some bad apples within a legal industry doesn’t justify effectively destroying a legal industry through secret executive fiat.
It seems that this administration encourages the use of federal agencies to intimidate and even destroy those that don't pass its ideological or 'moral' muster. The IRS scandal is a frightening example of direct government intimidation in which opponents of the Obama administration were directly targeted by the most intimidating of all federal agencies. Operation Choke Point is an example of another Federal Agency putting pressure on the banking industry to choke businesses that the current elite's find objectionable (even though those businesses are legal). Since legislation cannot be passed to accomplish their whims, the current administration works in the shadows, using clandestine regulations and subtle pressure to accomplish its goals. After all, they are always right and always just, aren't they?

The problem isn't the current list of seedy businesses but rather the direction in which that list might grow. What if under a left wing administration, there was an attempt to 'choke' a conservative fund raiser by not allowing it to accept credit card donations? The left might like that, but would it like a conservative administration choking planned parenthood by shutting down credit card donations to that group?

Operation Choke Point is still another example of government overreach—of big government trying to dictate politically correct activities and punish those who don't abide by them.

To paraphrase Glen Reynolds: They told me that if I voted for Mitt Romney, the federal government would try to dictate our lives and morals in ways that many people might find objectionable. I guess they were right.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Buck Stops Nowhere

Conservative commentator, Charles Krauthammer, noted that Barack Obama (with significant help from his trained media hamsters) has dodged any culpabilty for the scandals that plague his administration. Krauthammer said that under this president, "The buck stops nowhere."

Today, in a scathing editorial in the Washington Times, the editors write:
Has there ever been a president in the history of America who knew less than President Obama?

With each new crisis and scandal, Mr. Obama tells Americans that he just didn’t know.

He didn’t know the Veterans Administration was letting America’s veterans languish and die unattended — he learned about it in the newspaper.

He didn’t know the Justice Department was trolling phone records of members of the U.S. media. He didn’t know the ATF was running guns into Mexico; didn’t know the NSA was spying on the German chancellor; didn’t know the Obamacare website was a disaster; didn’t know the IRS was targeting conservative groups.

With every scandal, the president — the CEO of the United States, if you will — said he first learned about it in the papers. If he were head of Apple or IBM, he’d have been fired years ago, because in business, it’s your job to know, and ignorance is, frankly, even worse than failing. Fail = fired.

Each time Mr. Obama is faced with a scandal, he does three things: First, he expresses outrage (he is, after all, a man only of words, not deeds); then, he blames his predecessor, George W. Bush; finally, he wraps the entire mess up in bureaucratic red tape — a blue-ribbon investigation.

That last move, Mr. Obama’s go-to dodge, does two things: No one, not even the president himself, can speak on the matter (“It’s under investigation and we should hold off on any … “); And second, a lengthy probe means Americans will be distracted and move on by the time any final finding is reached.
If this president were a Republican or even a more moderate Democrat, the drum beat from the media would be deafening. One scandal is bad enough, but with Barack Obama there are at least six legitimate scandals. One, the IRS scandal, is far worse that Watergate, and others have resulted in gun-running and deaths (Fast and Furious), the death of the US Ambassador and others (Benghazi), uncontrolled spying on American citizens (NSA), targeting the media (the James Rosen and AP case), the waste of billions in taxpayer money (the Obamacare website), and the latest, the VA scandal.

As the editors of the Washington Times note, the administration's response is obfuscation at first, followed by hardcore stonewalling when they are pressed. We do not have answers in any of these scandals and no one—absolutely no one—has been held to account. It's a travesty.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


As part of my job at our small company, I have to drive up and down I-95 in South Florida almost every day. There are two interesting billboards, sponsored by the Emergency Department at two major competing hospitals. On each of the billboards, there's a digital timer that represents the current wait time at the hospital's emergency department. The numbers vary by the day, but the intent is clear—to indicate that the hospital offers short wait times in its ER, and that's something you should consider if you need emergency medicine. It's called private sector competition.

Now consider an example of public sector health care—the recent VA scandal.

Jonah Goldberg comments:
Many have noted, including our own John Fund, that the VA scandal poses an acute threat to the Obama administration because of how much its problems resemble the criticisms of Obamacare itself. But let’s imagine there was no Obamacare. Let’s imagine that Obama had actually followed through on his occasional promises to focus on the economy and jobs first and foremost and didn’t blunder into the huge wasteful distraction that is the Affordable Care Act.

The lessons of the VA would still be a problem for Obama and for liberals generally.

Why? Because the Democratic party simply is the party of government. It is the party that insists on the nobility, efficacy and intellectual superiority of government. The VA is at the intersection of all the things liberals insist are wise and good and just about government. It is government-run healthcare. It is the tangible fulfillment of a sacred obligation the government has with those who’ve sacrificed most for our nation. It is also the one institution and/or constituency that enjoys huge bipartisan support. The VA, rhetorically and politically, is more sacrosanct and less controversial than Medicare, Social Security, road building, the NIH, or public schools. We are constantly told that we could get so many wonderful, super-fantastic things done if only both sides would lay down their ideological blah blah blah blah and work together for yada yada yada. Well, welcome to the VA. How’s that working out for you?

The White House keeps saying these horrible cases of deception and wrongdoing are “isolated incidents” and not “systemic.” As I asked last night on Special Report, how many isolated incidents do you need before they become systemic? Right now, allegations have surfaced in 19 states. That feels systemic to me. But what do I know?
Federal government programs are doomed to this level of inefficiency, mismanagement, high cost and even fraud because there is no incentive to do better, and nothing that Barack Obama or any president says or does will matter. Nothing!

The way to reduce (but not totally eliminate) inefficiency, mismanagement, high cost, and even fraud is the same in virtually every instance of government malfeasance—downsizing the size of the federal government. In the case of the VA, we need to drastically downsize its staff, its administration and its physical plant, and replace the VA in its current form with private sector providers who will be driven by two dirty words —profit and competition—to provide better care to our vets.

UPDATE (5/21/14)
And this from Kevin O'Brien:
One conclusion we can draw is an old, familiar one: No matter what the issue or activity, bureaucracy's first and strongest instinct is to protect itself in the face of a perceived threat.

Another conclusion is probably just dawning on those Americans with the wit to see it, because so very few of us have had a brush with a medical system of which government is the sole proprietor: Putting a government bureaucracy in charge of one's health is a gamble likely to end badly.

And yet, if Obamacare stands, that is precisely the gamble each and every American eventually will take.

There is no better predictor of the course of a single-payer medical system in the United States than the VA system, because it is a single-payer system.

If an enrolled patient needs something done, he or she applies to the government-run system for approval; waits until the government-run system is ready to act; accepts the government-run system's solution or, if dissatisfied, appeals to that same government-run system for relief. Because the bureaucracy pays the bill, the bureaucracy makes the decisions — when or if treatment will be given, and whether or not the patient has been well enough served.
The 'unimaginable benefits' of a single payer health care system is a well-know progressive fantasy. The reality is much, much different and is exemplified by the VA scandal. If Obamacare survives, it will do to civilian healthcare what the VA has done for military veterans healthcare. We should be very worried.

UPDATE - II (5/24/14):

And this comment about entrusting big government programs with our privacy, our health, our education, and our welfare from Glen Reynolds of Instapundit:
The “best and brightest” are neither particularly good nor evidently bright. We have the worst political class in our nation’s history, which is the best argument for taking power away from them, not granting it to them.

Monday, May 19, 2014


As the number of politically incorrect college commence speakers has grown, even the media has begun to take notice, but at the same time, left-leaning commentators have begun to circle the wagons, suggesting that the speakers are "afraid" to speak and therefore cancel. James Goldgeier provides a typical example:
News reports on college commencement season previously consisted of anodyne lists of the famous and near-famous appearing on campuses across the country, with occasional sound bites of their remarks. Now there appears to be a media watch list to see who will be the next high-profile speaker to decline to appear in cap and gown rather than address restive graduates angry at what the honorary degree recipient represents. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, still tarred by the Iraq war, chose not to give her planned remarks at Rutgers University. Smith College students seem not to have anything against International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde personally, but blame the organization she leads for various ills inflicted on other parts of the world—and the ensuing controversy over her remarks kept Lagarde away. Students at Haverford College demanded Robert Birgeneau apologize for the deployment of campus police against university students protesting tuition increases and budget cuts during his time as chancellor of Berkeley. He, too, chose to cancel.

As the pace has picked up in recent years of commencement no-shows, the invited speakers have provided a familiar magnanimous refrain: Commencement is a time of celebration for students and their families, and we do not wish to be a distraction. Of course, with that statement and their decision not to appear, they provided further distraction, and certainly much more media attention than if they had actually attended commencement. When Rutgers invited Rice, the university knew that any high-level George W. Bush administration official remains controversial due to the Iraq war, as did she. Presumably that would not have been the subject of her address, and her distinguished career provides much motivational material for graduates.
What unmitigated nonsense!

By definition, most commencement speakers have achieved something in their lives. They have had to make difficult decisions, have been outspoken on one or more issues, and yes, may have made mistakes. Why on earth should they submit themselves to being shouted down by a tiny group of (far-Left) students who want to suppress the speaker's desire to speak without interruption? Why should they be the catalyst for the [guaranteed] disruption of an important graduation ceremony?

The self-righteous students who protest these speakers have accomplished almost nothing in their short lives, they have extremely limited experience by virtue of their age, and should have the humility to recognize that not everyone has their world view. Instead, they, like many on the Left, excel at moral preening, spending their time expressing "outrage" that a Hirsi Ali or a Condolezza Rice (racism, anyone?) might have something important to say and should be allowed to say it without interruption or abuse.

At the risk of being crude, these snot-nosed kids have every right to express their feelings. They (and the professors who manipulate them) do not have a right to censor what others in the university community might want to hear nor do they have a right to disrupt a graduation ceremony that the vast majority of students want to enjoy. They are leftist thugs who do what leftist thugs have done for almost a century—ad hominem attacks on people they don't agree with followed by uncivil behavior if their attacks fail.

UPDATE (5/20/2014)
Yale Law Professor, Stephen L. Carter nails it in an open letter to the college students who refuse to listen to opposing views:
In my day, the college campus was a place that celebrated the diversity of ideas. Pure argument was our guide. Staking out an unpopular position was admired -- and the admiration, in turn, provided excellent training in the virtues of tolerance on the one hand and, on the other, integrity.

Your generation, I am pleased to say, seems to be doing away with all that. There’s no need for the ritual give and take of serious argument when, in your early 20s, you already know the answers to all questions. How marvelous it must be to realize at so tender an age that you will never, ever change your mind, because you will never, ever encounter disagreement! How I wish I’d had your confidence and fortitude. I could have spared myself many hours of patient reflection and intellectual struggle over the great issues of the day.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are graduating into a world of enormous complexity and conflict. There are corners of the globe where violence and war and abject oppression still dominate. Capitalism is concentrating wealth in fewer hands but, in the developing world, lifting tens of millions out of poverty. Traditional societies are caught in an increasingly desperate struggle between the perils of fundamentalism on the one side and the perils of modernism on the other.

Given your generation’s penchant for shutting down speakers with whom you disagree, I am assuming that you have no intention of playing any serious adult role in mediating those conflicts. And that’s fine. We should leave the task of mediation to those unsophisticated enough to be sensitive to the concerns of both sides.

And then the inimitable P.J O'Rouke provides the following comment, applicable, I suspect, to the students who Carter refers to: "Greetings, Class of 2014. So Condoleezza Rice was too offensive for you. Just wait until Monday morning. Did you learn how to spell KFC?"


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Can You Tell Me?

Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was named Chairman of the Special Congressional Committee that will try to uncover the truth about what happened in Benghazi, Libya. I suspect that a special committee would not have been necessary if the administration had been forthcoming with information about what happened before, during and after that night almost two years ago. But the administration stonewalled and the media decided to allow the truth to be hidden.

Gowdy an ex-Federal Prosecutor addressed a few comments to Obama's trained media hamsters this week:
You in the media were good enough for my 16 years as a prosecutor not to tell me how to do my job, and so far in Congress, y'all have been good enough not to tell me how to do my job. I'm not telling you how to do your job. But I'm going to ask you some questions, and if you can't answer these questions, then I'll leave you to draw whatever conclusion you want to draw about whether or not the media has provided sufficient oversight.

Can you tell me why Chris Stevens was in Benghazi the night that he was killed? Do you know? Does it bother you whether or not you know why Chris Stevens was in Benghazi? Do you know why we were the last flag flying in Benghazi after the British had left and the Red Cross had been bombed? Do you know why requests for additional security were denied? Do you know why an ambassador asking for more security days and weeks before he was murdered and those requests went unheeded? Do you know the answer to why those requests went unheeded? Do you know why no assets were deployed during the siege? And I've heard the explanation -- which defies logic, frankly -- that we couldn't have gotten there in time, but you know, they didn't know when it was going to end. So how can you possibly cite that as an excuse? Do you know whether the president called any of our allies and said, "Can you help? We have men under attack." Can you answer that? Do any of you know why Susan Rice was picked? The secretary of state did not go. She says she doesn't like Sunday talk shows. That's the only media venue she does not like, if that's true. Why was Susan Rice on the five Sunday talk shows? Do you know the origin of this mythology that it was spawned as a spontaneous reaction to a video? Do you know where that started? Do you know how we got from no evidence of that to that being the official position of the administration?

In conclusion, Congress is supposed to provide oversight, the voters are supposed to provide oversight, and you are supposed to provide oversight. That's why you have special liberties, and that's why you have special protections. I am not surprised that the president of the United States called this a phony scandal. I'm not surprised Secretary Clinton asked, "What difference does it make?" I'm not even surprised that Jay Carney said Benghazi happened a long time ago. I'm just surprised at how many people bought it.
Many people, both Republicans and Democrats refer to Benghazi as a tragedy. They are correct. But it's many other things as well. Trey Gowdy might just help us understand exactly what those other things are.

One of those things is the irrefutable fact that the main stream media has chosen to allow lies to go unchallenged and obvious questions to go unanswered.The media sacrificed their own credibility, their own professionalism, and their own ethics on the alter of partisan politics. They will never recover.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

373 Days

Over the past 373 days, the Obama administration has done its best to stonewall congressional efforts to understand who directed the weaponization of the IRS. Even so, the dimensions of the scandal have begun to emerge. Freedom of Information (FoA) requests and court orders seem to be required to uncover the truth, and they are finally beginning to work.

The administration and this president have now been shown to have lied repeatedly about the origins of the scandal (think: "it all was directed out of a field office in Cincinnati"). Their response to the early revelations was to launch a phony DoJ investigation that has never questioned anyone who has been targeted. After initally expressing "outrage", the president recently stated that "not a smidgen of evidence" existed that Washington was involved. Obama's trained hamsters in the media have purposely spiked even the most startling revelations about the scandal (Lois Lerner taking the 5th for a second time).

Katie Pavlich reports on a recent email dump that was precipitated by an FoA request:
On May 21, 2013 the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent the IRS a Freedom of Information Act request asking for "any and all documents or records, including but not limited to electronic documents, e-mails, paper documents, photographs (electronic or hard copy), or audio files," related to correspondence from January 1, 2009 and May 21, 2013 between thirteen different Democrat members of Congress and top IRS officials. Those officials include former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, former Commissioner Steven Miller, senior IRS official Joseph Grant and former head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner. Members of Congress named in the request include Sen. Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Reid (D-NV), DSCC Chair Sen. Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Pryor (D-AR), Sen. Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Begich (D-AK), Sen. Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Franken (D-MN), Sen. Warner (D-VA), Rep. Braley and Rep. Peters (D-MI).

Since that request was received by the IRS nearly one year ago, IRS Tax Law Specialists Robert Thomas and Denise Higley have asked for more time to fulfill the request six times ...

Earlier this week Judicial Watch released documents showing Democratic Michigan Senator Carl Levin was in contact with former Deputy IRS Commissioner Steven Miller repeatedly throughout 2012 and was working with the agency on how conservative groups, specifically those working against his reelection, could be targeted through IRS rules and regulations. Last month we learned the staff of Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings had been in touch with the IRS about voter fraud prevention group True the Vote, despite direct denials from Cummings any contact with the IRS had ever occurred.
But no worries, there's not a smidgen of evidence that anything is wrong, is there?

The IRS scandal is considerably more serious than Watergate. It has profound national implications and indicates that unlike the IRS of the Nixon era, this IRS has become politicized and is perfectly willing to do the bidding of Democrats who need help overcoming their opposition.

Democratic attempts to whitewash and/or stonewall this investigation have succeeded, so far. For the sake of the country, I hope that the slow drip of information on the IRS scandal turns into a flood, and those responsible in the nation's capital pay a very high price. People within the IRS and politicians who requested them to attack other American citizens should be thrown in jail.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sanctimonious Outrage

It's really quite amusing to watch the democrats express sanctimonious outrage (and their trained media hamsters circle the wagons) after Carl Rove dared to (1) question Hillary Clinton's health, given a serious fall requiring hospitalization some months ago, and (2) suggest that given her relatively advanced age, health issues are pertinent. Like all political operatives, Rove is using hardball tactics (think: dirty politics).

But what's amusing is that the Dems seem to have forgotten their own claims in 2012 and earlier that Mitt Romney's business activities caused a woman to get cancer, OR Harry Reid's bald-faced lie that Romney didn't pay his income taxes OR that all he cared about was the 1 percent OR that Bain capital was rapacious OR ... You get the picture.

What goes around, comes around.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dangerous and Dishonest

The most dangerous and dishonest of all documents is a political treatise that claims to be a scientific study. That's what we see in last week's much ballyhooed White House report on climate change. Most scientific studies (that is, those that reflect real science) are carefully measured, noting areas of uncertainty, indicating the scope and probable inaccuracies of data collected. They present a hypothesis, but clearly recognize that others will examine it critically and that clear and compelling real-world data must be presented to support it. A true scientific document presents all countervailing evidence enabling the reader to accurately assess areas of uncertainty.

That's not what we see in the White House document. Clearly designed to unnecessarily frighten the public, the White House report on climate change was quickly parroted by Obama's trained hamsters in the media—no critical analysis, no examination of the claims, no countervailing facts—nothing. Except a sky-is-falling tone that is clearly intended to rush through ill-advised and unproven "solutions"—something the Obama's government (and sadly, the government of other presidents) has done frequently and with catastrophic effect (i.e., high cost, low efficiency, broken promises).

The White House would have us believe that severe weather events are far more common, all due to "climate change." Their problem is that there are a few pesky facts that get in the way. Investor's Business Daily comments:
... according to the government's own records — which presumably the White House can get — severe weather events are no more likely now than they were 50 or 100 years ago and the losses of lives and property are much less devastating.

Here is what government data reports and top scientists tell us about extreme climate conditions:

• Hurricanes: The century-long trend in Hurricanes is slightly down, not up. According to the National Hurricane Center, in 2013, "There were no major hurricanes in the North Atlantic Basin for the first time since 1994. And the number of hurricanes this year was the lowest since 1982."

According to Dr. Ryan Maue at Weather Bell Analytics, "We are currently in the longest period since the Civil War Era without a major hurricane strike in the U.S. (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5)"

• Tornadoes: Don't worry, Kansas. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there has been no change in severe tornado activity. "There has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years."

• Extreme heat and cold temperatures: NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index of unusually hot or cold temperatures finds that over the last 10 years, five years have been below the historical mean and five above the mean.

• Severe drought/extreme moisture: While higher than average portions of the country were subjected to extreme drought/moisture in the last few years, the 1930's, 40's and 50's were more extreme in this regard. In fact, over the last 10 years, four years have been below the average and six above the average.

• Cyclones: Maue reports: "the global frequency of tropical cyclones has reached a historical low."

• Floods: Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., past chairman of the American Meteorological Society Committee on Weather Forecasting and Analysis, reports, "floods have not increased in the U.S. in frequency or intensity since at least 1950. Flood losses as a percentage of U.S. GDP have dropped by about 75% since 1940."

• Warming: Even NOAA admits a "lack of significant warming at the Earth's surface in the past decade" and a pause "in global warming observed since 2000." Specifically, NOAA last year stated, "since the turn of the century, however, the change in Earth's global mean surface temperature has been close to zero."

Pielke [past chairman of the American Meteorological Society Committee on Weather Forecasting and Analysis] sums up: "There is no evidence that disasters are getting worse because of climate change. ... It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate time scales either in the U.S. or globally."
These facts represent an inconvenient truth (to coin a phrase). Because the report does not emphasize them, we see yet another example of dishonesty by the Obama administration—this time using using the mantle of science as a cover for a political agenda.

UPDATE (5/15/2014):

The Times (U.K.) reports:
A leading climate scientist has resigned from the advisory board of a think-tank after being subjected to what he described as “McCarthy”-style pressure from fellow academics.

Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading, said the pressure was so intense that he would be unable to continue working and feared for his health and safety unless he stepped down from the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s academic advisory council.
Bengtsson had the temerity to question the scientific basis of some global warming claims. His inconvenient questions are unacceptable when "the debate is settled" and when answers to those questions are not easy to provide because there is no clear climate science to provide those answers. This is what happens when politics and leftist ideology infect scientific inquiry. Science is diminished.

It's fascinating to hear the Left decry McCarthy tactics when they were the victims, but are now perfectly willing to use the same tactics (think: "deniers") against those who disagree with their worldview.

UPDATE-II (5/15/2014):

Bengtsson made the suggestion that climate models be validated against past historical data, indicating that the models have trouble predicting know historical data. That's heresy for those who practice the climate change religion.

And this comment on the Bengtsson story from Rupert Darwall:
Especially significant was a tweet [condemning Bentsson] from Gavin Schmidt, a leading climate modeler at the NASA Goddard Institute, who for many years worked alongside James Hansen. “Groups perceived to be acting in bad faith should not be surprised that they are toxic within the science community,” Schmidt tweeted. “Changing that requires that they not act in bad faith and not be seen to be acting in bad faith.”

Evidently the right to practice and discuss climate science should be subject to a faith test. It is an extraordinarily revealing development. Fears about unbelievers’ polluting the discourse, as some academics put it, illustrate the weakness of climate science: The evidence for harmful anthropogenic global warming is not strong enough to stand up for itself.

Inadvertently Schmidt’s tweet demonstrates how far climate science has crossed the boundary deep into pseudo-science. Karl Popper observed of the trio of pseudo-sciences prevalent in 1920s Vienna that their followers could explain why non-believers rejected their manifest truths. For Marxists, it was because of their class interests. For subscribers to Freudian psychoanalysis and Alfred Adler’s psychology, non-belief was evidence of unanalyzed repressions crying out for treatment. So it is with climate science. Only the pure of heart should be allowed an opinion on it.

Science regresses if it becomes intolerant of criticism. At the beginning of her reign, Queen Elizabeth I of England spoke words of tolerance in an age of religious strife, declaring that she had no intention of making windows into men’s souls. Unlike religion, science is not a matter of the heart or of belief. It exists only in what can be demonstrated. In their persecution of an aged colleague who stepped out of line and their call for scientists to be subject to a faith test, 21st-century climate scientists have shown less tolerance than a 16th-century monarch.

There is something rotten in the state of climate science.
Something rotten indeed.

UPDATE (5/16/2014):
In a follow-on article The Times (U.K.) reports:
Research which heaped doubt on the rate of global warming was deliberately suppressed by scientists because it was “less than helpful” to their cause, it was claimed last night.

In an echo of the infamous “Climategate” scandal at the University of East Anglia, one of the world’s top academic journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately denounced it as “harmful”.
Since two expert scientists, Al Gore and Barack Obama, have told us that "the [climate] debate is over" I'm sure they'd approve of the suppression of countervailing scientific evidence as both appropriate and necessary.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Over the past few years I have lamented the exceptionally poor foreign policy record of the Obama administration. The list of outright failures, dangerous missteps and poor decisions is long. The big question is "Why?'  It's a question that is finally being asked in some of the media sources that have worked tirelessly to protect this president from criticism. Now, outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times have run articles questioning the wisdom of recent positions with respect to Russia, the Middle East, Asia, and other regions of the world where our influence has waned under Obama's stewardship.

Elliot A. Cohen also tries to answer the question. He writes:
Often, members of the Obama administration speak and, worse, think and act, like a bunch of teenagers. When officials roll their eyes at Vladimir Putin's seizure of Crimea with the line that this is "19th-century behavior," the tone is not that different from a disdainful remark about a hairstyle being "so 1980s." When administration members find themselves judged not on utopian aspirations or the purity of their motives—from offering "hope and change" to stopping global warming—but on their actual accomplishments, they turn sulky. As teenagers will, they throw a few taunts (the president last month said the GOP was offering economic policies that amount to a "stinkburger" or a "meanwich") and stomp off, refusing to exchange a civil word with those of opposing views.

In a searing memoir published in January, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes with disdain the trash talk about the Bush administration that characterized meetings in the Obama White House. Like self-obsessed teenagers, the staffers and their superiors seemed to forget that there were other people in the room who might take offense, or merely see the world differently. Teenagers expect to be judged by intentions and promise instead of by accomplishment, and their style can be encouraged by irresponsible adults (see: the Nobel Prize committee) who give awards for perkiness and promise rather than achievement.

If the United States today looks weak, hesitant and in retreat, it is in part because its leaders and their staff do not carry themselves like adults. They may be charming, bright and attractive; they may have the best of intentions; but they do not look serious. They act as though Twitter and clenched teeth or a pout could stop invasions or rescue kidnapped children in Nigeria. They do not sound as if, when saying that some outrage is "unacceptable" or that a dictator "must go," that they represent a government capable of doing something substantial—and, if necessary, violent—if its expectations are not met. And when reality, as it so often does, gets in the way—when, for example, the Syrian regime begins dousing its opponents with chlorine gas, as it has in recent weeks, despite solemn deals and red lines—the administration ignores it, hoping, as teenagers often do, that if they do not acknowledge a screw-up no one else will notice.
Cohen's analogy reminded me of a bumper sticker I saw a few years ago. It said: "Hire a teenager now, while he still knows everything." Most people outgrow their teenage years. They come to realize that they are not indestructible. They lose the arrogance of "knowing everything," they begin to recognize that their world view isn't the only one, they begin to become wise to the ways of the world and lose some of the idealism that leads them to make foolish and even dangerous decisions. They mature.

Here's the thing. Obama and his merry band of 2s aren't teenagers. They won't mature. They won't loose their arrogance. They won't change. Kind of ironic isn't it? Change was part of Obama's election mantra. I suppose the idea was to apply it to everyone but him.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


In the weekly White House address, Michele Obama spoke on the Boko Haram atrocities (although she did not use that word). In part, she said:
Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night.

This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education – grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls.

And I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to find these girls and bring them home.

In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now ...

And what happened in Nigeria was not an isolated incident…it’s a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions.
A worthwhile sentiment, no doubt, but it is interesting that in her entire address, Mrs. Obama was remarkably ambiguous about the underlying ideology that has driven Boko Haram to commit its atrocities. She does not use the words, Islamist, Islam, Muslim or any other appropriate identifier to describe the "terrorists." Like almost all of the elites in the West, she refuses to identify the underlying cause of the terrorist violence.

Ralph Peters comments on this:
How can our elites ignore the immeasurable suffering inflicted on Muslims in the name of Islam? Al Qaeda and its franchises have slaughtered far more Muslims than they have Westerners. Don’t those victims count?

Islam is in the midst of a great civil war between those who wish to modernize their faith, and those who want to return Islam to an age of barbarism. Through our silence, we strengthen the fanatics.

Our elites even do their best to stifle the voices of inconvenient victims. Who in Hollywood stuck up for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a victim of Islamists, when she was prevented from telling her story on-campus? That was an intellectual honor killing.

An entire civilization is failing before our eyes. Cultures whose values just don’t work in the 21st century are damning themselves to stagnation by oppressing the female half of their populations (and repressing the males, too). From Morocco to Pakistan, no state other than Israel is competitive in any significant field of human endeavor. In 2014, the Muslim Middle East not only cannot build a competitive automobile, but can’t produce a competitive bicycle.

And we pretend that everything is fine.

I’m sorry for those kidnapped schoolgirls. But I’m sorrier for the hundreds of millions of women in the Middle East who are invisible to us. Our silence puts us in the same class as the Germans and others who carefully closed their shutters as the local Jews were herded off to the railyards.
Wouldn't it be refreshing (not to mention, productive) if Michele Obama's husband or one of his designates used Peter's exact words to express "outrage" over the current state of affairs in the Middle East and North Africa? Instead, the administration and other progressives think that ambiguity somehow protects Muslims. It does not. In fact, it does just the opposite.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Common Core

In the abstract, Common Core is the education establishment's worthwhile attempt to improve public education, to provide more coherence in the way core subjects are taught, to establish some degree of consistency in the subject matter at various grade levels. In the abstract. The problem is, and will always be, that the abstract is fundamentally meaningless when a broad-based federal program is rolled out. Peggy Noonan addresses this when she writes:
My conversations with several Core proponents over the past few weeks leave me with the sense they fell in love with an abstraction and gave barely a thought to implementation. But implementation—how a thing is done day by day in the real world—is everything. There is a problem, for instance, with a thing called “ObamaCare.” That law exists because the people who pushed for it fell in love with an abstract notion and gave not a thought to what the law would actually do and how it would work.

The educationalists wanted to impose (they don’t like that word; they prefer “offer” or “suggest”) more rigorous and realistic standards, and establish higher expectations as to what children can be expected to have learned by the time they leave the public schools. They seem to have thought they could wave a magic wand and make that happen. But life isn’t lived in some abstract universe; it’s lived on the ground, in this case with harried parents trying, to the degree they can or are willing, to help the kids with homework and study for tests. The test questions that have come out are nonsensical and impenetrable, promise to get worse, and for those reasons are demoralizing. Louis CK was right “Late Show With David Letterman,” when he spoofed the math problems offered on his daughters’ tests: “Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”

There sure is a lot of money floating around. Who is watching how those who’ve contracted to do Common Core-related work are doing their jobs?

George Will focused on the higher, substantive meaning and implications of the Core, but the effort has also been psychologically and politically inept. Proponents are now talking about problems with the rollout. Well, yes, and where have we heard that before? One gets the impression they didn’t think this through, that they held symposia and declared the need, with charts and bullet points, for something to be done—and something must be done, because American public education is falling behind the world—and then left it to somebody, or 10,000 somebodies, to make it all work.
It seems that education is all about fashion. By this I mean that a educational concept becomes fashionable, it might even evidence anecdotal success, and it is then rolled out without targeted scientific testing (to determine whether it really works), without thought to the broad-based operational problems of implementation across thousands of schools and hundreds of thousands of students with significant variability in their ability to absorb the material. The roll out is facilitated with bribery—that is, federal monies are offered to administrators who adopt the new fashion. Those monies evaporate over time, leaving the locals to fund unproven mandates.

My guess is that common core will follow that trajectory.

As a strong proponent of limited government at the federal level, I firmly believe that Washington should have very little to do with the education of our children. If common core were simply a set of suggested goals—to be implemented and funded at the state and local level, it's far more likely that it would be assessed critically, that worthwhile elements would be extracted and used and foolish recommendations would be jettisoned. But that isn't how it will work (regardless of the protestations of it proponents). It will, like Obamacare, become a cudgel that will force unproven and possibly counter-productive educational methods on state and local educators who are enticed by federal money (our tax money).

Looking at this more broadly, we are rapidly plunging into an "era of the takers." Washington prospers (and centralizes its immense power) when it becomes the source of all funding, all mandates, all entitlements, and all programs. The takers—in this case state and local governments, but more broadly, the minority of taxpayers who pay income taxes—are forced to adopt things that may not be appropriate for their situation. But Washington redistributes our money, so Washington calls the tune.

But there's another problem. Washington has proven to be very bad at implementation, at the operation details that are required to ensure effectiveness, eliminate waste, and ensure success. In essence there are very few makers in Washington, particularly under the current administration. Takers and makers—it's a meme that applies to Common Core and to many other programs that will affect our lives.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Connecting the Dots

Remember our lead-from-behind "war" in Libya—you know, the one that deposed Mohamar Kaddafi and gave al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups free reign in that North African country?  Richard Fernandez points out an interesting article published in 2012 from Reuters:
(Reuters) - The Libyan civil war may have given militant groups in Africa's Sahel region like Boko Haram and al Qaeda access to large weapons caches, according to a U.N. report released on Thursday.

The report on the impact of the Libyan civil war on countries of the Sahel region that straddle the Sahara - including Nigeria, Niger and Chad - also says some national authorities believe the Islamist sect Boko Haram has increasing links to al Qaeda's North African wing. Boko Haram killed more than 500 people last year and more than 250 this year in Nigeria.

Boko Haram is the same Islamist terrorist group that has been in the news lately for abducting almost 300 Nigerian girls and selling them as sex-slaves. By the way, did you know that almost all of those girls were Christians and were forced to covert to Islam before they were violated.

Richard Fernandez comments:
In any case terror doth not live by word alone. It also requireth arms and ammunition. And that’s where Libya comes in. But wasn’t Libya overthrown by “kinetic military action” under the doctrine of “resonsibility to protect” in support of the “Arab Spring?” What are we to make of the fact that Boko Haram openly swears alliance to to al-Qaeda? According to CNN it’s leader “Shekau has declared his allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.”

So ... in still another triumph of Obama administration foreign policy, it looks like some of the enormous cache of weapons that went missing (largely unreported at the time by Obama's trained media hamsters) after the Libyan "kinetic military action" is now in the hands of Boko Haram.

But it gets even worse. Again from Fernandez:
You know the place [Benghazi] where an American consulate got burned? Eli Lake at the Daily Beast wrote that “so many Jihadists are flocking to Libya, it’s becoming ‘Scumbag Woodstock’”.

Not only does al Qaeda host Ansar al-Sharia, one of the militias responsible for the Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But U.S. intelligence now assesses that leaders from at least three regional al Qaeda affiliates—al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and members of the organization of Al-Mulathameen Brigade loyal to Algerian terrorist, Mokhtar BelMokhtar—have all established havens in the lawless regions of Libya outside the control of the central government.

One U.S. military contractor working on counter-terrorism in Africa summed up the situation in Libya today as simply, “Scumbag Woodstock.” The country has attracted that star-studded roster of notorious terrorists and fanatics seeking to wage war on the West.

Which brings up that “phony” scandal, Benghazi. For months organizations like Media Matters proclaimed that there was nothing in that event, beyond the fact that some random Muslims inflamed by a video took it on themselves to attack a US consulate and kill an ambassador.
Once the lie was finally revealed by the investigations that the Dems roundly condemned, that meme disappeared. Now, we see virtually every Democrat scurrying to condemn the newly-formed Benghazi Select Committee, working hard to delegimitize the inquiry as political. The hypocrisy of that position is breathtaking. Sure, the GOP has a political agenda, but so do the Dems. At least the outcome of the GOP's politics is an attempt to understand why bald-faced lies were offered instead of the truth, whether those lies were predicated on election year politics, why Americans died with no attempt to save them, who the decision makers were that night, and what orders were given and who gave them.

In thinking about it, the Dems may be scared to death that further investigation will allow the public to learn about the abject failure of Obama's (and by virtue of her position, Hillary Clinton's) decisions in Libya long before Benghazi. The public might begin to connect the dots:
  • lead-from-behind in Libya in 2012, no coherent plan, operation drags on
  • no plan for a stable government once the dictator is overthrown
  • predictable chaos follows
  • Islamist terrorists flow into the country
  • huge weapons cache goes missing including surface-to-air missiles (still missing)
  • weapons wind up in the hands of al Qaeda and Boko Haram
  • Hillary Clinton's state department refused to name Boko Haram a terrorist group in 2012
  • Boko Haram used said weapons to terrorize and abuse Christian school girls in 2014
  • Boko Haram used said weapons to kill (best guess) 4600 innocents in Nigeria since 2012
Yeah ... connecting those dots doesn't bode well for Ms. Clinton's foreign policy cred, so it's best to look the other way. "Nothing to see here, let's move on." Dems have been very good at that lately. No reason to change now.

Ayann Hirsi Ali, a true women's right advocate , who is also an outspoken critic of Islam critic of Islam, comments on the atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram in the name of Islam, and asks why liberal feminists don't do more to question the underlying Islamic beliefs that lead to the subjugation of woman. She writes:
I am often told that the average Muslim wholeheartedly rejects the use of violence and terror, does not share the radicals' belief that a degenerate and corrupt Western culture needs to be replaced with an Islamic one, and abhors the denigration of women's most basic rights. Well, it is time for those peace-loving Muslims to do more, much more, to resist those in their midst who engage in this type of proselytizing before they proceed to the phase of holy war.

It is also time for Western liberals to wake up. If they choose to regard Boko Haram as an aberration, they do so at their peril. The kidnapping of these schoolgirls is not an isolated tragedy; their fate reflects a new wave of jihadism that extends far beyond Nigeria and poses a mortal threat to the rights of women and girls. If my pointing this out offends some people more than the odious acts of Boko Haram, then so be it.

Thursday, May 08, 2014


Caroline Glick reports on still another example of the Obama administration's antipathy toward Israel. She writes:
Israel received yet another reminder of this basic fact last Friday when Yedioth Aharonoth’s senior writer Nahum Barnea published an interview with unnamed “senior American officials” involved in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Those “officials,” it quickly became apparent, turned out to be the one and only Martin Indyk, Secretary of State John Kerry’s senior mediator.

In that interview, Indyk showed that among members of the Obama administration, Israel is friendless. Indyk’s interview, like serial anti-Israel statements made by Kerry, (most recently his anti-Semitic “Israel apartheid” remarks to the Trilateral Commission), and by President Barack Obama himself, was notable for its utter hostility to Israel and its Jewish leaders.

Not only did Indyk blame Israel for the failure of Kerry’s “peace process.” Like Obama and Kerry, Indyk insisted that Israel’s failure to bow to every PLO demand has opened it to the prospect of a renewed Palestinian terror war against it, to international isolation and to European trade embargoes.

Like Kerry, Indyk casually employed anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish cleverness and greed.

From the perspective of continued US aid to the PA, by far the most important part of Indyk’s remarks, like those that Kerry made to the Trilateral Commission, was his claim that the Palestinians will likely respond to the failure of Kerry’s peacemaking by initiating another terror war against Israel.

Indyk’s assertion – or was it a threat? – was notable because the US government is training and financing the Palestinian forces that would be directing the terror war.
At the same time, Rand Paul proposed legislation (virtually ignored by Obama's trained media hamsters) that would have properly expressed this country's concern that the so-called Palestinian Authority has now merged with terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Again from Glick:
Last week, following the PLO’s unity deal with terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Paul introduced the Stand With Israel Act. If it had passed into law, Paul’s act would have required the US to cut off all funding to the Palestinian Authority, including its security forces. The only way the administration could have wiggled out of the aid cutoff would have been by certifying that the PLO, Hamas and Islamic Jihad had effectively stopped being the PLO, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Paul’s conditions for maintaining aid would have required the President to certify to Congress that the PA – run jointly by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PLO –formally and publicly recognized Israel as a Jewish state; renounced terrorism; purged all individuals with terrorist ties from its security services; terminated all anti-American and anti-Israel incitement, publicly pledged not to engage in war with Israel; and honored previous agreements signed between the PLO and Israel.

Paul’s bill was good for America. Maintaining financial support for the Palestinian Authority in the aftermath of the PLO’s unity-with-terrorists deal constitutes a breach of US anti-terror law.

Financing the PA also harms US national security. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are financed by Iran. So by funding the PLO’s PA, which just united its forces with theirs, the US is subsidizing Iran’s terror network.
If Obama and Kerry were serious about peace between Israel and the palestinians, they would endorse Rand Paul's legislation, and so would every purportedly pro-Israel Democrat.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Ominous Consequences

The Washington Post reports:
The American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades. That's the conclusion of a new study out from the [generally Left-leaning] Brookings Institution, which looks at the rates of new business creation and destruction since 1978.

Not only that, but during the most recent three years of the study -- 2009, 2010 and 2011 -- businesses were collapsing faster than they were being formed, a first. Overall, new businesses creation (measured as the share of all businesses less than one year old) declined by about half from 1978 to 2011.
The reasons for this ominous news are complex and Brookings doesn't attempt to attribute a cause. They note that further study is in order. I agree.

However, it's reasonable to posit that a combination of higher taxes, increased regulation, healthcare mandates and the Obama administration's relentless class warfare stance certainly can't help. In addition, true banking reform has not been achieved, even 5.5 years after the crash. Therefore, money remains tight, discouraging new business formation.

In the late 1970s Jimmy Carter famously noted that the country suffered from "Malaise." When Carter was not elected for a second term and the country was placed in steadier hands, a strong recovery began. Unfortunately, Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, and the malaise that existed during his first term in office continues into his second term with little chance of abating.

Elections have consequences ... in this case ominous consequences.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


The "War on Women (WoW)." It's an interesting concept when applied to modern western nations and the USA in particular. If you are to believe the president and his party, the opposition party is at war with 50 percent of it's own membership and another 50 percent of the majority party's membership. If you're to believe the meme, women don't get equal pay for equal work, a patriarchal society controls virtually everything they do, and according modern feminists, women are oppressed in things both big and small -- sometimes very small. Nothing has changed since the 1920s, women aren't CEOs doctors, lawyers, engineers, plumbers, professors, programmers, prosecutors, senators, policewoman, teachers, congresswoman, judges, electricians, soldiers, flag officers, mayors, governors ... Nah, nothing has changed. After all, it's a "war."

There is horrific oppression of women in the world, but it doesn't generally result from small girls wearing pink dresses and textbooks spelling "woman" with an "a" rather than a "y." The real oppression, generally ignored by feminists on the left, is often attributable to Islamists and their harsh treatment of women.

The Wall Street Journal reports:
GRILAGAN, Pakistan—Eight months ago, 11-year-old Amna was married off to a man three times her age to settle a crime her uncle had committed.

The uncle had raped another girl in the village, according to tribal elders. Following tribal custom prevalent in highly conservative parts of Pakistan, the elders gave Amna and her 17-year-old cousin, Zulhaj, to that girl's family. Nobody asked their opinion.

Such "compensation marriages" are technically illegal under Pakistani law. But in a country with fraying central authority, the formal judicial system with its slow, corrupt course is often abandoned in favor of traditional tribal justice.

Now that's something to get upset about. That suggests a culture that is conducting a true WoW.

On the same day, we learn from USA Today:
On April 15, more than 300 teenage schoolgirls were abducted from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in northeast Nigeria. At least 53 girls are known to have escaped.

Who did it?

Boko Haram — which means "western education is a sin" — is an Islamic militant group in Nigeria. The group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, is taking responsibility for the mass abduction, according to a video obtained by Agence France-Presse.
Oh, and we also learn that Boko Haram intends to sell the girls into sexual slavery to Islamic buyers in adjoining countries. Another hard-core WoW.

Why isn't there more criticism of these practices from Democrat politicians, more condemnation from American feminists, picketing at the Pakistani and Nigerian embassies, and direct criticism of WoW practices (e.g., Burkas, female genital mutilation, women as chattel, lack of availability of education, to name just a few) that are widely practiced in many Muslim countries.

Why isn't Barack Obama, who obviously is concerned about WoW, not castigating those Muslim countries that support WoW practices? Where is the principled condemnation? Where is the outrage that seems to be present when he discusses his political opponents "WoW," but seems to evaporate when looking beyond our borders.

Oh well, no worries. If we can just get a few woman to become CEOs doctors, lawyers, engineers, plumbers, professors, programmers, prosecutors, senators, policewoman, teachers, congresswoman, judges, electricians, soldiers, flag officers, mayors, governors ... the war will be won. Oh wait, that's already happened, hasn't it?

Monday, May 05, 2014


In my last post, I wrote the following as a comment on the Democrat reaction to the rekindled interest in Benghazi:
... the administration's many protectors in the media and among most Democrats are using everything possible to delegitimize the Select Committee before it have even begun its work, denigrate those of us who would like answers to the questions listed above (e.g., "Benghazi truthers" or "Benghazi-ists"), and convince the American people that there is nothing new here, we should "move on." The viciousness of their attacks will escalate if the committee begins to cut the strands that make up the administration's web of lies.
Today, we learn that the Democrats are considering boycotting the select committee, apparently because they are fully satisfied that politically motivated lies conjured not to inform the public but to protect the election prospects of Barack Obama are perfectly acceptable behavior in our country. Every Democrat spokeperson, parroted by the administration's trained media hamsters, uses the word "conspiracy," in an effort to give those who are unsatisfied with the administration's stonewalling a patina of craziness. Stated simply, the Democrats want all of this to be over.

There is a way that can happen, and not surprisingly, it's well within the authority of the sitting president to make it happen.

Marc A. Thiessen explains how:
President Obama claims he was only repeating what the intelligence community told him when his administration asserted that the attack in Benghazi began with a spontaneous protest inspired by an Internet video. If that’s the case, there is a simple way to prove it: Give the new congressional select committee investigating Benghazi his daily intelligence briefings that show exactly what he was told.

There is precedent for doing so. In 2004, at the request of the 9/11 Commission, President George W. Bush declassified and publicly released the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) delivered to him before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. No sitting president had ever declassified a PDB while still in office. But Bush did it anyway, releasing the report titled “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S.” It warned that the FBI had detected “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings” but contained no actionable intelligence that could have stopped the 9/11 attacks from happening.
This president and his administration have been know to lie to the American public to gain political advantage. That's not opinion, it's fact as in "You can keep your doctor." But maybe that was a one off, maybe this time, the president is telling the truth.

Let's take a look at the intelligence briefings and find out. If, in fact, the CIA argued that it was the video and only the video that drove otherwise law-abiding Libyans to murder four Americans, the Select Committee will have answers to at least some of its questions and can move the investigative process forward rapidly.

Thiessen writes:
Of course, it is highly unlikely that is what the Benghazi PDBs would show. That’s because when the intelligence community presents judgments to the president, it always does two things: First, it attaches a level of confidence (low, medium or high) to its judgments. And second, it includes dissenting views, if there are any.

The PDBs would reveal what level of confidence the intelligence community put in the judgment that the Benghazi attack was video-related and spontaneous. They would also tell us whether that confidence level declined between the time of the Sept. 12, 2012, attack and when Susan Rice made her now infamous rounds on the Sunday shows on Sept. 16.

The Benghazi PDBs would also reveal what dissenting views in the intelligence community were presented to the president and his top aides. We know that by the time Rice went on the air, acting CIA director Michael Morell had informed the White House that the CIA station chief on the ground in Libya had dissented from the spontaneous-protest narrative. Moreover, Gen. Robert Lovell, who served as deputy director of intelligence for U.S. Africa Command at the time of the attack, testified last week that our military intelligence community determined within hours that “there was no demonstration gone terribly awry” and that this was a terrorist attack. The PDBs would tell us if, when and how those dissenting judgments were shared with the president and his top national security advisers.
Since the Democrats are sick of this entire affair and want it to end, why not lobby the president to release the PDBs related to Benghazi. If he and his administration are telling the truth, there's absolutely no reason not to do so.

Ann Althouse takes a more detailed look at the Democrat's attempt to deligitimize anyone who still have questions about the administration's conduct. She suggests that behind the scenes, Democrat strategists are thinking something like this:
We need people to hear the word "Benghazi" as a buzzword of nuts. Somebody says "Benghazi" and the reflex reaction is "Oh, no, here we go again with the conspiracy theories." It should be like when somebody brings up Area 51 or Vince Foster was murdered. A normal person is like "Ugh! Leave me alone." That's the way "Benghazi" should feel. Somebody says "Benghazi" and all anybody thinks is "conspiracy nutcase." Nobody who wants to be considered mainstream in this election should be able to say "Benghazi" anymore. Case closed, and you've built in the respect for Hillary saying "What difference at this point does it make?" Everybody decent — if we get this idea across — will react to Benghazi with a Hillary-esque exasperated "What difference does it make?" If it makes a difference to you, you're crazy. This is a circus. You're a clown. A scary clown. Boo! Aliens! Benghazi! Vince Foster!
Aided and abetted by their trained hamsters in the media, the Dems are really good at this stuff. They might just pull it off. But if they think that's a win, they are sorely mistaken. Sadly, when we allow our leaders to lie with impunity, and then lie about their lies, no one wins.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Truth on Their Side

The now infamous Benghazi "smoking gun" email has spurred the House to do what should have been done more than a year ago—create a Congressional Select Committee to investigate the core questions that continue to remain unanswered about the death of four Americans, inlcuding a U.S ambassador:
  • Who directed White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes to define a mendacious talking points strategy and Susan Rice to promulgate the story that a video caused the violence, when the preponderence of hard evidence from almost every person on the ground (CIA, State, the Libyan's themselves) indicated that a coordinated terrorist attach was on-going?
  • What was the president's role in decision making that night? Was he a direct participant in the Situation Room or was he less heavily involved?
  • What was then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's role in decision making that night? Was she a direct participant in the Situation Room or less heavily involved?
  • Why was the video false narrative continued long after clear evidence indicated that every participant knew it to be false?
  • Why has the White House refused to release photos that depict the participants in the situation room? [A standard practice in such situations]
  • Who made the assessment that the military was unable to intervene? How could that assessment be made when no one knew with any certainty (1) the duration of the attack as it was occurring, and (2) the status of the Americans under attack?
  • Was there any push-back from military in the region? That is, were commanders told to stand-down by their superiors?
  • Who in the administration communicated with the military that night? What did they tell the commanders in theater.
If the committee answers these questions, it will have done its job. The conclusions that the answers will elicit are for the American people to make.

Jay Sekulow summarizes the current email nicely when he writes:
The email dated September 14, 2012 – three days after the attack – was sent by then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes to top spokespeople in the White House and State Department. The title of the email says it all:
PREP CALL with Susan.

Instead of protecting our diplomats, the Obama administration was more concerned about protecting the perception of not having a foreign policy failure.

And among the key objectives to convey to Susan Rice hours before her media appearances:

“To convey that the United States is doing everything that we can to protect our people and facilities abroad;”
“To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy;”
“To show that we will be resolute in bringing people who harm Americans to justice, and standing steadfast through these protests;”
“To reinforce the President and the Administration's strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

Here's the problem -- ALL of those objectives were designed to hide the truth -- and score political points.

It is clear that these talking points were deeply flawed. The U.S. did not do everything in its power to protect our diplomats in Benghazi.

In an 85-page report, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded:

“The failures of Benghazi can be summed up this way: the Americans serving in Libya were vulnerable; the State Department knew they were vulnerable; and no one in the Administration really did anything about it.”

No one has been held accountable. The State Department initially put four employees on administrative leave but later said they would be reassigned to different positions at the State Department and would return to work. The bottom line: no one was fired.

And, instead of portraying the president's “strength and steadiness” – this strategy to deceive underscored the president’s weakness and inconsistency.
Even the trained hamsters of the main stream media have taken notice. albeit like an ADD child who really has no interest but is being forced to do his homework.

As a consequence, the administration's many protectors in the media and among most Democrats are using everything possible to delegitimize the Select Committee before it have even begun its work, denigrate those of us who would like answers to the questions listed above (e.g., "Benghazi truthers" or "Benghazi-ists"), and convince the American people that there is nothing new here, we should "move on." The viciousness of their attacks will escalate if the committee begins to cut the strands that make up the administration's web of lies.

If the Democrats and the media want this to be over, there's a really easy way to get that done. Answer the question I listed earlier completely, honestly, and without political spin. That won't happen, and that's why it's necessary to get the answers even if it upsets the delicate sensibilities of those who claim have the truth on their side.

The most important question I ask in the body of this post is: "What was the president's role in decision making that night? Was he a direct participant in the Situation Room or was he less heavily involved?"

Andrew McCarthy comments further:
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the State Department’s Sean Smith were killed in the early stage of the jihadist attack. By then, the actions that would surely have saved their lives — e.g., an adult recognition that Benghazi was no place for an American diplomatic facility, or at least the responsible provision of adequate security — had already been callously forsaken. It seems unlikely AFRICOM could have gotten there in time for them on that fateful night, though that does not come close to excusing the failure to try.

Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are a different story. They fought valiantly for many hours after our military learned, very early on, that the battle was raging. Unlike AFRICOM, the SEALs did not stand pat. They ran to the sound of the guns. After saving over 30 of their countrymen, they paid with their lives. The armed forces, General Lovell recalled, knew that terrorists were attacking them. Yet no one came to their aid.

Later, he gets to the true core of the question, the core that makes the president's media protectors squirm:
Outnumbered and fighting off wave after jihadist wave, Americans were left to die in Benghazi while administration officials huddled, not to devise a rescue strategy, but to spin the election-year politics. The most powerful and capable armed forces in the history of the world idled, looking not to their commander-in-chief but to a State Department that busied itself writing press releases about phantom Islamophobia. The president of the United States, the only constitutional official responsible for responding, was nowhere to be found.

We are left with four dead Americans and an emerging paper trail of dereliction stretching from Benghazi to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Benghazi is not about what Hillary Clinton or Leon Panetta or Susan Rice or Ben Rhodes or Jay Carney or Robert Lovell did or didn’t do. The only question is: What was President Barack Obama doing, and not doing, during the critical hours when his sworn duty required decisive action? Mr. Obama owes Americans a detailed answer. Now.
 UPDATE (4/4/14):
After castigating the GOP for grandstanding and the Democrats for purposely stonewalling the investigation, John Kass comments on the overriding issues surrounding Benghazi:
Former CIA official Mike Morell, testifying recently before Congress, said the U.S. intelligence community knew it was a terror attack from the start.

"The analysts said from the get-go that al-Qaida was involved in this attack," Morell said.

And last week, Judicial Watch obtained key White House documents through the Freedom of Information Act. Earlier documents, released by the Obama White House to Congress, were redacted.

The new emails were written by, White House deputy strategic communications adviser Ben Rhodes, whose brother is president of CBS News.

One Rhodes email to Rice, dated Sept. 14 at shortly after 8 p.m., was intended to prepare Rice for her appearances on those Sunday shows.

Rhodes emphasized that one goal of Rice's appearances was to "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy."

And even more cynically, Rhodes offered Rice the argument that she would use, that the video was "disgusting and reprehensible," that "there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence. And we are working to make sure that people around the globe hear that message."

For days afterward, the message from President Obama, Rice, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others was: the video, the video, the video.

By not releasing the Rhodes emails fully to Congress, the Obama White House clearly showed its contempt for the House. And depending on your politics, you might agree with the strategy. It got Obama through his roughest debates and helped confuse the issue enough that he was re-elected.

But if we allow our nation's leaders to let politics obscure how our government works, we are making a fatal mistake. That's how fools lose the Republic.

And those four in Benghazi weren't fools. They died for our country, and years of political cover-up can't obscure that.

Again, their names were Stevens, Smith, Doherty and Woods.

They didn't die for politics.
But Barack Obama and virtually everyone in his administration rejected overwhelming real-time intelligence from the CIA, the State Department and observers on the ground. Driven by politics and politics alone, they crafted a lie (see: Rhodes email) and then repeated it for days (weeks) after the event. They did this to purposely mislead the public—all for political purposes. One can only wonder whether the decision not to attempt to rescue the two navy seals, who fought valiantly for 7 hours after the attack began, was also driven by politics. We do have an absolute right to know. We'll see whether the stonewallers prevail.